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Fossil Brachiopod Shows Soft Part Details

American and British paleontologists described in Nature1 the discovery of nearly complete brachiopods with calcified soft parts intact.  They exhibited intricate details never before seen in fossils of these organisms, sometimes called lamp shells.  Brachiopods, a type of marine animal that attached itself to the sea floor with a pedicle or stalk, were very abundant […]

Sharks and Beavers Inspire Humans

Animals never cease to amaze us with their clever solutions to problems that plague human technology.  EurekAlert told of work being done by the Society for Experimental Biology to emulate shark skin as a self-cleaning surface for boats; National Geographic News has pictures of the new product, and a comparison with shark skin.  The navy […]

Sponge Bobs Upward in Respect

The simplest group of multicellular animals, the sponges, is not so simple.  “Researchers have long regarded sponges as the most primitive form of animal life,” wrote Helen Pilcher in Nature;1 “At first glance, sponges seem simple.  They have no gut, no brain, no obvious front or back, left or right.  Adults pump water through a […]

Haeckel Vindicated?  Parathyroid Glands from Gills?

“Human gland evolved from gills” trumpeted a BBC News science article without apology.*  It gives uncontested press to a team from King’s College that is claiming the human parathyroid glands evolved from gills.  This is claimed on the basis that they have similar functions (calcium regulation) and are located in the neck region.  Fish have […]

How Cells Build Hard Parts

You have rocks in your head, and it’s a good thing, or you would die of starvation and imbalance.  Living things have need of inorganic structures for various functions.  Can you name the mineral structures in your body?  The answer is: bone, dentin, enamel and otoliths.  The last three are specific to your head.  Dentin […]

New Book Reveals China’s Cambrian Explosion

Nature July 221 has a book review about the first volume in English of the Chengjiang biota of China, where tens of thousands of soft-bodied organisms are preserved in early Cambrian strata.  The book, The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China: The Flowering of Early Animal Life by Xian-Guang Hou et al., is praised by reviewer […]

1400 Genes Essential to Grow a Fish

A team from MIT scanned the genome of the zebrafish and concluded there are about 1400 genes essential for embryonic and early larval development.  They did hands-on mutation experiments with 315 of these and found that mutations usually produced visible defects within 5 days that were invariably lethal.  Estimating that they had experimented on about […]

Cleaners Advertise in the Fish Market

The plot of this science project seems made for Disney animation, a fishy version of Aesop’s parable of Androcles and the lion.  There are fish that will clean parasites out of the mouths and gills of their predators without getting eaten (see 01/13/2003 headline).  How these “cleaner fish” and their clients developed this risky relationship, […]

Stickleback Fish Achieve Stardom in Evolutionary Labs

According to Elizabeth Pennisi in Science June 18,1 the three-spine stickleback is being studied in 100 labs as a model of evolution.  Over the last century, the little fish has been the subject of some 2000 papers, seven textbooks, and a Nobel prize-winning thesis.  Evolutionists have been attracted to this fish because it appears to […]

Science Reporters Stretch the Truth on Limb Evolution Claim

Item: some fragments of bone were found from a road cut in Pennsylvania.  Conclusion: Darwinian evolution from slime to humans has been demonstrated again.  Sound far fetched?  Not if you are a science reporter for a typical news organization; this is common practice.     The bone this time is a humerus of a presumed […]

Sea Genes Multiply

A potential paradigm-shifting discovery has been made in the doldrums of the Sargasso Sea: there are many more genes in plankton than expected.  Craig Venter’s Celera team sampled the genetic content of microbes off the Bermuda coast, and in 1500 liters of surface seawater, found 1.5 million new genes.  Falkowski and de Vargas, writing about […]

Respect the Conch Shell

Engineers and materials scientists seem to never run out of examples in nature that should fill us with awe.  In the Feb. 19 issue of Nature,1 Rosamund Daw brings our attention to the construction ability of the conch shell: Giant conches are seldom treated with the respect they deserve.  Their impressive shells are prized as […]

How Bambi Gave Rise to Moby Dick

The title of this entry, in Kipling Just-So Story format, is only slightly modified from an article from The Guardian, titled, “How Bambi evolved into Moby-Dick.”  This is not a joke; check on the link and see.     The article is about the latest fossil claimed to be ancestral to whales.  Hans Thewissen (Northeastern […]

Sponges Use Fiber Optics for Interior Lighting

51; Sponges are among the simplest of multicellular organisms, but they contain an advanced human technology: fiber optics.  In a case of reverse biomimetics, scientists have determined that one of the products of proud human engineering was already at work in a lowly sponge.     Fiber optical properties of sponge spicules was already known, […]

Soft Squid Ink Sac Claimed to Be 150 Million Years Old

51; The BBC News announced the discovery of a fossil squid with its ink sac still intact.  “The fossil, thought to be 150 million years old, was found when a rock was cracked open, revealing the one-inch-long black ink sac.”  The ink has been sent to Yale for analysis.  An article on the Daily Mail […]
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