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Dinosaur Fossilized in the Act of Laying Eggs

Two eggs, with shell material still attached, were found inside the oviducts of a theropod dinosaur, a Chinese team reported in Science.1  This first-time discovery of intact eggs in the body of the female “suggests that theropod dinosaurs had two functional oviducts (like crocodiles) but that each oviduct produced only one egg at a time […]

Go to the Roach, Thou Robotics Designer

Most of us can’t step on them fast enough, but of cockroaches, engineers at Johns Hopkins say “the pesky critters are excellent role models” – for robotics.  Classroom exercises include building obstacle courses for cockroaches and observing how they use their antennae to navigate, even in the dark.  Said one student, experienced in trying to […]

Bobble-Head Birds See Straight

Anyone who has fed pigeons in the park has probably wondered why they bob their heads forward and back when they walk.  It not only looks comical to us, it seems like it would give them a very confused sense of sight.  Leave it to scientists to go find out why birds bob their heads.  […]

More Convergent Evolution Claimed for Dino-Era Mammal

A chipmunk-size mammal with Popeye-like forearms and beaver-like teeth resembling an armadillo?  That’s how the discoverers are describing the fossil they named Fruitafossor, a small mammal found near Fruita, Colorado and reported in Science.1  They think it dug burrows and ate termites.  Of special interest were the open-root teeth like those of the beaver.  Lead […]

Migration Theory Overturned: “Mammals Went Crazy” – Or Did Darwinists?

The discovery of an elephant shrew fossil in Wyoming badlands said to be 54 million years old is causing a stir.  Elephant shrews were thought to be endemic to Africa, the alleged cradle of mammals.  This find hints not only that elephant shrews may have originated in North America instead, but also that “there may […]

Wonders from the Animal World

Several recent stories prove that animals continue to amaze us with their tricks: Elephants:  The BBC News summarized a report from Nature1 about an elephant in Kenya named Mlaika that could make “convincing truck sounds.”  The elephant lived near a road and apparently learned how to do impressions.  This is the only other case of […]

Horse Evolution Is Back on the Charts

The old horse-evolution charts from the 1880s have been revised substantially since 1920 when paleontologists began to realize the story was not so simple.  (Thomas Huxley had used the series of O. C. Marsh as a focal point of his 1876 lecture tour in the United States.)  These charts portrayed small horses with three toes […]

Can Evolution Repeat Itself?

A press release from University of Chicago reported today that “115-million-year-old fossil of a tiny egg-laying mammal thought to be related to the platypus provides compelling evidence of multiple origins of acute hearing in humans and other mammals” (emphasis added in all quotes).  The fossil apparently shows inner-ear bones in the monotreme lineage that supposedly […]

Selecting Corn Oil Genes Produces More Corn Oil, but What Else?

Breeders have been trying to squeeze more corn oil out of corn for over a century, one of the longest-running scientific experiments ever.  They have made pretty dramatic gains in yield, from 5% to 20%, in 100 generations, says William G. Hill in Science.1  Now also, geneticists have the tools to look for which genes […]

“Bird Brain” No Longer an Insult

“Birds can perform amazing tasks beyond the reach of cats and dogs,” begins an article in the BBC News.  So pay a little respect.  You can still call your boss a bird brain, but had better quickly explain why that is a compliment.  See also the longer article on MSNBC News.     In a […]

Bat Theory Strikes Out

An international team of biologists set out to write the family history of bats, a story that is “largely unknown,” they admitted in Science.1  They didn’t have much to go on.  “The fossil record is impoverished,” their research confirmed, so they tried to piece together a phylogenetic story by combining all that is known about […]

Hippo to Whale: Missing Chain

Despite claims to the contrary,2 whale and hippo evolution are poorly understood.  That’s the gist of a paper in PNAS this week1 that tries to connect the dots between hippopotami (artiodactyls) and whales (cetaceans) and other groups of mammals.  There’s lots of missing dots:  The origin of late Neogene Hippopotamidae (Artiodactyla) involves one of the […]

Lowly Plant Inspires Waterproof Glass

By adopting the lotus position, the glass in your windshield may become so water-repellant you won’t need windshield wipers.  That’s what an Ohio State press release says: “Ohio State University engineers are designing super-slick, water-repellent surfaces that mimic the texture of lotus leaves.”  The leaves of the lotus, or water lily, are covered with microscopic […]

This Badger Ate Dinosaurs for Breakfast

BBC News claims a new fossil discovery published in Nature,1 a large badger-like carnivorous mammal, ate dinosaurs for lunch.  But then again, who knows what time of day the Cretaceous restaurants were open?     The fossil, another in a series of spectacular finds from the Liaoning Province in China, is creating a sensation, because […]

Bird Studies Overthrow Evolutionary Assumptions About Population Genetics

The assumption was that gene flow homogenized a population, and selection diversified it.  But now, two studies in Nature1,2 of an English songbird called the great tit, Parus major, carried on for decades, has shown that differences between closely-associated populations can persist in spite of homogenizing gene flow.  Garant et al. explain the significance of […]
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