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Permian Extinction Recovery Story Stretches Credibility

It goes without saying that Darwin’s theory fits hand in glove with the geological dating scheme, but how reliable is the latter?  The textbook age names – Permian, Triassic, Jurassic, Eocene and all the rest – have taken on their own life as assumed truths.  Every once in awhile, though, papers are published that require […]

Feather Technology Resurrected in Printer After 40 Million Years

A fossil bird feather from Germany still shows that melanosomes – the cell organelles that produce iridescent colors in feathers – are still visible after an alleged 40 million years.  The structures were long thought to be remnants of bacteria that fed on the organic matter, but now are seen to consist of original feather […]

Evolution of the Knuckle Head

An evolutionary anthropologist looked at the knuckles of chimpanzees.  Then she looked at the knuckles of gorillas.  Then she looked at her own knuckles.  Conclusion: humans evolved from tree climbers, not knuckle walkers.  Her theory can be read in Live Science, based on a paper in PNAS.1     Tracy Kivell and Daniel Schmitt from […]

Pterosaur Fuzz May Have Boosted Flying Finesse

Fibers on a well-preserved pterosaur from Mongolia are unlike anything seen before.  Scientists wonder if it gave the animals better control in the air.  National Geographic News said the hairlike fibers cover the whole body and part of the wings of Jeholopterus ninchengensis.  Normally, such fine details are not preserved in fossils.  “It must have […]

Dino Protein Confirmed

An independent study of bone marrow contents from a T. rex that was reported in 2007 to contain fragments of protein has confirmed the claim, reported Science Daily.  Seven peptides from collagen, and apparently traces from hemoglobin, were detected.  The findings are scheduled to be published in the Sept. 4 issue of Journal of Proteome […]

Stretching Out the Cambrian Explosion

“Dawn of the animals: Solving Darwin’s dilemma” is the confident-sounding title of an article about the Cambrian explosion in New Scientist.  Their solution, however, did not include finding transitional forms.  It revolved around “setting the stage” environmentally for the sudden appearance of complex animals.     Reporters Douglas Fox and Michael Le Page began by […]

Greening the Cambrian Explosion

Some scientists came up with an idea that simple green plants may have invaded the land earlier than thought, and that this might have helped speed up the rise of animals in the Cambrian explosion.  “The plants were only tiny mosses and liverworts, but they would have had a profound effect on the planet,” said […]

Dakota Dino Reveals Skin Cells

“Absolutely amazing” and “absolutely gobsmacking” are exclamations made by scientists analyzing the fossilized skin of a hadrosaur known as Dakota.  The researchers found cell structures and organic matter in the skin and layers that resemble the skin of birds and crocodiles.     The specimen was uncovered in 1999 on a North Dakota ranch and […]

The Elephant Explosion

The title is not intended to suggest pieces of pachyderm flying all over the place, but rather one paleontologist’s theory about the rapid pace of elephant evolution 60 million years ago.  He bases his ideas on a small fossil he found in Morocco.  According to him, the primitive ancestor of all elephants (order Proboscidea) lived […]

Dino Fossils Generate Overblown Claims

04/10/2006), inventing feathers out of thin air.  This time, it was justified on the basis of a new paper in Nature that claims to remove an obstacle in the dinosaur-bird evolution story.1  Doubters had pointed to differences in the three forward-pointing toes.  With dinosaurs, it was toes 1, 2 and 3 that were retained; while […]

Birds Didn’t Evolve from Dinosaurs

June 9, 2009 — “The findings add to a growing body of evidence in the past two decades that challenge some of the most widely-held beliefs about animal evolution.”  That statement is not being made by creationists, but by science reporters describing work at Oregon State University that cast new doubt on the idea that […]

Hominids, Homonyms, and Homo sapiens

How’s the story of human evolution hanging together these days?  There’s no better place to look than the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences.  In the yearly issue released this month, Ian Tattersall and Jeffrey Schwartz gave a pretty thorough overview of the “Evolution of the Genus Homo.”1  Their account is fraught with controversy, […]

Ho-Hum, Another Human Missing Link

Shoppers typically are wary of over-hyped ads, knowing that any claim sounding too good to be true probably is.  What would they think about media reports claiming a new fossil monkey is the “8th wonder of the world”?     The scientific paper in PLoS ONE1 had hardly been published before the press went ape, […]

Early Man IQ: Et Tu, Brute?

Anthropologists are receiving a jolt about the intelligence of early man.  Long before the cave paintings showed our forebears exercising art appreciation, new findings suggest they were gifted individuals, not brutes.     The first report was about manufactured beads dated older than 82,000 years.  Science Daily said, “The shells are currently at the centre […]

Dinosaur Blood Protein, Cells Recovered

It’s official: soft tissue, including blood vessel proteins and structures resembling cells, have been recovered from dinosaur bone.  Mary Schweitzer’s amazing claim in 2005 (03/24/2005) was subsequently disputed as possible contamination from biofilms (07/30/2008).  Now, Schweitzer and her team took exceptional precautions to avoid contamination by excavating hadrosaur bone from sandstone said to be 80 […]
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