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Modern Crustacean Found in Early Cambrian

A “crown-group crustacean” that is “markedly similar to those of living cephalocarids, branchiopods and copepods” has been found exquisitely preserved in early Cambrian fossil beds from China, an international team reported in Nature.1  Though such organisms have been found in middle and later Cambrian rocks, this pushes the origin of eucrustacea (crustaceans of modern aspect) […]

Exceptional Preservation: Can It Last Hundreds of Millions of Years?

What can happen in 460 million years?  A lot, according to the standard geological timescale.  In this diagram of geological and biological evolution, accepted by nearly all geologists, all the continents came together 260 million years ago, broke up 200 million years ago, and broke into our familiar continents 100 million years ago (mya).  In […]

Early Beetle Was Armed

According to Live Science, a beetle preserved in amber, dated at 100 million years old, was caught in the act of using chemical warfare.  “Soldier beetles” capable of this kind of advanced defense system were not thought to have evolved till 60 million years later.     This article contains several statements worthy of the […]

Was Velociraptor a Dragon?

As if Velociraptor, the terror of Jurassic Park, was not scary enough, some scientists are now saying it was feathered.  (This, of course, does not imply it could fly after its human prey like some movie dragon.)  The latest claim in Science is based on the apparent presence of “quill knobs” on the radius bone […]

Early Reptile Had Modern Ears

Modern ears are nothing new; they go back 260 million years.  That’s the gist of a paper in PLoS ONE that reported on a Russian reptile fossil.1  The research team was surprised to discover that the creature had impedance-matched ears, a novelty thought to have evolved 50 million years later.  Somehow this innovation survived one […]

Dinosaurs Stretched, Shrunk and Twisted Into Birds

Size matters, thought paleontologists envisioning the evolution of birds from dinosaurs.  The old story was that dinosaurs shrunk as their arms were becoming wings.  That view has been challenged by a new fossil reported in Science.1  Alan H. Turner (American Museum of Natural History) and four others reported a “basal dromeosaurid” that was small long […]

Do Genes Reveal the Cambrian Explosion?

A Croatian geneticist believes he can find the Cambrian Explosion in the genes.  Science Daily told about Tomislav Domazet-Loso from the Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, whose team employed a “novel methodological approach in evolutionary studies” they called “genomic phylostratigraphy.”  Looking for a “genetic trigger” for the Cambrian explosion, they hoped their method can “shed […]

Messy Evidence Proves Humans Evolved

An article from Live Science seems to suggest that the way to do science these days is to believe things in spite of the evidence – at least when it comes to human evolution.  In a juxtaposition of imponderables that might make a schizophrenic feel at home, Meredith Small asserted that evolution is a fact […]

Tales of Two Footprints

Footprints in the sands of time have been found at two different locations.  What tales do they tell?     One is a footprint of a Roman soldier.  EurekAlert described how the sandal print was uncovered at Hippos, or Susita, on a hill east of the Sea of Galilee.  It hints that soldiers participated in […]

Fossil Gorilla Forces Hominid Ancestor Earlier

A set of gorilla teeth found in Ethiopia pushes the evolutionary story of a split between apes and humans back almost twice as far as previously thought.  Nature reported the fossil announcement that estimated the date of the teeth as 10.5-11 million years old.1  The prior estimate for a human-ape divergence was about 6 million. […]

Two Ways to Look at a Fin

Two science articles this month showed very different ways to look at a fish fin.  One looked for evolution; the other looked for design.  One tried to trace an evolutionary story with no practical application; the other tried to find ways to improve our lives.     The evolutionary story involved a fossil coelacanth.  Science […]

Largest Dinosaur Mass Grave in Switzerland Found

As many as 100 plateosaurs may be buried in a mass grave in Switzerland, reported the Reuters news service.  “The finds show that an area known for Plateosaurus finds for decades may be much larger than originally thought” – as much as a mile in width in the town of Frick, near the German border.  […]

Trilobite Tree Is Upside Down

Darwin predicted that life would become more diverse over time, like the branches on a tree.  The pattern of trilobites in the fossil record is just the opposite: more diversity appears in the lower layers, and less diversity in the upper layers.  Surprisingly, evolutionary paleontologists are turning this into evidence for Darwin’s theory.     […]

Dinosaur Sex and Other Tales

How much do we really know about dinosaurs?  How much can be inferred from their bones?  Two recent stories illustrate conflicting themes: much of what we thought we knew was wrong, but that doesn’t stop evolutionary paleontologists from speaking with confidence. Walking with dino ancestors:  Paleontologists used to think that the alleged precursors of dinosaurs […]

Roadrunner and Largest Flying Bird Described from Fossils

A bird with a 23-foot wingspan was described in the BBC News.  At an estimated 155 pounds, this bird probably had to jump from a height to get airborne and likely rode on thermals.  The article says the bird rivalled in size some light airplanes.  A diagram shows the Argentinean giant with wings upwardly stretched […]
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