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Classifying Eukaryotes Easier than Evolving Them

If you like stories with surprise endings, check out an otherwise boring paper by two Canadian evolutionary biologists, Alistair G. B. Simpson and Andrew A. Roger, in the Sept. 7 issue of Current Biology.1  Their subject is the real “kingdoms” of eukaryotes (that’s all creatures with nuclei, including plants, animals, and a host of single-celled […]

Genes Fail to Reveal Evolutionary Pattern in European Mammals

One would think an examination of DNA from fossils would track the animal’s geographical distribution as they evolved.  However, a study reported in PNAS1 failed to find any correlation in European mammals after the last glaciation.  Hofreiter et al. report: Here, we analyze mtDNA sequences from cave bears, brown bears, cave hyenas, and Neandertals in […]

Extinctions Too Complex for Simple Stories

Impact theories of extinction are fighting for their own survival.  A commentary in PNAS1 warns that extinction theories are more complex than can be handled by a single event, like a meteor impact.  At best, they might be invoked as the coup-de-grace in a series of situations.  Hermann Pfefferkorn reveals the complexities in the Permian […]

Watch This Space:  What, and When, Was the Ediacaran Biota?

Evolutionary paleontologists are understandably very interested in the Ediacaran period (recently added to the geologic column) because, to them, it incorporates “the most ancient complex organisms on Earth.”  As classified, this Precambrian period (dated 580 to 543 million years old) precedes the Cambrian explosion by some 20 million years, yet “remains one of the greatest […]

Plants Found Two Miles Under Greenland Ice

According to a press release from University of Colorado,1 remnants of pine needles, bark and grass have been pulled up in an ice core from two miles under the Greenland ice sheet, between the bottom of the ice sheet and bedrock.  This is the first time plant material has been found under the Greenland ice, […]

So Is Archaeopteryx a Transitional Form, Or Not?

An international team set out to determine if the skull features of Archaeopteryx, the famous fossil bird, indicated whether it was capable of flight.  The answer reported in Nature1 was affirmative: Here we show the reconstruction of the braincase from which we derived endocasts of the brain and inner ear.  These suggest that Archaeopteryx closely […]

Worms Didn’t Evolve for 520 Million Years

J.Y. Chen and team in China have found another Cambrian fossil that exhibits zero evolution for nearly the entire history of life.  The abstract from the Royal Society Proceedings: Biological Sciences1 reports the discovery of three kinds of sipunculan worm near the base of the Cambrian, which all “have striking similarities to modern sipunculans.”  These […]

Cambrian Explosion Explained, or Explained Away?

James Valentine, an authority on early fossils, has just published a new 600-page book on the Cambrian explosion with the Darwinesque title, On the Origin of Phyla (U. of Chicago Press, 2004).  Stefan Bengtson (Swedish Museum of Natural History) reviewed it in the July 29 issue of Nature.1  He points out that “Darwin wisely called […]

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 […]

Earliest Bilaterian Fossil Claimed

Microscopic etchings in rock alleged to be primitive bilaterian fossils have been reported by J.Y. Chen et al. in China.  (Bilateria are organisms displaying symmetry along one axis.)  The report, printed in the July 9 issue of Science,1 dates the fossils at 40-55 million years before the Cambrian.  Erik Stokstad in the same issue2 calls […]

Dinos in the News

Three dinosaur finds were reported in the last month: Sauropod:  A new kind of sauropod was found in the Morrison Formation (Jurassic) in Montana, reported National Geographic News.  This kind of dinosaur was unexpected, and suggests an unknown fauna existed in a state known more for its Cretaceous meat-eaters.  The skull of this sauropod had […]

Do Fossils Show a Worldwide Record of Evolution?

The fossil record provides the acid test for evolutionary theory.  Everyone who walks a real dog by a poodle knows that small-scale variation occurs among living species, but non-evolutionists get understandably annoyed when Darwinians extrapolate the observed variations to encompass all of life: as if to say, because finch beaks vary, therefore humans had bacteria […]

Fossil Water Lily Matches Modern

Three Cornell botanists found fossil water lilies from the early Cretaceous that look nearly identical to modern ones, except that they are smaller.  The exquisitely-detailed fossils were preserved in a New Jersey clay pit by a process of coalification.  Water lilies (family Nymphaeaceae) are presumed by evolutionists to be among the earliest flowering plants (angiosperms).  […]

Another Impact Theory for Permian Extinction Proposed

Richard Kerr was very cautious in his announcement in Science1 about a new claim about an asteroid impact near Australia causing the Permian Extinction.  He went to lengths to point out that the evidence is not clear, and that many other scientists disagree.  After describing the “proposed” impact site, he cautioned: Not so fast, say […]

Fossil Hummingbird, Arthropod Look Modern

Science announced that a rare hummingbird fossil has been found in Germany and, though assumed to be 30 million years old, is indistinguishable from living New-World hummingbirds.  This upsets the standard theory that hummingbirds evolved in the New World only.  Writing in the May 7 issue,1 discoverer Gerald Mayr said, I report on tiny skeletons […]
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