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Lung Link to Dinos and Birds Disputed

Carl Wieland at AIG has given a creationist response to the widely-publicized claim last week that dinosaurs breathed like birds (see Live Science and News@Nature). Creationists are good for evolutionists.  Otherwise, who would keep their rampant speculations in check?  If evolutionists were really interested in truth, they would welcome debate over interpretations of evidence from […]

Horse Evolution Tale Gets Hairier

If you thought the story of horse evolution was well understood as a poster child of Darwinism at work, consider what Weinstock et al. say in a preprint in PLoS Biology:1 The rich fossil record of horses has made them a classic example of evolutionary processes.  However, while the overall picture of equid evolution is […]

Croc Teeth Bite Fatal Wound into Dino Phylogeny

This line sounds serious: “We have pretty much erased the record of Triassic ornithischian dinosaurs from North America, Europe and worldwide, except for South America.”  This is what William Parker said about his find of a complete Revueltosaurus fossil in Arizona that upsets the leading story of the rise of the ornithischian dinosaurs (one of […]

Did Fossils Inspire Thunderbird Legends?

Adrienne Major thinks that the Lakota got their legend of the Thunderbird from looking at fossil pterosaurs in the badlands.  Her speculation is explored in National Geographic News.  Major thinks other world legends have their origin in fossils that ancient people observed. This hypothesis is no less speculative than the one by creationists that Indians […]

Obsessed With Sex: How Much Can Be Known About the Sexuality of Hominids?

Bruce Bower in Science News (June 11, 167:24, p. 379) reported on the controversy about the sex life of Lucy and her mate(s).  Owen Lovejoy and Philip L. Reno (Kent State U, Ohio) have “unabashedly” put forth a hypothesis that Mr. and Mrs. Australopithecus afarensis (let’s call him Desi) had long-term relationships and stable families […]

Soft T-Rex Tissue Claimed Bird-Like; Age Ignored

More details about the soft tissue found in a T. rex thigh bone (see 03/24/2005 story) were published in Science this week.1  Mary Schweitzer’s team claims to have found evidence of medullary bone [MB], a type of mineralized and vascularized bony tissue found only in certain birds during ovulation as a buffer against calcium loss.  […]

Neanderthals and Modern Humans May Have Interbred

They lived together, they morphed into one another, so were members of Homo neanderthalensis really a separate species from Homo sapiens?  Findings announced in Nature1 show a mixture of Neanderthal-like characteristics in modern human skeletons from Romania that led Science Now to state, “Oldest Europeans were swingers.”  Because new radiocarbon dates of these skeletons put […]

Stegosaur Plates Were for Decoration

Berkeley scientists are disputing the notion that the rows of plates on the backs of stegosaurs served as heat exchangers.  Instead, they were for show.  EurekAlert and Science Daily explain that this was probably true of other dinosaur decorations: “The team’s analysis of stegosaur plates lends support to a growing consensus among paleontologists that the […]

David Attenborough Finds Living Fossil Tree Romantic, Not Devastating

England’s famous Kew Royal Botanical Gardens is getting a Wollemi Pine, and David Attenborough, naturalist and evolution popularist, is proud of it.  This “living fossil” was thought extinct for 200 million years, but was found alive and well a few years ago in Australia (see 12/15/2000 entry).     Grinning like a kid at Christmas, […]

Toothy Dinosaur Goes Vegan

The news media all pounced on a dinosaur fossil discovery reported in Nature this week.1  Dinosaur finds are ever popular, and reporters especially like it when an artist’s rendition is available.  Some outlets reporting the discovery of Falcarius utahensis, a previously unknown species “in the process of converting to vegetarianism from a rather more bloodthirsty […]

Missing Link Fish Story

Once upon a time, 450 million years ago, scavenger fish without teeth or bones roamed the shallow icy waters of Africa which was undergoing an Ice Age.  Slowly, over millions of years, they gained teeth and other structures characteristic of more advanced fish.  Then, a few thousand years ago, a lake in the (now continental […]

Giant Carnivorous Amphibians Found in African Fossil Deposit

Meat-eating amphibians shaped like crocodiles?  Be glad you didn’t live in West Africa 250 million years ago, say scientists at McGill University.  Two species were described, one with large and small fang-like teeth, and another with curved horns on the back of its head. The fossils didn’t come with dates on them, and since amphibian […]

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 […]

Gorilla or Hominid?  Toumaï Controversy Continues

Michel Brunet’s controversial Toumaï skull (Sahelanthropus tchadensis) made the cover of Nature last week,1,2 but rivals contend it was not part of the human line.  The skull he found in Chad in 2002 (see 07/11/2002 and 10/09/2002 entries) was badly disfigured and needed reconstructive surgery, leading to criticisms that any interpretations were subjective.     […]

Do Neurologists Understand Brain Evolution?

Jane Bradbury wrote a feature piece for PLOS Biology recently,1 entitled, “Molecular Insights into Human Brain Evolution.”  Help us find the insights.  First, she marvels on how “humans sit on top of the pile when it comes to relative brain size.”  Then she marvels at how quickly the human brain apparently evolved compared to apes.  […]
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