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Extinction Puzzle Explained as Selection Effect

It’s not evolution, it’s statistics.  That’s the conclusion of Robert Scotland and Michael Sanderson in the Jan. 30 issue of Science.  What’s the puzzle? When biodiversity is examined in the context of species richness, a consistent feature emerges: Most taxonomic groups are species-poor, relatively few are species-rich, and the frequency distribution has the shape of […]

The New Phrenology Ostracizes Neanderthals

Scientists contrasted different points on Neanderthal skulls to modern human skulls, and concluded Neanderthals were a separate species.  The New York Times report by John Noble Wilford says that not all scientists are convinced, however, by the analysis published by Katerina Harvati et al. in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 Jan. 26 […]

La Brea Tar Pits Trap Scientists

Sid Perkins of Science News dropped in at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, and got stuck, not in tar, but in the sticky evolutionary interpretations of these world-famous fossil deposits.  This fossil bed, right in one of the ritziest parts of Los Angeles (adjacent to the County Art Museum), Perkins whimsically calls “L.A.’s […]

Fossil Worm: Does It Help Solve Cambrian Explosion Puzzle?

A soft embryo of a Cambrian worm, exquisitely preserved, makes Graham Budd (U. of Uppsala, Sweden) ask some hard questions about it and other recently-discovered embryo fossils in the Jan. 15 issue of Nature:1 These fossils raise several questions, to say the least.  First, how could they possibly be preserved?  Second, why are they concentrated […]

Chinese Puzzle: New Primate Fossil Raises Eyebrows

A new fossil primate skull from China, alleged to be 55 million years old, provides “much-needed substantial evidence of early primates in Asia,” says Robert Martin (Field Museum, Chicago), reporting in the Jan. 1 issue of Nature.1  But “interpretation of the creature’s eye size and activity pattern,” he says, “will spark debate.”  (This is code […]

Line Between Neanderthals and Modern Humans Blurs

There seems to have been an intergradation between big-boned Neanderthals and modern humans, according to the BBC News.  “Newly identified remains from Vindija in Croatia, which date to between 42,000 and 28,000 years ago, are more delicate than ‘classic’ Neanderthals,” writes Paul Rincon.  Not only that, stone tools found nearby look like those of modern […]

How Darwinism Produces Job Security

One thing Darwinism has going for it: it provides endless opportunities to research stories that are nearly impossible to prove.     A case in point was provided in the Dec. 18 issue of Nature.1  John R. Hutchinson (Royal Veterinary College, UK), in a News and Views article on bird evolution, reviewed the new angle […]

Art Evolution Is Backwards

Early art has again been shown to be the work of advanced intellect and culture (see Apr. 22 headline and embedded links).  Carved animal figurines found in Germany1 estimated to be 30,000 to 33,000 years old, display a level of craftsmanship not expected among primitive humans.  In the Dec. 18 issue of Nature2, Anthony Sinclair […]

Despite New Fossil, Origin of Marsupials Still Puzzles Evolutionists

Although the earliest known marsupial has just been found in China1, Richard L. Cifelli and Brian M. Davis, writing in the Dec. 12 issue of Science2 consider the phylogenetic trees of marsupial and placental mammals conflicting and puzzling.  Problems include (emphasis added): Switcheroo:  Fossil marsupials are predominately found in North America, but living ones are […]

New Record-Setting Living Fossil Flabbergasts Scientists

A remarkably-detailed fossil ostracode, a type of crustacean, has been announced in the Dec. 5 issue of Science1 that is blowing the socks off its discoverers.  Erik Stokstad in a review of the discovery in the same issue2 explains its significance in the evolutionary picture of prehistory: Over the past half-billion years, evolution has dished […]

If a Meteor Roasted the Dinosaurs, Where’s the Charcoal?

A majority of scientists continue to believe that a falling asteroid felled the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but problems remain.  London geologists went looking for evidence of charcoal at the Cretaceous-Tertiary layers, when the assumed impact occurred, assuming that the force of impact would have ignited a worldwide conflagration (thus the extinction of the […]

Got That?  The Complex Story of African Mammal Evolution

The article by Jean-Jacques Jaeger in the Dec. 4 issue of Nature1 is pretty upbeat about the evolutionary history of African mammals, but takes a bit of untangling to follow.     He begins confidently, “For some 40 million years, the Afro-Arabian landmass existed in splendid isolation.  A newly described fossil fauna from the end […]

Fossil Fingers Fuddle Phylogeny

Another fossil complicates the evolutionists’ picture of tetrapod origins (see Aug 9 headline).  Chinese paleontologists have reported1 a new marine reptile from Triassic strata (242 million years old, more or less).  Unexpectedly, it has extra digits (a condition called polydactyly) just like the putative ancestors of tetrapods from the earlier Devonian strata (370-354 million years […]

Dinosaur Family Tracks Discovered

A set of dinosaur tracks of different sizes pointing in the same direction has been found on the Isle of Skye, reports the BBC News.  It seems to indicate one adult and 10 juveniles, all of the same species, were moving together.  To Neil Clark, curator of the Glasgow Museum, these tracks tell a story […]

How Bambi Gave Rise to Moby Dick

The title of this entry, in Kipling Just-So Story format, is only slightly modified from an article from The Guardian, titled, “How Bambi evolved into Moby-Dick.”  This is not a joke; check on the link and see.     The article is about the latest fossil claimed to be ancestral to whales.  Hans Thewissen (Northeastern […]
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