This Week In Evolution 9.25.09

September 25, 2009

1. The oldest bird has been discovered – Previously, Archaeopteryx has been the oldest transitional species between dinosaurs and birds that we’d found. That was 150 million years old. But now we’ve discovered Anchiornis huxleyi:

Anchiornis huxleyi – which dates from 161-151 million years ago, is in the line that likely led to birds, and is feathered but more primitive than Archaeopteryx.

That’s 161,994,000-151,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.

2. Whale, Dolphin Evolution: Origin Of Cetaceans -

When the ancestors of living cetaceans—whales, dolphins and porpoises—first dipped their toes into water, a series of evolutionary changes were sparked that ultimately nestled these swimming mammals into the larger hoofed animal group. But what happened first, a change from a plant-based diet to a carnivorous diet, or the loss of their ability to walk?

A new paper published this week in PLoS ONE resolves this debate using a massive data set of the morphology, behavior, and genetics of living and fossil relatives. Cetacean ancestors probably moved into water before changing their diet (and their teeth) to include carnivory; Indohyus, a 48-million year-old semi-aquatic herbivore, and hippos fall closest to cetaceans when the evolutionary relationships of the larger group are reconstructed.

3. Ghostshark with genitals on its head discovered – DAMN! For the last time, I ordered sharks with FREAKIN’ lazer beams attached to their heads. What am I supposed to do with a shark with a penis on its head?


Evolution Of Fins And Limbs Linked With That Of Gills

March 25, 2009

ScienceDaily reports that a new study has found that the same genetic toolkit that animals use to build fins and limbs also controls the development of part of the gill skeleton in sharks.

“In fact, the skeleton of any appendage off the body of an animal is probably patterned by the developmental genetic program that we have traced back to formation of gills in sharks,” said Andrew Gillis, lead author of the paper and a graduate student in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. “We have pushed back the evolutionary origin of the developmental genetic program that patterns fins and limbs.”

This new finding is consistent with an old theory, often discounted in science textbooks, that fins and (later) limbs evolved from the gills of an extinct vertebrate, Gillis added. “A dearth of fossils prevents us from definitely concluding that fins evolved from gills. Nevertheless, this research shows that the genetic architecture of gills, fins and limbs is the same.”

The research builds on the breakthrough discovery of the fossil Tiktaalik, a “fish with legs,” by Neil Shubin and his colleagues in 2006. “This is another example of how evolution uses common developmental programs to pattern different anatomical structures,” said Shubin, who is the senior author on the PNAS paper and Professor and Associate Dean of Organismal and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. “In this case, shared developmental mechanisms pattern the skeletons of vertebrate gill arches and paired fins.”

So yeah, once again another slam dunk for evolution.


First Fossil Brain found

March 3, 2009

Scientists have found a fossil brain:

A 300-million-year-old brain of a relative of sharks and ratfish has been revealed by French and American scientists using synchrotron holotomography at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). It is the first time that the soft tissue of such an old fossil brain has ever been found.

And once again, for those keeping track, that’s 299,994,000 years before the existence of the whole universe, according to Young Earth Creationists.


News From Around The Blogosphere 10.10.08

October 11, 2008

Indian censors say no to condom and yes to sex – By Bollywood standards, just the make-out scene in the new movie Hello featuring former Miss India and Maxim model Gul Panag is risqué. But what India’s Censor Board is really upset about is that in the scene, Panag and actor Sharman Joshi are fooling around and Panag’s character asks her partner if he has a condom.

Catholicism: The Cause of Needless Suffering – Washington state has a ballot measure coming up that would make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication for the terminally ill. Pope Ratzinger approves, saying people must accept death at “the hour chosen by God.” So I guess The Pope doesn’t seeks doctors or medical treatment of any kind, right?

Jeremy Hall withdraws his suit – Jeremy Hall, who had previously filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, has now voluntarily withdrawn it. Earlier, he had stated that he was denied a promotion and prevented from holding a meeting for fellow atheists. He had also received a death threat from another soldier. Those charges still stand. However, since Hall is planning on leaving the Army in the spring, he dropped the lawsuit (PDF).

Parents outraged by pro-Islam baby doll:

A doll some are claiming utters pro-Islam and even satanic messages has outraged parents in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Well, which is it? Pro-Islam or satanic ? Or is this just one fickle doll? Well, it turns out to be, like with EVPs, just an example of auditory pareidolia. If you don’t know what you’re supposed to be hearing then you either just hear random-sounding noise or you hear something else. Listen for yourself here.

Lisa: “Don’t you people see anything wrong what Malibu Stacy says?”
Celeste: “There’s something wrong with what my Stacy says…” [Pull's string]
Stacy: “My spidey sense is tingling… anybody call for a web-slinger?”

As I was going to Saint Ives,
I met a rabbi with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks,
Every sack had seven cats,
Every cat had seven kittens,
Kittens, cats, sacks, wives,
How many were going to Saint Ives?

Times Online article on the “ex-gay movement”

Another day, another preacher caught collecting kiddie porn:

A deacon will likely preach Sunday at Oswegatchie First Baptist Church in the aftermath of the resignation of the Rev. Merton E. Parks, who admits he downloaded child pornography from sites on the Internet.

DNA proves virgin birth in Virginia? - Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water–Shark Messiah! Amateur Scientist calls it Jawsus.

The Plant Liberation Front – Switzerland scientists there must now justify the ethics of genetic research on plants.

Death From The Skies! – Now available on Amazon and fine bookstores everywhere.

Skepbitch gets a personal tour of the JREF by James “The Amazing” Randi himself.

Ray “The Banana Guy” Comfort declares the economic crisis is a sign of the End Times! – I’m sure he’s not the only religious nut making this leap. And of course, when the crisis has abated (after the landslide Democratic victory on November 4), they’ll conveniently forget that once again, THEY WERE WRONG! But of course the real problem is that these religious kooks are looking forward to disaster and the end of the world. This is what Bill Maher’s talking about in Religulous. They want the apocalypse to happen and some will stop at nothing to ensure that it does.

AND NOW FOR A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:

Warming Threats To Tropical Rainforest Species – “Contrary to conventional wisdom, tropical plant and animal species living in some of the warmest places on Earth may be threatened by global warming, according to an article by University of Connecticut Ecologist Robert K. Colwell and colleagues the journal Science.”

Skeptologist Dr. Kirsten Stanford presents The Science Word for 10.10.09.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers