This Week In Evolution 9.25.09

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?

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