Biology news


At ... we have a new species of troodontid with what appears to be an asymmetric feather construct, found in China. It looks a bit like a large pheasant, although the investigators liken it to a chicken. The research is published in Nature Communications (May 2017) and the specimen is dated at 125 million years ago. It seems to be a bird that may have been able to fly - but this has not been verified certainly. It may have flown in short bursts like a modern pheasant. Do chickens fly?

Bayesian Maths

The Conversation is a news journal well known for publishing gobbledegook articles. It also publishes incisive articles too. I'm not sure what bracket this one goes under - go to It seems to be an argument in favour of modelling over common sense. It also seems to criticise science prior to the modern era, even perhaps prior to the 21st century AD. We can see why Bayesian methodology has been used in dating archaeological event as it averages out a raft of C14 dates and settles on particular date.

Hydrogen on Enceladus

The BBC was highly excitable on Thursday evening - hours of debate on the prospect of life on Enceladus, a moon of the planet Saturn. The presenters had seemingly read little or anything about the subject prior to their auto cue reader being set in front of their noses, but hey, they were out to educate the public. Analysis of data from NASAs Cassini Mission spacecraft indicates hydrogen gas in the plume of material erupting from Enceladus. Hydrogen, it says, is best explained by chemical reactions between the moon's rocky core and warm water from its sub-surface ocean.

Teleocrater Rhadinus

Teleocrater rhadinus is the name of a critical animal that lived during an important transition - from reptile to dinosaur (and eventually birds). It is a cousin of the dinosaurs, yet has many reptilian traits. Therefore it has been positioned on the tree of evolutionary development at an early stage - prior to the dinosaurs proper. There is of course one reason for this - it lived in the Triassic (before the dinosaur age took off). In positioning in late Triassic it provides a mechanism for evolutionary development. This is particularly relevant in neo-catastrophist evolution.

blood in amber

At ... blood preserved in amber, the fossilised red blood cells of monkeys.

At ... Palaeontologists have used skulls to delineate how much movement certain animals had in their necks - such as birds, dinosaurs, alligators etc.


Grasses have an ability to conserve water in their leaves. They can also absorb carbon dioxide without losing any water. Grasses are well equipped to deal with rapidly changing weather and strong winds, the kind that sweep across plains, praire and steppe environments. It would be also true to say that herbivores adapted to eating rough grasses, as well as seeking out the sweet grasses.


The good side of midges is explored at ... ecologists have been studying midges in Wisconsin and Iceland. There are 15,000 lakes in Wisconsin and a third of the State lies within 200m of a lake or stream. Biting midges terrorise tourists and walkers in western Scotland (and horse flies in England) - so what use are these insects?

Rethinking Human Evolution

The headline should be - rethinking some aspects of human evolution. At ... and I suppose the problem can be laid at Uniformitarian principles, progress in small steps, from primitive thinking to sophisticated behaviour. Palaeoanthropologists have long cast their eye upon stone tools as a means of evaluating human progress (on the evolutionary scale that primitive is almost always older than the better examples of manufacture).

Dinosaur collagen

This story was at Dr Wile's blog a way back. At ... dinosaurs are mostly known from fossilised bone but last year palaeontologists claimed they have now found collagen in a rib from 195 million years ago - which caused a bit of a stir as proteins were not supposed to survive for that long a time. An article in Nature Communications (Feb 2017) re-examines the issues involved, particularly the survival of soft tissue.


At ... the mechanism for photosynthesis existed in primeval microbes. Will this put an end to the idea of earth as a satellite of Saturn? Thunderbolts and the Saturn Theory are like a hand and a glove but what does this study mean for the idea of solar system re-arrangement. Photosynthesis creates oxygenised carbohydrates such as glucose from solar energy, water, and co2 (carbon). It is indispensable for many species on this planet.