Biology news

soft tissue

Robert Farrar sent in this link, ... which concerns a paper in the online journal PLoS One which documents the survival of soft tissue preserved in ancient reptiles from the Triassic. Soft tissue from Jurassic dinosaurs is also known - but we are going back over 200 million years ago.

lizards in amber

Lots of insects have been found in amber - but apparently so were lizards and geekos ... and the chameleon - go to

moose, dragonflies, owls

At ... a moose living in western Siberia, in the Tomsk region, has been gene mapped in an attempt to form a link with moose living in Siberia until 30 to 40,000 years ago. They appear to have disappeared - or most of them - but so did lots of other animals at this point in time (and no doubt humans too).

At ... the subject here is the Snowy Owl and a bird that was tagged and travelled to the far north and back to Maryland - stopping enroute on top of a skyscraper in Manhattan.

writhing innards

Writhing innards, as in wiggly things like nematoid worms and squidgy life forms such as bacteria. At ... we learn a mile to two miles below the surface of our planet life is teeming with diverse creatures. Geomicrobiologists have been exploring the ground under our feet - looking at rocks and strata that go back even earlier than the Jurassic. Bacteria are still living in them. Deep life has been found all over the world under a variety of conditions.

Life on Earth

One of the consensus ideas that has been popular for a long period of time is the belief that early Earth, over 3 billion years ago, was much warmer than it is today. In fact, some people have gone so far as to suggest that life could only have started to flourish in high temperatures, much warmer than in the modern world. Walls, it is said, are built to be knocked down - and it seems new research may be about to knock down this particular wall of the consensus.

swimming dinosaurs

The idea of swimming dinosaurs has become popular recently, an idea deriving from footprints left behind which tend to show just the front or rear footfalls but not both front and rear at the same time. Various sets of footprints, after the initial claim, have been added to the accumulating idea that dinosaurs could swim or wade, but just what kind of environment is envisaged during the Jurassic. In the UK, if you go by geological theory, half the country was underwater with numerous sand bars and estuarine locations, in a climate very close to that of modern Florida.

another giant

At ... glypodonts, like all armadilloes, originate from a common ancestor around 35 million years ago. The glypodont is a very large version of the armadillo and lived during the Late Plaeistocene - at the same time as giant elephants, giant grould sloths, giant elk and deer, and giant forms of lots of other animals. At the end of the Ice Age all these large mammals became extinct - why? Why did they grow to such a large size? It is almost reminiscent of the Jurassic era - when small dinosaurs of the Triassic became larger versions of the same animal.


The Zika virus appears to be the latest in a long line of health 'doom mongerings' that has gone viral on social media and the internet and has been stirred and sloshed on mainstream media. It follows in the recent tradition of doom laden health scare stories such as Aids, Bird Flu, and Mad Cow Disease - and more recently the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. For a view from a mainstream party line go to ...

European migrations

An article in Current Biology 26 page 1-7 by Posth et al is interesting - see also ... which provides a link via 'Pleistocene mitochondrial genomes suggest a single major dispersal of non-Africans and a Late Glacial population tunrover in Europe.' Quite how, or what impelled modern humans to disperse into Eurasia and Australasia is an unknown but genetics may be able to pick up such movements, and these appear to be multiple rather than a single movement flux.

human evolution

A special issue of the Journal of Human Evolution (Jan 2016) presents the results of a long term excavation of a site in Lower Saxony at an open cast coal mine. The recent archaeology of course had nothing to do with the laying down of the coal - but came from soil layers on top of the quarry. Well preserved wooden utensils and even a wooden spear have been uncovered over the last couple of years, as well as bone tools. Thewy seem to have liked hunting and eating horses as many remains of these animals has been found at the site - along with other animals, including at least one carnivore.