Evolution news

Soft Tissue Fossils

This story is at https://phys.org/print437926257.html ... firstly, these kind of fossil are few and far between. The fossil record is mostly about the preservation of hard sections of the body - shells, bones, teeth etc. I was looking at some fossils of marine Pleisosaurs the other day and all that was dug out of the rock was the vertebrae and joint bones (although some smaller bones can be found). This is what we mostly know about dinosaurs - the skeletons. That is, until recently, when some of the soft parts have turned up.

Palaeolithic Farming

At http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/fall-2017/article/crocodile-bites-a... ... which is much as many have suspected. Cut marks on animal bones do not necessarily imply the use of stone and bone tools by early hominids. Many examples of human tool use may have nothing whatsoever to do with humans, or their earlier ancestors (such as Lucy). Some may be giant bite marks - inflicted by crocodiles, or big carnivores. These are often explained as primary evidence of butchering of carcasses using stone and bone tools.

The Square and Compass

I expect many thousands of people have enjoyed a pastie and a pint at the Square and Compass public house in Worth Matravers on the Isle of Purbeck, over the years. Lots of walkers for example, as there is a nice walk on narrow paths with hedges thick with primroses and wild garlic in the spring, leading eventually to the cliffs and a fine view of the Jurassic Coast. The pub is also popular with geologists and it seems a new species recently found has been named after the landlord of the Square and Compass - a nice touch. See https://phys.org/print429258235.html ...

Not Out of Africa

Another theory dropped on its head and given a shaking before being turned upside down. At https://phys.org/print414742180.html ... Charles Darwin said humans evolved in Africa - and the politically correct meme has repeated this ad nauseum for many years. It fits the multi-cultural scenario and is embedded in what can only be described as politicised science. The Leakey excavations along the Rift Valley in northern Kenya have tended to support the scenario and one might say if the Earth was a stationary globe in space it is a reasonable theory.

Spanish Alligators

At https://phys.org/print410076807.html ... bringing home the fact southern Europe was semi-tropical not so many million years ago - just 16 it would seem. This is how far the Iberian peninsular has shifted since that period - either by Plate Tectonics/Drift or by pole movement.

  

David Salkeld

Robert Farrar sent in another link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFI4SYKfpTg ... He asks if David Salkeld's article in SIS Review 2009 (and the idea of Intelligent Design) has any correspondence with the kind of plasma formations in the video link above.

worms and monster worms

At https://phys.org/print406885152.html ... we have a primordial giant worm with snapping jaws. Worms are usually measured in inches but this worm was two or three metres in length. The lead author of the study, Mats Eriksson, says it represents a case of gigantism, a poorly understood phenomenon. In this case gigantism belongs to the Palaeozoic, 400 million years ago. The same story is at www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4242734/Worm-two-metres-long-dsi... ... (sent in by Robert Farrar).

Tree of Life

At http://phys.org/print403288528.html ... some revelatory facts on how palaeontologists peg fossils on the Tree of Life that you commonly come across in museum displays and in textbooks on evolution of life on earth. It is parsimony. This is the method that has been in vogue, the idea that evolution proceeds by the fewest of possible changes.

Aquatic Apes

David Attenborough's recent TV programme that waltzed around the aquatic ape theory has been given a roasting in some quarters (at WattsUpWithThat for example). A response at http://theconversation.com/sorry-david-attenborough-we-didnt-evolve-from... ... encapsulates the negative  reaction but the comments at the WattsUpWithThat piece may perhaps catch the flavour of the response from the general public.

stromatolites

At http://phys.org/print391942311.html ... the world's oldest fossils have been found in Greenland - going back 3700 million years ago (or 3.7 billion years ago) which is surprising as this means bacterial life was present half a billion years after the planet was formed. At this time, and for thousands of millions of years afterwards, life consisted of single cells. Stromatolite fossils are mounds of carbonate constructed by microbial life forms and they represent obvious evidence such communities existed.