Evolution news

10 million years ... evolution is slow and tedious, according to the latest

At http://phys.org/print257320509.html ... it is being claimed it took 10 million years for the eco-system to recover after the end of the Permian mass extinction event. A recent paper suggested the bounce back was rapid but now the opposite is being said as the basic cause of the extinctions was nothing so dramatic as catastrophism but grim conditions that lingered, global warming, acid rain, ocean acidification and ocean anoxia. All this was enough to wipe out 90 per cent of life forms on Earth. No wonder these scientists scare themselves silly just thinking about CAGW.

Crocodiles riding ocean currents

See www.physorg.com/print194859447.html ... not really SIS material but interesting as it may have evolutionary implications. How did they learn to do it, for example, aand are crocodiles really such brutes. Crocodiles in Australia cross large expanses of sea by riding the current. They will lay in wait until the right current comes along to get where they want to go. Literally, they surf, as crocodiles are not particularly good swimmers. In this way they are able to migrate and populate South Pacific islands.

Nature's batteries

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100525094906.htm there is an interesting article on research done by Leeds University and published in Chemical Communications. How did life on earth emerge from inanimate matter billions of years ago? What prompted abiogenesis?

Survival of the Fittest

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/10051010533.htm from a paper in Nature May 9th ... researchers used entire islands in the Bahamas to test the theory, survival of the fittest. Competition among lizards was found to be more important than predation by birds and snakes when it came to survival. They covered several small islands with bird-proof netting while others were left open, and on some islands snakes were added to expose the lizards to a greater degree of predation.

Roger thorpe

At www.physorg.com/print192453015.html ... research by evolutionary biologist Professor Roger Thorpe of Bangor University is contributing to a change in the way we think about evolution. A paper published in the online journal PLoS Genetics (April 29th) has been reported in Science and Nature (see doi:10.1371/journal.pages.10000929 (PLoS Genet 6 (4) ie10000929)

Mathematical Bio-Diversity

At www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/10042153931.htm April 25th ... a mathematical modle has been developed to unravel a key evolutionary riddle - what factors underlie the generation of biological diversity both within and between species. The emergence of rare traits in a population can spawn diversity - and some of these traits will prosper.

Mammoths on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean

At http://news.yahoo.com March 30th (science and archaeology section) ... reports on a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on what might have caused the extinction of wooly mammoths across Eurasia and North America - without firm conclusions. The paper instead addresses the survival of mammoths on Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast, and raises some very interesting points. However, it does not address the main one - why did mammoths live on an Arctic Ocean island during the Ice Age?

Rapid evolution?

Science Daily March 22nd ... www.sciencedaily.com/release/2010/03/100322083654.htm ... evolution can apparently proceed much more rapidly than has been thought. This is shown by Magnus Karlsson of Linnaes University. It is generally accepted that measurable evolutionary changes occur slowly, often taking 100s of generations.

Ape Folk

The Guardian and The Observer, soulmates in green politics, have a simlar choice of story regarding evolution of humanity. See online version at www.guardian.co.uk 21st February ... basically, it concerns the discovery 6 years ago of a small human species on an Indonesian island and this has caused all kinds of new ideas to promulgate. It is seriously being suggested that Hobbits preceded Homo Erectus in the journey Out of Africa - and went on to colonise other parts of the world.


New Scientist (online version) January 26th ... an article speculates that Darwin's ideas were only a part of the story of evolution. Darwin's explanation may apply only to recent history of life on earth whereas in the deep history of the earth evolution may have differed in some respects. At the root of the idea is overwhelming evidence for horizontal gene transfer - in which organisms aquire genetic material horizontally from other organisms around them rather than vertically from their parents or ancestors.