lampreys, bird eggs, and bird brains.

16 Oct 2014

At ... lamprey larva are soft and small and are rarely fossilised. Lampreys themselves are also rarely fossilised because they do not have a skeleton - they have no bones and no teeth. They suck blood. However, in Lower Mongolia there is a Late Cretaceous shale deposit with a perfectly preserved collection of lampreys and their larvae.

At ... a Brazilian fossilised bird egg has been found - dating back to the Mezosoic. A very thin shelled specimen to boot. It is hope it will provide a clue to the ecology of Brazil in the Mezosoic. What was the climate like, for instance. The preservation of a thin shelled bird's egg is merely accepted as feasible - but should we not wonder how that occurred.

At ... here we have a claim that Swiss scientists have explained the evolution of extreme parasites.

At ... is much more interesting than fossils and things - it is about 'bird brains'. These have an in-built GPS system which is superior to anything humans possess. A small part of the brain of animals, including humans, known as the hippocampus, stores a map of their surroundings - and helps them to navigate. Next, we have a bit of evolution in action - or is it Lamarkism. The study mentions London black cab drivers, saying they have bigger hippocampi than their average punters. The expansion, it is suggested, is due to the fact they use their hippocampus on a regular basis in order to navigate through the back streets. It seems that some birds also have larger than average hippocampi.