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Mammals and K/T

10 June 2016

At http://phys.org/print384535030.html … mammals were fairly common during the late dinosaur age, contrary to popular belief (or the consensus model as it was some years ago). They did not suddenly bloom into a successful species in the wake of the K/T boundary event, it would seem, as they were as badly affected by the mass extinction event as other forms of life. However, they did eventually come to the fore, in the aftermath, and diversified to fill niches formerly occupied by other groups.

Scientists in this piece seem to express surprise that mammals were badly affected by the K/T event – or is that all part of the PR involved in advertising the article. Population numbers dropped, understandably, but what is significant is that mammals had already began to diversify before the asteroid strike. They point a finger at the evolution of flowering plants with their fruits and seeds that caused diversification (taking advantage of a new form of food) which is an interesting idea. The paper can be read in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Studies (June 2016).

Meanwhile, an ancestor for the Hobbits of Flores Island has been found, or so is the claim. Two articles in June's issue of Nature have the story – see http://phys.org/print384612030.html … where it is further emphasized that disease or birth defects were not responsible for the small stature of the Hobbits. Are they protesting too loudly? Over at http://phys.org/print384609314.html … there is another one in the same vein, disposing of the idea that Downs Syndrome played a role (published this time in the online journal PLoS ONE) – see doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0155731

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