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University of Florida research provides new understanding of bizarre extinct mammal
EurekAlert ^ | Monday, October 11, 2010 | Ben Norman

Posted on 10/27/2010 4:45:47 PM PDT by SunkenCiv

University of Florida researchers presenting new fossil evidence of an exceptionally well-preserved 55-million-year-old North American mammal have found it shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans.The study published today in the online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, describes the cranial anatomy of the extinct mammal, Labidolemur kayi.

High resolution CT scans of the specimens allowed researchers to study minute details in the skull, including bone structures smaller than one-tenth of a millimeter. Similarities in bone features with other mammals show L. kayi's living relatives are rodents, rabbits, flying lemurs, tree shrews and primates.

Researchers said the new information will aide future studies to better understand the origin of primates.

"The specimens are among the only skulls of apatemyids known that aren't squashed completely flat," said study co-author Jonathan Bloch, an associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. "They're preserved in three dimensions, which allows us to look at the morphology of the bones in a way that we never could before...

The skeletons analyzed in the publication were recovered from freshwater limestone in the Bighorn Basin by co-author Peter Houde of New Mexico State University. Located just east of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the site is known as one of the best in the world for studying the evolution of mammals during the 10 million years following the extinction of the dinosaurs, Bloch said.

(Excerpt) Read more at eurekalert.org ...


TOPICS: History; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: apatemyids; florida; godsgravesglyphs; labidolemurkayi; newmexico; paleontology; wyoming
This well-preserved fossil a 55-million-year-old extinct mammal, Labidolemur kayi, was recovered from freshwater limestone in the Bighorn Basin near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The specimen helped University of Florida scientists write a comprehensive analysis of L. kayi's cranial anatomy, scheduled to appear in the Oct. 11 online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. [Kristen Grace]

University of Florida research provides new understanding of bizarre extinct mammal
University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist Jonathan Bloch examines the full skeleton of Labidolemur kayi, a 55-million-year-old extinct mammal with odd ecological adaptations. Reddish-brown epoxy was used during the preparation process to hold the skeleton together. The UF study of L. kayi's cranial anatomy is scheduled to appear in the Oct. 11 online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Researchers determined L. kayi shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans. [Kristen Grace]

University of Florida research provides new understanding of bizarre extinct mammal
University of Florida vertebrate paleontologist Jonathan Bloch holds two cranial fragments of the extinct mammal L. kayi to show how the complete skull would have looked, similar to the skull of the present-day Pen-tailed Tree Shrew from Southeast Asia, right. Unlike the cast of an extinct apatemyid in the background, the specimens used in the UF study scheduled to appear in the Oct. 11 online edition of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society are preserved in three dimensions. Researchers determined L. kayi shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans. [Kristen Grace]

University of Florida research provides new understanding of bizarre extinct mammal

1 posted on 10/27/2010 4:45:52 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
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2 posted on 10/27/2010 4:46:26 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: decimon; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

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3 posted on 10/27/2010 4:48:33 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: SunkenCiv

Isn’t this just high tech phrenology? Shouldn’t they use DNA to trace these ancestral families?


4 posted on 10/27/2010 4:58:35 PM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: SunkenCiv
Couldn't find a picture of one of these suckers, but this is an apatemyid relative.


5 posted on 10/27/2010 5:00:23 PM PDT by colorado tanker
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To: 1010RD

Not phrenology, morphology. Morphology rooools. There’s no DNA in stuff this old *most of the time*. You’ve no doubt seen the T-Rex hemaglobin stories, FR has had a lot of duplicate topics for that matter. :’)

The way DNA is sometimes used to find common ancestry is to actually find very similar genes (those are three-basepair groups on a DNA strand, in this case a chromosome) in two different living samples, and try to estimate the length of time since the common source was identical and living.


6 posted on 10/27/2010 5:22:24 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: colorado tanker

Speaking of suckers, that one looks like Chupacabra! Aiiiiiieee!


7 posted on 10/27/2010 5:22:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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Not sure these are all of them! - cre/vo "great divide" -
8 posted on 10/27/2010 5:27:07 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: SunkenCiv
Just an occasional thank you for all the great work you do with these fantastic posts on FR!

Your work is much appreciated...

9 posted on 10/27/2010 5:48:24 PM PDT by Pharmboy (What always made the state a hell has been that man tried to make it heaven-Hoelderlin)
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To: SunkenCiv; dfwgator

They must have discovered their football team.


10 posted on 10/27/2010 6:16:28 PM PDT by goseminoles
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To: SunkenCiv

11 posted on 10/27/2010 6:24:37 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Visualize)
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To: JoeProBono

Flintstones roadkill?


12 posted on 10/27/2010 6:56:58 PM PDT by eartrumpet
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To: SunkenCiv

Damn! Thought this was a story about liberal democrats.


13 posted on 10/27/2010 6:59:29 PM PDT by TruthWillWin (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: 1010RD
Isn’t this just high tech phrenology? Shouldn’t they use DNA to trace these ancestral families?

Not really.

Long before DNA technologies were developed, animals were classified on the basis of anatomical features. DNA in such old specimens is sometimes non-existent, but the old methods of classification are still valid.

14 posted on 10/27/2010 7:00:21 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: eartrumpet

Bacon from my camp site


15 posted on 10/27/2010 8:32:13 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Visualize)
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To: goseminoles

Certainly our offense is extinct.


16 posted on 10/27/2010 8:57:14 PM PDT by dfwgator (Texas Rangers - American League Champions)
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To: SunkenCiv

I was just making fun of morphology. Haven’t there been errors made in classifications by morphology? Pandas, hyenas...

There seems to be great clarity in general classifications - mammal, reptile, fish, vertebrates/invertebrates - but doesn’t it begin to be more art than science at some level?


17 posted on 10/28/2010 3:54:17 AM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: exDemMom

Doesn’t it eventually devolve to an art, especially at transitions?


18 posted on 10/28/2010 4:08:10 AM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD

All science is an art. The idea that science is clear-cut and there are always definitive answers is mostly propaganda meant for mass consumption. In the real world, it’s not so simple.

Also, there are no “transitions.” There is a continuum, where specimens taken at various intervals might be different, but there is no point at which one can say “it was this; now it’s that.”


19 posted on 10/28/2010 4:36:51 AM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: exDemMom

Art is subjective, no? And to be a continuum there can’t be gaps or else it isn’t continuous, no?

From Wiki:

Continuum - anything that goes through a gradual transition from one condition, to a different condition, without any abrupt changes

I am not aware that the fossil record is that complete and clear.


20 posted on 10/28/2010 5:37:22 AM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: SunkenCiv
well-preserved 55-million-year-old North American mammal have found it shares a common ancestor with rodents and primates, including humans

Well, now we know where the 'RATS came from. And 55-million years. They're old as sin, too.

21 posted on 10/28/2010 8:12:28 AM PDT by chesley (Eat what you want, and die like a man.)
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To: 1010RD

For many reasons, the fossil record is not that complete. But that is how evolution works. All the fossil record shows is essentially snapshots taken at different times.

It’s like the growth of a baby: you don’t see day to day changes. But if you look at a newborn picture, then at a picture taken at age two, and another at age 15, they are all clearly different.

And, as I said, all science is an art, no matter how it is presented in the popular media. Many experiments do not give clear cut yes or no answers; they give shades of grey, leaving it up to the scientist to examine the data and decide what the result really is. Scientists of varying levels and types of experience might give very different answers for the same data. So, yes, as much as we would like to believe that science is completely objective, it is not.


22 posted on 10/28/2010 5:07:38 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: exDemMom

It’s not at all like the growth of a baby. A baby starts out human and remains human at every stage.

All science is not an art. The soft sciences are, hence the term soft.


23 posted on 10/28/2010 6:07:12 PM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD

I could have used the example of a loaf of bread, where it starts out all gooey and ends up light and fluffy... evolution is a slow and gradual process, a continuum, where we can only observe snapshots taken at time points that are very far apart.

I don’t know what you call “soft” science, unless you’re referring to things like sociology, which I don’t consider a science at all.

Most people would consider my discipline—Biochemistry and Molecular Biology—a “hard” science. I can assure you, from years of experience, that it is more of an art than anything else. There are very few scientific questions that have straight up or down answers. Experiments designed to give a straightforward answer don’t. Data is always interpreted with caveats reflecting the understanding that someone else could always come along with another interpretation that withstands testing. And so forth. Trying to determine which interpretation is closest to the truth really is an art.


24 posted on 10/28/2010 7:20:21 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: exDemMom

You could have used a loaf of bread as your example, but it would only have dug the hole deeper. I mean the bread doesn’t mix, pour, or bake itself does it?

As to biochem or molecular biology being arts it seems that you are confusing natural and normal scientific debate with opinion. The peer review process will always have dissent. It is a fundamental part of the system. That is not art as it is not subjective in the least bit over time.

The scientific method is a search for truth. The conclusion drawn after testing isn’t subjective, although it involves drawing conclusions. If one were able to simply state opinion as fact at that point then it would be art. Instead your results are publicly transmitted, argued or supported publicly and eventually are lost or become theories, but just theories. Math is based on proofs and so is science. At the outer edges of both there are theories.

Art on the other hand is the pursuit of beauty. Beauty is wholly subjective and... fleeting. ;-]


25 posted on 10/29/2010 5:09:09 AM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD

I think you are looking at the word “art” in too narrow a sense. It means far more than just the creation of paintings or whatever.

The interpretation of scientific data is absolutely an art. When two people can look at the exact same experiment and data and one sees confirmation of a hypothesis and the other sees refutation of the same hypothesis—then it is obvious that the interpretation relies on subjective experience and preconceived ideas, not some absolute objective criteria.

It would be wonderful if science were so cut and dry. But it’s not. And if it were, people like me would be doing other professions, because there wouldn’t be anything left to discover.

I used the bread as my example, because baking it is another example of a process that happens over a continuum. There is no single moment at which a lump of gooey dough becomes a loaf of fluffy bread. Same with evolution. The fact that people might even think that there are clear transitions during evolution is merely an artifact of the tools we have to study it. We don’t have a video of evolution; we merely have snapshots taken at widely separated points of time.

From www.dictionary.com:

World English Dictionary
art

—n
1. a. the creation of works of beauty or other special significance
b. (as modifier): an art movement
2. the exercise of human skill (as distinguished from nature)
3. imaginative skill as applied to representations of the natural world or figments of the imagination
4. a. the products of man’s creative activities; works of art collectively, esp of the visual arts, sometimes also music, drama, dance, and literature
b. arts See also fine art (as modifier): an art gallery
5. excellence or aesthetic merit of conception or execution as exemplified by such works
6. any branch of the visual arts, esp painting
7. (modifier) intended to be artistic or decorative: art needlework
8. a. any field using the techniques of art to display artistic qualities: advertising art
b. (as modifier): an art film
9. journalism photographs or other illustrations in a newspaper, etc
10. method, facility, or knack: the art of threading a needle; the art of writing letters
11. the system of rules or principles governing a particular human activity: the art of government
12. artfulness; cunning
13. get something down to a fine art to become highly proficient at something through practice


26 posted on 10/29/2010 6:24:00 AM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: exDemMom

Looking at your definitions of “art” only the following could possibly apply to science:

2. the exercise of human skill (as distinguished from nature)

10. method, facility, or knack: the art of threading a needle; the art of writing letters

11. the system of rules or principles governing a particular human activity: the art of government

12. artfulness; cunning

13. get something down to a fine art to become highly proficient at something through practice

All five are closely related. Science isn’t an art, though scientists interpret. In the case you’ve given one of the observers must be wrong. Science is finding out which one. Objective truth is the goal of science.

BTW your evolution examples are terrible. They just make your case weaker.


27 posted on 10/29/2010 8:49:20 AM PDT by 1010RD (First Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD

My examples make my case weaker, how?

You are the one who talked about “transitions” in evolution. As I pointed out, and used analogy to illustrate, there are no “transitions” in evolution; there is only a continuum. For there to be “transitional” forms, there must be discrete steps of evolution—and there aren’t. Why are you so attached to the existence of “transitional” forms?

And it looks like trying to explain the process of science to you is impossible. Read those definitions I posted again, you even repeated the pertinent ones back to me. Making sense of observations is a true art. And making sense is all we can ever hope for, because we cannot even know if we are right or wrong (and a wrong answer can be as logical as a correct one). Science is not like math, where you plug numbers into an equation and one or two correct answers pop up.


28 posted on 10/29/2010 7:20:19 PM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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