Skip to comments.Fossils Bridge Gap in African Mammal Evolution
Posted on 12/03/2003 4:53:26 PM PST by Pharmboy
LONDON (Reuters) - Fossils discovered in Ethiopia's highlands are a missing piece in the puzzle of how African mammals evolved, a team of international scientists said on Wednesday.
Little is known about what happened to mammals between 24 million to 32 million years ago, when Africa and Arabia were still joined together in a single continent.
But the remains of ancestors of modern-day elephants and other animals, unearthed by the team of U.S. and Ethiopian scientists 27 million years on, provide some answers.
"We show that some of these very primitive forms continue to live through the missing years, and then during that period as well, some new forms evolved -- these would be the ancestors of modern elephants," said Dr John Kappelman, who headed the team.
The find included several types of proboscideans, distant relatives of elephants, and fossils from the arsinoithere, a rhinoceros-like creature that had two huge bony horns on its snout and was about 7 feet high at the shoulder.
"It continues to amaze me that we don't have more from this interval of time. We are talking about an enormous continent," said Kappelman, who is based at the University of Texas at Austin.
Scientists had thought arsinoithere had disappeared much earlier but the discovery showed it managed to survive through the missing years. The fossils from the new species found in Ethiopia are the largest, and at 27 million years old, the youngest discovered so far.
"If this animal was still alive today it would be the central attraction at the zoo," Tab Rasmussen, a paleontologist at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri who worked on the project, said in a statement.
Many of the major fossil finds in Ethiopia are from the Rift Valley. But Kappelman and colleagues in the United States and at Ethiopia's National Science Foundation (news - web sites) and Addis Ababa University concentrated on a different area in the northwestern part of the country.
Using high-resolution satellite images to scour a remote area where others had not looked before, his team found the remains in sedimentary rocks about 6,600 feet above sea level.
And has essentially nothing to do w/ evolution - evolutionary biology deals with what came after. Nor is it part of current scientific thinking.
That's the thing about science, and I think it's what worries a lot people of faith - there are no hard-and-fast absolutes in science. Religious faith is the polar opposite, by necessity.
This should give some clues, about all those missing "links",
Yes it does, but hardly in the way that you imply. The Oligocene period was a poor time for the fossilization of any kind of creatures in Africa, not just mammals. Successful fossilization and subsequent modern fossil discovery and recovery rely on a number of climactic, ecological, and geological conditions being met, and Oligocene Africa was not a good time for fossil formation.
Nonetheless, although fossil formation from this time was poor, it still occurred when local conditions were suitable, and (as in the above article) African fossils from the Oligocene *are* still found, just at a frustratingly low rate compared to eras or regions where fossils were more readily formed. What makes this historical accident rather annoying is that this was a time of significant developments in mammalian evolution.
Much of the evolutionary picture of that era has been filled by lucky finds of significant fossils among the sparse fossil record, but mapping out the complete picture will require decades of further fossil collection as the "lucky" fossils trickle in, compared to other regions/eras where fossilization was much more common and the larger pool of fossils to discover has already resulted in a very nearly complete picture of the local biological history.
but oh well, guess they will have wait til they meet up with old Darwin to find the answers.
You have a vivid imagination.
A "lot" of them? If you can name more than *two* from the entire history of paleontology, I'll be impressed. Constrast that to the literally multiple *thousands* of legitimate transitional fossils which have been found.
But creationists don't like talking about *those*, do they? Instead they just try to give the false and misleading impression that "many, perhaps all" transitional fossils are in some way suspect. You know, by darkly "supposing" about whether the countless examples of fossil evidence might just "years later" be found to be fraudulant like "a lot of others" (number unspecified).
Last time I checked, two or so does count as "a lot". But then I've come to realize that creationists often have a different grasp of number and proportion from the rest of us.
It lists *one* (Archaeoraptor). And before someone makes the common creationist implication that this was somehow a hoax promulgated by dishonest evolutionists, it was instead concocted by a Chinese peasant fossil gatherer who knew that "complete" fossils were worth more money when sold than partial fossils. So he joined two separate fossils as if they were two parts of a single broken slab and sold it to the next collector who came along.
Through a comedy of errors, including miscommunications and a deadline rush, National Geographic ended up touting it as a newly discovered transitional fossil in one of their issues, *before* it had been properly examined and verified. Significantly, two science journals rejected articles about the fossil specimen because there had not been time to independently verify it, and they were not willing to just take National Geographic's word for it.
Within *days* of National Geographic's issue hitting the stands, professionals raised pointed questions about the specimen, and within mere weeks it had been discredited and National Geographic admitted their error.
So far from this being an example of "sloppy or dishonest science", as creationists keep trying to hint that it is, it is instead an excellent example of how careful science is and how quickly it discovers error or dishonesty.
So what else ya got?
I absolutely do not believe my existence is pure accident and that I came from ooze.
You are welcome to believe any comforting thing you wish to embrace.
But the moment you misrepresent the reasons that the scientific community has come to certain conclusions to the contrary, expect to be called on it.
Case in point, evolution is hardly a matter of "pure accident". To call it that is to misrepresent it.
Would you prefer that it were? Knowledge is always less than perfect, and thus only a fool claims to have absolute certainties.
Their language always contains "outs" in case of some new discovery.
Yes, exactly. This is a *good* thing, not a bad thing as you seem to be trying to imply.
But unless some contrary evidence eventually arrives to point to some other conclusion, the wise man gives provisional acceptance to what the currently available evidence indicates.
Must have been in "science" class that bjclinton came up with "depends on the meaning of "is" is.
Wow, what a childishly inappropriate and cheap shot.
Then I regret to inform you that you are, as indicated by at least two dozen independent lines of evidence, including for example shared endogenous retroviruses.
In fact, not only are we related to apes in general, we are *still* apes. We're apes of the human variety (just as we are still mammals of the human variety, etc.). There is not a single identifying characteristic of the ape family which humans do not also share.
I'll bet you can't produce a quote from any textbook that makes this argument.
Neither am I.
If you have a gripe, take it someone who is interested.
I took my correction to the person who made the error, and that was yourself.
Why don't you write to the people on the website?
Because they aren't the ones who first claimed that there were "lots" of hoaxes in paleontology, and when asked for more than just Piltdown replied that are "some more" (plural) at that webpage, when in fact there was only a single example.
I was correcting your statement that there were several more examples on that web page. There were not.
I do not believe in evolution and not because I get all warm and fuzzy about God either.
I don't much care what your reasons are either way, but you should expect to be corrected if you make incorrect or misleading statements about things.
You forgot to explain with which particular point(s) and why.
Please point out the place where you believe I was insulting you. Pointing out the ways in which your post was misleading (whether intentionally or unintentionally makes no difference) does not count as insult.
Assuming that people who don't believe in a THEORY are ignorant and unscientific, is getting old.
I'm sure it would be, which is why I don't make such assumptions.
Whenever I conclude that someone is either ignorant or unscientific or both, I do so on an individual basis based on the quality of their statements and arguments.
Pretend I'm from Missouri - show me.
Actually I've found it's a pretty reliable indicator that when they reject THIS theory they usually are ignorant and unscientific.
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