Scientists unveil fossil of 47 million-year-old primate, Darwinius masillae

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remind remind's picture
Scientists unveil fossil of 47 million-year-old primate, Darwinius masillae

Of course for some, this could not possibly be over 4000 years old! ;)

Quote:
Feast your eyes on what a group of scientists call the Holy Grail of human evolution.

A team of researchers Tuesday unveiled an almost perfectly intact fossil of a 47 million-year-old primate they say represents the long-sought missing link between humans and apes.

Officially known as Darwinius masillae, the fossil of the lemur-like creature dubbed Ida shows it had opposable thumbs like humans and fingernails instead of claws.

Scientists say the cat-sized animal's hind legs offer evidence of evolutionary changes that led to primates standing upright - a breakthrough that could finally confirm Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

"This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists," lead scientist Jorn Hurum said at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.

"It is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail. This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years."

 

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Darwinius masillae,

Quote:
I suppose you are two fathoms deep in mathematics, and if you are, then God help you, for so am I, only with this difference, I stick fast in the mud at the bottom and there I shall remain.
-Charles Darwin

 

It's sort of like finding the basis of mathematics,  as a description underlying reality. Except in Darwin's case, he was speaking more about objectifications of fossils,  while describing the role of science?  Phenomenology.

Best,

martin dufresne

Interestingly, a team of scientists (including my nephew Guillaume Bourque) arrived at this common ancestor of humans, rats and mice by a genomic analysis method. I made for a cover story in Science Magazine four years ago: "Dynamics of mammalian chromosome evolution inferred from multispecies comparative maps."

Unionist

Your nephew!

[url=http://www.gis.a-star.edu.sg/~bourque/index.html]You mean this young fellow:[/url]

Why didn't I get any intelligent genes in my family? Frown

martin dufresne

Yup, my sister's son!

Noise

Heh, I like how the article uses 'Holy Grail'...a religious inspired concept...to describe something that flies in the face of that religion. 

The comments on these articles are always funny to read...a theory or idea can be changed as new information comes about, as more info comes in, you can continue to refine.  Beliefs can't...it's always interesting to see people defend what they can't change.

 

From the picture...that fossil is really intact.  Normally you're lucky to get an arm or enough parts to barely reconstruct.

remind remind's picture

The fossil was so well preserved that fur samples, and stomach contents were still there.

The article also used, "lost ark", I took both comments to be a nanana type of thumbing the nose at those who have searched for millenia for proof.

G. Muffin

The article says this fossil was discovered in 1983.  Why the quarter-century delay?

Unionist

G. Pie wrote:

The article says this fossil was discovered in 1983.  Why the quarter-century delay?

The article explains, if you read the whole thing.

It's like, the earth has been around for 4.54 billion years, but some haven't woken up to the implications of that yet. Good things take time.

 

G. Muffin

Quote:
A team of amateur fossil hunters discovered the near-perfect remains inside a mile-wide crater outside of Frankfurt in 1983.

 

Experts believe the pit was a volcanic caldera where scores of animals from the Eocene epoch were killed and their remains were kept remarkably well-preserved.

 

Though the pit has been a bountiful source of other fossils, the inexperienced archeologists didn't realize the value of their find.

 

Missed that somehow. Kind of makes you wonder what else might be stored in a dusty, back closet.

 

remind remind's picture

GPir, amateurs found it and did not realize what they had, and then many years later it was sold, and then it had to be studied.

Jingles

Ha! But where are its transition species? Huh?

All this proves is that more animals died in the Flood than we first thought.

How'm I doing?

Unionist

Jingles wrote:

All this proves is that more animals died in the Flood than we first thought.

Such as the unicorn, which was frolicking in the bushes when Noah called out "All aboard!" Tragic loss.

Quote:
How'm I doing?

More credible than most organized religions, so far - tell us more!

 

Jingles

If the Unicorn was God's favorite animal ("Don't you forget my unicorn"), they why didn't he just miracle their asses onto the damn boat?

 

Noise

Remind / GP... that happens much more frequently than what you'd ever think throughout history.  We usually romantisize things in the present, like Columbus discovering America (while omitting he wasn't the first, did it accidentally, probably never saw the land himself, etc...).   Darwin is actually another one we do it too...there are quite a few more players in that story that probably deserve more credit than Darwin did, and the Galopagos probably didn't have the same effect it's attributed for.

The general process tends to be:

1. Ignore the find

2. Mistake the importance of the find

3. Credit the wrong person

 

Lifted that (sorta, not exact wording) from Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Everything', which does an excellent job of summing up scientific achievment from the 1700's on in an entertaining manner. 

Noise

Quote:
If the Unicorn was God's favorite animal ("Don't you forget my unicorn"), they why didn't he just miracle their asses onto the damn boat?

 

He did...over time the Unicorn naturally evolved to no longer need it's horn and became the horse.

G. Muffin

Jingles wrote:
If the Unicorn was God's favorite animal ("Don't you forget my unicorn"), they why didn't he just miracle their asses onto the damn boat?

Or skip the flood, even.

Fidel

G. Pie wrote:

The article says this fossil was discovered in 1983.  Why the quarter-century delay?

It was an evolving theory not ready for prime time. Meow?

Of course, whales are their best evidence for evolution. They used to crawl on land but decided that the ocean, which was full of giant sharks and other humungous predators, would be a safer bet. "winky face"

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Of course, whales are their best evidence for evolution.

 

Actually, they are a good example. The bones in their fins are all analogues of the bones in our hands. There's even a vestigial hind leg, visible only when the whale is skeletonized.

 

God, in his infinite wisdom, knew the importance of giving the whale a leg it would never use and a replica of the human hand inside its fin.

 

Bat wings... same idea. Either God found some kind of enjoyment in self-plagiarizing, or He was seriously half assing it about halfway through the first Saturday, when He saw that He had left the birds and beasts to the last moment, or evolution is real.

remind remind's picture

G. Pie wrote:
Jingles wrote:
If the Unicorn was God's favorite animal ("Don't you forget my unicorn"), they why didn't he just miracle their asses onto the damn boat?

Or skip the flood, even.

But then how would we know HE was/is a fickle terrifying God/Yahweh drunk on his own importance?

Noise

I find evolution carries another bit of misleading info at times too...it's very often presented as a straight forward linear march of progress.  More often than not, a particular line of evolution dies off.  Although we can hold this up as a missing link, I think it's quite possible that this is fossil here belongs to one of those dead branches that didn't directly descend to us but instead was a cousin to something that did.  So a chimp evolved to this state, but this state died off and a different line of chimps altogether became us instead.

Really, the only consistant of evolution is extinction.

Fidel

So, where did DNA come from in the very beginning?

Noise

I willed it into existance.

 

 

Why do cells contain both your DNA and a second set of mitochondrial DNA? 

Fidel

Noise wrote:

Why do cells contain both your DNA and a second set of mitochondrial DNA? 

 

It's a common redundancy in nature, like Whigs 'n Tories.

 

[url=http://www.chemistrydaily.com/chemistry/Omne_vivum_ex_ovo]Omne vivum ex ovo[/url]

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
So, where did DNA come from in the very beginning?

 

 

http://www.evolutionofdna.com/

Scout

Quote:
Such as the unicorn, which was frolicking in the bushes when Noah called out "All aboard!" Tragic loss.

Stupid unicorns - they win the Darwin Award.

Fidel

Snert wrote:

Quote:
So, where did DNA come from in the very beginning?

 

 

http://www.evolutionofdna.com/

 

Panspermia

"The theories of panspermia (life everywhere) and exogensis (life from elsewhere) predict that life on Earth started from bacteria or other living cells that arrived on comets or in other forms from outside the Earth.

Neither theory solves the problem of where life originated in the first place, but at least they allow it to have happened at some other location that may have had conditions that were more favorable for biogenesis.

In the remainder of this book we'll stick with biochemistry on Earth rather than elsewhere. There's no way we'll ever be able to prove that life started here, but it makes a more interesting story if it happened in our backyard!"

So why did the chicken cross the road?

 

Snert Snert's picture

I'd be amenable to considering that we all arrived, in very primitive form, on an asteroid, so long as there's a general understanding that that isn't compatible in any way, shape or form with Genesis (the book of the Bible, not the band).  I don't really have a special attachment to believing we did all of our evolution on this rock, but I do have an attachment to my belief that Earth and every animal on it was NOT created in 6 days by a magical all-being.

Fidel

I kinda liked Phil Collins', Against All Odds.

Noise

Snert, I agree with that as well.  Earth lacks a couple minerals thats rather essential to our life. Selenium for example, read wiki's evolutionary entry on selenium for that.

 

Quote:
It's a common redundancy in nature

 

Actually, mitochondrial DNA is most likely one of those instances where one cell captured another and the benefits to each other were to great to seperate (mitochondria is whats responsbile in a cell for turning chemical energy from food into what our cells use). Strange that our cells rely on foriegn bodies to convert energy.

Jingles

Wasn't is a Gladio operation?

Fidel

Jingles wrote:

Wasn't is a Gladio operation?

Whether it is or was not, it's more than likely a matter of national security - which means whatever it is the economic and social Darwinists want it to mean at any given point in time.

 

Noise

Snert - I was watching a discovery channel documentary on Saturn last night and I may have to revise my response to the asteroid question...one of the moons, Enchilideas (sp?), appears to be generating it's own heat (presumably due to an eliptical orbit around Saturn and the effect gravity would have).  They said it was too small to have an atmosphere, but found a localized one around the south pole.  Turns out the planet has geysers on it's south pole that frequently spews water vapor, nitrogen, and simple organic chemicals.  Due to the gravitational energy source, the surface of these geysers host temperatures warm enough to support liquid water.  The moons gravity is too weak to maintain much on the outside, but it's quite possible that these geysers are from internal caves that could possibly host life.

What ana amazing discovery that would be...if life could form in underground caves on moons no where near close to the sun.  Kinda points to life being dime a dozen, sprouting up absolutely anywhere it can...puts a pretty abrupt end to the question on life outside of Earth and would quite likely point to Earth being capable of spawning it's own life forms (no asteriod needed, though not discounting life's ability to form on said asteriod too).  Of course intelligent life is a different matter.

Fidel

[url=A">http://www.usnews.com/articles/science/2009/05/26/a-more-organic-meteori... More Organic Meteorite Some may contain more formic acid, a precursor to life, than previously thought[/url]

Noise

I'm not sure if this is evidence that life on Earth came from a meterorite, or evidence life is so prolific it would spawn anywhere including on asteriods passing through gas clouds.

 

Heh, I got a laugh out of this...Like the fossil, this meterorite has been sitting on shelves for quite some time...nearly a decade now 

Quote:
Some of the organic substances detected during analyses of the Tagish Lake samples - including plasticizers that probably leached from the Ziploc bag that held the meteorite fragments - were obviously Earthly contaminants, Hilts said.

 

 

remind remind's picture

Only ego centrics believe that the only life there is in this vast universe is humans.

martin dufresne

Or that human life can claim intelligence as we hurtle toward the brick wall of extreme pollution/overheating/financial armageddon.

remind remind's picture

yep, exactly!

Fidel

Noise wrote:
of the organic substances detected during analyses of the Tagish Lake samples - including plasticizers that probably leached from the Ziploc bag that held the meteorite fragments - were obviously Earthly contaminants, Hilts said.

 

Yes, but then it goes on to say:

Quote:
But the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen in the formic acid, a key precursor to the organic chemicals that make up cell membranes, indicates that that chemical had an extraterrestrial origin. The findings bolster the notion that many of the raw ingredients for life on Earth could have been delivered by extraterrestrial bodies, Hilts said

 

 

 

 

 

Noise

Oh, wasn't disputing the find in the article...was only using the quote to laugh at this valuable meteroite with the 'ingredients of life' of extraterrestrial origin ultimately sitting in ziplock baggies on a shelf so long that the baggie particles began to leech into the meteorite.

Fidel

I think they accounted for the plastic baggy leaching. They are scientists afterall. Apparently having stored the samples in a freezer preserved certain volatile compounds of ET origin which would have evaporated away otherwise. Interesting

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

To previous Comment by Fidel

 

Quote:
Panspermia (Gk. πάς/πάν (pas/pan, all) and σπέρμα (sperma, seed)) is the hypothesis that "seeds" of life exist already all over the Universe, that life on Earth may have originated through these "seeds", and that they may deliver or have delivered life to other habitable bodies.

The related but distinct idea of exogenesis (Gk. εξω (exo, outside) and γενεσις (genesis, origin)) is a more limited hypothesis that proposes life on Earth was transferred from elsewhere in the Universe but makes no prediction about how widespread it is. Because the term "panspermia" is more well-known, it tends to be used in reference to what should strictly speaking be called exogenesis.

Isn't that, Chicken or the egg?Smile instead of.... "So why did the chicken cross the road?"

Science and evolution

Quote:
The Theory of Evolution says that species change over time in the process of evolution. Since DNA can be modified only before birth, a mutation must have taken place at conception or within an egg such that an animal similar to a chicken, but not a chicken, laid the first chicken egg.[7][8] In this light, both the egg and the chicken evolved simultaneously from birds who weren't chickens and didn't lay chicken eggs but gradually became more and more like chickens over time.

However, a mutation in one individual is not normally considered a new species. A speciation event involves the separation of one population from its parent population, so that interbreeding ceases; this is the process whereby domesticated animals are genetically separated from their wild forebears. The whole separated group can then be recognized as a new species.

The modern chicken was believed to have descended from another closely related species of birds, the red junglefowl, but recently discovered genetic evidence suggests that the modern domestic chicken is a hybrid descendant of both the red junglefowl and the grey junglefowl.[9] Assuming the evidence bears out, a hybrid is a compelling scenario that the chicken-egg came before the chicken.

Fidel

Evidence that comets could have seeded life on Earth

Quote:
A new experiment simulating conditions in deep space reveals that the complex building blocks of life could have been created on icy interplanetary dust and then carried to Earth, jump-starting life.

Quote:
John Carpenter's 'The Thing' VO Narration- "Who knows what has come from the galaxy? Who knows what lurks in the sky? Beyond God. Watch those around you. For who knows what today, tonight, or tomorrow will bring."

Apparently it might be us who came from the galaxy.

Slumberjack

Where else would we have come from if not from the galaxy we're currently in, and from what I can gather, have never left?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Well in Burnaby we used to have a Stargate just down the road that took people to other galaxies but it went out of business.

Cool

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

A bit of thread drift - on CBC's P&P  tonight the mayor of a small town in BC (Tofino maybe) was talking about the stuff drifting to the BC coast from the tsunami of Japan two years ago - apparently the stuff from Japan will extend all the way down the BC coast to California and Mexico.

And on  that seaborne debris will be hitch-hiking life forms from Japan, both marine and land based, which will inevitably take root along the North American coastline.

Apparently this occurs in nature regardless of whether there is a tsunami or not; life forms hitch-hike to new territory and take root.

Of course there have always been wind-borne seeds blown into new territory, too. And borne by migrating birds. I wonder what global climate change will bring?

Fidel

Slumberjack wrote:

Where else would we have come from if not from the galaxy we're currently in, and from what I can gather, have never left?

Previously it was thought that the chemical soup necessary for creating life could not survive harsh conditions of space between here and out there in any direction, and so we are pure earthlings whose DNA is a 110% home brew or something. Anyway, it appears as though the chemical building blocks for life are more robust and capable of surviving icy conditions and cosmic rays than previously thought.

And it leads to more interesting theories such as,  if chemical compounds for life arrived here from outer space, then life may well have proliferated on other planets as well.

There could be DNA or carbon based life out there somewhere. What would ET life look like? Are they friends or foes? Are they technologically advanced or extinct a long time?

Fidel

Good question. And some species will not be able to migrate in time to avoid extinction apparently. An article in Sci-Am says scientists might intervene with assisted migration to try and save those species.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I miss Scientific American. I had a subscription for 20+ years but it just got too difficult to read and follow everything. But it introduced me to a lot of new stuff over the years. I dropped my subscription to The Economist for much the same reasons. Just too much.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I apologise in advance for further drift, but....

 I should mention that we're getting stronger wind here than ever in the time I've lived on the Quebec coast - almost 20 years. It'll be interesting to see if seeds have been blown here and taken root. We're still quite a cold climate with a short growing season, though. Adaptation is key.

Slumberjack

Fidel wrote:
Previously it was thought that the chemical soup necessary for creating life could not survive harsh conditions of space between here and out there in any direction, and so we are pure earthlings whose DNA is a 110% home brew or something. Anyway, it appears as though the chemical building blocks for life are more robust and capable of surviving icy conditions and cosmic rays than previously thought.

And it leads to more interesting theories such as,  if chemical compounds for life arrived here from outer space, then life may well have proliferated on other planets as well.

There could be DNA or carbon based life out there somewhere. What would ET life look like? Are they friends or foes? Are they technologically advanced or extinct a long time?

Just how far back do we have to go anyway beyond when we were digging ourselves out of a swamp, before we finally realize the obvious and turn out for good these sort of persistent illusions that you carry around?

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