Evolution rewritten, again and again

Aug 31, 2010

A team of researchers at the University of Bristol decided to find out, with investigations of dinosaur and human evolution. Their study, which is published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests most fossil discoveries do not make a huge difference, confirming, not contradicting our understanding of evolutionary history.

This is especially true of the fossil record of human origins from their monkey relatives. Even though early human fossils are immensely rare, and new discoveries make a big splash in the scientific literature and in the media, they sit randomly across the of . In other words, most discoveries of new fossil species simply fill in gaps in the fossil record that we already knew existed.

As Dr James Tarver, leader of the study, said: "Human fossils are very rare, and they are costly to recover because of the time involved and their often remote locations. Scientists may be pushed by their sponsors, or by news reporters, to exaggerate the importance of their new find and make claims that 'this new species completely changes our understanding'."

The story of dinosaur evolution is a bit more complicated. New dinosaur fossils are being found in places around the world where they've never been looked for before, such as China, South America and Australia. These fossils are fundamentally challenging existing ideas about dinosaur but this seems to tell us that there are still many new species of out there in the rocks.

"These are important results," said Professor Michael Benton, another member of the team. "It might seem negative to say that new finds do, or do not, change our views. However, to find that they don't means that we may be close to saturation in some areas, meaning we know enough of the in some cases to have a pretty good understanding of that part of the evolutionary tree."

Professor Phil Donoghue commented further: "We can use these studies as a way of targeting new expeditions. If dinosaurs are poorly understood from a particular part of the world, or if some other group is altogether incompletely known, that's where we need to devote greater efforts."

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PieRSquare
4.7 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2010
Err... WHAT?

How about the discoveries of Homo Floresiensis and Homo Georgicus? They were hardly the "same old same old" and both happened in the last 10 years. We should be happy when the theories hold water. Solid theories should be backed up by a large body of evidence. Maybe when we can go 100 years without rewriting large parts of the human story we can call it "good enough". I'm all for more dinosaur expeditions but since we know so little about everything I think we're still at the point where we should keep our options open.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (9) Sep 01, 2010
I definitely agree that we should keep our options open - even to the point of doing carbon-14 dating of EVERY dinosaur fossil found.

This means we disregard the common notion that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, a notion which now predetermines that nobody examines the ages of dinosaur bones.

I propose that we do not close our minds to the possibility that dinosaurs could have lived past that now magical 65 million year limit.

New knowledge could well be gained from such C14 dating and mapping the occurrence of those carbon 14 dating records around the world.

jsa09
5 / 5 (9) Sep 01, 2010
@kevinrtrs

OK I don't mind overkill but we must stay sane. Most dinosaur fossils are just minerals left where the bones used to be. The fossils are so old that there is nothing to run carbon 14 tests against. Without mentioning the fact that carbon 14 tests are only any good up to about 60,000 years maximum. Over that they become meaningless, unless there has been some improvements that I have not been aware of.

Filling in gaps in fossil records even if they are expected is a very good thing and most Homo... fosil finds has been doing just that.

The side bar discoveries of species and branches that were hitherto unknown is also exciting and wonderful just for the fun of it.
Journey
not rated yet Sep 01, 2010
I am speechless! .. well, not quite...

There are still few homo fossils that 'confirm' the place of humanity in the evolutionary tree and each new discovery is exciting. Are the above authors competing with certain archaeologists to get funding? Why else mention cost and "exaggeration"? Very emotive wording.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Sep 02, 2010
C14 dating is not sufficient for items of such great age. You've been told this 4 times this week now. Please do read up on radiometric dating before you suggest ridiculous things.
This means we disregard the common notion that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, a notion which now predetermines that nobody examines the ages of dinosaur bones.
False, the age of every fossil is often tested many times independently to confirm age range.
I propose that we do not close our minds to the possibility that dinosaurs could have lived past that now magical 65 million year limit.
The only people who have done so are the people, like yourself, who suggest that evolution doesn't happen. Dinosaurs most assuredly did live past 65 million years. They're a common food staple today. How many times have you sat down to a chicken dinner? Guess what, you're eating dinosaur.
Journey
1 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2010
OK, according to evolutionary theory we are all sitting down to "eat" derivatives of the first molecule created after the big bang, SH.

C14 dating is only fairly accurate to around 35k-60kBP. There are other dating methods used for older fossils such as potassium argon dating, depending on where and what material the fossil is found in.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Sep 03, 2010
C14 dating is only fairly accurate to around 35k-60kBP. There are other dating methods used for older fossils such as potassium argon dating, depending on where and what material the fossil is found in.
Why are you telling this to me? I ask because I am the one who stated such above. Talk to Mr. Young Earth Creationist kevinrtrs, the king of idiocy.
Journey
not rated yet Sep 05, 2010
The first paragraph was to you, SH, pointing out that it's not relevant to talk about what we are eating now because of the uncertainty of taxonomy, which changes constantly.

I also think it's very unfair to rate my comments as 1/5 when I am on subject. It should be above 2.5, which is the filter benchmark. Just because editors disagree doesn't mean they should rate comments lower.