A Very Old Worm

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Ancient Fossil Looks Like Today’s Acorn Worms (8 April 2013) Brian Thomas makes a living fossil claim – sort of. “Acorn worms” are more formally known as “enteropneusts,” which is a taxonomical class containing four families and around 90 living species. The rediscovery of a collection of old finds from the Burgess Shale apparently pushes the age of the earliest acorn worms back 200 million years to around 500 million years ago, i.e. the Cambrian explosion. Continue reading

Coelacanth Adaptation

Does this paragraph make sense to you?

It was once the banner fossil behind the idea that land-walking creatures emerged from fish with overgrown fins. The lobe-finned fish was found in strata deemed 400 million years old—close to the time when land creatures supposedly evolved—making a tidy evolutionary story. But that didn’t last long. Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer became famous for finding the live creature on a small fishing boat in 1938. A new survey of the critically endangered fish’s genes shows that they are not finished divulging surprises.

That’s the opening of Lobe-Finned Fish Supplies Surprises, and it sure doesn’t make sense me. But some of the the individual words do, so perhaps something can be salvaged.

First, what’s a lobe-finned fish? Continue reading

Same Old Salamanders

March 12th’s DpSU, Researchers Find Fossil Salamanders’ Last Meals, is a combination of the living fossil argument with the soft tissue preservation one. We have some fossil salamanders, dating at around 150 million years old, that “look almost the same as living salamanders, and they apparently ate the same food.”

Salamanders are a pretty weird bunch Continue reading

Cycads

You may have heard of a paper in Science from October called Recent Synchronous Radiation of a Living Fossil. (full pdf) For example, it was attacked on evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyn’s blog Why Evolution is True as “missing the point.” What he’s talking about is how they claim to shed some light over living fossils – he claims that their study “doesn’t … have much bearing on the question.”

But that’s all academic when it comes to Brian Thomas’ DpSU, ‘Dinosaur Plant’ Evolution Stories Conflict. He begins:

Cycads, also called “sago palms,” are cone-bearing plants with long leathery shoots that often adorn dinosaur dioramas. Though there are about 11 living cycad genera, which further divide into about 300 species, many more once existed but are now known only from fossils.

Random Cycad fossil Continue reading