Showing posts with label evolution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label evolution. Show all posts

16 Jun 2017

Oldest Human Fossils?

Humanity's current model may be a whole lot older than we thought.

A team of scientists say that remains found in Morocco are human, Homo sapiens. The scientists also say these folks lived about 300,000 years ago.

If that's confirmed, they were around 100,000 years earlier and about 2,000 miles away from where we thought Homo sapiens showed up.

Other scientists say T. rex may not have been fluffy. It looks like the big dinosaur lost its feathers somewhere along the line.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

19 May 2017

Ammonites, Dinosaurs, and Us

Today's world is remarkable for a lack of dinosaurs. Big ones, anyway. Those critters would have been among the first things someone would notice here for upwards of 200,000,000 years.

Then, about 66,000,000 years back, something awful happened. The only dinosaurs left are those little tweeting, chirping, and cawing critters we call birds.

Ammonites had been around for even longer, but whatever finished the 'thunder lizards' wiped them out, too. We showed up much more recently, and are learning that there's a very great deal of our past, and Earth's, that we don't know. Not yet....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

5 May 2017

First Americans?

Scientists used new DNA screening tech to study caves in Belgium, Croatia, France, Russia, and Spain. What they found wasn't a big surprise. What's exciting about the news is that we now have another tool for unraveling our family history.

We've been pretty sure that nobody lived in North America until about two dozen millennia back. That may change, if scientists who say they found 130,000-year-old tools in San Diego County, California. Quite a few other scientists are dubious, understandably.

I took a longer look at what we've been learning about Homo naledi. They're folks who don't look like humanity's current model. We found their remains in a cave they probably used as a crypt.

Since you may be reading my stuff for the first time, I'll review why I think truth is important. All truth, not just the bits I grew up knowing about. Also why I take the Bible seriously, but not 'creation science.'...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Mar 2017

Earliest Life: Maybe

We're not sure how skulls found in central China fit into the family tree. They're a bit like Neanderthals, a bit like folks still living in that part of the world, and not quite like anyone else.

Other scientists found what may, or may not, be the oldest evidence of life found so far. That's in Quebec, Canada.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Feb 2017

Footprints in Ancient Ash

Scientists are pretty sure that Saccorhytus coronarius is an ancestor of lancets, sea squirts, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, and mammals: including us.

Much more recently, about 3,660,000 years back, five Australopithecus afarensis strolled across volcanic ash. One of them was "astonishingly larger" than any other A. afarensis we know of. Exactly what that means isn't, I think, clear. Not yet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Jan 2017

Urban Evolution and Big Brains

Life, and evolution, has been happening for quite a while. Cities are new, but the same processes happen there; with slightly different results. We're learning how urban environments affect critters, and are piecing together more of humanity's story....

...I see no problem with believing that God is creating a universe that's following knowable physical laws. That's just as well, since it's what we're told to believe....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Dec 2016

SETI: What If?

Contacting extraterrestrial intelligence, meeting people whose ancestors developed on another world, has been a staple of pulp fiction for generations.

Lately, it's become a matter for serious discussion. I'll be looking at an op-ed's take on how learning that we're not alone might affect folks with various religious beliefs. I'll also share what I expect: and what I don't....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Nov 2016

Olive Threat, Ginkgo Genome

Something's killing Europe's olive trees: a bacterium that's probably spread by insects. Scientists don't know how to stop the disease, not yet.

Other scientists analyzed the Ginkgo genome. What they found helps explain the tree's remarkable endurance.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Oct 2016

Right-Handedness and Evolving Jaws

At least one Homo habilis was right-handed, about 1,800,000 years ago. It's the earliest evidence of handedness in humanity's history. So far.

Our jaws may have started out as armor plate, not gill arches. Paleontologists found a second Silurian placoderm species with surprisingly familiar jaws....

...Before talking about Homo habilis, and new evidence showing how jaws evolved, I'll do my usual explanation for why science doesn't upset me....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Sep 2016

Europa, Mars, and Someday the Stars

Scientists think they've detected more plumes of water, shooting up from near Europa's south pole. It's early days, but we may have found a comparatively easy way to collect samples from the Jovian moon's subsurface ocean.

Stephen Hawking says humanity needs to keep exploring space. I agree, although not quite for the reasons he gave.

SpaceX tested an engine they plan to use on their Mars transport, and Gaia's data seems to have raised as many questions as it answers.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Sep 2016

The Minden Monster, What Killed Lucy

The 'Minden Monster,' a whacking great carnivore that lived about a hundred million years before T. Rex, is in the news again. Studying it will help scientists work out details of megalosaur development.

I'm fascinated by that sort of thing. Your experience may vary.

Other scientists think they know what killed Lucy, our name for a famous Australopithecus afarensis skeleton. It looks like Australopithecus afarensis was a little more at home in trees than we are.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Aug 2016

Brogdar, Öetzi, and Piltdown Man

Archeologists found a big stone structure buried under a 43-century-old garbage dump in the Orkney Islands.

Öetzi, Europe’s frozen mummy, got his wardrobe from many different critters: why, we don’t know.

Piltdown Man’s in the news again, too. Looks like Dawson was the only culprit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

18 Mar 2016

Fossils, DNA, and Being Human

Some scientists say they've learned that a 300,000,000-year-old whatsit was a very early version of lampreys.

That, Neanderthal DNA, and a newly-analyzed Tyrannosaur, gave me something to talk about today....

...I'll do my usual explanation of why God's design choices don't offend me: but first, a recap of why I don't miss the 'good old days.'...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Mar 2016

Lizard-Fish, Fungi, and Change

We're learning more about why ichthyosaurs died out. Climate change was almost certainly involved: but it wasn't our fault, and I'll get back to that.

Long before the first not-quite-an-ichthyosaur made the transition from land back to Earth's ocean, a tiny little fungus came ashore and started turning rock into soil....

...First, though, my usual spiel about why I'm not upset that Earth isn't flat, Adam and Eve aren't German, and poetry isn't science....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Feb 2016

Glyptodonts and Climate Change

Climate change is in the news: again. Scientists tracked where tiny critters called phytoplankton have been living: which may help us understand what's happening in Earth's ocean.

Other scientists reconstructed glyptodont DNA: confirming that the Volkswagen-size mammals were armadillos: big armadillos....

...Being offended by our increasing knowledge of how this universe works is an option: but not a sensible one, I think. Neither is getting upset over what sort of creatures we are....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 Feb 2016

Tiny Eyeballs and Purple Socks

Some cyanobacteria — pond scum — swim toward brighter areas. Scientists didn't know how the microorganisms could tell where the light is, until now.

Other scientists discovered four new species of an odd-looking sort of critter: including one that looks like a purple sock.

I'm fascinated by this sort of thing, your experience may vary....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

29 Jan 2016

Sleep and Being Human

Humans sleep, which shouldn't be surprising. Just about all critters with brains sleep: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish — even insects and nematodes experience something like sleep.

Poets and playwrights have written of sleep....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

20 Nov 2015

Europe’s Complex Heritage

I stopped using the term "Caucasian" several years ago. I've discussed the "Anglo-Teutonic" race, Neanderthals, and getting a grip, before. (September 25, 2015; October 31, 2014)

Turns out, folks from the Caucasus moved into Europe at least once — along with many other folks....

We're still learning about humanity's family history. It's a lot more complicated than we thought....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

6 Nov 2015

Chimps, Apples; and Goggle Eyes

Scientists may have observed chimpanzees in different groups using a different sound when they mean "apple." Then again, maybe not. Either way, we're learning more about chimpanzees.

Pliobates cataloniae, an ape that lived where Catalonia is now, had a gibbon-like skull: but apparently is more closely related to today's gorillas, chimps, orangutans — and us.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Oct 2015

Zircons and Earth's First Life

Bits of carbon encased in zircon crystals more than four billion years ago may have come from living creatures.

Then again, maybe not. Either way, we're learning more about Earth's long story....

...This space-time continuum doesn't work like Anaximander's model, either. Anaximander's cosmology had Earth in the center: but he speculated that we might not be standing on the only world, and that worlds change.

Aristotle's cosmology had Earth in the center of the universe, too: but he didn't think multiple worlds existed. About 16 centuries later, educated Europeans like Dante Alighieri had a very high opinion of Aristotle....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

As the Morning Rising: Sacred Heart - Fire of Approachability

As the Morning Rising: Sacred Heart - Fire of Approachability : Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Sacred Heart. How many Irish ho...