Saturday, March 17, 2007

New fossil found

PZ Myers has a great post about a newly discovered fossil in China:
Yanoconodon, a transitional fossil

The latest Nature reveals a new primitive mammal fossil collected in the Mesozoic strata of the Yan mountains of China. It's small and unprepossessing, but it has at least two noteworthy novelties, and first among them is that it represents another step in the transition from the reptilian to the mammalian jaw and ear.

It's a great post, about an interesting find, and the comments so far are also great.

The find in itself is not groundbreaking, but it's a nice complement to the exisiting fossil record.

I love Lago's comment

I like the find, but I am not impressed with the find.

We already have far and enough in the form of "transitionals" dealing with these aspects of earlier synapsids to the mammalian condition. A few people said this was like "Tiktaalik". That just ain't so. When it comes to jaw-middle ear evolution of mammals, we have the smoking gun, the film to be seen at 11:00, as well as the bullet, motive, and a guy named "Fred" that happened to walk into the room at the time of the murder to deliver a pizza (pepperoni and anchovies). When it comes to elpistostegid-tetrapod evolution, we are still hauling in suspects and asking them what they were doing a few hundred million years ago in the mid-to-late Devonian, and if they knew a gal that went by the name of "Grace".

Still doesn't mean that the fossil isn't great to have. Every find helps us understand the evolutionary paths better.

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