Paleontology in the News, 2000 archive

  • December 6, 2000. Microraptor, a tiny feathered theropod from China. BBC News OnLine, with a strange-looking reconstruction.

  • December 5, 2000. Water-laid sediments on Mars (but VERY ancient ones). With IMAGES.

  • December 2, 2000. Tremendous bombardment of Moon (and Earth) at 3.9 billion years ago. Science News, reporting on a paper in Science. We knew about this, but the new evidence makes the story stronger. The bombardment woiuld have sterilized Earth even if life had already appeared. This means that life did arise quickly. Bombardment folks would like to think that the crisis somehow HELPED life to evolve, but remember that that is speculation and, quite possibly, wishful thinking.

  • November 10, 2000. New early theropod from Italy, Saltriosaurus. Story from BBC News OnLine, and poorly written at that. Bad show, chaps. I'll look for a better account!

  • November 10, 2000. Europeans still have gene distributions that reflect their Paleolithic roots. Story from BBC News OnLine. The paper was published in Science.

  • October 16, 2000. Cromagnon people painted the earliest known lunar calendar on the walls of Lascaux cave. From BBC News OnLine.

  • October 10, 2000. FIVE new Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons discovered in Montana. From BBC News OnLine. To put it in perspective, it took 120 years to find the first 15.

  • October 11, 2000. DNA from a third Neanderthal. Story from BBC News OnLine. OK, so we have three rather than two. It doesn't alter the situation, that we can't tell anything about the relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans, IMHO. Stringer in particular should know better! See previous stories from March 29, 2000.

  • September 8, 2000. New evidence on the Permo-Triassic extinction. Peter Ward and colleagues describe evidence for major erosion right at the P-T boundary in South Africa, at the same time as a major plant extinction. The evidence suggests that land plants were "clear-cut", leaving nothing to hold the soil in place. Nice paper! News item in Science, with link to the paper.

  • September 7, 2000. Much firmer evidence that the Anasazi were cannibals. Feature article from Science News, September 9. Though this is not paleontology, it makes it easier to believe that other humans, and Neanderthals, may very well have been cannibals too. Remember, for example, these items from late September 1999:

  • September 6, 2000. Celebrating Australia's big fossils. Story from BBC News OnLine

  • August 25, 2000. Important experiment produces organic chemicals in hot-vent conditions. Story from the New York Times. Be careful! This experiment shows that organic materials can be produced at hot vents. It does NOT mean that life originated there. Important chemicals can be produced on comets, in the atmosphere, at at shorelines as well. They can all be supplied to the ocean on the early Earth. It is an entirely separate question (though it can be asked and answered scientifically) where life began.

  • August 23, 2000. The world's largest trilobite! From the University of Manitoba. The trilobite is a new species of Isotelus. Isotelus is a big trilobite anyway, but this new one is enormous, at 70 cm plus in length. (Late Ordovician in age.)

  • August 22, 2000. Assessing the genetic underpinning of "race". (It's a relatively tiny part of human DNA.) Feature article in the New York Times

  • August 22, 2000. Better understanding of how teeth develop. (In birds as well as mammals. Yes, birds.) Story from the New York Times

  • August 1, 2000. Earth's oldest oil. Discovery of the oldest oil, showing that life was already abundant enough to form oil from breakdown products over 3.2 b.y. ago. News article from BBC News OnLine. Reference: Rasmussen, B., and R. Buick. 2000. Oily old ores: Evidence for hydrothermal petroleum generation in an Archean volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit. Geology 28: 731-734.

  • July 28, 2000. Dinosaur farts eventually killed them all. Every now and then, you get an absolutely delicious dose of idiocy in our field, usually connected with dinosaur evolution or human evolution. Here is one. It's so bad that I leave it as an elementary exercise in scientific criticism for you to figure out why it's wrong. Story from BBC News OnLine. Now the BBC isn't stupid either: their editors know that this is rubbish. But it's also irresistible as a news item.

  • July 7, 2000. Living bacteria in the ice of the South Pole. NSF press release, and the same press release at another site.

  • July 4, 2000. Some Greek myths were based on fossils. From the New York Times, featuring research and a recent book by Adrienne Mayor.

  • June 21-23, 2000. NASA announces the discovery of water-carved gullies on Mars, and they look fresh, therefore new. The media immediately jump on the "There-IS-water on Mars" aspect of the story.

    June 23, 2000. A paper in Science by Jones et al. argues that Longisquama was a feathered creature and a relative/ancestor of birds. Here are some news stories:

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