Stuff I Love–Fossil Discoveries

I was feeling a bit down because I had to change some plans and I hate that.  Fortunately it’s never long before I start getting excited about the new possibilities brought by the change.  Also, it really helps to jump online and see some cool fossil news.

There are three very interesting news stories in paleontology this week.  The most fascinating to me is the discovery of Liaoconodon hui, a complete fossil mammal  that includes the long-sought transitional middle ear.  You may have to be a science nerd to understand why this is so exciting, but this is big news.  Scientists have been searching for exactly this for a long time.  (And take that, creationist wankers.)

There’s also a study on the eye structure of dinosaur fossils and modern-day lizards and birds that suggests some dinosaurs hunted at night.  Run away!

Finally, fossils found in Scottish lochs by researchers show life evolved on land sooner than previously thought.  These fossils are a BILLION years old.  Yes, that’s billion.  As reported in Science Daily, “These fossils illuminate a key moment in the history of evolution when life made the leap from tiny, simple bacterial (prokaryote) cells towards larger, more complex (eukaryotic) cells which would make photosynthesis and sexual reproduction possible.”

Dr. Charles Wellman, one of the authors of the paper in the journal Nature, said, “We have discovered evidence for complex life on land from 1 billion year old deposits from Scotland. This suggests that life on land at this time was more abundant and complex than anticipated.”  Amazing stuff.  I love science.

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