Tag Archives | paleontology

Prehistoric Sea Scorpion Discovered

This is an artist’s impression of Pentecopterus. PATRICK LYNCH, YALE UNIVERSITY

This is an artist’s impression of Pentecopterus.

The prehistoric sea scorpion, a relative to the spider, has been discovered in northeastern Iowa — and it’s human sized.

Jennifer Viegas via Discovery:

The previously unknown species of sea scorpion, Pentecopterus decorahensis, was named after an ancient Greek warship, the penteconter, and is described in the latest issue of the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

“The new species is incredibly bizarre,” lead author James Lamsdell of Yale University said in a press release. “The shape of the paddle — the leg which it would use to swim — is unique, as is the shape of the head. It’s also big!”

Lamsdell and his colleagues excavated more than 150 fossil fragments from the ancient predator, which lived 460 million years ago, long before the first dinosaurs emerged. The site itself is noteworthy, as the fossils were entombed in thick shale located within an ancient meteorite impact crater that today is mostly submerged by the Upper Iowa River.

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Why “Meat Made Us Smart” Is a Dumb Idea

Peter Hellberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Peter Hellberg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Humane Hominid” writes at the Discerning Brute:

Energetics and the evolution of human brain size,” published in the November 2011 edition of Nature, tests and refutes the expensive tissue hypothesis. It’s impressive work, and pretty devastating to the hypothesis that has provided a rhetorical foundation to the paleo diet mythology for over a decade now.

Navarrete’s, et. al.’s, main findings (further details below) are:

  • There is no negative correlation between brain size and gut size in any mammalian taxa, refuting the ETH’s prediction to the contrary.
  • There is, however, a strong negative correlation between brain size and adipose tissue deposits; that is, fatter animals have smaller brains than lean ones; and,
  • Humans are seeming exceptions to this rule because our fat deposits don’t interfere adversely with our means of locomotion, thus freeing up energy for encephalization that other primates have to use for carrying around all that fat.
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French Artist’s Reconstructions Of Early Hominids Look Like They’ll Move At Any Minute

PIC: Elisabeth Daynès (C)

PIC: Elisabeth Daynès (C)

Read The Smithsonian article and head on over to IMGUR if you want to see the pictures without a slideshow to wade through.

Won’t be seeing any of these at the Creationist Museum, will we? (Then again, they have a dinosaur you can saddle up and ride just like Adam and Eve!)

Via The Smithsonian.

This hyper-realistic depiction of Lucy comes from the Atelier Daynès studio in Paris, home of French sculptor and painter Elisabeth Daynès. Her 20-year career is a study in human evolution—in addition to Lucy, she’s recreated Sahelanthropus tchadensis, as well as Paranthropus boisei, Homo erectus, and Homo floresiensis, just to name a few. Her works appear in museums across the globe, and in 2010, Daynès won the prestigious J. Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize for her reconstructions.

Read more at The Smithsonian.

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Neanderthals May Have Been Sailors

Picture: Rawansari (CC)

It’s amazing to me to see how our perceptions of the Neanderthals have changed over the last 200 years, give or take. Once thought to be brutish, slow creatures, we now know that they had art, burial rituals, language and possibly even religion. Now, some scientists think that they may have been sailors as well – thousands of years before such things were thought to have occurred:

Via Live Science:

Neanderthals and other extinct human lineages might have been ancient mariners, venturing to the Mediterranean islands thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

This prehistoric seafaring could shed light on the mental capabilities of these lost relatives of modern humans, researchers say.

Scientists had thought the Mediterranean islands were first settled about 9,000 years ago by Neolithic or New Stone Age farmers and shepherds.

“On a lot of Mediterranean islands, you have these amazing remains from classical antiquity to study, so for many years people didn’t even look for older sites,” said archaeologist Alan Simmons at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

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