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Liaoconodon hui  (Source: Jin Meng)
A new fossil, Liaoconodon hui, was found in China and has all three middle ear bones

Researchers have discovered a complete mammalian fossil that includes a transitional middle ear, which consists of three bones that paleontologists have been searching for over 150 years.  

Jin Meng, study leader and curator in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, along with Wang Yuanqing and Li Chuankui, both from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, have found the first complete mammalian fossil that includes the transitional middle ear.

Mammals are defined as a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals that share characteristics like hair and mammary glands in mothers with young. They also share three middle ear bones called the malleus, incus and ectotympanic. Two of these bones are found in the joint of the lower jaw in reptiles, and researchers believe that an evolutionary shift from lizards to mammals separated the quadrate and articular plus prearticular bones from the posterior lower jaw, and they became associated with hearing as the malleus and the incus.

Previous fossils show early mammals with reptilian jaw joints and reductions in these bones for both chewing and hearing while other early mammalian fossils have ossified cartilage still connected to the groove on their lower jaws. But none of these fossils had the middle ear bones, and more evidence was needed to confirm this early transition and the mysteries of the mammalian middle ear. 

"People have been looking for this specimen for over 150 years since noticing a puzzling groove on the lower jaw of some early mammals," said Meng. "Now we have cartilage with ear bones attached, the first clear paleontological evidence showing relationships between the lower jaw and middle ear." 

The new fossil, which is called Liaoconodon hui, is a medium-sized mammal measuring 35.7 cm long. It dates from the Mesozoic (about 125 to 122 million years) and was named after the fossil beds in Liaoning, China, which is where it was discovered. It was also named after Yaoming Hu, who was a graduate of the American Museum of Natural History's doctoral program and passed away recently.  

Liaoconodon hui is complete, and shows researchers that the incus and malleus are detached from the lower jaw in order to create part of the middle ear. According to the study, the incus and the malleus "remain linked to the jaw by the ossified Meckel's cartilage that rests in the groove on the lower jaw," and the eardrum was stabilized with this cartilage as support. 

"Before we did not know the detailed morphology of how the bones of the middle ear detached, or the purpose of the ossified cartilage," said Meng. "Liaoconodon hui changes previous interpretations because we now know the detailed morphology of the transitional mammals and can propose that the ossified cartilage is a stabilizer."

This study also found that the middle ear "probably" evolved twice in monotremes, marsupials and placentals. This was determined by features associated with the groove on the lower jaw and other bones, including the presence of ossified Meckel's cartilage.  

This study was published in Nature.



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Why Bother?
By Suntan on 4/18/2011 1:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
Another childish pissing match about the theory of evolution, brought on by yet another flame-bait article that has nothing to do with technology in 3…2…1…

-Suntan




RE: Why Bother?
By PaterPelligrino on 4/18/2011 1:16:58 PM , Rating: 3
Poor choice of words, that "pissing match" - a term which implies two parties in a competition to prove not who is factually correct, but who is "the man". I do agree, however, that these arguments over evolution are pointless; how could they be otherwise when the two sides don't even speak the same language.


RE: Why Bother?
By chmilz on 4/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: Why Bother?
By Krotchrot on 4/18/2011 5:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
There should be an immediate 1 week ban every time some assclown does the "so gay.'


RE: Why Bother?
By Arsynic on 4/19/2011 9:51:54 AM , Rating: 1
Immediate ban? Where the fuck are you from, NeoGAF?


RE: Why Bother?
By spread on 4/18/2011 1:49:34 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Another childish pissing match about the theory of evolution


The theory of gravity hasn't been proven either!

Stupid scientists, what do they know?


RE: Why Bother?
By ebakke on 4/18/2011 2:05:18 PM , Rating: 2
I think you completely missed his point.


RE: Why Bother?
By Obujuwami on 4/18/2011 3:14:10 PM , Rating: 2
No, he got it. He was practicing the ancient and honored art of "Sarcasm".


RE: Why Bother?
By bug77 on 4/18/2011 6:25:38 PM , Rating: 3
If you mean "the theory of gravitation", which predicts the force of attraction between two masses, I think that has been proven pretty well.


RE: Why Bother?
By zixin on 4/18/2011 1:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
This site does have a science section. You might want some basic understanding of science before claming to be tech savy.


RE: Why Bother?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/18/2011 2:18:48 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
that has nothing to do with technology in 3…2…1…

-Suntan


Let me act as the official DailyTech response to your comment.

There seems to be a lot of confusion among certain science articles (especially on evolution) about "what is this doing on DailyTech?"

If you only read our site's name, I can see why this might confuse you, but if you read our site's FAQ:
http://www.dailytech.com/Faq.aspx

quote:
DailyTech is the leading source of news, research and discussion for current and upcoming issues concerning science and technology.


... you would know better.

We cover science, technology, and a number of related topics (e.g. security and business technology).

quote:
Another childish pissing match about the theory of evolution, brought on by yet another flame-bait article


Look, Tiffany wrote about a scientific study. If you can't handle scientific research because your particular religious beliefs compel you to disavow science, that is not our fault.

As a website that covers a great deal of science news, we will obviously cover topics like evolution/paleontology/extraterrestrial life, which may seem offensive to certain religious extremists.

Clearly such individuals have the right to comment as we are hosted in the U.S. and like our host nation support freedom of speech and free expression.

I think this dialogue can be healthy, though I think sometimes such discussions have the tendency to get off course and personally insulting.


RE: Why Bother?
By Suntan on 4/18/2011 3:24:24 PM , Rating: 1
Sure pal…

Take whatever high road you’d like. Every week there is another article thrown up with some tenuous connection to the theory of evolution in hopes that it sparks endless bickering about evolution vs. religion that runs hundreds of posts long.

What’s next, you’ll print a highbrow article about how humans used to have spiny penises…?

-Suntan


RE: Why Bother?
By UNCjigga on 4/18/2011 4:01:28 PM , Rating: 3
pageview + 1...


RE: Why Bother?
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/18/2011 4:05:59 PM , Rating: 1
A tenuous connection?
quote:
ten·u·ous
lacking a sound basis, as reasoning; unsubstantiated

The fossil record is a major component of the theory of evolution. Any fossil, especially a fossil which is a new, transitional specimen like this one, is absolutely connected to the theory of evolution. This article didn't use any baiting or weasel words; it simply presented the information. Any flaming which occurs on this page is introduced by users, not by the article.

quote:
What’s next, you’ll print a highbrow article about how humans used to have spiny penises…?

The whole point of that article was that humans evolved to not have spiny penises. Any ancestor of humans which had a spiny penis was just that, an ancestor, not a human.


RE: Why Bother?
By Suntan on 4/18/2011 4:36:32 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The whole point of that article was that humans evolved to not have spiny penises. Any ancestor of humans which had a spiny penis was just that, an ancestor, not a human.


The point of my post was to call out the absurdity of running an article about spiny penises... Not to question the mechanics of evolution.

I happen to believe in evolution, however I get tired of reading endless articles about obscure references to it for the sake of bringing out the Bible Thumpers on one hand, and the folk that like to use the term “Occam’s Razor” on the other.

The article here doesn’t even go into a discussion of these bones, or even give a picture of these bones, showing what they look like in this early mammal. Further, there is little to no effort to put it into a chronological context. Read the one source article (the one link that doesn’t point to a lot of other sensationalistic Dailytech evolution posts) that all of this article was cribbed from gives a better understanding. But a true understanding of this article isn’t needed. Just a good ol’ reference or two to evolution and then the arguments will get going in the discussion section…

…I also happened to notice that there has yet to be a single comment posted actually discussing the *topic* of this article… Coincidence?

-Suntan


RE: Why Bother?
By Skywalker123 on 4/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: Why Bother?
By Kurz on 4/19/2011 9:14:15 AM , Rating: 1
Dont read the comments?


RE: Why Bother?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/18/2011 6:22:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sure pal…


I'm not your pal, buddy.

quote:
Take whatever high road you’d like. Every week there is another article thrown up with some tenuous connection to the theory of evolution in hopes that it sparks endless bickering about evolution vs. religion that runs hundreds of posts long.


I find it funny how people complain about research into evolution and the news coverage thereof, when often in the same breath they go on to complain about the supposed "lack of evidence" (fossils, etc.) supporting evolution.

The gaps are filling in. Isn't that worth covering?

quote:
What’s next, you’ll print a highbrow article about how humans used to have spiny penises…?


No I think we covered that already (well not humans, technically, but our evolutionary precursors).

Do you see a problem with that?

....
Let me just add that you may not like this article for whatever reason (the debate that it causes, etc.), but at the end of the day it is a study published in what is perhaps science's most prestigious journal.

I certainly think that this study has a ton of merit and is worth covering.

I'm very sorry you don't agree -- but I do have to ask. If you feel that way, why did you come here and read it and leave all these comments? :)


RE: Why Bother?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: Why Bother?
By JonnyDough on 4/19/2011 12:54:37 AM , Rating: 1
Radioactive material doesn't become inert over long periods of time either. I think I'm seeing a trend here...you seem to believe that the universe is static and not dynamic. I believe you are limiting yourself by not considering infinite possibilities in an unlimited universe.

Those who believe in God I ask this:

Why is it so hard to believe in an endless, timeless universe? Why do you feel compelled to believe in an endless timeless God with all the knowledge to create such a universe? Is that not just adding an additional and absolutely unprovable/illogically theorized complex layer on top of what we already see as truth? The universe exists. We both take that as fact. God exists, you rely on "belief, faith, emotion" and you take that as fact.

Which do we both concur on? It must be true. The universe exists.

So if we take that as a truth, then we must believe that within the universe there can come "intelligence" (ie creation, such as the birth of more humans) but can intelligence (ie creation) create a universe out of nothingness? Seems to be a farther stretch of my imagination...perhaps you and your God have powers that the average limited man doesn't have.

Why humans believe themselves to be some sort of demigods rather than animals I do not know. We are made of earth, and we rely on it for survival. If only more people realized we are not "above" nature. Last time I checked, a polar bear could eat things that you couldn't, survive places you couldn't, and kick your ass in a fist fight. So you have centuries of learning that you can borrow from and hold a gun in your hand. Big whoop. Human beings are not superior nature. They merely have a superior ability. It's time we start to understand that.


RE: Why Bother?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/19/11, Rating: 0
RE: Why Bother?
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/19/2011 8:07:20 AM , Rating: 1
If you don't believe in Creationism, and you also don't believe in evolution of species, then what exactly do you believe?


RE: Why Bother?
By safcman84 on 4/19/2011 4:45:11 AM , Rating: 2
What kind of evolution do you believe in then?

single cell life --> multi-cellular life --> diversify into the hundreds of different plants and animals you see today through evolution.

Maybe I misunderstood you but:
Mammals evolved from something, why cant it be from a reptile? it is not a evolutionary leap, but gradual evolution from reptile to mammal, it only seems to be a "leap" as not every single process in the evolution from reptile to mammal has found in the fossil record, so we have gaps and missing links. this fossil fills one of the gaps in, but not all of them -> the remaining gaps make it look like a leap, but that is far from the case.


RE: Why Bother?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/19/11, Rating: 0
RE: Why Bother?
By Paj on 4/19/2011 8:32:10 AM , Rating: 1
How can you believe in evolution, yet deny macroevolution? All youre doing is demonstrating your lack of knowledge.

Why do humans have a tailbone? Wisdom teeth, that can cause pain and death if not removed? Seems like an oversight at best, a poor design at worst. Furthermore, why do dolphins and whales have lungs if they live in the water? Who would design an animal in this way?

quote:
Isn't it possible that two species can have the same type of ear bones WITHOUT being related to each other? Is there any other evidence besides the ear bones that we're looking at a distant relative here?


Yes, it is. Its called convergent evolution, where the same biological trait is acquired in unrelated lineages. ie wovles and the (now extinct) Tasmainian Tiger share many common characteristics, despite being unrelated biologically or genetically.


RE: Why Bother?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/19/11, Rating: 0
RE: Why Bother?
By Fritzr on 4/19/2011 7:51:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Quite easily. I don't. Our thoughts shape the universe, do they not? It always matters what we think.


If you believe that thinking beings created modern humans by shaping the universe with their thoughts, then yes I would include you with the Flat Earthers who deny that ships disappear over the horizon as they sail away.
quote:
This is still a very health debate on macro evolution in scientific circles, so please don't pretend that I'm some wacko claiming the Earth is flat.

If you actually read the article you would know that the discovery documents support of your theory of gradual change.


RE: Why Bother?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/19/2011 9:47:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you believe that thinking beings created modern humans by shaping the universe


Not exactly what I meant, and I think you know that. But okay, moving on...

quote:
If you actually read the article you would know that the discovery documents support of your theory of gradual change.


Then hoooray. Go me!


RE: Why Bother?
By Fritzr on 4/19/2011 7:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I believe in micro evolution. That a species can adapt etc etc, you know the deal.

I do NOT believe that frogs can become dogs, or dogs can become man. I do not believe in macro evolution. Also this crackpot theory about how all the dinosaurs "evolved" into birds and one of those birds became a primate and that primate became, eventually, man....I mean, give me a break. You really buy that crap?

So you believe that all canines evolved from earlier canine variants, horses, zebras etc. evolved from earlier equine variants, alligaors, crocodiles, gavials etc. evolved from earlier crocodilian variants.

Extending this argument to it's logical conclusion, you end up with intelligent design and dinosaurs sharing the planet with apes. This occurs because simple precellular life cannot evolve into single cell life, single cell life evolve into simple multicellular life, simple multicellular life into complex multicellular life, different lineages of multicellular life branching into multiple unique and seemingly unrelated life.

In short your theory requires that the primordial earth be populated by "advanced" life forms that were spontaneously created. Note this is not intelligent design, but simply "Spontaneous Creation" of "higher" life forms directly out of the chemical broth that covered the early Earth.

These various lineages then had to survive ALL the disasters and climate changes that have occurred during the subsequent history of the Earth.

Applying Occam's Razor to the logical consequences of your theory lends credence to evolution generating what appear to be major leaps in form and function.

This article documents the discovery of physical evidence of one of the gradual changes that your theory requires, so I do not understand why you are objecting to an interpretation of the discovery that lends support to your beliefs.


RE: Why Bother?
By PaterPelligrino on 4/20/2011 12:26:17 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I'm not religious and I DO believe in Evolution.

However I do not believe in this kind of macro-evolutionist crap. Sorry but lizards don't eventually become men through a long series of changes


Forgive me if I doubt your assertion that you are not religious, that you reject macro-evolution simply because it doesn't make sense to you. In my experience, those who reject evolution are almost always biblical literalists - though, for obvious reasons, some are reluctant to admit it in online discussions about evolution. However, the biblical literalist doesn't reject evolution because he disagrees with the science, he rejects it out of hand to safeguard his religious beliefs.

But let's take your statement at face value. So if you are not religious - which means you do not accept the creationist explanation for the existence of life - how do you explain the existence of all the distinct species that have ever existed on earth?

If life hasn't divine origins, there must be a scientific explanation for how it arose. What possible non-divine explanation could account for the existence of so many different species that doesn't involve evolution from a common origin? Many creatures alive today clearly weren't here in the remote past; where did they come from? Did the horse and Homo Sap just one day pop into existence without any precedents?

I'm not aware of a competing non-religious explanation for the origin of species, so I'm looking forward to your reply.


RE: Why Bother?
By Suntan on 4/19/2011 3:52:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I find it funny how people complain about research into evolution and the news coverage thereof, when often in the same breath they go on to complain about the supposed "lack of evidence" (fossils, etc.) supporting evolution.


I find it funny that you are suggesting I’m doing that by even writing this as a response.

My issue isn’t with evolution. My issue is with Dailytech half-heartedly cutting/pasting someone else’s article about a specific topic of evolution in an effort to get people here to argue about it.

Feel free to spin that buster…

-Suntan


RE: Why Bother?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/19/2011 4:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Feel free to spin that buster…


LOOK. I'm not trying to spin your remark. I'm just pointing out that a large number of DailyTech commenters (perhaps not yourself) complain about us covering the topic of evolution. A frequent argument is that there is a lack of evidence.

So when we present a prestigious scientific study on some of the evidence, it hardly seems fair to be accused of flamebating. We're just offering that evidence people are always demanding.

quote:
My issue isn’t with evolution. My issue is with Dailytech half-heartedly cutting/pasting someone else’s article about a specific topic of evolution in an effort to get people here to argue about it.


I fail to see how Tiffany used "cutting/pasting" to write this piece, other than direct quotes. What would you suggest, she went out and did the study herself?

Can you give any meaningful evidence to support your outlandish and inflammatory claims? Or are you content just to sit behind your keyboard and try to play bully with one of our hardest working writers?

Honestly, I don't think there's any pleasing you.

Tiffany wrote a terrific, well-researched piece on a study published in science's most prestigious journal.

But for some reason that's not up to your standards.

I don't know what to tell you...


RE: Why Bother?
By GTVic on 4/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: Why Bother?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/18/2011 6:14:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And predictably a lot of responses to the effect of "if it's science then it's irrefutable" or "if you argue against this then you are by definition a religious nut job even if you didn't make any references to such beliefs".

Hard to believe this type of crap response comes from the editor though.


It's one thing to question a study or hypothesis using the scientific method. It's quite another to criticize it on the basis of "feelings" and your religious beliefs. That was to whence I was referring.

Science is by no means irrefutable. If you consider yourself a greater expert that the researchers or think they screwed up, type away and share your perspective with us. But do it in a rational, scientific way.

The original op asked what a science article was doing on this site. I explained to them.

quote:
you argue against this then you are by definition a religious nut job even if you didn't make any references to such beliefs".


I would also point out that this study was published in Nature, perhaps the most prestigious journal in the scientific research community. Nature is an incredibly hard journal to get a paper in. To do so a paper must pass an extremely stringent criteria of critique and analysis by dozens of top experts.

If you honestly think you know better than the paper's authors, do society a favor. Go to grad. school, get a Ph.D and begin publishing. Not only will you be furthering science, you will also probably be making more money that you do at your current position!

But until you're formally educated on the topic, you may want to be cautious in your criticism, for all our sakes.


RE: Why Bother?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/18/11, Rating: -1
RE: Why Bother?
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/18/2011 11:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I thought Tiffany did a GREAT job writing this up. The facts were just presented, period. No bias and fl@me baiting. No stupid Jason Mick history hour where the evolution vs. religion issue gets rehashed for the upteenth time. If you had wrote it, we could expect a paragraph or two dedicated solely to saying "EAT THIS RELIGIOUS ID1OTS!!".


I love you too.


RE: Why Bother?
By ARoyalF on 4/19/2011 4:23:46 AM , Rating: 2
Hey, all we need now is mention of abortion, jihad, socialism, ditching petroleum, stem cells and the deficit!


"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer














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