backtop


Print 53 comment(s) - last by callofduty1000.. on Apr 22 at 1:27 PM


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.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

To preempt the religious debaters...
By rbuszka on 4/18/2011 1:22:50 PM , Rating: 2
Let's see if we can't approach the discusson on this news story (obviously put up to inflame the Religious Right and proponents of intelligent design and create a debate spectacle between ID proponents and evolutionary naturalists) a little differently this time. I'm fairly tired of the mud-slinging and immaturity on both sides of the debate, and greatly prefer respectful intellectual conversation.

Let's suppose evolution on the scale required to produce speciation could be observed in nature to occur. What exactly does this prove? I don't think even that would eliminate the question of intelligence in natural design. The question of who or what did or didn't create what is not a question for science (which can only state conclusively that evolution "can" happen), but a question for history, since there remains the possibility that an intelligent agent could have acted in one or more single events to influence the progression of evolutionary development of life on Earth to produce specifically what we see today, instead of some other possible outcome.

Because a single historical event requiring the action of an intelligent agent is not necessarily repeatable, it is not testable, and thus cannot be considered within the domain of science. The question of an intelligent creator God is thus NOT a scientific one, but a historical one, with the debate being over the historicity (or the possibility) of one or more alleged historical events in which a supernatural entity could have acted.

The amount of fossil record evidence that has been put forth in support of naturalistic macro-evolution is not even close to sufficient to show the supposed gradual progression of morphological changes in organisms of a particular species that we would expect to observe as proof of naturalistic evolution, because each individual fossil found is like a single frame in a movie -- we can string the still frames together and play them back quickly enough and see what we interpret as motion, but we cannot say with certainty what was occurring between the frames of a film (which are individual still images), and in the same way we cannot say with certainty what happened between fossil specimens that appear to show different transitional forms (which are 'still' in the sense that they are not actively reproducing, because they are no longer living). The naturalist must make the assumption that between two fossil specimens, the rate of change in the physical feature was gradual and steady, whereas the theist may suppose that between transitional forms, the rate of change may have been steady, or it may have been sudden as the result of the addition of new useful information to the organism's genome, thus the theist has greater freedom within the doctrine of theistic evolution to suppose what may have happened rather than forcing his interpretation of the evidence to coincide with his worldview, and thus the theist has the freedom to reconcile the claims of a theistic religious text (which makes claims to historicity) with the events observed.

A common objection that is raised is "Occam's Razor", which is misused to say that more complex solutions to a problem must be discarded in favor of simpler ones. In this case, Occam's Razor is trotted out as a means to require that a creator God be discarded in favor of a creatorless universe. This is not Occam's Razor at all; Occam's Razor is simply an aesthetic that prefers simpler solutions to more complex ones in answering a particular question, but it is only an aesthetic and not a law of logic, and it is not applicable to complex questions of history or science.

I don't expect to solve anything here. This debate is destined to end in a stalemate until judgment day. My point with this post is simply to show that even if we find many, many 'transitional forms' that appear to support the gradual development of a feature that was once thought to be "irreducibly complex", that does little to make the evolutionary argument from the fossil record more compelling, and does nothing at all to undermine the position of intelligent design.




By zixin on 4/18/2011 1:47:37 PM , Rating: 1
First of all, be it a historical or scientific inquiry, you need evidence to proof something happened before said something is true. Since there is absolutely no proof that an intelligent creator exists, scientifically or historically, he/she/it doesn't exist.

Second of all, invoking an intelligetn creator only begets the question of what created said creator, and then what created the creator's creator and so on and so forth until eventually you end up with abiogenesis or the super natural version of religion. If we are going to end up with abiogenesis as the beginning of life anyway, we don't need all the creators in between. If you are going to invoke God then this is no longer a scientific discussion.

Thridly, you claim there is no enough proof for evolution. What exactly are you qualifications to make such a claim? Should we believe you or the majority of biologists who have Ph D. and spend their entire career studying evolution?

Finally, there is no debate. Intelligent Design is not a valid scientific theory. It is just another attempt at trying to make creationism sound legitimate. There is no evidence supporting it. "Irreducible Complexity" simply means we don't know how it formed, therefore we don't want to find out. That is a piss poor attitude to have toward the unknown.


RE: To preempt the religious debaters...
By spread on 4/18/2011 1:59:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't think even that would eliminate the question of intelligence in natural design.


It's not a matter of intelligence. When a species evolves, a variety of options occur. Maybe larger horns, heavier bones... etc. The ones with the more useful adaptions survive and those with the weaker ones do not. It has already been proven in bacteria and finches (small birds) because of their fast reproductive cycles.

We would be able to see this process on a larger scale if we lived longer but we're a short lived species.

quote:
My point with this post is simply to show that even if we find many, many 'transitional forms' that appear to support the gradual development of a feature that was once thought to be "irreducibly complex", that does little to make the evolutionary argument from the fossil record more compelling, and does nothing at all to undermine the position of intelligent design.


It's our quest for knowledge that has made us what we are today and given us the technological conveniences that you are using right now. It's never enough to say "Gee I don't know Bob, I guess God musta done it!"


RE: To preempt the religious debaters...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/18/11, Rating: 0
By JediJeb on 4/19/2011 4:08:39 PM , Rating: 2
The Dark Matter question you talk about is one I have been pondering also. What gets me about it is that instead of questioning the theories on the behavior of gravity they just made up more mass to compensate. Maybe gravity behaves differently over large distances than we have been able to experimentally discern. If gravity is not constant, but actually varies more with distance could that explain the disparity in the rotational speeds of galaxies and thus all the way down to quantum level interactions? If gravity is a variable with a very very small delta over distance, instead of a constant maybe that would explain a lot of things. Problem is if that is actually true, then a lot of scientists have to admit they were wrong, and we have seen in the past just how hard that can be even with things like relation of planets to the sun, size and shape of the Earth, whether or not you can travel faster than the speed of sound( was once believe that if anyone tried they would disintegrate) and many other scientific "truths" we now take for granted.

Even with evolution, the evidence works for now, but if in the future some evidence points to a different conclusion will scientists be able to change their views? Scientists for all their logical thinking can also be some of the most stubborn people when their theories are challenged. Not saying scientists are better than religious people or vice versa, just pointing out that both sides can be guilty of being bull headed in their views so it isn't always warranted that scientists must bash the religious for their views or the other way around.


By Fritzr on 4/19/2011 8:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
Half assed theories are the very basis of good science. When someone says "that's strange...I wonder why that happened", you are seeing the beginning of a new theory. Sure the first stabs at answering the question may be dead wrong, but they are things that can be tested and modified until the results of extrapolating from the theory match what happens in nature.

This happens repeatedly in Theoretical Physics where scientists spout off with half assed theories and then spend years discovering what the reality is.

A very good example is phlogiston. Researchers noted that a fire in an enclosed container would go out. Animals placed in the container with the fire died as the fire went out. These observations along with others formed the basis of a theory that stated that an unidentified component of air dubbed phlogiston was required by living creatures and was destroyed by fire. This theory was updated when oxygen was discovered and is now known as the Oxidation Theory where oxygen combines with other chemicals in the presence of high temperatures creating the phenomonon called "fire" and is acquired by living beings in a process known as "respiration" for the purpose of providing energy in the living cells through "oxidation". Today Phlogiston Theory is considered half assed, but virtually all the observations and predictions of that outmoded theory remain correct.

Another half assed theory that remains in common use because it is accurate enough is Newton's Law of Gravity.

Just because Phlogiston has been replaced and Newton's Law of Gravity has been shown to be incorrect is no reason to state that they should have never been used due to inaccuracy. Instead both theories formed the basis for the research that eventually disproved them.

"I don't know therefore it cannot be" is not something that advances science.
"I think this might be, let's check it out" is something that advances science.


By Cr0nJ0b on 4/18/2011 2:04:32 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not a certified smart guy, like many of the people on this forum, but I still want to comment...if that's ok...

rbuszka, I understand you comment, but it sounds to me like you are just replacing GOD with the unknown answer to a question. You can say GOD did everything. GOD makes the electrons inside an ATOM move from place to place. Since we can't actually observe the true underlying nature of the force that propels them, you could make that argument. People will likely chime in and say...wait...we know clearly how electrons move...we have observed them...but at a very, very micro, sub-atomic view, we are still just now learning what is happening...and likely we will continue to find smaller and more hidden degrees to the nature of the physical world...but does that mean that I should make the argument and force a cirriculum in education that teaches how GOD moves electrons...? What does that do to help in the discovery anyway?

We are constantly searching for more evidence and linkage in all areas of science, that's our nature. Adding GOD to the equation, in my opinion, is just a convenient placeholder for those who are unwilling to keep searching for the answer.


By PReiger99 on 4/18/2011 2:18:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
thus the theist has greater freedom within the doctrine of theistic evolution to suppose what may have happened rather than forcing his interpretation of the evidence to coincide with his worldview

I never read something more absurd than that. Theists force their interpretation of the evidences to coincide with their worldview. They begin with "gods must exist because I believe they do and as such they must guide evolution (because at this point denying evolution is simply too ridiculous)". Theists aren't interested in what may have happened, otherwise they would try to find evidence to support the existence of their gods. But you said it yourself, no evidence will ever "make the evolutionary argument from the fossil record more compelling" to you.

quote:
A common objection that is raised is "Occam's Razor", which is misused to say that more complex solutions to a problem must be discarded in favor of simpler ones.

Occam's Razor states that the simplest explanation that account for all the data is usually the best, not just the simplest explanation. Since there is not the slightest evidence that support the existence of deities, and that deities are infinitely more complex than the phenomenon you are trying to explain. Such hypothesis can be logically discarded.

quote:
My point with this post is simply to show that even if we find many, many 'transitional forms' that appear to support the gradual development of a feature that was once thought to be "irreducibly complex", that does little to make the evolutionary argument from the fossil record more compelling, and does nothing at all to undermine the position of intelligent design.

It won't convince people like you because your position is illogical. Basically, I could say that transitional forms are merely the will of invisible pink unicorns and my argument would worth as much as those of intelligent design proponents (which isn't much). When (un)intelligent designers manage to bring evidence to support their absurd hypothesis, then there will be a debate. Until that time, there is no debate whatsoever if one side demands extraordinary proofs from the other while bringing none of their own (while at the same time, demanding that their position be considered as logical as the scientific one for no other particular reason that they "believe" it to be true).


By gman7664 on 4/18/2011 2:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
Near as I can tell you are pretty similar to all the other folks that claim evolution is not valid.

Your comment about there never being enough fossils to make evolution work fails to take into account the parallel line of evidence being developed through researching the genomes of both living and fossilized species and which does contain such information.

As we progress on both fronts it is amazing how well these two tools fit together to demonstrate the mechanisms behind evolution. You seem to forget that evolution is an observed fact and that the theory is simply a description of how it all worked. The theory is quite well tested and is very complete, albeit not totally.

As our science investigates that which we can observe we refine our understanding of the subject.

Contrast this to any investigation of any god proposed by any human. Interestingly, the Universe at present contains a very large amount of information, much of which we have processed, yet nowhere is there a single bit of information about any such god. People do not hesitate to use god to explain things they do not understand but they fail to show that their god actually exists which is of course a prerequisite to being the explanation for something.

Were science to obtain any actual information about god then we can study the phenomena, but to date there is an utter absence of any such information. Even more interesting is that the Universe works quite well without any such god; our inability to understand it all does not make god responsible for the universe.

Evolutionary theory uses observable mechanisms to explain how evolution operated. In each and every case there is an observable cause and an observable effect. ID has no such observable cause and is used to explain things for which we either have an excellent explanation or will have shortly - ironically ID puts the spotlight on things that are poorly explained and by doing so attract the attention of some scientist that then proceeds to work out the mechanism behind the observation. Naturally this does not suit the ID proponents so they dismiss it but that does not invalidate the work.

Finally,what undermines Intelligent Design is that it solves a problem that does not exist. It is tacked on to things when the actual explanation does not suit someone that wants there to be a different explanation, typically involving a god they desperately want to exist in order to provide them with comfort.

Remember, kids, Science is the means by which we determine how the Universe actually is as opposed to how we want or beleive it to be.

Religion, on the other hand, is the means by which we convince ourselves the Universe is the way we want or beleive it to be as opposed to how it actually is.

I prefer the former to the latter as I do not find comfort in lying to myself.


By japlha on 4/18/2011 2:50:24 PM , Rating: 2
The idea of Occam's Razor is not about the complexity or the simplicity of a solution. It's about explaining an unknown with as many knowns and as few unknowns as possible.

Adding God into the mix just adds to current number of unknowns. Saying, "God did it" does not make an unknown become a known.

So, a universe, with a God, has more unknowns than a universe without a God. If we can come up with a scientific repeatable test that gives evidence of God's existence, within a reasonable degree of certainty, then the theory of God be considered seriously.

quote:
A common objection that is raised is "Occam's Razor", which is misused to say that more complex solutions to a problem must be discarded in favor of simpler ones. In this case, Occam's Razor is trotted out as a means to require that a creator God be discarded in favor of a creatorless universe. This is not Occam's Razor at all; Occam's Razor is simply an aesthetic that prefers simpler solutions to more complex ones in answering a particular question, but it is only an aesthetic and not a law of logic, and it is not applicable to complex questions of history or science.


RE: To preempt the religious debaters...
By nengel on 4/18/2011 6:02:24 PM , Rating: 2
I very much agree with your post, and I don't think that the army of responders who came out against your very reasonable stance refuted what you were offering, which is really quite neutral in terms of metaphysical and theological commitments.

I have done little research into this area, some on either side, and am very interested in digging deeper. The stance I take would be similar to yours, that being if we find the naturalistic processes for which we can show the possibility and plausibility for the origin of life and subsequent change leading from single cell to multi-cellular to complex organisms, then I would absolutely accept it. Theistic evolution would sit just fine with me. This is really the open minded position to take, despite the objections. This approach would use information we HAVE to make an inference to the best explanation. Be it the origin of life or the massively finely-tuned universe that is needed to support it, the teleological argument has a lot of weight. Far from stopping science or positing God as a substitute for more explanation to current processes as we observe them, it is merely open to a non-naturalistic metaphysic, that if we see in nature what appears to be trademarks of design, so be it, follow the argument where it leads. A committed materialist cannot allow a divine foot in the door, but this is a metaphysical position, not a scientific position, in fact science can say nothing to it.

So I really don't mind evolution. I do get annoyed when it is the one theory you cannot criticize, at minimum it will allow a better theory to emerge when we understand it more fully, and isn't that the goal of the scientific enterprise? It certainly does not prove atheism, it would merely push back the question of why life, to why a finely tuned universe with minds to comprehend it rather than nothing at all? And God as proposed as a metaphysically ultimate starting point needs no other creator/designer, but matter, energy, time, and space do, if you accept contemporary cosmology.

I understand why evolutionists get angry at evolution deniers, there are some ridiculously bad arguments trotted out against it, even ones that have had no merit for a while. But there is a big difference from what I have seen between denying an old universe because the Bible says "days", and propounding problems for bio-genesis or the development of radically new organs from random mutation due to the specificity of biological information we now have. I try to be as un-dogmatic either way, we may really find all the processes needed for the formation of the first cell from simple organic compounds, but me may not, and I am also willing to look down that path.


By rbuszka on 4/18/2011 8:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thankful and encouraged that somebody actually understood the true point of my post above, instead of knee-jerking into "Gaaah, die, you Creationist!" mode like everyone else did. I'm also encouraged to see that my first respondent was rated down to '0', because the first three paragraphs of his post are three different textbook logical fallacies (that is, non-arguments).

My point was that evolution in any form can't be used as a religious-political tool to exclude God from participating in events on Earth, and that a theistic evolutionary worldview can provide someone with the freedom to be in harmony with both science and theistic faith. Really, it's only at odds with Genesis Chapter 1, which most English translations of the Bible render as poetry anyway, indicating that its source is actually a poem whose writer may have been taking artistic license in order to explain that God is the first cause of the universe. Yes, I know about Multiverse Theory, but that has not yet been shown to be a provable theory, and I don't subscribe to "if you can dream it you can do it" cosmology. However, I do recognize that my above statements would be very frustrating to those who want to use the success or usefulness (not necessarily the same things) of evolutionary theory to force a post-Enlightenment naturalistic worldview on other people, because it allows one's faith to sidestep the Evolution issue entirely.


"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki