Mammal Evolution - Fossils and Molecules


As I mentioned earlier, there’s a really interesting paper on mammal evolution in the latest issue of the journal Nature. The authors of the paper compiled a really fantastic sampling of molecular data that included data from about 99% of all currently known extant mammals. The data was then used to conduct an analysis that was by far the most comprehensive look at the molecular evolution of mammals ever undertaken. The researchers concluded, based on this analysis, that mammals diversified a lot earlier then was previously believed - so much so, in fact, that it seems to cast some doubt on how important the K-T mass extinction really was to mammal evolution.

The nature article is behind the subscription wall, unfortunately, but if you have access it’s a good read. (You can find the full citation at the bottom of the post.) They did some cool stuff, and got some cool results. How the results should be interpreted, on the other hand, is much more complex and will take a lot longer for scientists to work out.

Read More (at The Questionable Authority):


This paper and Mike’s posting serve a second very important purpose: they illustrate how science works. The hypotheses in the paper implicitly predict a diversity of mammalian fossils that is yet to be found in Jurassic and Cretaceous deposits. Mammalian paleontologists have a new area to investigate. Thus in terms of scientific productivity, it does not matter whether the hypotheses are ultimately rejected or supported. The hypotheses in this paper have the capacity to generate a tremendous amount of new research by encouraging paleontologists and other researchers to think about their work from a new perspective.

Creationists I have spoken with never seem to understand the excitement inherent in this sort of process in science.


We had a visitor from “Answers in Genesis” come to our campus yesterday, trying to maintain the same line as ever, namely that there is supposedly no evidence for evolution. I did notice, however, that they have retreated in terms of what they mean by ‘evolution’ as well as by ‘kind’, but they are still creating confusion for lots of people, in particular Christians who feed themselves on young-earth creationist literature and never even open a science magazine.

I have posted my response to the event on my blog at, so I will refrain from saying more here!

u suck

los pantolones de tu madre son muy grande.

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Dunford published on March 29, 2007 11:46 PM.

Don’t blame the dinosaurs was the previous entry in this blog.

Egnor just doesn’t know when to quit is the next entry in this blog.

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