Sunday, 19 October 2008

News Round

It isn't widely known but one of the lines of evidence based reasoning Darwin used in his "Origin" was the bio-geographic evidenceand how this just fits exactly what we would expect from evolution.  Of course the creationist response is that "god did it and can do anything he wants - we don't have to be able to see a reason".

It is this kind of creationist response to evidence which makes their beliefs unfalsifiable and so totally unscientific.
Hundreds of new marine species discovered: Australian scientists

A new species of Ophiacantha brittlestar in the Huon Commonwealth Marine Reserve off southern Tasmania, as marine research voyages revealed 274 species new to science which were brought to the surface and analysed, along with 86 species previously unknown in Australian waters and 242 previously studied species.

Hundreds of new marine species and previously uncharted undersea mountains and canyons have been discovered in the depths of the Southern Ocean, Australian scientists said Wednesday.

A total of 274 species of fish, ancient corals, molluscs, crustaceans and sponges new to science were found in icy waters up to 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) deep among extinct volcanoes, they said.

The scientists mapped undersea mountains up to 500 metres high and canyons larger than the Grand Canyon for the first time, the government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said.

From PhysOrg.
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Fossil reveals how the turtle got its shell

A newly identified fossil could explain one of evolution's biggest mysteries - the origin of the turtle's shell.

Bone fragments from a 210-million year-old, land-dwelling reptile from New Mexico suggest that the earliest turtles didn't have much of a shell at all.

Over millions of years, rows of protective armour plates gradually fused together and to the reptile's vertebrae, eventually creating a complete shell.

"Turtles ultimately originated from something that looked like an armadillo," says lead author Walter Joyce, a palaeontologist at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut.

His colleague Spencer Lucas, of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, discovered a neck-bone fragment of the new reptile more than a decade ago, but its provenance remained debatable because the skeleton was so small, Joyce says.

However, recent erosion revealed enough pieces of Chinlechelys tenertesta - Latin for thin-shelled turtle - to remove any doubt.

Unlike turtle fossils dating from the later Jurassic era - "they're so common people stopped collecting them," Joyce says - Triassic turtles are few and far between. That's probably because they lived on land, where fossilisation is far less likely to happen, he says.

The new animal is about 30 centimetres long, with a shell only a millimetre wide. "This one's by far the thinnest ever found," Joyce says.

More importantly, the reptile's dorsal ribs aren't fully fused to its shell - or carapace - as is the case in later fossils and in modern turtles.

"This is a crucial new discovery," says Guillermo Rougier, at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who uncovered the first Triassic turtles in northwest Argentina. These and other early turtles had already gained their carapaces and offered few clues as to its origin.

From NewScientist.

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