Workout notes: maybe 10 miles this morning? Well see later on..

Exciting New Discovery A mummified dinosaur is discovered in North Dakota.

Bismarck, North Dakota – Using tiny brushes and chisels, workers picking at a big greenish-black rock in the basement of North Dakota’s state museum are meticulously uncovering something amazing: a nearly complete dinosaur, skin and all.

Unlike almost every other dinosaur fossil ever found, the Edmontosaurus named Dakota, a duck-billed dinosaur unearthed in south-western North Dakota in 2004, is covered by fossilised skin that is hard as iron. It’s among just a few mummified dinosaurs in the world, say the researchers who are slowly freeing it from a 65-million-year-old rock tomb.

Note that a special scanner, developed for a completely different purpose, was able to show that this was no ordinary fossil but rather a find that had much of the soft tissue.

Animal tissue typically decomposes quickly after death. Researchers say Dakota must have been buried rapidly and in just the right environment for the skin to be preserved.

“The process of decay was overtaken by that of fossilisation, preserving many of the soft-tissue structures,” Manning said.

Tyler Lyson, a 25-year-old doctoral paleontology student at Yale University, discovered the dinosaur on his uncle’s ranch in the Badlands in 1999. Weeks after he started to unearth the fossil in 2004, he knew he had found something special.

“Usually all we have is bones,” Lyson said in a telephone interview. “In this special case, we’re not just after the bones; we’re after the whole carcass.”

Researchers have used the world’s largest CT scanner, operated by the Boeing Co. in California and used to examine space shuttle parts, to get a better look at what is encased in the rumpled mass of sandstone.

Another article about evolution: it appears that, for the most part, things evolve along a line that increases complexity. Of course, one must be careful in how one defines complexity; for example some one celled animals have more complex genomes that humans do!

Researchers have found evidence which suggests that evolution drives animals to become increasingly more complex.

Looking back through the last 550 million years of the fossil catalogue to the present day, the team investigated the different evolutionary branches of the crustacean family tree.

They were seeking examples along the tree where animals evolved that were simpler than their ancestors.

Instead they found organisms with increasingly more complex structures and features, suggesting that there is some mechanism driving change in this direction.

“If you start with the simplest possible animal body, then there’s only one direction to evolve in – you have to become more complex,” said Dr Matthew Wills from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Bath who worked with colleagues Sarah Adamowicz from from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and Andy Purvis from Imperial College London.

“Sooner or later, however, you reach a level of complexity where it’s possible to go backwards and become simpler again.

“What’s astonishing is that hardly any crustaceans have taken this backwards route. Instead, almost all branches have evolved in the same direction, becoming more complex in parallel.

“This is the nearest thing to a pervasive evolutionary rule that’s been found. […]

But keep in mind that evolution can do some strange things; in fact, there is some evidence that some dwarf humans actually evolved from us! From

PLoS One completely surprised me today by releasing this paper, “Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia.” The research comes from South African and American researchers, and the paper was edited by John Hawks, who apparently can really keep a secret it seems. I had no idea about this study and find it a really remarkable find since fossils of another small bodied human, Homo floresiensis, were found about 1,000 miles south of these new findings. […]

The Palau fossils are of small people, similar in size to the Flores hominins. Preliminary analysis of more than a dozen individuals, including a male weighing about 43 kg and a female weighing about 29 kg, document that these were tiny. Analyzing some of the cranial and dental features like the distinct presence of a maxillary canine fossa, a clearly delimited mandibular mental trigone, moderate bossing of the frontal and parietal squama, a lateral prominence on the temporal mastoid process, reduced temporal juxtamastoid eminences and an en maison cranial vault profile with the greatest interparietal breadth high on the vault indicates that these individuals were simply small H. sapiens adapted for life on a small island. […]

Radiocarbon dating was applied to pinpoint an age for the bones. The antiquity of the bones is between 1,410 and 2,890 years ago, which is remarkably much more recent than 18,000 year old antiquity of the Flores hominins. Along with the small size, the Palau fossils have similar features to H. floresiensis, such as their pronounced supraorbital tori, non-projecting chins, relative megadontia, expansion of the occlusal surface of the premolars, rotation of teeth within the maxilla and mandible, and dental agenesis.

But again, Berger and colleagues do not infer from these features any direct relationship between the peoples of Palau and Flores; however, they conservatively write that these similarities may be a common adaptation in humans of reduced stature. […]

Again the paper is published in PLoS One, which is an open access journal. That means you can download the original report and read it for yourself for free. I really recommend you do, this seems like one of the more significant paleoanthropological finds for 2008. Here’s the citation:

Berger, L.R., Churchill, S.E., De Klerk, B., Quinn, R.L., Hawks, J. (2008). Small-Bodied Humans from Palau, Micronesia. PLoS ONE, 3(3), e1780. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001780


March 19, 2008 - Posted by | creationism, science


  1. Unfortunately, the likes of the late Dr. Teuku Jacob and Dr. Berger’s Palau find continue to muck the proverbial academic waters with their own murky agendas. No wonder the creationists feel so emboldened nowadays when they observe evolutionary scientists continuously getting embroiled in a pissing contest of personal egos. As Dr. Junger from SUNY Stony Brook said the Palau find is “is really much ado about nothing.” I guess the fact that none of the Palau bones found match the hobbits except for some superficial features really doesn’t matter. After all, the frontal cranium looks almost as high as a human’s but hey Dr. Berger implies some commonality with Homo floresiensis. Damn, can’t we complete a dig before we report the findings nowadays?

    Of course, I have a vested interest in this discovery, having written a speculative fiction novel called Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot on the recent fossil find. If you are interested, there is more on this ongoing controversy about Homo floresiensis at or catch the free Flores Girl podcast at

    Erik John Bertel

    Comment by Erik John Bertel | March 20, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the response. As far as your comment:

    “Damn, can’t we complete a dig before we report the findings nowadays?”

    I suppose that a premature releasing of findings can confuse non-experts (such as myself); but at least I know that there is always “more to the story” than I can see.

    Comment by blueollie | March 20, 2008 | Reply

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