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Geek Stuff

The Hubble is back on its own with the service mission generally successful. There were a couple of things that don’t seemed to have been fixed by the new parts, but they are relatively minor.

Let the science and the great photographs resume.

Lots of buzz about what the ABC labeled a 47 million year-old primate skeleton.

What it is is an almost total fossil of a young female mammal that is probably in the line to lemurs and other primates. The problem is all of the people calling it a missing link, and implying things that haven’t been proven. Just because it is a very old fossil, and it obviously shares characteristics with modern primates, doesn’t mean that it is in the chain of creatures that led to humans. It could well belong to a branch that ended. Celebrate it for what it is, not for what some want it to be.

In addition to the almost complete skeleton, there is an impression of its soft tissue that provides a silhouette of what it looked like in life, and it was transitioning to its adult teeth, so there are two types of teeth available for study. It is a very rich source of research materials.


1 Steve Bates { 05.20.09 at 1:02 pm }

Regarding that fossil: Please tell people to read about the Burgess shale. If that wiki intrigues you, there’s a more extensive description in Stephen Jay Gould’s book Wonderful Life, which is pitched at amateurs like me.

The short version: within the last century or so, overwhelming evidence has emerged that the tree of life is broad, shallow and ruthlessly pruned. There are far more extinct evolutionary groups of species than groups alive today. That little lemur is as cute as can be, and I’d be delighted to learn that H. sapiens is descended from it… but I wouldn’t bet a nickel on the possibility. As you say: take it for what it is; learn what we can from the find.

2 Bryan { 05.20.09 at 2:38 pm }

People try to oversimplify everything and make it fit into a preexisting mold that they pretend to understand. There are ways, with a lot of study and comparisons, to place this fossil on the tree, but trying to extrapolate from one example is a fool’s errand. That type of thinking is characteristic of belief, not science.

It is a wonderful clue about life on the planet 47 million years ago but we would need to have a representative fossil from at least every million years to show linkage was justified, and I don’t think we will ever be able to get them. Look at how long it took to figure out the dino-bird link.

The guess is that this animal died from a burst of gas and fell into the lake sediments.

If more people really understood evolution, they would be able to ignore all of the bad “PR science” out there.

3 Kryten42 { 05.20.09 at 11:33 pm }

That type of thinking is also characteristic of pig ignorance and rampant stupidity, of which the World today has way too much of. I think many people prefer *faith* and and ignorant beliefs because trying ti understand things makes their heads hurt. IMHO 😉

I can’t wait for the next evolutionary cycle, but Nature works very slowly usually. Mind you, she can get nasty when it suits. 😉 :lol:Of course, the money-grubbing faith peddlers would say that’s just doG getting annoyed and you better send more money. Heh… 🙂

4 Bryan { 05.21.09 at 12:05 am }

Didn’t money chasers get kicked out of the church? Oh, I’m sorry, that was money changers kicked out of the temple.

I seem to remember another point about a lot of money causing a major problem for those wishing to be “saved”, and that people should give away their material goods to the poor. That guy was something of a socialist.

I don’t believe in evolution any more than I believe in the chair I’m sitting in. They exist whether they have believers or not. Reality is like that. If it requires belief to “exist” it isn’t real.

People have a right to believe whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t make them think they can park on my Mother’s lawn, and they keep it to themselves.

5 hipparchia { 05.21.09 at 12:40 am }

damned marxist, he was.

6 Kryten42 { 05.21.09 at 1:04 am }

Now Bryan… come on. You are showing a distinct lack of trust and faith! LMAO

There is a reason why these ‘faith’ peddlers want their flocks to remain illiterate and ignorant you know. And let’s not forget “Qvestions are verboten!!” Unless of course they are approved before hand. 😉

I also only believe what I know. and I believe that what I know may well be incorrect or subject to change. 🙂 That’s fine by me, I actually like change and I’m always relearning. My brain doesn’t hurt. 😉 The Universe has proven to be extremely dynamic and elastic, no matter how many moronic humans would like to believe otherwise. I have a hunch the Universe doesn’t give a damn about what a few infinitesimal, insignificant bit’s of organic mass down here think about anything. 🙂 Personally, given the evidence to date in recent decades, I think that nature has decided that independent thought was a really bad evolutionary idea. 🙂 But, it was a nice idea and a good try. Maybe next time she can boost the actual ‘intelligence’ and ‘common sense’ parts of the brain, and reduce the number of ‘moron’ cells a tad. 😆 Hmmm. Maybe she can cut the ‘arrogance’ and ‘self-interest’ bits, and maybe whatever the gene is that seems to force people given a choice to usually make the wrong one, or the choice most likely to lead to failure. It’d be amazing if it want so damned prevalent and annoying. I wouldn’t mind so much if the choice only led to their own failure, sadly, humans seem to like dragging everyone with them when they fail, but tell everyone to p*ss off when they occasionally succeed (usually either by accident or because they take the credit or work of many others, predominantly the sub-species or genus Politician, Executive, and so forth) and keep it all to themselves!

*sigh* Too bad I’m not in charge of the evolution R&D crew. I’d be cutting bits until all that was life was… well, kinda like a chicken without feathers, or claws or beaks. 😉 Maybe I can send my Resume to Mother Nature? Anyone got her address? I’d soon have the ‘human experiment’ a success, or bin it once and for all. 😆

7 Bryan { 05.21.09 at 12:05 pm }

The original churches were all communes, something the wingers don’t like to acknowledge. Somehow things didn’t take off for Christianity until the profit motive and government subsidies kicked in under the Roman Empire in the East, but people aren’t supposed to know about those realities, Hipparchia.

It’s a chemical imbalance, Kryten. Talking to invisible friends is harmless, but when you start hearing answers – well, there are meds for that.

People don’t want to know what’s going on, so they invent simple answers involving all-powerful entities without ever following the implications to the end. Then they have to create facile answers to all of the paradoxes created by the existence of these all-powerful entities, which usually involve finding scapegoats – the always convenient “sinner”, whose existence isn’t proven either.

Shallow thinking – for some it’s not a bug; it’s a feature.