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Earliest “land animals” were actually victims of a prehistoric Pompeii, say researchers

The 455 million-year-old trackways were not from the first creatures on land but rather "death dances" of arthropods overcome by volcanic ash, say researchers. The actual earliest trackways are from 420 million years ago, when life forms started moving on land all at once. Read More ›

Smithsonian: The asteroid strike was only one factor in dinosaur extinction

Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid hit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and produced cataclysmic disruptions that, it is believed, killed off about 75% of species (the K/Pg extinction). But many researchers think there must have been other factors at work. Read More ›

Remarkable vid of a mouse embryo developing

This series of videos from McDole et al. shows the development of a mouse embryo, captured using adaptive light-sheet microscopy, and highlights cell division (part A), cell movements (part B) and tissue dynamics (parts C, D) during embryogenesis. Paper. McDole, K., Guignard, L., Amat, F., Berger, A., Malandain, G., Royer, L.A., Turaga, S.C., Branson, K., and Keller, P.K. (2018). In Toto Imaging and Reconstruction of Post-Implantation Mouse Development at the Single-Cell Level. Cell. 175. (paywall) Hat tip: Evolution News and Science Today:

A new unified model of specified complexity

George Montañez, Assistant Professor in the Computer Sciences Department\ at Harvey Mudd College, has just published a unified model of specified complexity: Abstract:A mathematical theory of complex specified information is introduced which unifies several prior methods of computing specified complexity. Similar to how the exponential family of probability distributions have dissimilar surface forms yet share a common underlying mathematical identity, we define a model that allows us to cast Dembski’s semiotic specified complexity, Ewert et al.’s algorithmic specified complexity, Hazen et al.’s functional information, and Behe’s irreducible complexity into a common mathematical form. Adding additional constraints, we introduce canonical specified complexity models, for which one-sided conservation bounds are given, showing that large specified complexity values are unlikely under any given Read More ›

A complex network of genes helps plants cope with DNA damage

From ScienceDaily: When a building is damaged, a general contractor often oversees various subcontractors — framers, electricians, plumbers and drywall hangers — to ensure repairs are done in the correct order and on time. Similarly, when DNA is damaged, a molecular general contractor oversees a network of genetic subcontractors to ensure that the diverse cellular tasks needed to protect and repair the genome are carried out correctly and on time. Scientists have known for some time that a master gene named SOG1 acts like a general contractor for repair, coordinating with various genetic subcontractors of the plant cell to mount an effective DNA damage response. But, it wasn’t clear which specific genes were among the subcontractors, nor how SOG1 interacted Read More ›

Science journal embraces reincarnation research in support of transgender ideology

It’s okay, Jerry, this is in support of transgender ideology, and that’s now science (Science?): From Abstract: Objectives: This study examines childhood gender nonconformity (GNC) in conjunction with the phenomenon in which young children describe memories of a purported previous life. Methods: In a case-control study of 469 children reporting past-life memories, we used logistic regression to examine predictors of GNC, measured by documented gender nonconforming behaviors. Results: Children who remembered a life involving a different natal sex were much more likely to exhibit GNC than children who remembered a same-sex life. Conclusions: After exploring potential explanations, we conclude that past-life memories represent a novel factor that may be associated with the development of GNC.(paywall) Marieta Pehlivanova, Monica J. Janke, Read More ›

Among biggest paleontology issues of 2018: Is Toumaï an ape or a human ancestor?

It’s getting testy, says a vertebrate paleontologist: In January Roberto Macchiarelli, a professor of human paleontology, accused his colleague Michel Brunet of totally misrepresenting an important piece of evidence in the story of human evolution. The evidence in question is a femur – a thigh bone found in northern Chad in 2001. Macchiarelli believes that the femur belonged to Toumaï (Sahelanthropus tchadensis), a species which his opponent argues is the earliest known example of a human ancestor, dating back around 7 million years. But Macchiarelli insists the femur belonged to a quadrupedal ape, not a bipedal hominin. Julian Benoit, “Five reasons why 2018 was a big year for palaeontology” at THe Conversation If Toumaï is a human ancestor, then human beings Read More ›

New kingdoms of life: The “Tree of Life” is a hard concept to get past

The recent find of a probable new kingdom of life in a routine dirt sample in Nova Scotia (an east coast province of Canada) raises an obvious question: How much more is there out there that is underfoot, so to speak, that does not fit our tidy categories? Just yesterday, we were looking at the vast newly discovered array of subterranean microorganisms, many of which won’t turn out to be very tidy either, including those that live for millennia rather than twenty minutes. One writer describes the hemimastigotes above as the latest (and most profound) of additions quietly and routinely added to the “tree of life,” (as if nothing is changing?): To understand how evolutionarily distinct the hemimastigote lineage is, Read More ›

Logic and first principles, 5: The mathemat-ICAL ordering of reality

As we continue to explore the significance of logic, the pivotal importance of Mathematics (and of the mathemat-ICAL ordering of reality) has come up. Where, we can best understand mathematics in two frames by using a definition with a bracket: Mathematics is [the study of] the logic of structure and quantity. The study part is cultural, the logic part speaks to an intelligible rational framework inextricably embedded in the existence of a world with distinct identity and then with structures amenable to quantification. So, let us headline a comment from the thread on no 4: 87: >>Let us take a key observation: There is order in the universe and we are good at modelling it mathematically. But that doesn’t mean Read More ›