In “Tiny fossil teeth re-write rodent record” (BBC News , 12 October 2011), Jonathan Amos reports on the oldest fossil rodents found so far (at 41 mya), pushing back rodents by 10 million years. The curious thing is that while the rodent was found in Peru,
the shape of the teeth and other factors point to the ancient animals being most closely related to African rodents.
“That maybe sounds like a fantastic tale, but in fact we do see things like this happening today. You can get big logjams of vegetation that get pushed out of rivers during storms, and often you will see mammals on them.
Okay, now all we need is to see that these raft do not break up before they cross the Atlantic – about half the distance between continents as today. Wait:
“The odds of them making this crossing are obviously very low, but after millions and millions of years the odds of some animals making it go up considerably.
But this is magic numbers thinking. If, for example, you look hard among Indian yogi, you may find someone who can hold his breath for 15 minutes. You won’t find one who can hold it for 15 days. Big numbers cannot conjure a way through a brick wall.
The raft idea is worth airing, if only for the creative thinking value. But consider:
Pumice rafts “floating laboratories” for early life.
Crocodiles swam to North America?
If it’s aired too often, many will come to believe, in the notorious phrase, that it “must have” happened.
The rodent was somewhat like a guinea pig:
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