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Friday, 6 March 2015

More Early Man, Mega Fauna & Sea "Monsters"!

  I've been looking at what was called "the Dinosaur mass extinction event"

Yes, asteroid go boom!

All dinosaurs died "in one year" according to physicist Michio Kaku in an absolutely appalling piece of unscientific verbage.

Dinosaurs on land died out gradually over a long period. Some say decades and others "hundreds" of years.   In "one year" is, perhaps, the daftest statement about dinosaur extinction I've heard.

We still discover new species in fossils and what we don't know we make up by saying "yes, a beaver does this and so this type of dinosaur very likely did so" and TV copies this - Anthropomorphisised dino families and "they did THIS" and "They then did THAT" -we DO NOT KNOW. 

It's making massive silly assumptions but, hey,a TV "expert" ( "X" =The Unknown and "spurt" is a drip under pressure) says it then that's a fact. 

We are now, after scientists have said, at least eight times in my life time, that we have discovered the "earliest man"...oh, we discovered  homo floresiensis (the so called "hobbit"). And case you missed it:

The 2.8m-year-old human lineage jaw bone fossil was found in the Afar region Ethiopia by fossil hunters.
The 2.8m-year-old human lineage jaw bone fossil was found in the Afar region Ethiopia by fossil hunters. Photograph: Brian Villmoare/PA

Jaw bone fossil discovered in Ethiopia is oldest known human lineage remains

Around 400,000 years older than previous discovery of homo lineage, 2.8m-year-old jaw and five teeth was found on rocky slope in Afar region

Ian Sample science editor

A lower jaw bone and five teeth discovered on a hillside in Ethiopia are the oldest remains ever found that belong to the genus Homo, the lineage that ultimately led to modern humans.

Fossil hunters spotted the jaw poking out of a rocky slope in the dry and dusty Afar region of the country about 250 miles from Addis Ababa.

The US-led research team believes the individual lived about 2.8m years ago, when the now parched landscape was open grassland and shrubs nourished by tree-lined rivers and wetlands.

The remains are about 400,000 years older than fossils which had previously held the record as the earliest known specimens on the Homo lineage.

The discovery sheds light on a profoundly important but poorly understood period in human evolution that played out between two and three million years ago, when humans began the crucial transformation from ape-like animals into forms that used tools and eventually began to resemble modern humans.

“This is the the first inkling we have of that transition to modern behaviour. We were no longer solving problems with our bodies but with our brains,” said Brian Villmoare at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

The new fossil, found at a site called Ledi-Geraru, has a handful of primitive features in common with an ancient forerunner of modern humans called Australopithecus afarensis. The most well-known specimen, the 3m-year-old Lucy, was unearthed in 1974 in Hadar, only 40 miles from the Ledi-Geraru site. But the latest fossil has more modern traits too. Some are seen only on the Homo lineage, such as a shallower chin bone.

The picture that emerges from the fossil record is that 3m years ago, the ape-like Australopithecus afarensis died out and was superseded by two very different human forms. One, called Paranthropus, had a small brain, large teeth and strong jaw muscles for chewing its food. The other was the Homo lineage, which found itself with much larger brains, a solution that turned out to be more successful.

“By finding this jaw bone we’ve figured out where that trajectory started,” said Villamoare. “This is the first Homo. It marks in all likelihood a major adaptive transition.”

What drove Australopithethus to extinction and led to the rise of Homo is a mystery, but researchers suspect a dramatic change in the environment transformed the landscape of eastern Africa. “It could be that there was some sort of ecological shift and humans had to evolve or go extinct,” said Villmoare.

Other fossils recovered nearby the new human remains suggest that the region was much wetter than Hadar where Lucy was found. Remnants of antelopes, prehistoric elephants, primitive hippos, crocodiles and fish were all recovered from the Ledi-Geraru site, researchers said. Details of the discoveries are reported in two papers published in Science.

The human jaw was discovered in January 2013 by Chalachew Seyoum, an Ethiopian national on the team, and a student at Arizona State University. He was part of a group that had set off from camp that morning to look for fossils on a hill that was later found to be brimming with ancient bones.

Villamoare, who was on the expedition, recalled the moment of discovery. “I heard people yelling Brian! Brian! And I went round the corner and there was Chalachew. He recognised it, and said: ‘We’ve got a human.’ It had eroded out of the stratigraphy. It was in two pieces and was missing some of the teeth, but it was clearly of the genus Homo.”

The fossil bones are too fragmentary to give them a human species name. The jawbone could belong to Homo habilis, known as “handy man”, the earliest known species on the Homo lineage. But Villamoare is not convinced. It could be a new species that lived before Homo habilis.

Other researchers agree. In a separate paper published in Nature, Fred Spoor at University College, London, reports a virtual reconstruction of a Homo habilis skull. “By digitally exploring what Homo habilis really looked like, we could infer the nature of its ancestor, but no such fossils were known,” said Spoor. “Now the Ledi-Geraru jaw has turned up as if on request, suggesting a plausible evolutionary link between Australopithecus afarensis and Homo habilis.”

But until more remains are found, the mystery will remain. The US-led team has been back to the site this January to look for more fossils, but Villamoare said he cannot yet talk about what they did or did not find.

 Oh.  That's nine times now though I actually think it is far more times that I've heard this.  At least now a few more scientists are saying "the oldest so far"....which means this could be the oldest but they are privately thinking there might be more.

 Remarkable komodo Dragon
 Komodo Dragon:

It is not stretching the imagination to believe that dinosaurs -not all but a few- survived but evolved and these became "dragons" -look at Komodo Dragons -or even if you want to think about it, "sea monsters". If this extinction was so huge then WHY did many MANY other species survive? 

And mega fauna -Dire Wolves, etc.- as well as the "tall story" gigantic snakes could have existed -I say they probably did.

While researching While researching Some More Things Strange & Sinister and looking at reports of gorillas before they were officially "discovered" -a pleasant German army officer with his Askari machine gunned some -and so his name, Berenger was given to the new species- I came across a book published by Henry Fetherstone, of London, in 1614 not 1630 as some cryptozoologists claim 9but what's in a year?). Purchas, his Pilgrimage refers to an Englishman, Andrew Battle (not "Battell" as often miss-quoted) who escaped from the Portuguese (so his account was from the late 16th/early 17th century)

Battle was watching and learning about the wildlife and that makes the next piece very interesting:

    “But more strange it seemed which hee tolde mee of a kinde of great Apes,if
they might so bee termed,of the height of a man,but twice as bigge in feature
of their limmes,with strength proportionable,hairie all over,otherwise altogether
like men and women in their whole bodily shape.  They lived on such wilde
fruits as the Trees and Woods yeelded,and in the night time lodged on the Trees:
Hee was accompanied with two Negro-Boyes:and they carried away one of
them by a sudden surprise:yet not hurting him,as they use not to doe any which
they take,except the Captive doe then looke upon them.  This slave after a
monethes life with them convayed himselfe away againe to his Master. “

    It is likely that the gorillas were known to other Europeans such as the Portuguese but not caught,possibly because of danger involved,superstition or there not being any interest in doing so.  There is the possibility that Battle also observed chimpanzees and Purchas does note that “Other Apes there are store” –in other words there were a lot seen by Battle

Europeans in Africa in the 17th century describe phenomenally large herds of zebra and other animals so plenty of food.  Battle was not just "telling tall tales".

Incidentally, the Europeans helped wipe out most of that wildlife -though the Americans came in late and "helped out" -after all, they had helped drive their bison to near extinction. 

Are "sea monsters" surviving aquatic dinosaurs? Many scientists, particularly in the 19th century and early 20th, thought they might be.  But then the blustering majority who stood by dogma from their books and even Bible, put pressure on. A word here.  A casual remark there and those pro surviving dinosaur were mocked in newspapers and magazines but the brave few endured.  However, the open mind of science was "shut for custom"!
The coelacanth, yes I am going to bring that up again, Science! These fish were thought to have gone extinct in the Late Cretaceous, but were rediscovered in 1938 off the coast of South Africa -hence the silly term "living fossil" but we do know it put more than a few stuffed-shirts off their breakfast kippers.  "Damned nerve turning up un-extinct like that! Messes up my books!"

But there was no doubt what it was.  It looked exactly like the fossils.

Even as a youngster I could not understand how "Nessie" could be a plesiosaur -after 65 million years should it not have evolved?

Unknown sea creatures could be evolved aquatic dino-survivors, though some are close to scientifically known "fossils" in description.  Others not -but that does NOT mean they are not real.

I say "are not" even though I suspect Mans effects on the world's seas and oceans have now made they rare if not, in certain cases, extinct.

Crocodiles and other reptiles have remained unchange. We still get mega crocodiles.  Brutus for instance:

Celebrity crocodile: Amazing pictures of Brutus the giant croc who became a mega-star after he was snapped eating a bull shark

    A 5.5m crocodile grabbed hold of a bull shark on Kakadu's Adelaide River, the moment was captured by a tourist
    The photographs attracted international headlines, but this is not the first global attention for the 80-year-old croc
    Photographs of Brutus jumping out of the water went viral in 2011

The 5.5-metre crocodile pictured with a bull shark between its jaws a few days ago has made international headlines and become a reptilian celebrity.

But this is not the first time the 80-year-old two-tonne beast called Brutus, has attracted international attention. Photographs of him lifting his two-tonne frame out of the Adelaide River in the Northern Territory to gnaw at some kangaroo meat during a 'jumping crocodile' tour made headlines in 2011.

The giant crocodile is known on the river tours for his huge size and the fact that he is missing his right foreleg – believed to have been torn off in a fight with a shark.

It is believed that Brutus lost his right leg in a fight with a shark years ago, although he clearly came out the winner in his fight with a bull shark on Tuesday

So imagine the size of predators when there was as much food available as reported by Battle et al!

Let's think when we see these TV programmes or read books by stuffed-shirts who will NEVER veer off the track of dogma into the dangerous minefield of free and open thinking. This lecture was brought to you by the extinct Falkland Islands Wolf and someone who really needs to stop wasting time.....

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