Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Anne's New and Hot (Week 3)

BBC News “Mammal rise not Linked” to Dinos” March 28, 2007

A recent article from BBC news discusses recent controversy over the connection between the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rapid proliferation of mammals. The established paradigm today suggests that when the dinosaurs disappeared at the end of the Cretaceous period, mammals flourished and subsequently diverged into different subgroups. Under this theory, the asteroid that hit the earth and caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs provided the opportunity and space and resources for mammals to proliferate, previously impossible due to the dominance of the dinosaurs.
However, new evidence arising from new technology has led to different conclusions. Dr. Kate Jones from the Zoological Society in London describes the new technology: “The supertree is a new way of showing all the mammal species on the planet, starting with a common ancestor”. The new technology allows the synthesis of “already published information from hundreds of researchers around the world”. After the technology gathers the data, computers “recode” and analyze the information to combine it into a “supertree”. The evidence from this new “supertree suggests that placental mammals had already split into major subgroups well before the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Additional research suggests that the correlation between the extinction of the dinosaurs and the growth of mammal species is not clear-cut. According to research there was a “several million year” period over which the changes occurred.
Today as scientists continue to gather fossil evidence, we can access a more and more accurate picture of our history. The fact that we are still working out and developing new theories relating to evolution is yet another example of the significance of Darwin’s revolutionary impact on science. I found this article particularly interesting in relation to Darwin because, just as Darwin overturned an established paradigm by synthesizing material and evidence from diverse strands of science, this new computerized technology has done the exact same thing with worldwide data.

To read more the link is:

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