Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Fossil 'Suggests Plesiosaurs Did Not Lay Eggs'

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the fossil-ventriloquism dept.

Science 79

thebchuckster writes "Scientists say they have found the first evidence that giant sea reptiles — which lived at the same time as dinosaurs — gave birth to live young rather than laying eggs. They say a 78 million-year-old fossil of a pregnant plesiosaur suggests they gave birth to single, large young."

cancel ×

79 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Nice (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075418)

More science, please.

Re:Nice (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075566)

But it's in a way upsetting to see so many dinosaur "established facts" I thought I knew turn out to be wrong. They were supposedly crawling out of the water to lay eggs like turtles! This is actually the second shock relating to plesiosaurs, they also were found recently to be warm blooded.

Re:Nice (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075682)

Well,

Where do you think the Platypuses came from - Oh. Wait. Those lay eggs, don't they?

Re:Nice (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075698)

Being warm-blooded isn't that much of a surprise- we've known birds descended from warm-blooded dinosaurs for decades.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37075756)

Being warm-blooded isn't that much of a surprise- we've known birds descended from warm-blooded dinosaurs for decades.

Wait a minute now plesiosaurs had feathers:-)

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37082324)

no, but they've got DSL and keep on trolling on slashdot

Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (2)

erice (13380) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075982)

Being warm-blooded isn't that much of a surprise- we've known birds descended from warm-blooded dinosaurs for decades.

Yes, but plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs so it means yet another branch of reptiles were warm-blodded. There is also evidence that Pterosaurs were warm blooded. Given how far back these branches had a common ascestor, the question becomes: why are crocodiles not?

Re:Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (4, Interesting)

dryeo (100693) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076250)

I was recently reading somewhere that crocodiles (and other Crocodilia) were at one time warm blooded. The evidence being that they have a 4 chamber heart like most warm blooded animals. It was theorized that they reverted to being cold blooded at some point in their evolution.
Interestingly crocodilia also have a neo-cortex and diaphragm unlike all other extent reptiles.
As usual Wikipedia has a bit about it, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocodilia#Internal_organs [wikipedia.org]

Re:Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076326)

Doesn't the sex of their offspring depend on the ambient temperature? Seems an odd thing for a species descended from a warm blooded animal.

Re:Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (2)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077244)

there's a wonderful story in some sf anthology i read back in the dim ages. a scientist does an operation on some alligators to restore the 4chambered heart, and the alligators then grow wings, become dragons, and conquer the world.

Re:Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#37080070)

That's... that's awesome.

Re:Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (1)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 3 years ago | (#37083148)

found it, with help from redditt
http://www.scribbleandshutter.com/2007/writing/daybeaver/daydragon01.htm [scribbleandshutter.com]

Re:Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#37088276)

magnificent! written in 1934. That copy has his last name misspelled, it's Samuel Guy Endore. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Endore [wikipedia.org]

Re:Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs (1)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | more than 3 years ago | (#37088374)

thanks. i wasn't sure if endor and endore were the same person. endore wrote the screenplay for that peter lorre movie where he gets transplanted hands from a murderer. also wrote other horror-type screenplays.

Re:Nice (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076860)

But the evidence that all our favourite childhood dinosaurs were warm blooded is very recent, many in the last two years; sure there were theories in decades past but those were not the mainstream view. Cold, slow, sluggish....now they're hot, fast!

No, you are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077098)

The evidence for whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded or not has been around for tens to hundreds of millions of years.

The interpretation of that evidence that they, or at least many, were warm-blooded has been around for half a century or so.

Perhaps you only heard about it in the last two years.

Re:Nice (2)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37079248)

But the evidence that all our favourite childhood dinosaurs were warm blooded is very recent, many in the last two years;

Wow ; that's some latency you've got there. You wrote that post in what? 1979? And it's taken 30-odd years to get through the "tubes" to appear on Slashdot. Impressive connection you've got there.

(I am a geologist, and like many of my colleagues, I've been paying attention to the "hot or not" debate for all of these decades, since I was a geology student in senior school. And Bob Bakker may be an ass, but that doesn't necessarily make him either entirely right or entirely wrong.)

Can I borrow your time machine? There's an empty Archaeopteryx egg preserved in an airfall tuff somewhere, and I want that chick!

Re:Nice (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 3 years ago | (#37086974)

Yes, you are a geologist who is obviously ignorant of the state of the debate in a field not your own which continues even today.

2009, energy and mechanics analysis of 14 dinosaurs indicates possibility of warm-blooded: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0007783 [plosone.org]

The Caltech isotope analysis of teeth indicating warm-bloodedness for sauropods was announced this year. http://www.rdmag.com/News/2011/06/General-Science-Analytical-Instrumentation-Biology-Dinosaur-body-temperature-measured-for-first-time/ [rdmag.com]

There is much more, but since you are wilfully ignorant you can just go back to twiddling your rocks.

Re:Nice (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095238)

2009, energy and mechanics analysis of 14 dinosaurs indicates possibility of warm-blooded

In 2009, something was reported that supported a position that a large majority of people in the field had accepted was probably correct in 1989 ... impressive.

I was watching a crab hunt a rat last night, and I was thinking ... "Darwin would have found this fascinating." It's only another example of a principle that has been generally accepted for 150 years.

What's the other one ... another open door. I'll read it if I have time and inclination.

You say there's a debate. So where are your references strongly supporting the case that (non-avian) dinosaurs were poikilothermic and ectothermic? That's the area that would deliver interesting results.

upsetting science (4, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075792)

It's not good science unless it upsets somebody who dislikes having their gospel (or canon, for the more sociologically correct) challenged. Good science always bruises egos.

I don't personally get it, though. Do the authors of buggy code that gets patched by others also get upset? They should be happy the code finally works.

Still, why on earth would it ever upset someone who didn't discover/propose/create what's being challenged?

Re:upsetting science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37075926)

When ideas are overthrown or overturned it is by definition upsetting. From The Free Dictionary [thefreedictionary.com]

Synonyms: overthrow, overturn, subvert, topple, upset

Re:upsetting science (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076084)

Upsetting an idea does not by definition upset a person. Even a person who held that idea. Because that's a different sense of the word "upset".

Re:upsetting science (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37079250)

Well I don't find the idea of the plesiosaur being warm blooded or giving live birth upsetting. Now what's upsetting is that T-Rex might have been a scavenger. The proud king of the dinosaurs turns out to be a great big mooch who uses his size and strength for intimidation, like an unemployed guido roommate. Upsetting.

Re:upsetting science (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#37080052)

Hehe. I understand, I felt the same way.

Does it make you feel better to know that the proud symbol of our nation, the bald eagle, does the same thing? They regularly steal kills from smaller raptors, and outright feed on carrion. It'd be odd if T-Rex didn't use his size to bully his way into free meals. Even primary scavengers hunt opportunistically, and T-Rex was well equipped to kill whatever it could catch.

That comparison is why I wasn't upset by the later (as known to me) revelation that T-Rex very likely could have had feathers. People who mourn "Tyrannosaurus Rex looked like a chicken!" just aren't thinking of the right birds towering over them. :)

Re:upsetting science (1)

eclectus (209883) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076114)

In the grand scheme of things, you are correct that the those who espouse the scientific method should be happy that their theories are proven wrong and human knowledge increased. However, we are still fickle humans and hate to see our work that we poured our heart and soul into get trashed in the name of progress. Many people cannot disassociate their ego from their work. I've known many programmers who do not like code reviews for that reason. No matter how much they want to acknowledge that it makes better code, they still FEEL that it's an attack on them and their skill.

Re:upsetting science (2)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076230)

"... get trashed in the name of progress."

That's probably a pretty common way of visualizing it, but the previous work isn't really getting trashed, is it? Were it not for the original work being publicized, there might not have been a competing idea at all, or at least not as soon. Challenges to canon are often still reliant on the existence of the canon in the first place. That's reason to be proud of scientific challenges to one's work, not upset by them. Maybe for science there should be a corollary to the old cliche, "imitation is the most sincere form of flattery"?

Re:upsetting science (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 3 years ago | (#37080960)

but the previous work isn't really getting trashed, is it?

That's what it feels like, and that's why people initially have a strong emotional reaction to it. The various levels of the brain are all operating simultaneously -- the 'fight-or-flight' part and the higher-level cognitive part. We continue to have emotional, child-like reactions, but our higher-level cognitive functioning arrests and overrides such reactions.

Re:upsetting science (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37081428)

"... our higher-level cognitive functioning arrests and overrides such reactions."

You should meet my neighbors.

Re:upsetting science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076440)

Stop being a Vulcan, it's upsetting because one feels like they've been lied to. If dinosaurs were a personal interest and not your academic focus, the theory about the plesiosaur nesting like a turtle was probably learned in passing from a teacher, book, or tv special, any one which could have easily failed to mention just how conjectural the idea was. Critical skepticism remains the responsibility of the person receiving information, but source-checking every piece of data that comes into your consciousness in any setting becomes impractical real quick, and so a measure of trust is involved.

Re:upsetting science (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076898)

But anybody that believes we truly know jack shit from THAT far back is just a fool IMHO. Hell there are still human languages we have NO clue how to read, buildings where we still haven't figured out how exactly they were able to get joints to fit that well using primitive tools, and those are things that are just centuries old, not a blip compared to this stuff.

I believe it was Plato who said something to the effect of "The wise man admits he knows nothing" and we have such a teeny tiny slice of fossils compared to the huge variety of life that has existed on this planet that anyone that says "It must have been thus and that's it" with regards to millions of years ago is just nuts. We could find a new fossil bed tomorrow that throws the whole damned record right out on its ass, we just don't know so much compared to what is out there yet to be found.

So if anything we should be teaching laymen that it is all fluid, it is all up in the air. That as we learn more our understanding grows, but one shouldn't take ANY of this as gospel. But considering how many of our fellow humans only like their lives in black and white who knows how well that would go over.

Re:upsetting science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076936)

"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." - Touchstone, Court Jester, As you Like it.

Re:upsetting science (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37082242)

I'd mod this up, if I hadn't instigated this slice of the conversation. I cackle when I read about physicists confidently extrapolating from string theory or dark matter when those notions are anything but certain themselves. There are some days when even the Big Bang still smacks of religion to me, the way some experts treat it as a fait accompli. It worries me that these days, in archaeology, physics, astronomy, and astrophysics especially, we're stepping far over the fine line between what is truly verifiable and what is mere wild conjecture.

Re:upsetting science (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37082340)

I rest my case! [slashdot.org]

Re:Nice (3, Insightful)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076312)

Perhaps it's a microcosm of the scientific world at large, but most of our dinosaur knowledge is based on "this is the first idea that popped into my head when I saw the thing, so we'll call it true until proven otherwise". The iguanadon, for example, was thought to have horns on its nose until a full skeleton was discovered and it was revealed that they were thumbs. Don't get me wrong, I don't care that we're creating imperfect theories based on limited knowledge which are expanded when more is discovered; that's how science works and how it should work. What I find to be particularly annoying is when these theories are taught as unchallenged fact. There was one species of dinosaur that was "discovered" in the form of a single bone, but sketches of the full animal were showing up in textbooks. If all you have is a single bone, at least put an asterisk beside the picture please! Maybe our knowledge would advance faster if we knew what exactly we knew and what we don't know.

Re:Nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076418)

1- Plesiosaurs are NOT dinosaurs.
2- Most fully aquatic vertebrates descended from land animals are expected to be born in live birth. Eggs from non-amphibian land vertebrates (amniotes) are not suitable for underwater development, so the choices are to maintain land access for reproduction or live-birth. Many species of plesiosaurs seem to have been physiologically incapable of going on land and surviving (much like whales) so live birth was generally assumed... without proof yet. In this case as in the case of the ichtyosaur (not a dinosaur either) it is more about finding evidence supporting a logical assumption than a revolutionary discovery.
3.- Live birth is common in many kinds of animals (including many reptiles such as various species of snakes). Dinosaurs (and generally archosaurs) seem to be one group where this has not happened (I'm not aware of any at least)... even in very successful aquatic birds such as penguins (unlike plesiosaurs, they ARE dinosaurs) who need to keep land-access for reproduction. Physiologically they must maintain the ability of moving on land.

Pluto IS a planet, so fuck off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077578)

1- Plesiosaurs are NOT dinosaurs.

They totally are, I watched walking with dinosaurs and they were in it.

and... (1)

harley78 (746436) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076922)

...the fact that they're reptiles; and not dinosaurs. IIRC the original skeleton was thought to be a dinosaur and the name stuck.

Re:Nice (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077318)

But it's in a way upsetting to see so many dinosaur "established facts" I thought I knew turn out to be wrong

That's a feature of science, not a bug!

Re:Nice (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 3 years ago | (#37079496)

Plesiosaurs are not dinosaurs.

Re:Nice (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075658)

More science, please.

This is where I first read the story... a little bit more science but not much:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110811142806.htm [sciencedaily.com]

Re:More science, please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076478)

at the bottom of the sciencedaily news release is a reference to the original PressRelease, hence the originating organisation and a reference to further information.

Re:Nice (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075670)

Unfortunately you can't have any more Science unless you are a member of a subscribing institution or pay exorbitant per issue fees.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076090)

Cool offtopic whining bro.

Re:Nice (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076590)

No more Science, but plenty of science available in PLoS ONE or similar...

Re:Nice (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37079224)

Unfortunately you can't have any more Science unless you are a member of a subscribing institution or pay exorbitant per issue fees.

Or pay for a personal subscription. Which I think is on special offer at the moment of $99/year. Which is just under $2/issue. Tempting.

Re:Nice (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37079276)

bugger. trailing slash.

double bugger. "Slow down cowboy!"

Re:Nice (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075862)

I agree, but while science is super nice I'm grateful for anything less likely to descend into interminable bickering over politics.

A thought occurs: we take "News for Nerds" to mean any news that nerds find interesting. Perhaps we should try news that only nerds want to read.

Re:Nice (3, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076396)

Dear Mr Science,

I too am intrigued by these pleasuresaurs, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Here's my IOU for mod +1 Funny... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077652)

Your attempt at a humorous comment worked on me, at least. I giggled out loud even. :-)

re: 'IOU'....I used my last mod points on the previous Fine Article, just moments ago.:-(

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37078220)

Sure. $75 to $149/year, please. Plenty of pleasuresaurs [sciencemag.org] in the back issues.

Fuck this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37075422)

More reviews of comic book video games from CmdrDildo please. No more science. Science is boring.

Brontosaurus evolved into the Goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37075504)

Compare the bodies between Brontosaurii and Geese.

Obviously, the reason why the Brontosauren died-out and the Geesii lived is because despite them diverging away in their genomes it was the Brontosaurus that couldn't float.

Which proves the Geesers are witches, and teh Bronx are innocent of riotin from the wealthy feathery flying bastardss.s...ss..?

The Spruce Goose to be exact. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076276)

airlifted and dropped thousands of feet into the damndest of places, with falling impact so great that other animals feasted where there were craters, or the brontosaurus turned into petrified fossil just from the impact itself to cause self-burrial like a Super Saiyan 4 smack-down.

LORD God of the Spruce Goose even dropped some into already existing craters called volcanoes, and some dormant ones that already had water in them thereby transplanting flora and fauna in the bowels to rupture into an otherwise unreachable ecosystem.

Then thee Queen Mary arrrrived...with Captain Coook.

Livebearers (4, Informative)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075600)

Shouldn't be too surprising- livebearing shows up in all sorts of families that typically lay eggs- especially aquatic animals. Everyone is familiar with the humble guppy. You buy one for your daughter despite your better judgement- one week later you're overrun with the gaudy ugly fish as the live young start popping out everywhere. Many species of snail give birth to live young. Or "nearly so". Malaysian Trumpet snails and Quilted Melania two "cloning" species can pop out up to 9 live babies at a time. Even sexually reproducing snails can give live birth- species of Tylomelania from Sulawesi lay a single egg at a time that disolves before your eyes (if you're lucky) to reveal a minature snail. That doesn't mean live-bearing fish or mollusks are common- and if this dino gave live-birth, it doesn't mean that it was common with dinosaurs either.

Re:Livebearers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37079424)

Plesiosaurs aren't dinosaurs, idiot.

Ovoviviparous? (3, Informative)

SMoynihan (1647997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075616)

Very interesting. I suppose it makes logical sense that sea living creature would find it difficult to safeguard eggs, and with its size these would be very noticeable (and nutritious!). I guess it is similar to whale sharks nowadays, which are ovoviviparous in their reproduction (wikipedia link as below): the "embryos develop inside eggs that are retained within the mother's body until they are ready to hatch. Ovoviviparous animals are similar to viviparous species in that there is internal fertilization and the young are born live, but differ in that there is no placental connection and the unborn young are nourished by egg yolk; the mother's body does provide gas exchange (respiration), but that is largely necessary for oviparous animals as well."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovoviviparity [wikipedia.org]

However, the comment about single young is even more interesting - as whale sharks are even bearing very many (live) young. Maybe different again? (no expert here, just curious!)

Re:Ovoviviparous? (1)

SMoynihan (1647997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075702)

Browsing further, the Science article seems to address this and indicates that they were fully viviparous (like us, I guess). Just reading the abstract now, unfortunately - though interested if anyone can chime in on the science?

Placental sharks (3, Interesting)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076332)

If memory serves, I recall hearing that sharks run the gamut from plain oviparous through to placental warm-blooded viviparous.

Ah, yep, here's Google [google.com] to the rescue.

Sometimes I run across news about discoveries where the commentators are all surprised, but in ways that make me think we need to get over ourselves :) as the utmost pinnacle of evolution or some such nonsense and just realise that we are no more than a combination of various biological strategies that had already been "invented" in numerous other branches of life. We're just a happy accident of much larger processes.

Cheers,

Re:Placental sharks (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077690)

I find your comment very interesting, and frankly, a relief of sorts.
I was starting to feel like I was alone with this POV.
That made me question it, and still could find no 'chink in the armor', which caused me to question others about it.
That was a circuitous path that led back to no 'chink in the armor'.

I wonder if dolphins pity us for being 'landlubbers'?

Re:Placental sharks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37078314)

Dolphins might pity us for our poor hearing and impoverished vocal range, but they definitely envy us our hands.

Re:Ovoviviparous? (2)

dryeo (100693) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076402)

However, the comment about single young is even more interesting - as whale sharks are even bearing very many (live) young. Maybe different again? (no expert here, just curious!)

I'm no expert either. Generally the smaller the litter, the less the mortality rate. In this case it possibly would point to the parent[s] looking after the young unlike sharks where the young are left to fend for themselves.

Define large. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37075632)

Large compared to what? A human baby? The mother? Henry Kissinger?

Re:Define large. (0)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075672)

Large compared to your intellect?

No different from sharks. (0)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 3 years ago | (#37075772)

All sorts of different sharks seem to differ on laying eggs versus live birth. Why would dinosaurs be pigeonholed into one birth method or another?

Re:No different from sharks. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37075878)

You're correct with regards to sharks, but so far all evidence suggests dinosaurs laid eggs (including modern ones as birds). The creature being discussed in this article is a large marine reptile from the time of the dinosaurs, but it isn't a dinosaur. There are many extinct and large reptilians besides dinosaurs, including plesiosaurs [wikipedia.org] , mosasaurs [wikipedia.org] , ichthyosaurs [wikipedia.org] (who also had live birth), and pterosaurs [wikipedia.org] (known to lay eggs), etc.

This was a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076116)

There were no eggs yet - OR chickens, so there is no pair of docs fighting about priority of discovery.

The real point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076376)

The line keeps getting blurred between dinosaurs, reptiles, birds and mammals. It's hard to justify a warm blooded reptile since cold bloodedness is a large part of being a reptile. Live birth is nothing new. A number of snake species give birth live. A lot of ancient animals that are called reptiles probably weren't. Pterosaurs are still called flying reptiles inspite of the fact that every condition that gave them the title of reptile has been disproven. It's mostly dogma that keeps them reptiles. Ancient mammals are called mammal like reptiles but were they even reptiles at all? There have been a number of feathered lizards found, were they reptiles or ancient bird relatives? I think once a reptile evolves to the point of being warm blooded and live birthed it deserves it's own grouping. No other reptile ever developed warm bloodedness except large extinct ones. There isn't a single living reptile that is warm blooded. The irony is there are some mammals that retain cold blooded characteristics. A small monkey from Madagascar comes to mind. The fact that out of all the thousands of reptiles alive today not one is warm blooded shows that they were a divergent line. Sea Turtles and Monitor Lizards can even get hundreds of pounds in weight yet none are warm blooded. There's a resistance to claims that extinct animals belonged to unique lines that died out. I think it's a deep seated fear that we could be next if we accept that dinosaurs died out as well as a group of large reptile like marine animals. I think it's a large part of why the bird dinosaur connection was embraced so quickly. It became an excuse for dinosaur extinct. They didn't die out they turned into birds even though that's far from the truth it's comforting so people accepted it without looking very closely. By that I mean ALL large dinosaurs did die out and birds probably broke away from dinosaurs a couple of hundred million years ago so T-Rexs didn't turn into parakeets.

Re:The real point (0)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#37076728)

What about the idea that there were multiple lines of fish who started walking on land pushing the division of some of the groups back even further so the last common ancestor of Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, and Amphibians was a fish in the Devonian period?

Maybe instead of a common tetra pod ancestor there was a line of walking fish who had live birth and those were the ones who gave rise to mammals. While another line gave rise to reptiles and birds, while a similar branch gave rise to amphibians?

Re:The real point (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077424)

Sea Turtles and Monitor Lizards can even get hundreds of pounds in weight yet none are warm blooded.

Apparently leatherback turtles are warm blooded:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v344/n6269/abs/344858a0.html [nature.com]

http://www.bbc.co.uk/springwatch/meettheanimals/leatherback.shtml [bbc.co.uk]

There are warmblooded fish too, e.g. bluefin tuna and some sharks:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_bluefin_tuna [wikipedia.org]
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=104543 [nsf.gov]

Much.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37076452)

like my wife.

Plausible speculation (2)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077128)

By making comparisons with modern animals, such as whales, which give birth to larger, single young and then go on to care for them, Dr O'Keefe and his colleague, Luis Chiappe from the museum, attempt to infer something about plesiosaur behaviour.

... plesiosaurs, the authors suggest, might have been doting parents.

But Dr Smith was less convinced. He said that it was "certainly quite possible... but is very speculative".

Of course it's speculative, but it's still plausible. I would expect any animal who gives birth to one young at a time to spend time with its offspring until the offspring is strong enough to survive on its own.

The more we learn, the more it seems to me that different epochs of life on Earth were in many ways much more familiar than we used to believe. If only we could see into the past...

A little off topic...

When you get right down to it, behaviour doesn't fossilise

True, mostly. But sometimes we get very lucky... Velociraptor vs. Protoceratops [bhigr.com] . This gave some insight to how velociraptors used their big claws. (For gripping and stabbing, not slashing.)

Re:Plausible speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37078188)

|"When you get right down to it, behaviour doesn't fossilise

True, mostly. But sometimes we get very lucky... Velociraptor vs. Protoceratops [bhigr.com]. This gave some insight to how velociraptors used their big claws. (For gripping and stabbing, not slashing.)"

That is a very famous and spectacular specimen, although the picture you've linked to isn't the real one, but a reconstruction. Anyway, it didn't provide a great deal of insight into the mechanics of Velociraptor's claws. It was this experiment by Manning et al. [royalsocie...ishing.org] that did (and for once you can read the whole paper without needing a subscription).

Re:Plausible speculation (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078292)

> But sometimes we get very lucky... Velociraptor vs. Protoceratops [bhigr.com]. //

That looks incredibly fake to me. I just can't imagine the conditions in which these animals would die in mid fight like that and remain perfectly preserved. From the fossil it appears both animals died at exactly the same time and were preserved without being fed on by scavengers big enough to carry off a single bone.

Re:Plausible speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37079566)

Yeah, that's 'cos it's a reconstruction. Struggled to find a picture of the actual fossil [everythingdinosaur.co.uk] (or perhaps this one [wikipedia.org] ?), as the reconstruction seems to be so much more popular.

Re:Plausible speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37081204)

Not that I can vouch for the authenticity of a fossil shown in a picture on the internet, but it's entirely possible for something like a landslide to occur and bury the creatures deep enough that nothing will dig them up and eat them. It can also be sudden enough that a creature fighting for its life will not let go of the thing it's fighting until it's too late. A fast moving mudslide could envelop them in an instant and cause them to be stuck together for good.

Adding to that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37083054)

A bird died in my garden a couple of weeks ago. It's remained untouched so all that now remains are skeleton and feathers. As there's nothing left to scavenge now, I'd say that time could well bury it just as it is, without ever being scavenged. (Except I will clean up my garden, at some point.)

Loch Ness (1)

Zancarius (414244) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077308)

Seriously, Slashdot. This article has been up for quite a while and not a single high-rated comment mentions Nessy! I'm disappointed.

Here's hoping it's the fault of my comment threshold being mucked with.

Re:Loch Ness (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077510)

"Nessie is a toy submarine with a head made out of plastic wood. Ogopogo is a plesiosaur. A f***ing plesiosaur!"

This aint shocking (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#37081810)

I have guppies in my aquarium, they give birth to live babies (they don't lay eggs). And theoretically dinosaurs are more evolved/advanced than mere fish, so it shouldn't be a surprise at all that some of them are livebearers.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>