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Ancestor of All Placental Mammals Revealed

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Earth 123

sciencehabit writes "The ancestor of all placental mammals—the diverse lineage that includes almost all species of mammals living today, including humans—was a tiny, furry-tailed creature that evolved shortly after the dinosaurs disappeared, a new study suggests. The hypothetical creature, not found in the fossil record but inferred from it, probably was a tree-climbing, insect-eating mammal that weighed between 6 and 245 grams—somewhere between a small shrew and a mid-sized rat. It was furry, had a long tail, gave birth to a single young, and had a complex brain with a large lobe for interpreting smells and a corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The period following the dinosaur die-offs could be considered a 'big bang' of mammalian diversification, with species representing as many as 10 major groups of placentals appearing within a 200,000-year interval."

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Pics or it didn't happen (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827769)

Just sayin'.

Re:Pics or it didn't happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42831161)

Furries and rule 34. Some ancestral love there.

Re:Pics or it didn't happen (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831215)

I have mod points, and wanted to use them... but there is no "+1 Horrible".

More Info Please... (5, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827781)

A *POSSIBLE* ancestor that a study suggests *MIGHT* be what they thing. Maybe. Possibly.

In other words, the headline is, as usual, misleading.

Re:More Info Please... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827823)

Here's what may have happened [youtube.com] to the little guy...

Re:More Info Please... (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827935)

That is fucking hilarious.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42829267)

seems staged as the hawk was off camera when it sat down.

Re:More Info Please... (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42830713)

Well you gota look at it like this. The hawk has to eat too, and while things did not work out so well for the mouse his alternative like fate was not better for him. I mean he would have died slowly having one or more of his limbs crushed in trap. After which he would have been buried so deep in a landfill lack of oxygen would likely even prevent most microbes from making use of him for decades.

It might not have gone how the guy hoped but he still better served nature.

Re:More Info Please... (3, Insightful)

Theovon (109752) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827857)

I guess you might say they interpolated what a likely ancestor was probably like.

Re:More Info Please... (2, Insightful)

gewalker (57809) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827863)

How is the different than anything else in evolutionary theory. No actual observational science, a couple of fossils here and there, no soft tissue to examine. Then bang, an possible/probable ancestral relationship is declared by somebody -- often discarded later due to other discoveries. It is what it is and will always be unless you manage to make a time machine.

Re:More Info Please... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42827877)

It's a single study stated as fact.

Don't shank the business model (0)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828131)

Public money has been borrowed from future generations to give to researchers [youtube.com] to generate conclusions.

Re:More Info Please... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828161)

How does the phrase "..., a new study suggests." qualify as an assertion of fact?

Re:More Info Please... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831263)

"The hypothetical creature, not found in the fossil record but inferred from it, probably was " doesn't sound very much like 'stated as a fact' to me. TFT might be misleading but beyond that, the appropriate care in phrasing seems to be in use.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about a year and a half ago | (#42832919)

No, but it is designed to illicit recitation as fact later. In very short order, you will have "scientists" who state "All Mamals evolved from a single rodent" as a fact, and it will be place in Textbooks as a "fact" and so on. The fact that in the original source it is clearly hypothetical bullshit is irrelevant. Shit like this should NEVER be published as "science". It isn't "science" ... yet.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42833689)

No, you'll get creationists claiming scientists think all mammals evolved from a single imaginary rodent, while this is just a hypothesis to test, telling what to look for and where (or, rather, when). It's the very same "predictive power" that GGP claims is lacking from evolution theory, and that's exactly how theories are tested, by making predictions and then seeing if prediction can be confirmed by observations and experiments.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42833729)

To clarify, I find nothing wrong with the matter reported, but I do find lots of wrong with the way it's reported. Sadly, that's common for science reporting.

Re:More Info Please... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827967)

We're starting to sequence the genomes and map species after species at an accelerating rate. Within the century we'll have a gene-by-gene map of the ancestry of most of the biosphere.

Re:More Info Please... (4, Insightful)

ichthyoboy (1167379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828581)

Technically what we'll have is a good snapshot of current genomic diversity, from which we can infer the ancestry of that snapshot. We have some pretty good inferential methods, but each and every phylogeny that you see is simply a hypothesis of evolutionary relationships.

Re:More Info Please... (3, Insightful)

dudpixel (1429789) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828153)

The genome project offers a fair bit more credibility than this, and it's more than "a couple" of fossils here and there.

No one's saying it is all indisputable fact (science doesn't deal with facts) but to date no other theory has been put forward that can offer a better explanation of all the known data.

That's how science works...so until a more plausible theory shows up, evolution is where we are at.

As for this study, yeah there's a bit too much uncertainty for it to be much more than an opinion piece.

Re:More Info Please... (5, Informative)

dbug78 (151961) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828229)

science doesn't deal with facts

Uh, what? Facts are the foundation of science. If science has any issue with facts it's that Joe Sixpack thinks the hierarchy is...

Hypothesis -> Theory -> Facts

In actuality, it's...

Facts -> Hypothesis -> Theory

Hypotheses and theories are built on facts. Maybe you meant science doesn't deal with proof?

Re:More Info Please... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828299)

The problem with calling observations "facts" is that it can obscure a good deal of observational bias and measurement error. Its more tenable all around to just go with "data" or "observations".

Re:More Info Please... (2)

dudpixel (1429789) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828315)

Correct - but I was talking about the Joe Sixpack definition, which as you pointed out, equals 'proof'.

Thanks for the correction :-)

Re:More Info Please... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828639)

Maybe you meant science doesn't deal with proof?

It's seems obvious to me that is what he meant, it also seems obvious to me you meant "observations" not "facts". A "fact" is an absolute truth only within an axiomatic system, science is not an axiomatic system. A "scientific fact" is a rigously tested theory that has no known conflict with observation.

In actuality, it's...

Observation -> Hypothesis -> Theory--> Test---> Scientific fact.
- Feedback loops not shown.

Re:More Info Please... (2)

kwyjibo87 (2792329) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828707)

Observation -> Hypothesis -> Theory--> Test---> Scientific fact.

I'd only add:

Observation -> Hypothesis -> Theory -> Predictions -> Test -> Scientific fact.

Re:More Info Please... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42833651)

to date no other theory has been put forward that can offer a better explanation of all the known data.

That's how science works...so until a more plausible theory shows up, evolution is where we are at.

That's actually false. The Flying Spaghetti Monster and Catholic Christian religions both have equally good or better explanations, that amount to "God plays little tricks on ya, for yer own damn good!". If you posit that an omnipotent deity exists, then nothing else is really provable scientifically, unless said deity is both benevolent and willing to let you have your own interactions with reality. The reason that evolution is our best theory is that we can observe its operation in nature, and know for a fact that it has occurred and is still occurring, not because it's the only logically self-consistent explanation of reality. Therefore it is not necessary to invoke faith-based explanations for phenomena that are adequately explained by evolution, and if an omnipotent benevolent force exists it will have no problem with such behavior on our part; it's only with the omnipotent force is malevolent, or if the benevolent force is not omnipotent, that we have to worry about science/faith interactions at all.

People try to substitute science for religion, and they betray both in the process. A good religion is 100% compatible with science, and vice versa, and frankly it's not clear that everyone even needs religion - people closer to the autism end of the spectrum may not need it at all. So don't substitute "faith in science" for "faith in Baaphomet" or whatever your parents' fetish was; science enshrines skepticism and has no place for unconditional unproven belief (aka "faith") , not even when you are talking about the scientific method itself. If you can't live with conditional belief at all levels, get yourself a nice religion that does not harm others or offend your aethetic and/or moral sensibilities and reap the health and social benefits it can give you. If you can question the very basis of science itself, though, maybe you don't need religion, and you'll certainly be a better scientist for it.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828199)

No, that's the history of religion you are describing.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828533)

talkorigins.org

Or if that's too hard for you, I'll just call you an ignoramus.

Any other subjects you know fuck all about you want to make sweeping declarations about?

Re:More Info Please... (2)

rainmouse (1784278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831039)

How is the different than anything else in evolutionary theory. No actual observational science, a couple of fossils here and there, no soft tissue to examine. Then bang, an possible/probable ancestral relationship is declared by somebody -- often discarded later due to other discoveries. It is what it is and will always be unless you manage to make a time machine.

An enormous catalogue of fossil history, geo distribution of species also provides massive evidence especially in recently observable separators such as archipelagos, the bounty genetic evidence, the ability to recreate observable evolution in our timescale on the bacterial level and our ability to force changes through selective breeding all combine to provide an irrefutable level of evidence. Each of these fields could also be used to disprove evolution if not for the fact that no reliable evidence contradictory to the theory has ever been produced. Anyone who can objectively examine even a portion of the evidence (there's so much it would take a lifetime to look at it all) and continue to refute the theory almost certainly has another agenda, either religious or political.

Re:More Info Please... (1)

Empiric (675968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42835367)

Depends on your definition of "evolution". If you mean "random mutation and natural selection", or a more-recent, nuanced version on that, there is not only extensive evidence against that as a sole causal factor, it is provably not the case.

How do we know design is a factor when speaking to the scope of biological organisms, and provably so? Because we did it ourselves, through genetic engineering.

I understand you likely don't accept that genetic engineering -also- happened previous to the 20'th century, but that conclusion would not based on science, as the question is not testable.

Point being, unless you are willing to render the theory in a somewhat awkward terminology such as "evolutionary processes explain all biological characteristics, up until around 1951", your notion of "evolution" is not merely of an indeterminate scientific status, it is provably false.

Re:More Info Please... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831253)

Actually, it is, in a way, an observational science.

You can observe changes of allele frequencies and phenotype frequencies in a population over time, and they do.

Also, as the TFS (and I'm assuming TFA) says "The hypothetical creature", not theoretical, not definitive, hypothentical. Evolutionary science makes it clear that all cladograms are hypothesis, if you bother looking at it from more than a surface level.

As for observation and predictability - it's hard to make predictions with evolution, but it has been done before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik [wikipedia.org]
I'm assuming the wikipedia article states this, but they knew about when the critter would have lived, and they knew what kind of areas had creatures from that time frame, they searched one, they found it.

So, observations and even predictions can be made for evolutionary science.

video from discovery here (2)

miknix (1047580) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828295)

There is this video from discovery channel which shows the hypothetical furry creature as one of evolutionary steps to mankind, I personally find it interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwxCnV2PL2k [youtube.com]

Re:Ridiculous weight range, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828481)

log10(6 / 245) = 1.6 orders of magnitude in their range for the weight of this animal. They might as well have said "it fits in a breadbox."

Re:More Info Please... (5, Insightful)

kwyjibo87 (2792329) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828607)

Well, yes, the headline is misleading, but it's also a bit more than a "possible" ancestor.

The researchers in the study wanted to create a better phylogenetic reconstruction of the evolution of mammals than had been previously accomplished, to resolve whether divergence of placental mammals from non-plancental mammals (egg-laying / marsupials) occurred before or after the extinction of the Dinosaurs (the K-T boundary), and also to make predictions of the biology of that last common ancestor. Previous phylogenetic reconstructions had been done with molecular data (DNA or protein sequences), but molecular data is limited to extant species and makes a lot of assumptions about the rates of changes in DNA that get more unreliable the further back in time you go. This study combined molecular data with character traits they call 'phenomic' characters - from the paper: "4541 phenomic characters de novo for 86 fossil and living species." The resulting matrix of traits, both molecular and character, was used to generate a tree based on maximum parsimony [wikipedia.org] - a method which minimizes the number of trait changes over time when building a tree. This resulted in a single, highest scoring tree predicting the evolution of these species and the changes in their traits over time. The resulting tree is then "clocked" (called 'time-calibration in the paper) to known rates of evolution for the molecular data (good for recent divergence of species) and by fossil data to give time ranges for the deeper sections of the tree. This last part is key, as you cannot get molecular data from fossils, and fossils allow you to map the existence of certain traits within a group to a certain point in the history of these organisms.

The result is a time-range in which the last common ancestor between placental and NON-placental mammals must have lived, given the data provided and the parsimony criterion. As the tree makes claims about when the phenomic characters evolved or were lost, it also predicts which phenomic characters the last common ancestor had.

Re:More Info Please... (3, Informative)

Vreejack (68778) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829491)

The characteristics of the first placental are not really controversial. The real news here is that a lot of the work on placentals and eutherians is wrong and must be re-evaluated. Granted, a lot of the placental work was already merely tentative. Molecular phylogenetics estimates had placentals appearing about 105 Mya, This new work ignores the molecular results and comes up with a later date. From what I can see, dating of the relevant available fossils is equivocal.

Also curious is that according to this interpretation, the ancestral afrotherian (elephants, aardvarks, manatees, etc.) originated in South America and somehow migrated across the then 1000-mile ocean to Africa. Prepare for further revision.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42835145)

uhm, africa and south america used to be part of the same land mass with Gondwanaland.

For someone who knows so much about Molecular Biology and Paleogenetics, you could pay attention in High School Physical Science.

Re:More Info Please... (1)

linatux (63153) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828771)

photos, or it didn't happen!

Re:More Info Please... (1)

six025 (714064) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828779)

A *POSSIBLE* ancestor that a study suggests *MIGHT* be what they thing. Maybe. Possibly.

In other words, the headline is, as usual, misleading.

Worse, this crap gives the creationists plenty of reasons to laugh and point at science.

Basically, headlines and (extremely) speculative articles like this do a lot of undermine the real work and value of science.

Peace,
Andy.

Re:More Info Please... (2)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831657)

No it doesn't. You think you are actually able to reason with creationists but this is not the case. Creationist operate on the belief level, outside of reason, thus it does not matter how good the scientific facts are. Write creationists off and go on with your life.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42832063)

Okay, how about: headlines like this give creationists something to "prove" to impressionable kids that science isn't worth a damn.

Re:More Info Please... (-1, Troll)

egamma (572162) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828995)

A *POSSIBLE* ancestor that a study suggests *MIGHT* be what they thing. Maybe. Possibly.

In other words, the headline is, as usual, misleading.

"We have no actual evidence or fossils, but because we desperately want the fossil record to agree with our (non)religious belief system, this is the creature that we want to find.

Re:More Info Please... (1)

Lazere (2809091) | about a year and a half ago | (#42834531)

You do realize this is exactly how science works, right? You look at the world, then you come up with a hypothesis which has conclusions (like this creature). You then test the conclusions (in this case look for it in the fossil record). If you find it, you can move to the theory stage. If a competing hypothesis (yes those exist) finds theirs instead, they get to move on to the theory stage.

Re:More Info Please... (-1, Troll)

glitch23 (557124) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829653)

Articles about evolution are always like that. They are also always devoid of any predictions, like a true theory should be able to make, like the theory of relativity could make and we could later prove as technology got better (even if it took 50+ years in some cases).

You hit upon all the words that point to the main issue I had with the article and every article like it that still can send a tingle up the leg of every God-hating, atheist on this site and that is the fact that they can't confirm any of these studies. They always have to include some non-committed phrasing because they have to continue to guess (and have *faith* they are right). They are no further closer to knowing how life evolved now as they were 100 years ago. Scientists in particular feel that just because they can trace common DNA snippets and show that fossil records of different ages means evolution must be real and that there are certain species that came into existence in a serial manner with others rather than all of them appearing in parallel. The only problem with that methodology is that I can prove it doesn't prove anything in particular. Case in point: I can give 100 people the same 1 frame from the same movie that none of them (or I) have seen before and ask them to tell me the plot and I'll get 100 different answers because they are working with a small snippet of the entire set of information but yet I'm basically asking them to give me the other 99.9999999% of the movie. It's not going to happen and I shouldn't expect to be so arrogant as to pick one of their answers and unilaterally deem it correct because all the other answers I got were just as correct. Since I hadn't seen the movie either OR was there to see it made then how would I know what the correct answer is? And of course, the entire sequencing and aging of the fossil record is based on a dating scheme that we all presume is reliable and consistent. But how do you measure your measuring stick to ensure it is accurate and always has been for as long as you need it to be (multiple millennium)? Or do you just become arrogant again and assume it's always been accurate because you get the values you wanted to see rather than what know you should get?

I'm tired of the constant same level of information that doesn't tell us anything about when our ancestors supposedly acquired the required attributes at the right time and explain why we are the way we are or otherwise we would be dead. When are scientists going to explain that? I assume they 1) can't and 2) don't want to because they know they can't and if they attempted to their theory would fall apart. But of course they will dismiss any competing theory as hogwash because any competing theory requires faith, a faith in God that is, rather than a faith in Man.

Then more people would question evolution, without being called stupid, an idiot, insane, a Bible thumper, etc. by those who they disagree with. People would realize we aren't just animals like all the other animals and that human life, above all else, is sacred. And that maybe we do actually possess the ability to choose right from wrong, possess a moral compass,and have free will, rather than falling back on the excuse that we're mere animals and therefore can't control the things we want to be able to get away with saying we can't control when it is convenient to use that excuse and all because we didn't evolve from animals.

And now because I mentioned God in response to an article about evolution I'll be modded down and the person who says "this will bring out the bible thumpers" will be modded up, because that's the bigoted world we live in. I'm not supposed to be questioning the liberal way of thinking. I'm not as smart as they are so I have to be told everything rather than think for myself because thinking for myself makes me look to God for answers and that's wrong. I have to look to government and Man for all the answers because they know best. All the issues I raised are all related whether you like it or not.

Re:More Info Please... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42830097)

It's a wonderful troll. Someday I intend on reading it.

Science deals with observation, not truth. If you'd read a little, you might get to the things that were being observed.

You're clearly interested in some sort of truth, which is a different matter entirely. Science will never offer you that; our boundaries of truth are whatever our instruments can tell us. Which is a lot more than any religious education has ever produced, but I won't hold a grudge.

I don't get worked up about God enough to hate him/her/it/them: why invest emotion into something that doesn't exist? You on the other hand seem to not believe in evolution (even though it's been demonstrated in a lab) and get quite worked up about it. You'll have to explain that one sometime. Maybe you secretly think it does exist, and just need a good reason to believe in it :P

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42832397)

I'm tired of the constant same level of information that doesn't tell us anything about when our ancestors supposedly acquired the required attributes at the right time and explain why we are the way we are or otherwise we would be dead. When are scientists going to explain that?

Fossil records are as they are, with timing and all. Genes are as they are, with rate of change, similarity and all. The right time is the one where everybody else don't breed as fast because they lack a certain quality.

Re:More Info Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42830625)

Hypothetical! ----> imagined

Today's education system (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831281)

Today's education system even impacts /. when a "hypothetical" creature "not found" in the fossil record, but "inferred" by it, is now put forth as a revelation as to the origin of all mamals, including humans.

By not being found in the fossil record, we have no concrete evidence. By being inferred, we have reasoned it's existence. That makes the use of the term "revealed" quite correct, as that is exactly the same process early man used to determine their various deities.

I don't doubt the scientific method in proposing a hypothesis or theory. But the reporting of it in this way sure is weak and only strengthens the view that science is anything but accurate (evolution is just a theory and debatable, for instance). Even the recent article on Richard III where DNA "proved" it was him was wrong, it did no such thing. It confirmed it, based on the other evidence, but by itself did not prove it.

Scientific reporting needs to be accurate and able to stand being scrutinized. That might mean that there are people who will not understand what is being reported. That is a shame. On the otherhand, it is better than them thinking they understand what is being reported when the report is not accurate. That does nobody any good.

Here's a thought: Instead of dumbing down scientific reporting (and intellectual thought) so the average person can understand it (even if that misinforms them as to what is being communicated), how about educating people, so they can actually understand it in the first place?

testing... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827785)

Previously posted comment isn't showing up.

Inferred from fossil record? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827795)

Is that sort of like inferring from my checking account balance that my paychecks are too small?

Fake. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827797)

If it's not in The Bible, it's a cruel hoax designed to lure you into the pit of eternal hellfire!

Yesterday it was a monkey, Today a rat. Tomorrow a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827859)

n Alien?

Re:Yesterday it was a monkey, Today a rat. Tomorro (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831055)

Pony. We are all descended from Ponies.

No intermediate steps to prove! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827951)

People, rats give birth to rats. You can't seriously believe that in 200.000 years there were ten... not jus ten species... ten *group* of species... That's a fake! In 200.000 years of alleged human "evolution" he have only one species: homo sapiens spaiens. it is YOU who claim that we are one species alone, even with no races. How come, in the same timespan, evolution produces so may different outcomes?

Re:No intermediate steps to prove! (5, Informative)

Aardpig (622459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828135)

Within the past 200,000 years of human history, we're aware that Homo Sapiens Sapiens existed alongside other members of the Homo genus, including Homo Neanderthalis and Homo Floresiensis.

Re:No intermediate steps to prove! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828593)

and others would have us believe always existed alongside Homo sexuals as well.

Re:No intermediate steps to prove! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828243)

Rapid speciation occurs when niches are vacated via rapid environmental change and mass extinction. Without an existing species adapted to a given niche, odd mutations and within-species variation allows individuals of other species to adapt to the new niche (without being out-competed by existing well-adapted species). Look up sources on adaptive radiation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_radiation) as well as island biogeography and evolution if you are interested in learning more about the underlying mechanisms.

Re:No intermediate steps to prove! (1)

phluid61 (2501032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828895)

Consider a hypothetical "evolutionary space", which has room for a certain number of instances of traits. For example, an ecosystem might be able to support 5k big awesome carnivores, or 20k small lame ones, or some ratio of the two. Now imagine such a space as it stood right near the end of the dinosaurs. When the dinosaurs were around, the "space" was full, the only evolutionary "improvements" that could take place were ones that were super effective. Then poof! dinos are gone; a lot more space is available. There is an explosion in evolution. Think of it this way: if there are suddenly no highly evolved and effective dinosaurs around, there are fewer competitors for resources, so evolutionary traits that might otherwise have been less effective (and bred out of the gene pool) are suddenly not so bad; so they're allowed to hang around. And those traits can lead to other wacky traits, and the diversity grows exponentially, until it's your own children who are consuming the resources/out-evolving their siblings/filling the space.

So there were some truth (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827961)

in this [imgur.com] .

RMS Common Ancestor (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828021)

What about the common ancestor that links RMS with mammals? Have they found that yet?

Naming rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828065)

I'd like to call this ancestor ... "Bob".

i feel a disney movie (5, Funny)

decora (1710862) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828089)

The rough group of placentals from the wrong side of the tracks has a young placental who falls in love with a nice placental from the meadow.. but their parents disapprove...

Typical Redneck Response (2, Funny)

tdp252 (519328) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828113)

Damn them whacky scientists. Me and my girl didn't come out some squirrel's butthole !

Re:Typical Redneck Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828221)

Don't make me horny

Re:Typical Redneck Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42830607)

You won't like me when I'm horny.

Re:Typical Redneck Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42832525)

Are you a cute, red, fluffy squirrel?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHVfMRAcTNk

To no one's surprise... (0)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828127)

...it turned out to be Betty White.

Thank Goodness!! (0)

zenlessyank (748553) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828139)

We won't remember you after He comes. You have been warned!! *one of the laws of physics states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon it by an outside force. I have been staring at this one spot for 20 years now and no protons, or electrons, or neutrons, or any matter has just shown up here. Just because you don't like the rules does not mean you can make up your own.

But what about... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828261)

... Natalie Portman?

Is she still hot?

She was pretty hot in her lesbian sex scene with Mila Kunis. That's for damn sure.

Youtube it. You know you want to.

Their names are called, they raise a paw. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828273)

The fox, the ox, giraffe and shrew, echidna, caribou.

this FP fo8 GNAA?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828317)

and promotes our From 8ow on or found out about the

What about ornithorhynchus? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828325)

The Ornithorhynchus [wikipedia.org] is a mamall but lay eggs. How does it relates?

Re:What about ornithorhynchus? (1)

Myopic (18616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828407)

If it lays eggs then it's not a placental mammal (is that right? I think that's right). That would make it a more distant ancestor to this creature, a placental mammal.

Re:What about ornithorhynchus? (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828517)

If it lays eggs then it's not a placental mammal (is that right? I think that's right).

It is difficult to be sure about anything for this odd creature. It has venom (for males only), electric field sensitivity, 5 pair of sexual chromosomes... If nature proceeds from an intelligent design, then the creating intelligence was probably intoxicated the day it created ornithorhynchus

Re:What about ornithorhynchus? (2)

OakDragon (885217) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831639)

It is difficult to be sure about anything for this odd creature. It has venom (for males only)...

Of course it has venom, it's from Australia.

Am I right, people!?

Re:What about ornithorhynchus? (5, Insightful)

ichthus (72442) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829399)

You know, you could have just said "platypus." You didn't have to get all pretentious and shit.

Re:What about ornithorhynchus? (2)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42832017)

I was not sure about the common name. In my native language, which happens to be french, the common name is Ornithorynque. Now you can troll french speakers for being natively pretentious :-)

It still relate (1)

aepervius (535155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831945)

from the wiki on platypus :
"The platypus and other monotremes were very poorly understood, and some of the 19th century myths that grew up around themâ"for example, that the monotremes were "inferior" or quasireptilianâ"still endure.[60] In 1947, William King Gregory theorised that placental mammals and marsupials may have diverged earlier, and a subsequent branching divided the monotremes and marsupials, but later research and fossil discoveries have suggested this is incorrect.[60][61] In fact, modern monotremes are the survivors of an early branching of the mammal tree, and a later branching is thought to have led to the marsupial and placental groups.[60][62] Molecular clock and fossil dating suggest platypuses split from echidnas around 19â"48 million years ago"

Seeing that the article is speaking of older time, the split happenned after that common ancestor.

Placentals??? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828339)

Placentals are so mainstream when there exist monotremes [blogspot.com] .

So we're all descended from squirrels?? (1)

daw1234 (585433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828359)

I hate them, with their long tails and their stupid twitchy noses.

Re:So we're all descended from squirrels?? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828415)

I don't have a clue why you find this so difficult to imagine.. you've spent so much of your life in pursuit of a nut, and if you're merely average, probably without the long tail.

Re:So we're all descended from squirrels?? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831673)

As they say, squirrels are rats with a better PR department.

uh..."revealed"? (1, Insightful)

Theolojin (102108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828363)

"The hypothetical creature, not found in the fossil record but inferred from it..." I know this is /., but c'mon.

Re:uh..."revealed"? (5, Insightful)

Myopic (18616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828429)

This is what we mean when we say that science makes predictions. Remember tiktaalik? Based on the rest of the fossil record and based on geology, scientists predicted that a certain fossil of a certain creature would be found in a certain kind of rock at a certain depth. It took them several years of digging but they found that fossil at that depth in that rock. Science made a specific prediction and it came true.

Likewise, based on the rest of the fossil record we believe this creature must have existed. We might be able to predict where we would find fossils for it.

Re:uh..."revealed"? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42830961)

Likewise, based on the rest of the fossil record we believe this creature must have existed. We might be able to predict where we would find fossils for it.

None of which justifies the use of the word "revealed". The word you want is "predicted". This is also the word Slashdot should have wanted, but they went for sensationalism instead.

Re:uh..."revealed"? (1)

Myopic (18616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42832339)

Oh, is that your complaint? That this new information provided to people doesn't meet your definition of "reveal"? What does it mean to you to "reveal" something? Here's what my dictionary says:

make (previously unknown or secret information) known to others

That's pretty much dead center what this study does: it makes previously unknown information known to others. What do you think the word means?

Re:uh..."revealed"? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42833645)

That's pretty much dead center what this study does: it makes previously unknown information known to others

Well, not really. It makes previously unspeculated speculation available to others.

Re:uh..."revealed"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42832271)

...scientists predicted that a certain fossil of a certain creature would be found in a certain kind of rock at a certain depth.

I predict that TODAY a certain /. reader in the city of Chicago will get pulled over by a certain police officer and issued a ticket for going through a stop sign.

Is that Science ... or am I a prophet?

"Evolution" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42828393)

"The hypothetical creature, not found in the fossil record but inferred from it" That sentence right there is where any shred of real science left the building.

Some brains did not evolve that much (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828485)

had a complex brain with a large lobe for interpreting smells and a corpus callosum, the bundle of ... etc

Somehow my brain kept interpreting this akin to the concerto for smells and a corpus callosum, interpreted by the brain rather than a large lobe, to interpret the smells, and a corpus callosum; the later is the bundle of... I reckon its something to do with commas and the mixed nature of details: purpose (for smell) with details of structure (the bundle etc).

Not Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42829343)

Speculation is not science. We are seeing more and more of this style of pseudo-science in the media lately.

Premature... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42829607)

Remember a short time ago, when biologists were *shocked* to discover how drastically divergent chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are?
Guys, we can't even properly infer the genetics of species that *still exist*. "Premature" barely even begins to cover this.

JJ Abrams To Direct "Placenta Matriarch" (1, Funny)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42829835)

1. Scientists describe new evolutionary theory to assembled dignitaries from across the universe
  2. Leading Anti-Evolutionist looks really pissed.
  3. Cut to scene of Anti-Evolutionist ships massing over a lush, green planet
  4. Lens flare
  5. Anti-Evolutionist soldiers shoot all sorts of ray gun zappers at the scientists below, shouting "Die, wasters of money!"
  6. Lens flare
  7. After wicked battle, scientists are rescued by Yoda-trained hero.
  8. Lens flare
  9. Leader of Anti-Evolutionist armies wails in frustration, shouting "That is NOT evidence!!!"
10. Lens flare
11. Anti-Evolutionist armies plot massive attack from Death Stars.
12. Lens fare.
13. Great place to end Part One so that everyone needs to see Part Two in a few years.

"not found in the fossil record but inferred from" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42830389)

LOL.

"not found in the fossil record but inferred from it"

Whatever. Maybe the Creationists were right!

Scrat did it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42830665)

Scrat: the unify-er of all, continet rifting, evolution of species, dinasour extinction, even Mount Rushmore

that evolved shortly after the dinosaurs disappear (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831023)

Uh.... I though the placental lineages extended well within the Cretaceous (????).

Heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42831227)

"...not found, but inferred" - sounds like the perfect evolutionist result. Who needs proof!

Putting Reputation at Risk (1)

SoothingMist (1517119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42832909)

SlashDot puts its reputation at risk when it claims "fact revealed" when only "one study suggests".

Garden fo Eden (1)

AlleyTrotte (1842702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42835293)

Actually I have inferred that the Garden of Eden was in a coal mine in my back yard here in Coal Township, PA

Com'n now... (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about a year and a half ago | (#42836103)

We all know the Earth is only 6000 years old and that humans were created by God in his image. At least that's what Fox News and the 700 Club tell me. Why should I believe science when I have Fox News to tell me the truth?

evolutionary fantasies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42836195)

Typical God-less, evolutionary bullcrap! "...study suggests....hypothetical creature....not found in fossil record...." blah blah blah. Anything but the simplest explanation for you narrow-minded, delusional, brain-washed atheists! That a highly intelligent and powerful being had a hand in creation! It takes more faith to believe the myth of evolution than this humble Christian can muster!

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