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Evolution of Mammals Re-evaluated

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the shaking-the-tree-to-see-what-falls-out dept.

Education 249

AaxelB writes "A study described in the New York Times rethinks mammalian evolution. Specifically, that the mass extinction of the dinosaurs had relatively little impact on mammals and that the steps in mammals' evolution happened well before and long after the dinosaurs' death."

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249 comments

What About the Other Dinosaurs? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18519863)

Most paleontologists now think that birds descended from dinosaurs. So in a sense, even dinosaurs in one form escaped the calamity.
Don't forget varanus komodoensis [wikipedia.org] ... and Strom Thurman [wikipedia.org] , he died out only four years ago and was the most prominent organism to escape the icy grasp of natural selection!

Re:What About the Other Dinosaurs? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520607)

"...Dinosaurs were created on day 6 of the creation week approximately 6,000 years ago, along with other land animals, and therefore co-existed with humans."

"...Dinosaurs lived in harmony with other animals, (probably including in the Garden of Eden) eating only plants;" and "pairs of each dinosaur kind were taken onto Noah's Ark during the Great Flood and were preserved from drowning."

"Dinosaur bones originated during the mass killing of the Flood;" and "some descendants of those dinosaurs taken aboard the Ark still roam the earth today."

And you can look that up! [conservapedia.com]

Re:What About the Other Dinosaurs? (1)

BigFoot48 (726201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521197)

How big was the support Ark that contained all the food that the dinosaurs, elephants, hippos, alligators, lions, polar bears and kitty cats required for 40 days? Saying God made them diet is cheating!

Re:What About the Other Dinosaurs? (4, Funny)

Monokeros (200892) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521373)

Easy. Elephants, hippos, alligators, lions, polar bears, and kitty cats were the food for the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs made their way through the dragons, unicorns, hobbits and fairies by the time the flood ended and the rest were spared. They're living on a ranch in Montana now.

Re:What About the Other Dinosaurs? (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521427)

....Saying God made them diet is cheating!......

The biblical record states that the animals come to Noah. It wouldn't be cheating if all those animals were babies or at least very young. There is nothing that says they had to be fully grown. Such little animals would eat much less and eventually grow up to reproduce.

Re:What About the Other Dinosaurs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18521559)

nowhere in the Bible does it say all the animals were full-grown adults. The dietary needs as well as the amount of sheer space would be well minimized if the animals onboard were very young.

From a friend (-1, Redundant)

FST (766202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18519881)

A friend of mine was involved in this project. From what he told me, I understood that they also noted that a similar analysis for birds, published recently in the journal Biology Letters, revealed that more than 40 avian lineages survived the mass extinctions. Most paleontologists now think that birds descended from dinosaurs. So in a sense, even dinosaurs in one form escaped the calamity. I found it pretty cool.

In the Article--Mod Parent Redundant! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18519999)

Is "your friend" TFA? Because that same goddamn paragraph is in the fucking article!

Re:From a friend (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520007)

> a similar analysis for birds, published recently in the journal Biology Letters, revealed that more than 40 avian lineages survived the mass extinctions. Most paleontologists now think that birds descended from dinosaurs. So in a sense, even dinosaurs in one form escaped the calamity.

In other words, chicken tastes like dinosaur!

(In Creationist America and Lysenkoist Russia, dinosaurs taste like chicken!)

Re:From a friend (4, Funny)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520027)

So in a sense, even dinosaurs in one form escaped the calamity. I found it pretty cool.


It's not so "cool" having to clean dinosaur droppings off my car, though.

Re:From a friend (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520413)

Did you go with Geico?

Re:From a friend (1)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520449)

...because you could get a caveman to do it!

Re:From a friend (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520947)

Please don't do this, at the very least, to me.

What, you ask? Why, explain the joke I made so as to completely suck any humor out of it.

Re:From a friend (1)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521181)

....because you could get a caveman to do it!

OT: They're not cavemen. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521169)

They're just scruffy house-dwellers with poor hygiene. So they're like one step up from hippies.

What kind of marketing genius dreams up an entire campaign involving alleged cave-people who don't exhibit the only qualifying criterion for that status that exists? i.e. living in a cave.

Re:From a friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520063)

That friend of yours is the <I>article</I> you just lifted the text directly from? Does it come to your parties?

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520841)

Wrong! [conservapedia.com]

dinosaur bones originated during the mass killing of the Flood; and... some descendants of those dinosaurs taken aboard the Ark still roam the earth today.

no theory of evolution.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18519889)

There is no theory of evolution, just a list of animals chuck norris has allowed to live....

Alternate theory (5, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520005)

Re:Alternate theory (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520107)

Scientists at Brigham Young University note that Anna Nicole Smith is a clear proof of mammary evolution after the dinosaurs.

Magic man done it theory (2, Funny)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521039)

A magic man done it! [youtube.com] With "forcey forces" of coursey.

Uhmmm, NOT TRUE (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520017)

Anyone who disputes the FACTS of evolution is surely a self-reightous christian asshole!

Fucking christians ruin the entire world! Why cant they just beat their wives and destabilize the world economy like the muslims, who we all love and are a peace loving people (really, they are.. i love you muslims )

Re:Uhmmm, NOT TRUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520255)

You are fucking retarded. First off, I am pretty sure that even Muslims believe in creation, and this isn't likely to change for a while. Those Christian religions that don't place a literal meaning to the 6 day creation story in Genesis are growing, just as happened with other parts of the text. Christianity is probably 700 or so years more advanced than Islam just based on it being around longer. Until Islam goes through something like the Dark Ages and wakes up it will remain the bastardization of a religion combined with a social plan. With Islam there is no separation of Church and State - remember that.

I'm posting AC since this is so off topic.
ak3ldama (554026)

Re:Uhmmm, NOT TRUE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520411)

Wantonly beating their wives? Nonsense. Some Islamic countries have the toughest laws around. Why, you can get up to 3 months in jail for an honor killing!

Wasn't this common knowledge? (2, Interesting)

elhondo (545224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520023)

I had thought this point was actually a point of disagreement between Gould and Dawkins, with Dawkins pointing out that the cambrian explosion wasn't as sudden as Gould had pointed out. I think this particular point was discussed in Bryson's "A Brief History of Nearly Everything". I didn't think anyone still held this viewpoint about mammalian evolution anymore.

Re:Wasn't this common knowledge? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520181)

What the hell does the cambrian explosion have to do with mammalian evolution? There's a several hundred million year time span between the two, and that's just to the beginning of the mammal line with the synapsids like dimetrodon. Add another hundred million or two before we get to anything that most people would consider mammalian.

Re:Wasn't this common knowledge? (1)

elhondo (545224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520223)

It has to do with the way evolution works; i.e. slowly. The cambrian explosion "debunking" was done by implicitly stating that evolution is slow, whether it be in mammals, reptiles or little crawling things.

Re:Wasn't this common knowledge? (2, Informative)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520401)

Dude you said "cambrian" - there was a cambrian explosion too and perhaps that's what you mean. But here we're talking about the Cretaceous, 65 Million years ago instead of 600 Million years ago.

Re:Wasn't this common knowledge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18521177)

Wow an Actor and a Basketball player discussing evolution.

If you think about it, where did the Gorilla Dunk come from? It couldn't have possibly evolved here. I mean with a name like Chocolate Thunder bringing down the pain, it had to come from another planet.

Hrmm... (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520031)


But can they shoehorn it into the framework of a 6000 year old Earth?

Re:Hrmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520221)


The uneducated Fundies have modpoints again...

Re:Hrmm... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521625)

Well, that all depends how you measure age.

If by *all* appearances something appears fully mature, is it? What if it was merely created to look that way so that it would be functional immediately, rather than waiting for however long it takes to be viable.

Of course, the anti-creationist might be inclined to criticize such a remark with the reflection that if that were so with the universe, how would we know that everything was not, for example, merely created yesterday, complete with all apparent history?

Well... in general, we wouldn't. Unless it was pointed out to us. Of course, even if it was, we would never be able to prove it, because the actuality the universe was younger than it appeared would not be perceivable from within the universe. Even our own sense of reason and logic would be bound by it because that would have been created just as the universe itself would have been. And no evidence within the universe could ever be uncovered to genuinely prove that it was young, simply because it would have been explicitly created in a mature state to provide immediate functionality and use.

But to be frank, whether you believe in Creation or not, it really doesn't matter whether you think the world is six thousand years old or nearly six billion. The earth doesn't appear to get offended at misguessing its age by a factor of a million or so, so don't sweat it.

If we spent as much time and effort into simply trying to get along with people who are different from ourselves or have different values as we do trying to prove that we are better than others, or that we are right and others are wrong, the world would be a far, far better place.

Evolution? I thought Jebus created the dinosaurs! (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520047)

How could it be true otherwise?

Here's an interesting question: how long did it take for creatures to speciate after the Permian extinction? I wonder if there was the same amount of lag-time after that disaster...

RS

Re:Evolution? I thought Jebus created the dinosaur (3, Informative)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520225)

I thought it was about six million years, could be wrong though.

The big thing was grass, it hadn't been around for most of the time the dinosours had existed. The domination of grasses after the CT event really helped the spread of species

Re:Evolution? I thought Jebus created the dinosaur (1)

sponga (739683) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521275)

If you watched that show on the Discovery channel I believe it was the episode of 'Mammals vs Dinosaurs'. They showed how vegetation played a big role in the mammals survival and how dinosaurs when young were not able to hide in the vegetation from larger creatures because the mammals were the dominate species in that level of vegetation.
Something along the lines of that....

So the mammals killed off the dinosaurs at a young age.

Re:Evolution? I thought Jebus created the dinosaur (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521333)

I don't have a tv, although I do watch other peoples from time to time.

I have heard of the vegetation thing, but it was other flora, not grasses, so far as I understand, ferns or somesuch.

Re:Evolution? I thought Jebus created the dinosaur (1)

xocp (575023) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521485)

According to a report in National Geographic [nationalgeographic.com] :

The researchers believe that various species of grass had spread before India became geographically isolated from other continents about 125 million years ago.

With the CT event at 65.5MYA, grasses may have already been around for a while.

Re:Evolution? I thought Jebus created the dinosaur (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521585)

Oh yes, they were around, but only as a relatively minor plant. They became dominant after the CT event.

Miss Leading title (0, Troll)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520049)

I bet a few Christian Creationists got all excited until they read TFA.

Re:Miss Leading title (2, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520119)

Speaking of misleading titles! I got all excited about your post's title, anticipating a link to some Miss Universe-type website. Instead, all I got was a one-sentence comment.

Sadly, probably so (0)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520497)

Sadly, this article will still undoubtedly be used my the uneducated to try to show that the Theory of Evolution is inferior to Intelligent Design because there are still things we don't know entirely or change our minds about based on new evidence. (Whereas, of course, they have it all figured out beyond question.)

Of course, when I see articles like this, I think it's a very good thing, not bad. It shows the beauty of science, that there is always room for refinement of our ideas of the way things are based on new evidence and new ideas. No, we don't have it all figured out yet, but unlike Intelligent Design advocates, at least we're trying, and we're open to new possibilities. (Yes, even Intelligent Design, if there were any credible proof of it.)

I always think it's kind of funny that Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents think that there's some kind of scientific conspiracy to advance the evolution "agenda." I believe in the Theory of Evolution, and believe me, if I could prove that it was false beyond any shadow of a doubt, I would in a heartbeat. For one thing, I'd be world-famous and likely very, very rich from book deals and talk shows. For another, I'm not interested in an agenda, I'm interested in the truth, as in things that can be observed and tested, not just taken on faith in spite of a large body of evidence to the contrary.

sigh... Oh well, I'm glad this showed up on Slashdot. At least now I know what my Creationist/ID friends are going to try to beat me over the head with next.

Re:Sadly, probably so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520959)

I always think it's kind of funny that Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents think that there's some kind of scientific conspiracy to advance the evolution "agenda."


The only agenda that I see consistently, particularly here on Slashdot, is to denigrate and deride people of faith because they believe in God.

Not everyone who believes in God is an idiot, particularly not simply because of that belief. Not everyone who believes in Jesus thinks the world was created in literally 6 days. Christians can be real scientists, and are (in scientific fields, where such things as reproducible results and predictability are required to be considered REAL hard science).

Want to perpetuate the idea that there's no evolutionist agenda? Show some class and treat people with respect. But then again, I suppose your core beliefs don't really reflect that people are worth respecting.

This is Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520065)

Until the next "re-thinking." Will we ever have hard evidence, or just thought experiments?

Re:This is Great (5, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520291)

Until the next "re-thinking." Will we ever have hard evidence, or just thought experiments?
But we do have hard evidence - indeed it was hard evidence that helped lead to this rethinking. Recently there have been a number of finds of surprisingly large mammals that are much older than had previously been expected. They include a beaver like (pre)-mammal [wikipedia.org] from the Jurassic that was almost half a metre long, discovered in 2004, and two species large carnivorous mammal from the cretaceous [wikipedia.org] (dated to about 130 million years ago - or 65 million years prior to the dinosaur extenction) which were discovered in 2000 and 2005. Such large mammals (relatively speaking) during the time of the dinosaurs draws into question the previous belief that mammals were restricted to small rat/mouse like scavengers at that time. Instead we see evidence of large, active, meat eating mammals. This implies that mammals were rather less marginalised during the dinosaurs "reign" than previously thought, and imples that mammal evolutionary history needs to be rethought accordingly.

Re:This is Great (2, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520679)

I should add that these fossil discoveries lead to various people taking a more serious look at the presumed facts of mammal evolution and were the catalyst for a "rethink", however there is even more "hard evidence" in the paper cited by the NYT article which was a far more detailed study looking at far more fossil (and apparently molecular) evidence.

Trolly trolly troll troll. (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520939)

Re-Thinking? Well, hell if you knew it wasn't right, why didn't you say so before?

Jeez.

See, this is why Creationism is right...No rethinking required. Ever.

Look out, R.O.U.S.! (2, Funny)

deoxyribonucleose (993319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521027)

Recently there have been a number of finds of surprisingly large mammals that are much older than had previously been expected. They include a beaver like (pre)-mammal from the Jurassic that was almost half a metre long, discovered in 2004, /.../

"Rodents Of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist." http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093779/quotes [imdb.com]

Re:This is Great (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521287)

I'm neither a evolutionary biologist nor a paleontologist, but hopefully one of the people reading this is (or at least claims to be on Wikipedia) and can answer a question for me:

I was always under the impression that the reason it was presumed small rodents were the only ones to exist with the dinosaurs is because if they were any larger, they would've been wiped out by the K-T extinction event. If there were large mammals that existed with the dinosaurs, and if they were in the same distinct groups that exist today as another poster said, then do we need to go back and question the importance of the K-T event? Especially since dinosaurs didn't so much go extinct as they evolved into birds, maybe having a ginormous hunk of space rock crash into the planet isn't as cataclysmic as we have been assuming all this time (for the planet as a whole, that is, it would certainly do a number on your neighborhood).

Any experts out there who can quash my thinking and point out the flaw in this line of inquiry?

Re:This is Great (1)

Xeriar (456730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521621)

I'm no expert, but it would appear that the surprise is, in fact, that some of these larger specimens actually survived. It's been known for some time that primates diverged about 69 million years ago, for example, and it seems that more orders are being added to the list.

Re:This is Great (1)

cens0r (655208) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521663)

It wasn't clear from the article, but I assumed that the large existing mammals and birds died off as well. What the article stated was the the lineages already had split. So there was a proto-primate and other proto groups. The actually surviving species may have been quite small though.

Re:"Rethinking" (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520331)

A. Coward wrote:

Until the next "re-thinking." Will we ever have hard evidence, or just thought experiments?

Actually, the ideas contained in the Nature article are based on new, hard evidence, not a "rethinking" of thought experiments. Or didn't you read the linked NYT article? That's how science works.

Re:"Rethinking" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520755)

Or didn't you read the linked NYT article? That's how science works.


By reading NYT articles? Is that where you get all your scientific facts?

Re:"Rethinking" (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521015)

Or didn't you read the linked NYT article? That's how science works.


By reading NYT articles? Is that where you get all your scientific facts?

No, but it was linked in the main article and gave a reasonably accurate synopsis of the Nature article. Nature has an abstract [nature.com] of the article on their website, but you must be a paying subscriber to read the full article online, which few /.ers are, I assume. You can read the full text at any university library and at many public libraries. Which of these do you plan to do to confirm your original statement?

Surprise, but not a showstopper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520069)

Evolutionary is just a theory, not a law, so it is okay to have these revisions. It's interesting, surprising news, but it's not earthshattering and shouldn't shake our faith in evolution.

Re:Surprise, but not a showstopper (3, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520271)

Evolution is a theory of science, not a parlor talk theory. There is no faith in evolution, only vast reams of empirical data supporting it.

Re-evaluation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520083)

Does that mean there could have been divine creation, and not evolution, at least in the case of humans? I know that cold hard facts should trump what we wish to be true, but for a question as fundamental as the origin of our own existence, maybe it works the other way.

Re:Re-evaluation (1)

needacoolnickname (716083) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520153)

I'll give you the option for divine creation if you give me the option for evolution.

Re:Re-evaluation (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520249)

Yeah, sure. This one species of mammals is totally different from all the rest of them.

Not to bait flames here, but the evidence for divine creation is pretty damned weak if you take into account all the imperfect humans that had to be involved in bringing us 'his word'... while the evidence for evolution is getting stronger all the time, and this little theory of evolution doesn't mind a few corrections here and there. It's a bit tolerant of the process of discovery.

Re:Re-evaluation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520753)

> but the evidence for divine creation is pretty damned weak if you take into account all the imperfect humans that had to be involved in bringing us 'his word'

What? You're saying that because the people preaching about God are not perfect, God must not exist. Interesting. So how's that work in terms of scientific logic. (From a scientific standpoint, that's just as strong as a Christian saying, "The sunset is beautiful, so God must exist." Both, from a scientific standpoint, are utterly stupid.)

> while the evidence for evolution is getting stronger all the time, and this little theory of evolution doesn't mind a few corrections here and there. It's a bit tolerant of the process of discovery.

This "correction here and there" is kinda big. What it's saying is that mammals evolved separate of reptiles. That doesn't make sense in the theory of evolution since the better of the two should win out (or combine or whatever).

Besides, I always liked this argument: If God exists - who's to say he doesn't use evolution to make/change creation?

Re:Re-evaluation (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520307)

So, you propose that because we are humans, somehow we should ignore the tons (literally) of evolutionary evidence concerning our origins? Nope.

Mammals versus Dinos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520131)

I just watched a special on Animal Planet about mammals and dinos. They were saying that the T-rex actually evolved from half evolved bird/dinos. The young had a feather like coating that shed as the T-rex got bigger.

well, duh. (2)

Triv (181010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520197)

I've known about this since Sunday [youtube.com] .



Triv

bible (-1, Troll)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520203)

So my priest is right, humans and dinosaurs did live at the same time 6,000 years ago.

Shamelessly off-topic, but must be done... (2, Interesting)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520217)

From Conservapedia [conservapedia.com] :

The Theory of evolution is a materialist explanation of the history of life on earth. Despite being the scientific standard, in the United States, there are a significant number of lay people who do not accept evolution. According to a CBS poll, only 13% of American adults believe humans evolved without divine guidance.

A CBS survey said there's no evolution! If 87% of people say there's no evolution then this article is a sham sir!

Back on-topic, what interests me is:

But the researchers conceded that much more research would be required to explain the delayed rise of present-day mammals.

If it wasn't the dinosaurs stopping the evolution of mammals (i.e. dinosaurs dominating the habitat), then what did? Could it be that the available habitats were just better suited to dinosaurs vs. mammals? That's the first thing that springs to mind (although am no paleontologist). As ever with this sort of thing, the finding raises more questions than it answers!

conservapedia is satire (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520295)

I hope you realize that conservapedia is satire. I could just as easily create a liberalopedia and have entries like, "all sex is rape - even sex between married people"

(that's an Andrea Dworkin quote by the way, I didn't just make that up)

conservapedia is NOT satire (1)

tak amalak (55584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520443)

You must be a moderate, level-headed conservative, because that website is NOT satire.

and that's sad... (1)

CasperIV (1013029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520547)

Whats worse is that some of those surveyed might not be in Alabama...

Re:and that's sad... (2, Insightful)

ksalter (1009029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520973)

You're right, some might be from the Northeast (like Dover, PA for example). So us dumbass, inbred rednecks from Alabama do not have a lock on scientific ignorance and religious idiocy.

Damn, whatever will happen when the Deep South is no longer looked on as the primary source of bible beating, homophobic, racist, ignorant fundies? Unfortunately, when that day happens, it will be the entire US that is looked on as the primary source of bible beating, homophobic, racist, ignorant fundies.

Yes it is. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18521041)

And you completely ignored my question: what if I put up a website with caricatures of liberal ideas? Wouldn't you call me out on it?

Now, I'm not a liberal, but it would be pretty easy for me to take all of the most extreme, ridiculous ideas of liberalism and put them into a wiki. I could have articles on:

1: all sex is rape
2: all whites are racists - blacks cannot be racist.
3: no one should be allowed to own any property. All your money belongs to the state and we allow you to keep some of it.
4: all rights come from the state. We give you a few rights and expect you to say "thank you"
5: you do not have the right to defend yourself against crime. If someone breaks into your house and you fight them, you should go to jail.
6: if your opinions are wrong (that is, not politically correct) you should be "re-educated" by force.
7: you do not have the right to raise your children as you see fit. Children belong to the state.

And then, after I create this website, people would start quoting it back to you, "OMFG LOOK AT WHAT THESE IDIOT LIBERALS BELIEVE!" Wouldn't you point out that the site was a joke?? What would you say if I came along and declared, "oh no, that site is real."

I think it's sad that your views of conservatives are based on a stereotype that you invented. It's says a lot about you (and other slashdotters) that you take everything negative from a group and put them together to build a boogeyman. I guess that's the only way you can have your two minutes of hate every day. But it's possible to do that to any group. Some slashdotters are virgins. Some live with their parents. So I could put all that together and create this caricature of a nerd and use that to write off everything on the site.

But that would be pretty ignorant of me, wouldn't it.

Re:conservapedia is satire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520525)

"all sex is rape - even sex between married people"
Does it matter if they are married to each other, or happen to both be the same sex?

Re:conservapedia is satire (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520621)

Satire? Don't be so sure. There are plenty of people who believe things exactly the way a place like Conservapedia has written them. As a matter of fact, look at their article on Evolution [http://www.conservapedia.com/Evolution] -- nowhere do you see any mention of carbon-based dating or radioactive dating of any sort. A satirical site would've tried to make at least a passing funny reference to radioactive dating, don't you think?

Re:conservapedia is satire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520675)

Dworkin wasn't much of a liberal. As a conservative fellow-traveller, she did everything she could to help the Meese Commission, for instance. She was a perfect combination of the my-way-or-the-highway dogmatism of Ayn Rand and the sex appeal of Hurley from "Lost."

Re:conservapedia is satire (2, Informative)

Harry Coin (691835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520681)

Nope. It's not satire. It was created by Andrew Schlafly, son of arch-conservative anti-femininst Phillys Schlafly [wikipedia.org] , and is used by her Eagle Forum [wikipedia.org] .

If the ideas presented on that site induce laughter, it is because neoconservative ideas are completely ridiculous. Really, Mark Twain couldn't produce satire so deep. I honestly hope that the GOP uses that site as their definitive reference. Within two generations, they'll be too stupid to breed.

Re:conservapedia is satire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520767)

If the ideas presented on that site induce laughter, it is because neoconservative ideas are completely ridiculous.

You don't have the slightest idea what "neoconservative" means.

LIAR (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521085)

Conservapedia is self-parody, but it is produced and maintained by "Conservatives" as a repository of official "Conservative" dogma. Because they think Wikipedia is "liberal", as they clearly state in their About [conservapedia.com] page. Typically Conservative, they're using the Wikipedia software for free, but don't even mutter a minimal thanks to Wikipedia - they just bash it.

Anonymous Conservative Coward is a typical Conservative: trying to have it both ways, all ways, whenever it's convenient. There is no "truth" for today's "Conservatives" (What are they "conserving"? They're wasters, reckless consumers and rampant destroyers.) So whenever they dart out from behind their favorite weasel words to make a clear statement, they're usually a joke, at least because they contradict whatever other statement they made before that was once convenient then.

"Reality has a well-known liberal bias." - Stephen Colbert [thinkprogress.org]

Re:Shamelessly off-topic, but must be done... (1)

Phu5ion (838043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520737)

First of all, 99% of polls are useless. :P

They are all subject to the bias of the analyst. What Conservapedia doesn't tell you in the blurb is that an additional 27% of Americans believe people evolved with divine guidance. What's sad (IMHO) is that greater than 50% of "All Americans" believe that we were just winked into existence by a divine power.

the poll [cbsnews.com]

Re:Shamelessly off-topic, but must be done... (1)

geek (5680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520943)

Well, I may be corrected on this but I'll say it anyway since it's what I was taught in college. The median world temp around the peek of the dinosaurs was very high, somewhere around 130 to 140 degrees and there was a much larger amount of CO2 in the air. I would have assumed that as this changed mammals were given their chance at the top of the food chain.

I always interpreted mammalian evolution to be parallel with climate change. I suspect however many people would disagree.

Re:Shamelessly off-topic, but must be done... (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521381)

The higher temperature of the Cretaceous has already been referred to. Estimates suggest that at the beginning of the Cretaceous, the Global Mean Surface Temperature (GMST) was around 20C (about 5 hotter than today's value of 15C), and was about the same at the period's end - but peaked to a high of 25C in the Upper Cretaceous.


From http://www.bbm.me.uk/portsdown/PH_130_Envmnt.htm#t empr [bbm.me.uk]

Science rethinking. (0, Troll)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520311)

So... I'm not trying to argue for or against intelligent design/evolution. Science is often championed as being very sure... especially evolution, it seems, when one looks at the court cases and news articles when the controversy comes up in schools, where it taught as pretty much proven fact. Does it raise questions in no one else's mind when it is quite consistently being "rethought?" It seems it should not be dogmatically asserted as it is now, nor should a "rethinking" be taken in stride as if it's entirely normal behavior for science. And yes, I know it's not a scientific fact, it is a scientific theory, as most scientific thoughts are - but most school kids don't know much of the difference between "fact" and "scientific theory." It's simply taught. Here's the chapter on gravity, here's the chapter on evolution. Maybe informative materials should be re-evaluated when the theory itself is re-evaluated.

Re:Science rethinking. (4, Insightful)

flitty (981864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520383)

Science is often championed as being very sure... especially evolution,
I'm calling you on this rediculous statement. Science is only as sure as they can prove. You'll hardly find a scientist who, under new evidence or studies, will say "nope, the way we used to believe is more correct, and i'll be damned if i take your new evidence into consideration!"
Sounds more like religion to me.

Re:Science rethinking. (2, Funny)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520455)

I'm calling you on this rediculous statement. Science is only as sure as they can prove. You'll hardly find a scientist who, under new evidence or studies, will say "nope, the way we used to believe is more correct, and i'll be damned if i take your new evidence into consideration!"

Sounds more like religion to me.

You two should stop fighting and realize that it was actually the flying spaghetti monster [wikipedia.org] that created it all!

Re:Science rethinking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520611)

Ramen!

Re:Science rethinking. (2, Insightful)

RatBastard (949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520539)

A valid question. That evolution happens is a known fact. That animals adapt over the generations and change to the point that disparate isolated populations can no longer interbreed is a fact. What is constantly being reevaluated is the actual mechanisms that drive this change. Early assumptions are reexamined when they don't hold up to scrutiny. Theories are revised when we discover that things are more complex than we thought. Natural selection (higher survival potential) does not explain creatures like Peacocks and birds of paradise. We examine what is going on and discover that sexual selection (breeding age members choosing mates for particular reasons) is also at work. While the Peacock's tail is an impediment to personal survival, the extravagance of it tells females that the male is healthy, strong, has good genes and would make a good choice as a father to their offspring.

And then there is the subject of this article: which is not the whys and wherefores, but the histories of evolution. They are not reevaluating the means of evolution, just the details of the timetables of when things happened. Much like a police officer looking at a crime scene and sorting out what happened when, discovering a new piece of evidence or talking to a new witness and adjusting the description to fit the facts.

Re:Science rethinking. (2, Interesting)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520579)

Does it raise questions in no one else's mind when it is quite consistently being "rethought?" It seems it should not be dogmatically asserted as it is now, nor should a "rethinking" be taken in stride as if it's entirely normal behavior for science. And yes, I know it's not a scientific fact, it is a scientific theory, as most scientific thoughts are - but most school kids don't know much of the difference between "fact" and "scientific theory." It's simply taught...Maybe informative materials should be re-evaluated when the theory itself is re-evaluated.
I think we should be clear on what is being re-thought here. The theory of evolution itself, that variation and descent, combined with selective pressure, will lead to complex organisms with the appearance of design, is not being rethought. The theory that evolution via natural selection is responsible for the diversity of species of life on earth is not being rethought. All that is being rethought is the particular history regarding the evolution of mammals. That the theory of evolution can be used to explain this particular history, but there are unknown factors in the specifics of the history, so the particular explanation provided as the most likely by evolutionary theory may change as particular facts regarding the particular history of a particular line of organisms changes. Let's consider an analogy: the theory of gravity is a relatively well accepted theory. It can be used to provide an explanation for the history of the development of solar systems, and has been used as a basis for developing a theory as to how our particular solar system developed. As it happens, that particular history is being rethought [newscientist.com] , as we don't know all the facts about the particular history of our particular solar system. As the available facts regarding the particular history of a particular solar system (ours) have changed, the explanation of that particular theory furnished by the theory of gravity has changed. You have no more reason to think that "informative materials regarding the theory" of gravity should be re-evaluated than you do with regard to "informative materials regarding the theory" of evolution.

Get a clue retard (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521017)

Evolution:
1 + 2 + x + y + 5 = 15

Creationism:
x^2 + 1 = 0

And the venerable answer is (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18521557)

i

Duh...

Many mammalian lineages predate the K-T extinction (5, Informative)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520343)

If you read The Ancestor's Tale [amazon.com] by Richard Dawkins, you'll find that recent genetic evidence suggests that many of the distinct branches of modern mammals predate the K-T extinction.

In particular, by the time of the K-T extinction, I believe that the primate lineage had already separated from rodents, as well as the laurasiatheres [wikipedia.org] (all hoofed mammals, lions, tigers, bears, etc.), xenarthrans [slashdot.org] (armadillos, sloths, etc.), and afrotheres [wikipedia.org] (elephants, manatees, anteaters, etc.).

So, while most mammals in the Cretaceous may still have been tiny shrew-like creatures scurrying around in the underbrush, many of the modern lineages had already come into separate existence.

It is also interesting to read, in the book, that our nearest non-primate relatives aside from the tree shrews are rodents. I can sort of see it: give a mouse a little more finger dexterity and it wouldn't not that different from a lemur. It also might explain why rodents are such good laboratory specimens.

Re:Many mammalian lineages predate the K-T extinct (1)

rapett0 (92674) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521369)

While I am a programmer at heart I supposed, I do have a strong interest in biology (amongst other things). I just wanted to add to any geeks out there who have any interest at all in biology, read this book. I found it to be excellent on many levels. I am not here to do a book review, just wanted to say it comes highly recommened from someone *not* in the field. Also, if your in OC (SoCal), I think I saw a flyer that he gave a speech down in Laguna Beach a few months ago. Not sure if he is normally in the area or not.

Re:Many mammalian lineages predate the K-T extinct (1)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18521389)

>It also might explain why rodents are such good laboratory specimens.
See, you're actually assuming that they are good models, whereas it's not clear that they are.
Indeed, regardless of how good a model they are, they are rather used because of their size,
cost and fewer objections by laity. People want to save the cute bunnies (actually lagomorphs,
close cousins of the rodents), but most don't care about the white mice in the cage next to it.
And some people object to being compared to monkeys, apes or pigs :-P

Yes, and.... (2, Interesting)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520399)

Specifically, that the mass extinction of the dinosaurs had relatively little impact on mammals and that the steps in mammals' evolution happened well before and long after the dinosaurs' death.

Do they think that those steps ever could have taken place if the dinosaurs were still around?

Quick! Call Kansas BOE (-1, Flamebait)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520407)

The recently-ousted Kansas Bored of Education needs some ammo to show how the ("theory") of evolution changes and is clearly weak, unlike the Highly Stable (and very) Intelligent Design facts, despite partisan conflicting evidence. Facts don't change, unlike these inferior "theories".

Re:Quick! Call Kansas BOE (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520595)

I've been partial to this alternative theory of Intelligent Design. http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/ [venganza.org]

Specific Gene? (1)

burning-toast (925667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520451)

I am definitely outside of my field of study here, and not really sure if my question is quite on topic but here goes:

The fuse thing bothers me. It leaves the impression that mammals were going to burst into proliferation at some point no matter what. Like there was a guaranteed start to that. I still think it was an accident by natures "need to survive". I can't think of another species which would be a better candidate however but that is not helped by my lack of understanding in the field.

To me it seems more likely that a freak accident (or "natural accident") may have activated a specific genetic sequence or mutated some aspect of mammals which increased their survivability rate. This just seems like evolution at it's best.

My assumptions about mammals and what has made us more adaptable than some other species:
We are warm blooded - Much larger geographic areas are available to us and we are a much "hardier" species for extreme weather.

We have hair - Goes along with being warm blooded and the geography thing mentioned above.

We nurse our young - Our young are not fully developed before birth, to me this signals that we have exceeded some "original" amount of time anticipated by nature that it should take to give our young rudimentary skills. Remember some species are born with everything they need to know for life already in their programming. Learning and experience mean more to many species of mammals than just wrought memorization like you frequently see with reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, etc. By virtue of how "we" do things as mammals we give our young much more time to learn, adapt, and become "ready" for the world.

We are omnivorous - Mammals as a whole are generally omnivorous, though in the context of millions of years ago I would venture to assume that much of this is by adaptation anyhow. In any case this drastically expands our food selections as most (all?) mammals are not limited to eating one food group or even a very narrow selection of foods.

Maybe another disease died out, or maybe this is where we started developing a better immune system. It's hard to tell when our internal workings developed from so long ago just because of a serious lack of soft tissues. Maybe our eyesight just took a while to improve from being nocturnal for so long? Maybe the Dinosaurs were the primary reason for mammals to be nocturnal, and once the large ones were gone it took a while for evolution to "switch back"

Now I am just rambling, but maybe someone with a clearer understanding of such things would be so kind as to disprove or converse about some of my ramblings.

Re:Specific Gene? (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520911)

Your analogy of a freak accident isn't far wrong. It is a mistake to think of evolution as a planned process. That's where a lot of creationists try to poke holes in it by saying "what's the use of half an eye" The argument makes the assumption that an eye was the intended goal, but there was no intention.

It goes like this. Animal A and animal B are attacked by animal C. Animal A has some cells on its skin that are light sensitive, even if only a tiny bit. Neither A B or C have eyes, so animal A escapes because it gets spooked by s small change it the minimal light level it detects, but C catches B because it hasn't managed to get away (leaving out the means by which C is able to hunt).

So Animal A gets to breed, the light sensitive cell patch mutation is reinforced. Random changes to it that improve its detection of predators mean that favorable mutations survive, and eventually you have a whole eye.

Simplified, but you get the point? It's very much random

As for the survival of Mammals, well we're generalists, or were at the time, like rats, we could live off anything. That meant a dead dino was as good a meal as anything, and we could eat worms, bugs, absolutely anything, so we lived.

Then we speciated, and became the wide variety that exists today.

It is not that we are warm blooded that helped us spread. It is that we are able to adapt without waiting for evolution. Need a thicker coat? Go get one of that animal over there and wear it. Need to live in this area that is dominated by another species? Kill them off and take over. We have the bigger brain, we were capable of abstract thought and planning for the future. That was the deciding factor.

Incidentally, there is a theory that crocs and alligators survived the CT event because they were able to survive in the delta's on dead animals washed down the rivers. scavenger's are at an advantage when there is a mass die off, especially when they can go for very long periods between meals and actually prefer putrid meat.

Our young are not born fully developed because humans have much bigger brains, and these cannot be pre programmed to know what to do with the body from birth beyond the autonomic nervous systemm without a far longer gestation period. Its a consequence of evolving as a creature that lives in packs/groups, we can afford to birth our young in a weak state, which gives the advantage that our adults are back to the essentials of pack survival fast while the young are able to be cared for We do not have the ability to walk away after being born. Strangely though, newborns can swim, I have no idea why this might be, unless the aquatuic ape theory is correct.

Some mammals are specialised now (Panda's are an easy to research example), if there was another mass extinction, most mammals, likely including us, would die, unless we had some far more impressive technology, certainly the human species would be drastically hit. Rats and so on would probably make it, for the same reason we managed to survive the CT event, since we were that size at the time.

Hope that helps with some of your questions

Devine 'evolution' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18520801)

There is absolutely no evidence for devine evolution whatsoever (sorry, the bible doesn't count), so could the creationists and 'intelligent designists' please leave the building. Let's not forget that intelligent design is just the boilerplate for a group of scary people who teach their kids that the speed of light must have been massively slower in the past few thousand years and that fossils have been created over a few thousand years since a 'flood'.

  It's all just a crock cooked up by a load of religion toting crooks who need to keep the cash flowing in from the faithful (or should that be fearful).

Re:Devine 'evolution' (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18520969)

alas putting the argument initially in such a confrontational way doesn't help.

You need to get them to really debate. Most won't, and spout the same stuff over and over.

Thing is, two centuries ago everyone was a creationist, we would have been as well, there was no alternative. They are however fighting a losing battle if you look at the numbers. It will likely be another century before creationism is dead, and then only maybe.

Good For ET? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18521533)

If the evolution of intelligent mammals isn't tied to a random event like the extinction of the dinosaurs, does this greatly increase the chances of there being sentient extra-terrestrial life?
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