Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Evolution rewritten, again and again

Date:
September 1, 2010
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
Palaeontologists are forever claiming that their latest fossil discovery will "rewrite evolutionary history." Is this just boasting or does our "knowledge" of evolution radically change every time we find a new fossil?

Palaeontologists are forever claiming that their latest fossil discovery will "rewrite evolutionary history." Is this just boasting or does our "knowledge" of evolution radically change every time we find a new fossil?

Related Articles


A team of researchers at the University of Bristol decided to find out, with investigations of dinosaur and human evolution. Their study, which is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests most fossil discoveries do not make a huge difference, confirming, not contradicting our understanding of evolutionary history.

This is especially true of the fossil record of human origins from their primate relatives. Even though early human fossils are immensely rare, and new discoveries make a big splash in the scientific literature and in the media, they sit randomly across the evolutionary tree of early humans. In other words, most discoveries of new fossil species simply fill in gaps in the fossil record that we already knew existed.

As Dr James Tarver, leader of the study, said: "Human fossils are very rare, and they are costly to recover because of the time involved and their often remote locations. Scientists may be pushed by their sponsors, or by news reporters, to exaggerate the importance of their new find and make claims that 'this new species completely changes our understanding'."

The story of dinosaur evolution is a bit more complicated. New dinosaur fossils are being found in places around the world where they've never been looked for before, such as China, South America and Australia. These fossils are fundamentally challenging existing ideas about dinosaur evolution but this seems to tell us that there are still many new species of dinosaurs out there in the rocks.

"These are important results," said Professor Michael Benton, another member of the team. "It might seem negative to say that new finds do, or do not, change our views. However, to find that they don't means that we may be close to saturation in some areas, meaning we know enough of the fossil record in some cases to have a pretty good understanding of that part of the evolutionary tree."

Professor Phil Donoghue commented further: "We can use these studies as a way of targeting new expeditions. If dinosaurs are poorly understood from a particular part of the world, or if some other group is altogether incompletely known, that's where we need to devote greater efforts."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Evolution rewritten, again and again." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831190028.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2010, September 1). Evolution rewritten, again and again. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831190028.htm
University of Bristol. "Evolution rewritten, again and again." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831190028.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins