Wednesday, December 3, 2008

(Almost) Daily Findings in Evolution

(Image source: The New York Times Online)

On November 21, the New York Times reported that a scientist in New Zealand found another species of penguins, while looking through museum specimens hundreds of years old. The scientist, Sanne Boessenkook of University of Otago was investigating the history of the yellow-eyed penguin, trying to determine if it had been more abundant in the past. It turns out that museum specimens included a completely undocumented species that is now extinct.

Another recent (Dec 1) article in the same magazine talks about the discovery of a new form of amoeba that throws into question the how of evolution of life on earth. Up until now, scientist have believed that multi-cellular organisms that have two halves that mirror each other came about in the pre-Cambrian period explosion of life (more than 500 M years ago). This idea was based on fossilized tracks. The thinking was that only a complex, bilateral form could leave those tracks. However, the new giant amoeba, called Gromia is unicellular and is capable of locomotion and leaves tracks very similar to those in the fossil record. The full article can be found here:

These findings reinforce that continued research is necessary to really understand evolution.

Marta Cervantes

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