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Re: The most important fossil discovery in 2004 (your opinions?)
In no particular order, important 2004 paleogeological discoveries:
1. oldest land animal known, or rather oldest "air-breathing" animal,
*Pneumodesmus newmani,* (a millipede from the Devonian) from Scotland.
2. fossil oldest orangutan, thus origins of pongids, and hominoids,
*Khoratpithecus piriyai* from the late Miocene of Thailand.
3. earliest known tyrannosauroid theropod dinosaur, *Dilong paradoxus,*
from the Early Cretaceous of Liaoning Province, China.
4. revision of the geological column and arrangement of nomenclature
revises ideas about ages and dates for some critical periods in the
Earth's history, including recognition of the Ediacaran and "abandonment"
of the terms Teriary and Pennsylvanian/Mississippian.
5. fossil "erectine" hominin, *Homo floresiensis,* as a possible
outlying relative (but not precursor) to most hominins, from Flores in
Indonesia, suggest insular drawfism in the human lineage prior to modern
examples. [People have countered this idea in suggesting it is a
microcephalic dwarf, and that of a subfossil *Homo sapiens* rather than
related to *Homo erectus.*]
6. *Mei long,* preserved in a sleeping pose, is a troodontid from China
(same area as *Dilong* above), and is termed the "sleeping dragon."
[People have pointed out that non-theropod dinosaurs like *Psittacosaurus*
and the other troodontid *Sinornithoides,* have also been preserved in
"sleeping" poses, and that it doesn't neccessarily follow the animal was
sleeping at the time.]
7. Rolando Gonzalex-Jose described a possible multi-variant episodic
exploration of the New World by Asian emmigrants, indicating the the
so-called Mongoloid exploration event is out and out not viable as the
only initial colonization event, so that following mammoths would have
been only ONE reason to come to the New World. Thus human existence in
North America was pulsating, not steady.
8. comparison of the human and Chimpanzee genome at Chromosome-21
suggests that human catabolism has been selected for, and in comparison
with the chimps, our lineage has undergone a selection event in which meat
was favored, supporting the idea that human ancestors were foraging and
hunting, rather than sitting back and munching on fruit and plants and
invertebrates, or "gardening."
If we want to get into the most ground-breaking scientific discoveries
of 2004, I would say the arrival at Saturn of the Cassini-Huygens probe
and the separation of Kuiper Belt objects into not main-system solar
objects, or planets, makes the list in a different placement, but adding
in physical discoveries and chemistry will be another project altogether
and one I'm not fully willing to explore.
In my opinion, however, whether human dwarfism or microcephalic
dwarfism, *Homo floresiensis* has by far more of an impact in Paleontology
than has had Dilong. The latter has had very little impact, even, in
dinosaurian paleontology, as Mei has elicited far more press and
conroversy on the subject of its existence than has *Dilong.*
Jaime A. Headden
Little steps are often the hardest to take. We are too used to making leaps
in the face of adversity, that a simple skip is so hard to do. We should all
learn to walk soft, walk small, see the world around us rather than zoom by it.
"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
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