Since Darwin's The Descent of Man was published in 1871, it has been the foundation of human evolutionary studies.
In their article in the 21 May 2021 issue of the journal Science, entitled "Modern theories of human evolution foreshadowed by Darwin’s Descent of Man" P. Richerson, S. Gavrilets, and F. de Waal review how modern studies of human biological and cultural evolution closely reflect the ideas in Darwin's work. How cooperation, social learning, and cumulative culture in the ancestors of modern humans were key to our evolution. They point out that Darwin's evolutionary perspective has come to permeate not just human biology but also the social sciences, vindicating his original insights.
Discovery of evidence of fingers in the fossilized bones of a 380 million-year-old lobe-finned fish. This is the first unequivocal discovery of fingers locked in a fin with fin-rays in any known fishe fossil as described in the 18 March 2020 issue of Nature. An ancient Elpistostege fish fossil found in Miguasha, Canada it has revealed new insights into how the human handevolved from fish fins. An international team of palaeontologists from Flinders University (Australia) and Universite du Quebec describe a fish specimen that has yielded the missing evolutionary link in the fish to tetrapod transition, as fish began toexplore habitats such as shallow water and land during the Late Devonian period.>> Read more
Fossil shows how whales evolved from walkers to swimmers The fossils of a possible whale ancestor that walked on land 50 million years ago is giving us new insights on how whales evolved into swimmers, according to findings published the April 2019 issue of Current Biology. The fossil was found in Peru, and researchers think it may have made its way from West Africa, indicating quadrupedal whales already could survive such a long journey at sea.
Cell-like chemically active droplets may contain clues about origins of life. Chemically active droplets that grow and divide like cells may have been key to the origins of life, according to a study published in the December 2016 issue of Nature Physics. Chemically active droplets can exhibit cycles of growth and division that resemble the proliferation of living cells. "It makes it more plausible that there could have been spontaneous emergence of life from nonliving soup," said study co-author Frank Julicher.
Discovery of five new species of tetrapod that lived between 360 million and 345 million years ago may help bridge the gap of 15 million years in the tetrapod fossil record and reveal more about how creatures moved from aquatic life to living on land. The new species plus seven other fragmentary fossils are described in a study published in the December 5th 2016 issue of Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Evidence that Evolution Trends Towards Increasing Body Size - A new study of the evolution of marine animals has found evidence that Cope's Rule, which hypothesizes that animal lineages evolve toward larger body size over time, is true. The researchers analyzed data that spaned over 500 million years and included more than 17,000 marine animal species. They found that body volumes had increased by over five orders of magnitude since the first animals evolved. Modeling also suggested that such a massive increase could not have emerged from neutral drift from a small initial value. Science 2015, 347, 867-870.
Fossilized 530 Myr Embryos Found in China - Fossilized embryos of a previously unknown creature have been found in southern China, dating back between 521 million and 541 million years, during the Cambrian period. It remains a mystery what these embryos would have grown up to become but some of the spheres had polygonal patterns that look similar to those seen on fossilized embryos from a Cambrian worm-like creature. "We found over 140 spherically shaped fossils, some of which include features that are reminiscent of division-stage embryos, essentially frozen in time," said University of Missouri researcher James Schiffbauer. See the full paper in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Paleontology.
Multicellular Life Present > 586 Million Years Ago - No fossils or trace fossils of multicellular bilaterian life have been reported from early in the Ediacaran era, though molecular clocks and biomarker studies indicate the possibility. Pecoits and colleagues report in the 6/29/2012 issue of Science on the discovery of the oldest bilaterian burrows in shallow-water glaciomarine sediments from the Tacuarķ Formation, Uruguay. These findings unite the paleontological and molecular data pertaining to the evolution of bilaterians. Read more .....
Synthetic Genetic Evolution of polymers, broadly referred to as XNAs, can replicate and evolve just like their naturally occurring counterparts DNA and RNA. According to a study in the April 19th 2012 issue of the journal Science, the results of the research have implications not only for the fields of biotechnology and drug design, but also for research into the origins of life---on this planet and beyond. This means that you don't need to have the ribose and deoxyribose backbones of RNA and DNA in order to have transmittable, heritable, and evolvable information. Read more....
Microscopic, sponge-like African fossils could be the earliest known animals--and possibly our earliest evolutionary ancestors. The creature, Otavia antiqua, was found in 760-million-year-old rock in Namibia and was as tiny as it may be important. From these tiny "sponges" sprang very big things, the authors suggest in an article appearing in the South African Journal of Science . As possibly the first muticellular animals, Otavia could well be the forerunner of dinosaurs, humans-basically everything we think of as "animal." Read more......
The Top Ten Daily Consequences of
Having Evolved - From
hiccups to wisdom teeth to
goosebumps, the evolution of homo
sapiens has left behind some
glaring, yet innately human,
imperfections. By Rob Dunn,
Smithsonian.com, November 19,
The "Cambrian Extinction" may not have happened according to the report in the May 13th 2010 issue of the journal Nature. A new fossil find in Morocco shows that the disappearance of Burgess Shale fossils is not due to an extinction event, but more likely reflects the absence of preservation of similar soft-bodied organisms in later periods. The discovery of diverse soft-bodied creatures provides a link between earlier communities and the latter "explosion of life".
Why Ray Comfort is wrong - On November 11th, 2009, Ray Comfort, an evolution denier, distributed copies of Darwin's first book on college campuses, with an introduction written by him making a long list of bizarre claims about Darwin and evolution. Help fight this mis-information by printing out this one sheet rebuttal and distributing it where needed.
A Does evolution go in reverse? Since the late 19th century, biologists have debated if evolution can go in reverse. If not, then evolution may depend on more than natural selection. Multiple evolutionary paths could be possible through small chance events. Previous studies have focused on complex traits such as whale flippers, and scientists often lack sufficient information about ancestral traits or how present-day traits evolved. Scientists now have evidence that evolution doesn't make U-turns, simply reversing selective pressure won't make a biomolecule revert to an earlier form.... see ScienceNOW Daily News 23 Sep 2009
A 47-million-year-old primate fossil that is a missing link, promises to shed new light on the earliest stages of evolution of the lineage that eventually led to humans. The unprecedented fossil of a lemur-like creature that probably weighed no more than 2 pounds when it was fully grown is remarkable because it is the most complete primate specimen ever obtained. The article describing the find can be seen at in the 19 May 2009 issue of PLoS