Ugly Fossils to Flying Rocks
A trove of ancient sea spider fossils is breaking scientific news. Sea spiders are a sea going relative of land spiders, a distant relative I might add. One is pictured above, I know we are all God’s perfect creations, but still, that is one ugly looking critter in my opinion. This is why I never go wading at the beach. The new fossils from France fill a big gap in the fossil record, and increase our understanding of how this odd creature evolved.
In other fossil news, a new type of dinosaur has been identified in China by a crack team of Chinese and Japanese scientists. Nice to see the Chinese and Japanese working together instead of trading allegations about who did what to whom last century. The bones were actually found in 2000 during freeway construction in China, but until now the incomplete specimen remained unidentified. It’s a new kind of nodosaur, which was called the ankylosaur when I was a kid. Sometimes I think scientists change names just to confuse people, I still miss the Brontosaurus. At least they didn’t change Pluto’s name when it was demoted to non planet status.
Fossil life from an ancient deep sea bed gives credence to the idea that life may have originated by deep sea hydrothermal vent communities, and not in warm shallow seas as most think. Basically this is some of the oldest fossil slime ever discovered. Even I have a hard time getting excited about fossil slime. Hell, even non-fossil slime holds little interest for me. This is why I am a blogger and not a slime researcher. This slime shows that there was life on Earth at least 3.5 billion years ago, about a billion years after Earth was created. It’s becoming clearer all the time that life appeared on Earth almost as soon as there were conditions suitable for it. I leave the philosophical implications of that to my esteemed readers.
Speaking of philosophical implications, scientists have conjectured that the rock that wiped out the dinosaurs was the result of a collision between two large asteroids about 100 million years earlier. Apparently there was a collision between an asteroid 170 kms (105 miles) across and a smaller asteroid 60 kms (37 miles) across. This collision literally sent hundreds of huge rocks into unstable orbits that eventually showered the inner solar system creating many of the large fine craters we see on the Moon, Mars, and Venus today. It’s an interesting theory, and we will see if it pans out, it explains why the rate of crater formation in the solar increased starting about 140-190 million years ago.
Oddly enough, this means that the entire time the dinosaurs were evolving and living, a period of tens of millions of years…their fate was already sealed. The rock with their name on it was circling inexorably closer to that horrible day when life as they knew it came to a bright and terrible end. Kinda makes one wonder, is the asteroid with our names on it out there still circling ever closer? Are all the hopes and dreams of every human who ever lived or ever will live pointless because of a random collision between two flying mountains that happened while our ancestors were little rat-like critters hiding in the scrub a hundred million dawns ago?
(The above image of a Sea Spider is believed to be a product of US government research and thus is public domain under US copyright law. Credit: NOAA, Child, 1987.)