Welcome to my Metazoic site! This site discusses the existence of the creatures to come along after humans will be extinct. I first became interested in a world after man when I acquired my first copy of Dougal Dixon's After Man: A Zoology of the Future in 1992. However, I unwittingly created creatures that did not exist from the time I was about 8 years old. But it was after I obtained a copy of that book (now a collector's item) that I decided to take these same creatures I created as a child and make them more realistic in an evolutionary sense. Though it may be hard for a lot of us to grasp, humans will soon become extinct. One of the biggest factors of how this will happen is the current overpopulation rate. Which is why I don't contribute to the population. I created this world with little more than mammals fulfilling all ecological niches with the help of some friends. I even gave the era of the age after man a name, I called it the Metazoic, derived from the words for "After-era" (Meta, meaning after, and zoic meaning era). We are now in the Cenozoic era. To view all the animals I have created since I began this project, you can go to the "Meet the Mammals" section of this site. To discuss your own ideas about what you think will happen in the future world, and share your ideas with others, please feel free to leave a comment.
One more thing, some of you may find this site quite offensive, and you have a right to your own opinion. But please respect my right to have an opinion too. I'm not saying there is no GOD, I believe it was HIM who got the ball rolling. But I believe after that, evolution took over. There is so much more evidence of evolution than there is of creation. Even that going on right under our noses. Other than that, enjoy yourself and visit our many links.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Lizards Evolved Quickly to Avoid Death by Ants
Emily Sohn, Discovery News
Jan. 28, 2009 -- It takes some effort for fire ants to get under the hard scales of an unsuspecting lizard. When the insects finally penetrate the reptile's fleshy core, the attackers inject a toxin that paralyzes their victim. Then, they tear the lizard to pieces, which they carry back to their nest.
Twelve fire ants can kill a 3-inch lizard in a single minute.
It's an unpleasant way to die, and one that at least one species of lizard is rapidly evolving to avoid. In just 70 years, according to a new study, eastern fence lizards in parts of the United States have developed longer hind limbs and new behaviors that help them escape the clutches of the venomous ants.
The study is one example of how quickly and profoundly an invasive species can shape the way native populations look and act, said Pennsylvania State University ecologist Tracy Langkilde. She's the author of the new study, which might also help wildlife managers better deal with arrival of an aggressive invader.
Eastern fence lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) live throughout the southeastern United States, a region that was free of fire ants not long ago. Then, starting about 70 years ago, ant colonies started moving in from South America.
Fire ants are such big pests to farms, gardens and people that residents are usually quick to report when the ants first arrive in their area. As a result, Langkilde was able to get records of exactly when ants first showed up in different places.
For her experiments, Langkilde collected lizards from four sites in Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama. One site was still free of fire ants. The others were invaded 23, 54 and 68 years ago. From each site, she grabbed 20 males and 20 females.
Langkilde convinced each lizard to scurry onto a fire ant mound by tapping its tail. Then she dragged a stick across the mound to get a few ants to come out and see what was happening. The stick-dragging method draws out about seven ants, she said -- enough to get a reaction out of the lizard but not enough to kill it. Langkilde then sat, watched, and recorded everything that happened next.
Lizards do one of two things in the event of a fire ant attack. Either they twitch and shake to fling the bugs off before running away. Or they sit still and hope the ants will leave them alone. The first strategy is far more effective than the second, which usually leads to death.
Results showed that, the longer a lizard population had been exposed to fire ants, the more likely the reptiles were to twitch and flee. Only half of the lizards from the uninvaded site reacted this way, compared with 80 percent of lizards from the site where ants had lived the longest. Lizards from groups with more ant experience also had longer hind legs, which Langkilde suspects, help the lizards scurry away more quickly.
"Individuals that have survived ant attacks probably passed on their genes for doing that behavior," said Laurie Vitt, a zoologist at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. "Lizards that stood there like idiots were killed by ants and didn't pass on their genes. It's as simple as that."
Invasive species are causing problems worldwide. But Langkilde said her study shows that, at least in some cases, creatures can quickly adapt to coexist, even when one species is capable of ripping the other to shreds.
For example, what makes an animal streamlined for running? The fastest animals have developed hooves for running. So I applied this concept to several species, and even to some predators. The deer-like Deinognathids are prime examples of having streamlined legs for being able to capture their prey. They are also equipped with jaws so powerful, it would make a crocodile feel envious!!! Their jaws are their primary weapons (hense the collective family name "Deinognathids" which mean "terrible jaws"). The teeth are well developed for grasping onto prey. But we will look further into the family when I get to them for Family of the Week. But they would be great examples of mammals that combine speed and agility with predatory precision. If we could see one of these animals running today, we would see they run with the very same spring in their step that we see in modern deer and antelope, rather than the slow, lumbering, swaying motions seen in modern felines.
Another thing that seems to stump everyone is why my gliding lemurs have developed ribbed gliding membranes rather than the typical sugar-glider style membranes. Well, again, it's streamlining. Sugar gliders, flying lemurs, and flying squirrels have this feature, and by consequence are not very fast climbers. Nothing like their relatives are anyway. The gliding lemurs of the Metazoic have eliminated the extensive gliding membrane for a set of wing-like projections from the ribs that fold back when the animal is climbing. Therefore giving them better and faster gliding power, and still be able to glide over long distances, even though their gliding membrane is rather small. In short, these animals climb much faster than the animals that have extensive gliding membranes, like sugar gliders, because their arms and legs are more free and flexible.
Another thing I get asked a lot is why do I have bats that have only one finger in the wings, ie, the Monodactylopterids. Again, it's all about streamlining. Look at modern sea birds, like gulls, albatross and terns. Their wings are very streamlined compared to say how a sparrow or robin or even an eagle's wings are built. Because these birds basically are built to ride the oceanic wind currents. So are the Monodactylopterid bats of the Metazoic. Most of these species are ocean-dwellers, and built to ride the wind currents. Though I still have some Metazoic Pteropods that have all 4 fingers in their wings and do indeed inhabit the oceans, the process of improvement allows for the Monodactylopterids to lose 3 of the 4 fingers in the wing, and move on to a more streamlined 1-fingered wing, making them considerably faster and better capable of navigating from continent to continent by using the wind currents to their advantage. And yes, the Monodactylopterids did evolve from the Pteropods.
Well, I hope this helps others understand a little bit about the World after humans that I have created. Though the animals may seem strange, they are not impossible.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Ancestor For All Animals Identified
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Jan. 27, 2009 -- A sperm-looking creature called monosiga is the closest living surrogate to the ancestor of all animals, according to new research that also determined animal evolution may not always follow a trajectory from simple to complex.
Yet another find of the study, published in the latest PLoS Biology, is that Earth may have given rise to two distinct groups of animals: bilaterians -- animals with bilateral symmetry, like humans -- and non-bilaterians, which include corals, jelly fish, hydra, unusual, often poisonous, creatures known as cubozoans, and other organisms.
Free-living, unicellular organisms called choanoflagellates, however, could be on every person's family tree, so long as it was a gigantic one.
"It is clear that the choanoflagellates -- living representative is monosiga -- are the best candidate for the nearest relative of animals," co-author Rob DeSalle told Discovery News.
"So a choanoflagellate-like organism could be looked at as a probable common ancestor for animals," added DeSalle, curator at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History.
He and his colleagues compiled data from multiple gene sequences derived from many sources to find over 9,400 variable characters that contain parsimony information, which collectively refers to the shared, derived traits that help biologists infer species relationships on the tree of life.
They determined that so-called "simple" and "lower" tier animals, such as corals and jellyfish, evolved in parallel to "higher" animals, like seemingly more complex insects and even humans. On the tree of life, monosiga then currently holds the root position for the latter group.
The new research completely shakes up the non-bilaterian animal ordering. Previously it was thought that either super simple-structured or comb jellies were at the root of the non-bilaterian animal tree. Instead, complete outsiders -- placozoans -- have been placed in that basal position.
First discovered gliding along glass in laboratory aquariums just over 100 years ago, placozoans are animals that lack a nervous system and possess four types of body cells.
DeSalle explained that, "placozoa, because of their simple body plans and their position in our tree, are a good candidate for the common ancestor of non-bilaterian animals."
Although non-bilaterians and bilaterians appear to have followed separate evolutionary paths, nervous systems appear in both groups. Placozoans and sponges don't possess them, but many of their closely related taxa do.
"So this means that if our work is right, nervous systems evolved twice: Once in the lineage leading to bilateria and once in the lineage leading to corals, jelly fish, hydra and cubozoa," he said.
Neil Blackstone, professor of ecology and evolution at Northern Illinois University, told Discovery News, "There is no doubt that Rob and his colleagues are leaders in the study of evolutionary relationships among animals."
Blackstone agreed that, "evolution need not be progressive. Perhaps there are two fundamentally different kinds of animals."
He added, "This makes the early history and evolution of animals more, not less, interesting."
Monday, January 26, 2009
The largest of these animals is Lepiteles, with an average height of 10 feet tall when standing on it's hind legs. They can be very vicious adversaries for oncoming attackers. The ears are also among the largest in the family. But it is their claws that makes these animals formidable. The body is covered with scales, except for the belly, all the way to the end of the tail, and the head. The eyes are large and the eyesight is very good. This is one of several species in this family that will seek out and eat carrion. In consequence the sense of smell is better in this species than in any other member of this family. They use their size and claws to take over and chase away smaller scavengers. The hind feet have only 3 toes on each foot. But all toes are tipped with sharp, curved claws. They are not fast runners.
The smallest species in the family are in Pholidiculus, most of these species are actually very rabbit-like. These animals also have some of the most colorful scales in the family. They were the first species to reach the New World from Asia. Like their relatives in the Old World, these animals walk bipedally. But unlike their Old World relatives, these animals often walk on all fours as well. The sides of the animal is covered with scales, but the back, the belly, the head and neck and the tail have no scales. The largest species in Pholidiculus stands about 5 feet tall on it's hind legs. The diet of this species is comprised of mostly invertebrates. Though they are mostly plains dwellers, some species have adapted to life in the dense forests.
I have been considering separating this family into 2 sub-families. The Sogariinae with the New World species, and the Lepitelinae with the Old World species. But I haven't worked on much of the differences yet. Though thanks to one of my posters on this blog I considered making these animals more bipedal than the hare-like animals I originally came up with. Though again the face and ears are still rather hare-like.
These animals, due to them being such formidable adversaries, have few predators. In the Metazoic, all but the boldest of predators will not confront these animals. The scaly hares have sharp, curved claws on all feet, and can use either their front or back feet claws for protection. The hind feet are generally used if a predator manages to flip the animal over, as well as the forelimbs. Though the forelimbs are also used in the initial meeting with an attacking predator. The scales add extra armor to their bodies. The scales are made of much the same material as our fingernails and are very tough and impenetrable. Though that does not stop some predators that can very well place a killing bite. The deinognathids, mongooses, some predatory lemurs, snakes, hunting pteropods, and some predatory squirrels are capable of taking these animals on. Though for most animals it is rare to be able to bring these animals down.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Anyway, enjoy the videos! And keep your eyes and ears tuned here for further updates about Metazoica.
Here's a video about the evolution of the Earth it's self:
Interesting about the end of the continental drift, in my timeline on my website, I predicted that very thing! Imagine the continents colliding back together again! LOL! Would the mammals that lived apart for so many eons be able to compete with each other?
Here's how modern animals came to be:
This video also explains how we evolved from small bacteria and viruses and stuff. Though it does not specifically mention viruses, they were actually the first living animals.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I was running out of room for my links to different pages on my site so I decided instead of putting them on the top of the page under the official logo, to run them down the left side of the page all in a line. It looks neater and easier to find the links you want. This is the way it's going to be from now on. Now, I have plenty of room for more links should I decide to add more features to the site. I even put a time/date stamp at the top of the page, just because. And I also added a "presence" icon so people will be able to see when I am online with my site. I am thinking of getting back on Y! IM. That way anyone else who gets on my site can send me a page that way. I was also thinking of adding a Skype link but I don't know. I don't want to do chat with my webcam!! Who wants to see my fat, ugly puss anyway!! LOL!
Once I get the Y! chat program, I might even put a link here on this blog. But anyway, enjoy the new look of the home page! And don't hesitate to take advantage of our newest features!
Friday, January 23, 2009
I also have someone who is going to do a biome map for my website and I will be putting that up once it is completed. I'm not sure about how to predict biomes, but I gave it a shot, and I think I gave him enough info that it can be done somewhat effectively. I don't know if my ideas were detailed enough, I was constantly distracted as I was writing the e-mail.
Anyway, enjoy the new size-chart!!
You know what's amazing? How much the future evolutionists on the SE forum are so against my mammals being the next rulers of the Earth, and in the poll to the right of this page it seems birds and mammals get all the votes. Keep voting folks! It will be up for a whole year.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Anyway, to view the page, you can go to the "Meet the Mammals" page, and then click on "Pentadactyls" and then "Old World Monkeys". Or take the short cut: http://www.metazoica.com/OldWorldMonkeys.html
Well, I don't have many ideas for herps, but these are what I have so far. The page is not going to be like what I got for the mammals, as I want to cover mostly the mammals on this site. But I do have pics and descriptions about the herps I do have so far. I will not promise more will ever be added, but I can say I will work on some more some time down the road. The page can be accessed on my Home page at metazoica.com. Or, you can take the short cut here: http://www.metazoica.com/herps.html
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
That's quite an accomplishment for one night. I think next I shall do some work for my herps page. I've thought of a few species to display, though regrettably not much. This anonymous e-mailer I've been working with gave me an idea for a vegetarian crocodile. I think it would be a great addition! Apparently some crocodilians have learned to eat vegetation in the form of fallen fruits. It would work in like say a remote island where no large, herbivorous mammals are. I am also trying out his idea for a flag-crocodile. I like it. I also have some snakes I will be displaying, like a 50-foot long anaconda of southern South America. I also have an enormous tortoise from the Chilean mountains. I also made the nile crocodile into a flippered species found exclusively in the channel between the African mainland and Lemuria. What I call the Nile Channel. Might as well call it that! It's already the Nile River today! I am trying to think of ways to make my flippered crocodile different from those of others. Apparently I am not the only one who had that idea!! I think I got an idea too. You will be able to see it once I put it up on my site.
Well, I've already begun work on some of these ideas and I don't really know when I will be putting it up. I hope to have it up this week though. I will of course be making an announcement on this blog when I do get it up. I know some people have been itching to see some Metazoic herps, so I will be working on those next. Now that I am on a roll, I guess I will be pumping out ideas and more drawings fast. Maybe even have this project halfway done by next Monday! LOL! Well, not really. But I will have a whole weekend of nothing else to do so I might as well use that time wisely. My sis Anna has a test on Monday and she will be using this weekend to study for it. So I will have really nothing else to do. Knowing now how many supporters I have, it encourages me to keep going too! So I don't want to disappoint them. After I finish the herps, well, I guess it's back to mammals until I can think of another page I need to do. I got birds, I will have reptiles/amphibians, maybe do a page for fish some time in the future. I dunno though. Fish are hard! My knowledge of fish is rather basic. It's enough to work well in a tropical fish shop, but not enough to predict where their evolutionary paths are going.
Well anyway, keep checking for more updates!
Anyway, the cladograms are up! I cannot thank this anonymous person enough for creating them. I e-mailed asking who I should give credit to, because I don't know. I don't want to take credit for them myself. I don't want visitors to my site thinking I did them, when I didn't. Something as awesome as these clads I should give credit where it's due. But so far, I haven't heard anything. So until I do, I just put at the base "Cladograms by anonymous". But anyway I wanted to personally thank this person and announce that they are up. You can access them on the home page, or you can just click on this short cut http://metazoica.com/cladogram.html.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Well anyway, here is the list:
Monday, January 19, 2009
- Bipedal animals are more energy efficient than quadrupedal ones.
- Being bipedal frees up the hands for a myriad of uses, whether it be for catching fish, striking prey, or climbing trees.
- History has proven that animals, once bipedal, tend to be adaptable...just look at dinosaurs, macropod kangaroos, leptictids, pseudorhynco...whatevers, and hominids
- Bipedal animals can rear up and browse on vegetation out of reach of their same sized but quadrupedal contemporaries
- Bipedal animals can look over underbrush or tall grass and spot predators and/or prey
Speaking of my early bipeds, I completed another size-chart, the therapeds. Go to our site's Size-Chart page and click on the Therapedidae. It's 2 pages long.
"He talks out of his mouth AND his ass, which is his mouth, since he is a deuterostome."
In case you didn't know, a deuterostome is a creature who eats and excretes feces out their mouth. Like starfish. JohnFaa is apparently no better. This e-mailer told me some things about Mr. Faa that I had no idea was so! And scary things I might add. But he says that those two are the main reason he refuses to join the SE forum. I am even thinking of taking the link off this blog because they act so childish there. I sure do hope Proletarian takes my advice and finds a good woman and gets married. But then again, maybe he has tried and his attitude has made girls only want to stay away from him. So he'll always be living in his parent's home, eating potato chips, scratching his behind, and sitting in front of the TV playing video games and throwing the F-bomb at everyone on his forum who will not steer to his opinions. I really feel sorry for him!
Apparently JohnFaa is as big a hypocrite as Proletarian is. Probably will always have the same path in life, just sit in front of his TV set, playing video games, munching on frioles and scratching his behind! I feel sorry for him too.
You know, I really like this anonymous poster. You know why? And I hope Proletarian and JohnFaa are reading! First of all, I like how he approached me. He doesn't cuss (assuming the person is a he) and he says things in a way that he doesn't bash or sound like an idiot! Something Proletarian and JohnFaa should learn about. This e-mailer is very convincing because of that. He made me see that I needed to change my harsh attitude. None of my other friends ever told me that! That's another thing I like about this e-mailer, he's very upfront and honest. And you know how convincing he is? NOBODY has EVER been able to convince me to add felines to my Metazoic project, and I mean N-O-B-O-D-Y!!!! In the 17 or so years I've been working on this project! I always stood pretty firm on that. But this person was able to talk me into it first of all again, by NOT bashing my project or sounding like an idiot. Second, by finding a way to integrate them into the era so they are taken over by Deinognathids, a group I refused to give up because I wanted a World dominated by mammals. It's all about finesse. If you have none, you won't get through. So now I am working on my site and making the animals much more believable.
To view these pages, go to the Metazoic Mammal Size Chart book on my site and scroll down to the Pteropodidae. There you can click and go to the pages that covers these species. There are 3 pages.
Also another update, Phobocebus in the ape family is now known as Castosarchus. I like that name better, and it doesn't take away too much from Dixon's book After Man.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The eared sea monkeys are the predecessors of the earless sea monkeys, and as you will notice they have large flippers, small ears and diamond-shaped tails. Unlike the streamlined earless sea monkeys. Eared sea monkeys are slower swimmers and rely more on stealth to capture prey. Some even take prey from the land. To view their page, go here: http://www.metazoica.com/eared.html
With the completion of these 2 groups, my Pentadactyls page is almost done.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
BTW, before I get started posting this article up, I wanted to let everyone know there has been some updates to the site, a couple more size-charts have been posted, the browsing squirrels and the armadillos. Enjoy them!
Mars to NASA: Forget Water, Follow the Methane
Irene Klotz, Discovery News
Jan. 16, 2008 -- For years, NASA has been diligently following the footsteps of water on Mars to try to figure out how the planet transformed from a warm and ocean-rich world to the cold and dry desert it is today. Now scientists have another trail to follow, one that could prove to be a more direct path to answering one of the most enduring and tantalizing questions of all time: Is Earth the only place with life?
The shift in strategy is being triggered by the realization that at least three distinct locations on Mars are venting methane on an ongoing basis.
The source could be an exhaled breath of microbial life, or a chemical reaction of water on rock. But even a geologic origin of the gas has implications for life; methane, on Earth anyway, serves as a food source for some colonies of microbes that live underground.
"Either way, I think we simply have to accept the fact that while we are currently developing a strategy to search primarily for ancient life during a wetter phase of Mars, we actually also need to think in terms of present-day Mars life still holding on somewhere in the subsurface," said Lisa Pratt, a geobiologist at Indiana University.
The first step of a revamped Mars exploration program would be a planet-wide map of the methane releases over time, said Michael Mumma, a NASA scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of the paper in this week's Science magazine that details the methane discoveries.
"We need a way to identify where all the active vents are, to quantify their principal gases, to identify which might be dominated by biology and which might be dominated by geochemistry, and then ... establish which are repeated year after year," Mumma said.
"That permits you to decide that this particular site is where you really want to go," he added.
No existing spacecraft -- and none currently planned -- can produce detailed maps of Mars methane, but NASA's decision to postpone the launch of a sophisticated lander, a delay due to technical reasons, may turn out to be a fortuitous coincidence.
One of the potential landing sites for the Mars Science Laboratory is where Mumma's team found a methane plume. MSL, now slated for liftoff in 2011, has instruments that can detect and analyze extremely small concentrations of methane, improving the prospects that scientists will be able to tell if the gas came from living organisms.
The site, known as Nili Fossae, had been eliminated due to concerns the terrain was too risky for landing, but is now back under consideration in light of the methane discovery and the extra time for engineers to find ways to mitigate landing risks.
"We now have two more years to look at this. Adding more potential landing sites is certainly within the cards, and also we'll have a better idea of what really is the landing capability of MSL. So Nili Fossae is not ruled out," said Michael Meyer, the Mars program lead scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Scientists will also return to their laboratories and reanalyze years of data collected about Mars in light of the new discovery.
"We may reconsider the suite of minerals that are likely to occur and be detected," Pratt said. "We have missed some candidates simply because we didn't think they were likely."
Friday, January 16, 2009
Singing Began in Fish, Perfected by Birds
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Jan. 16, 2009 -- Fish aren't known for their impressive singing ability, although some can grunt and hum, yet singing originated in lungfish, according to new research that also determined how songbirds consistently produce melodious, sweet tunes.
In the future, the findings may lead to better human singing, as well as improved treatments for speech impediments, since humans and birds sing using similar techniques.
"Babies go through several phases of learning before they fully speak -- like babbling, one word, two words, etc. -- and so do songbirds," co-author Tobias Riede told Discovery News.
Riede, a researcher at the National Center for Voice and Speech, explained that young songbirds also "babble," producing sub-songs, before they create more varied "plastic" songs and then graduate to bird crooning perfection with their adult songs.
"Both babies and songbird chicks need a tutor or they don't pick up the adult version," he added. "Part of that learning is exercising motor patterns."
Riede and colleague Roderick Suthers focused on one such motor pattern, articulation, to explore the origins of singing and how birds, in particular, make their sounds.
They placed white-throated sparrows in an X-ray machine at Indiana University and watched the inside of each bird's throat area as it sang. The sparrow's song is often described by birdwatchers as, "Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada," since it resembles a few notes in the Canadian national anthem.
It's a rather monotonous bird song, however, which is why the scientists chose to study this avian species. The researchers previously conducted a similar study on northern cardinals, which sing a much more complex-sounding ditty.
The X-rays showed that, for both types of birds, sound is produced in the syrinx, their voice box, and is then modified by the upper vocal tract and beak movements. Air volume adjustments in the vocal tract region, along with throat vibrations in sync with the fundamental frequency, or pitch, of each note, appear to be key to bird singing perfection.
The findings have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Comparative Physiology.
"The shape and size of the (throat resonance) cavity determines the acoustics," said Riede. "A large cavity supports lower frequencies and a smaller cavity supports the higher frequencies. The bird who sings through high and low notes has to constantly adjust its vocal tract cavity."
Suthers added that the coordination also increases song volume.
"This might give males an advantage in attracting females and defending territory," Suthers explained.
Since white-throated sparrows share the process with northern cardinals, it's now believed that the singing technique is widespread in all songbirds, whether they produce fast, slow, complicated, or simple songs.
The scientists additionally now believe that beak and throat movements in birds, as well as mouth, tongue and lower jaw motions in humans, originated in fish.
"The pattern started to evolve when lungfishes started to gulp and swallow air," he explained.
In other singing news, University of Miami researchers Bill Searcy and Adrienne DuBois recently discovered that male songbirds, such as the swamp sparrow, can escalate their vocal performance by increasing the frequency range and speed of their songs.
Similar to human contestants on shows like "American Idol," songbirds can exceed their expected potential in the heat of competition.
"Even in the case of signals whose properties are physically constrained to reflect an individual's abilities, animals exaggerate their signals as much as they can during critical situations," Searcy said.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I am thinking of putting the upcoming cladogram on this page for the Afrotheres (descendants of elephant shrews). But here is what I have on it so far. Check it out! http://metazoica.com/trelatebrates.html
Well anyway, it was a good show! It was on NG Explorer. I always knew viruses were animals, little single-celled animals, but to think that it could have been viruses that made us what we are today, just by taking over the DNA in other animals before our species. That is why chimps have almost all our DNA and no other animal comes that close. There are even some chimps that can walk upright. I remember hearing of a chimp named Oliver, and he always walked upright, never on his knuckles like other chimps. That could have been caused by a virus invading the sperm cell that eventually became him, altering the DNA that would have told him to walk on his knuckles like other chimps, to instead walk on his hind feet like we do. Humans as a species, could have been affected the same way early in our development. Then those dominant genes could have mixed together with other dominant genes in the opposite sex to create a species that walks solely on their feet instead of using the hands and feet. So with viruses invading genes and doing a little bit of natural alterations, nothing in evolution is impossible. Only the things that would make it impossible for a species to survive, like an animal with only one eye or an animal born with no nose.
So these researchers traced the path between viruses and how they developed humans. That's cool!! To say the least! Another way I've found viruses most fascinating!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Any way you look at it, deer are rather large animals, though there are some small, shy animals even during the Metazoic. The largest deer of this time period is Megaladama. This deer stands 11 feet tall, with antlers that spread over 7 feet wide. In today's World, the moose is the largest deer, but it only stands about half as tall as Megaladama. This deer is a plains-dweller that lives alone or in small family groups. The males aggressively defend the females and young. The deer with the largest set of antlers is actually Spoudaioceros, which are as long in proportion to it's body size as the antlers of the prehistoric Irish elk (Megaloceros). They too are plains dwellers, except when the males shed their antlers, and are capable of retreating to the forests.
The smallest deer belong in the genus Damalia. It is tiny animals like these that kept the deer family alive in the Metazoic. These small deer are about the size of a miniature poodle. Though for the most part these are plains-dwellers, they also dwell in forested areas. They live in couples, and raise the young together in tree hollows, under bushes or even in abandoned burrows. Damalia is a shy animal that only comes out occasionally when they are sure there is no predator disturbance. Though they are alert, they are not always good at predicting when predators are not around. Like all deer in the Metazoic, they use all their senses when spotting predators, but the sense of smell is useless. Their most valuable senses are the sight and hearing. Though sight does little good in the forests.
The greatest predators of these animals are any of the various carnivorous animals around during this time period. Especially though the Deinognathids, large mongooses and Vulpemustelids like Phobogula. Sometimes foxes will even take them, some species like Velocitherium are specially designed to chase down and kill such animals as deer. Other hunting foxes like Dendrocynus may also take them as well. Carnivorous pentadactyls may also take the young of most deer species, but rarely, if ever, would take on a large adult. Though they might prey on a species like Damalia. Another threat comes from predatory bats, like Pterdraco and Emsordeus. These predatory bats literally "rain" death on these deer, especially the smaller species.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Earliest Feathers for Show, Not Flight
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Jan. 12, 2009 -- The world's first feathers probably had nothing to do with flight or staying warm but were instead for showy display purposes, according to a new study that documents the most primitive known version of feathers, which were found on a Chinese dinosaur.
The dinosaur, Beipiaosaurus, sported the likely colorful feathers on its limbs, trunk, tail, head and neck, with the neck feathers resembling a lion's mane.
Paleontologists now believe feathers evolved very early in archosaurs, the group that included dinosaurs, pterosaurs and relatives of crocodiles, in addition to today's modern birds, crocodiles and alligators.
"Our analysis suggests that feathers might have a much longer history than previously thought," lead author Xing Xu told Discovery News.
"The first feathers might have appeared in the fossil record in the Middle Triassic about 235 million years ago," said Xu, a paleontologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
Xu and colleagues Xiaoting Zheng and Hailu You studied the remains of the Chinese dinosaur, which was excavated at the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Jianchang, western Liaoning. They noticed two types of feathers on the specimen: short, thread-like structures, and longer, stiff, broader ones that represent the rudimentary feathers, according to the study.
Both types are described in a paper published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Similar structures have been found on Psittacosaurus, or "Parrot Lizard," as well as some pterosaurs. The researchers therefore suspect the common ancestor of these creatures -- along with Beipiaosaurus, which lived 125 million years ago -- had the early feathers too.
Previously documented feathers on dinosaurs were described as having multiple filaments, or many fluff-creating strands. The feathers on the recently documented Chinese dinosaur, however, are believed to represent a much more primitive stage, since the feathers consist of just a single broad filament, but have a different structure than hair.
The morphology and distribution of these early feathers rule out use for flight and helping to keep the dinosaur warm, but instead suggest they were flashed during displays, perhaps for mating, identification and competition purposes.
"Most previous studies suggest that insulation might have been the primary function for the first feathers, but our discovery supports that display represents one of the earliest functions for feathers," Xu said, adding that "flight function appears very late in feather evolution."
The discovery negates the prior theory that feathers and flight co-evolved. It instead indicates pterosaurs, birds and other fliers recruited already existing feathers for flight.
Xu and her colleagues aren't certain how feathers came into being in the first place, but they suspect that at some point, an animal's skin developed epidermal tissue that gave rise to the thin, tubular protrusions. Members of the opposite sex must have liked what they saw in displays, since the trait stuck and flourished. An average bird today has over 20,000 feathers.
Cheng-Ming Chuong and his team from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California foreshadowed the recent discovery. Their studies on chickens predicted what these first, more basic, feathers would've looked like.
"Just like Rome, feathers are not made in one process," Chuong said, hinting that a long and colorful history for feathers would likely emerge as more findings, such as the new discovery on Beipiaosaurus, come to light.
He added, "While Darwin's theory has explained the 'why' of evolution, much of the 'how' remains to be learned. Evo-Devo (evolution of development) research promises a new level of understanding."
The remains of the flashy, primitive-feathered Chinese dinosaur are now housed at the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature in China.
Fruit Flies Put Evolution in Reverse
Jan. 12, 2009 -- If you could put an animal in a time machine and send it back to live in the distant past, would its DNA evolve in reverse, returning to the genetic code of its ancestors?
The intriguing idea has been tested by scientists in Portugal and the United States, using the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) as the animal, and a laboratory to recreate the conditions of the past.
Modern-day fruit flies are the distant descendants of an original group that had been harvested in the wild back in 1975.
Over the following decades, 500 generations of flies grew up in different environments.
Different groups of insects were starved, exposed to greater humidity and so on in various experiments, and as a result developed specific characteristics, molded by these conditions.
Henrique Teotonio and colleagues put these various populations back into the ancestral environment and let them reproduce for another 50 generations.
They then took a close look at a telltale stretch of DNA, on Chromosome 3, to see whether "reverse evolution" had taken place.
The answer: Yes, it had, but only up to a point.
Once the flies had adapted comfortably to their new environment, the backwards-winding clock of evolution came to a halt, according to their paper, published on Sunday in the journal Nature Genetics.
"Reverse evolution seems to stop when the populations of flies achieve adaptation to the ancestral environment, which may not coincide with the ancestral [genetic] state," said Teotonio.
"On average, only half of the gene frequencies revert to the ancestral gene frequencies. Evolution is contingent upon history at the genetic level, too."
The work also suggests evolution is rather more complex and less linear than is generally thought, Teotonio said.
For one thing, it shows that species can evolve from generation to generation by reshuffling variant forms of a gene, rather than introducing new mutations of it, he said.
Tasmanian Tiger's Mysterious Die-Off Explained
Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Jan. 12, 2009 -- Until recently, little was known about the mysterious Tasmanian tiger, but new DNA sequences of the dog-like marsupial shed light on the striped creature's surprising family tree and its extinction 73 years ago.
Researchers now believe the Tasmanian tiger, also called the thylacine, went extinct in 1936 after the death of the last known surviving individual at a Tasmanian zoo, and four decades after genetic diversity within the species dropped to a critically dangerous low.
It's thought that the thylacine's path to extinction, however, began much earlier.
"Thylacines were eliminated from mainland Australia around 3,000 years ago, perhaps because of competition from dingos, so the extinction process started that early," said Webb Miller, who led the new study, which is published online in Genome Research.
"Between 1803, when Tasmania was settled by Europeans, and the 1930s, pressure was put on thylacines, including bounties, because of supposed predation of sheep," added Miller, a Penn State biology professor. "Apparently a disease epidemic swept through the thylacine population around 1900 to 1910, which didn't do them any good, but it is difficult to say how much, if any, that affected their extinction."
Miller and his team used state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology to analyze the hair of two preserved specimens: a female thylacine that died at the London Zoo in 1893, and a male brought to the National Zoo in 1902 that died three years later.
Although the two thylacines were continents apart, their mitochondrial DNA -- a portion of the genome passed on via the maternal line -- was nearly identical, illustrating the species' ultra-low genetic diversity around the turn of the 20th century.
The DNA analysis also determined that, despite the fact that the thylacine resembled a cross between a dog and a tiger, it was a marsupial closely related to striped insect-eaters called numbats, and more distantly to kangaroos and koalas.
The "museomics" process is so detailed that the scientists could even identify microbes, viruses and other organisms present on the remains of the two thylacines, one of which had been dried by a taxidermist, the other stored in ethanol.
Oliver Ryder, associate director of genetics at San Diego Zoo Conservation Research, told Discovery News that the study "is a remarkable accomplishment."
"The prospect that comparison of mitochondrial sequences of ancient DNA samples could provide information useful for understanding the process of extinction ... can be immediately applied to currently endangered species," he added.
One such endangered species is the Tasmanian devil, currently threatened by dangerously low genetic diversity and an fast-spreading, deadly cancer outbreak.
Anders Gotherstrom, a research fellow at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science who worked with Miller on the study, echoed Ryder's view.
"We are in the middle of one of the largest mass extinctions ever, and this kind of data from a species that did not survive is very interesting," Gotherstrom told Discovery News.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Neanderthals: Done in by Competition, Not Climate
Emily Sohn, Discovery News
Jan. 8, 2009 -- Climate change has become the default scapegoat for nearly every extinction on Earth lately. But a new study lets climate off the hook for at least one dramatic event: The disappearance of the Neanderthals from Europe about 35,000 years ago.
Scientists have long debated what caused the demise of this human-like species. One camp argues that the Neanderthals fell victim to a dramatic cooling of the environment. The other view holds that prehistoric humans squeezed the Neanderthals out.
"There have been dozens and dozens of articles on one side or the other," said William Banks, an archaeologist at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Bordeaux. Banks led the new study, which suggests that Cro-Magnon populations simply outcompeted Neanderthals during a period of rapid climate change.
The study borrowed a tool from biodiversity research. Called "ecological niche modeling," the technique begins with a look at where a particular species lives. From each region, scientists compile details about geography, climate, and other environmental conditions.
Then, a computer model predicts where else that same suite of conditions exists. The results indicate the species' geographical range and also suggest how that range might expand or contract with environmental changes.
Banks and colleagues applied a version of this technique to ancient human species. They used a database to gather information from about 1,300 archaeological sites around Europe, dating back to three time periods: before, during, and after a massive cooling event about 40,000 years ago.
During that period, called Heinrich Event 4, Europe succumbed to cold, dry weather. Icebergs descended from the Arctic all the way down to Spain. Soon after, nearly all evidence of Neanderthals disappeared from the archaeological record.
Because the Neanderthals petered out around the same time that climate changed, some researchers have concluded that harsh weather was responsible for their demise. However, the species had survived through a number of earlier cold snaps, Banks pointed out, suggesting that cold wasn't what killed them after all.
"It is clear from this paper that the ecology that supported a big population of Neanderthals 40,000 years ago would have supported a big population of Neanderthals 30,000 years ago," said John Hawkes, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsinâ€”Madison. "This is not an issue of climate."
Instead, the new data show that, when weather grew wetter and milder again after Heinrich Event 4, Cro-Magnon populations were able to expand into many areas that Neanderthals previously had all to themselves.
And, it appears, the Cro-Magnon people were better at exploiting the region's resources than Neanderthals were, probably because these anatomically modern humans had more refined technologies and social networks, Banks speculated.
Debate is sure to continue, said anthropologist Henry Harpending of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, because that's what scientists do. But in his mind, the new study paints a clearer-than-ever picture of what happened in Europe tens of thousands of years ago.
"I don't foresee it being a lively issue for very long," he told Discovery News. "In my mind, this puts it to rest."
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Jupiter-Sized Planets Grow Up Fast
Irene Klotz, Discovery News
Jan. 8, 2008 -- Compared to small, rocky worlds like Earth, Jupiter-class gas giant planets form quickly or not at all, a new study shows.
The realization stems from studies of a five-million-year-old star cluster in the constellation Canis Major made with NASA's Spitzer infrared space telescope. Scientists discovered that all stars in the cluster that were as least as big as the sun had no accompanying disks of gas and dust from which to make gas giants like Jupiter.
Only a few stars in the cluster that were smaller than the sun still had protoplanetary disks, though several did still have debris remnants that could be used to build smaller rocky bodies like Earth or Mars or icy worlds like Pluto, say researchers with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.
Extrapolating from the data, scientists conclude that while a planet like Earth took 20 million to 30 million years to evolve, Jupiter was fully grown in a fraction of the time, just two million to three million years.
"We have an understanding of how star formation proceeds, and our own star should not be an exception to that. It is the assumption that our solar system should not be special," said lead researcher Thayne Currie, who presented the team's findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting under way this week in Long Beach, Calif.
The cluster studied by Currie and his colleagues, NGC 2362, is located about 4,500 light-years away from Earth -- too far to be probed with current technologies to determine if any of its stars harbor planets, Currie told Discovery News.
The research builds on earlier findings from a team led by University of Arizona astronomer Ilaria Pascucci that probed 15 sun-like stars, ranging in age from three million to 30 million years old, for gas that could be used to form Jupiter-like planets. They discovered that all the stars, even the very young ones, have less than 10 percent of Jupiter's mass in gas swirling around them, indicating that the giant worlds either had already formed or they were not to be.
Currie's team says the window of opportunity for stars to form Jupiter-class worlds is even smaller, less than five million years.
"Whatever process is responsible for forming Jupiters has to be incredibly efficient," Currie said.
Scientists have two leading theories for how planets like Jupiter form: by building up a solid core which gases then accrete on to or from gases that collapse in on themselves due to gravitational forces.
If the second theory is correct, Jupiter-sized worlds could form in just thousands to tens of thousands of years, said University of Washington astrophysicist Thomas Quinn, who has done computer modeling of planetary formation.
"There's still an ongoing debate about exactly what the time scale would be," he said.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Unlike dolphins, these sea monkeys occasionally come to land to relax and take to water to hunt and mate. Anyway, here is the link: http://www.metazoica.com/earless.html. Also I am working with someone who wants to do cladograms for my site. I always wanted to do something like that but I am not that great. This person knows how to do them and even sent a sample. So I am letting him do them.
Monday, January 5, 2009
The diet of these animals consists only of leaves, grass, fungi and other varieties of vegetation either ground-level or tree-level. They are even capable of eating tough bamboo stalks, or toxic eucalyptus leaves. To help them successfully digest the toxins, these animals swallow bits of clay and mud to absorb the toxins and pass them safely through their system. These animals eat by day and sleep at night. Reproduction is slow, no more than one calf every 4 years. But a female can have several young in a lifetime of about 80 years. These animals prefer to make their homes in areas where there is plenty of vegetation, preferably in dense jungle areas. Though the largest species makes it's home more on the plains.
The greatest predators to these animals are the larger mongooses and deinognathids. Sometimes they may be taken down by such animals as Tyrannopithecus. Bear-dogs can also bring down the smaller species and the young, as can predatory rats. They can defend themselves pretty well by either swatting their heavy tails at attackers or by using their sheer bulk or by using the sharp claws on their forelimbs. Though when threatened, these animals usually prefer to run from danger. They run pretty much the same way elephants do, with their long necks stretched out.