Mary Anning

In 1811 , or 1812, a young girl by the name of Mary Anning, along with her little brother, happened upon an incredible find while digging around the cliffs of Lyme Regis in England.   It was a skull. A very large skull. Four feet long and with jagged teeth. Mary kept looking. Her efforts paid off and she soon found the rest of the great beast. A large skeleton of a creature never before seen. They sold the skeleton to a local collector who eventually sold it to Charles Konig, then keeper of the department of natural history at the British Museum. Konig had even given it a name. He called it an Ichthyosaurus.

Mary’s success was that she was simply very good at what she did.  A jutting stone might be the snout of a plesiosaur, a flat piece of slate a flipper. It might even be the head of a pterosaur. Which it was in 1828 when Mary pulled the fossil of a pterosaur out of the cliffs.

 

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear at soundofpicture.com.

Subscribe to the show in iTunes or Stitcher (Please leave a comment and rating.  It will help the show immensely.  Thank you!)

 

Cladistics

You’ve probably seen a cladogram before without knowing exactly what it was called. It’s a lot like a family tree. What it isn’t though is an evolutionary tree. Evolutionary trees are those large trees-of-life that show how all animals are related to one another and how they have evolved. A cladogram will show those animals that share similar form and structures. It’s not about animals which have evolved from one another.

In this episode we are going to look at clades and cladistics.  We will also create a cladogram… an audio cladogram.

_____________________________________________

Subscribe to the show in iTunes or Stitcher (Please leave a comment and rating.  It will help the show immensely.  Thank you!)

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear at soundofpicture.com.

Homo Naledi

The “Evolution Talk’ podcast is joined once again by its favorite guest from the NCSE, Stephanie Keep.

In 2013 a secret that had been hidden for hundreds of thousands of years in a South African cave was discovered.  Bones…  many bones.  Upon inspection by a team of specialists a picture began to emerge.  Not a clear picture but one which has unearthed more questions than answers.  At the center of it all is a new species of hominin – Homo Naledi.

Among the questions that are being asked:

  • How old are the bones?
  • How did they get there?
  • Do they truly represent a new species?
  • How smart were the Homo Naledi?

_____________________________________________

Subscribe to the show in iTunes or Stitcher (Please leave a comment and rating. It will help the show immensely.  Thank you!)

Links Mentioned

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear at soundofpicture.com and Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com. Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

 

An Explosion of Cambrian Proportions

In the era known as the Cambrian, an era which kicked off 541 million years ago, life exploded. Natural Selection began to produce new creatures, one after the other. A parade of unique forms and shapes that had never been seen before. Many of these were preserved as fossils which were later unearthed at the turn of the 20th century in the Burgess Shale, a giant fossil bed in the Canadian Rockies. They were discovered in 1909 by paleontologist Charles Walcott. During his lifetime, Walcott collected over 65,000 specimens from the racks of the shale. These specimens, or fossils, represent creatures which lived during the Cambrian Era. They had a mix of soft and hard body parts. What was truly amazing was the difference in forms. Forms which had not appeared on earth during any previous era.

They were suddenly… everywhere.

_____________________________________________

Subscribe to the show in iTunes or Stitcher (Please leave a comment and rating.  It will help the show immensely.  Thank you!)

Sound Clip Bibliography

  • “STEPHEN JAY GOULD: Seven Wonders Of the World.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed October 12, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnt8uvityry.

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear @ soundofpicture.com

 

The Missing Link

Darwin himself never used the term ‘missing link’. He wasn’t concerned with a missing link but he was concerned with gaps in the fossil record. It wasn’t that he thought these gaps hurt his theory. He had no doubts as to its validity. His fear was how those gaps would be used to attack his theory or how they might be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

The problem is that fossils simply are not easy to come by. Nature first needs something to work with. Soft bodied organisms don’t lend themselves well to fossilization. Nature needs organisms with hard body parts and even then the conditions have to be just right for fossilization to occur.

Unfortunately, of course, we do not live in a perfect world and all we have is a few skeletons and bones to help piece it all together. If we were able to see the gradual progression of every species we wouldn’t see gaps.  Nor would we see one distinct transitional form.  What would would see is a slow accumulation of changes that, over time, form into wondrous shapes and sizes.

_____________________________________________

Subscribe to the show in iTunes or Stitcher (Please leave a comment and rating.  It will help the show immensely.  Thank you!)

Episode Bibliography

  • “Professor Farnsworth Debates Creaturism.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed May 14, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttola3tyfqq.
  • “Richard Dawkins Briefly Explains ‘Common Ancestor.’” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed May 14, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syxki74y7bc.
  • “Richard Dawkins: Show Me The Intermediate Fossils! – Nebraska Vignettes #1.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed May 14, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp53wakq5yc.
  • “Take Your Stinking Paws off Me You Damn Dirty Ape!” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed July 1, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdmqn9jiuzc.
  • “What Is The Evidence for Evolution Found in the Fossil Record? Richard Dawkins Speech (2009).” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed May 14, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_ly-lztjas.
  • “Mysterious Origins of Man – Forbidden Archeology – Charlton Heston.” Vimeo. Accessed May 14, 2015. https://vimeo.com/46988562.

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by Podington Bear @ soundofpicture.com

 

The Piltdown Man

Piltdown Man - Evolution TalkIn the late 19th century, Europe was having a grand old time when it came to fossils of ancient hominids.  The problem was  – nothing was being discovered in England.  Germany had the Neanderthal and France had the Cro-Magnon.  In the summer of 1912 all of that changed.  In Piltdown, East Sussex an amateur fossil collector by the name of Charles Dawson found what he, and others, claimed to be evidence of the ‘missing link’ between man and his ancient hominid ancestors.

The excitement generated by Dawson’s find was immense.  It was granted the name Eoanthropus dawsoni… or Dawson’s Dawn-Man. The rest of the world knew it as the Piltdown Man.

_____________________________________________

Subscribe to the show in iTunes or Stitcher (Please leave a comment and rating.  It will help the show immensely.  Thank you!)

Episode Bibliography

  • On the 50th anniversary of the unmasking of the Piltdown Man hoax, and archaeologist Dr Miles Russell explains why he believes local solicitor Charles Dawson was the man behind it all. “BBC News.” BBC News. BBC, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3285163.stm.
  • “PBS NOVA – The Boldest Hoax.” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed May 21, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rhffb-vhm4.
  • “PILTDOWN MAN – Documentary (1973).” YouTube. YouTube. Accessed May 21, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kb_fau8uc0.

Music in the Episode

The music in this episode was provided by the following artists: