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ET has “got to be,” pass the arsenic, living fossils or not, evidence all around us, the Ark—still controversial, and more in this week’s News to Note.
Is the evidence for extraterrestrial life “mounting daily”? It’s the first we’ve heard of it!
Last week we reported on hot news that “alien” life had been discovered—albeit aliens from earth. But since then the widely reported research has come under attack.
Long called a “living fossil,” a new report argues that crocodilians are actually quite distinct from their petrified parentage.
Scientists apply the nickname “living fossil” to creatures with us today that very closely resemble fossils found “far back” in the fossil record (i.e., in layers deemed very old). Sometimes, the organisms were known only from the fossil record, their extinction taught as scientific fact. That is, until they’re found alive and well in the present, as in the case of the coelacanth fish.
Crocodilians no longer deserve that term, however, according to a new report published by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. The scientists coming to that conclusion have finished their analysis of a fossil species named Simosuchus clarki, found a decade ago in Madagascar. Unlike modern crocodilians (a taxonomic order including crocodiles, alligators, gharials, and caimans), S. clarki has a short, blunt snout, a short tail, and compact body—making it quite distinct from today’s crocodilians. And unlike the crocodilians we know, S. clarki would have lived inland in a “semi-arid grassland habitat.”
The researchers conclude that these major differences indicate how much change evolution has brought to the crocodilian order. But how do the scientists know that S. clarki is indeed the evolutionary ancestor of crocodilians, as opposed to being a separate lineage? The answer, of course, is that they don’t really know; the framework of evolution forces the conclusion. Taking away that framework, we can see S. clarki as a separate lineage from the same reptilian kind or from a different kind entirely. Either way, the fact that modern crocodilians have changed little over supposed millions of years keeps them as prime examples of living fossils.
Are the evidences of evolution walking around with us every day? A recent “top ten” list answers in the affirmative.
The media has provided ongoing coverage of Ark Encounter, the new project co-sponsored by Answers in Genesis. And—no surprise—the project is increasingly surrounded by debate.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!