The title is not intended to suggest pieces of pachyderm flying all over the place, but rather one paleontologist’s theory about the rapid pace of elephant evolution 60 million years ago. He bases his ideas on a small fossil he found in Morocco. According to him, the primitive ancestor of all elephants (order Proboscidea) lived 5 million years earlier than thought, and gave rise to “one of the most spectacular examples of morphological evolution known in Mammalia” that occurred in “a rapid and basically explosive placental radiation.” Emmanuel Gheerbrant, a paleontologist in Paris, described his fossil Eritherium azzouzorum in PNAS.1 His evolutionary story was picked up by Jeanna Bryner at Live Science who wrote about the “oldest elephant relative found.” Elephant? Bryner admitted, “the animal would not have looked much like an elephant. It was just 1.6 to 2 feet (50 to 60 cm) long and weighed 9 to 11 pounds (4 to 5 kg).” That’s compared to a modern elephant standing 11 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing 5 tons. New Scientist joined in, saying that “You wouldn’t have recognized Eritherium as an elephant when it was roaming Morocco 60 million years ago… But detailed study of the newly discovered fossil’s teeth, jaws and skull shows it to be the oldest member yet found of the order Proboscidea, of which elephants are the only living survivors.” New Scientist hoped that “The new find may shed light on the origins of elephants and other mammals… It shows elephants were making evolutionary progress 5 million years after the dinosaurs died out.” Since pachyderms didn’t evolve till 34 million years ago, Darwin apparently shipped the trunk 26 million years late. How, then, could Gheerbrant call this an ancestor of the gentle giants we know and live in the local zoo? Bryner explained, “The animal’s relation to elephants was determined via analysis of the specimen’s teeth and skull. While it lacked a trunk, the animal had an enlarged first incisor, which researcher Emmanuel Gheerbrant of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, says represents a primitive tusk.” It is doubtful that this little animal used a tooth enlarged by millimeters to pull down trees. That word “primitive” was indeed found all over Gheerbrant’s paper (used 19 times). Yet for the animal itself, its features would have seemed well adapted for its own environment. Is not the word “primitive” a judgment call by the paleontologist assuming it was “making evolutionary progress” from primitive to advanced? That idea would be guilty of circular reasoning. Another kind of circularity was revealed in the dating of the fossil. The estimate of 60 million years was based entirely on index fossils and stratigraphy – both of which assume the evolutionary dating scheme the author was trying to use to establish the fossil’s time and place in evolutionary history. A look through the scientific paper reveals other statements that cast doubt on the author’s confidence that this fossil has anything to do with the evolution of elephants. For one thing, the photo of the fossil pieces shows no postcranial anatomy. His judgment was made entirely on pieces of skull and jaw and five teeth. None of the teeth looks anything like a primitive tusk – nor did he claim so in the paper, regardless of what he told the press. For another, placement of this fossil in a phylogenetic position with the Proboscidea involved numerous human judgment calls on his part. He had to juggle which pieces of evidence, based on tiny measurements from the fragmentary fossil, represent plesiomorphies (traits present before the common ancestor), synapomorphies (traits present in the common ancestor), and homoplasies (unrelated but similar traits attributed to “convergent evolution”). Of the latter, his table listed 11 homoplasies with other unrelated groups. The factors he considered worthy were then plugged into computer software that tried to build an evolutionary tree out of them. The outcome of tree-building software, however, can vary widely depending on the criteria inserted or left out, the relative weighting of factors, the algorithm used, and the outgroup selected (see 07/26/2008, 06/26/2008, 10/15/2003, and especially 10/01/2005 and 07/25/2002). The following quotes reveal something of the contradictory data, the gaps in empirical data from fossils, and the juggling involved in reaching a conclusion. Notice how his best fit was obtained with his own previous work – raising additional questions about objectivity:The TNT unweighted parsimony analysis including Eritherium yields a very poorly resolved consensus tree mainly resulting from the unstable position of Khamsaconus. Analysis without Khamsaconus shows that, besides the robust proboscidean relationships of Eritherium, basal relationships among paenungulates remain unstable, as illustrated by the basal polytomy in the consensus (Fig. 3A). This polytomy is basically related to our poor fossil knowledge of the ancestral morphotype of several orders such as Embrithopoda, Desmostylia, and Anthracobunia. Our analysis supports a Sirenia-Desmostylia clade sister group of Proboscidea within Tethytheria. The standard TNT “implied weighting” analysis yields a topology (Fig. 3B), which is nearly identical to that of Gheerbrant et al.Here’s another quote that reveals multiple levels of subjectivity:2The bunodont incipient lophodont morphotype is derived relative to the eutherian condition, and it is distinct from the perissodactyl pattern. This morphotype is an additional morphological character and one of the most remarkable dental characters reported for close relationships of paenungulates, macroscelideans, and louisinines. However, our parsimony analysis does not formally support sister-group relationships of the Macroscelidea plus Louisininae and the Paenungulata by contrast to molecular and recent morphological analyses advocating the Afrotheria clade. The recovered topology (Fig. 3) shows a sister-group relationship of Laurasian lophodont ungulates such as perissodactyls to paenungulates, instead of the macroscelideans (and louisinines). Similarly, our analysis does not discriminate clearly Laurasian (e.g., phenacodontids) and African (e.g., Ocepeia) “condylarths” as possible early ungulate representatives of molecular laurasiatherian and afrotherian clades. Fossils gaps, and especially for African taxa, most probably explain poorly resolved cladistic basal relationships of the Paenungulata in our tree (Fig. 3). These gaps are illustrated by our poor knowledge of the ancestral morphotype of several key paenungulates orders; for instance, the ancestral relative size of the last molar in paenungulates is challenged by Eritherium (M33 not enlarged). At lower level in the tree, the morphological and fossil gap is even worse for the phylogenetic analysis of the superordinal clade Afrotheria including Tenrecoidea and Tubulidentata, which are excluded from this study because of the lack of Paleogene data. In this respect, the cladistic study of Eritherium does not help to test the question of the macroscelidean position within Afrotheria. However, Eritherium dental morphology argues for a bunodont-lophodont, i.e., ungulatelike, ancestral morphotype for the Paenungulata, Louisininae, and Macroscelidea, within putative Afrotheria.A lot of his evolutionary reasoning, therefore, depends on tiny measurements of tooth shape and systematic gaps in fossil evidence. The “ancestral morphotype” exists only in the evolutionist’s imagination. Given these empirical problems, it does not appear even possible to arrive at a definitive evolutionary analysis from the fossil evidence. This creature could have been called one more well-adapted, extinct mammal, like many other well-adapted, extinct mammals, and left at that. The story of evolution, however, is what received prominence. Gheerbrant spoke of a “rapid paenungulate radiation at the Cretaceous-Tertiary (KT) transition” several times. In fact, it was this story line that excused the lack of evidence: “Rapid paenungulate radiation and fossil gaps may explain poorly resolved interordinal relationships,” he said at one point. The elephants-to-be must have been evolving so quickly they didn’t have time to leave any fossils. In fact, this rapid evolution involved more than the Proboscidea: there was a “rapid and basically explosive placental radiation,” he said. That explosion involved all the post-Cretaceous placental mammals. So here is another explosion to add to the Cambrian explosion: a “basically explosive placental radiation” that was used to support evolutionary theory, as was the Cambrian explosion, by the lack of evidence for it (see 05/10/2008).1. Emmanuel Gheerbrant, “Paleocene emergence of elephant relatives and the rapid radiation of African ungulates,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, print June 22, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900251106.2. Note: the reader does not need to understand the jargon to get a sense of the fudging that goes on. Curious readers can use Dictionary.com for definitions and the Reference.com page on cladistic analysis.Day by day, we expose the unscientific divination practices of the Darwin sooth-slayers. Don’t be intimidated by the jargon. You can look it up. Learn to perceive the methods, omissions, assumptions and philosophy that makes these modern-day shamans pretend to be doing science, when they are really practicing divination to conjure up the Will of Darwin.(Visited 64 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) global radio telescope project – which includes a first phase site in South Africa – published a book this month on the project’s progress. It features photos and analysis from some of the best science, astronomy and engineering minds in the world. The first phase of the SKA radio telescope project, called MeerKAT, is being installed in the Karoo desert. It will eventually form part of the first phase of the SKA programme. By September 2015, seven of the 64 dish installations have been constructed and tested. The global SKA project is scheduled to be completed by 2024. (Image: SKA MeerKAT)• SKA: answering the big questions about the universe • SKA will boost Africa’s presence in science fields• SKA will drive growth of Africa’s human capital• Africa to co-host Square Kilometre Array A new, updated two-volume book on the history and the science of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) international radio telescope project was published in September 2015. South Africa is very much at the forefront of the SKA project; the MeerKAT telescope system, currently being constructed and tested in the Karoo desert, forms part of the first phase of the global SKA venture.The chapters in this new book reflect both the science undertaken with the SKA, including ground-breaking research in cosmology and the study of dark matter and dark energy, as well as the global efforts by engineers and the science community to co-ordinate and construct such a massive international project.Once completed, hopefully by 2024, SKA will interconnect a series of radio telescope systems in 10 countries in order to search space for a better understanding about the universe and solve some of the secrets of fundamental physics. What is SKA? SKA is one of the largest global science projects ever undertaken, featuring a multinational representation of scientists, engineers and astronomers. The positioning of the African continent and the accommodating climate make South Africa a vital component of the project’s success. (Image: SKA/MeerKAT)The Square Kilometre Array project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve understanding of the universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.The SKA is not a single telescope; rather, it is a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the component in Australia also being expanded.With support from Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the UK, the SKA project has on board some of the world’s best scientists, engineers and policy makers. And over 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries are involved in the design and development of the telescope.SKA: the book With 135 chapters, 1 200 contributors and 2 000 pages on the science behind the SKA project, its official companion book is titled Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array. It is available to download free from the SKA website. (Image: SKA/MeerKAT) The book, titled Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array, consists of 2 000 pages in more than a hundred chapters, with contributions from more than 1 000 experts, scientists and members of the SKA organisation on astrophysics, cosmology and the search for answers in the universe, all within the context of radio telescope technology. Accompanied by a variety of photos and infographics covering the science and construction of the SKA system, the book is the authoritative guide on how this global initiative will work. It tracks the progress made on the project since 2004, highlighting the work being done in Australia, South Africa and other African countries including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.“The publication of the new SKA science book is the culmination of more than a year’s work by the SKA science team and the scientific community at large,” says Dr Robert Braun, the SKA science director in a release publicising the book. “It’s also a great testimony to the growing interest and scope of the SKA.”According to the publishers, the book deals with SKA’s search for life in the universe through the study of molecules in forming planetary systems and the search for potential radio signals from intelligent civilisations. The search for answers from “the cosmic dawn” – the first billion years of the universe’s existence – will not only inform the past, but also give the world a look at what might happen to the cosmos in the future.SKA and the NDP Construction of the South African SKA radio telescope project infrastructure, called MeerKAT, in the Karoo desert in March 2014. By September 2015, seven of the 64 dish installations have been constructed and tested. The global SKA project is set to be completed by 2024. (Image: SKA MeerKAT) The SKA project in South Africa fulfils the requisites for some vital pillars of the National Development Plan Vision 2030, including skills development through increased job opportunities and training during the construction of the MeerKAT facility, using local labour and top South Africa engineering and science talent.The project also addresses other NDP pillars such as creating efficient, world-class infrastructure networks and developing rural communities. Construction of the South African SKA radio telescope project infrastructure, called MeerKAT, in the Karoo desert during March 2014. By September 2015, seven of the 64 dish installations have been constructed and tested. The global SKA project is set to be completed by 2024. (Image: SKA MeerKAT) A MeerKAT in the Karoo The first phase of the SKA radio telescope project, called MeerKAT, is currently being installed in the Karoo desert and will eventually form part of the first phase of the SKA programme. By September 2015, seven of the 64 dish installations have been constructed and tested. The global SKA project is set to be completed by 2024. Infographic: SKA MeerKAT Further reading: Everything you need to know about the SKA project, including MeerKAT and the new book
Global investment firm Investcorp today announced that it has finalized its acquisition of trucking and construction publisher the Randall-Reilly Publishing Company. Investment firm Berkery Noyes acted as financial advisor to Investcorp.Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but one financial source estimated the price to be more than $150 million.Tuscaloosa, Alabama-based Randall-Reilly publishes a number of titles serving the trucking, construction and woodworking industries, including Overdrive, Changing Lanes, Equipment World and Modern Woodworking. The trucking-related assets previously held by Investcorp include Greatwide, FleetPride and American Tire Distributors.In a January interview with FOLIO:, Randall-Reilly CEO Mike Reilly indicated that he is expecting double-digit growth over the next five years. “I’d like to be somewhere close to a $50 million EBITDA company,” he said. The company generates about $72 million in revenue, according to Reilly.
Comments Amazon Scout robots are delivering goods to customers in a neighborhood in Washington state. Amazon Amazon is testing a small fleet of autonomous delivery robots in Washington state.On Wednesday the company introduced Scout, a fully electric robot about the size of a small cooler, that’ll deliver packages to customers’ doorsteps. Starting Wednesday, these robots are delivering items in a neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington, Amazon said in a blog post. Share your voice Amazon Robots The e-commerce giant said it’s starting with six Amazon Scout robots that’ll make deliveries Monday through Friday during the daytime. Scout robots can navigate around pets, people and other objects in their way, Amazon said, though they’ll initially be accompanied by a human employee. “We are happy to welcome Amazon Scout to our growing suite of innovative delivery solutions for customers and look forward to taking the learnings from this first neighborhood so Amazon Scout can, over time, provide even more sustainability and convenience to customer deliveries,” Sean Scott, vice president of Amazon Scout, said in the blog post. Amazon regularly experiments with new ways to deliver packages, including its Prime Air drones and its in-home delivery service called Key. Amazon completed its first public drone delivery in 2017. Other companies, such as Segway and Postmates, have also been testing autonomous robots that can deliver goods to customers. Since 2012 Amazon has been using KIva robots in its warehouses to help employees transfer goods. The Kiva robots were installed in 10 of Amazon’s US warehouses in California, Texas, New Jersey, Washington and Florida by 2017.CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET’s newsstand edition.Culture: Your hub for everything from film and television to music, comics, toys and sports.First published Jan. 23 at 10:52 a.m. PT. Update, Jan. 24, 6:52 a.m. PT: Adds more information on autonomous delivery. 5 Sci-Tech Tech Industry Internet Services Tags
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Forum (MSME-DF), a professionally managed non-profit organization working for the growth and promotion of enterprises, startups and youth of India, is organizing its 5th India International MSME Startup Expo 2018.It will be held from June 22 – 24 in hall no. 7 at Pragati Maidan.15-20 countries including Afganistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Thailand, and Poland will be participating in the expo which is likely to have 200 plus stalls and a footfall of 20,000 people. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfConveying his best wishes for the event, Prime minister Narendra Modi said, “Our government has full faith in the entrepreneurial spirit of the present generation and their energy and passion is critical in realising a new India. This belief is the basis of our initiatives including ‘Start-up India’, ‘Stand-up India’, ‘Make in India’ and other related programmes. It is appreciable that the MSME Development Forum is undertaking this important endeavour in providing an opportunity for the Start-ups in the sector to leverage the latest innovations and practices across the globe,” The mega-event will rediscover ease of doing business and opportunities in different states of India. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveThe triangular network will expand the spectrum of this expo.Apart from this, startup fest, small industries trade fair, funding and finance fair, vendor development fest and ease of doing business summit are also the main attractions of the event.It will provide a one-stop global platform to connect, network, partner and share information with domestic and International SMEs to find new business opportunities.The initiative has been supported by Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (ITPO, DIPP, Invest India, and GEM), Ministry of Sciences and Technology/ IT and Electronics/ Finance etc.Senior ministers, State Chief Ministers, Bureaucrats and exhibitors from all parts of the country are likely to be present at the event.