Friday, February 08, 2008

Odds and ends: Evolution and climate change

I accumulate bits and pieces of information far faster than I can download here. So I'm going to clear up a little backlog.

The Tree Of Life is a project to collate evolutionary links to all species. (unfortunately, like many sources, it's not so good on extinct taxa.)

An apposite comment on taxonomical placement (University of Michigan): “Mophological, reproductive, and developmental evidence overwhelmingly supports a sister relationship between marsupials and placentals to the exclusion of the more primitive monotremes. Recently, comparisons of mitochondrial DNA sequences among mammals have supported the alternative hypothesis that monotremes and and marsupials form a clade exclusive of the placentals. Cladistic analyses using large segments of nuclear DNA have supported the more traditional view, however. Relationships among higher mammalian taxa (including both inter-subclass and inter-ordinal relationships) are currently very much in question”

Another comment on classification (from Wikipedia): "Traditionally, membership in Mammalia is diagnosed by the presence of a single dominant jaw joint, in which the dentary contacts the squamosal. However, taxonomists debate whether established names, such as Mammalia, should correspond to the clade which is closest to the traditional definition or, alternatively, should be restricted to the 'crown-group' (which includes only descendants of the most recent common ancestor shared by all living member species and excludes any fossil forms which diverged at an earlier stage, even if they meet the traditional criteria). Supporters of the crown-group approach refer to the broader grouping as the Mammaliformes or Mammaliaformes, whereas traditionalists describe the entire assemblage as "mammals". For a summary of the argument and issues, see Benton 2005: 289

However, a consensus accepted by most scientists states that mammals as a group are defined by the possession of a special, secondarily evolved jaw joint between the dentary and the squamosal bones, which has replaced the primitive reptilian one between the articular and quadrate bones in all modern mammalian groups. Morganucodon is special in this respect, because apart from still having the primitive hinge, it has also evolved the derived mammalian one and thus features a double jaw joint. It is for this reason, and additional evidence pointing to diphyodonty and determinate growth, that Morganucodon is now usually considered a true mammal."

Global warming:“The most recent figures show Australians emit more than 17 tonnes of carbon per person, compared with an OECD average of just over 11 tonnes. The ABS says that is driven by the high use of coal in electricity generation and the reliance on cars. "

Aus Govt Environment department to get a "senior treasury official" - as part of a beef-up of climate change initiatives.

Aus liver transplant patient takes on her donor's immunity system and blood group.

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