Buffalo, New York, USA
January 01
Traveling through the universe.....just tarrying on this planet savoring life. I get the "Last Word" sometimes in "The Indian American' and relish the privilege to have a few Op-eds published in "News India Times". Niche 'n nice!


OCTOBER 12, 2009 2:29PM

New Fossil Mammal Discovered in China!

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Life reconstruction of the new fossil mammal, as a chipmunk-sized animal. Credit: MA Klingler, CMNH

On October 8, 2009, NSF announced the discovery of a new species of mammal that lived 123 million years ago. A newly discovered chipmunk-sized animal, named Maotherium asiaticus, has been found in the famous fossil-rich beds of the Yixian Formation in the Liaoning Province in China. This has been reported in this week's issue of the journal Science, by Luo and colleagues from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.


The non believers of evolution are constantly up in arms about missing links that apparently go to prove that there was no such thing! This fossil mammal may represent an intermediate stage in the evolutionary process of how modern mammals acquired a middle ear structure. Studying this well preserved fossil led the Chinese and American scientists to believe that even though it is closely related to marsupials and placentals in other features, the middle ear bones of Maotherium are similar to those of modern mammals. But unlike modern mammals, it’s middle ear has an unusual connection to its lower jaw. This connection, also known as the ossified Meckel's cartilage, resembles the embryonic condition of living mammals and the primitive middle ear of pre-mammalian ancestors. These mammal middle ear bones evolved from the bones of the jaw hinge in reptilian relatives.


Richard Lane, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences emphasizes how the intricate middle ear structure allows mammals to have more sensitive hearing in a wider range of sounds than other vertebrates. This was crucial for mammals to develop nocturnal adaptations and to survive in the dinosaur-dominated world around 250 to 66 million years ago.  It is the sensory organ that allows us to listen to our fellow humans in conversation or in the creative arts. The new ear connection may only be a simple adaptation caused by changes in development , rather than an evolutionary link.  (me: now if only we could ONLY start to hear and listen together……!!)


The Science paper is co-authored by paleontologists Qiang Ji of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing and Xinliang Zhang of the Henan Provincial Geological Museum, along with other collaborators. The researchers also received support from the National Natural Science Foundation (China), Ministry of Science and Technology (China), and National Geographic Society.Press Release 09-194 -NSF-

After word: I have often wondered at the collegial and cooperative scientific projects across the world that yield robust discussions benefiting mankind in more ways than one and result in greater understanding. We cooperate and compete during the Olympics and other world events. Music, art, math all benefit from competitive cooperation and still remain significantly unique. Why is it that in geo-politics the cracks in human nature get magnified and unbridgeable and the unique quality and strength of every culture is seen as a detriment leading to distrust and division?

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It is still science that makes my world rock!
Great Post. I read about this but you cleared up a few things. Thank you!
Thanks for the heads up on Maotherium; it's cool how excited you get about science. And I like your point about the contrast between the kind of international cooperation exhibited by scientists and others versus the constant distrust and bickering and outright hostility we see constantly in political matters. Politicians and xenophobes and nationalist fanatics everywhere need to get over the idea that international affairs is a zero sum game.
laugh, my world too!! This is really cool :)

I think it's easy for scientists and artists and fellow bloggers to get along, because others are doing the fighting over territory and money, so we can live easily and comfortably and not have to fight for our daily food and safety. We got the good life :) the fact that politicians don't have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the profession has always confused me.
Tell me about it nana, I watch the world and marvel at how easily sportsmen compete sometimes healthy sometimes slightly unhealthily but still in the end get along. Take any field, ANY darned field of creativity and even though the competition is fierce and people sometimes do not get recognized while they live and beg on the streets but still keep producing as if followed by personal demons... they still doff their caps at other creativity. Except in geo-politics. I think its because there is not much creativity there.....
Julie, and what do we get paid ....nothing. I am still studying ALL the time... am part time now being effectively sidelined .... but promise to return..... but when I look at compensation I see minimal. It does not seem to bother us. We go merrily on cribbing creating ....cribbing creating. Look at the healthcare debate where people keep talking about how the doctors are not begin compensated. REALLY???? Its shocking!!
The difference between what a scientist makes in basic science and what a doctor makes even an ordinary one is laughable.... I dont see us shouting from the roof tops about it.
Interesting points you make, both in your blog and comments.

The answer to your last question is malicious anti-rationalism and ignorance.
I thought you are a cynic, but obviously you are such a nice optimist for posting such an advanced science post. Unfortunately, in America, we are still working on whether the sun still revolves around the earth and vomiting demons into paperbags.

It is refreshing to know that there people who think like you do.
Thanks for such an informative report.

Scientists are a pack of lying madmen, but I still find their work amazing. This new discovery is really worth following, as we will be feeling implications of this one for quite some time. Great post, rated! it that you learned something from my post!

Buffy, That is the whole point isnt it ... to create public opinion through cogent view points? Some times my points are pretty convoluted and people just see the obvious and leave it there and that is fine too. If this has begun a thought process in you that is what is exciting. I learn from every post I read... good and bad.Thank you!

Thoth, You are surely being too kind. Thanks though
RW I see that we disagree about some things. And it happens to be something utterly personal. It is your magnanimity that allows me my space . Somehow I am always wary of discussing religion/God/atheism/spirituality without the aid of friendship and love. It usually dissolves into a harangue and bad feelings and does not get solved. I am glad you believe in fossils and what they stand for, the lessons they hold secret within them preserved and controlled. Also for your visits, thanks.
Andy, I am not going to react to your calling me a lying madman... first I am a woman and then I try not to lie. But i am a scientist!

Fossils are fascinating indeed

to read about Ardi..
oh god, this is an excellent psot!!! the science is over my head, but i studied anthropology in college and i'm fascinated by Missing Link stories. this is amazing and wonderful. wow. i love what you said in the last paragraph. extremely wise and insightful. lvoe love love and gratitude and, shit, man, evolution happened!
They have discovered a mammal living during the mesozoic period ...which is when the Dinosaurs roamed which shows a key link between primitive animals and us where hearing is concerned.

Other than pure "faith" in creation....which I respect just because it helps others, there is incrementally less reason to believe there is any other theory behind "how" Humans have come about.
Thanks for the visit.........
This was really interesting and your enthusiasm about science leaps off the page! You ask wonderful questions for which I can offer no better responses than what Thoth said.
All the more reason C for focusing on creative processes in the world. That science that adds to the knowledge of the universe around us.Those arts that transcend time and space and uplift.
Fossil Weasels for the WIN!!!

Thank you for sharing this and for articulating your opinions on the topic. This was great to read and I'm so very very glad that you let me know it was here. Thank you.