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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Another reason not to sign on to the mega-expensive Darwinfest in 2009 ...

Sara Coelho wonders in "Ancient Insect Hails From Sunken Island" (ScienceNOW Daily News 17 December 2008) :
Which came first: the tree lobster or the island? You may not have been asking that odd question, but researchers have nonetheless answered it with a report indicating that one species of this flightless insect is apparently older than its native home, Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia. The find suggests that the bug originally evolved on an older island, one now submerged under the Pacific Ocean.


The DNA analysis revealed something else unexpected: The three tree lobster groups are not closely related. That means that their similar stocky body shape evolved separately as an adaptation to a ground-dwelling lifestyle, a process known as convergent evolution. (The wings of birds and bats are another example.) It's a "very interesting and new ... case of convergent evolution in an unusual animal system," says evolutionary biologist Marco Passamonti, an expert on stick insects based at the University of Bologna in Italy. "This research seems to me very well-supported and sound."
But hang on to this, Darwinbots: Darwin's is the best idea anyone ever had. Keep repeating it, and take pills as needed.

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