something hidden

You’ve probably heard of Afrotheria. A line of placental mammals expanded into all kinds of niches, back when Africa was an island continent. Elephants, hyraxes, manatees, tenrecs, aardvarks,  elephant shrews,  and golden moles are the existing members of Afrotheria.  There used to be more:  things that looked like a rhino (Arsenoitherium), for example.  The thing is, they had diverged very far.  Biologists had realized that there was a relationship between elephants, hyraxes, and manatees, but they didn’t know that aardvarks, tenrecs and golden moles were in that same clade.   Without genetic analysis, it’s not easy to see that an apparent mole is really more closely relayed to an elephant. They’ve simply gotten too far into the part.

South America was also an island continent with its own placental mammalian lineages, and some of them filled many different niches.  One, Xenarthra, has survivors: anteaters, tree sloths, and armadillos.  The other, Meridiungulata, had members that looked like horses, camels,  rhinos, hippos, rabbits, even chalicotheres.  Most lost out after the formation of the isthmus of Panama let in North American competitors, and Amerindians finished off the the last survivors ( like Maucrauchenia and Toxodons)  By the way, you will see South American paleontologists defending the competence of their extinct fauna, making excuses for their defeat by invaders from the North: it doesn’t get much stupider than that.

I’m wondering of any of the Meridiungulata lineages did survive, unnoticed because they’re passing for insectivores or rats or whatever, just as tenrecs and golden moles did. . Obviously the big ones are extinct, probably the others as well, but until we’ve looked at the DNA of every little mammal in South America, the possibility exists.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to something hidden

  1. Sean says:

    I remember a theory that big bears and no trees to hide up kept humans from colonising North America for a long time.

    The giant sloths ect were dispossessed and condemned by the system as losers. Until the revolution the wretched of the earth are always assumed to have not got their just desserts from the powers that be.

    If a unknown species converged enough with another species it could be hiding among the other known species. Like that new species of frog just found in New Jersey (of all places). The call was groaning instead of croaking. It looked identical.

    Continental converging on a ‘form’ for a ‘mole existence’ ect ect makes me wonder if aliens could be extremely human-like.

  2. Toddy Cat says:

    “By the way, you will see South American paleontologists defending the competence of their extinct fauna, making excuses for their defeat by invaders from the North”

    The same thing happened in Anthropology, with American anthropologists insisting that there was no, NO, NO! contact between the Old World and the New, and that the Indians had achieved their high civilizations totally on their own. As it turns out, they were probably mostly right, but the dogmatism was still remarkable. The tendency to choose a side and defend it is really strong in some people, maybe all people.

    • John Hostetler says:

      Pinker describes an experiment where subjects were divided into something like ‘Kandinsky admirers’ versus ‘Pollock admirers’, leading to serious animosity – and similar conditions with young adolescent boys were well on the way to Lord of the Flies before the experiment was stopped.

      Now with the SA paleontologists, part of their identity really is at stake, despite that the connections are ridiculous, as Greg points out. First, the animals they’re defending are extinct, second they were non-human and third – well third is – anyone wanna guess the Amerindian component in the collective genome of SA paleontologists? It wouldn’t surprise me if it were lower than their NA colleagues (not that it would be any more logical if they were pure Incan, but it would be more understandable).

      Australian biologists sometimes have similar patriotic emotional attachments to their field of study.

      On the subject of Whites misidentifying as Amerindians, George Lopez has some great ‘mystified’ moments involving DNA testing on his Lopez Tonight show, including this one with Jessica Alba:

      Jess, your first clue might’ve been the mirror. Then there’s your name….

      Just think, when it comes to the continental races, we’re at least half a century into the new Dark Age. Back then, everyone knew the mirror test for the major races.

      • syon says:

        God, Alba’s reaction is priceless.Then there’s her remarkable lack of basic geographical knowledge (Yes, Jessica, Spain is in Europe and Spaniards are Europeans).

        As to her thinking that she would be mostly Amerind, that’s possibly even weirder.She knows that her mother is Danish and French, so that’s 50% of her ancestry . For her to be even 50% Amerind, her father would have to be 100%, and even a quick visual survey of her father would indicate that that is simply not possible.

        Poor dear, she will have to struggle through life knowing that she is 87% White and only 13% Amerind

        • erica says:

          “Is Spain an…. “Ohhh my gawd.”
          (Yes, Jessica, all your friends of color will now think you soooo uncool. OMG!)

          Well, it does show being white doesn’t keep you from being a dumb shyt, Ms. Alba. (And no, your name doesn’t protect you, cuzzz ya know?)

      • Aaron says:

        She didn’t look very white when she first came on the scene in the TV show Dark Angel. I assumed she was Hispanic or Middle Eastern or some sort of hybrid.

        • syon says:

          “She didn’t look very white when she first came on the scene in the TV show Dark Angel. I assumed she was Hispanic or Middle Eastern or some sort of hybrid.”

          She looks like a Southern European White woman

          • josh says:

            With a little bit of Amerindian.

          • Aaron says:

            She seemed to look a lot more ethnic on Dark Angel and early in her career. She looked less white than most Southern European women. She looked less white than Rashida Jones, Quincy Jones’s daughter.

          • syon says:

            Josh: “With a little bit of Amerindian.”

            Very little (13%)

          • syon says:

            Aaron:”She seemed to look a lot more ethnic on Dark Angel and early in her career.”

            By ethnic I assume that you mean she didn’t look Northern European?

            “She looked less white than most Southern European women.”

            Since Southern European women are White, I’m not sure what you mean

            “She looked less white than Rashida Jones, Quincy Jones’s daughter.”

            Not to my eyes; of course, I’ve traveled in Southern Europe, so I’m well acquainted with the range of phenotypes in the region

          • Aaron says:

            By ethnic I mean Hispanic or Middle Eastern or something.

            FWIW she looks whiter now with straighter, lighter hair and smaller lips.

            I’ve visited Italy and Spain.

          • syon says:

            Aaron:”By ethnic I mean Hispanic or Middle Eastern or something.”

            Hispanic is a meaningless category, seeing as how it includes people like Lynda Carter, Cameron Diaz, and Alberto Fujimori

            Aaron:”FWIW she looks whiter now with straighter,”

            This might come as a shock, but lots of Europeans have curly hair……

            Aaron:” lighter hair”

            Again, this might come as a shock, but lots of Europeans have dark hair

            Aaron:”and smaller lips.”

            Does this mean that you think that big-lipped Angelina Jolie does not look European?

            Aaron:”I’ve visited Italy and Spain.”

            Then you must have seen quite a few women with Alba’s phenotype

      • Aaron says:

        It wouldn’t surprise me if it were lower than their NA colleagues

        Unlikely. North American whites tend to be whiter than Latin American whites.

        • John Hostetler says:

          Just my way of saying ‘approaching zero for both.’

          But technically, I’m sure you’re right.

          • Aaron says:

            It’s pretty much zero in North America, but it seems to be pretty non-trivial in Latin America.

          • John Hostetler says:

            The thing is, it likely approaches trivial for PhD’s from the right side of the academic bell curve (Physics to the right, Indigenous Studies to the left) – Paleontology is center-right.

      • That old test wasn’t all that accurate or detailed and the various tests have gotten more accurate now. Jessica Alba was in fact retested very recently and the result was shown in the documentary “Finding your roots”. She’s obviously still far more Euro than NA, but according to that test she was around 22½% NA of her genetic ancestry.
        Source:
        http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots/jessica-albas-mexican-roots/12760/

        • syon says:

          “That old test wasn’t all that accurate or detailed and the various tests have gotten more accurate now. Jessica Alba was in fact retested very recently and the result was shown in the documentary “Finding your roots”. She’s obviously still far more Euro than NA, but according to that test she was around 22½% NA of her genetic ancestry.”

          Alba’s glee at finding out that she was 22 and a half percent Amerind was priceless.Also loved how her mother’s Euro ancestry was sidelined.Some genes are more equal than others, it seems.

          • Yes, she looked really excited about the idea that her paternal ancestors were Native Americans, but in reality she kind of misunderstood the results. It’s her paternal lineage which is from some Indigenous Mexican at some point, it doesn’t mean that her immediate paternal ancestors were “Native Americans”.

            I also don’t understand how she could think that she was “more Native American” on the Lopez show, considering it’s her paternal grandfather who “looks Native American”, according to herself. She must obviously be at least half Euro based on her mother and her dad obviously doesn’t look like a pure Indigenous Mexican – the new show showed that he was just a little less than half. Actually even that new test isn’t exact, and the guy who examined her dad’s indigenous ancestry had a different percentage, namely 39.5 % Indigenous Mexican.

            Anyway, it’s not that on topic. The genetics of species relation is often just MtDNA analysis, and it’s somewhat reliable for the purposes as mentioned in the article.

    • MawBTS says:

      “By the way, you will see South American paleontologists defending the competence of their extinct fauna, making excuses for their defeat by invaders from the North”

      It’s weird to see the patriotic attachment some people have for their nation’s animals. I remember seeing some guy on Reddit freak out because someone suggested that pandas aren’t the best-adapted creatures on God’s green earth.

  3. Peter Lund says:

    You are twice hyraxed.

  4. dearieme says:

    When I was young, the Top Science was physics – and, boy, were physicists arrogant about it! Now it’s molecular biology. Are molecular biologists now as arrogant as physicists used to be?

  5. Hipster says:

    Would you presume any sort of environment would be most likely to host rodent-like Meridiungulata lineages? For instance, the Paramo ecosystem is unique to the Andes, high tropical and cold. Perhaps this area could have some unique little rodent-like things which are in the Meridiungalata clade.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “By the way, you will see South American paleontologists defending the competence of their extinct fauna, making excuses for their defeat by invaders from the North: it doesn’t get much stupider than that.”

    I just want to say that this is a very funny and very true observation.

  7. Richard Sharpe says:

    Perhaps the SA mammals lived in a utopia where there was no prehistoric conflict to ratchet up their evolution.

  8. Campesino says:

    By the way, you will see South American paleontologists defending the competence of their extinct fauna, making excuses for their defeat by invaders from the North: it doesn’t get much stupider than that.

    ===================

    This sort of biological chauvinism goes way back. In the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson was infuriated by the French philosopher Buffon’s theory that New World animals were all just weak and degenerate versions of larger, stronger, better European animals. Actually, Buffon extended this theory to apply to New World humans as well.

    Jefferson later sent Buffon a stuffed large bull moose to convince him how wrong he was. Jefferson claimed that Buffon admitted to him his theory was incorrect but Buffon never published a retraction.

    Jefferson also told Lewis & Clark on their expedition to be on the lookout for mammoths, ground sloths and other megafauna that he suspected might still be at large out in the West somewhere.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/jeffersons-moose-thomass-fauna-figh-11-01-26/

  9. Richard Sharpe says:

    I don’t know if this is true, but if so, we’ve kept it hidden for a long time:

    Human lineage may have evolve ethanol tolerance 10M years ago

  10. Karl Zimmerman says:

    Given the closet relations of Meridiungulata remain a bit of a mystery, I’m still rather shocked that no one has attempted to sequence Toxodon and/or Macrauchenia DNA yet. They’re both known by subfossils, and the latter in particular seems to have been common in Patagonia, where the cold, dry climate should have helped with DNA preservation.

    Hell, maybe someone is working on this right now though. If you have some idea, I’m all ears.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s