Scientists Uncover Common Ancestor of All Mammals

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Scientists Uncover Common Ancestor of All Mammals

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A powerful new database enable scientists' research into man's origins.

Using a new database of genetic traits, a group of scientists have discovered that humankind's most common ancestor with other placental mammals was a rat-sized animal with a long tail that likely lived on insects. Over the course of a six year study, the scientists built a model of the mammalian family tree that included a huge number of traits - like skeletal shape, teeth, internal organs, and fur patterns - and then used it to determine what a common ancestor possibly looked like. That ancestor came down to a fossil called Prontungulatum donnae, which was such an unloved creature that it didn't even have a common nickname, but turns out to be the creature that came before placental mammals, from elephants to human beings. The research included both genetic data from DNA and where in the fossil record a creature appeared to determine where in the family tree the creature resides.

Dr. Maureen O'Leary, the report's principal author, told the New York Times that "The findings were not a total surprise, but it's an important discovery because it relies on lots of information from fossils and also molecular data. Other scientists, at least a thousand, some from other countries, are already signing up to use MorphoBank." MorphoBank is a publicly accessible database of genetic traits and morphology. It's a great tool for scientists, including both data and images of living and extinct animals. Compiling data, for example, allowed the scientists to recognize that Protungulatum had a two-horned uterus and placenta where maternal blood came in contact with the membranes surrounding the fetus - just like in humans - allowing for live births. MorphoBank enabled the scientists to compare over 4,500 traits.

Some paleontologists disagree with the new date that this discovery puts on the rise of placental mammals, some 66 million years ago. A Duke University scientist, Dr. Anne Yoder, disagreed with the findings, saying that the researchers "devoted most of their analytical energy to scoring characteristics and estimating the shape of the [mammalian family] tree rather than the length of its branches." Nevertheless, Dr. Yoder did acknowledge that the study offered "a fresh perspective ... drawn from a remarkable arsenal of morphological data." The divide between paleontologists and geneticists on the rise of mammals is widely acknowledged. The study was published in the February 8th issue of the journal Science.

Source: New York Times
Image: Carl Buell

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Well that little guy just looks plain awesome. Good to know we all evolved from cute little rat dudes. :)

So... what should we call it?

This explains why honeybadgers are so mean. 66 million years of pure survival instinct.

DVS BSTrD:
So... what should we call it?

Linoone

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So we're all related to Linoones. This makes some sense I think.

Good work, science!

<---(Trainee Palaeontologist) Dem darn geneter'sists, always spit'n on ar good work!

Reminds me of someone I used to know.

Terminate421:

DVS BSTrD:
So... what should we call it?

Linoone

image

So we're all related to Linoones. This makes some sense I think.

HAH! Love it. :)

I HATE things like this. They really have no effening clue, but at the very least, this probably gives us an idea of what we descended from. About what I expected, honestly.

teqrevisited:
Reminds me of someone I used to know.

oh what happened? did they cut you off perhaps? or did they stoop so low?

OT: As much as i respect science and love it, it's just weird thinking of this as a "common ancestor", especially fuck all that long ago.

Well, we do medical testing on rats due to similar... Something. DNA? Anatomy? Someone correct my stupid brain.

Soooo, with that in mind, I guess it's not all that surprising.

DVS BSTrD:
So... what should we call it?

Lunch. A delicious long-tailed lunch.

TakeyB0y2:
Well, we do medical testing on rats due to similar... Something. DNA? Anatomy? Someone correct my stupid brain.

Soooo, with that in mind, I guess it's not all that surprising.

Because they're mammals, like humans, so results in them are comparable to what could happen in humans. Not in all cases obviously, but in a lot.

They're also small, easily breedable with large litter sizes, not very high maintenance and low on the cuddling-factor.

DVS BSTrD:
So... what should we call it?

Revered ancestor, of course.

Go science!

Now, where's the Creationist meatbag to decry this as an attack on his religion?

Well shit. Black, white, penguin, polar bear, elephant, whale. We all used to be insect munching rat dudes hiding from flesh eating monster birds. Hakuna matata.

Guess we won in the end though, mothafuckin' space-rocks equalized the playing field and now we eat the birds. Like the damn dirty apes we are.

TakeyB0y2:
Well, we do medical testing on rats due to similar... Something. DNA? Anatomy? Someone correct my stupid brain.

Soooo, with that in mind, I guess it's not all that surprising.

Mostly because rat are the domesticated mammal, who breed the most and fastest, that we have.

Atrocious Joystick:
Well shit. Black, white, penguin, polar bear, elephant, whale. We all used to be insect munching rat dudes hiding from flesh eating monster birds. Hakuna matata.

Guess we won in the end though, mothafuckin' space-rocks equalized the playing field and now we eat the birds. Like the damn dirty apes we are.

Penguin are bird, their common ancestor with other birds would be a bipedal dinosaur, not a rat like creature.

It is hard for me to imagine a bat coming from that thing, but I'll buy it. I wonder if there is an actual tree showing all of life set up in a tree showing predicted and confirmed ancestors... It would probably be 3D because of how bloody huge it would be, but I can't wait for a full catalog to be compiled and converted into a picture just to show the true hugeness of how much life there has been so far.

ridiculous assertion by scientwits

Ahem.

Abomination:
Go science!

Now, where's the Creationist meatbag to decry this as an attack on his religion?

They were nowhere to be found, but now you've started a fight, and soon their hordes will descend upon us. Take what time you have to make peace with God, for your hubris has ensured we all will be seeing Him soon.

OT: I love the massive databases we're building to figure this stuff out, and that MorphoBank is publicly accessible. Let us fill the internet with knowledge (at least those parts not already full of porn and cats).

So, we're related to shrews? Eh, not the weirdest thing I've hear we're related to. That goes to turnips (which, according to the person I heard this from, we're something like one genetic line away from being turnips or some kind of science mumbo jumbo like that).

Abomination:
Go science!

Now, where's the Creationist meatbag to decry this as an attack on his religion?

Hi. Not going to claim it's an attack, because nobody has claimed this means anything. They have merely found common features of many mammals, put them all together and guessed what an 'evolutionary ancestor' may look like.

If anyone wants a flame war, I'm not going to oblige. If you want a genuine debate, private messages are the way to go.

That doesn't look at all like a 10 foot tall, albino brick-shithouse... Ridley Scott lied to us!

It almost looks like a stoat, and that makes me happy.

Mimsofthedawg:

Terminate421:

DVS BSTrD:
So... what should we call it?

Linoone

image

So we're all related to Linoones. This makes some sense I think.

HAH! Love it. :)

I HATE things like this. They really have no effening clue, but at the very least, this probably gives us an idea of what we descended from. About what I expected, honestly.

"They have no clue"

So...whose the one with a degree and years of experience, funding, and research here? :p

daw. i want my tail back :(

i like the marsupial squirrel rat though.

i guess the gangsters had it right, 'you dirty rat!'
it was surprisingly close to the mark!
is this the kind of alien we should be looking for on other planets? do they all evolve into humans?
so many questions... damn it genetics why cant you have simple rules.

Abomination:
Go science!

Now, where's the Creationist meatbag to decry this as an attack on his religion?

He was a troll, freely admitting that he was one in the User Reviews section. He's suspended now.

Terminate421:

DVS BSTrD:
So... what should we call it?

Linoone

image

So we're all related to Linoones. This makes some sense I think.

And we all know what they evolved from! I am now a proud descendant of the Zigzagoon! This has to be the best discovery in evolution since the discovery of the Chicken evolving (or Devolving whichever way you want to see it) from the T-Rex! man I love science.

Thedutchjelle:

TakeyB0y2:
Well, we do medical testing on rats due to similar... Something. DNA? Anatomy? Someone correct my stupid brain.

Soooo, with that in mind, I guess it's not all that surprising.

Because they're mammals, like humans, so results in them are comparable to what could happen in humans. Not in all cases obviously, but in a lot.

They're also small, easily breedable with large litter sizes, not very high maintenance and low on the cuddling-factor.

I strongly disagree.
Rats can be incredibly cuddly, as they're highly social animals and will take to liking physical contact with humans if brought up right. A hamster may let you pet it without escaping. A rat will actively want you to do so, and crawl up your clothes if you don't. Rats are awesome.

F'Angus:
Well that little guy just looks plain awesome. Good to know we all evolved from cute little rat dudes. :)

Ahem...

DVS BSTrD:
So... what should we call it?

I'm partial to Norman, myself.

Speaking seriously, though, this is very interesting. So, scientists, tell me something... You have just discovered the basis for all mammallian life on this planet. Can you now use that research as a common base towards the curing and prevention of deadly diseases? The universal benchmark as it were?

Xdeser2:

Mimsofthedawg:

Terminate421:

Linoone

image

So we're all related to Linoones. This makes some sense I think.

HAH! Love it. :)

I HATE things like this. They really have no effening clue, but at the very least, this probably gives us an idea of what we descended from. About what I expected, honestly.

"They have no clue"

So...whose the one with a degree and years of experience, funding, and research here? :p

It's not really rocket science. Think of the billions of species that exist at any one time, and you can somehow pinpoint it down to this ONE? Yea, no. Most of the time, this sort of thing is conjecture.

It's not that it's not valuable though. Most likely it was something like this, and/or it was from this period of time. But both archaelogy and paleontology are full of bullcrappers. Why would they do this? Well... how do you think they get funding? lol.

iniudan:

Atrocious Joystick:
Well shit. Black, white, penguin, polar bear, elephant, whale. We all used to be insect munching rat dudes hiding from flesh eating monster birds. Hakuna matata.

Guess we won in the end though, mothafuckin' space-rocks equalized the playing field and now we eat the birds. Like the damn dirty apes we are.

Penguin are bird, their common ancestor with other birds would be a bipedal dinosaur, not a rat like creature.

Noooo! Damn my foolishness! Curse my arrogance and lack of proofreading. You sir have shamed me. I shall now commit seppuku. I implore you, do not tell my children of this. Tell them I died with honor.

FalloutJack:

I'm partial to Norman, myself.

I second the Norman motion.

On a more serious note of my own, does anyone else not think "MorphoBank" sounds totally like something a crazed movie villain would scheme up to enslave the human race?

JEBWrench:

FalloutJack:

I'm partial to Norman, myself.

I second the Norman motion.

On a more serious note of my own, does anyone else not think "MorphoBank" sounds totally like something a crazed movie villain would scheme up to enslave the human race?

Doctor Who technology, I'm thinking. Something held by a species that has learned how to transmute into other forms via some sort of process that even alters biology to appear as the chosen species. (See Rutans and Zygons for that one.)

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