Even while evolution, like gravity, is still just a theory, new findings in the field of evolution have made the concept of evolution as a process of development appear increasingly more feasible. Not only that, but with each new discovery that is revealed, our understanding of how we humans came to be as a species would seem to be a little bit clearer as well. Discoveries about evolution are more prevalent than one would believe, and significant advancements are being made in the area of biology on an almost regular basis.
The analysis of ancient DNA in 2018 to determine migration patterns is one of the major evolutionary findings to come out of the 2010s. Another one is the discovery in 2010 of human skeletons that are 200,000 years old; these are some of the oldest human remains that have ever been found. These findings may not have received a lot of attention in the news, but they are still important. In more recent times, researchers have come closer to discovering the first instance of “liking” anything in history. Their evidence comes from a fossil that shows an early example of ancient thumbs.
In the year 2021, many discoveries related to evolution were made. In China, a fossil of a creature that has been nicknamed a “monkeydactyl” because it seems to be a combination of a monkey and a pterodactyl was unearthed. The new digital technique was used to the study of a fossil that was unearthed in Brazil in the 1990s. Since the 1980s, this fossil has been giving us insight into the past. It is often referred to as “Little Foot.” In addition, Egyptian researchers have found the skeletal remains of a four-legged whale in the Western Desert, while Israeli researchers have found a new ancient human.
Even though evolution is just a theory at this point, it helps us get a better understanding of the universe and where we fit within it. Come discuss with us the most significant advances in evolutionary theory that occurred in 2021.
The Construction of a Monkeydactyl Requires Excavating IN China, Not to It
What does it mean when something is given a certain name, and what exactly is a monkeydactyl? Because of how similar it is to pterodactyls, you could technically refer to it as a pterosaur if you wanted to. These results, which were published in April 2021 in the journal Current Biology after being subjected to a process of peer review, indicate that pterosaurs existed throughout the Mesozoic epoch and were the first flying animals. It can be difficult to keep track of the different prehistoric eras, so we are happy to remind you that the Mesozoic era encompasses the three different time periods that come to mind first when we think about dinosaurs: the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. We are happy to do so because it can be difficult to keep track of the different prehistoric eras. In other words, around 250 million years ago to approximately 165 million years ago. The Mesozoic period came to an end as a result of a catastrophic extinction catastrophe.
The fossil of a monkeydactyl was discovered in the Chinese region of Liaoning. This region is located in the Northeastern part of the nation and is quite close to the sea. It’s possible that being in a windier environment, such the kind that comes with being near the shore, allowed monkeydactyls flourish for years and years. By doing tiny CT scans on rocks, the researchers were able to pinpoint the exact location of the monkeydactyl’s bones.
The name given to the monkeydactyl by scientists is Kunpengopterus antipollicatus. The very first term, Kunpengopterus, alludes to the legendary beast known as Kun Peng, who appears in Chinese folklore. Given that the monkeydactyl was discovered in China, this makes perfect sense. The legendary creature known as Kun Peng was a gigantic fish that could change its shape into a bird. Therefore, the name makes perfect sense for an animal that is not quite a bird, not quite a primate, but is nevertheless classified as a reptile. The second term, antipollicatus, is a compound word made up of the Greek terms “anti” and “pollex.” The finger located farthest inward on the hand of a primate is known as the “pollex.” When you add “anti” to it, you are making a reference to the opposable thumbs.
The results suggest that monkeydactyl was an arboreal species, which indicates that it most likely spent the most of its existence in the trees. The discovery that the monkeydactyl has opposable thumbs, as the name of the species suggests, is what makes it even more remarkable. Because humans have opposable thumbs, we are able to do a wide variety of grasping tasks, including clothing, driving, cooking, and more.
It is theoretically feasible for there to be no thumbs in humans; but, if you look at other animals with thumbs, such as monkeys, and compare them to animals that do not have thumbs, such as dogs or dolphins, you can see the evolutionary benefits that thumbs bestow. There are a few species of frogs that possess opposable thumbs, but in general, reptiles do not have thumbs at all.
There are innumerable examples of primates employing tools, such as when they use their thumbs and index fingers to pluck bugs off of one other’s heads or even when they shake hands. If you offer a hammer to a dog or a dolphin, they could attempt to put it in their teeth and then look at you as if they are trying to ask, “What do you want me to do with this?”
The Protracted History of the Little Foot Fossil
There are occasions when a fossil is discovered, and the process of excavating that fossil might literally take years. The examination of the fossil could take considerably more time. Furthermore, given the scarcity of ancient artefacts, it is very crucial to avoid damaging or tainting the “goods,” as the expression goes. In addition to this, scientists don’t always have the tools necessary to explore their topics as extensively or as efficiently as they would want to.
In today’s world, experts may use diagnostic technology to put together various fossilised remains using a variety of fossilised fragments. It is also feasible to make incredibly precise replicas of fossil findings using 3D printing technology. It is also helpful to be able to communicate by email and text message; as many people working in the subject of archaeology are often located in different parts of the globe, even the common technology that we all use may provide assistance to researchers as they analyse their discoveries.
In the case of the fossil that was given the name “Little Foot,” its history may be traced back forty years, to the year 1980, in South America. The discovery of four foot bones belonging to the then-unnamed Little Foot during that year did not constitute a significant step forward in the investigation, however. A palaeontologist by the name of Phillip Tobias was the one who came up with the idea to blow up a massive boulder in 1992. The uncovering of a nearly complete skeleton that had characteristics of both humans and apes took place very slowly.
The bones were unearthed and scrutinised for a considerable amount of time. This technique was headed by another palaeontologist by the name of Ronald K. Tobias. In 1995, it was determined that the skeleton belonged to an Australopithecus. The names in this one stem from the Latin term “australis,” which translates to “southern,” and the Greek word “pithekos,” which translates to “ape.” The size of the skeleton that was discovered led to it being given the nickname “Little Foot.”
Through the use of diagnostic imaging, USC researchers were able to provide the world with the most accurate representation of this skeleton that has been possible up to this point. In an article that was written on this process and published in April 2021 in the Journal of Human Evolution, the emphasis was placed on the shoulder and pectoral area of Little Foot. The shoulders of Little Foot’s physique are more akin to those of an ape, whilst the legs have a more human appearance. As a result, the remnants of Little Foot may be seen as something of an evolutionary snapshot, one that has the potential to provide further information about our predecessors’ connections with apes. This movie will educate you more and allow you to personally see the process of assembling Little Foot’s component parts:
Walk Like An Egyptian… 4-Legged Whale?
According to the consensus of the scientific community, whales today are descended from land-dwelling animals that were comparable to deer. The discovery of the fossilised bones of Amphibious Phiomicetus Anubis, a four-legged whale that may hold the key to understanding where contemporary whales come from and how they evolved, is significant since such a controversial idea demands controversial proof.
It is possible that the amphibious Phiomicetus Anubis represents a transitional stage between current whales and their progenitors who lived exclusively on land. The skeletal remains of this species were discovered in the Fayum Depression, an area in Egypt that is home to a vast collection of fossils dating back thousands of years. Paleontologists think that this animal stood at a height of ten feet and weighed well over one thousand three hundred pounds.
It is very unlikely that a fossil of a whale would be found in Egypt, much less one of a land-dwelling ancient whale. The scientific community has come to the consensus that whales evolved in the region of South Asia around 50 million years ago. A cursory examination of a map will demonstrate in an instant how far Egypt and South Asia really are from one another.
Why, against all odds, would fossils of the amphibious Phiomicetus Anubis be found in Egypt? Migration is the most promising idea; experts think that Amphibious Phiomicetus Anubis grew more accustomed to moving by water than by land at some time in their development. This belief stems from the fact that Phiomicetus Anubis can now live in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. It’s possible that many of these animals travelled across the ocean at some point in their history, with some of them ultimately finding their way to North Africa. During these extended journeys, it’s possible that a large number of Amphibious Phiomicetus Anubis infants were produced, which means that subsequent generations will need to adapt more and more to aquatic life.
Step forth, The Dragon Man.
Conversations regarding early humans are seldom, if ever, conducted in a plain manner. The majority of those who work in the field of science believe that Homo sapiens, often known as modern humans, coexisted with a number of other ancient human species tens of thousands of years ago. Homo erectus, Neanderthals, and Denisovans are three of the early human species that have gained the greatest notoriety around the globe. On the other hand, the discovery of a fossil in China has provided insight on a new species of Homo called Homo longi.
It was reported in 1933 that a Chinese construction worker found the skeletal remains of Homo longi, also known as the “Dragon Man,” near Heilong Jiang (also known as the Black Dragon River). This labourer kept the skull of Dragon Man hidden from Imperial Japanese forces in a well for eighty years, and he only divulged its whereabouts just before he died away. Researchers from China and the United Kingdom have been studying the bones of Dragon Man since June, and they have been vigorously debating its exact importance throughout this time.
Prof. Marta Mirazon Lahr believes that Dragon Man is a Denisovan due to the fact that his physical characteristics are compatible with those of other members of the Denisovan race. Prof. Chris Stringer defines Homo longi as “a separate branch of humanity that is not on its way to becoming Homo sapiens (our species), but represents a long-separate lineage which evolved in the region for several hundred thousand years and eventually went extinct.” Homo longi was a species of human that lived in Africa and Asia.
Regarding Dragon Man, it is quite probable that it will take many years for specialists to reach an agreement. These intense disputes concerning Homo longi, according to Professor Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will eventually lead to a greater knowledge of early humans in the long term. According to the insightful words of Prof. Ni, “it is because we differ that science develops.” [Citation needed]
An Interesting Discover in Israel
It’s not only Dragon Man who’s contributed gasoline to the metaphorical fire by accident; other ancient humans have done the same thing. The skeletal remains of an ancient person who lived in Israel between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago were discovered by researchers there. The term “Nesher Ramla Homo” refers to a group of hominins that were discovered in the Nesher Ramla Middle Paleolithic site. Many researchers believe that the individual in question belonged to this group.
Late in the month of June, researchers found a chunk of a skull as well as a jawbone in a sinkhole. According to Dr. Hila May, these fossils may provide a challenge to our current understanding of how humans evolved. Anatomy professor at Tel Aviv University who goes by the name Dr. May hypothesises that the Nesher Ramla Homo group and Neanderthals had a special relationship to one another.
There is a widespread consensus among experts that Neanderthals originated in either Europe or Asia. On the other hand, according to Dr. May’s theory, “during interglacial eras, waves of humanity, the Nesher Ramla people, travelled from the Middle East to Europe.”
Dr. May’s argument is problematic in the eyes of Professor Chris Stringer, who was one of the gentlemen who spoke about Homo longi. Professor Stringer is certain that Nesher Ramla Homo and Neanderthals had a unique connection to one another, but he thinks that at most, they coexisted with one another in the capacity of neighbours. Stringer considers it “a leap too far at the present” to consider the possibility that they are connected to one another.
Another big discovery will be made in 2021 thanks to the Nesher Ramla Homo excavation. In addition, discussions over the exact relevance of this group only contribute to the ongoing scientific dialogue surrounding evolution.
The Use of Fossils in the Art of Storytelling
What happens when two fossil discoveries that are quite identical to one another are published within a few weeks of one another? Some mental gymnastics and a significant amount of tale telling are required. In the field of evolutionary research, a transitional fossil is what is meant to be referred to when individuals speak of a “missing link.” In a nutshell, these missing links assist us in closing the gaps that exist in an evolutionary chain between two species that could possibly be related to one another. This might refer to anything that links the skeletal structure of modern humans to that of the Neanderthal or a monkey, who are considered to be our “evolutionary relatives.” It’s possible that these two discoveries in evolutionary biology from early 2021 are two sides of the same coin.
Both the monkeydactyl and the Little Foot fossil provide circumstantial evidence that they may have been our very great grandparents, or at the very least, some kind of early evolutionary cousins. They complement one another in the sense that they virtually act as if they are telling a tale to one another. Perhaps it was too cold for the pterodactyls to fly, so they had to learn to live in cave-like environments in order to find food and survive. When it comes to thumbs, here is where they come in. In the distant future, the temperature of the earth rises, trees begin to grow from the ground, and throughout this period of time, our ancestors have forgotten how to fly. The creature, which lacked wings and had opposable thumbs, clung to the trees as it made its way down to the earth in search of food and protection. This is when Dragon Man and the organisation known as Nesher Ramla Homo come into play. After our ancestors established themselves in one location, they gradually dispersed to other parts of the world. Environment very certainly had a role in the development of distinct characteristics among the many early human populations. It’s possible that this is why different ancient human species have so many similarities and contrasts with one another.
That was a good deal of conjecture, but creating connections may be a pleasant activity since it encourages us to ask more questions that might lead to hints about larger scientific puzzles that still need explanations. In addition to ourselves, other current descendants of these species may include bats or squirrel monkeys, and the more we are able to learn about them, the more we will comprehend the environment that surrounds us.
Always keep in mind the “narrative” that history tells, and keep in mind that the discovery of these fossils give us a fascinating tale. The process of evolution had a role in the origin of life on Earth. The fossils and samples that are unearthed by archaeologists and the individuals and organisations who provide funding and support for extensive projects such as this one become significant entries in our evolutionary “family book.”
It’s possible that none of us will ever know all of the answers, but having more information is always preferable. Putting together the pieces of our shared history is important, and the evolutionary discoveries that have been made may undoubtedly make for some fantastic sequels to the Jurassic Park movies.
We may never know all the answers, but the more we know, the better. Piecing together our collective past matters — and these evolutionary discoveries could definitely make for some great Jurassic Park sequels.