The Loom

Weird Animals, And Why They Matter

i-9abbbef2c2eabc29fc62e0883071f3b6-Animal tree 300.jpgToday in the Boston Globe, I write about how scientists are revising their understanding of the evolution of animals, thanks to more DNA and more weird animals. My favorite quote comes from biologist Mark Pallen, who says that the human genome would have been worthless without understanding how humans are related to other animals.

Unfortunately, this research has been subject to some poor reporting, and to some distortions from creationists. Ryan Gregory and Troy Britain set them straight, respectively.


  1. #1 Siamang
    April 28, 2008

    That’s a beautiful graphic in the Globe.

    Here’s what ads Google puts right below it:

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    These people spam everything relating to evolution. What’s up?

  2. #2 TR Gregory
    April 28, 2008

    Their discovery does not mean that our ancestors looked like comb jellies, Dunn stresses. “That’s like saying that your cousin is your grandpa,” he said. Much of the comb jelly’s anatomy probably evolved after its ancestors split off from the ancestors of other living animals.


  3. #3 Mus
    April 28, 2008

    Needless to say, another great article. I did, however, find a small error/misleading statement.

    >>The next oldest lineages produced a group of species that included jellyfish and comb jellies, known as ctenophores.

    Jellyfish and comb jellies belong to two different phyla, with the jellifish belonging to Cnidaria and the comb jellies belonging to ctenophora.

  4. #4 Peter
    April 29, 2008

    Celebrate the second most basal metazoans! Its Coral Week at Deep Sea News.

    There’s a little bit of us in them. Or is it the other way around?

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?
    April 30, 2008

    IMHO the tree is full of long-branch attraction. The position of the ctenophores is probably spurious.

    That said, the ctenophores are massively underresearched anyway!

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