Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Palaeoblog Now At

After 12 years of blogging here, I've migrated the Palaeoblog over to Facebook at This blog will remain here as an archive.

Please join us there for faster, more up to date Palaeo info, with the same odd bits of pop culture thrown into the mix.

Thanks for all of your support!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Palaeoblog Now on Facebook

Palaeoblog is now on Facebook: Palaeoblog

This will probably be a more or less permanent move, so please check us out at the new address.

Published This Day: Steno Recognizes Fossils as The Remains of Once Living Animals

From Today In Science History:

In 1667, a classic paleontological paper by Nicolaus Steno was published by the Royal Society, London. His topic, Head of a shark dissected, represented the first such scientific paper to recognise that fossils were the remains of creatures who had died and subsequently had become petrified. Controversy resulted as the same claim had been made in the time of the ancient Greeks, two millennia earlier.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Mendel's 1st Paper Published & Ignored

In 1865, Gregor Mendel, who first discovered the laws of genetics, read his first scientific paper to the BrĂ¼nn Society for the study of Natural Sciences in Moravia (published 1866).

He described his investigations with pea plants. Although he sent 40 reprints of his article to prominent biologists throughout Europe, including Darwin, only one was interested enough to reply.

Most of the reprints, including Darwin’s, were discovered later with the pages uncut, meaning they were never read.

Fortunately, 18 years after Mendel's death, three botanists in three different countries researching the laws of inheritance, in spring 1900, came to realize that Mendel had found them first. Mendel was finally acknowledged as a pioneer in the field which became known as genetics. Info from Today In Science History

Read the paper HERE.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Born This Day: G. Hardy

Hardy (Feb. 7, 1877 – Dec. 1, 1947) was an English mathematician known for his work in number theory and mathematical analysis. Although Hardy considered himself a pure mathematician, he nevertheless worked in applied mathematics when he formulated a law that describes how proportions of dominant and recessive genetic traits will propagate in a large population (1908). Hardy considered it unimportant but it has proved of major importance in blood group distribution. As it was also independently discovered by Weinberg, it is known as the Hardy-Weinberg principle.

The Hardy-Weinberg equation

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Born This Day: Mary Leakey

Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey (Feb. 6, 1913 – Dec. 9, 1996) was in London, England. She meet her future husband, Louis Leakey, when he asked her to illustrate his book, 'Adam’s Ancestors'. Mary and Louis spent from 1935 to 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in the Serengeti Plains of northern Tanzania where they worked to reconstruct many Stone Age cultures dating as far back as 100,000 to two million years ago. They documented stone tools from primitive stone-chopping instruments to multi-purpose hand axes.

In October of 1947, while on Rusinga Island, Mary unearthed a Proconsul africanus skull, the first skull of a fossil ape ever to be found. It was dated to be twenty million years old. An Australopithecus boisei skull was uncovered in 1959. Not long afterwards, a less robust Homo habilis was found. In 1965 the duo uncovered a Homo erectus cranium.

After her husband died in 1972, Mary continued her work at Olduvai and Laetoli. She discovered Homo fossils at Laetoli which were more than 3.75 million years old, fifteen new species and one new genus. From 1978-81 Mary and her staff worked to uncover the Laetoli hominid footprint trail which was left in volcanic ashes 3.6 million years ago. From the Minnesota State University site

Image from HERE where you will also find a slightly more colourful account of her life with Louis.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Born This Day: Sir Arthur Keith

Keith (Born 5 Feb 1866; died 7 Jan 1955) was a Scottish anatomist and physical anthropologist who specialized in the study of fossil humans and who reconstructed early hominid forms, notably fossils from Europe and North Africa. After graduating from university (1888), he travelled as a physician on a gold mining trip to Siam. There, he dissected monkeys and became interested in racial types.

In 1892, he returned to Britain and studied anatomy. In 1915, he published The Antiquity of Man, an anatomical survey of all important human fossil remains, at which time he believed that moderns humans are as old as extinct forms of humans. In 1931, New Discoveries was published in which he admitted that modern humans probably arose from types already separate in the early Pleistocene. From Today In Science History

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Born This Day: Raymond: Dart

Dart (Feb. 4 1893 - Nov. 22, 1988) was an Australian-born, South African physical anthropologist. In 1924, working with students in the Taung limestone South Africa, they discovered the first Australopithecus africanus. Dubbed "missing link" at the time, skull is also known as the 'Taung child', and was only three years old at the time of death. More on Dart here