November 08, 2004

Good Buzz

A paleotologist is challenging the scope of devastation caused by the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

To do this, Kozisek took a novel approach for a paleontologist - instead of looking at what died out, she dug through the literature to find out what survived the massive extinction event.

"I made a list of all survivors and picked those with strict survival requirements," said Kozisek. She determined what those survival requirements were by calling on studies of the closest modern analogues -- which wasn't always easy for some species, she pointed out. There was, for instance, a very early primate that crawled out of the Cretaceous alive, but there is really no comparable small primate around today with which to reliably compare, she said.

On the other hand, a good number of tropical honeybees haven't changed a lot in 65 million years and a great deal is known about modern tropical honey bees' tolerances to heat and cold. What's more, amber-preserved specimens of the oldest tropical honey bee, Cretotrigona prisca, are almost indistinguishable from - and are probably the ancestors of - some modern tropical honeybees like Dactylurina, according to other studies cited by Kozisek.

I got stung by a yellow jacket this weekend. I blame the meteor, and The Eternal Golden Braid, for allowing me to redirect my anger at an inanimate object.

Posted by Ted at November 8, 2004 05:27 AM
Category: SciTech
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