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Transitional locust discovered in forgotten stash of amber

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  • Transitional locust discovered in forgotten stash of amber

    Back in the 1959 entomologist Milton Sanderson collected approximately 72.5 kg (160 lbs.) of amber dated at being between 18-20 myo (Early Miocene) from the La Toca region, near Santiago de los Caballeros, Santiago Province, in north central Dominican Republic. The discovery was reported in Science the next year and essentially forgotten until it was recently re-discovered in a 5-gallon drum setting in a cabinet under a sink.

    While examining this forgotten collection Sam W. Heads, an insect palaeontologist with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Illinois Natural History Survey and his colleagues discovered dozens of insects (including flies, stingless bees, midges, ants, wasps, bark beetles, mites and spiders), and plant inclusions (including a flower bud) and even a mammal hair within the amber.

    But one chunk, measuring 20 × 15 × 12 mm (0.78" x 0.6" x 0.47") in size, contained a tiny extremely well-preserved insect that really caught their attention as they examined it under stereomicroscopes.

    It was a previously unknown species and genus of Tetrigidae, commonly known as pygmy locust, that belongs to the subfamily Cladonotinae. The specimen, identified as being a female, is only 8 mm (0.3") long. Tetrigidae are extremely rare in the fossil record with only nine species having thus far been discovered so Heads and his team knew they had an important find.

    The researchers named their discovery Electrotettix attenboroughi with the first or genus name combining the Latin name for amber ("electrum") with the Greek word for grasshopper ("tettix"). The species name is in honor of British naturalist and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough. So the name essentially translates as "Attenbourgh’s amber grasshopper."

    The specimen is extraordinary in that it represents an intermediate stage in the evolution of Cladonotinae. While modern relatives of this pygmy cricket are totally wingless, this species possesses rudimentary hind wings -- remnant structures that had already lost their primary function.

    IOW, the most ancient representatives of this group had wings, whereas their modern counterparts do not so Electrotettix reveals the point when this subfamily was losing its wings.

    The researchers note that even though these wings are much reduced they still possessed complete venation and demonstrate full rotation which establishes that this specimen is indeed an adult and not merely a nymph with wing pads.

    Still, as Heads points out, Electrotettix couldn't fly in that the wings are much reduced. He also adds that “We wouldn't exactly call it a missing link, but it’s certainly an interesting intermediate between a fully winged ancestor and a wingless descendent."

    Thank you for not calling it a missing link, an archaic and non-scientific name for a transitional fossil species still used in popular media and unfortunately by some scientists when describing a transitional fossil.

    The researchers will continue to examine this huge stash of amber looking for more important discoveries over the next several years (such work is painstakingly slow). During the process the researchers plan on digitizing the best specimens and uploading the images onto a publicly available website.


    top is oblique right lateral view and bottom is in oblique left lateral view (scale bar 1 mm)

    Electrotettix 2.jpg



    Further Reading:

    A remarkable new pygmy grasshopper (Orthoptera, Tetrigidae) in Miocene amber from the Dominican Republic Abstract & Paper

    20-million-year-old grasshopper named after David Attenborough (includes 30 sec video)

    New Pygmy Locust Discovered in Ancient Amber, Named after David Attenborough

    Decades-old amber collection offers new views of a lost world: Tiny grasshopper encased in amber

    New Grasshopper Species Discovered In Amber Collected 50 Years Ago

    New cricket discovered in long-neglected amber collection

    Forgotten amber collection is a new window to the past

    Ancient cricket found in neglected primeval amber

    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
    "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

  • #2
    "The specimen is extraordinary in that it represents an intermediate stage in the evolution of Cladonotinae. While modern relatives of this pygmy cricket are totally wingless, this species possesses rudimentary hind wings -- remnant structures that had already lost their primary function.

    IOW, the most ancient representatives of this group had wings, whereas their modern counterparts do not so Electrotettix reveals the point when this subfamily was losing its wings."

    And so we find yet another example of 'Evolution' in which an organism has (allegedly) LOST a feature (here it's wings). One definition of Evolution that may be deduced from these many examples is: "Evolution is a process by which you lose things to gain something."

    Uhmmm ... to lose it the organism first had to gain it (i.e., acquire it). That would have required a huge acquisition of integrated information and that is the Waterloo of the myth known as Evolution.

    Stay tuned: I've been working on 'information' for several years - this work continues.

    Jorge

    Comment


    • #3
      Rouge06, please tell me you expected the "losing" angle to come up.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jorge View Post
        Uhmmm ... to lose it the organism first had to gain it (i.e., acquire it). That would have required a huge acquisition of integrated information and that is the Waterloo of the myth known as Evolution.
        Classic Napoleon complex.

        Roy
        Jorge: Functional Complex Information is INFORMATION that is complex and functional.

        mikewhitney: What if the speed of light changed when light is passing through water? ... I have 3 semesters of college Physics.

        Mountain Man: First of all, the Bible is a fixed document.
        Mountain Man: … this is how liberals argue these days, with labels instead of ideas.

        Comment


        • #5
          Flight requires an incredible amount of energy. If the creature can adapt to a niche where this ability is no longer needed why expend the resources maintaining the wings necessary for it since they are a big drain on resources if not being used (similar to why some fish that live in caves lose their eyes)? Now this does not mean that pygmy locust decided to lose their wings but rather as time passed those that started filling the niche that had smaller wings had a distinct advantage over the ones with larger wings. They weren't expending resources on maintaining those wings thus giving them a distinct advantage over the ones with larger wings that could still fly. And the process continued until the wings reduced to nothing since, unlike something like ostriches which still have uses for their wings[1], pygmy locust apparently did not. So this means that they were more likely to survive to reproduce and since they pass their genes on to their descendants they too were more likely to survive to reproduce. This continued generation after generation.






          1. Such as helping to maintain balance as they run and make turns while running at speeds in excess of 30 mph (50 kph) as well as being used as part of a threat display when they become agitated -- running straight at their target with wings fully extended (ostriches can, for example, easily disembowel a man with a single kick so the threat is very real). They are also used in mating displays and ostriches have been recorded using them to shade chicks from the hot sun as well.

          I'm always still in trouble again

          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kristian Joensen View Post
            Rouge06, please tell me you expected the "losing" angle to come up.
            Why would Rogue06 (he's not a pretty red color) "expect" any particular "loss" or "gain" from evolution?

            As with ALL creationists, you have no clue what evolution is.

            Hey, what's YOUR explanation for this "loss"???

            K54

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Roy View Post
              Classic Napoleon complex.

              Roy
              Indeed. The Little Fella demonstrates his strawman understanding of evolution as a continual progression of added features extending from "goo to yoo".

              Impresses his Primary Sunday School students though...

              K54

              P.S. Jorge, can you explain what use feathers are if the anee-mule can't fly?

              Comment


              • #8
                I have seen weird grasshopers with wings. Are there 4 species or are there 4 modes of grasshopers? They can get huge, black, and grow wings, or the can revert to being crickets. The topic reminds me of a History channel special on locust swarms.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by klaus54 View Post
                  Why would Rogue06 (he's not a pretty red color) "expect" any particular "loss" or "gain" from evolution?

                  As with ALL creationists, you have no clue what evolution is.

                  Hey, what's YOUR explanation for this "loss"???

                  K54
                  You are misunderstandung me. I wasn't at all endorsing Jorge's claims . I was just pointing out that Jorge's reaction was rather predictable and should have been forseen/addressed in advance by the OP.
                  Last edited by Kristian Joensen; 08-02-2014, 04:12 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kristian Joensen View Post
                    You are misunderstandung me. I wasn't at all endorsing Jorge's claims . I was just pointing out that Jorge's reaction was rather predictable and should have been forseen/addressed in advance by the OP.
                    Why? I don't doubt it was foreseen, but why should it be addressed? Why clutter up a well-written post on an interesting discovery with unnecessary comments to forestall one possible idiocy when the most likely result is to provoke another? Rogue could have commented on the relative commonality of organ losses vs gains, and on the reliability of dating methods for amber, and on the nature of transitionals, and on the possibility of this being a flood deposit, and on the utility of vestigial features, and on the possibility that flying, non-flying and nearly-flying pygmy locusts were originally created and some of them have gone extinct - but it'd just clutter up an excellent post and distract from the main message.

                    Rogue's post was aimed at those of us who appreciate such information. He had no more need to include a discussion of loss v gain of organs than he needed to explain why the world isn't flat.

                    Roy

                    P.S. That's a really small wasp.
                    Jorge: Functional Complex Information is INFORMATION that is complex and functional.

                    mikewhitney: What if the speed of light changed when light is passing through water? ... I have 3 semesters of college Physics.

                    Mountain Man: First of all, the Bible is a fixed document.
                    Mountain Man: … this is how liberals argue these days, with labels instead of ideas.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Kristian Joensen View Post
                      You are misunderstandung me. I wasn't at all endorsing Jorge's claims . I was just pointing out that Jorge's reaction was rather predictable and should have been forseen/addressed in advance by the OP.
                      Sorry for the misunderstanding!

                      The general reaction for Jorgian YECs is treat any new fossil or other scientific discovery to point out the non-absolutist nature of science in opposition to their view which is decided in advance. I.e., they tend to practice a form of epistemic nihilism.

                      K54

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I highly doubt a grasshopper that is green and has wings is new species. I have seen them before. They are weird and ugly.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Kristian Joensen View Post
                          You are misunderstandung me. I wasn't at all endorsing Jorge's claims . I was just pointing out that Jorge's reaction was rather predictable and should have been forseen/addressed in advance by the OP.
                          Not nearly as predictable as your reaction. But instead of your knee-jerk reaction, why don't you use your own brain (you do have one of those, right?) to answer how integrated information self-emerged from raw chemicals in order to create novel features. That would have been worth reading. Instead you torture us with your prepackaged, often-parroted "reply".

                          Jorge

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jorge View Post
                            Not nearly as predictable as your reaction. But instead of your knee-jerk reaction, why don't you use your own brain (you do have one of those, right?) to answer how integrated information self-emerged from raw chemicals in order to create novel features. That would have been worth reading. Instead you torture us with your prepackaged, often-parroted "reply".

                            Jorge
                            Easy. The "integrated information" in the genome comes from the combination of novel genetic variations that arise every generation along with the feedback provided by the environment as selection pressures.

                            Science has known about the process for some 60 years now but YEC morons just can't seem to grasp the concept.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Jorge View Post
                              Not nearly as predictable as your reaction. But instead of your knee-jerk reaction, why don't you use your own brain (you do have one of those, right?) to answer how integrated information self-emerged from raw chemicals in order to create novel features. That would have been worth reading. Instead you torture us with your prepackaged, often-parroted "reply".

                              Jorge
                              You make a lot of assumptions Jorge. You assume that I have strong, settled views on origins that contradict yours. I don't. I am highly sympathetic to some of the biblical issues that some YECs point out and currently that is what is stopping me from outright adopting some kind of Theistic Evolutionary view(OEC isn't really a contender for me, it is YEC vs TE). But I haven't done so at all. I am not convinced on the biblical front. But I am far far far from as impressed by some YEC scientific claims than I used to be. What I am not doing however is making any claims about information self-emerging from raw chemicals. That is certainly not a settled view of mine at all. So why should I defend that? Where did I make that claim? I didn't claim that is how it happened and I am not going to defend a claim I never made.

                              Comment

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