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Fossils Bridge Gap in African Mammal Evolution
Reuters to My Yahoo! ^ | Wed Dec 3, 2003 | Patricia Reaney

Posted on 12/03/2003 4:53:26 PM PST by Pharmboy

LONDON (Reuters) - Fossils discovered in Ethiopia's highlands are a missing piece in the puzzle of how African mammals evolved, a team of international scientists said on Wednesday.

Little is known about what happened to mammals between 24 million to 32 million years ago, when Africa and Arabia were still joined together in a single continent.

But the remains of ancestors of modern-day elephants and other animals, unearthed by the team of U.S. and Ethiopian scientists 27 million years on, provide some answers.

"We show that some of these very primitive forms continue to live through the missing years, and then during that period as well, some new forms evolved -- these would be the ancestors of modern elephants," said Dr John Kappelman, who headed the team.

The find included several types of proboscideans, distant relatives of elephants, and fossils from the arsinoithere, a rhinoceros-like creature that had two huge bony horns on its snout and was about 7 feet high at the shoulder.

"It continues to amaze me that we don't have more from this interval of time. We are talking about an enormous continent," said Kappelman, who is based at the University of Texas at Austin.

Scientists had thought arsinoithere had disappeared much earlier but the discovery showed it managed to survive through the missing years. The fossils from the new species found in Ethiopia are the largest, and at 27 million years old, the youngest discovered so far.

"If this animal was still alive today it would be the central attraction at the zoo," Tab Rasmussen, a paleontologist at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri who worked on the project, said in a statement.

Many of the major fossil finds in Ethiopia are from the Rift Valley. But Kappelman and colleagues in the United States and at Ethiopia's National Science Foundation (news - web sites) and Addis Ababa University concentrated on a different area in the northwestern part of the country.

Using high-resolution satellite images to scour a remote area where others had not looked before, his team found the remains in sedimentary rocks about 6,600 feet above sea level.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: africa; archaeology; crevolist; evolution; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; links; mammals; multiregionalism; neandertal
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To: Hootowl; Hunble; Leonine; VadeRetro
Boy, they're almost too numerous to mention, but I'll give it a shot. Urey and Miller used a carefully selected variety of organic gases in concentrations designed to favor the formation of soem of life's building blocks. Nor suprisingly, they got the result they wanted. However, did it replicate actual conditions on earth? No. Earth's original atmosphere (as posited by scientists, not creationists) couldn't hold heavy gases like xenon and krypton, let alone the lighter ones like methane and ammonia. Urey and Miller's experiment subjected the test gases to carefully controlled electrical stimulation to get their result. A real lightning bolt would have fried the potential result. Going farther, Urey and Miller carefully screened their experiment from real-world concentrations of ultra-violet light, which would have been as plentiful then as now. They did this because ultra-violet light breaks down ammonia faster than it can form, so in the real world the combination of ingredients used by Urey/Miller wouldn't have had a chance of working. Plus, if all these things were in on the beginning, sedimentary rocks ought to show significant amounts of organic stuff. They don't. Need more? Real life amino acids are all of one special form, called left-handed molecules. Urey/Miller's experiment produced a "racemic" mixture of amino acides, approximately equal proportions of left- and right-handed amino acids. If that had been the case from the beginning, we'd still have left- and right-handed molecules, but we don't find right-handed molecules in any life form today. All for now. I'm tired of typing. ;^)

Tired of plagiarizing you mean. You know, a simple cut-and-paste along with giving a citation would have saved your poor fingers a lot of work, and additionally would have prevented you from getting caught dishonestly presenting someone else's writing as your own post.

Freepers are invited to compare "Hootowl's" above post with the following:

We had Miller and Ureys' experiments, shooting little sparks through organic gases in concentrations carefully picked to favor the formation of some of life's building blocks. Not surprisingly, some were formed. Never mind that Earth's original atmosphere couldn't hold HEAVY gases like xenon and krypton (shades of Superman!) let alone the LIGHTER ones used in the experiments (like methane and ammonia), or that a REAL lightning bolt would effectively FRY a darling little amoeba-in-the-making. It is bothersome also that ultraviolet light from our sun knocks out ammonia faster that it can form, and old sedimentary rocks ought to show significant amounts of organic stuff in them if this is the way it was, but they don't.8

A Left-handed Creation?

Add to that what Louis Pasteur, Linus Pauling, and Francis Crick (evolutionist co-discoverer of the DNA structure) all pointed out: The amino acids of life, from mold up to Man, are all of ONE SPECIAL FORM. John Maddox, English biologist, calls this "an intellectual thunderbolt": Randomized experiments always give a "racemic" mixture,9 approximately EQUAL proportions of D- and L-, right-handed and left-handed amino acids (chemically identical, but "mirror images" of each other) - whereas life proteins consist of LEFT-HANDED MOLECULES ONLY!10

(The preceding is from Creation Or Evolution? Part 1 by Winkie Pratney.) No, I didn't make up that name.

But now I'll address your arguments (oh, excuse me, *Pratney's* arguments that you presented as your own) one by one:

Urey and Miller used a carefully selected variety of organic gases in concentrations designed to favor the formation of soem of life's building blocks.

Horse manure. They used the basic materials believed at the time to be present in the primordial Earth. They chose the mixture they used because it was the one proposed by Aleksandr Oparin in 1924, as a result of then-current discoveries of large amounts of methane on Jupiter, which Oparin and others believed may have been present on the primordial Earth as well.

So unless you (wait, I mean *Pratney*) want to claim that Urey-Miller "carefully selected" their mixture by using a time machine to travel back 31 years and suggest it to Oparin...

Nor suprisingly, they got the result they wanted.

"Not surprisingly" my hind end. It was such a surprise at the time that the submissions reviewer at _Science_ magazine set their paper aside and ignored it because he thought it was too preposterous (based on what was conventional wisdom at the time).

However, did it replicate actual conditions on earth? No.

And who in the last several decades has claimed that it exactly "replicated" such conditions?

Earth's original atmosphere (as posited by scientists, not creationists) couldn't hold heavy gases like xenon and krypton, let alone the lighter ones like methane and ammonia.

Wow, that's remarkably misleading. Was it on purpose or by mistake, I wonder? While it's true that the Earth lost most of its "original atmosphere" thanks to the enormous temperatures present during planetary formation, the composition of its "original atmosphere" is an irrelevant straw man, since the Earth had acquired its secondary atmosphere (mostly via crustal outgassing and vulcanism) by the time it had cooled enough to a) retain an atmosphere and b) for early life to begin its first steps.

And at *that* time, contrary to your (oops, *Pratney's*) highly misleading statement, there was *abundant* ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and other gases in Earth's atmosphere. In fact, the vast amount of nitrogen in today's atmosphere (76% by volume) is primarily the "fossil" remnant of the primordial ammonia -- atmospheric ammonia can photodissociate into N2 and H2, plus once plant life began generating oxygen and filling the atmosphere with it, the atmospheric ammonia combined with the oxygen and produced nitrogen gas (N2) and water.

Gee, that sounds a lot like Urey-Miller's experimental composition after all.

Urey and Miller's experiment subjected the test gases to carefully controlled electrical stimulation to get their result. A real lightning bolt would have fried the potential result.

Surely you *can't* be naive enough to make such a misleading statement by accident. Although I guess you could be naive enough to copy such a thing from Pratney...

Quick, Einstein, when a lightning bolt lands, are nearby materials subjected to either the full force of the bolt or no effect whatsoever? Is it "all or nothing"? No...

Instead, while material directly at the strike site will experience energy fluxes on the order of the surface of the Sun, as the imparted electrical energy grounds itself, the surrounding area (for a considerable distance) is subjected to varying amounts of electrical energy depending on its distance from the strike site. In other words, as the current from the lightning "spreads out" and dissipates, locations close to the site will experience nearly 100% of the current, while those farther away will experience 50%, 40%, 10%, 2%, etc.

So what Hootowl has missed (while copying from Pratney, who missed it also) is that while a direct strike is likely to "fry" whatever it hits, indirect strikes will provide any lesser amount of electric potential you care to name -- and over a larger area to boot.

There's nothing wrong with Urey-Miller's electric potential.

Going farther, Urey and Miller carefully screened their experiment from real-world concentrations of ultra-violet light,

No they didn't, nor does even Pratney say that they did. You made that up.

which would have been as plentiful then as now.

Gee, really? Even in an atmosphere much more dense than today's, filled with organic compounds which are less transparent to both visible and ultraviolet light? (See: "The Early Faint Sun Paradox: Organic Shielding of Ultraviolet-Labile Greenhouse Gases", Sagan and Cyba, 1997) Fascinating.

They did this because ultra-violet light breaks down ammonia faster than it can form,

That's sweet and all, but even if that were true (see the above citation), it's irrelevant since the ammonia in the early atmosphere was outgassed, not "formed".

It's also irrelevant because you (oops, *Pratney*) make a frequent creationist error. Although creationists like to derisively chant "organic soup" until they're blue in the face, they somehow seem to still concentrate on the dynamics of the prebiotic *atmosphere* instead of the "soup" (the seas). While it's true that ammonia in the *atmosphere* is subject to photodissociation by ultraviolet light, no one is proposing that early life formed in the *air*. Something Pratney "forgot" to mention is that another way that ammonia is readily removed from the atmosphere is by solution into *water*. And the ammonia which would have been taken up by the oceans, seas, and lakes would have been largely protected from any ultraviolet rays.

so in the real world the combination of ingredients used by Urey/Miller wouldn't have had a chance of working.

Uh huh... Care to try any arguments that actually aren't full of holes?

Maybe even try some of your own this time, instead of cribbing from Pratney, since Pratney doesn't seem to be too reliable a source.

Plus, if all these things were in on the beginning, sedimentary rocks ought to show significant amounts of organic stuff. They don't.

Okay I'll bite -- exactly how would "organic stuff" represent itself in precambrian sedimentary rocks?

But if you want geochemical differences in precambrian rocks that indicate the presence of a reducing atmosphere, see for example Geological and trace element evidence for a marine sedimentary environment of deposition and biogenicity of 3.45 Ga stromatolitic carbonates in the Pilbara Craton, and support for a reducing Archaean ocean (2003) by Van Kranendonk, Webb, and Kamber. Excerpt from the abstract:

The geochemical results, together with sedimentological data, strongly support: (1) deposition of Dresser Formation and Strelley Pool Chert carbonates from Archaean seawater, in part as particulate carbonate sediment; (2) biogenicity of the stromatolitic carbonates; (3) a reducing Archaean atmosphere; (4) ongoing extensive terrestrial erosion prior to 3.45 Ga.
A "reducing atmosphere", for those in Rio Linda, is "An atmosphere of a planet or moon which has a high hydrogen content, either in the form of free hydrogen or hydrogen-containing compounds, such as methane or ammonia", according to the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight.

Need more?

Yes, since the other points have fallen so flat.

Real life amino acids are all of one special form, called left-handed molecules.

That's not so "special", but yes, amino acids in living things are mostly (not "all") of the same chirality.

Urey/Miller's experiment produced a "racemic" mixture of amino acides, approximately equal proportions of left- and right-handed amino acids. If that had been the case from the beginning, we'd still have left- and right-handed molecules,

Nonsense. For the most part biological mechanisms work best when they primarily use one "handedness" of amino acid, and thus early life had a strong incentive (via natural selection) to "choose" one variety (either left or right) from the "primordial soup" of naturally occurring mixed amino acids, and use that one exclusively thereafter. Subsequent biological (as opposed to the initial non-biological) synthesis of amino acids, which makes up most amino acids we encounter in the world today, would then be almost exclusively of that chosen "handedness".

There's nothing mysterious about it.

And when you (excuse me, when *Pratney*) says that "If that had been the case from the beginning, we'd still have left- and right-handed molecules", it implies that we *don't* have any right-handed amino acids today. But we still do, so there goes *that* line of argument...

but we don't find right-handed molecules in any life form today.

You mangled that even from Pratney's incorrect version, which says "whereas life proteins consist of LEFT-HANDED MOLECULES ONLY!". At least Pratney was competent enough (*cough*) to include the word "proteins". Your leaving it out makes your statement sheer nonsense, since there are plenty of "right-handed molecules" in "life forms today" -- Pratney's original narrowed the claim to *protein* molecules (i.e. amino acids) which is a much more sensible assertion.

But still flat wrong, unfortunately. Let's look at that claim one more time: "whereas life proteins consist of LEFT-HANDED MOLECULES ONLY!" Um, no, sorry, but thanks for playing. It has long been known (since at least 1969, see Corrigan J J 1969 D-amino acids in animals; Science 164 142– 149) that many life forms use right-handed amino acids as in their tissues and processes. For example gram-positive bacteria use right-handed Isoglutamic acid as a component of their cell walls. See for example Comparative analysis of naturally occurring L-amino acid osmolytes and their D-isomers on protection of Escherichia coli against environmental stresses. More recently it has been found that most animals, including humans and other mammals, incorporate right-handed amino acids for various functions (see for example D-Amino acids and D-Tyr-tRNATyr deacylase: stereospecificity of the translation machine revisited).

All for now. I'm tired of typing. ;^)

Just as well, you weren't supporting your original claim very well.

And next time, save yourself a lot of typing by just doing a cut-and-paste on your source material, and post a citation, instead of spending the time to slightly rephrase it in order to give the false impression that it's your own work. Not only will this save you a lot of typing, but you'll find that the chief advantage of properly referencing your sources is that although you don't get personal credit for the material (and if it's not yours you shouldn't), you also get to pass blame for any flaws it contains back to the original author instead of appearing a fool yourself. And in this case, that would have been indeed the wise course.

441 posted on 12/05/2003 1:44:01 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: William Terrell
But how do we get from a trilobite to a hog or an elephant, not to speak of a fly, a cockroach or a centipede.

Well we don't, since trilobites are not on the ancestral line of any of those other species.

However, if a fish to an elephant is illustrative enough to address your question, then here you go (all of the listed specimens are actual fossils):

Fish to Amphibian transition:

1. Cheirolepis, (early Devonian, 400 million years ago) -- Primitive bony ray-finned fishes that gave rise to the vast majority of living fish. Heavy acanthodian-type scales, acanthodian-like skull, and big notocord.

2. Osteolepis (mid-Devonian, 390 million years ago) -- One of the earliest crossopterygian lobe-finned fishes, still sharing some characters with the lungfish (the other lobe-finned fishes). Had paired fins with a leg-like arrangement of major limb bones, capable of flexing at the "elbow", and had an early-amphibian-like skull and teeth.

3. Eusthenopteron, Sterropterygion (mid-late Devonian, 380 million years ago) -- Early rhipidistian lobe-finned fish roughly intermediate between early crossopterygian fish and the earliest amphibians. Skull very amphibian-like. Strong amphibian- like backbone. Fins very like early amphibian feet in the overall layout of the major bones, muscle attachments, and bone processes, with tetrapod-like tetrahedral humerus, and tetrapod-like elbow and knee joints. But there are no perceptible "toes", just a set of identical fin rays. Body & skull proportions rather fishlike.

4. Panderichthys, Elpistostege (mid-late Devonian, about 370 Mya) -- These "panderichthyids" are very tetrapod-like lobe-finned fish. Unlike Eusthenopteron, these fish actually look like tetrapods in overall proportions (flattened bodies, dorsally placed orbits, frontal bones! in the skull, straight tails, etc.) and have remarkably foot-like fins.

5. Obruchevichthys(middle Late Devonian, about 370 Mya -- Discovered in 1991 in Scotland, these are the earliest known tetrapod remains. The humerus is mostly tetrapod-like but retains some fish features. The discoverer, Ahlberg (1991), said: "It [the humerus] is more tetrapod-like than any fish humerus, but lacks the characteristic early tetrapod 'L-shape'...this seems to be a primitive, fish-like character....although the tibia clearly belongs to a leg, the humerus differs enough from the early tetrapod pattern to make it uncertain whether the appendage carried digits or a fin. At first sight the combination of two such extremities in the same animal seems highly unlikely on functional grounds. If, however, tetrapod limbs evolved for aquatic rather than terrestrial locomotion, as recently suggested, such a morphology might be perfectly workable."

6. Hynerpeton, Acanthostega, Ichthyostega (late Devonian, 360 Mya) -- A little later, the fin-to-foot transition was almost complete, and we have a set of early tetrapod fossils that clearly did have feet. The most complete are Ichthyostega, Acanthostega gunnari, and the newly described Hynerpeton bassetti (Daeschler et al., 1994). (There are also other genera known from more fragmentary fossils.) Hynerpeton is the earliest of these three genera (365 Ma), but is more advanced in some ways; the other two genera retained more fish- like characters longer than the Hynerpeton lineage did. Acanthostega still had internal gills, adding further support to the suggestion that unique tetrapod characters such as limbs with digits evolved first for use in water rather than for walking on land. Acanthostega also had a remarkably fish-like shoulder and forelimb. Ichthyostega was also very fishlike, retaining a fish-like finned tail, permanent lateral line system, and notochord. It turns out that Acanthostega's front foot had eight toes, and Ichthyostega's hind foot had seven toes, giving both feet the look of a short, stout flipper with many "toe rays" similar to fin rays. All you have to do to a lobe- fin to make it into a many-toed foot like this is curl it, wrapping the fin rays forward around the end of the limb. In fact, this is exactly how feet develop in larval amphibians, from a curled limb bud. Hynerpeton, in contrast, probably did not have internal gills and already had a well-developed shoulder girdle; it could elevate and retract its forelimb strongly, and it had strong muscles that attached the shoulder to the rest of the body (Daeschler et al., 1994).

7. Labyrinthodonts (eg Pholidogaster, Pteroplax) (late Dev./early Miss., 355 Mya) -- These larger amphibians still have some icthyostegid fish features, such as skull bone patterns, labyrinthine tooth dentine, presence & pattern of large palatal tusks, the fish skull hinge, pieces of gill structure between cheek & shoulder, and the vertebral structure. But they have lost several other fish features: the fin rays in the tail are gone, the vertebrae are stronger and interlocking, the nasal passage for air intake is well defined, etc.

Amphibian to Reptile transition:

8. Pholidogaster (Mississippian, about 330 Ma) -- A group of large labrinthodont amphibians, transitional between the early amphibians (the ichthyostegids, described above) and later amphibians such as rhachitomes and anthracosaurs.

9. Proterogyrinus (late Mississippian, 325 Mya) -- Classic labyrinthodont-amphibian skull and teeth, but with reptilian vertebrae, pelvis, humerus, and digits. Still has fish skull hinge. Amphibian ankle. 5-toed hand and a 2-3-4-5-3 (almost reptilian) phalangeal count.

10. Limnoscelis, Tseajaia (late Carboniferous, 300 Mya) -- Amphibians apparently derived from the early anthracosaurs, but with additional reptilian features: structure of braincase, reptilian jaw muscle, expanded neural arches.

11. Solenodonsaurus (mid-Pennsylvanian) -- An incomplete fossil, apparently between the anthracosaurs and the cotylosaurs. Loss of palatal fangs, loss of lateral line on head, etc. Still just a single sacral vertebra, though.

12. Hylonomus, Paleothyris (early Pennsylvanian) -- These are protorothyrids, very early cotylosaurs (primitive reptiles). They were quite little, lizard-sized animals with amphibian-like skulls (amphibian pineal opening, dermal bone, etc.), shoulder, pelvis, & limbs, and intermediate teeth and vertebrae. Rest of skeleton reptilian, with reptilian jaw muscle, no palatal fangs, and spool-shaped vertebral centra. Probably no eardrum yet.

13. Paleothyris (early Pennsylvanian) -- An early captorhinomorph reptile, with no temporal fenestrae at all.

14. Protoclepsydrops haplous (early Pennsylvanian) -- The earliest known synapsid reptile. Little temporal fenestra, with all surrounding bones intact. Had amphibian-type vertebrae with tiny neural processes. (reptiles had only just separated from the amphibians)

15. Clepsydrops (early Pennsylvanian) -- The second earliest known synapsid.

Reptile to Mammal transition:

16. Archaeothyris (early-mid Pennsylvanian) -- A slightly later ophiacodont. Small temporal fenestra, now with some reduced bones (supratemporal). Braincase still just loosely attached to skull. Slight hint of different tooth types. Still has some extremely primitive, amphibian/captorhinid features in the jaw, foot, and skull. Limbs, posture, etc. typically reptilian, though the ilium (major hip bone) was slightly enlarged.

17. Varanops (early Permian) -- Temporal fenestra further enlarged. Braincase floor shows first mammalian tendencies & first signs of stronger attachment to rest of skull (occiput more strongly attached). Lower jaw shows first changes in jaw musculature (slight coronoid eminence). Body narrower, deeper: vertebral column more strongly constructed. Ilium further enlarged, lower-limb musculature starts to change (prominent fourth trochanter on femur). This animal was more mobile and active. Too late to be a true ancestor, and must be a "cousin".

18. Haptodus (late Pennsylvanian) -- One of the first known sphenacodonts, showing the initiation of sphenacodont features while retaining many primitive features of the ophiacodonts. Occiput still more strongly attached to the braincase. Teeth become size-differentiated, with biggest teeth in canine region and fewer teeth overall. Stronger jaw muscles. Vertebrae parts & joints more mammalian. Neural spines on vertebrae longer. Hip strengthened by fusing to three sacral vertebrae instead of just two. Limbs very well developed.

19. Dimetrodon, Sphenacodon or a similar sphenacodont (late Pennsylvanian to early Permian, 270 Ma) -- More advanced pelycosaurs, clearly closely related to the first therapsids (next). Dimetrodon is almost definitely a "cousin" and not a direct ancestor, but as it is known from very complete fossils, it's a good model for sphenacodont anatomy. Medium-sized fenestra. Teeth further differentiated, with small incisors, two huge deep- rooted upper canines on each side, followed by smaller cheek teeth, all replaced continuously. Fully reptilian jaw hinge. Lower jaw bone made of multiple bones & with first signs of a bony prong later involved in the eardrum, but there was no eardrum yet, so these reptiles could only hear ground-borne vibrations (they did have a reptilian middle ear). Vertebrae had still longer neural spines (spectacularly so in Dimetrodon, which had a sail), and longer transverse spines for stronger locomotion muscles.

20. Biarmosuchia (late Permian) -- A therocephalian -- one of the earliest, most primitive therapsids. Several primitive, sphenacodontid features retained: jaw muscles inside the skull, platelike occiput, palatal teeth. New features: Temporal fenestra further enlarged, occupying virtually all of the cheek, with the supratemporal bone completely gone. Occipital plate slanted slightly backwards rather than forwards as in pelycosaurs, and attached still more strongly to the braincase. Upper jaw bone (maxillary) expanded to separate lacrymal from nasal bones, intermediate between early reptiles and later mammals. Still no secondary palate, but the vomer bones of the palate developed a backward extension below the palatine bones. This is the first step toward a secondary palate, and with exactly the same pattern seen in cynodonts. Canine teeth larger, dominating the dentition. Variable tooth replacement: some therocephalians (e.g Scylacosaurus) had just one canine, like mammals, and stopped replacing the canine after reaching adult size. Jaw hinge more mammalian in position and shape, jaw musculature stronger (especially the mammalian jaw muscle). The amphibian-like hinged upper jaw finally became immovable. Vertebrae still sphenacodontid-like. Radical alteration in the method of locomotion, with a much more mobile forelimb, more upright hindlimb, & more mammalian femur & pelvis. Primitive sphenacodontid humerus. The toes were approaching equal length, as in mammals, with #toe bones varying from reptilian to mammalian. The neck & tail vertebrae became distinctly different from trunk vertebrae. Probably had an eardrum in the lower jaw, by the jaw hinge.

21. Procynosuchus (latest Permian) -- The first known cynodont -- a famous group of very mammal-like therapsid reptiles, sometimes considered to be the first mammals. Probably arose from the therocephalians, judging from the distinctive secondary palate and numerous other skull characters. Enormous temporal fossae for very strong jaw muscles, formed by just one of the reptilian jaw muscles, which has now become the mammalian masseter. The large fossae is now bounded only by the thin zygomatic arch (cheekbone to you & me). Secondary palate now composed mainly of palatine bones (mammalian), rather than vomers and maxilla as in older forms; it's still only a partial bony palate (completed in life with soft tissue). Lower incisor teeth was reduced to four (per side), instead of the previous six (early mammals had three). Dentary now is 3/4 of lower jaw; the other bones are now a small complex near the jaw hinge. Jaw hinge still reptilian. Vertebral column starts to look mammalian: first two vertebrae modified for head movements, and lumbar vertebrae start to lose ribs, the first sign of functional division into thoracic and lumbar regions. Scapula beginning to change shape. Further enlargement of the ilium and reduction of the pubis in the hip. A diaphragm may have been present.

22. Dvinia [also "Permocynodon"] (latest Permian) -- Another early cynodont. First signs of teeth that are more than simple stabbing points -- cheek teeth develop a tiny cusp. The temporal fenestra increased still further. Various changes in the floor of the braincase; enlarged brain. The dentary bone was now the major bone of the lower jaw. The other jaw bones that had been present in early reptiles were reduced to a complex of smaller bones near the jaw hinge. Single occipital condyle splitting into two surfaces. The postcranial skeleton of Dvinia is virtually unknown and it is not therefore certain whether the typical features found at the next level had already evolved by this one. Metabolic rate was probably increased, at least approaching homeothermy.

23. Thrinaxodon (early Triassic) -- A more advanced "galesaurid" cynodont. Further development of several of the cynodont features seen already. Temporal fenestra still larger, larger jaw muscle attachments. Bony secondary palate almost complete. Functional division of teeth: incisors (four uppers and three lowers), canines, and then 7-9 cheek teeth with cusps for chewing. The cheek teeth were all alike, though (no premolars & molars), did not occlude together, were all single- rooted, and were replaced throughout life in alternate waves. Dentary still larger, with the little quadrate and articular bones were loosely attached. The stapes now touched the inner side of the quadrate. First sign of the mammalian jaw hinge, a ligamentous connection between the lower jaw and the squamosal bone of the skull. The occipital condyle is now two slightly separated surfaces, though not separated as far as the mammalian double condyles. Vertebral connections more mammalian, and lumbar ribs reduced. Scapula shows development of a new mammalian shoulder muscle. Ilium increased again, and all four legs fully upright, not sprawling. Tail short, as is necessary for agile quadrupedal locomotion. The whole locomotion was more agile. Number of toe bones is, intermediate between reptile number ( and mammalian (, and the "extra" toe bones were tiny. Nearly complete skeletons of these animals have been found curled up - a possible reaction to conserve heat, indicating possible endothermy? Adults and juveniles have been found together, possibly a sign of parental care. The specialization of the lumbar area (e.g. reduction of ribs) is indicative of the presence of a diaphragm, needed for higher O2 intake and homeothermy. NOTE on hearing: The eardrum had developed in the only place available for it -- the lower jaw, right near the jaw hinge, supported by a wide prong (reflected lamina) of the angular bone. These animals could now hear airborne sound, transmitted through the eardrum to two small lower jaw bones, the articular and the quadrate, which contacted the stapes in the skull, which contacted the cochlea. Rather a roundabout system and sensitive to low-frequency sound only, but better than no eardrum at all! Cynodonts developed quite loose quadrates and articulars that could vibrate freely for sound transmittal while still functioning as a jaw joint, strengthened by the mammalian jaw joint right next to it. All early mammals from the Lower Jurassic have this low-frequency ear and a double jaw joint. By the middle Jurassic, mammals lost the reptilian joint (though it still occurs briefly in embryos) and the two bones moved into the nearby middle ear, became smaller, and became much more sensitive to high-frequency sounds.

24. Cynognathus (early Triassic, 240 Ma; suspected to have existed even earlier) -- We're now at advanced cynodont level. Temporal fenestra larger. Teeth differentiating further; cheek teeth with cusps met in true occlusion for slicing up food, rate of replacement reduced, with mammalian-style tooth roots (though single roots). Dentary still larger, forming 90% of the muscle-bearing part of the lower jaw. TWO JAW JOINTS in place, mammalian and reptilian: A new bony jaw joint existed between the squamosal (skull) and the surangular bone (lower jaw), while the other jaw joint bones were reduced to a compound rod lying in a trough in the dentary, close to the middle ear. Ribs more mammalian. Scapula halfway to the mammalian condition. Limbs were held under body. There is possible evidence for fur in fossil pawprints.

25. Diademodon (early Triassic, 240 Ma; same strata as Cynognathus) -- Temporal fenestra larger still, for still stronger jaw muscles. True bony secondary palate formed exactly as in mammals, but didn't extend quite as far back. Turbinate bones possibly present in the nose (warm-blooded?). Dental changes continue: rate of tooth replacement had decreased, cheek teeth have better cusps & consistent wear facets (better occlusion). Lower jaw almost entirely dentary, with tiny articular at the hinge. Still a double jaw joint. Ribs shorten suddenly in lumbar region, probably improving diaphragm function & locomotion. Mammalian toe bones (, with closely related species still showing variable numbers.

26. Probelesodon (mid-Triassic; South America) -- Fenestra very large, still separate from eyesocket (with postorbital bar). Secondary palate longer, but still not complete. Teeth double-rooted, as in mammals. Nares separated. Second jaw joint stronger. Lumbar ribs totally lost; thoracic ribs more mammalian, vertebral connections very mammalian. Hip & femur more mammalian.

27. Probainognathus (mid-Triassic, 239-235 Ma, Argentina) -- Larger brain with various skull changes: pineal foramen ("third eye") closes, fusion of some skull plates. Cheekbone slender, low down on the side of the eye socket. Postorbital bar still there. Additional cusps on cheek teeth. Still two jaw joints. Still had cervical ribs & lumbar ribs, but they were very short. Reptilian "costal plates" on thoracic ribs mostly lost. Mammalian #toe bones.

28. Pachygenelus, Diarthrognathus (earliest Jurassic, 209 Ma) -- These are trithelodontids. Inflation of nasal cavity, establishment of Eustachian tubes between ear and pharynx, loss of postorbital bar. Alternate replacement of mostly single- rooted teeth. This group also began to develop double tooth roots -- in Pachygenelus the single root of the cheek teeth begins to split in two at the base. Pachygenelus also has mammalian tooth enamel, and mammalian tooth occlusion. Double jaw joint, with the second joint now a dentary-squamosal (instead of surangular), fully mammalian. Incipient dentary condyle. Reptilian jaw joint still present but functioning almost entirely in hearing; postdentary bones further reduced to tiny rod of bones in jaw near middle ear; probably could hear high frequencies now. More mammalian neck vertebrae for a flexible neck. Hip more mammalian, with a very mammalian iliac blade & femur. Highly mobile, mammalian-style shoulder. Probably had coupled locomotion & breathing.

29. Sinoconodon (early Jurassic, 208 Ma) -- The next known very ancient proto-mammal. Eyesocket fully mammalian now (closed medial wall). Hindbrain expanded. Permanent cheekteeth, like mammals, but the other teeth were still replaced several times. Mammalian jaw joint stronger, with large dentary condyle fitting into a distinct fossa on the squamosal. This final refinement of the joint automatically makes this animal a true "mammal". Reptilian jaw joint still present, though tiny.

Proto-mammal to Placental Mammal transition:

30. Kuehneotherium (early Jurassic, about 205 Ma) -- A slightly later proto-mammal, sometimes considered the first known pantothere (primitive placental-type mammal). Teeth and skull like a placental mammal. The three major cusps on the upper & lower molars were rotated to form interlocking shearing triangles as in the more advanced placental mammals & marsupials. Still has a double jaw joint, though.

31. Eozostrodon, Morganucodon, Haldanodon (early Jurassic, ~205 Ma) -- A group of early proto-mammals called "morganucodonts". The restructuring of the secondary palate and the floor of the braincase had continued, and was now very mammalian. Truly mammalian teeth: the cheek teeth were finally differentiated into simple premolars and more complex molars, and teeth were replaced only once. Triangular- cusped molars. Reversal of the previous trend toward reduced incisors, with lower incisors increasing to four. Tiny remnant of the reptilian jaw joint. Once thought to be ancestral to monotremes only, but now thought to be ancestral to all three groups of modern mammals -- monotremes, marsupials, and placentals.

32. Peramus (late Jurassic, about 155 Ma) -- A "eupantothere" (more advanced placental-type mammal). The closest known relative of the placentals & marsupials. Triconodont molar has with more defined cusps. This fossil is known only from teeth, but judging from closely related eupantotheres (e.g. Amphitherium) it had finally lost the reptilian jaw joint, attaing a fully mammalian three-boned middle ear with excellent high-frequency hearing. Has only 8 cheek teeth, less than other eupantotheres and close to the 7 of the first placental mammals. Also has a large talonid on its "tribosphenic" molars, almost as large as that of the first placentals -- the first development of grinding capability.

33. Endotherium (very latest Jurassic, 147 Ma) -- An advanced eupantothere. Fully tribosphenic molars with a well- developed talonid. Known only from one specimen. From Asia; recent fossil finds in Asia suggest that the tribosphenic molar evolved there.

34. Vincelestes neuquenianus (early Cretaceous, 135 Ma) -- A probably-placental mammal with some marsupial traits, known from some nice skulls. Placental-type braincase and coiled cochlea. Its intracranial arteries & veins ran in a composite monotreme/placental pattern derived from homologous extracranial vessels in the cynodonts. (Rougier et al., 1992)

35. Kennalestes and Asioryctes (late Cretaceous, Mongolia) -- Small, slender animals; eyesocket open behind; simple ring to support eardrum; primitive placental-type brain with large olfactory bulbs; basic primitive tribosphenic tooth pattern. Canine now double rooted. Still just a trace of a non-dentary bone, the coronoid, on the otherwise all-dentary jaw. "Could have given rise to nearly all subsequent placentals." says Carroll (1988).

Placental mammal to elephant transition:

36. Protungulatum (latest Cretaceous) -- Transitional between earliest placental mammals and the condylarths (primitive, small hoofed animals). These early, simple insectivore- like small mammals had one new development: their cheek teeth had grinding surfaces instead of simple, pointed cusps. They were the first mammal herbivores. All their other features are generalized and primitive -- simple plantigrade five-toed clawed feet, all teeth present (3:1:4:3) with no gaps, all limb bones present and unfused, pointy-faced, narrow small brain, eyesocket not closed.

37. Minchenella or a similar condylarth (late Paleocene) -- Known only from lower jaws. Has a distinctive broadened shelf on the third molar.

38. Phenacolophus (late Paleocene or early Eocene) -- An early embrithopod (very early, slightly elephant-like condylarths), thought to be the stem-group of all elephants.

39. Pilgrimella (early Eocene) -- An anthracobunid (early proto-elephant condylarth), with massive molar cusps aligned in two transverse ridges.

40. Unnamed species of proto-elephant (early Eocene) -- Discovered recently in Algeria. Had slightly enlarged upper incisors (the beginnings of tusks), and various tooth reductions. Still had "normal" molars instead of the strange multi-layered molars of modern elephants. Had the high forehead and pneumatized skull bones of later elephants, and was clearly a heavy-boned, slow animal. Only one meter tall.

41. Moeritherium, Numidotherium, Barytherium (early-mid Eocene) -- A group of three similar very early elephants. It is unclear which of the three came first. Pig-sized with stout legs, broad spreading feet and flat hooves. Elephantish face with the eye set far forward & a very deep jaw. Second incisors enlarged into short tusks, in upper and lower jaws; little first incisors still present; loss of some teeth. No trunk.

42. Paleomastodon, Phiomia (early Oligocene) -- The first "mastodonts", a medium-sized animals with a trunk, long lower jaws, and short upper and lower tusks. Lost first incisors and canines. Molars still have heavy rounded cusps, with enamel bands becoming irregular. Phiomia was up to eight feet tall.

43. Gomphotherium (early Miocene) -- Basically a large edition of Phiomia, with tooth enamel bands becoming very irregular. Two long rows cusps on teeth became cross- crests when worn down. Gave rise to several families of elephant- relatives that spread all over the world. From here on the elephant lineages are known to the species level.

44a. The mastodon lineage split off here, becoming more adapted to a forest browser niche, and going through Miomastodon (Miocene) and Pliomastodon (Pliocene), to Mastodon (or "Mammut", Pleistocene).

44b. Meanwhile, the elephant lineage became still larger, adapting to a savannah/steppe grazer niche:

45. Stegotetrabelodon (late Miocene) -- One of the first of the "true" elephants, but still had two long rows of cross-crests, functional premolars, and lower tusks. Other early Miocene genera show compression of the molar cusps into plates (a modern feature ), with exactly as many plates as there were cusps. Molars start erupting from front to back, actually moving forward in the jaw throughout life.

46. Primelephas (latest Miocene) -- Short lower jaw makes it look like an elephant now. Reduction & loss of premolars. Very numerous plates on the molars, now; we're now at the modern elephants' bizarre system of one enormous multi-layered molar being functional at a time, moving forward in the jaw.

47. Primelephas gomphotheroides (mid-Pliocene) -- A later species that split into three lineages, Loxodonta, Elephas, and Mammuthus:

  1. Loxodonta adaurora (5 Ma). Gave rise to the modern African elephant Loxodonta africana about 3.5 Ma.
  2. Elephas ekorensis (5 Ma), an early Asian elephant with rather primitive molars, clearly derived directly from P. gomphotheroides. Led directly to:
    • Elephas recki, which sent off one side branch, E. hydrusicus, at 3.8 Ma, and then continued changing on its own until it became E. iolensis.
    • Elephas maximus, the modern Asian elephant, clearly derived from
    • E. hysudricus. Strikingly similar to young E. hysudricus animals. Possibly a case of neoteny (in which "new" traits are simply juvenile features retained into adulthood).
  3. Mammuthus meridionalis, clearly derived from P. gomphotheroides. Spread around the northern hemisphere. In Europe, led to M. armeniacus/trogontherii, and then to M. primigenius. In North America, led to M. imperator and then M. columbi.
The Pleistocene record for elephants is very good. In general, after the earliest forms of the three modern genera appeared, they show very smooth, continuous evolution with almost half of the speciation events preserved in fossils. For instance, Carroll (1988) says: "Within the genus Elephas, species demonstrate continuous change over a period of 4.5 million years. ...the elephants provide excellent evidence of significant morphological change within species, through species within genera, and through genera within a family...."

Species-species transitions among the elephants:

  • Maglio (1973) studied Pleistocene elephants closely. Overall, Maglio showed that at least 7 of the 17 Quaternary elephant species arose through smooth anagenesis transitions from their ancestors. For example, he said that Elephas recki "can be traced through a progressive series of stages...These stages pass almost imperceptibly into each other....In the late Pleistocene a more progressive elephant appears which I retain as a distinct species, E. iolensis, only as a matter of convenience. Although as a group, material referred to E. iolensis is distinct from that of E. recki, some intermediate specimens are known, and E. iolensis seems to represent a very progressive, terminal stage in the E. recki specific lineage."
  • Maglio also documented very smooth transitions between three Eurasian mammoth species: Mammuthus meridionalis --> M. armeniacus (or M. trogontherii) --> M. primigenius.
  • Lister (1993) reanalyzed mammoth teeth and confirmed Maglio's scheme of gradual evolution in European mammoths, and found evidence for gradual transitions in the North American mammoths too.
(Most of the above text is from the link provided at the start of this post, and is the result of hard work by Kathleen Hunt, who deserves the credit. I've just extracted the relevant individual portions and assembled them into one direct fish-to-elephant sequence.) If you like that, here are a few hundred more.

Similar fossil sequences can be listed for the majority of other major-group transitions.

(Did I hear a creationist in the back row say something about "no transitional fossils?")

Also note that the changes between any two sequential transitionals are small enough that most creationists would write them off as only "microevolution" -- and yet those 50-or-so "microevolutionary" steps turn a fish into an elephant, which even the most stubborn creationist would have to concede is "macroevolution".

442 posted on 12/05/2003 1:53:26 AM PST by Ichneumon
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To: js1138
You don't need expertise to judge the quality of a design after the product is built. It works or it doesn't.

By this logic design of Man clearly works. Chalk one up for Creator.

Animal bodies are filled with designs that are just good enough to all survival and reproduction, but do not contribute to the comfort or happiness of the individual.

Oh this is good! Did you actually communicate with animals and found out that their bodies do not contribute to happiness?

The human upright posture is a prime example. The next time you get a hernia you will know what I mean. If the designer of the human frame built bridges, he would be in jail.

I breathlessly await a new and improved prototype.
443 posted on 12/05/2003 2:06:19 AM PST by bluejay
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To: js1138
Sh!t now I have beer all over my keyboard
444 posted on 12/05/2003 2:18:43 AM PST by thrcanbonly1 (My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus. It's that kinda morning,)
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To: rdb3
No one said anything about intelligence. However, if something is not based on reason, it's based on ...?
445 posted on 12/05/2003 2:54:26 AM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to...)
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To: mrobison
Thanks for adding something of substance to this thread. Sheesh...
446 posted on 12/05/2003 2:57:18 AM PST by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to...)
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To: Ichneumon
[Thunderous applause!]
447 posted on 12/05/2003 3:54:41 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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To: bluejay
I breathlessly await a new and improved prototype.

Not likely to happen, as the human body was never "designed" in the first place. That's the whole point, but because you're so fundamentally (and transparently dishonest), you repeatedly evade that little fact.
448 posted on 12/05/2003 5:04:30 AM PST by Dimensio (The only thing you feel when you take a human life is recoil. -- Frank "Earl" Jones)
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To: Dimensio
Dimensio, now you have the "RIGHT" to believe anything you choose.

Why do you reject the "CREATOR"?

Now you accuse me of ignorance, yet you say "People don't prove theories". and "No theory in science is ever proven."

Seems your own words decribe a willful desire to be and stay ignorant.

I have never argued about the existence of fossils. What I reject is the "THEORY" of what a bunch of silly minds try to piece together to tell a fairy tale. Transition!

I cannot give you the "gift" of being able to close your "flesh eyes" to comprehend that housed within each "flesh body" is a "soul" a spirit that does not die when the "flesh" body dies.

There would be no point to walk you through the Bible to TEACH what is written to give that "GIFT" of "SEEING", albeit "DIMLY". It is WRITTEN that not all have "eyes to see and ears to hear. That call was made prior to being placed in the "flesh" body. I can't give you something you have not "EARNED". So I do understand why some would and do reject the "CREATOR", they did so "before" in that spirit body.

What is given in that WORD, is the "purpose" of "man", and why he was place in a "flesh body".

So please, my "ignorance" that buggggggggggs you is but of "man's" wisdom and "man's" so called "theory" as being "truth".
449 posted on 12/05/2003 5:17:44 AM PST by Just mythoughts
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To: Piltdown_Woman; PatrickHenry
Geeze...I'd best go take a look! ;^)

Ah, the key dimension is not recorded:

He did have big feet, of course, but I haven't calculated if they were large to scale. His final pose suggests the "giant" might have been hiding something:

450 posted on 12/05/2003 5:20:00 AM PST by Stultis
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To: Ahban
The idea that the order and complexity of this universe is soley the result of unguided chance is what is hard to believe.

Well, it may be hard to believe and pretty counter-intuitive to most people but this doesn't mean that complex systems cannot arise from relatively simple interactions of matter. Our weather for instance is such a non-linear dynamical system.
Or do you think that a conscious agent is directly responsible for the hurricanes that cross the Atlantic to ravage the east coast and the Carribean? And how's it with tornadoes in the Great Plains?

The idea of God takes less faith than believing that nonsense.

Yeah, I'm sure this sentence has been uttered millions of times when scientists and interested laymen tried to find a natural explanation for lightning only a few centuries ago.
High voltage, high current, transient electrical discharge - what a silly idea.

451 posted on 12/05/2003 5:33:04 AM PST by BMCDA
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To: Ichneumon
Of course, I'm not the kind of -ologist that studies this sort of thing, so much of what you post is meaningless to me. However, I have read such -ologists that do not buy evolution as described and they heavily criticize the lay out you post.

One thing is clear, the number of claimed transitional forms in the fossil record, by those scientists that criticize this scale of evolution, is equivalent to the number of deformities one might find in any period of time among uncountable trillions of generations of beings.

If all forms on Earth sprang from a single one celled animal, the fossil record should contain nothing but transitional forms, unless you want to believe in punctuated equilibrium.

Heavily technicalezed descriptions can hide many sins of wishful thinking. Post the criticisms, by relevant scientists who understand the technicaleze and are against evolution.

452 posted on 12/05/2003 6:13:35 AM PST by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: Ahban
Add to it that a fossil "gap" appears on the near end of the scale.

The gap you refer to is a lack of non-neanderthal fossils from the 90-100Kya mideast skulls in places like Skuhl and the well-represented Cro-Magnon. However, a gap that size in the fossil record for a presumably less than widespread terrestrial animal is nothing. Not to mention that the structural / morphological gap is very minor. (The older skulls are a little bit more robust, but nothing to write home about.) That you would try to hide in such inadequate cover is pathetic.

453 posted on 12/05/2003 6:59:36 AM PST by VadeRetro
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To: Stultis; PatrickHenry
Ah, the key dimension is not recorded:

Bit of female folklore: You gotta look at a guy's thumbs to get a sense of relative proportions.

454 posted on 12/05/2003 7:13:28 AM PST by Aracelis
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To: whattajoke
Your screen name = your chosen burden.

Live with it.

455 posted on 12/05/2003 7:28:46 AM PST by Agamemnon
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To: Ichneumon
You are on a roll on this thread. Another bookmark.
456 posted on 12/05/2003 7:32:52 AM PST by VadeRetro
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To: Dimensio; bluejay
I breathlessly await a new and improved prototype. ~ bluejay

Not likely to happen, as the human body was never "designed" in the first place. ~ Dimensio

I disagree. We are at the threshold of being able to deliberately tweak the design. Assuming we don't kill ourselves off, in a hundred years, or a thousand, there will be substantial improvements. (and some new problems!)

457 posted on 12/05/2003 7:39:59 AM PST by null and void (The meek shall inherit the Earth. The Stars belong to the bold.)
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To: mrobison
Anybody who believes that humans evolved from lower life forms has the intelligence of primordial swamp clay

A personal attack with no supporting evidence. Is that really the best you can do? Sheesh...

458 posted on 12/05/2003 7:40:24 AM PST by Modernman (I am Evil Homer, I am Evil Homer....)
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To: Piltdown_Woman
I have very fine thumbs...
459 posted on 12/05/2003 7:43:21 AM PST by null and void (The meek shall inherit the Earth. The Stars belong to the bold.)
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To: Piltdown_Woman
Warning: adult content!
This website purports to be conducting a survey of the subject. In Section C, the questionnaire inquires about shoe size and thumb size, to determine if these are significant indicators. If you click on the "results" link you'll see a lot of charts and statistics, which I have no desire to study. On shoe size and thumb size, he says this:
With the exception of shoe size, there exists a significant but weak correlation for each of the body parts studied. (Please note that questions regarding nose length and width are recent additions to the survey, and at the time of this writing I had insufficient data to perform a reliable statistical analysis.)
I do not endorse this guy's work, and I have no idea if it's a serious study or just a joke site. But you raised the subject (so to speak).
460 posted on 12/05/2003 7:45:15 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.)
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