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A new view of fossils: The behavior of ancient life forms
Date:6/15/2010

hat served it well when it was skittering away from dinosaurs then, or is skipping through the jungles of Southeast Asia today.

The researchers track numerous types of behaviors and capabilities, from parasites that cause disease, to insects that use camouflage for defense and bugs that quickly lay eggs just before dying in amber.

Although not preserved in amber, they also consider human behavior, and observe that "from what we know of basic human behaviors, it is clear there has been no significant change since the beginnings of recorded history." This is found in sexual behavior and other instincts, including aggression. From records of Neanderthal skull injuries presumably caused by their companions, the book notes evidence that "violence using weapons by hominids against members of their own species is hard wired."

Poinar also noted that a current illustration of the power of behavior may be provided soon in the Gulf of Mexico. Marine turtles will come into the Gulf to deposit their eggs on traditional beaches, even though they can detect oil in the water and there's a risk of at least localized extinction of some populations.

"There is much more to be learned from the study of fossils than just their structure," Poinar said. "Looked at in a new way, we can learn about the behavioral patterns of extinct organisms, often relate them to those of species still alive today, and provide a very different dimension to our study of the past."


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Contact: George Poinar
poinarg@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-5366
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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