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Fossil Record Correction – Crypto News Aktuell in German

At best, paleontology opens windows on trillions of other lifetimes spent swimming, scampering, stomping, and soaring across this planet. Scientists, the press, and the public alike tend to tell and spread these success stories, which idolizes intrepid researchers.

The most impressive specimens are kept in museums. But perhaps just as important is when scientists get it wrong and someone breaks the record.

For example, in the last few days before the 2020 Covid lockdown, Gregory Retallack, a paleontologist from the University of Oregon, and some colleagues toured a famous collection of Native American cave paintings. Afterward, they announced that they had discovered something that previous visitors had overlooked: a 550-million-year-old fossil from the dawn of animal life called Dickinsonia.

The dramatic find drew an external scrutiny. Last December, a team led by Joseph Meert, a paleontologist at the University of Florida, surveyed the same site. “When we found the fossil, some alarm bells went off in my head,” said Prof. Meert.

At first, the specimen looked different than in pictures from 2020: part of it was rubbed off. Second, the team kept noticing huge honey bee nests on the surrounding rocks.

Then it clicked: That wasn’t Dickinsonia at all. Nor was it a fossil. The pattern on the cave wall was just a bit of waxy material left behind by a bee nest, the team reported in December in the same peer-reviewed journal that reviewed the original find. Another study recently accepted by the Journal of the Geological Society of Indiacame to the same result.

Prof. Retallack is now working on a formal one correction. “It is rare but important for scientists to admit error when new evidence is uncovered,” he wrote to the Florida team after his researchers contacted him with their new analysis.

This discovery, which wasn’t one, joins a long, nefarious history of paleontological misfires. These range from outright misclassifications to pseudofossils (where a non-biological process produced a pattern that only looks biological) and dubiofossils (strange, ambiguous rocks that probably don’t matter as much as they are cracked).

Like Tolstoy’s unfortunate families, each misidentified fossil has its own unfortunate history. Many rocks that look lifelike but aren’t — like mineral nodules resembling fossil feces and putative “dinosaur eggs” and “dinosaur footprints” — are sifted out when a real paleontologist first views them.

Fossil Record Correction – Crypto News Aktuell in German, Crypto Trading News

Friedrich von Huene, a German paleontologist, circa 1926. In 1981, two different ancient species named by Huene were shown to be cases of misidentity. about nyt

Others are just old bugs, relics of a more primitive scientific past. However, other errors or misinterpretations exist in marginal sources. However, they occasionally infiltrate modern scientific enterprises, even through peer review from other experts, particularly when key evidence is ambiguous.

Each of the following examples is ambiguous in other ways as well: both as a scientific failure and as a demonstration of how science advances by publicly correcting errors.

In the 1670s, English chemist Robert Plot made what may be the first scientific illustration of a dinosaur fossil. He suspected that the sample was a femur. But it was large—perhaps, Plot mused, it belonged to a Roman war elephant or a giant human described in the Bible.

Almost a century later, the illustration was reprinted in a natural history volume compiled by a physician, along with a new, fairly self-explanatory caption that likened it to the dangling parts of an ancient human. But those weren’t reproductive organs: while the specimen itself has been lost, it was actually part of a femur of a carnivorous dinosaur, perhaps Megalosaurus.

In 1981, two different ancient species named by the early 20th-century German paleontologist Baron Friedrich von Huene – thankfully deceased by that time – were both shown to be cases of mistaken identity. A supposed mammalian tooth was actually a piece of the mineral chalcedony. The other, a dinosaur jaw, turned out to be a piece of petrified wood in which mollusks had burrowed.

In 1864, Canadian geologists announced the discovery of Eozoon canadense, the “Morning Animal of Canada,” a wavy, striated array of rock patterns that they claimed originated from the fossilized shells of giant cellular organisms. The find filled a gap in evolutionary theory: Until Eozoon canadense, there was no fossil evidence of life on Earth 540 million years ago.

Fossil Record Correction – Crypto News Aktuell in German, Crypto Trading News

The ‘Dickinsonia fossil’ found in a cave famous for its ancient paintings near Bhopal, India. It turned out to be something else entirely. GREGORY RETALLACK/nyt

In the decades that followed, however, evidence mounted that the patterns were just layered, curved rock sculpted by high temperatures and pressures. Eozoon’s proponents never stopped arguing that it was a real fossil, but they eventually died. Meanwhile, other very old fossils (such as true examples of Dickinsonia) have turned up to fill the gap in the fossil record.

In 2019, a team announced the discovery of a new Triassic horseshoe crab species. But the researchers were corrected the following year: what had appeared to be a separate animal was actually the severed head of a known fossil cicada.

Distinguishing fake fossils from real fossils can involve much higher stakes. In 1996, scientists proposed finding a microfossil in a Martian meteorite. President Bill Clinton even held a press conference to discuss the implications of the discovery, footage of which was edited into the 1997 film Contact.

Since then, scientists have documented many chemical and geological processes that can “grow” intricate, tiny structures without involving life. Some of Earth’s oldest claimed fossils may fall into this category — and similar patterns may be evident in the first rocks brought back from Mars.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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