Ernst Haeckel studied sponges to demonstrate “a universe devoid of supernatural beings or purpose” | Uncommon Descent

Just to set the record straight, embryologist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) had, according to learned expert, a “philosophy of sponges.” And the title above captures part of it.

Source: Ernst Haeckel studied sponges to demonstrate “a universe devoid of supernatural beings or purpose” | Uncommon Descent

Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago, research on teeth shows 

Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago, substantially earlier than indicated by most DNA-based estimates, according to new research.

Source: Neanderthals and modern humans diverged at least 800,000 years ago, research on teeth shows — ScienceDaily

Giant panda’s bamboo diet still looks surprisingly carnivorous — ScienceDaily

Giant pandas are unusual in being extremely specialized herbivores that feed almost exclusively on highly fibrous bamboo, despite belonging to a clade (Carnivora) of primarily flesh-eating carnivores. But a study suggests that the switch to a restricted vegetarian diet wasn’t, in some respects, as big an evolutionary leap as it seems.

Source: Giant panda’s bamboo diet still looks surprisingly carnivorous — ScienceDaily

Duck-billed dinosaurs: Evolutionary bursts led to weird and wonderful head crests — ScienceDaily

The duck-billed hadrosaurs walked the Earth over 90-million years ago and were one of the most successful groups of dinosaurs. But why were these 2-3 ton giants so successful? A new study shows that their special adaptations in teeth and jaws and in their head crests were crucial, and provides new insights into how these innovations evolved.

Source: Duck-billed dinosaurs: Evolutionary bursts led to weird and wonderful head crests — ScienceDaily

Dolphin ancestor’s hearing was more like hoofed mammals than today’s sea creatures: CT scan of 30-million-year-old fossil indicates echolocation evolved more than once — ScienceDaily

Paleontologists are looking into the evolutionary origins of the whistles and squeaks that dolphins and porpoises make — part of the rare echolocation ability that allows them to effectively navigate their dark environment.

Source: Dolphin ancestor’s hearing was more like hoofed mammals than today’s sea creatures: CT scan of 30-million-year-old fossil indicates echolocation evolved more than once — ScienceDaily

At Nature: Carl Woese’s archaea are “shaking up the tree of life” | Uncommon Descent

If the most complex cells descended from the least complex ones (which is what it looks like), that’s not really something many researchers want to hear.

Source: At Nature: Carl Woese’s archaea are “shaking up the tree of life” | Uncommon Descent