Resurrection ecology

1 minute read

ABC News story

I can't put it any better than the story describes it:

Scientists are bringing the past to life by hatching eggs once thought to be dead and producing colonies of animals as they existed decades ago.
They are calling it "resurrection ecology," and it's a whole new field that quite literally allows scientists to observe evolution as it occurred, using animals that were quite different than their kinfolk today.

The gist of the story is that the dormant eggs of Daphnia zooplankton at the bottom of Portage Lake, Michigan, hatch into animals that are different from the current population. By incubating eggs from different sediment layers that come from different decades, scientists can trace the history of changes in the population over time. They interpret the changes as evidence for the "Red Queen hypothesis," because of related trends in predator density:

About 80 years ago, when the predators were all over the place, the Daphnia retrocurva extended the size of its helmet and spines to make itself less appetizing. Later, when the number of predators shrank, the animal reduced the size of those features, thus conserving its energy for other uses.

With this and all the recent dinosaur egg news, well, how long can it be before they start hatching hominid eggs as well?