The media coverage of palaeontology papers published in PLoS ONE this year has already got off to a tremendous start thanks to two articles published in the journal this week and last week.
This week’s biggest news story came from a study by Philip Gingerich at the University of Michigan and an international team of researchers who reported the discovery of two whale fossils, a pregnant female and a male of the same species. The 47.5 million year-old fossils described in the paper were discovered in Pakistan in 2000 and 2004 and reveal how primitive whales gave birth and provide new insights into how whales made the transition from land to sea.
Professor Paul Sereno, a palaeontologist at the University of Chicago, and the academic editor who handled the peer review of the article at PLoS ONE, said of the discovery, “Of all of the amazing fossils from Indo-Pakistan that have so remarkably bridged the gap in the early evolution of whales from land to sea, this is the most spectacular. To see with one's own eyes direct evidence of birthing orientation like a hoofed mammal in an early whale is mind-boggling—and would put a smile on Darwin's face were he still alive, as we celebrate the 150th birthday of his Origin of Species this year.”
The media and blog coverage of the article is too extensive to list in full but includes the following:
- National Geographic – Early Whales Gave Birth on Land, Fossils Reveal
- New Scientist – Primitive whales gave birth on land and Gallery: Whale evolution – from land to sea
- Nature News – Fossil of pregnant whale found
- Science News – Early whales gave birth on land
- Reuters – Pregnant fossil shows how early whales evolved
- Live Science – Ancient Whales Gave Birth on Land
- The Times Online – Fossil shows whales lived on land
- A buzz of ScienceBloggers, including: Laelaps, The Questionable Authority, Not Exactly Rocket Science, Greg Laden, Pharyngula and, of course, A Blog around the Clock
- Wired Science – Transitional Whale Species Hunted at Sea, Gave Birth on Land
- Palaeoblog – Ancient Whales Gave Birth On Land
- Panda’s Thumb – Maiacetus
- The Loom – The Backward Whale
In an article published in PLoS ONE last week, meanwhile, Andrew Farke and colleagues took the Triceratops by its horns with their study on the use by Triceratops of their cranial horns and frill in combat. Dr Farke’s blog post (Triceratops Combat?), to which there is also a link on the published paper, details some of the background behind the study, which involved the authors looking at the number of lesions in the nasal, jugal, squamosal, and parietal bones of the skull of Triceratops compared to the related Centrosaurus
Again, there was a huge amount of international news and blog coverage of the article (although only The Times Online invoked Raquel Welch), including:
- Scientific American 60-Second Science – Horning In On Triceratops
- National Geographic – Dinosaurs Locked Horns, New Skull Evidence Suggests
- Science NOW – Triceratops Horns Aren't Just for Show
- Live Science – Triceratops Horns Used in Battle
- USA Today – Triceatops fought each other instead of T-Rex
- Los Angeles Times – Triceratops' horns were for fighting, research shows
- The Telegraph – Triceratops 'fought each other'
- El Mundo – Los 'Triceratops' luchaban como los herbívoros actuales
- Die Welt – Spitze Hörner und fünf Tonnen Kampfgewicht
- Wired Science – Scars Reveal How Triceratops Fought
- 80 Beats – Rival Triceratops May Have Locked Horns Like Deer
- Greg Laden’s Blog – Did Triceratops fight with their faces?
- Why I Hate Theropods – Promoting the blogosphere for January
- The Theatrical Tanystropheus – Gary Larson wasn’t too far off…
In all, it’s certainly been a whale of a fortnight here at PLoS ONE!