Monday, November 29, 2004

Of rocks and blood

My Musing this week is about the extraordinary fossilist Mary Anning, who helped fill in blank pages of the Earth's past. Since Anning's time, the fossil record has been vastly expanded. And now, as we enter a new century, we have a way to check the evidence of the rocks.

Every cell of our bodies remembers the eons. We share most of our DNA with other primates, and a lot of it with bugs and barnacles. Almost every week another plant or animal's genetic code is published in Science or Nature. And so far, at least, the tree of life deduced from the DNA confirms in almost every respect the story told by Mary Anning and her fossil-hunting successors.