Posts Tagged ‘Fossils’

Mysterious Mountain Dinosaur May Be New Species

June 18, 2008

A partial dinosaur skeleton unearthed in 1971 from a remote British Columbia site is the first ever found in Canadian mountains and may represent a new species, according to a recent examination by a University of Alberta researcher.

Discovered by a geologist in the Sustut Basin of north-central British Columbia 37 years ago, the bones, which are about 70 million years old, were tucked away until being donated to Dalhousie University in 2004 and assigned to then-undergraduate student Victoria Arbour to research as an honours project. She soon realized that the bones were a rare find: they are very well-preserved and are the most complete dinosaur specimen found in B.C. to date. They are also the first bones found in B.C.’s Skeena mountain range.

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Fish 380 Million Years Old Found With Unborn Embryo

June 6, 2008

In 2005, Museum Victoria’s expedition to the Gogo fossil sites in north Western Australia, led by Dr John Long, made a swag of spectacular fossil discoveries, including that of a complete fish, Gogonasus, showing unexpected features similar to early land animals.

Now the same team has made a new discovery: a remarkable 380-million-year-old fossil placoderm fish with intact embryo and mineralised umbilical cord.

The discovery, published in Nature, makes the fossil the world’s oldest known vertebrate mother. It also provides the earliest evidence of vertebrate sexual reproduction, wherein the males (which possessed clasping organs similar to modern sharks and rays) internally fertilised females.

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Giant Flying Reptiles Preferred To Walk

May 27, 2008

New research into gigantic flying reptiles has found that they weren’t all gull-like predators grabbing fish from the water but that some were strongly adapted for life on the ground.

Pterosaurs lived during the age of dinosaurs 230 to 65 million years ago. A new study by researchers at the University of Portsmouth on one particular type of pterosaur, the azhdarchids, claims they were more likely to stalk animals on foot than to fly.

Until now virtually all pterosaurs have been imagined by palaeontologists to have lived like modern seabirds: as gull- or pelican-like predators that flew over lakes and oceans, grabbing fish from the water. But a study of azhdarchid anatomy, footprints and the distribution of their fossils by Mark Witton and Dr Darren Naish shows that this stereotype does not apply to all flying reptiles and some were strongly adapted for terrestrial life.

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Oldest Parrot Fossil Found — In Scandinavia?

May 26, 2008

The fictional dead Scandinavian parrot that an unhappy customer tried to return in a famous Monty Python TV sketch may have a 54-million-year-old real-life ancestor, if a new study is to be believed.

An ancient bird found on Denmark‘s Isle of Mors has already been nicknamed the “Danish blue” in honor of the fictional “Norweigan blue” breed of parrot featured in the 1970s British comedy show.

The fossil—a large wing bone called the humerus—represents the oldest and most northerly remains of a parrot ever discovered, the study authors say.

Parrot fossils are scarce, because their small, light bones tend to be destroyed before they can become fossilized.

The discovery suggests that parrots evolved in the Northern Hemisphere before branching into wildly diverse species in the southern tropics.

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Flesh eating insects feasted on dino bones

May 10, 2008

A new study has attributed the cause of most dinosaur skeletons exhibiting pits, grooves and furrows to flesh and bone-eating insects, which gnawed on the dinosaur bones.

According to a report in the Discovery News, the evidence comes from dinosaur bones that were buried under soft mud 148 million years ago after a nearby river overflowed.

Utah’s Western Paleontological Laboratories recovered the bones and turned them over to Brigham Young University scientists, who recently pieced together what happened.

After scientists recreated the event, they found out that a Camptosaurus adolescent dinosaur died in what is now Wyoming, lying down for its final rest.

Flying low over a floodplain a few days later, dermestid beetles used their antennae to detect the odor of the decaying carcass, where they laid their larvae that consumed the dinosaurs bones.

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Rethinking evolution: Sex and complexity came a lot sooner than we thought

March 20, 2008

Two paleontologists studying ancient fossils they excavated in the South Australian outback argue that Earth’s ecosystem has been complex for hundreds of millions of years — at least since around 565 million years ago, which is included in a period in Earth’s history called the Neoproterozoic era.

Until now, the dominant paradigm in the field of paleobiology has been that the earliest multicellular animals were simple, and that strategies organisms use today to survive, reproduce and grow in numbers have arisen over time due to several factors. These factors include evolutionary and ecological pressures that both predators and competition for food and other resources have imposed on the ecosystem.

But in describing the ecology and reproductive strategies of Funisia dorothea, a tubular organism preserved as a fossil, the researchers found that the organism had multiple means of growing and propagating — similar to strategies used by most invertebrate organisms for propagation today.

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Terrestrial Ancestor of Whales Discovered

March 19, 2008

The fossil remains of a 48-million-year-old mammal have been unearthed by a team of scientists working in the Kashmir region of India. The research team, lead by Hans Thewissen of the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, classified the animal as an even-toed ungulate and described it as small and deerlike in build. They named it Indohyus.

Indohyus is thought to be a very special discovery. It appears the animal spent much of its life in or near water. The skull and ear of Indohyus resembles those of whales. Additionally, Indohyus’ bones have a thick outer layer characteristic of species that have an aquatic lifestyle. And chemical analysis of Indohyus’ teeth show oxygen isotope ratios similar to other aquatic species. Based on these findings, Indohyus may indeed be the land ancestor to modern day whales.

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52-Million-Year-Old Bat Fossil and more than you could ever possibly want to know about bats!

March 18, 2008

Call me weird, but I love bats. They’re a cool critter (hello, flying mammal with ecolocation), and I think they are sooooooooooo cute (some species are, at least). Cuteness on wings – for what more could I ask?

-Kitty Mowmow

From The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC:

Researchers have unearthed a 52-million-year-old fossil of a primitive bat that proves that bats developed the ability to fly before echolocation. Dr. Nancy Simmons of the American Museum of Natural History explains why scientists are so excited about this discovery.

More about Dr. Simmons at the AMNH

Click here to go to WNYC’s site and listen to the radio program about the bats!