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Preview: Brightsurf Science News :: Paleontology News

Paleontology Current Events and Paleontology News from Brightsurf



Paleontology Current Events and Paleontology News Events, Discoveries and Articles from Brightsurf



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First an alga, then a squid, enigmatic fossil is actually a fish

Mon, 16 Apr 18 00:04:40 -0700

A fossil slab discovered in Kansas 70 years ago and twice misidentified -- first as a green alga and then as a cephalopod -- has been reinterpreted as the preserved remains of a large cartilaginous fish, the group that includes sharks and rays. In a study published in the Journal of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History researchers describe the fishy characteristics of the animal, which lived between 70-85 million years ago.



Most primitive kangaroo ancestor rediscovered after 30 years in obscurity

Wed, 11 Apr 18 00:03:10 -0700

A handful of tiny teeth have led scientists to identify the most distant ancestor of today's kangaroos. The fossils were found in the desert heart of Australia, and then hidden away, and almost forgotten in a museum collection for over three decades. The findings are published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.



Decade of fossil collecting gives new perspective on Triassic period, emergence of dinosaurs

Wed, 28 Mar 18 00:14:40 -0700

A project spanning countries, years and institutions has attempted to reconstruct what the southern end of the world looked like during the Triassic period, 252 to 199 million years ago.



Turtle shells help decode complex links between modern, fossil species

Wed, 28 Mar 18 00:05:30 -0700

A new study by Florida Museum of Natural History researcher Natasha Vitek shows how scientists can use animals' physical features -- also known as morphology -- to make connections between a modern species and its fossilized relatives, even if they look strikingly different.



Paleontologists put the bite on an ancient reptile from New England

Fri, 23 Mar 18 00:03:40 -0700

Scientists have identified a new species of reptile from prehistoric Connecticut and, boy, does it have a mouth on it. Named Colobops noviportensis, the creature lived 200 million years ago and had exceptionally large jaw muscles -- setting it apart from other reptiles at the time. Even compared to the wide diversity of reptile species today, Colobops noviportensis had quite the bite.



Dinosaur frills and horns did not evolve for species recognition

Tue, 20 Mar 18 00:04:50 -0700

The elaborate frills and horns of a group of dinosaurs including Triceratops and Styracosaurus did not evolve to help species recognise each other, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.



5.5 million-year-old fossil turtle species sheds light on invasive modern relatives

Mon, 26 Feb 18 00:11:40 -0800

A University of Pennsylvania paleontologist has described a 5.5 million-year-old fossil species of turtle from eastern Tennessee. It represents a new species of the genus Trachemys, commonly known as sliders, which are frequently kept as pets today.



Evolutionary biology: Sponges can economize on oxygen use

Tue, 06 Feb 18 00:07:50 -0800

Sponges lack a signaling pathway that responds to low intracellular oxygen levels in more complex animals. Do they use a different mechanism for this purpose or did their earliest ancestors evolve at a time when less oxygen was available?



Remarkable spider with a tail found preserved in amber after 100 million years

Mon, 05 Feb 18 00:12:20 -0800

An extraordinary new species of arachnid, resembling a spider with a tail, has been discovered in amber from Myanmar of mid-Cretaceous age, around 100 million years ago.



Cheetahs' inner ear is one-of-a-kind, vital to high-speed hunting

Fri, 02 Feb 18 00:14:10 -0800

The world's fastest land animal, the cheetah, is a successful hunter not only because it is quick, but also because it can hold an incredibly still gaze while pursuing prey. For the first time, researchers have investigated the cheetah's extraordinary sensory abilities by analyzing the speedy animal's inner ear, an organ that is essential for maintaining body balance and adapting head posture during movement in most vertebrates.



New Egyptian dinosaur reveals ancient link between Africa and Europe

Mon, 29 Jan 18 00:16:20 -0800

When it comes to the final days of the dinosaurs, Africa is something of a blank page. Fossils found in Africa from the Late Cretaceous, the time period from 100 to 66 million years ago, are few and far between. That means that the course of dinosaur evolution in Africa has largely remained a mystery. But in the Egyptian Sahara Desert, scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that helps fill in those gaps.



Paleontology: The eleventh Archaeopteryx

Fri, 26 Jan 18 00:02:20 -0800

Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich report the first description of the geologically oldest fossil securely attributable to the genus Archaeopteryx, and provide a new diagnostic key for differentiating bird-like dinosaurs from their closest relatives.



Why don't turtles still have tail spikes?

Wed, 17 Jan 18 00:10:20 -0800

In a study covering 300 million years of evolutionary history, researchers from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences found four necessary components to tail weapon development: size, armor, herbivory and thoracic stiffness.



'Rainbow' dinosaur had iridescent feathers like a hummingbird

Tue, 16 Jan 18 00:03:50 -0800

Scientists discovered a dinosaur fossil with feathers so well-preserved that they were able to see the feathers' microscopic color-bearing structures. By comparing the shapes of those feather structures with the structures in modern bird feathers, they're able to infer that the new dino, Caihong juji ('rainbow with the big crest') had iridescent rainbow feathers like a hummingbird.



Tiny dinosaur may have dazzled mates with rainbow ruff and a bony crest

Tue, 16 Jan 18 00:07:40 -0800

Ancient dinosaurs were adorned in some amazing ways, from the horns of the triceratops to the plates and spikes of the stegosaurus. A newly discovered, bird-like dinosaur fossil from China contains evidence that could add a new accessory to the list: a shaggy ruff of rainbow feathers.



New turkey-sized dinosaur from Australia preserved in an ancient log-jam

Thu, 11 Jan 18 00:02:00 -0800

The partial skeleton of a new species of turkey-sized herbivorous dinosaur has been discovered in 113-million-year-old rocks in southeastern Australia. As reported in open-access journal PeerJ, the fossilized tail and foot bones give new insight into the diversity of small, bipedal herbivorous dinosaurs called ornithopods that roamed the great rift valley that once existed between Australia and Antarctica. The new dinosaur has been named Diluvicursor pickeringi, which means Pickering's Flood-Running dinosaur.



Study shows treeshrews break evolutionary 'rules'

Fri, 05 Jan 18 00:11:40 -0800

According to a study published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, Tupaia glis, the common treeshrew, defies two widely tested rules that describe patterns of geographical variation within species: the island rule and Bergmann's rule.



Researchers show high-performance breathing in bones

Wed, 03 Jan 18 00:14:10 -0800

Dinosaurs are far from extinct, but dominate as birds still most regions of the globe. Part of this huge success is due to the evolution of air sacs, which are crucial for the high efficiency of their respiratory system. Scientists at the University of Bonn analyzed the structure of bones that are in contact with air sacs and found both in extinct and extant species a hitherto unknown type of bony tissue. The results now are published in Biology Letters.



Primitive fossil bear with a sweet tooth identified from Canada's High Arctic

Mon, 18 Dec 17 00:04:20 -0800

Researchers from the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County have identified remains of a 3.5-million-year-old bear from a fossil-rich site in Canada's High Arctic. Their study shows not only that the animal is a close relative of the ancestor of modern bears -- tracing its ancestry to extinct bears of similar age from East Asia -- but that it also had a sweet tooth, as determined by cavities in the teeth.



The oldest plesiosaur was a strong swimmer

Wed, 13 Dec 17 00:02:40 -0800

Plesiosaurs were especially effective swimmer. These long extinct 'paddle saurians' propelled themselves through the World's oceans by employing 'underwater flight' -- similar to sea turtles and penguins. Paleontologist from the University of Bonn, Germany, now describe the oldest plesiosaur in the journal Science Advances, together with colleagues from Japan and France. The find comes from the youngest part of the Triassic period and is about 201 million years old.



African deforestation not as great as feared

Mon, 11 Dec 17 00:01:50 -0800

The loss of forests in Africa in the past century is substantially less than previously estimated, an analysis of historical records and paleontology evidence by Yale researchers shows.



Early avian evolution: The Archaeopteryx that wasn't

Tue, 05 Dec 17 00:01:30 -0800

Paleontologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich correct a case of misinterpretation: The first fossil



Exceptionally preserved eggs and embryos reveal the life history of a pterosaur

Fri, 01 Dec 17 00:07:20 -0800

Dr. WANG Xiaolin, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his team reported on hundreds of three-dimensional (3-D) pterosaur eggs of the species Hamipterus tianshanensis from a Lower Cretaceous site in the Turpan-Hami Basin, 16 of which contain embryonic remains, allowing for an unexpected look at the embryology and reproductive strategy of these flying reptiles.



U-M researchers recover more mammoth bones from Chelsea-area farm

Thu, 30 Nov 17 00:11:00 -0800

University of Michigan paleontologists conducted a second excavation this week at the Chelsea-area farm where the skull, tusks and dozens of intact bones of an ice age mammoth were pulled from the ground in late 2015.



A horse is a horse, of course, of course -- except when it isn't

Tue, 28 Nov 17 00:09:10 -0800

An international team of researchers has discovered a previously unrecognized genus of extinct horses that roamed North America during the last ice age. The new findings are based on an analysis of ancient DNA from fossils of the enigmatic 'New World stilt-legged horse' excavated from sites such as Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming, Gypsum Cave in Nevada, and the Klondike goldfields of Canada's Yukon Territory.



Feathered dinosaurs were even fluffier than we thought

Tue, 28 Nov 17 00:08:20 -0800

A University of Bristol-led study has revealed new details about dinosaur feathers and enabled scientists to further refine what is potentially the most accurate depiction of any dinosaur species to date.



A sub-desert savanna spread across Madrid fourteen million years ago

Fri, 17 Nov 17 00:09:30 -0800

The current landscape of Madrid city and its vicinity was really different 14 million years ago. A semi-desert savanna has been inferred for the centre of the Iberian Peninsula in the middle Miocene. This ecosystem was characterised by a very arid tropical climatic regime with up to ten months of drought per year, according to a recent paper published in PLOS ONE. Scientists reached such conclusions after comparing mammal faunal with Africa and Asia ones



A giant, prehistoric otter's surprisingly powerful bite

Thu, 09 Nov 17 00:09:10 -0800

A massive, wolf-sized otter that lived about 6 million years ago may have been a dominant predator in its time, according to a new analysis of the animal's jaws. When scientists used computers to simulate how biting would strain S. melilutra's jaws, they concluded that the animal had much firmer jaw bones than expected, giving it a surprisingly strong bite.



Finger and toe fossils belonged to tiny primates 45 million years ago

Thu, 09 Nov 17 00:14:20 -0800

A new study identifies nearly 500 minuscule finger and toe bones as belonging to 45-million-year-old tiny primates. Many of the fossils are so small they rival the diminutive size of a mustard seed. Representing nine different taxonomic families of primates and as many as 25 species, the specimens from China include numerous fossils attributed to Eosimias, the very first anthropoid known to date, and three fossils attributed to a new and more advanced anthropoid.



Genome-wide data from a 40,000-year-old man in China reveals complicated genetic history of Asia

Fri, 13 Oct 17 00:05:40 -0700

The biological makeup of humans in East Asia is shaping up to be a very complex story, with greater diversity and more distant contacts than previously known, according to a new study analyzing the genome of a man that died in the Tianyuan Cave near Beijing, China 40,000 years ago. His bones had enough DNA molecules left that a team led by Professor FU Qiaomei could use advanced ancient DNA sequencing techniques to retrieve DNA from him that spans the human genome.



Scientists describe 'enigmatic' species that lived in Utah some 500 million years ago

Wed, 11 Oct 17 00:06:50 -0700

The only fossilized specimen of a species previously unknown to science -- an 'obscure' stalked filter feeder -- has just been detailed for the first time in a paper appearing in the Journal of Paleontology.



'Fake fin' discovery reveals new ichthyosaur species

Tue, 10 Oct 17 00:01:50 -0700

An ichthyosaur first discovered in the 1970s but then dismissed and consigned to museum storerooms across the country has been re-examined and found to be a new species.



Big herbivorous dinosaurs ate crustaceans as a side dish, says CU Boulder study

Thu, 21 Sep 17 00:01:30 -0700

Some big plant-eating dinosaurs roaming present-day Utah some 75 million years ago were slurping up crustaceans on the side, a behavior that may have been tied to reproductive activities, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.



Dinosaur evolution: Lumbering giants had agile ancestors

Wed, 20 Sep 17 00:06:20 -0700

The best known sauropod dinosaurs were huge herbivorous creatures, whose brain structures were markedly different from those of their evolutionary predecessors, for the earliest representatives of the group were small, lithe carnivores.



Ancient amphibian had mouthful of teeth ready to grab you: UTM research

Fri, 15 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0700

The idea of being bitten by a nearly toothless modern frog or salamander sounds laughable, but their ancient ancestors had a full array of teeth, large fangs and thousands of tiny hook-like structures called denticles on the roofs of their mouths that would snare prey, according to new research by paleontologists at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM).



UT faculty member helps identify new species of prehistoric crocodile

Tue, 12 Sep 17 00:00:50 -0700

Around 95 million years ago, a giant relative of modern crocodiles ruled the coastlines and waterways of what would one day become north central Texas. A team including the University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Stephanie Drumheller-Horton has identified this species, Deltasuchus motherali.



Scientists track the brain-skull transition from dinosaurs to birds

Mon, 11 Sep 17 00:16:00 -0700

The dramatic, dinosaur-to-bird transition that occurred in reptiles millions of years ago was accompanied by profound changes in the skull roof of those animals -- and holds important clues about the way the skull forms in response to changes in the brain -- according to a new study. It is the first time scientists have tracked the link between the brain's development and the roofing bones of the skull.



Shaking up the fish family tree: 'Living fossil' not as old as we thought

Wed, 30 Aug 17 00:12:20 -0700

Polypterids are weird and puzzling African fish that have perplexed biologists since they were discovered during Napoleon's expedition to Egypt in the late 1700s.



New ancient sea reptile found in Germany -- The earliest of its kind

Mon, 28 Aug 17 00:06:00 -0700

A previously unrecognized 132 million-year-old fossilized sea monster from northern Germany has been identified by an international team of researchers. Findings published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.



Algae fortifies coral reefs in past and present

Mon, 28 Aug 17 00:10:10 -0700

The Great Barrier Reef, and most other large reefs around the world, owe their bulk in large part to a type of red algae that grows on corals and strengthens them. New research led by Anna Weiss, a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, has found that ancient coral reefs were also bolstered by their bond with red algae, a finding that could help scientists better understand how reefs will respond to climate change.



Paleontologists discover new species of sauropod dinosaur in Tanzania

Fri, 25 Aug 17 00:07:40 -0700

Paleontologists have identified a new species of titanosaurian dinosaur. The research is reported in a paper published this week in the



The dinosaur museum that visits you

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:16:10 -0700

The vast expanses of the Gobi Desert are a prime destination for paleontologists. Since the 1920s, expeditions to the Gobi have unearthed thousands of dinosaur fossils, including the nests and eggs of Oviraptor, the bones of the iconic Velociraptor, and the skeletons of the giant plant-eater Saurolophus. Today, a very different type of behemoth rumbles through rural Mongolia. It's called the Moveable



Elucidating the biology of extinct cave bears

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:16:00 -0700

One of the largest known species of bear, the cave bear (Ursus spelaeus), ranged widely through Eurasia all the way to the Mediterranean in the south and to the Caucasus Mountains and northern Iran in the east during Late Pleistocene times.



Ice age era bones recovered from underwater caves in Mexico

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:15:50 -0700

When the Panamanian land bridge formed around 3 million years ago, Southern Mexico was in the middle of a great biotic interchange of large animals from North and South America that crossed the continents in both directions.



3-D scanning methods allow an inside look into fossilized feces

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:15:40 -0700

Coprolites are fossilized feces that give evidence of an organism's behavior and often contain food residues, parasite remains and other fossils that provide clues to ancient paleoecological relations.



New dinosaur discovery suggests new species roosted together like modern birds

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:15:30 -0700

The Mongolian Desert has been known for decades for its amazing array of dinosaurs, immaculately preserved in incredible detail and in associations that give exceedingly rare glimpses at behavior in the fossil record.



Variation in the recovery of tetrapods

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:15:20 -0700

The end-Permian mass extinction (EPME) occurred about 250 million years ago and represents the Earth's most catastrophic extinction event.



The first hard evidence for the 'outside-in' theory of the origin of teeth

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:15:10 -0700

Researchers studying a 400-million-year-old bony fish from Estonia believe that they have found evidence for the origins of teeth. Using advanced synchrotron microtomography on numerous specimens representing different ages has allowed scientists a rare glimpse into the evolution and formation of teeth.



Fossils reveal how bizarre mammal beat extinction

Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:15:00 -0700

Animals that live on islands are among the most at risk from extinction. A remarkable eighty percent of extinctions occurring since 1500AD have been on islands, with inhabitants facing dangers from climate change, sea level rise, invasive species, and human interactions.



Unique imaging of a dinosaur's skull tells evolutionary tale

Tue, 15 Aug 17 00:10:20 -0700

Researchers using Los Alamos' unique neutron-imaging and high-energy X-ray capabilities have exposed the inner structures of the fossil skull of a 74-million-year-old tyrannosauroid dinosaur nicknamed the Bisti Beast in the highest-resolution scan of tyrannosaur skull ever done.