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Jan. 31, 2012 — A University of Missouri researcher has identified a new species of prehistoric crocodile. The extinct creature, nicknamed "Shieldcroc" due to a thick-skinned shield on its head, is an ancestor of today's crocodiles. Its discovery provides scientists with additional information about the evolution of crocodiles and how scientists can gain insight into ways to protect the species' environment and help prevent extinction. The discovery was published this week in the journal PLoS ONE (Public Library of Science) .
What was life like 560 million years ago? The Vendian marks the first appearance of a group of large fossils collectively known as the "Vendian biota" or "Ediacara fauna." The question of what these fossils are is still not settled to everyone's satisfaction; at various times they have been considered algae, lichens, giant protozoans, or even a separate kingdom of life unrelated to anything livingtoday. Some of these fossils are simple blobs that are hard to interpret and could represent almost anything. Some are most like cnidarians, worms, or soft-bodied relatives of the arthropods.
A Canadian-led team of international researchers has unearthed the 190-million-year-old nesting site of the prosauropod dinosaur Massospondylus — predating previously known nesting grounds by 100 million years — at an excavation site in South Africa. The finding was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study led by Robert Reisz, a paleontologist and professor of biology at the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus, describes clutches of eggs, many with embryos, as well as tiny dinosaur footprints. They provide the oldest known evidence that the hatchlings remained at the nesting site until doubling in size. At least 10 nests were discovered at several levels at the site, each with up to 34 round eggs in tightly clustered clutches. The distribution of the nests in the sediments reveals a couple of key nesting instincts, providing the oldest known evidence of such behaviour in the fossil record.
Despised in the West and revered in the East, dragons have a long history in human mythology. How did the myth start? No one knows the exact answer, but some myths may have been inspired by living reptiles, and some "dragon" bones probably belonged to animals long extinct — in some cases dinosaurs, in others, fossil mammals.
Sept. 30, 2010 AUSTIN, Texas — Paleontologists have unearthed the first extinct penguin with preserved evidence of scales and feathers. The 36-million-year-old fossil from Peru shows the new giant penguin's feathers were reddish brown and grey, distinct from the black tuxedoed look of living penguins. Artist's reconstruction of Inkayacu, or Water King, a giant fossil penguin discovered in Peru.
By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | 30 October 2009 BERKELEY — Paleontologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Museum of the Rockies have wiped out two species of dome-headed dinosaur, one of them named three years ago – with great fanfare – after Hogwarts, the school attended by Harry Potter.
November 19, 2009 ON TV When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs airs Saturday, November 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel.
Junior Paleontologist Activities The Junior Paleontologist program engages young people in activities that allow them to discover the significance of fossils and the science of paleontology, and introduces them to the national park system and to the mission of the National Park Service. Learn more... Climate Change in the Fossil Record Fossils are evidence of past climates. They also provide clues for how living things respond to climate change—important lessons for our warming planet.
The Earth is very old -- 4.5 billion years or more according to recent estimates. Most of the evidence for an ancient Earth is contained in the rocks that form the Earth's crust. The rock layers themselves -- like pages in a long and complicated history -- record the surface-shaping events of the past, and buried within them are traces of life --the plants and animals that evolved from organic structures that existed perhaps 3 billion years ago. Also contained in rocks once molten are radioactive elements whose isotopes provide Earth with an atomic clock. Within these rocks, "parent" isotopes decay at a predictable rate to form "daughter" isotopes.
UC Berkeley Press Release
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Aggregating nearly the entire landmass of Earth, Pangaea was a continent the likes our planet has not seen for the last 200 million years. Its size meant there was a lot of space for animals to roam, for there were few geographical barriers, such as mountains or ice caps, to contain them. Yet, strangely, animals confined themselves. Studying a transect of Pangaea stretching from about three degrees south to 26 degrees north (a long swath in the center of the continent covering tropical and semiarid temperate zones), a team of scientists led by Jessica Whiteside at Brown University has determined that reptiles, represented by a species called procolophonids, lived in one area, while mammals, represented by a precursor species called traversodont cynodonts, lived in another. Though similar in many ways, their paths evidently did not cross.