News 2019



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Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 19.12.2019
Modern humans and Homo erectus did not co-exist in Java
Modern humans and Homo erectus did not co-exist in Java
Ninety years after Dutch geologists excavated human fossils in central Java, scientists finally have pinpointed the fossils' age at around 120,000 years. In a study reported today in Nature , The University of Queensland's Associate Professor Michael Westaway and Professor Jian-xin Zhao helped to establish the age and a new chronology for "a critical site for understanding the later stages of human evolution".

Paleontology - Environment - 16.12.2019
Two in one: Fossil shells reveal both global mercury contamination and warming when dinosaurs perished
Two in one: Fossil shells reveal both global mercury contamination and warming when dinosaurs perished
The impact of an asteroid or comet is acknowledged as the principal cause of the mass extinction that killed off most dinosaurs and about three-quarters of the planet's plant and animal species 66 million years ago. But massive volcanic eruptions in India may also have contributed to the extinctions.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 27.11.2019
Animal embryos evolved before animals
Animals evolved from single-celled ancestors, before diversifying into 30 or 40 distinct anatomical designs. When and how animal ancestors made the transition from single-celled microbes to complex multicellular organisms has been the focus of intense debate.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 04.11.2019
Discriminating diets of meat-eating dinosaurs
A big problem with dinosaurs is that there seem to be too many meat-eaters. From studies of modern animals, there is a feeding pyramid, with plants at the bottom, then plant-eaters, and then meat-eaters at the top. A new study by scientists at the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences , published in the journal Palaeontology, shows that dinosaurian meat-eaters, the theropod dinosaurs, specialised a great deal, and so broadened their food base.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 24.10.2019
New fossil trove documents recovery of life on Earth after dinosaur-killing asteroid impact
New fossil trove documents recovery of life on Earth after dinosaur-killing asteroid impact
Scientists have discovered an extraordinary collection of fossils that reveal in detail how life recovered after a catastrophic event: the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous Period. Described in a paper published Oct. 24 , the unprecedented find - thousands of exceptionally preserved animal and plant fossils from the first million years after the catastrophe - shines light on how life emerged from one of Earth's darkest hours.

Earth Sciences - Paleontology - 21.10.2019
Mystery solved: ocean acidity in the last mass extinction
Mystery solved: ocean acidity in the last mass extinction
A new study led by Yale University confirms a long-held theory about the last great mass extinction event in history and how it affected Earth's oceans. The findings may also answer questions about how marine life eventually recovered. The researchers say it is the first direct evidence that the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago coincided with a sharp drop in the pH levels of the oceans - which indicates a rise in ocean acidity.

Environment - Paleontology - 17.10.2019
How ocean ecosystems recovered after mass extinction event 66 million years ago
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, have produced an unprecedented record of the biotic recovery of ocean ecosystems that followed after the last mass extinction, 66 million years ago. In an article published in the journal Nature , the team, which includes researchers from Southampton, University College London, Frankfurt and California, present a 13 million-year record of fossil plankton dynamics in the aftermath of near annihilation, providing a remarkable glimpse into how the marine ecosystem 'reboots'.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 02.10.2019
Fossil fish gives new insights into the evolution
Fossil fish gives new insights into the evolution
"An experiment of nature" after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction An international research team led by Giuseppe Marramà from the Institute of Paleontology of the University of Vienna discovered a new and well-preserved fossil stingray with an exceptional anatomy, which greatly differs from living species.

Environment - Paleontology - 26.09.2019
Ecosystems take two million years to recover after mass extinctions
It takes ecosystems two million years to recover after a mass extinction and for them to become functional and resilient again, according to new UCL co-led research. The study Hojung Kim and Dr Sarah Alvarez) and academics from Southampton, Frankfurt and California. The team looked at 13 million years' worth of fossil plankton records in the aftermath of near annihilation of ocean plankton, during the Cretaceous/Paleogene mass extinction, providing a remarkable glimpse into how the marine ecosystem 'reboots'.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 12.09.2019
UChicago Hong Kong campus wins international architectural design award
Researchers from the University of Chicago have used tools developed to explore 3-D movements and mechanics of modern-day fish jaws to analyze a fossil fish for the first time. Combined with CT imaging technology able to capture images of the fossil while it is still encased in rock, the results reveal that the 335-million-year-old shark had sophisticated jaws capable of the kind of suction feeding common to bony fishes like bass, perch, carp and also modern-day nurse sharks.

Paleontology - 29.08.2019
First human ancestors breastfed for longer than contemporary relatives
By analysing the fossilised teeth of some of our most ancient ancestors, a team of scientists led by the universities of Bristol (UK) and Lyon (France) have discovered that the first humans significantly breastfed their infants for longer periods than their contemporary relatives. The results, published in the journal Science Advances , provide a first insight into the practice of weaning that remain otherwise unseen in the fossil record.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 19.08.2019
Caught on video: Watch the ’living fossil’ fish of North America vacuum up its prey
The alligator gar, a toothy, narrow-snouted fish that resembles its namesake reptile, is the largest, native, freshwater predator in North America. They live primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas and can grow up to 10 feet long and 300 pounds. Long considered "trash fish" by fisherman who often throw them back because they aren't worth the trouble, gars have a special place in the hearts of biologists who study the evolution of fish.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 15.08.2019
Dinosaur brains from baby to adult
New research by a University of Bristol palaeontology post-graduate student has revealed fresh insights into how the braincase of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus developed and how this tells us about its posture. Psittacosaurus was a very common dinosaur in the Early Cretaceous period - 125 million years ago - that lived in eastern Asia, especially north-east China.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 18.07.2019
Fossil shows how early mammals could swallow like their modern descendants
The 165-million-year-old fossil of a tiny, shrew-like animal shows the earliest example of modern hyoid bones-the ones that provide the ability to swallow food-in mammal evolution. The hyoid bones of Microdocodon gracilis -as well as all modern mammals, including humans-link the back of the mouth, or pharynx, to the openings of the esophagus and the larynx.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 10.07.2019
Small Wyoming dinosaur helps rewrite the evolutionary story of birds, flight
An artistic rendering of what Lori, scientifically known as Hesperornithoides miessleri, may have looked like when she was alive roughly 150 million years ago. Image by Gabriel Ugueto Scientists have long known that birds and dinosaurs are related, but as with many families, it's complicated. There are dinosaurs with feathers, but no wings, and dinosaurs with feathery wings that couldn't fly.

Paleontology - 26.06.2019
Blue colour tones in fossilised prehistoric feathers
Blue colour tones in fossilised prehistoric feathers
Examining fossilised pigments, scientists from the University of Bristol have uncovered new insights into blue colour tones in prehistoric birds. For some time, paleontologists have known that melanin pigment can preserve in fossils and have been able to reconstruct fossil colour patterns. Melanin pigment gives black, reddish brown and grey colours to birds and is involved in creating bright iridescent sheens in bird feathers.

Paleontology - 21.06.2019
Hue times two: a second look at the color of dinosaur eggs
Hue times two: a second look at the color of dinosaur eggs
After garnering worldwide attention last year for her research on the origins of egg color in birds, Yale paleontologist Jasmina Wiemann has taken a second look at her eggshells. Wiemann had found that all colors and spots on modern birds' eggs derived from a single evolutionary source among dinosaurs.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 03.06.2019
Feathers came first, then birds
Feathers came first, then birds
New research, led by the University of Bristol, suggests that feathers arose 100 million years before birds - changing how we look at dinosaurs, birds, and pterosaurs, the flying reptiles. It also changes our understanding of feathers themselves, their functions and their role in some of the largest events in evolution.

Paleontology - 23.05.2019
What we think we know - but might not - pushes us to learn more
Spoiler alert if you haven't watched the "Game of Thrones" season finale. Did you know that the anatomy of the mythical dragons in "Game of Thrones” is based on chickens, which also happen to be the closest relatives to T-Rex? Such trivia questions pique our curiosity and push us to learn more.

Paleontology - 17.05.2019
A high-heeled dinosaur?
A high-heeled dinosaur?
A 24-tonne dinosaur may have walked in a 'high-heeled' fashion, according to University of Queensland research. UQ PhD candidate Andréas Jannel and colleagues from UQ's Dinosaur Lab analysed fossils of Australia's only named Jurassic sauropod, Rhoetosaurus brownei, to better understand how such an enormous creature could support its own body weight.