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Environment - Paleontology - 16.09.2020
Discovery of a new mass extinction
Discovery of a new mass extinction
Summary of major extinction events through time, highlighting the new, Carnian Pluvial Episode at 233 million years ago. © D. Bonadonna/ MUSE, Trento. 16 September 2020 It's not often a new mass extinction is identified; after all, such events were so devastating they really stand out in the fossil record.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 27.08.2020
Frequently asked questions: torpor in Antarctic Lystrosaurus
Frequently asked questions: torpor in Antarctic Lystrosaurus
Prepared by Megan Whitney with Harvard University and Christian Sidor with the University of Washington and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. University of Washington press release here. Reference: " Evidence of torpor in the tusks of Lystrosaurus from the Early Triassic of Antarctica " by Whitney MR and Sidor CA. Communications Biology.

Paleontology - 11.08.2020
Some dinosaurs could fly before they were birds
Updated evolutionary tree and biomechanical estimates of feathered dinosaurs and early birds show powered flight may have evolved in these animals at least three different times New research using the most comprehensive study of feathered dinosaurs and early birds has revised the evolutionary relationships of dinosaurs at the origin of birds.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 06.08.2020
Long Neck Helped Reptile Hunt Underwater
Long Neck Helped Reptile Hunt Underwater
Its neck was three times as long as its torso, but had only thirteen extremely elongated vertebrae: "Tanystropheus", a bizarre giraffe-necked reptile which lived 242 million years ago, is a paleontological absurdity. A new study led by the University of Zurich has now shown that the creature lived in water and was surprisingly adaptable.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 04.08.2020
Between shark and ray: The evolutionary advantage of the sea angels
Between shark and ray: The evolutionary advantage of the sea angels
Threatened with extinction despite perfect adaptation Angel sharks are sharks, but with their peculiarly flat body they rather resemble rays. An international research team led by Faviel A. López-Romero and Jürgen Kriwet of the Institute of Palaeontology has now investigated the origin of this body shape.

Earth Sciences - Paleontology - 29.07.2020
Sheds light on the evolution of the earliest dinosaurs
Sheds light on the evolution of the earliest dinosaurs
Geological evidence suggests the known dinosaur groups diverged early on, supporting the traditional dinosaur family tree. The classic dinosaur family tree has two subdivisions of early dinosaurs at its base: the Ornithischians, or bird-hipped dinosaurs, which include the later Triceratops and Stegosaurus ; and the Saurischians, or lizard-hipped dinosaurs, such as Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus .

Paleontology - Chemistry - 10.07.2020
Biosignatures may reveal a wealth of new data locked inside old fossils
Biosignatures may reveal a wealth of new data locked inside old fossils
Step aside, skeletons - a new world of biochemical "signatures" found in all kinds of ancient fossils is revealing itself to paleontologists, providing a new avenue for insights into major evolutionary questions. In a new study published Advances , Yale researchers outline a novel approach to finding biological signals long thought to be lost in the process of fossilization.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 17.06.2020
Hard news: Early dinosaur eggs were soft, scientists say
Hard news: Early dinosaur eggs were soft, scientists say
The first dinosaur eggs had a soft shell, say paleontologists from Yale and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The finding upends decades of conventional wisdom by the scientific community. For many years there was scant fossil evidence of dinosaur eggs, and all known examples were characterized by thick, calcified shells - leading paleontologists to speculate that all dinosaur eggs were hard-shelled, like those of modern crocodiles and birds.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 17.06.2020
Insect crunching reptiles on ancient islands of the UK
Insect crunching reptiles on ancient islands of the UK
By analysing the fossilised jaw mechanics of reptiles who lived in the Severn Channel region of the UK 200-million-years ago, researchers from the University of Bristol have shown that they weren't picky about the types of insects they ate - enjoying both crunchy and less crunchy varieties. The study, published today in the journal Palaeontology , describes how the team analysed the biomechanics of the skulls of some early lizard-like reptiles called rhynchocephalians to explore their diets.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 12.06.2020
Fossil hunting? Look for the clay halo
Fossil hunting? Look for the clay halo
Clay is king for creating ancient fossils. In a new study, researchers confirmed that kaolinite, a mineral found in certain fine-grained rocks around the world, is a key ingredient for preserving some of the earliest forms of complex life. The researchers also said the importance of kaolinite in the fossilization process has led to a bias in the early fossil record toward organisms that lived in places where kaolinite forms.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 11.06.2020
Oldest relative of ragworms and earthworms discovered
Oldest relative of ragworms and earthworms discovered
Scientists at the Universities of Oxford, Exeter, Yunnan and Bristol and have discovered the oldest fossil of the group of animals that contains earthworms, leeches, ragworms and lugworms. This discovery pushes the origin of living groups of these worms (polychaetes) back tens of millions of years, demonstrating that they played an important part in the earliest animal ecosystems.

Paleontology - Environment - 22.05.2020
First fossil nursery of the great white shark discovered
First fossil nursery of the great white shark discovered
Paleo-kindergarten ensured evolutionary success millions of years ago An international research team led by Jaime A. Villafaña from the Institute of Palaeontology at the University of Vienna discovered the first fossil nursery area of the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias in Chile. This discovery provides a better understanding of the evolutionary success of the largest top predator in today's oceans in the past and could contribute to the protection of these endangered animals.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.05.2020
Ancient giant armoured fish fed in a similar way to basking sharks
Ancient giant armoured fish fed in a similar way to basking sharks
Scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of Zurich have shown that the Titanichthys - a giant armoured fish that lived in the seas and oceans of the late Devonian period 380-million-years ago - fed in a similar manner to modern day basking sharks. Titanichthys has long been known as one of the largest animals of the Devonian - its exact size is difficult to determine, but it likely exceeded five metres in length; like in the basking shark, its lower jaw reached lengths exceeding one metre.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.05.2020
Prehistoric Giant Fish Was a Suspension Feeder
Prehistoric Giant Fish Was a Suspension Feeder
Scientists from the University of Zurich and the University of Bristol have investigated the jaw mechanics of Titanichthys, a giant armored fish that roamed the seas and oceans of the late Devonian period 380 million years ago. New findings suggest that it fed by swimming through water slowly with its mouth open wide to capture high concentrations of plankton - similar to modern-day basking sharks.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 19.05.2020
Ancient reptile had mammal-like tooth enamel
Priosphenodon specimens found in Argentina show the Late Cretaceous reptile evolved to have resilient tooth enamel similar to that in mammals A new study by McGill University and the University of Alberta (UofA) paleontologists shows that one type of ancient reptiles evolved a special type of tooth enamel, similar to that of mammals, with high resistance to wear and tear.

Paleontology - Earth Sciences - 23.04.2020
Giant teenage shark from the Dinosaur-era
Giant teenage shark from the Dinosaur-era
Fossil vertebrae give insights into growth and extinction of an enigmatic shark group Scientists of the University of Vienna examined parts of a vertebral column, which was found in northern Spain in 1996, and assigned it to the extinct shark group Ptychodontidae. In contrast to teeth, shark vertebrae bear biological information, like body size, growth, and age and allowed the team surrounding Patrick L. Jambura to gain new insights into the biology of this mysterious shark group.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.04.2020
Brain’s language pathway dates back at least 25 million years
A research team involving UCL has discovered an earlier origin to the human language pathway in the brain, pushing back its evolutionary origin by at least 20 million years. Previously, a precursor of the language pathway was thought by many scientists to have emerged more recently, about 5 million years ago, with a common ancestor of both apes and humans.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 15.04.2020
Fossil-inspired flight: pterosaurs hold secrets to better aeronautical engineering
Fossil-inspired flight: pterosaurs hold secrets to better aeronautical engineering
Pterosaurs were the largest animals ever to fly. They soared the skies for 160 million years - much longer than any species of modern bird. However, until now, these ancient flyers have largely been overlooked in the pursuit of bio-inspired flight technologies. In a review, published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution , Bristol researchers outline why and how the physiology of fossil flyers could provide ancient solutions to modern flight problems, such as aerial stability and the ability of drones to self-launch.

Environment - Paleontology - 01.04.2020
Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world
Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world
Researchers have found evidence of rainforests near the South Pole 90 million years ago, suggesting the climate was exceptionally warm at the time. A team from the UK and Germany discovered forest soil from the Cretaceous period within 900 km of the South Pole. Their analysis of the preserved roots, pollen and spores shows that the world at that time was a lot warmer than previously thought.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.02.2020
Smaller animals faced surprisingly long odds in ancient oceans, Stanford study finds
Giant clams, the largest type of invertebrate included in the study, survive today on tropical reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, but many species from this group are under threat. "People collect them to carve the shells, as with elephant ivory, and to eat the clam because of its supposedly aphrodisiac-like properties," says paleobiologist Noel Heim.

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