news 2020



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Paleontology - Life Sciences - 14.12.2020
Unexpected insights into early dinosaur’s brain, eating habits and agility
A pioneering reconstruction of the brain belonging to one of the earliest dinosaurs to roam the Earth has shed new light on its possible diet and ability to move fast. Research, led by the University of Bristol, used advanced imaging and 3-D modelling techniques to digitally rebuild the brain of Thecodontosaurus , better known as the Bristol dinosaur due to its origins in the UK city.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 26.11.2020
Ancient bird with sickle-shaped beak offers insights into evolution
A 68 million-year-old fossil of a crow-sized bird discovered in Madagascar offers new insights into the evolution of face and beak shape of modern birds' ancestors, according to a new study involving UCL researchers. The findings are helping scientists to understand convergent evolution of complex anatomy.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 18.11.2020
Prehistoric Shark Hid Its Largest Teeth
Prehistoric Shark Hid Its Largest Teeth
Some, if not all, early sharks that lived 300 to 400 million years ago not only dropped their lower jaws downward but rotated them outwards when opening their mouths. This enabled them to make the best of their largest, sharpest and inward-facing teeth when catching prey, paleontologists at the Universities of Zurich and Chicago have now shown using CT scanning and 3D printing.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 11.11.2020
Unique resin conservation process thanks to feather and fur remains found in amber in Teruel
Amber piece of the site in Ariño with a lock of mammalian hair. This is the oldest finding of hair in amber. Credits: S. Álvarez Parra et al. Scientific Reports Amber piece from the site of San Just with dinosaur feather remains. Credits: S. Álvarez Parra et al. Scientific Reports Four examples studied in the "pull off vestiture" process in ambar pieces from San Just, Ariño, Myanmar and the Baltic, from left to right and top to bottom.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 06.11.2020
Earliest example of a rapid-fire tongue found in extinct amphibians
Fossils of small armoured amphibians provide the oldest evidence of a slingshot-style tongue, according to a new study co-led by a UCL researcher. The research team analysed 99-million-year-old fossils to find that the animals were sit-and-wait predators that snatched prey with a projectile firing of their tongue, as reported in the journal Science .

Environment - Paleontology - 05.11.2020
Key to predicting future climate: Look back millions of years
An international team of climate scientists, including two from the University of Michigan, suggests that researchers using numerical models to predict future climate change should include simulations of past climates when evaluating model performance. "We urge the climate model developer community to pay attention to the past and actively involve it in predicting the future,” said Jessica Tierney, the paper's lead author and an associate professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Geosciences.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 02.11.2020
Fossil poop shows fishy lunches from 200 million years ago
A new study of coprolites, fossil poop, shows the detail of food webs in the ancient shallow seas around Bristol in south-west England. One hungry fish ate part of the head of another fish before snipping off the tail of a passing reptile. Marie Cueille, a visiting student at the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences , was working on a collection of hundreds of fish poops from the Rhaetian bone bed near Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, dated at 205 million years ago.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 02.11.2020
No social distancing in the Cretaceous: New study finds earliest evidence for mammal social behavior
No social distancing in the Cretaceous: New study finds earliest evidence for mammal social behavior
A new study led by paleontologists at the University of Washington and its Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture indicates that the earliest evidence of mammal social behavior goes back to the Age of Dinosaurs. The evidence, published Nov. Ecology & Evolution, lies in the fossil record of a new genus of multituberculate - a small, rodent-like mammal that lived during the Late Cretaceous of the dinosaur era - called Filikomys primaevus , which translates to "youthful, friendly mouse." The fossils are the most complete mammal fossils ever found from the Mesozoic in North America.

Paleontology - 30.10.2020
Plankton turned hunters to survive dinosaur-killing asteroid impact
After the last global mass extinction, 66 million years ago, most of the plankton that survived were those able to capture food to eat, according to a study led by UCL and University of Southampton researchers. The findings, published in Science Advances , support the theory that darkness drove the global extinctions, after an asteroid impact, as plankton and plants would not have been able to use photosynthesis to get their energy from the sun.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 28.10.2020
Giant lizards learnt to fly over millions of years
Pterodactyls and related winged reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs steadily improved their ability to fly, becoming the deadly masters of the sky, over the course of millions of years. A new study, '150 million years of sustained increase in pterosaur flight efficiency' , published in the journal Nature has shown that pterosaurs - a group of creatures that became Earth's first flying vertebrates - evolved to improve their flight performance over their 150 million-year existence, before going extinct at the same time as dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 28.10.2020
Pterosaurs undergo dental examination to reveal clues about diets and lifestyles
Microscopic analysis of the teeth of pterosaurs has revealed new insights into the diets and behaviours of Earth's earliest flying reptiles. Researchers at the University of Leicester's Centre for Palaeobiology Research and the University of Birmingham used dental microwear analysis to look at the wear patterns still visible on the teeth of 17 different species of pterosaur.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 12.10.2020
Ancient tiny teeth reveal first mammals lived more like reptiles
Reconstruction of Morganucodon (left) and Kuehneotherium (right) hunting in Early Jurassic Wales 200 million years ago. Original painting by John Sibbick, 2013. Copyright: Pam Gill Synchrotron micro-CT scan of a fossil Morganucodon tooth root from 200 million years ago. Elis Newham Scientists count fossilised growth rings in teeth like tree rings to find out how long the earliest mammals lived.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 21.09.2020
Modelling of ancient fossil movement reveals step in the evolution of posture in dinosaur and crocodile ancestors
Life reconstruction of Euparkeria highlighting the body parts investigated in this study. Illustration: Oliver Demuth. The oblique ankle joint did not allow Euparkeria to assume a fully upright posture as the foot also turns medially when the ankle joint is extended. An ankle joint allowing a more upright posture evolved later independent from the hip structure.

Environment - Paleontology - 16.09.2020
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. 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.