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Paleo-news archive: January-March 2006

Possible missing link skull found in Ethiopia. Image: AP/Stone Age Institute, Sileshi Semaw, HO
Ancient skull found in Ethiopia
(Mar 28, 2006)

Fossil hunters in Ethiopia have unearthed an ancient skull which they say could be a "missing link" between Homo erectus and modern people. The cranium was found in two pieces and is believed by its discoverers to be between 500,000 and 250,000 years old. The project's director, Dr Sileshi Semaw, said the fossilised specimen came from "a very significant time" in human evolutionary history. It was found at Gawis in Ethiopia's north-eastern Afar region.

Read more. Source: BBC

Erketu ellisoni sketch
Streeeetch! Long-neck dinosaur sets new standard
(Mar 21, 2006)

Scientists have identified a new dinosaur species that had one of the longest necks relative to body length ever measured. A typical neck bone in this creature was about the size of two loaves of bread. The species, Erketu ellisoni, belongs to the group of massive four-legged herbivorous dinosaurs called Sauropoda, the largest land animals ever to walk on Earth. This giant group also includes Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, and the largest of them all, the 120-foot long Argentinasaurus.

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An adult Triceratops skull, six feet long, dwarfs the foot-long skull of a year-old Triceratops (bottom center). The pair are on display in the Marion Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library in the Valley Life Sciences Building. Photos by Mark Goodwin, UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology
Baby Triceratops skull suggests reasons for horns
(Mar 9, 2006)

A baby Triceratops skull suggests the impressive horns of the beast were for more than just attracting a mate. The three-horned Triceratops dinosaur weighed up to 10 tons and had one of the largest skulls of any land animal on the planet. Now the smallest skull of the species suggests what the horns were for. "The baby Triceratops confirmed our argument that the horns and frill of the skull likely had another function other than sexual display or competition with rivals, which people have often argued, and allows us to propose that they were just as important for species recognition and visual communication in these animals," said paleontologist Mark Goodwin at the University of California at Berkeley.

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Castorocauda lustrasimilis, artist's impression
'Jurassic beaver' found in China
(Feb 28, 2006)

The discovery of a beaver-like fossil that lived when the dinosaurs ruled the Earth could challenge some currently accepted ideas on mammal evolution. Castorocauda lutrasimilis, which was unearthed in China, is a species previously unknown to science. It dates back to 164 million years ago, a time when mammals were thought to be primitive creatures confined to land. But this animal was adapted to life in water, meaning scientists may now have to rethink their theories.

Read more. Source: BBC


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