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Paleo-news archive: April-June 2007





million-year-old human ancestor tooth found in Spain
'First west Europe tooth' found
(Jun 30, 2007)


Scientists in Spain say that they have found a tooth from a distant human ancestor that is more than one million years old. The tooth, a pre-molar, was discovered on Wednesday at the Atapuerca site in northern Spain's Burgos Province. It represented western Europe's "oldest human fossil remain", a statement from the Atapuerca Foundation said.

Read more. Source: BBC

tropical giant penguin, Icadyptes salasi
Tropical giant penguin discovered
(Jun 26, 2007)


A giant penguin who preferred the tropics to the southern oceans has been discovered by a team of scientists. The fossilised remains of the penguin, who lived some 36 million years ago, were discovered in what is today Peru. About 1.5 metres (5 ft) tall, the penguin would have looked quite different from its modern-day cousins.

Read more. Source: BBC


Gigantoraptor
Feathered dino was twice your height and had claws
(Jun 13, 2007)


Imagine an ostrich that tipped the scales at 1400 kilograms, standing twice as tall as a human, with a solid tail and massive body, plus long, feathered arms with sharp claws, and a turtle-like beak. Thatís how a newly discovered dinosaur called Gigantoraptor looked as it roamed what is now China about 70 million years ago.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Eocursor parvis
Fossil traces deep dinosaur roots
(Jun 13, 2007)


Scientists have described a new primitive dinosaur species, Eocursor parvus, which lived in the Late Triassic – about 210 million years ago. Unearthed in South Africa's Free State, the creature appears to have been a small, agile plant-eater. The team tells a Royal Society journal that Eocursor sheds light on the early evolution of the Ornithischia.

Read more. Source: BBC

T. Rex
T. rex was 'slow-turning plodder'
(Jun 5, 2007)


A Tyrannosaurus rex would have had great difficulty getting its jaws on fast, agile prey, a study confirms. A US team has used detailed computer models to work out the weight of a typical "king of the dinosaurs", and determine how it ran and turned. The results indicate a 6-8 tonne T. rex was unlikely to have topped 40km/h (25mph) and would have taken a couple of seconds to swivel 45 degrees.

Read more. Source: BBC

Orangutan in Sumatra
Upright walking 'began in trees'
(Jun 1, 2007)


The ancestors of humans began walking upright while they were still living in trees – not out on open land, according to a new theory. The traditional view is of bipedalism evolved gradually from the four-legged "knuckle-walking" displayed by chimpanzees and gorillas today. Now, a study published in the journal Science disputes this idea.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tiktaalik fossil
Genes shed light on fish fingers
(May 26, 2007)


A genetic study has shed light on the mystery of how fish made the move from water to land millions of years ago. Previous research had suggested that fish had made an abrupt genetic jump to acquire land-friendly limbs. But a US team has now shown this event was not an evolutionary novelty and the transition was far more gradual.

Read more. Source: BBC

scratches from theropod swimming trackway
Tracks suggest dinos could swim
(May 24, 2007)


Ancient footprints have provided compelling evidence that some dinosaurs were able to swim, scientists report. The 15m (50ft) trackway that reveals the animal's underwater odyssey was discovered in the Cameros Basin in Spain, once a vast lake. The S-shaped prints suggest the beast clawed at sediment on the lake floor as it swam in about 3m (10ft) of water. The marks are about 125 million years old, dating to the Early Cretaceous, the team writes in the journal Geology.

Read more. Source: BBC

fern from fossilized rainforest
Giant fossil rainforest unearthed
(Apr 25, 2007)


The discovery of a vast fossil forest hundreds of metres underground has provided an extraordinary picture of some of Earth's earliest plants. The exquisitely preserved remains were unearthed in a US coalmine in Illinois, and date back to 300 million years ago. Writing in the journal Geology, a UK-US team said a diverse array of now extinct fossilised flora could be seen.

Read more. Source: BBC

Reconstruction line drawing of a member of genus Wattieza Image: Frank Mannolini/New York State Museum
Fossilized trees mystery solved
(Apr 19, 2007)


A Cardiff fossil expert has identified a pair of 385-million-year-old trees, thought to be among the world's oldest. American researchers found fossilized remains in New York state two years ago, but their identity was unknown. They called in Dr Christopher Berry from Cardiff University, who confirmed the remains are from the Genus Wattieza, a fern-like plant which formed earth's first known forests.

Read more. Source: BBC

T.Rex and hen
Protein links T. rex to chickens
(Apr 13, 2007)


Researchers compared organic molecules preserved in the T. rex fossils with those of living animals, and found they were similar to chicken protein. The discovery of protein in dinosaur bones is a surprise – organic material was not thought to survive this long. A US team of researchers have published the finding in Science journal.

Read more. Source: BBC

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