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Paleo-news archive: July-September 2007

suspected Velociraptor quill knobs
Velociraptor dino 'had feathers'
(Sep 21, 2007)

The ferocious Velociraptor, made famous in the movie Jurassic Park, was probably covered in feathers. A re-assessment of a fossil forearm unearthed in Mongolia in 1998 has revealed an array of small bumps. In modern birds, such "quill knobs" are the locations where secondary feathers, the flight or wing feathers, are anchored to the bone with ligaments.

Read more. Source: BBC

comparison of Hobbit and modern human wrist bones
'Hobbit' wrists 'were primitive'
(Sep 21, 2007)

Careful study of the "Hobbit" fossil's wrist bones supports the idea that the creature was a distinct species and not a diseased modern human, it is claimed. Matthew Tocheri and colleagues tell Science magazine that the bones look nothing like those of Homo sapiens; they look ape-like. The announcement in 2004 detailing the discovery of Homo floresiensis caused a sensation.

Read more. Source: BBC

femur found at Dmanisi
Georgia clues to human origins
(Sep 20, 2007)

A team of scientists working in Georgia has unearthed the remains of four human-like creatures dating to 1.8 million years ago. In the journal Nature, the researchers outline details of the partial skeletons uncovered in a Medieval town. The bones reveal a mixture of primitive and advanced features, team leader David Lordkipanidze explained.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neanderthal skull
Neanderthal climate link debated
(Sep 14, 2007)

The theory that an abrupt, catastrophic change in the climate extinguished the last Neanderthals is challenged in the journal Nature. Our evolutionary cousins went extinct in most of Europe about 35,000 years ago, but small pockets survived much later than this in southern Iberia. The cause of these ancient humans' demise is hotly debated and a variety of theories have been put forward.

Read more. Source: BBC

bee trapped in amber
Orchids date to time of the dinos
(Aug 30, 2007)

Ancient orchid pollen found attached to a bee trapped in amber suggests the "supermodels of the plant world" were blooming at the time of the dinosaurs. The discovery indicates that orchids arose between 76 and 84 million years ago, making them far older than experts had previously thought.

Read more. Source: BBC

Cororapithecus abyssinicus teeth
Fossils belong to new great ape
(Aug 23, 2007)

Nine fossilised teeth found in Ethiopia are from a previously unknown species of great ape, Nature journal reports. The 10 million-year-old fossils belong to an animal that has been named Cororapithecus abyssinicus by the Ethiopian-Japanese team. This new species could be a direct ancestor of living African great apes, say the researchers.

Read more. Source: BBC

T. Rex skeleton
T. rex 'would outrun footballer'
(Aug 22, 2007)

Tyrannosaurus rex would have been able to outrun a footballer, according to computer models used to estimate running speeds of dinosaurs. The work used data taken directly from dinosaur fossils, rather than referring to previous work on modern animals. The study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, shows that T. rex had a top running speed of 8m/s (18mph).

Read more. Source: BBC

fossil cypress trees
Ancient forest found in Hungary
(Aug 13, 2007)

An ancient forest of cypress trees, estimated to be eight million years old, has been discovered in Hungary. Archaeologists found the 16 preserved trunks in an open cast coal mine in the north-eastern city of Bukkabrany. The specimens were preserved intact while most of the forest turned to coal thanks to a casing of sand, which was perhaps the result of a sandstorm.

Read more. Source: BBC

partial Homo erectus skull
Finds test human origins theory
(Aug 9, 2007)

Two hominid fossils discovered in Kenya are challenging a long-held view of human evolution. The broken upper jaw-bone and intact skull from humanlike creatures, or hominids, are described in Nature. Previously, the hominid Homo habilis was thought to have evolved into the more advanced Homo erectus, which evolved into us. Now, habilis and erectus are thought to be sister species that overlapped in time.

Read more. Source: BBC

mastodon tusks
Greek mastodon find 'spectacular'
(Jul 30, 2007)

The remains of a prehistoric mastodon – a mammoth-like animal – have been found in northern Greece, including intact long tusks. A Dutch scientist at the site, Dick Mol, says the find near Grevena should help explain why mastodons died out in Europe two to three million years ago.

Read more. Source: BBC

Chindesaurus bryansmalli
Dinosaurs' slow rise to dominance
(Jul 20, 2007)

The dinosaurs might have gone out with a sudden bang, but their rise to dominance was a gradual ascent, not a sudden takeover, a study suggests. It shows that dinosaurs co-existed with a more primitive group of reptiles for millions of years before becoming the most common land animals on Earth. Experts had thought that once dinosaurs emerged, they swiftly replaced their relatives the dinosauromorphs.

Read more. Source: BBC

frozen baby mammoth
Baby mammoth discovery unveiled
(Jul 10, 2007)

A baby mammoth unearthed in the permafrost of north-west Siberia could be the best preserved specimen of its type, scientists have said. The frozen carcass is to be sent to Japan for detailed study. The six-month-old female calf was discovered on the Yamal peninsula of Russia and is thought to have died 10,000 years ago.

Read more. Source: BBC

Greenland ice core sample
DNA reveals Greenland's lush past
(Jul 6, 2007)

Armies of insects once crawled through lush forests in a region of Greenland now covered by more than 2,000m of ice. DNA extracted from ice cores shows that moths and butterflies were living in forests of spruce and pine in the area between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago. Researchers writing in Science magazine say the specimens could represent the oldest pure DNA samples ever obtained.

Read more. Source: BBC

Ancient American bird was glider
(Jul 3, 2007)

The largest bird known to have taken to the skies would have been a remarkable glider, scientists say. A North American team has studied the flight abilities of Argentavis magnificens, which lived six million years ago in Argentina. With its seven-metre (23ft) wingspan, the animal must have been an expert at riding thermals and updrafts.

Read more. Source: BBC


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