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Paleo-news archive: January-March 2008

human jaw found at Atapuerca
Spain dig yields ancient European
(Mar 27, 2008)

Scientists have discovered the oldest human remains in western Europe. A jawbone and teeth discovered at the famous Atapuerca site in northern Spain have been dated between 1.1 and 1.2 million years old. The finds provide further evidence for the great antiquity of human occupation on the continent, the researchers write in the journal Nature.

Read more. Source: BBC

volcanic eruption
Volcanoes fingered for 'crime of the Cretaceous'
(Mar 21, 2008)

One of the prime suspects for "the crime of the Cretaceous" – the killing-off of the dinosaurs – may have hidden evidence of its guilt inside a rare time-capsule. The biggest volcanic eruptions are called flood events, which release millions of cubic kilometres of lava and all the gases trapped within it. One of the main theories about mass extinctions is that such flood events could have pumped sulphur and chlorine into the atmosphere, killing off anything nearby.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Island find stirs Hobbit debate
(Mar 13, 2008)

The discovery on South Pacific islands of ancient bones thought to belong to a tribe of tiny humans has raised new anthropological questions. Radiocarbon dating suggests the little people lived on the islands of Palau a few thousand years ago. Scientists believe they were true humans who shrank, perhaps because of a genetic disorder or lack of food.

Read more. Source: BBC

Liang Bua Cave
New twist in Hobbit-human debate
(Mar 5, 2008)

The row over the origins of "Hobbit" fossils found on the Indonesian island of Flores has taken a new twist. An Australian team claims the little people were not a new human species, but modern humans with a form of dwarfism caused by poor nutrition. In 2004, international researchers announced the discovery of the ancient remains in the Liang Bua Cave.

Read more. Source: BBC

giant pliosaur. Image credit: Tor Sponga
Sea reptile is biggest on record
(Feb 27, 2008)

A fossilised "sea monster" unearthed on an Arctic island is the largest marine reptile known to science, Norwegian scientists have announced. The 150 million-year-old specimen was found on Spitspergen, in the Arctic island chain of Svalbard, in 2006. The Jurassic-era leviathan is one of 40 sea reptiles from a fossil "treasure trove" uncovered on the island.

Read more. Source: BBC

giant extinct frog
'Frog from hell' fossil unearthed
(Feb 18, 2008)

A 70-million-year-old fossil of a giant frog has been unearthed in Madagascar by a team of UK and US scientists. The creature would have been the size of a "squashed beach ball" and weighed about 4kg (9lb), the researchers said. They added that the fossil, nicknamed Beelzebufo or "frog from hell", was "strikingly different" from present-day frogs found on the island nation.

Read more. Source: BBC

Eocarcharia dinops
New meat-eating dinos identified
(Feb 14, 2008)

Two previously unknown types of meat-eating dinosaur have been identified from fossils unearthed in the Sahara desert in Niger. The new carnivore fossils have been described by a researcher from the University of Bristol working with palaeontologists from the US. One of the dinosaurs probably scavenged its prey like a hyena, the other probably hunted live animals.

Read more. Source: BBC

primitive bat fossil
Bat fossil solves evolution poser
(Feb 14, 2008)

A fossil found in Wyoming has resolved a long-standing question about when bats gained their sonar-like ability to navigate and locate food. They found that flight came first, and only then did bats develop echolocation to track and trap their prey. A large number of experts had previously thought this happened the other way around.

Read more. Source: BBC

Nemicolopterus crypticus
Flying reptiles came in miniature
(Feb 11, 2008)

A new fossil species of flying reptile with a wingspan of less than 30cm (1ft) has been discovered in China. The nearly complete articulated skeleton was unearthed in fossil beds from north-eastern China. The 120-million-year-old reptile had not reached adulthood when it died, but neither was it a hatchling.

Read more. Source: BBC

Josephoartigasia monesi
Gigantic fossil rodent discovered
(Jan 16, 2008)

The fossilised skull of the largest rodent ever recorded has been described by scientists for the first time. The remains of the one-tonne beast, found in Uruguay, indicate that it would have been as big as a bull. It is thought that the three-metre-long herbivore would have roamed estuaries and forests 2-4 million years ago.

Read more. Source: BBC

Dinosaurs 'grew fast, bred young'
(Jan 15, 2008)

Dinosaurs bred as early as age eight, long before they reached adult size, fossil evidence suggests. Although they were descended from reptiles, and evolved into birds, dinosaurs grew fast and bred young, much like the mammals of today. Researchers at the University of California found hallmark "egg-making" tissue in two juvenile females.

Read more. Source: BBC


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