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Paleo-news archive: October-December 2008

Velafrons coalhuilensis
China finds major dinosaur site
(Dec 31, 2008)

Scientists in China say they believe a group of dinosaur fossils discovered in the east of the country could be the largest collection ever found. The researchers, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, say they have unearthed 7600 dinosaur bones since March in Shandong province. Most of the bones date back to the late Cretaceous period which is around the time when dinosaurs became extinct.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist concept of Lacusovagus
New flying reptile species found
(Dec 4, 2008)

A new fossil species of flying reptile with a wingspan the size of a family car has been uncovered by scientists. A researcher at the University of Portsmouth has identified the new type of pterosaur, the largest of its kind ever to have been discovered. It would have flown in the skies above Brazil 115 million years ago.

Read more. Source: BBC

Neanderthal reconstruction
Did Neanderthal cells cook as the climate warmed?
(Nov 28, 2008)

Neanderthals may have gone extinct because their cells couldn't cope with climate change, according to a new hypothesis presented at a genetics conference this month. Metabolic adaptations to Ice Age Europe may have proved costly to Neanderthals after the continent's climate started to change, says Patrick Chinnery, a molecular biologist at Newcastle University, UK.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

protist fossil on ocean floor. Credit: M. Matz, University of Texas at Austin
'Grape' is key to fossil puzzle
(Nov 21, 2008)

A single-celled ball about the size of a grape may provide an explanation for one of the mysteries of fossil history. Writing in Current Biology, researchers say the creature leaves tracks on the seabed which mirror fossilised tracks left up to 1.8 billion years ago. Many palaeontologists believe only multi-celled organisms could have made these tracks.

Read more. Source: BBC

woolly mammoth
Frozen hair gives up first mammoth genome
(Nov 19, 2008)

Tufts of frozen woolly mammoth hair have yielded a rough draft of its genome. It's the most successful attempt to sequence the DNA of an extinct ancient animal to date, and although we won't see resurrected mammoths grazing the tundra anytime soon, it could give us a peek into the reasons for their extinction.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

woolly rhino
Woolly rhino's ancient migration
(Nov 18, 2008)

The 460,000-year-old skull of a woolly rhino, reconstructed from 53 fragments, is the oldest example of these mighty, ice age beasts ever found in Europe. The extinct mammals reached a length of three-and-a-half metres in adulthood and, unlike their modern relatives, were covered in shaggy hair. Details of the work appear in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

Read more. Source: BBC

sabretooth tigers hunting
Sabretooth tigers hunted in packs
(Nov 4, 2008)

Forget their ferocious fangs – sabretooth "tigers" were social animals who lived in family prides, like lions today, according to UK and US experts. The abundance of S.fatalis fossils in Californian tar seeps suggests they were packs of scavengers, lured in by the distress calls of trapped prey. Research in Africa found that audio playbacks of prey sounds attract social carnivores, but not solitary hunters.

Read more. Source: BBC

New feathered dinosaur discovered
(Oct 24, 2008)

The fossil of a "bizarre" feathered dinosaur from the era before birds evolved has been discovered in China. Epidexipteryx was very bird-like, with four long ribbon-like tail feathers – probably used in display. But the pigeon-sized creature shows no sign of the flight feathers seen in other bird-like dinosaurs, according to a report in the journal Nature.

Read more. Source: BBC

dinosaur footprints
Rock records dino 'dance floor'
(Oct 20, 2008)

Scientists have identified an amazing collection of dinosaur footprints on the Arizona-Utah border in the US. There are so many prints – more than 1,000 – that geologists have dubbed the site "a dinosaur dance floor". Located within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the marks were long thought simply to be potholes gouged out of the rock by years of erosion.

Read more. Source: BBC


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