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Paleo-news archive: October-December 2010

Reconstruction of Neanderthals
Neanderthals cooked and ate vegetables
(Dec 28, 2010)

Neanderthals cooked and ate plants and vegetables, a new study of Neanderthal remains reveals. Researchers in the US have found grains of cooked plant material in their teeth. The study is the first to confirm that the Neanderthal diet was not confined to meat and was more sophisticated than previously thought.

Read more. Source: BBC

The remains were excavated at a cave site in southern Siberia
Ancient humans, dubbed 'Denisovans', interbred with us
(Dec 22, 2010)

Scientists say an entirely separate type of human identified from bones in Siberia co-existed and interbred with our own species. The ancient humans have been dubbed "Denisovans" after the caves in Siberia where their remains were found. There is also evidence that this population was widespread in Eurasia.

Read more. Source: BBC

Skull of Simosuchus clarki
Crocs dispel 'living fossil' myth
(Dec 9, 2010)

Crocodiles can no longer be referred to as "living fossils", according to scientists. Members of the crocodilian family have previously been thought to have changed little since prehistoric times. However, new fossil analyses suggests that modern crocodilians actually evolved from a very diverse group.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of the size of the giant stork, Leptoptilos robustus, next to a Homo floresiensis hobbit
Giant fossil bird found on 'hobbit' island of Flores
(Dec 8, 2010)

A giant marabou stork has been discovered on an island once home to human-like 'hobbits'. Fossils of the bird were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores, a place previously famed for the discovery of Homo floresiensis, a small hominin species closely related to modern humans. The stork may have been capable of hunting and eating juvenile members of this hominin species, say researchers who made the discovery, though there is no direct evidence the birds did so.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pterosaurs' wings 'key to their size'
(Nov 24, 2010)

Ancient flying reptiles called pterosaurs were adapted to fly in a slow, controlled manner in gentle tropical breezes, researchers say. Their conclusions are drawn from the first detailed aerodynamic study of the wings, which suggests they did not evolve to fly fast and powerfully in stormy winds. The research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, may also explain how the creatures were able to become the largest flying animals ever known.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pterosaur reptile used "pole vault" trick for take-off
(Nov 15, 2010)

A new study claims that the ancient winged reptiles known as pterosaurs used a "pole-vaulting" action to take to the air. They say the creatures took off using all four of their limbs. The reptiles vaulted over their wings, pushing off first with their hind limbs and then thrusting themselves upwards with their powerful arm muscles –- not dissimilar to some modern bats.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's impression of early dinosaur embryo
Eggs with the oldest known embryos of a dinosaur found
(Nov 14, 2010)

Palaeontologists have identified the oldest known dinosaur embryos, belonging to a species that lived some 190 million years ago. The eggs of Massospondylus, containing well-perserved embryos, were unearthed in South Africa back in 1976. The creature appears to be an ancestor of the family that includes the long-necked dino once known as Brontosaurus.

Read more. Source: BBC

Artist's reconstruction of Platalearostrum hoekmani
'Balloon head' dolphin discovered
(Nov 4, 2010)

A new type of dolphin with a short, spoon-shaped nose and high, bulbous forehead has been identified from a fossil found in the North Sea. Platalearostrum hoekmani was named after Albert Hoekman, the Dutch fisherman who in 2008 trawled up a bone from the creature's skull. Up to six meters in length, the dolphin lived two to three million years ago.

Read more. Source: BBC

insect in amber
Ancient bugs found in 50-million-year-old Indian amber
(Oct 25, 2010)

More than 700 new species of ancient insect have been discovered in 50-million-year-old amber. The discoveries come from some 150kg of amber produced by an ancient rainforest in India. Scientists say in the journal PNAS that many insects are related to species from far-away corners of the world.

Read more. Source: BBC

Tyrannosaurus rex
T. rex was a cannibal in Argentina
(Oct 16, 2010)

Was Tyrannosaurus rex a cowardly scavenger or the fearsome predator portrayed in Jurassic Park? It's hotly contested in palaeobiology circles. Now one thing seems certain: the most famous dinosaur of all was a cannibal.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

fossils of earliest land plants known
Fossils of earliest land plants discovered in Argentina
(Oct 12, 2010)

The earliest plants to have colonized land have been found in Argentina. The discovery puts back by 10 million years the colonization of land by plants, and suggests that a diversity of land plants had evolved by 472 million years ago. The newly found plants are liverworts, very simple plants that lack stems or roots, scientists report in the journal the New Phytologist.

Read more. Source: BBC

Dinosaur origins pushed further back in time
(Oct 6, 2010)

The first dinosaur-like creatures emerged up to nine million years earlier than previously thought. That is the conclusion of a study on footprints found in 250 million-year-old rocks from Poland. Writing in a Royal Society journal, a team has named the creature that made them Prorotodactylus.

Read more. Source: BBC

Inkayacu fossil
Trademark swimsuit gave penguin ancestors the edge
(Oct 1, 2010)

Fossil feathers reveal that penguins donned their trademark black and white late in their evolution – and may have become faster swimmers when they did. Until then, the giant ancestors of today's penguins were grey and reddish-brown. These findings come from a remarkably complete 36-million-year-old fossil discovered in the Paracas National Reservation in Peru.

Read more. Source: New Scientist


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