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Paleo-news archive: January-March 2011

Zhuchengtyrannus magnus
Giant prehistoric dinosaur cousin of T. rex identified
(Mar 31, 2011)

A giant predatory theropod dinosaur, similar in size and stature to Tyrannosaurus rex, has been identified by palaeontologists. The new dinosaur, named Zhuchengtyrannus magnus, probably stood four metres tall, was 11 meters long and weighed around six tonnes. Like T. rex, it was a carnivore with huge powerful jaws.

Read more. Source: BBC

The infrared mapping of 50-million-year-old skin (top) has allowed the team to suggest how the sample was preserved
Prehistoric reptile skin secrets revealed in new image
(Mar 24, 2011)

A unique image, for the first time, has mapped organic compounds that are still surviving in a 50-million-year-old sample of reptile skin. The infrared picture reveals the chemical profile of the skin, offering an insight into how it was preserved. A team of UK scientists say the sample was so well preserved that it was hard to tell the difference between the fossil and the fresh samples.

Read more. Source: BBC

Brontomerus mcintoshi
Dinosaur named 'thunder-thighs'
(Feb 23, 2011)

Scientists have named a new dinosaur species "thunder-thighs" because of the huge thigh muscles it would have had. Fossil remains recovered from a quarry in Utah, are fragmentary but enough to tell researchers the creature must have possessed extremely powerful legs. The new species, described in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, is a sauropod – the family of dinosaurs famous for their long necks and tails.

Read more. Source: BBC

Afarensis metatarsal
Fossil find puts 'Lucy' story on firm footing
(Feb 11, 2011)

New fossil evidence seems to confirm that a key ancestor of ours could walk upright consistently – one of the major advances in human evolution. The evidence comes in the form of a 3.2 million-year-old bone that was found at Hadar, Ethiopia. Its shape indicates the diminutive, human-like species Australopithecus afarensis had arches in its feet.

Read more. Source: BBC

stone tools froun at Jebel Faya
Humans 'left Africa much earlier'
(Jan 28, 2011)

Modern humans may have emerged from Africa up to 50,000 years earlier than previously thought, a study suggests. Researchers have uncovered stone tools in the Arabian peninsula that they say were made by modern humans about 125,000 years ago. The tools were unearthed at the site of Jebel Faya in the United Arab Emirates, a team reports in the journal Science.

Read more. Source: BBC

Linhenykus monodactylus reconstruction
Two-clawed and parrot-sized: new T.rex cousin unveiled
(Jan 26, 2011)

A tiny distant cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex has been discovered in China with only a single claw on each forelimb. Linhenykus monodactylus weighed no more than a large parrot and was found in sediments between 84 and 75 million years old. The dinosaur belongs to a sub-branch of the theropods, the dinosaur group which includes T.rex and Velociraptor, and which gave rise to modern birds.

Read more. Source: BBC

pterosaur and egg
Did pterosaurs fly out of their eggs?
(Jan 21, 2011)

A spectacular fossil apparently of a pterosaur and its egg may help to unlock the mystery of how the winged reptiles reproduced. The fossil's discoverers think it provides evidence that the beasts produced clutches of young and provided no parental care – essentially suggesting that hatchlings could fly.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Eodromaeus reconstruction
'Dawn runner' casts light on birth of the dinosaurs
(Jan 14, 2011)

Scientists have unveiled one of the earliest dinosaurs yet found, an agile meat-eater from the late Triassic period, some 230 million years ago. Researchers writing in the journal Science say Eodromaeus or "dawn runner" was a small, two-legged creature of not much more than 1.2m in length and 4-6kg in weight. They reconstructed the dinosaur, a probable ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex, from an almost complete set of bones found in the Valley of The Moon, in northwestern Argentina.

Read more. Source: BBC

ammonite imaging
Ammonite diet revealed in X-rays
(Jan 7, 2011)

Exquisite X-ray images featured in Science magazine are providing new insights on how the ammonites lived and perhaps also on why they died out. The pictures have been produced by a team of French and American researchers using the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble. They reveal the mouthparts of three ammonite specimens discovered in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, a place renowned for the excellent preservation of fossils.

Read more. Source: BBC

Sabertooth cats threatened most ancient human ancestor
(Jan 3, 2011)

Humankind's oldest known ancestor probably lived in fear of several large sabertooth cats that roamed the same ancient lakeside habitat in Africa. Paleontologists have identified two new sabertooth species among fossils unearthed at Toros Menalla in Chad. In 2001, a team unearthed remains of a seven million-year-old human-like creature – or hominid – known as "Toumai" at the central African site.

Read more. Source: BBC


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