The Weight of Thought

lmost all dinosaurs were probably covered in feathers, Siberian fossils of a tufted, two-legged running dinosaur dating from roughly 160 million years ago suggest.

Over the past two decades, discoveries in China have produced at least five species of feathered dinosaurs. But they all belonged to the theropod group of “raptor” dinosaurs, ancestors of modern birds. (Related: “Dinosaur-Era Fossil Shows Birds’ Feathers Evolved Before Flight.”)

Now in a discovery reported by an international team in the journal Science, the new dinosaur species, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus (KOO-lin-dah-DRO-mee-us ZAH-bike-kal-ik-kuss), suggests that feathers were all in the family. That’s because the newly unearthed 4.5-foot-long (1.5 meter) two-legged runner was an “ornithischian” beaked dinosaur, belonging to a group ancestrally distinct from past theropod discoveries

Our last glacial period lasted from about 115,000-12,500 years ago. By the end, 177 large mammal species had gone extinct. There has been considerable debate over the last half century regarding what caused the loss of these animals, including saber-tooth cats, mastadons, and giant sloths. While many have argued that these animals simply weren’t able to adapt to the warmer climate, others blame human activity. A new study led by Jens-Christian Svenning of Aarhus University has strongly suggested that humans are squarely responsible for the disappearance of megafauna during the last 100,000 years. The results have been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

An ambitious project to showcase the prehistory of the south coast of England, famous for its marine fossils from ammonites to giant sea reptiles, has attracted support from David Attenborough and Eden Project founder Tim Smit.
A former quarry on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, is being investigated as the site for the £85m Jurassica park for which the designer of the Shard building in London, Renzo Piano, has provided preliminary sketches of a domed glass and steel roof, according to the journalist behind the idea.
The site is within the 95-mile long Jurassic coast,a world heritage site because of its importance in understanding geological periods from 250m to 65m years ago.

breakingnews:


DNA study suggests dogs originated in Europe
AP: A new DNA study published Thursday indicates dogs originated in Europe some 19,000 to 32,000 years ago.
This large DNA study aligns with the earliest known doglike fossils, which also came from Europe. Other DNA studies have suggested that dogs originated in east Asia and the Middle East. Scientists agree that dogs became the first domesticated animals after emerging from wolves.
Photo: This photo provided by the Center for American Archaeology on Nov. 12, 2013 shows canine bones buried at the Koster site in Greene County, Ill.(AP Photo/Center for American Archaeology, Del Baston)

breakingnews:

DNA study suggests dogs originated in Europe

AP: A new DNA study published Thursday indicates dogs originated in Europe some 19,000 to 32,000 years ago.

This large DNA study aligns with the earliest known doglike fossils, which also came from Europe. Other DNA studies have suggested that dogs originated in east Asia and the Middle East. 

Scientists agree that dogs became the first domesticated animals after emerging from wolves.

Photo: This photo provided by the Center for American Archaeology on Nov. 12, 2013 shows canine bones buried at the Koster site in Greene County, Ill.(AP Photo/Center for American Archaeology, Del Baston)

Under the rich Venezuelan soil, paleontologists have found treasures rivaling the bountiful oil: a giant armadillo the size of a Volkswagen, a crocodile bigger than a bus and a saber-toothed tiger.

Oil companies’ surveys of the soil have uncovered a trove of fossils dating from 14,000 to 370 million years ago.

Many of the 12,000 recorded specimens from different eras are now kept in a tiny office of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research.

A strong smell of oil fills the room as Ascania Rincon opens the drawer of a filing cabinet to reveal the tar-stained femur of a giant, six-ton mastodon from 25,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age.

Unfazed by the significance of the finds already made, the head of the institute’s Laboratory of Paleontology is intent on realizing his next goal: locating human fossils for proof of prehistoric human life in the area.

mothernaturenetwork:

Dinosaurs grew attractive feathers to entice potential loversNew fossil found in Canada suggests that early feathered dinosaurs may have used their colorful feathers to woo potential mates.

mothernaturenetwork:

Dinosaurs grew attractive feathers to entice potential lovers
New fossil found in Canada suggests that early feathered dinosaurs may have used their colorful feathers to woo potential mates.

crownedrose:

Whale fossil discovered on Flint River, Georgia

From article:A Georgia Southern University team of professors and students Monday started excavating the fossil of a whale on the shore of the Flint River. The geology dig has been in the works for two years, and the team calls it a stunningly significant find. 

Three students and two professors from Georgia Southern University dig carefully on the bank of the Flint River, unearthing so far about a 7 foot fossil of the backbone of a 35 million year old whale.

“And it turns out we have a nice part of a probably this ancient fossil whale called a bassilosaurus,” said Dr. Katy Smith of Georgia Southern University.

This ancient whale was between 50 to 70 feet long, and swam freely in what was then the ocean. In a person, this vertebrae would be about 2 inches long, to give you an idea how big this whale was.

sciencesoup:

Dinosaur Feathers Trapped in Amber

A large treasure trove of ancient amber deposits in Canada has given insight into the evolution of feathers from dinosaurs to modern birds. Amber is essentially fossilised resin that preserves anything unlucky enough to become trapped in it, and researchers have found feathers preserved from the Late Cretaceous Period—70 to 85 million years ago. 11 distinct sets of feathers from 4,000 amber deposits filled in gaps in the fossil record, showing the progression of feathers from hair-like filaments to the branched, structured, flight-capable plumes of modern birds. “We’re finding two ends of the evolutionary development [of] feathers trapped in the same amber deposit,” says Ryan McKellar, the study’s co-author. The specimens were so well-preserved that researchers could even see the pigments that once coloured them—the feathers ranged from transparent to mottled to bright. Some had even become specialised, not for flight but for diving underwater, and some may have come from China’s 125-million-year-old Sinosauropteryx prima, the first dinosaur fossil discovered with feathers intact. The find suggests that dinosaurs were not all the scaly, drab creatures that we often imagine—a wide array of brightly-coloured creatures roamed the earth too, perhaps right up to the dinosaurs’ extinction.

(Image Credit: National Geographic)

Leaping lizards! - by Nature Video

High-speed video footage of leaping lizards supports a 40-year-old hypothesis about how theropod dinosaurs, like the velociraptors of Jurassic Park fame, adjusted the angle of their tails to stay stable when jumping.

When human ancestors began scavenging for meat regularly on the open plains of Africa about 2.5 million years ago, they apparently took more than their fair share of flesh. Within a million years, most of the large carnivores in the region—from saber-toothed cats to bear-size otters—had gone extinct, leaving just a few “hypercarnivores” alive, according to a study presented here last week at a workshop on climate change and human evolution at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Smilodon