Newly Discovered: Animal Fossils

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New Cretaceous mammal fossil sheds light on evolution of middle ear

Source: phys.org
Date: 27 November, 2019

Researchers from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) have reported a new species of multituberculate—a type of extinct Mesozoic rodent—with well-preserved middle ear bones from the Cretaceous Jehol Biota of China.

https://phys-org.cdn.ampproject.org...retaceous-mammal-fossil-evolution-middle.html
 

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'Remarkable’ fossil features an insect trapped in amber, stuck to a dinosaur jaw

Source: sciencemag.org
Date: 29 November, 2019

It isn’t every day that scientists dig up a dinosaur jaw—or unearth the remains of fossilized insects. So paleontologists couldn’t believe their luck when, in 2010, they found the 75-million-year-old jawbone of a duck-billed hadrosaur in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada, topped with a 7-centimeter-wide blob of amber containing traces of trees and sap-sucking aphids.

The “remarkable” two-for-one fossil would have been preserved in an incredibly unlikely chain of events, the researchers write today in Scientific Reports. The paleontologists believe that after the Prosaurolophus hadrosaur died—and the flesh had decayed off its jawbone—it washed into a river. There, a blob of sticky resin from either a redwood or an araucarian conifer tree also fell. The blob, containing an unlucky aphid, washed up against the bone and was pressed against it by the flow of water, the scientists argue. It was then covered in sediment for tens of millions of years, during which time the resin hardened into amber.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/201...tures-insect-trapped-amber-stuck-dinosaur-jaw
 

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Paleontologists Find Fossils of Six New Dragonfly Species

Source: sci-news. com / News Staff
Date: 3 December, 2019

Six new species of dragonflies that lived about 50 million years ago (early Eocene epoch) have been identified from fossils found in the Okanagan Highlands, an elevated hilly plateau area in British Columbia, Canada, and the U.S. state of Washington.

[...]

They found the fossils represent eight previously unknown species, six of which were well-enough preserved to be given scientific names.

http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/dragonfly-fossils-07864.html
 

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Japanese fossil flies into the history books

Source: thetimes.co.uk
Date: 5 December, 2019

The fossil of a bird that lived 120 million years ago has been identified by scientists as a previously unknown species.

Fukuipteryx prima, meaning “primitive wings of Fukui” after the prefecture in Japan where it was found, is believed to be a species from the second-oldest avian genus identified.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/japanese-fossil-flies-into-the-history-books-hh5vsnvrq
 

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New Fossils of Ancient Snake With Hind Legs Reveals Tantalizing Details of Evolution

New fossils of an ancient legged snake, called Najash, shed light on the origin of the slithering reptiles, including how snakes got their bite and lost their legs.

The fossil discoveries published in Science Advances have revealed they possessed hind legs during the first 70 million years of their evolution.

They also provide details about how the flexible skull of snakes evolved from their lizard ancestors.

The evolution of the snake body has captivated researchers for a long time — representing one of the most dramatic examples of the vertebrate body’s ability to adapt — but a limited fossil record has obscured our understanding of their early evolution until now.

https://scitechdaily-com.cdn.amppro...3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s
 

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Paleontologists Discover Odd Shrimp That Fills Hole in Fossil Record

Source: scitechdaily.com/University of Alberta
Date: 9 December, 2019

Tiny Fossils, Big Findings: Paleontologists Discover Odd Mid-Cretaceous Shrimp

Hundreds of tiny well-preserved fossils shed new light on one of the poorest fossil records of marine arthropods.

One of the most incomplete fossil records of marine life is being filled in by a new find by a team of paleontologists from the University of Alberta, Yale University, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute—with the discovery of hundreds of tiny comma shrimp fossils.

“Comma shrimp are small, delicate crustaceans with one of the poorest fossil records among marine arthropods—which is shocking as they are abundant today and live in soft sediments with good fossilization potential,” said Javier Luque, lead author who conducted the research as a PhD candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences, and is now a postdoctoral associate at Yale University.

https://scitechdaily-com.cdn.amppro...-odd-shrimp-that-fills-hole-in-fossil-record/
 

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480-million-year-old fossils reveal sea lilies' ancient roots

Source: phys-org
Date: 7 hours ago

Sea lilies, despite their name, aren't plants. They're animals related to starfish and sea urchins, with long feathery arms resting atop a stalk that keeps them anchored to the ocean floor. Sea lilies have been around for at least 480 million years—they first evolved hundreds of millions of years before the dinosaurs. For nearly two centuries, scientists have thought about how modern sea lilies evolved from their ancient ancestors. In a new study in the Journal of Paleontology, researchers are rewriting the sea lily family tree, aided by newly-discovered fossils that help show how these animals' arms evolved.

"These early fossils provide new key evidence showing that what we had thought about the origin of sea lilies since 1846 is wrong," says Tom Guensburg, the paper's lead author and a research associate at the Field Museum in Chicago. "It's not very often that we're challenging ideas that are almost two hundred years old."

https://phys-org.cdn.ampproject.org...llion-year-old-fossils-reveal-sea-lilies.html
 

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Amber Fossils Reveal Lice-Like Bugs Crawling in Dinosaur Feathers

Source: gizmodo.com
Date: 10 December, 2019

Ancient insects similar to modern lice parasitized dinosaurs by feasting on their feathers, as evidenced by a pair of fascinating new amber fossils.

Modern birds are sometimes infested by feather-chewing and feather-feeding lice, and as new research published today in Nature Communications shows Mesozoic predecessors had a similar problem.

The new paper, led by paleontologist Dong Ren from the Capital Normal University in Beijing, China, describes a previously unknown louse-like insect, named Mesophthirus engeli, that lived 100 million years ago during the mid-Cretaceous. Ten of these individuals were found in two pieces of Burmese amber—both of which contained damaged feathers. It’s guilt by association, but these feathers certainly appear to have been chewed upon by the bugs. It’s now considered the oldest evidence of feather-chewing in the fossil record.

https://gizmodo-com.cdn.ampproject....lice-like-bugs-crawling-in-dinosau-1840337852
 

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New Species of Paleocene Penguin Bridges Gap in Penguin Family Tree

Source: sci-news.com
Date: 10 December, 2019

Paleontologists in New Zealand have uncovered the fossilized bones from an extinct penguin that swam the oceans between 62.5 and 60 million years ago. Dubbed Kupoupou stilwelli, the ancient bird is the oldest penguin known with proportions close to its modern relatives.

Kupoupou stilwelli lived during the Paleocene epoch at a time when there was no ice cap at the South Pole and the seas around New Zealand were tropical or subtropical.

Numerous skeletal remains of the prehistoric penguin were recovered from the Takatika Grit of Chatham Island, part of the Chatham Islands located about 535 miles (860 km) off the east coast of New Zealand’s mainland.

http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/kupoupou-stilwelli-07890.html
 

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Fossils suggest how whales found their swimming style

Source: The Guardian online
Date: 11 December, 2019

It sounds like a Rudyard Kipling story but fossil-hunters say they have new clues as to how the whale came to move.

Whales as we know them today evolved over millions of years from terrestrial creatures to semi-aquatic animals to fully aquatic species, with forelimbs becoming flippers, the fluked tail developing and well-developed hind legs – once used for swimming – lost over time.

Now experts say fossils of a previously unknown early whale are offering fresh hints as to how modern whales ended up propelling themselves.

“How do you go from a foot-powered swimmer to a tail-powered swimmer? That is the kind of intermediacy we have been looking for,” said Philip Gingerich, a co-author of the study and professor emeritus at the University of Michigan. “The new whale is too late to be in the direct line [to modern whales], but it gives us a sense of how the transition may have taken place.”

Writing in the journal Plos One, the team reports that both a partial and an almost complete fossil of the new creature were unearthed in Egypt in 2007 at a site known as Wadi al-Hitan or “Valley of Whales” – a nod to the large variety of other beasts that have previously been discovered there.

The new species, called Aegicetus gehennae, was about three and a half metres long and is likely to have lived about 35m years ago, towards the end of a period known as the Eocene, and is the youngest known member of group of four-limbed, semi-aquatic animals, known as a protocetids, that were splashing about from around 49m years ago.

https://amp-theguardian-com.cdn.amp.../dec/11/fossils-whales-swimming-style-species
 

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Fossilised amphibian footprints found at Wensleydale waterfall possibly oldest in UK

Source: richmondshiretoday.co.uk
Date: 12 December, 2019

Footprints discovered near a Wensleydale waterfall have been revealed as potentially the earliest prints from an amphibian yet found in the UK, and are potentially the oldest from any four-legged animal.

Made over 340 million years ago during the Carboniferous Period, the Natural History Museum says the footprints, discovered in the 1970s at Hardraw Force, help us to understand how the continents have shifted over time.

New analysis involving a 3D model of the fossil footprints has shown that they are likely the earliest tracks of amphibians ever found in the UK.

The slab of rock, just 50cm across, has been in the museum’s collection for decades.

http://www.richmondshiretoday.co.uk...-wensleydale-waterfall-possibly-oldest-in-uk/
 

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New Eocene-Period Whale Unearthed in Egypt

Source: sci-news.com
Date: 13 December, 2019

Paleontologists have announced the discovery of a new genus and species of extinct protocetid whale, based on the fossilized remains found in the Western Desert of Egypt. Named Aegicetus gehennae, the ancient animal represents an important step in the evolution of whale locomotion.

[...]

It represents a transitional stage between the foot-powered swimming of early whales and the tail-powered swimming of living whales.

“It is the youngest-known protocetid, dating to around 35 million years ago, and is known from one exceptionally complete skeleton and a partial second specimen, making it among the best-preserved ancient whales,” explained University of Michigan’s Professor Philip Gingerich and colleagues.

http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/aegicetus-gehennae-07905.html
 

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Baby dinosaurs found in Australia

Source: phys.org
Date: 19 December, 2019

Researchers have uncovered the first baby dinosaurs from Australia. The bones were discovered at several sites along the south coast of Victoria and near the outback town of Lightning Ridge in New South Wales. Some of the bones are so tiny, they likely come from animals that had died while they were still in their eggs. Slightly larger bones from Victoria come from animals that had recently hatched but were probably nest-bound.

The research was carried out by palaeontologists from the Palaeoscience Research Centre at the University of New England and the Australian Opal Centre in Lightning Ridge.

The bones come from small-bodied ornithopod dinosaurs—two legged herbivores that weighed roughly 20kg when full grown—similar to Weewarrasaurus, which was recently discovered by members of the same team at Lightning Ridge. By comparison, the baby dinosaurs were only about 200g when they died, less that the weight of a cup of water.

https://phys-org.cdn.ampproject.org...rg/news/2019-12-baby-dinosaurs-australia.html
 

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A Fossil Spider Discovery Just Turned Out to Be a Crayfish With Some Legs Painted On

Source: sciencealert.com
Date: 20 December, 2019

When scientists at the Dalian Natural History Museum in China copped a load of a fossil unearthed in the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation, they couldn't believe their eyes. The eight-legged beastie looked like nothing anyone had seen before. Exceptionally preserved.

They described it as a new spider, publishing their analysis in the journal Acta Geologica Sinica, and named the species Mongolarachne chaoyangensis. There was just one problem: the fossil was a big old fake.

The cunning ruse was discovered by invertebrate paleontologist Paul Selden of the University of Kansas, whose spidey senses started tingling when he got his hands on the paper.

"I was obviously very sceptical," Selden said.

"The paper had very few details, so my colleagues in Beijing borrowed the specimen from the people in the Southern University, and I got to look at it. Immediately, I realised there was something wrong with it - it clearly wasn't a spider. It was missing various parts, had too many segments in its six legs, and huge eyes."

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-foss...ecause-its-legs-were-literally-painted-on/amp
 

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300m-year-old fossil is early sign of creatures caring for their young

Fossil found in Canada suggests pair were curled up together in a den when they died

Source: Nicola Davis/theguardian.com
Date: 23 Dec, 2019

Fossil hunters say they have unearthed the earliest evidence yet of four-limbed vertebrates looking after their young, after discovering the entwined remains of two lizard-like creatures preserved in an ancient plant stump.

The fossil found in Nova Scotia, Canada, is thought to be the remains of an adult and young of a newly identified species of varanopid.

“[The adult] probably would have been about 20cm in length from the tip of the snout to the base of its tail, and it would have had a long tail,” said Hillary Maddin, a co-author of the research and an assistant professor at Carleton University in Canada.

The smaller individual was found beneath the upper leg bone of the larger one, and was encircled by the larger creatures’s tail – an entwinement that the team say suggests the two animals were curled up together in a den.

https://amp-theguardian-com.cdn.amp...arly-sign-of-creatures-caring-for-their-young
 

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New Discovery of 96-Million-Year Old Turtle Species and Hints at Intercontinental Migrations

New 96-million-year old turtles from Texas connect North America with Asia and the Southern Hemisphere, suggesting vast intercontinental migrations during this time.

Source: Midwestern University/scitechdaily.com
Date: 23 December, 2019

The Arlington Archosaur Site (AAS) of Texas preserves remnants of an ancient Late Cretaceous river delta that once existed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Known for discoveries of fossil crocodiles and dinosaurs, a multi-institution research team has described four extinct turtle species, including a new river turtle named after AAS paleontologist Dr. Derek Main and the oldest side-necked turtle in North America. These new turtles include an intriguing combination of native North American forms alongside Asian and Southern Hemisphere immigrants, suggesting extensive intercontinental migration of turtles during this time.

Originally discovered by amateur fossil hunter Art Sahlstein in 2003, the AAS is a prolific fossil locality found in the middle of a suburban subdivision. The AAS preserves remnants of an ancient Late Cretaceous river delta around 96 million years ago in what is today the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It preserves a record of a freshwater wetland that sat near the shore of a large peninsula, including a diverse assemblage of crocodile relatives, dinosaurs, amphibians, mammals, fish, invertebrates, and plants, several of which are also new species awaiting description. “Until this discovery, there were very few turtle fossils from this time period discovered in Appalachia,” says Dr. Heather Smith, one of the authors of the paper. The research team describing these discoveries includes Brent Adrian, M.F.A., Heather F. Smith, Ph.D., and Ari Grossman, Ph.D., from Midwestern University in Glendale Arizona, and Christopher Noto, Ph.D., from University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

https://scitechdaily-com.cdn.amppro...ies-and-hints-at-intercontinental-migrations/
 

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365-Million-Year-Old Lungfish Unearthed in South Africa.

A new genus and species of lungfish that lived approximately 365 million years ago (Famennian stage of the Late Devonian period) has been identified from fossils found in South Africa.

Source: Enrico de Lazaro/sci-news.com
Date: 23 December, 2019

Lungfish (subclass Dipnoi) are a group of lobe-finned fish with their origins stretching back to the Early Devonian period, over 410 million years ago.

They reached a peak of diversity and abundance throughout the Devonian with close to 100 species described from that time period.

More than 25 species originated in the eastern Gondwanan (Australia) waters and others are known to have lived in temperate tropical and subtropical waters of China and Morocco.

The newly-discovered species represents the only record of Late Devonian lungfish remains from the western Gondwana (South America and Africa).

Named Isityumzi mlomomde, the ancient creature is also the only lungfish known from the Witpoort Formation of South Africa.

“Isityumzi mlomomde was found about 10,000 km from a previous species described in Morocco, and is of interest because it existed in a high latitude (70 degrees south) or polar environment at the time,” said Dr. Alice Clement, a paleontologist at Flinders University and corresponding author of a paper published in the journal PeerJ.

http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/isityumzi-mlomomde-devonian-lungfish-south-africa-07939.html
 

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Newly examined ‘teenage’ Tyrannosaurus rex bones reveal how dinosaur became the ultimate monster

According to researchers, the juvenile tyrannosaurs would have been ‘slightly taller than a draft horse and twice as long’

Source: The Independent Online
Date: 1 January, 2020

Bones belonging to two "teenage" Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs provide fresh clues as to how these predators grew up to become "plodding, crushing monsters", according to a new study.

The fossil skeletons indicate the juvenile T rex dinosaurs were slender, fleet-footed and had knife-like teeth for cutting food, unlike their lumbering, bone-crushing adult counterparts.

It was previously believed that the bones, which are preserved at the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Illinois, US, belonged to a different dinosaur species, a smaller pygmy relative known as Nanotyrannus.

But an examination of the tissue microstructures within the bones revealed they were part of the T rex family.

https://www-independent-co-uk.cdn.a...eum-of-natural-history-illinois-a9266591.html
 

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The Mysterious 'Tully Monster' Just Got More Mysterious

Scientists can't even decide if this ancient beast was a vertebrate or an invertebrate.

Source: livescience.com
Date: 12 November, 2019

Every now and again, scientists discover fossils that are so bizarre they defy classification, their body plans unlike any other living animals or plants. Tullimonstrum (also known as the Tully Monster), a 300 million-year-old fossil discovered in the Mazon Creek fossil beds in Illinois, US, is one such creature.

At first glance, Tully looks superficially slug-like. But where you would expect its mouth to be, the creature has a long thin appendage ending in what looks like a pair of grasping claws. Then there are its eyes, which protrude outward from its body on stalks.

Tully is so strange that scientists have even been unable to agree on whether it is a vertebrate (with a backbone, like mammals, birds, reptiles and fish) or an invertebrate (without a backbone, like insects, crustaceans, octopuses and all other animals). In 2016, a group of scientists claimed to have solved the mystery of Tully, providing the strongest evidence yet that it was a vertebrate. But my colleagues and I have conducted a new study that calls this conclusion into question, meaning this monster is as mysterious as ever.

https://www.livescience.com/tully-monster-more-mysterious.html
 

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Dwarf species of T-rex dinosaurs probably did not exist: study

Source: news24.com
Date: 3 January, 2020

For three decades, palaeontologists the world over have been split over a provocative finding: did a dwarf species of Tyrannosaurus rex really once exist?

In 1988, palaeontologist Robert Bakker and his colleagues at the Cleveland (Ohio) Museum of Natural History reclassified a specimen first discovered in 1942 and displayed at the museum.

It was, they said, the first known member of a small new species they baptized as the Nanotyrannus.

Then, in 2001, another team discovered the nearly complete skeleton of a small Tyrannosaurus near the town of Ekalaka in Montana, in the rich and intensively studied fossil formation known as Hell Creek.

https://m.news24.com/Green/News/dwa...nosaurs-probably-did-not-exist-study-20200103
 

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New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah

Source: eurekalert.org/University of Utah
Date: 24 January, 2020

A remarkable new species of meat-eating dinosaur has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Paleontologists unearthed the first specimen in early 1990s in Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah. The huge carnivore inhabited the flood plains of western North America during the Late Jurassic Period, between 157-152 million years ago, making it the geologically oldest species of Allosaurus, predating the more well-known state fossil of Utah, Allosaurus fragilis. The newly named dinosaur Allosaurus jimmadseni, was announced today in the open-access scientific journal PeerJ.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-01/uou-nso012220.php
 

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Fossil is the oldest-known scorpion

Researchers think it was one of the first animals to spend time on land

Source: Ohio State University / sciencedaily.com
Date: 16 January, 2020

Scientists studying fossils collected 35 years ago have identified them as the oldest-known scorpion species, a prehistoric animal from about 437 million years ago. The researchers found that the animal likely had the capacity to breathe in both ancient oceans and on land.

The discovery provides new information about how animals transitioned from living in the sea to living entirely on land: The scorpion's respiratory and circulatory systems are almost identical to those of our modern-day scorpions -- which spend their lives exclusively on land -- and operate similarly to those of a horseshoe crab, which lives mostly in the water, but which is capable of forays onto land for short periods of time.

The researchers named the new scorpion Parioscorpio venator. The genus name means "progenitor scorpion," and the species name means "hunter." They outlined their findings in a study published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200116121903.htm
 

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A squid fossil offers a rare record of pterosaur feeding behavior

A tooth embedded in a squid fossil tells a story of a battle at sea with the flying reptile

Source: Science News
Date: 27 January, 2020

A fossil of a squid with a pterosaur tooth embedded in it offers extraordinary evidence of a 150-million-year-old battle at sea. While many pterosaur fossils containing fish scales and bones in their stomachs have revealed that some of these flying reptiles included fish in their diet, the new find from Germany is the first proof that pterosaurs also hunted squid.

The fossil was excavated in 2012 in the Solnhofen Limestone, near Eichstätt in Bavaria, where many Jurassic Period fossils of pterosaurs, small dinosaurs and the earliest known bird, Archaeopteryx, have been found. The region’s environment at the time was something like the Bahamas today, with low-lying islands dotting shallow tropical seas.

The embedded tooth fits the right size and shape for the pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus, paleontologists report online January 27 in Scientific Reports. They argue that the tooth was left by a pterosaur that swooped to the ocean surface to snap up the 30-centimeter-long squid from the extinct Plesioteuthis genus, but was unsuccessful, possibly because the squid was too large or too far down in the water column for the predator to manage.

https://www-sciencenews-org.cdn.amp...3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s
 

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HEAD OF GIANT 330-MILLION-YEAR-OLD SHARK FOUND IN WALL OF KENTUCKY CAVE

Source: newsweek.com
Date: 30 January, 2020

Researchers have uncovered the remnants of a huge, fossilized shark head in the walls of a cave in Kentucky.

The remains of the ancient animal are located in Mammoth Cave National Park, which is home to the longest known cave system on Earth—one that extends for more than 400 miles, according to the National Park Service.

The shark fossil—dated to around 330 million years ago—was first spotted alongside several others by Rick Olson and Rick Toomey, two Mammoth Cave experts who were conducting investigations of the area, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

The pair took photos of the fossils and sent them to Vincent Santucci, a paleontologist with the National Park Service, in the hope he could identify them.

Santucci also passed the images on to John-Paul Hodnett, a paleontologist at Dinosaur Park in Maryland. This site contains rare fossil deposits from around 115 million years ago.

Hodnett was able to identify most of the shark fossils in the images, however, he became particularly interested in one set of remains.

https://www-newsweek-com.cdn.amppro...ion-year-old-shark-wall-kentucky-cave-1484825
 

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New thalattosaur species discovered in Southeast Alaska

Source: heritagedaily.com/University of Alaska Fairbanks
Date: 4 February, 2020

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have identified a new species of thalattosaur, a marine reptile that lived more than 200 million years ago.

The new species, Gunakadeit joseeae, is the most complete thalattosaur ever found in North America and has given paleontologists new insights about the thalattosaurs’ family tree, according to a paper published today in the journal Scientific Reports. Scientists found the fossil in Southeast Alaska in 2011.

Thalattosaurs were marine reptiles that lived more than 200 million years ago, during the mid to late Triassic Period, when their distant relatives — dinosaurs — were first emerging. They grew to lengths of up to 3-4 meters and lived in equatorial oceans worldwide until they died out near the end of the Triassic.

“When you find a new species, one of the things you want to do is tell people where you think it fits in the family tree,” said Patrick Druckenmiller, the paper’s lead author and director and earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. “We decided to start from scratch on the family tree.”

Prior to the discovery of Gunakadeit joseeae, it had been two decades since scientists had thoroughly updated thalattosaur interrelationships, Druckenmiller said. The process of re-examining a prehistoric animal’s family tree involves analyzing dozens and dozens of detailed anatomical features from fossil specimens worldwide, then using computers to analyze the information to see how the different species could be related.

https://www.heritagedaily.com/2020/02/new-thalattosaur-species-discovered-in-southeast-alaska/125653
 

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Rare fossil of bone-crushing crocodile cousin found in Brazil

The prehistoric reptile likely played a surprising but vital role in its Triassic ecosystem.

Source: National Geographic
Date: 5 February, 2020

This newly discovered species of prehistoric reptile, called Dynamosuchus collisensi, lived 230 million years ago during the Triassic period. Its back was protected by two rows of dermal bones.

Rodrigo Müller was working a block of rock and dirt at the base of Agudo Hill, an hour from Porto Alegre, when he first saw an unusual set of osteoderms, bony deposits that form plates on the skin of a reptile or amphibian.

“It was a surprise, because we had never seen anything like this in Brazil before,” Müller, a paleontologist at the Federal University of Santa Maria, says of what was otherwise an ordinary visit to the Janner dig site, once home to some of the earliest dinosaurs to roam Earth.

As he continued his delicate work, he brushed dirt from an intact cranium and several other fossilized bones. Together, the collection formed a well-preserved and almost complete skeleton of a rare Ornithosuchidae reptile, a family considered cousins to today’s crocodiles and alligators that had been previously recorded only in Argentina and Scotland.

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THIS 99-MILLION-YEAR-OLD DINOSAUR TAIL TRAPPED IN AMBER HINTS AT FEATHER EVOLUTION

Source: archaeology-world.com
Date: 5 February, 2020

A feathered dinosaur’s tail has been found in Myanmar amber perfectly preserved. The one-of – a-kind breakthrough helps to put a new perspective on the evolution of a group that dominant in the world for more than 160 million years.

The examination of the specimen suggests the tail was chestnut brown on top and white on its underside. The tail is described in the journal Current Biology.

“This is the first time we’ve found dinosaur material preserved in amber,” co-author Ryan McKellar, of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, told the BBC News website. The study’s first author, Lida Xing from the China University of Geosciences in Beijing, discovered the remarkable fossil at an amber market in Myitkina, Myanmar.

The 99-million-year-old amber had already been polished for jewellery and the seller had thought it was plant material. On closer inspection, however, it turned out to be the tail of a feathered dinosaur about the size of a sparrow.

Lida Xing was able to establish where it had come from by tracking down the amber miner who had originally dug out the specimen. Dr. McKellar said examination of the tail’s anatomy showed it definitely belonged to a feathered dinosaur and not an ancient bird.

https://www.archaeology-world.com/t...-trapped-in-amber-hints-at-feather-evolution/
 

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Bizarre' turtle managed to survive asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs

Source: Fox News / Scientific Reports
Date: 6 February, 2020

The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago also caused nearly 75 percent of all species on the planet to go extinct. However, a new study suggests one "bizarre" form of life managed to survive — a land turtle.

Fossils of the turtle, known as Laurasichersis relicta, were recently discovered in northern France. The fossils date to around 56 million years ago, 10 million years after the asteroid hit Earth in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. The asteroid may have also acidified Earth's oceans, according to a study published in October 2019.

At this point, it's unclear why or how L. relicta survived the impact blast, according to the study's lead author, palaeontologist Adán Pérez García. "The reason why Laurasichersis survived the great extinction, while none of the other primitive North American, European or Asian land turtles managed to do so, remains a mystery," Pérez García said in a statement.

https://www-foxnews-com.cdn.ampproj...-turtle-survived-asteroid-wiped-out-dinosaurs
 

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Although not an arthropod, OK to tag-on here?

Rare lizard fossil preserved in amber

Source: heritagedaily.com
Date: 27 February, 2020

Researchers at the University of Bonn are investigating the conservation status of the reptile, which is up to 20 million years old.

The tiny forefoot of a lizard of the genus Anolis was trapped in amber about 15 to 20 million years ago. Every detail of this rare fossil is visible under the microscope. But the seemingly very good condition is deceptive: The bone is largely decomposed and chemically transformed, very little of the original structure remains.

How do fossils stay preserved for millions of years? Rapid embedding is an important prerequisite for protecting the organisms from access by scavengers, for example. Decomposition by microorganisms can for instance be prevented by extreme aridity. In addition, the original substance is gradually replaced by minerals.

The pressure from the sediment on top of the fossil ensures that the fossil is solidified. “That’s the theory,” says Jonas Barthel, a doctoral student at the Institute for Geosciences at the University of Bonn. “How exactly fossilization proceeds is currently the subject of intensive scientific investigation.”

Amber is considered an excellent preservative. Small animals can be enclosed in a drop of tree resin that hardens over time. A team of geoscientists from the University of Bonn has now examined an unusual find from the Dominican Republic: The tiny forefoot of a lizard of the genus Anolis is enclosed in a piece of amber only about two cubic centimeters in size. Anolis species still exist today.

Vertebrate inclusions in amber are very rare.

https://www.heritagedaily.com/2020/02/rare-lizard-fossil-preserved-in-amber/125916
 
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