Big Bang Theory Passes Critical Test
12/26/2000 By peering at a distant- and ancient- quasar, scientists
recently measured the heat
of the early universe. The Big Bang model suggested the early
universe started out hot and gradually cooled through time, a
confirmed by this observation. [More: Nature]
Protein Strands Survive In Dinosaur Bones
Resurrecting memories of the Jurassic Park story, sections of
dinosaur protein have recently been extracted from fossil bones.
Geochemist Matthew Collins reports in the journal Geology that he
was able to recover the protein molecules because certain minerals
in the bones helped preserve the information. [More: Geology]
Brazil Soon to Launch Dinosaur Expedition
Paleontologist Alex Azevedo is organizing a months long
expedition to remote regions
of northern Brazil where bones and tracks from dinosaurs have
been sighted. Suspicions run high that many of these fossils belong
to unknown dinosaurs and
possibly a recently named dinosaur called Santanaraptor, believed to
be ancestoral to other meat-eating dinosaurs. [More: Yahoo]
Eastern Grand Canyon Younger than Previously Estimated
Last summer a group of geologists met to reevaluate the
formation of the Grand Canyon. Their findings suggest that the
deepest section of the eastern canyon was formed within the last
million years and perhaps as recently as 700,000 years ago. [More: Geotimes]
Paul Sereno's Dinosaur Expedition 2000 to Africa Ends
Paleontologist Paul Sereno and team have wrapped up their paleontological
expedition to the Sahara. The
group returned with twenty tons of fossils including "at
least 5 new predatory dinosaurs; 5 new herbivorous dinosaurs
including a new armored
ornithischian; as many as 6 new crocodiles - from the largest
in the world to one less than three feet long; 3 new turtles; new
fish, arthropods, and seeds." [More: Dinosaur
UK Museum Spots Faked Fossil...Among Their Own Exhibits
The "perfect ichthyosaur" had been on display for over a
hundred years, but when scientists at the National Museum of Wales
began restoring the fossil recently they saw something fishy. The
marine reptile was actually a composite of several different fossils
along with some manufactured plaster bones. [More: BBC.
Note the BBC article improperly refers to the fossil as a
Protopteryx Fossil Bird Adds to Picture of Bird Evolution
a day after the unveiling of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor, a
new fossil bird was announced by the journal Science. Protopteryx
has uniquely primitive tail feathers which lack barbs as in modern
birds. [More: MSNBC]
Over 2,000 Fossils Uncovered During LA Subway Project
While digging a new subway system in Los Angeles, workers came
across numerous fossils including 39 new species of marine fish.
Other fossils included a ground sloth, a camel, American Mastodon
bones and petrified redwood trees and pollen. [More: CNN]
New Feathered Dinosaur From China
Scientists describe in the journal Nature today a new feathered
dinosaur from China. Microraptor is the smallest adult dinosaur
known to date and shares many features with modern birds. More
importantly, though, the tiny creature is more dinosaur-like than
previously discovered specimens and supports the idea that small
dinosaurs like velociraptor were ancestral to birds. [More: MSNBC
of Mars Shows Earth-Like Rock Layers
12/6/2000 NASA Scientists reported Tuesday that recent aerial photography
of Mars reveals the planet may have once hosted large bodies of
water. The images show layered strata that seems to indicate at
least part of the planet's surface was deposited by water over time.
These sedimentary rock formations are similar in appearance to those
in Earth's Grand Canyon. [More: MSSS,
CNN] Image NASA/JPL/MSSS
Manitoba Canada Town Renowned for Marine Fossils
Canadian Broadcasting reports on the rich fossil beds at
Manitoba and their increasing popularity. First excavated in the
1940's, Canadian scientists claim it will take them half a century
to index only the fossils already collected. [More: CBC]
"Living Fossil" Caught on Film
Divers off the coast of South Africa recently happened upon a
group of coelacanths. This species of fish belongs to the group of
lobe-finned fishes widely believed to have given rise to four-footed
animals. In fact, they were thought to be extinct until 1938 when a
South African fisherman caught one of the "living
fossils." Since then there have only been two other sightings,
both from submarines. This latest sighting is the first ever
by divers and is the first time the enigmatic coelacanth has been
seen in relatively shallow waters. [More: BBC]
102 Dinosaur Bones for Pakistan
The Pakistani Geologic Survey has announced
the discovery of the
nation's first dinosaur bones. The leg and back bones are said to be
from the late Cretaceous Period, near the time of the extinction of
dinosaurs. [More: BBC]
Bacterial Landlubbers... Two and a Half Billion Years Ago
11/30/2000 Scientists this week report finding evidence for life on land 1.4 billion years older than the previous record holders.
The organic material was found in South African deposits and is
dated at 2.6 to 2.7 billion years old. [More: ABCNews
Antlers Show Hunting May be a Recent Human Behavior
11/29/2000 New research on fossil antlers in a region occupied by early humans
in Europe suggests man has only recently learned advanced hunting
techniques. The antlers show little if any signs of being used to
produce tools or weapons, says one scientist. Ancient hunters
commonly used antlers to break flint into sharp spear points. It's
assumed since antlers in this 400,000 year old site did not show
signs of use by humans that these people had not yet obtained
specialized hunting abilities. [More: UniSci]
Hmmm...Feathers or Scales?
11/28/2000 Just months ago, scientists claimed the ancient reptile Longisquama
had feathers. Now a new group of scientists say that's not true. The
little reptile's strange appendages are simply unusual scales, they
say. First reported on in the 1970's, Longisquama will continue to
stir controversey as researchers attempt to establish this animal's
place in the evolution of birds from reptiles. For now, though,
proponents of the popular dinosaurs-to-birds model of avian
evolution have scored a victory. [More: BBC]
Single Tooth is First Ever Dinosaur from Denmark
11/27/2000 The nation of Denmark now has a dinosaur fossil to call its own. If
only they knew what exactly to call it. Believed to be from a
meat-eating dinosaur, its unknown which dinosaur species owned the
tooth. [More: CNN]
Rare Middle Jurassic Dinosaur Tracks In Wyoming
dinosaur record of the Middle Jurassic period (159-187 million years
ago) is considered sparse worldwide, with relatively little known
about dinosaurs from this period. However, recent discoveries of the
most extensive Middle Jurassic dinosaur tracksites in North America
are changing that. Estimated to be 170 million years old, this newly
discovered layer preserves evidence that dinosaurs that inhabited
this part of Wyoming may have been swimmers. [Complete
Plesiosaurs Employed "Front Wheel Drive"
Researchers have long debated how plesiosaurs propelled
themselves through the ancient seas. Usually it was suggested these
long-necked aquatic reptiles used all four of their paddle-shaped appendages
in locomotion. Paleontologist Theagarten Lingham-Soliar now
suggests plesiosaur hind limbs were used only to steer the animal
and provide lift to keep the tail end from sinking at slow speeds.
The front limbs in this theory provided all of the forward thrust.
Follow the link below to an interesting discussion of undersea
reptile propulsion. [More: Guardian]
Move Over Pre-Cambrian, Astronomers Introduce Deep-Time Epochs
While the geologic time scale has long been an indispensable
tool of earth scientists, astronomers have not had such a device to
apply towards the universe at large. Now they do, in the form of six
newly adopted "epochs." And these epochs extend well
beyond the 5 billion years of earth's geologic record. The new
epochs mark time billions of years farther back all the way to the
big bang. [More: Beyond2000]
Jurassic Park Creator Has Dinosaur Named After Him
Crichton, the popular author best known for Jurassic Park
and The Lost World will see his name applied to a dinosaur from
China. Paleontologist Dong Zhiming announced the specimen Tuesday at
the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. He describes the
dinosaur as an ankylosaur that walked on it's hind legs. And of
course, it lived in the Jurassic Period. [More: CNN]
Online Science Journal is First Ever to Name a New Animal Species
11/16/2000 The internet-based science journal Palaeontologia Electronica (PE)
is helping to bring respect to web-based journals. The latest
issue of PE includes an article which names several new animal
species. This is the first time an electronic publication has named
a new species in keeping with the standards of the International
Commission of Zoological Nomenclature. The ICZN regulates the naming
of newly discovered animals, fossil or otherwise.
Paleontologist Awarded for Work on Fossil Record
Dr. Michael Foote of the University of Chicago studies thousands
of fossils, but rarely digs them. That's because he's interested in
resolving a big picture: the question of variation in the fossil
record-why certain fossils are found in certain areas of the
earth. Foote's research is helping explain and predict this
selective preservation, a task unlikely to ever be fully finished.
For his contributions, Dr. Foote today will be given the
Paleontological Society's 2000 Charles Schuchert Award. [More: UniSci]
New Dinosaur From Northern Italy Ranks Among Oldest Meat-Eaters
Found in Jurassic rocks near Milan, the 26'
long ancient predator bears resemblance to Allosaurus
but predates this dinosaur by at least 20 million years. Research on
the new dinosaur suggests the land of Italy was more connected in
the Jurassic than previously thought. They say previous theories
claimed the boot-shaped country was divided into islands during this
period. A large meat-eating dinosaur would have required more real
estate, suggesting the archipelago Italy theory may be invalid.
Poisonous Bite from a Carnivorous Dinosaur?
Recent research suggests grooves in a predatory dinosaur tooth enabled
the meat-eater to deliver deadly venom into bite wounds. We'll
keep you updated on this story as more information is
Ancient Lizard Walked on Hind Legs
11/5/2000 Eighty million years before dinosaur ancestors of T. rex walked on
their hind legs, a small reptile named Eudibamus cursoris
sprinted across the land. Found in Permian age rocks of Germany, Eudibamus
is the oldest known animal suspected to have walked on two legs.
Scientists calculate the little lizard ran faster than any of the
modern bi-pedal lizards. [More at ABCNews.
Over Three Thousand Dinosaur Tracks Discovered in South Korea
The site includes a single continuous track way that extends for
over 200 feet and records the footsteps of ten separate dinosaurs.
Most of the tracks were made by predatory dinosaurs but prints from
long-necked sauropods are also present. Some of the trackways show
young dinosaurs walked alongside their parents. [Source: Ananova]
South American Giants Exhibited
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is constructing a new
display of prehistoric reptiles from Patagonia, Argentina.
Included in the exhibit is Giganotosaurus, the meat-eating
dinosaur larger than T. rex. Argentinosaurus
(easily the most massive of all dinosaurs) will also be on display
as will a huge flying pterosaur. This will be the first
and only skeletal reconstruction of Argentinosaurus
anywhere in the world. Fernbank received the replica skeletons in thanks for giving over a million
dollars to support South American dinosaur research.
If you're in the Atlanta area (or even if you're not!) this will be
a must- see exhibit. The museum expects to complete the display by
next spring. And don't miss the museum's online web
cam featuring the new dinosaur exhibit in progress.
Life Older Than Dinosaurs Revived in Lab
to have successfully resurrected bacteria that has rested dormant
in salt crystals for 250 million years. Reported in the journal Nature, the
remarkable experiment is almost beyond belief. Some
scientists suspect the salt sample was contaminated with recent
bacteria. The researchers, however, contend there is only a one in a
billion chance of that, and the strain of bacteria they revived was
previously unknown to microbiologists. [Reported in Nature]
World Class Fossil Site in Australia Pillaged
Morning Herald reports the spectacular Riversleigh fossil beds in
Queensland are under attack from illegal collecting and neglect. The
locality is rich with fossils spanning twenty-five million years in
age. Scientists blame poor management of the park for the problem.
No signs are posted warning of the illegality of collecting or
damaging fossils and the park is not staffed. [See the Sydney
Morning Herald for more]
Diamonds & Quartz Trap Pressure Readings from Eons Past and
A new study by American and Russian scientists has
revealed a unique mineral combination that retains a snapshot of the
high pressures under which the minerals were formed. Laser and X-Ray
examination shows these minerals-preserved inside diamonds-were
forged by enormous pressures equivalent to 500,000 pounds per square
inch! The mineral creation occurred at up to 150 kilometers (about
93 miles) under the earth's surface. [Reported in the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Science]
the Cow Brings New Hope for Cloning Extinct Animals
An Iowa cow
is expected to soon give birth to a cloned endangered species, the
Asian guar. If successful, it would be the first ever birth of an
animal from a cell cloned and implanted into another species.
Researchers in Spain will soon attempt to clone a goat species that
became extinct earlier this year. When the last bucardo goat died,
scientists promptly froze it's body to save cells for cloning. Such
techniques are not expected to produce long-extinct animals like
woolly mammoths because DNA becomes fragmented over thousands of
at CNN] 10/17
Duck-Billed Dinosaurs Once Migrated Through Antarctica
have recently discovered a single tooth in marine deposits in
Antarctica. The tooth belonged to a Hadrosaur, or duck-billed,
dinosaur. This rare find suggests an island chain may have once
connected South America and Antarctica. [Reported in the Society
of Vertebrate Paleontology's Journal of Vertebrate
Paleontology vol. 20, no. 3.]
Tyrannosaurus rex Jaw "Generated the Strongest Bite Forces
meat-eating dinosaurs had a loosely jointed lower jaw. Phillip
Currie and Jørn Hurum recently found the jaws of Tyrannosaurs
were fused at this joint and thus delivered enormous force,
creating a "powerful crushing bite." This
specialization is not known in any other group of carnivorous
dinosaurs. [Reported in the Society
of Vertebrate Paleontology's Journal of Vertebrate
Paleontology vol. 20, no. 3.]
Rhinoceros Story From BBC News
British news agency reports on a woolly rhinoceros being
exhumed in England.
brews over authenticity of a fossilized dinosaur heart
are questioning whether a small
dinosaur fossil includes preserved remains of the animal's
heart. The critics, including paleontologist Paul Sereno
suggest the CT-imaged mass is merely fossil mud and are
leveling criticisms at Science, the journal which originally
detailed the claim.
Five New T. rex's Found In Montana This Summer
one of the specimens is "at least ten percent larger than
Sue" according to the Museum of the Rockies
paleontologist Jack Horner. See our exclusive
interview update for details.
Say Kennewick Man Should Be Turned Over to Native Americans
Babbitt of the U.S. Interior Department says the remains are
"culturally affiliated" with five American Indian
tribes, despite the bones' antiquity of about 10,000 years.
Researchers who want to study the remains vow the fight will
proceed in court.
Paul Sereno and Others Helping to Rewrite the Dinosaur Story
T. rex, Triceratops and Apatosaurus were the
kings of the Cretaceous? Not outside of North America. On the
big southern continents (which were connected during the
Cretaceous) a bizarre group of dinosaurs ruled. And now it
turns out that favorites like T. rex and Triceratops
were the weird ones.
Tiny New Carnivore Expands Knowledge of African Dinosaurs
Nqwebasaurus thwazi and standing only a foot tall, this
coelurosaurian is the first such dinosaur known from the Lower
Cretaceous of South Africa. N. thwazi pushes the
geologic range of coelurosaurs back 50 million years.
[Reported in the Society
of Vertebrate Paleontology's Journal of Vertebrate
Paleontology vol. 20, no. 2.]
Fossil Bones May Give Poor Indication of Evolutionary
research suggests skull structure tends to preserve less than
perfect history of evolution. [technical
Toes Tell Tale of Advancing Human Culture
a detective-like analysis of ancient bones, Smithsonian
scientists identify humankind's transition from hunting to
herding in the Middle East 10,000 years ago.
Fungi Help Plants Establish a Beachhead on Land?
fungi fossils are oldest known and date to a time when plants first
began to spread from the seas to land. Today, plants and fungi
assist one another in myriad ways.
Crab a Living Fossil in Danger of Extinction
primitive animal with bright blue blood may be facing its toughest
threat in hundreds of millions of years.
Extinction Destroyed Plant Life
destructive than the dinosaur extinction event at the end of the
Cretaceous period, the Permian extinction also decimated plants. So
concludes a study out of South Africa.
9/8 Breaking Research: New Evidence for Warm Blooded Dinosaurs
new study comparing crocodile tooth enamel to that of theropod
dinosaurs bolsters the idea that dinosaurs were warm-blooded.
Reported in the journal Geology [technical
Ever: Sauropod Dinosaur Skeleton Located in Triassic Beds Unique
dinosaur stretches history of long-neck dinosaurs back in
time-before the Jurassic.
Foot Long Trilobite From Canada Okay,
actually it's even a bit bigger than that. No matter, it's much
larger than any previously known.
Ducks and Kangaroos? Only in Australia, Of Course! New
touring exhibition presents strange ice-age creatures recently
found in Australia.
Prehistoric Elephant Skull and Bones Unearthed in Kashmir Discovery
is a first for the Himalayan region.
Skeleton Survives Ice Age in Backyard Pond Bones
of the giant shaggy elephant now being excavated by scientists in
Museum Spends $1.2 Mil. to Exhibit Cast of Largest Dinosaur Ever
hundred feet of Cretaceous monster goes on display at the Fernbank
Museum of Natural History.
of Significant Fossil Reptile Stirs Controversy Buyer
promises to donate to American Museum of Natural History...
Business: La Brea Tar Pit Fossils Famous
Ice age fossil locality still turns out 1,000 bones a year...
Croc. a new find in Madagascar Cretaceous
reptile's skull tells unexpected tale...
Footprints Found In Italy
tracks tie Jurassic Italy to Africa...
museum replica dinosaur is more accurate than the original...
Tiger DNA Extracted for Cloning Project
Where science borders fiction, scientists attempt to resurrect an
ancient extinct predator from down under...
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