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2000 News Stories:


December News

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 prediction brilliantly confirmed by this observation. [More: Nature]  

Protein Strands Survive In Dinosaur Bones

12/21/2000  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

12/18/2000  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

12/15/2000  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

12/12/2000  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 Expedition 2000]

UK Museum Spots Faked Fossil...Among Their Own Exhibits

12/9/2000  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 "Dinosaur."] 

Protopteryx Fossil Bird Adds to Picture of Bird Evolution

12/8/2000  Just 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

12/8/2000  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

Microraptor: New Feathered Dinosaur From China

12/7/2000  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 Nature

Surface 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, CNNImage NASA/JPL/MSSS

Manitoba Canada Town Renowned for Marine Fossils

12/5/2000  Canadian Broadcasting reports on the rich fossil beds at Morden, 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

12/3/2000  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

12/2/2000  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]  

November News

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 Nature]

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

11/24/2000  The 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 Article]

Plesiosaurs Employed "Front Wheel Drive"

11/21/2000  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

11/21/2000  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

11/17/2000  Michael 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

11/14/2000  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

11/10/2000  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. [More: CNN]

Poisonous Bite from a Carnivorous Dinosaur?

11/9/2000  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 available.  

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. Abstract: Science]

October News

Over Three Thousand Dinosaur Tracks Discovered in South Korea

10/30/2000  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

10/25/2000  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  

10/21/2000  Researchers claim 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  

10/19/2000  The Sydney 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 Miles Deep

10/18/2000  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]

Bessie 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 years. [More at CNN] 10/17

Duck-Billed Dinosaurs Once Migrated Through Antarctica 

Paleontologists 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 Known"

All 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.]

Woolly Rhinoceros Story From BBC News

The British news agency reports on a woolly rhinoceros being exhumed in England. 

Controversy brews over authenticity of a fossilized dinosaur heart

Scientists 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

And 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.

September News

9/26 Feds Say Kennewick Man Should Be Turned Over to Native Americans  

Bruce 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.

9/24 Paleontologist Paul Sereno and Others Helping to Rewrite the Dinosaur Story  

Think 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.

9/21 Tiny New Carnivore Expands Knowledge of African Dinosaurs 

Named 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.]

9/20 Fossil Bones May Give Poor Indication of Evolutionary Relationships

New research suggests skull structure tends to preserve less than perfect history of evolution. [technical abstract]

9/18 Goat Toes Tell Tale of Advancing Human Culture  

Employing 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.

9/15 Did Fungi Help Plants Establish a Beachhead on Land?

New 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.

9/13 Horseshoe Crab a  Living Fossil in Danger of Extinction  

This primitive animal with bright blue blood may be facing its toughest threat in hundreds of millions of years.

9/9 Permian Extinction Destroyed Plant Life  

More 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 

A 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 abstract].

9/8 First Ever: Sauropod Dinosaur Skeleton Located in Triassic Beds Unique dinosaur stretches history of long-neck dinosaurs back in time-before the Jurassic. 

9/7 Two 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.

9/6 Meat-Eating Ducks and Kangaroos? Only in Australia, Of Course! New touring exhibition presents strange ice-age creatures recently found in Australia.

9/6 Giant Prehistoric Elephant Skull and Bones Unearthed in Kashmir Discovery is a first for the Himalayan region.

9/6 Mastodon Skeleton Survives Ice Age in Backyard Pond Bones of the giant shaggy elephant now being excavated by scientists in New York.

9/3 Atlanta Museum Spends $1.2 Mil. to Exhibit Cast of Largest Dinosaur Ever One hundred feet of Cretaceous monster goes on display at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.


August News

8/29 Auction of Significant Fossil Reptile Stirs Controversy Buyer promises to donate to American Museum of Natural History...

8/29 Sticky Business: La Brea Tar Pit Fossils Famous Ice age fossil locality still turns out 1,000 bones a year...

8/28 Vegetarian Croc. a new find in Madagascar Cretaceous reptile's skull tells unexpected tale... 

8/23 Dinosaur Footprints Found In Italy  Huge tracks tie Jurassic Italy to Africa...

8/22 High-Tech Triceratops  CAD-modeled museum replica dinosaur is more accurate than the original...

8/22 Tasmanian 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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