Paleontology

Kaikaifilu is a new species of giant sea lizard (mosasaur) discovered in 66 million year-old rocks of Antarctica. At about 10 m long, it is the largest known top marine predator from this continent. It lived near the end of the dinosaur age, when Antarctica was a much warmer ecosystem, and fed on filter-feeding marine reptiles.


Thanks, but no thanks, say British scientists about controversial British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, primarily known for his criticism of religion.

A majority of those surveyed who mentioned Dawkins’ work during research interviews reject his approach to public engagement and said his work misrepresents science and scientists because he conveys the wrong impression about what science can do and the norms that scientists observe in their work.

A new hypothesis aims to explain how the complex vertebrate body, with its skeleton, muscles, nervous and cardiovascular systems, arises from a single cell during development and how these systems evolved over time. They give it a proper name, embryo geometry, but scientists are going to hold off on calling it a theory until it shows some chance of validation. Until then, it is like String Theory, more philosophy than science.

The paper, along with illustrations - or "blueprints" - depicting how it applies to different vertebrate organ systems, is in Progress in Biophysics&Molecular Biology.


A new paper in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology reviewed all mammal species known from the end of the Cretaceous period in North America and found that over 93 percent became extinct across the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary, due to the same asteroid that killed the dinosaurs in the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago.

That's significantly more than previously thought - but mammals also recovered far more quickly than previously though.  


A close-up view of the dentition of an ancient aquatic, carnivorous lizard, the mighty Mosasaur, from Late Cretaceous exposures on Vancouver Island. 
<>This well-prepped specimen is now housed in the collections of the Courtenay Museum, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 

The creature who owned this jaw bone undoubtedly swan alongside Kourisodon puntledgensis, another enormously powerful marine predator and new species of Mosasaur unearthed on Vancouver Island. 

Their feet modified into flippers, they were expert swimmers and hunters, with a strong tail for propulsion. These two would have commanded our ancient seaways between 70 and 66 million years ago.



A great temple to the god Amon was built at Karnak in Upper Egypt around c. 1785. It is from Amon that we get his cephalopod namesake, the ammonites and also the name origin for the compound ammonia or NH3.

Ammonites were a group of hugely successful aquatic molluscs that looked like the still extant Nautilus, a coiled shellfish that lives off the southern coast of Asia.

While the Nautilus lived on, ammonites graced our waters from around 400 million years ago until the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years.

Those working in the Jurassic exposures on Vancouver Island are a determined crew. Most of the sedimentary deposits of the Jurassic are exposed in the hard to reach areas between Nootka Sound and Cape Scott.

Today in Science Codex I read this article

Long before the dinosaurs, hefty herbivores called pareiasaurs ruled the Earth. A detailed investigation of all Chinese specimens of these creatures - often described as the 'ugliest fossil reptiles' - has been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Pareiasaurs have been reported from South Africa, Europe (Russia, Scotland, Germany), Asia (China), and South America, but it is not known whether there were distinct groups on each of these continents.


Scientists are continually unearthing new facts about Homo sapiens from the mummified remains of Ötzi, the Copper Age man, who was discovered in a glacier in 1991.

Five years ago, after Ötzi's genome was completely deciphered, it seemed that the wellspring of spectacular discoveries about the past would soon dry up.

An international team of scientists have now succeeded in demonstrating the presence of Helicobacter pylori in Ötzi's stomach contents, a bacterium found in half of all humans today. The theory that humans were already infected with this stomach bacterium at the very beginning of their history could well be true. The scientists succeeded in decoding the complete genome of the bacterium.