Paleontology

Understanding extinct species diets requires greater understanding of the relationship between skull biomechanics and animals ancestry than previously thought, according to a new study. 


Stegosaurus, a large, herbivorous dinosaur with two staggered rows of bony plates along its back and two pairs of spikes at the end of its tail, lived roughly 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic in the western United States. Some individuals had wide plates, some had tall ones, with the wide plates being up to 45 percent larger overall than the tall plates.

According to a new study, the tall-plated Stegosaurus and the wide-plate Stegosaurus were not two distinct species, nor were they individuals of different age - they were actually males and females.


A new species of bird called Llallawavis scagliai (Scaglia's Magnificent Bird) is shedding light on the diversity of the group and how these giant extinct predators interacted with their environment.

The new species found in South America is the most complete terror bird ever discovered, with more than 90% of the skeleton exquisitely preserved and also reveals details of anatomy that rarely preserve in the fossil record, including the auditory region of the skull, voice box, complete trachea, bones for focusing the eye, and the complete palate, allowing an unprecedented understanding of the sensory capabilities of these extinct predatory birds.

A new analysis of the long-necked dinosaur family tree says Apatosaurus excelsus is oh so wrong and Brontosaurus is oh so right.

Just like a hundred plus years ago.
What do butterflies, spiders and lobsters share in common?

Yawunik kootenayi, a marine creature with two pairs of eyes and prominent grasping appendages that lived 250 million years before the first dinosaur.

The fossil recently identified is the first new species to be described from the Marble Canyon site, part of the Canadian Burgess Shale fossil deposit.

Yawunik had evolved long frontal appendages that resemble the antennae of modern beetles or shrimps, though these appendages were composed of three long claws, two of which bore opposing rows of teeth that helped the animal catch its prey.

The earliest known record of the genus Homo dates to between 2.8 and 2.75 million years ago, according to an international team.
Fossil "swim tracks," a type of vertebrate trace fossil gaining recognition in the field of paleontology, is  made by various tetrapods (four-footed land-living vertebrates) as they traveled through water under buoyant or semibuoyant conditions.

They occur in high numbers in deposits from the Early Triassic,  between the Permian and Jurassic 250 to 200 million years ago. Major extinction events mark the start and end of the Triassic but it is a but of a mystery why tracks from the period are so abundant and well preserved.


Tracy J. Thomson next to a block with numerous swim tracks in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. 
The origin of curious ring-like structures that formed half a billion years ago on a seabed in Wisconsin is an ancient unsolved riddle and academics would like you to help them figure it out.

It makes sense, since it was citizen scientist paleontologists that discovered the almost perfectly circular rings some 30 years ago.

Nigel Hughes, a professor of paleobiology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, wants to know if they are the result of a physical process or the activity of an ancient organism - and a cool $500 is in it if you do what the pros cannot.
Paleontologists have discovered a new species of a long-necked dinosaur. 

Qijianglong (pronounced "CHI-jyang-lon") was about 45 feet long and lived about 160 million years ago in the Late Jurassic. The name means "dragon of Qijiang," for its discovery near Qijiang City, close to Chongqing, and the fossil site was found by construction workers in 2006. The dig eventually came upon a series of large neck vertebrae stretched out in the ground - with the head of the dinosaur was still attached.
A new species of dinosaur has turned out not to be a dinosaur at all, it is instead one of the large reptiles that lived before dinosaurs took over the world. But like many dinosaurs, it looked fearsome. 

Nundasuchus songeaensis was a 9-foot-long carnivorous reptile with steak knife-like teeth, bony plates on the back, and legs that lie under the body.  The basic meaning of Nundasuchus, is "predator crocodile," "Nunda" meaning predator in Swahili, and "suchus" a reference to a crocodile in Greek.