Paleontology

A new species of ‘super-armored’ worm, named Collinsium ciliosum, or Hairy Collins’ Monster after the palaeontologist Desmond Collins, who discovered and first illustrated a similar Canadian fossil in the 1980s, was a bizarre, spike-covered creature which ate by filtering nutrients out of seawater with its feather-like front legs, has been identified by palaeontologists.

The creature, which lived about half a billion years ago, was one of the first animals on Earth to develop armor to protect itself from predators and to use such a specialised mode of feeding.
In the late winter of 1976, the world famous fossil collector James Kitching was doing a survey near South Africa’s border with Lesotho.

To his surprise he found a tiny clutch of six fossilized eggs along the side of the road at a place known as Rooidraai.

It took five years for skilled palentologists to remove enough rock matrix from the eggs so that they could be preliminarily identified as the first dinosaur embryos from South Africa and the oldest dinosaur embryos in the world.

In the blockbuster "Jurassic World", actor Chris Pratt joins forces with a pack of swift and lethal velociraptors. "Velociraptor belongs to a group of predatory dinosaurs called the deinonychosaurs, or simply the 'raptors'," says University of Alberta paleontologist Scott Persons. "Raptors are characterized by particularly nasty feet. Their big toes each bore an enlarged and wickedly hooked talon, which makes raptors well suited for Hollywood fight scenes."

Persons and University of Alberta alumnus Lida Xing are part of the research team that has just documented a rich fossil footprint site in central China, which contains the tracks of several kinds of dinosaurs, including raptors. From these tracks, the team has gained new insights into raptor locomotion. 


Jurassic World brings to life the fantasy of an amusement park where genetically engineered dinosaurs are the main attraction, as first imagined in the original book, then movie Jurassic Park back in 1993. This fourth movie in the franchise, in cinemas from today, is certainly action-packed, although there are a number of opportunities missed when it comes to how these beasts are represented.

I dissected a Tyrannosaurus rex in front of television cameras.

That may be the most surreal sentence I’ve ever written. So let me explain. I’m part of a team that built a life-sized model of Tyrannosaurus rex and then cut it up. The spectacle is a bloody, gory two-hour television special called T. rex Autopsy. The premise may seem absurd. But this is a whole new way of communicating science to the public, and it has been one of the highlights of my career.

A new fossil hominid species has been discovered in the site of Woranso-Mille in the central region of Afar, in Ethiopia.

The new species is named Australopithecus deyiremeda and consists of the upper and  lower jaws and a collection of teeth in the sites of Burtele and Wayteleyta, in Woranso-Mille, in the central region of Afar, about 50 kilometers north of Hadar and 520 kilometres northeast of the capital Addis Ababa. The fossil specimens are 3.3 – 3.5 million-years-old.

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.