Paleontology

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.


The discovery of exceptionally well-preserved, tiny fossil seeds dating back to the Early Cretaceous corroborates that flowering plants were small opportunistic colonizers at that time, according to a new study.

Angiosperms, or flowering plants, diversified during the Early Cretaceous, about 100 to 130 million years ago. Based on evidence from living and fossil plants, the earliest angiosperms are usually thought to have had small stature. New data from the fossil record presented here strongly support this notion, but also indicates key differences from modern flowering plants.

The small seed embryos -- less than 0.3 millimeters in size -- and their surrounding nutrient storage tissues in well-preserved seeds were found in eastern North America and Portugal. 


A "dinosaur" fossil originally discovered on Prince Edward Island has been shown to have steak knife-like teeth, and researchers from U of T Mississauga, Carleton University and the Royal Ontario Museum have changed its name to Dimetrodon borealis, marking the first occurrence of a Dimetrodon fossil in Canada. 
Fossils of Dimetrodon have now been found in the USA, Canada and Germany.


In the 19th century, Darwin’s most vocal scientific advocate was Thomas Henry Huxley, who is also remembered as a pioneer of the hypotheses that birds are living dinosaurs. He noticed several similarities of the skeleton of living birds and extinct dinosaurs, among them, a pointed portion of the anklebone projecting upwards onto the shank bone (aka drumstick).

This “ascending process” is well known to specialists as a unique trait of dinosaurs. However, until the late 20th century, many scientists were doubtful about the dinosaur-bird link. Some pointed out that the ascending process in most birds was a projection of the neighbouring heel bone, rather than the anklebone. If so, it would not be comparable, and would not support the dinosaur-bird link.

Just how bad was the bite of Tyrannosaurus rex? Pretty bad, because the feeding style and dietary preferences of dinosaurs was closely linked to how wide they could open their jaws and T. rex could open quite wide.

Using digital models and computer analyses, Dr. Stephan Lautenschlager from the University of Bristol  studied the muscle strain during jaw opening of three different theropod dinosaurs with different dietary habits. Theropods (from the Greek for "beast-footed") were a diverse group of two-legged dinosaurs that included the largest carnivores ever to walk the Earth.