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(Bio) Fossil: Prehistoric Lizard
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:28 pm    Post subject: Fossil Fin Sheds Light on Evolution of Limbs Reply with quote

Fossil Fin Sheds Light on Evolution of Limbs
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 01 August 2007 12:04 am ET

A 400 million-year-old fossilized fin from a strange-looking, primitive fish is shedding light on how fins evolved into limbs that enabled animals to walk on land.

The fossil fin comes from a coelacanth, a type of lobe-finned fish, and provides the only skeletal fin remains to date from the extinct relatives of today's living coelacanths. Scientists spotted the four-inch-long (10 centimeter-long) specimen at Beartooth Butte in northern Wyoming and have dubbed the fish Shoshinia arctopteryx after the Shoshine people and the Shoshone National Forest. When alive, the fish would have been about 18 to 24 inches (46 to 62 centimeters) in length.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....ossil.html
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 2:39 pm    Post subject: Fossils Could Force Rethink of Human Evolution Reply with quote

Fossils Could Force Rethink of Human Evolution
By Ker Than, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 08 August 2007 01:00 pm ET

Long before humans and Neanderthals lived side by side in Europe, two other species of early humans were coexisting in Africa, a controversial new study claims.

Researchers working in Kenya have found evidence that Homo habilis survived hundreds of thousands of years longer than previously thought and coexisted with another early human species, Homo erectus.

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http://www.livescience.com/hea.....exist.html
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 1:26 pm    Post subject: Orchids Dated to Dinosaur Era Reply with quote

Orchids Dated to Dinosaur Era
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 29 August 2007 01:02 pm ET

Dinosaurs might have gotten a whiff of orchids before the beasts' demise, newfound fossil remains suggest.

Encased in a block of amber, the remains of an extinct, stingless bee (Proplebeia dominicana) with a clump of orchid pollen stuck to its back indicate the flowering plants arose some 76 million to 84 million years ago, much sooner than many scientists had estimated.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....igins.html
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:44 pm    Post subject: Oldest Identifiable Footprints Found Reply with quote

Oldest Identifiable Footprints Found
By Ker Than, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 12 September 2007 06:12 am ET

Two reptile-like animals living 290 million years ago are the oldest creatures to have their footprints positively identified after a fortuitous discovery allowed scientists to match fossils to preserved trackways.

Fossils of Diadectes absitus and Orobates pabsti were recently found in the Tambach Formation in central Germany. Nearby and in the same sediment layer, scientists found well-preserved footprints made by creatures that plodded through the region's soft sediments long ago. The footprints turned out to be a match for the fossil animals.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....rints.html
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 12:25 pm    Post subject: Early Human-Like Skeletons Are First Outside of Africa Reply with quote

Early Human-Like Skeletons Are First Outside of Africa
By E.J. Mundell, HealthDay Reporter

posted: 19 September 2007 04:20 pm ET

(HealthDay News) -- When it came to spreading across the globe, humanity's early ancestors may literally have put their best foot forward.

So conclude paleontologists examining the partial skeletons of a group of four individuals who died in what is now the Republic of Georgia nearly 1.8 million years ago.

Their remains -- the earliest members of the Homo genus found to date outside of Africa -- are telling much about how key body changes propelled this group's spread around the planet.

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http://www.livescience.com/healthday/608351.html
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 4:04 pm    Post subject: Woolly Mammoth Hair Yields 'Fantastic' DNA Reply with quote

Woolly Mammoth Hair Yields 'Fantastic' DNA
By Ker Than, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 27 September 2007 02:02 pm ET

Hair is a better source of ancient DNA than bone or muscle, a new study involving woolly mammoth hair suggests.

"The main problem with things like bone is that it contains real DNA from the source, but also a load of DNA that is undesirable," said study team member Tom Gilbert of the University of Copenhagen. "For example, when a mammoth dies and the body starts putrefying, bacteria gets all throughout the body. Later, as it's buried in the ground, soil bacteria get into it."

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http://www.livescience.com/ani....._hair.html
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:57 am    Post subject: Scientists find how amber becomes death trap for watery crea Reply with quote

Scientists find how amber becomes death trap for watery creatures
University of Florida

Filed under Research, Natural History, Environment, Florida, Sciences on Thursday, October 18, 2007.GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Shiny amber jewelry and a mucky Florida swamp have given scientists a window into an ancient ecosystem that could be anywhere from 15 million to 130 million years old.

Scientists at the University of Florida and the Museum of Natural History in Berlin made the landmark discovery that prehistoric aquatic critters such as beetles and small crustaceans unwittingly swim into resin flowing down into the water from pine-like trees. Their findings are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The resin with its entombed inhabitants settled to the bottom of the swamp was covered by sediment and after millions of years became amber, a bejeweled version of the tar pits that trapped saber-toothed tigers in what is now California, said David Dilcher, a UF paleo-botanist and one of the study’s researchers.

“People never understood how freshwater algae and freshwater protozoans could be incorporated in amber because amber is considered to have been formed on land,” said Dilcher, who works at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “We showed that it just as well could be formed from resin exuded in watery swamp environments. Later the swamps may dry up and the resin hardens.”

Dilcher and Alexander Schmidt, a researcher at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, replicated the prehistoric demise of the water bugs by taking a handsaw to a swamp on Dilcher’s property near Gainesville in north Central Florida. After they cut bark from some pine trees, the resin flowed into the water and they collected the goo and took it back to Dilcher’s lab on campus.

Stuck in the sticky sap were representatives of almost all the small inhabitants of the swamp ecosystem, Dilcher said. “We found beautiful examples of water beetles, mites, small crustaceans called ostracods, nematodes, and even fungi and bacteria living in the water,” he said.

The discovery not only solved the mystery of how swimming bugs could have been entombed in sticky sap from high up in a tree but could lead to new information about prehistoric, maybe even Jurassic, swamps, Dilcher said. Studying organisms that were trapped for millions of years in amber may help scientists to recreate prehistoric water ecosystems and learn how these life forms changed over time, he said.

While no one is claiming that the entombed bugs will be brought back to life through genetic splicing, the discovery may give clues about the evolution of microorganisms, he said.

“We all think of horses, elephants and people as having changed a great deal through time,” he said. “Have amoeba and other microscopic organisms changed much? Or have they found a niche or what we call a stasis in which their evolutionary lineage persists for many hundreds of millions of years? We don’t have the answers to those questions until we look at the fossil record.”

Insects such as bees, spiders, tics and fleas that become embedded in amber have received a great deal of attention because they are so abundant, Dilcher said. “Unfortunately, people have overlooked the little things while searching for the big bugs and the flowers in amber,” he said.

Microorganisms are important because they form relationships with higher organisms, making them the foundation of the pyramid of life, Dilcher said. “To understand more about their evolution adds an important step in our understanding of life itself,” he said.

Gene Kritsky, editor of the journal American Entomologist and a biology professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, said Dilcher has performed a great service in answering a question that has long puzzled scientists, the seemingly contradictory aspect of finding aquatic insects in tree resin.

“It’s been one of the strange things mentioned by biologists and entomologists for decades – how do you account for aquatic insects and organisms in what seemed to be an ancient terrestrial environment,” Kritsky said. “Dilcher examined this contradiction by creating the conditions that would cause sap deposits to flow into water to see what would happen. The results demonstrated that aquatic insects can be trapped in resin without leaving their aquatic world. Thus, the presence of aquatic organisms in amber is the result of a simple natural process.”
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 2:09 pm    Post subject: Fossil record supports evidence of impending mass extinction Reply with quote

Wednesday 24 October

David Garner, University of York Press Office.

Fossil record supports evidence of impending mass extinction

Global temperatures predicted for the coming centuries may trigger a new ‘mass extinction event’, where over 50 per cent of animal and plant species would be wiped out, warn scientists at the Universities of York and Leeds.

The research team has, for the first time, discovered a close association between Earth climate and extinctions in a study that has examined the relationship over the past 520 million years — almost the entire fossil record available.

"Our results provide the first clear evidence that global climate may explain substantial variation in the fossil record in a simple and consistent manner"
Dr Peter MayhewMatching data sets of marine and terrestrial diversity against temperature estimates, evidence shows that global biodiversity is relatively low during warm ‘greenhouse’ phases and extinctions relatively high, while the reverse is true in cooler ‘icehouse’ phases.

Moreover, future predicted temperatures are within the range of the warmest greenhouse phases that are associated with mass extinction events identified in the fossil record.

The research, published in the latest issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B., was carried out by University of York student Gareth Jenkins, together with his supervisor, Dr Peter Mayhew, and University of Leeds Professor Tim Benton, both of whom are population ecologists.

Dr Mayhew says: "Our results provide the first clear evidence that global climate may explain substantial variation in the fossil record in a simple and consistent manner. If our results hold for current warming — the magnitude of which is comparable with the long-term fluctuations in Earth climate — they suggest that extinctions will increase."

Of the five mass extinction events¹, four — including the one that eliminated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago — are associated with greenhouse phases. The largest mass extinction event of all, the end-Permian, occurred during one of the warmest ever climatic phases and saw the estimated extinction of 95 per cent of animal and plant species.

"The long-term association has not been seen before, as previous studies have largely been confined to relatively short geological periods, limited geographical extents and few groups of organisms," says Professor Benton. "But the evidence is striking."


Notes for Editors:
The five worst mass extinctions:
Cretaceous-Tertiary — roughly 65 million years ago. Probably caused or aggravated by impact of large asteroid on the Yucatan Peninsula and beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Death toll: 16 percent of marine families, 47 per cent of marine genera (the classification above species) and 18 percent of land vertebrate families, including the dinosaurs.

End-Triassic — roughly 200 to 214 million years ago. Most likely caused by massive floods of lava erupting from the central Atlantic magmatic province — an event that triggered the opening of the Atlantic Ocean. The volcanism may have led to deadly global warming. Death toll: 22 percent of marine families, 52 percent of marine genera. Vertebrate deaths are unclear.

End-Permian — about 251 million years ago. Cause hotly debated. Earth’s worst mass extinction, killing 95 percent of all species, 53 percent of marine families, 84 percent of marine genera and an estimated 70 percent of land species such as plants, insects and vertebrate animals.

Late Devonian — about 364 million years ago. Cause unknown. Death toll: 22 percent of marine families and 57 percent of marine genera. Erwin said little is known about land organisms at the time.

Ordovician-Silurian — 439 million years ago. Caused by a drop in sea levels as glaciers formed, then by rising sea levels as glaciers melted. Death toll: 25 percent of marine families and 60 percent of marine genera.

The University of York’s Department of Biology is one of the leading centres for biological teaching and research in the UK. The Department both teaches degree courses and undertakes research across the whole spectrum of modern Biology, from molecular genetics and biochemistry to ecology. Its biomedical research includes an Immunology and Infection Unit (jointly with the Hull-York Medical School), work on infertility and three research professors funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and York Against Cancer.


The University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences is one of the largest in the UK, with nearly 150 academic staff and over 400 postdoctoral fellows and postgraduate students. The Faculty’s current active research grant portfolio is around £60M and funders include charities, Research Councils, the European Union and industry. The Faculty has an outstanding research record and all major units of assessment were awarded Grade 5 in the last government (HEFCE) Research Assessment Exercise.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:38 pm    Post subject: Ancient Amphibians Left Full-Body Imprints Reply with quote

Ancient Amphibians Left Full-Body Imprints
By LiveScience Staff

posted: 30 October 2007 09:02 am ET

Exquisitely preserved fossilized body imprints of ancient salamander-like creatures have been discovered in 330-million-year-old Pennsylvanian rocks.

The foot-long amphibians lived 100 million years before the first dinosaurs. "Body impressions like this are wholly unheard of," said paleontologist Spencer Lucas, a curator at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....rints.html
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:53 pm    Post subject: Oldest Known Jellyfish Fossils Found Reply with quote

Oldest Known Jellyfish Fossils Found
By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 30 October 2007 05:31 pm ET

The oldest known fossils of jellyfish have been found in rocks in Utah that are more than 500 million years old, a new study reports.

The fossils are an unusual discovery because soft-bodied creatures, such as jellyfish, rarely survive in the fossil record, unlike animals with hard shells or bones.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....yfish.html
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 7:08 am    Post subject: Fossil Sparks Reply with quote

Week of Nov. 3, 2007; Vol. 172, No. 18 , p. 280

Fossil Sparks
New finds ignite controversy over ape and human evolution
Bruce Bower

Fifty years ago, British anatomist Wilfrid Le Gros Clark explained in a lecture why evolutionary scientists argue so vehemently about how ancient apelike and humanlike creatures eventually gave way to modern humans. "Every fossil relic which appears to throw light on connecting links in man's ancestry always has, and always will, arouse controversy," he stated, "and it is right that this should be so, for it is very true that the sparks of controversy often illuminate the way to truth."

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http://sciencenews.org/articles/20071103/bob9.asp
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 4:58 pm    Post subject: Many Mammals Came from India, Discovery Suggests Reply with quote

Many Mammals Came from India, Discovery Suggests
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 08 November 2007 02:00 pm ET

As if hidden from the paleo tooth fairy, a lone molar belonging to a hoofed mammal stayed tucked beneath a pillow of volcanic rock in central India for more than 65 million years. Recently uncovered, the tooth predates similar fossils found across the globe.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....ammal.html
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:03 pm    Post subject: 390-million-year-old scorpion fossil -- biggest bug known Reply with quote

Yale University
21 November 2007
390-million-year-old scorpion fossil -- biggest bug known

New Haven, Conn. — The gigantic fossil claw of an 390 million-year-old sea scorpion, recently found in Germany, shows that ancient arthropods — spiders, insects, crabs and the like — were surprisingly larger than their modern-day counterparts.

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http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_.....112107.php
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 6:55 pm    Post subject: Newfound Carnivores of the Caveman Era Reply with quote

Newfound Carnivores of the Caveman Era
By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

posted: 07 January 2008 5 PM ET

Our ancestors had lots of predators and competitors to worry about — saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and even giant man-eating birds of prey.

Now you can add cave bears to that list. These prehistoric giants were roughly a third larger than modern grizzly bears.

Previously scientists thought cave bears were just vegetarians, evoking an image of gentle giants that fed solely on berries and roots. Now bones from the Carpathians — the mountains where Dracula supposedly dwelt — suggest cave bears could have also been carnivores, and possibly even cannibals.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....bears.html
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 7:43 pm    Post subject: During Ancient Warm Period, Glaciers Might Have Persisted Reply with quote

During Ancient Warm Period, Glaciers Might Have Persisted
By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 10 January 2008 2:00 pm ET

Oddly, glaciers might have existed in the Antarctic during a very warm super-greenhouse era more than 90 million years ago, contrary to researchers’ expectations.

Crocodiles roamed the Arctic and sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Atlantic Ocean reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius), compared to today's 84 F (29 C) during the extremely warm Turonian stage of the late Cretaceous period.

Researchers have generally assumed that the high temperatures of the Turonian would have kept Earth ice-free. But a new analysis of fossilized plankton, detailed in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Science, hints that glaciers might have covered portions of Antarctica around 91.2 million years ago, lasting for 200,000 years.

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http://www.livescience.com/env.....ciers.html
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 8:24 am    Post subject: Oldest Horseshoe Crab Fossil DiscoveredBy Jeanna Bryner, Liv Reply with quote

Oldest Horseshoe Crab Fossil Discovered
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

posted: 28 January 2008 08:29 am ET

Nearly a half a billion years ago, tiny horseshoe crabs crept along the shorelines much like today's larger versions do, new fossil evidence suggests.

Two nearly complete fossil specimens discovered in Canada reveal a new genus of horseshoe crab, pushing their origins back at least 100 million years earlier than previously thought.

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http://www.livescience.com/ani.....-crab.html
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