Archive | Prehistoric Animals

More Dinosaur Extinction Evidence Offered

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., March 9 (UPI) — A U.S. scientist says he’s found more evidence an asteroid that crashed into the Earth 65 million years ago ended the age of the dinosaurs.

Purdue University Professor Jay Melosh refutes recent alternative hypotheses to the dinosaur extinction.

Melosh is among a panel of 41 experts from Europe, the United States, Mexico, Canada and Japan that evaluated new core samples from ocean and land sites.

“We find that alternative hypotheses are inadequate to explain the abrupt mass extinction and that the Chicxulub impact hypothesis has grown stronger than ever,” Melosh said. “The impact hypothesis has been widely accepted by the scientific community, but there has still been some debate, and we continue to examine the evidence.”

About 20 years ago an impact crater more than 125 miles wide was discovered in Yucatan, Mexico, and is thought to have caused the mass extinction 65 million years ago. However, some scientists suggest that event occurred 300,000 years earlier and could not have been the cause. Those scientists suggest active volcanoes led to global cooling and acid rainfall that killed the dinosaurs.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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New Dinosaur-like Species is Discovered

SALT LAKE CITY, March 3 (UPI) — An international team of paleontologists says it has discovered a new species of dinosaur-like animals called Asilisaurus kongwe.

The first bones of the new species — part of a newly recognized group known as silesaurs — came from the Triassic Period in Africa and were found in 2007, scientists said.

The team — including included Randall Irmis, curator of paleontology at the Utah Museum of Nature History — said Asilisaurus falls just outside of the dinosaur family tree. The species lived approximately 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaurs.

Fossil bones of at least 14 individuals were recovered from a single bone bed in southern Tanzania. The researchers said the species stood about 1.5 to 3 feet tall at the hips, were 3 to 10 feet long and weighed about 22 to 66 pounds. They walked on four legs and most likely ate plants or a combination of plants and meat.

“The crazy thing about this new dinosaur discovery is that it is so very different from what we all were expecting, especially the fact that it is herbivorous and walked on four legs, Irmis said.

The discovery that involved scientists from the University of Texas at Austin, the Burke Museum and the University of Washington in Seattle, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Iziko South African Museum and Germany’s Humboldt University appears in the journal Nature.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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New Sauropod Dinosaur Find Reported

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 24 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve found the remains of a new herbivorous sauropod dinosaur that may help explain the evolution of Earth’s largest land animals.

The fossils were discovered near the Carnegie Quarry in Dinosaur National Monument, along the border between Colorado and Utah.

University of Michigan Assistant Professor Jeffrey Wilson and graduate student John Whitlock said the discovery represents a rare look at a sauropod skull.

“At first glance, sauropods don’t seem to have done much to adapt to a life of eating plants,” said Wilson, who is also an assistant curator at the university’s Museum of Paleontology.

But together with paleontologists Brooks Britt of Brigham Young University and Dan Chure from Dinosaur National Monument, Wilson and Whitlock compared the skulls and teeth of the new dinosaur to those of other sauropods and discovered one repeated trend throughout sauropod evolution — the development of narrow, pencil-like teeth from broad-bladed teeth.

“We know narrow-crowned teeth appear at least twice throughout sauropod history, and both times it appears to correspond to a rise in the number of species,” Whitlock said. “This new animal is intermediate in terms of its tooth shape and helps us understand how and when one of these transitions occurred.”

The team reports on the new dinosaur, named Abydosaurus mcintoshi — in honor of paleontologist Jack McIntosh — in the early online edition of the journal Naturwissenschaften.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Tiny Fossils Offer Clues to New Species

RICHFIELD, Utah, Feb. 4 (UPI) — Tiny fossilized jaw bones found in Richfield, Utah, helped identify two new rodent species from as far back as 8 million years ago, a paleontologist says.

Utah Geological Survey paleontologist Don DeBlieux said the small fossils found by Jeff Roberts and his wife Denise were from a prehistorical era in Utah that previously offered few fossils to researchers, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.

DeBlieux said in a report published last month the pristine condition of the fossils was particularly helpful in linking the bones to two previously unknown species of rodents.

“It’s pretty significant,” DeBlieux of Roberts’ discovery several years ago. “We don’t know a lot about what was going on then so it helps us with that and fits into our understanding of the evolution of modern species.”

For Roberts, having one of the discovered species named in honor of him and his wife was the real treasure.

“It’s the coolest thing in the world,” Roberts said of the name given to the species Basirepomys robertsi.

The Tribune said the other rodent species was named Metaliomys sevierensis in honor of the Sevier County formation where the fossils were located.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Venomous Prehistoric Bird Named Sinornithosaurus Found in China

LAWRENCEVILLE, Kan., Dec. 23 (UPI) — A fossil found in China is the first venomous raptor in the lineage leading to modern birds, scientists at the University of Kansas say.

The turkey-sized Sinornithosaurus thrived nearly 128 million years ago in northeastern China, Larry Martin, a university paleontologist, said this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This thing is a venomous bird for all intents and purposes,” Martin said. “It was a real shock to us and we made a special trip to China to work on this.”

Sinornithosaurus, closely related to the four-winged glider Microraptor, had depressions on the side of its face that housed poisonous glands to deliver venom through its teeth, university researcher David Burnham said.

“The prey would rapidly go into shock, but it would still be living, and it might have seen itself being slowly devoured by this raptor,” Burnham said, noting the gland arrangement was similar to that found on modern fanged snakes.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Birds, Nature & Ecosystems, Prehistoric Animals0 Comments

Students Confirm 1920s Dinosaur Find

EDMONTON, Alberta, Dec. 16 (UPI) — Three University of Alberta paleontology graduate students have confirmed an 85-year-old dinosaur find, discrediting a 1970s revision of the discovery.

Victoria Arbour, Mike Burns and Robin Sissons focused on the fossilized remains of a 76-million-year old armadillo-like, armored dinosaur discovered in 1924 in southern Alberta by the late Canadian paleontologist William Parks.

After traveling to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and conducting a detailed examination of the skeleton, the students discovered the specimen had been misidentified as the anklyosaur species Euoplocephalus during a middle 1970s re-classification, supposedly correcting the original 1924 research by Parks.

But after re-examining the bones found by Parks and comparing them to more recent ankylosaur finds from Alberta, the students determined Parks was right — his dinosaur is an ankylosaur, Dyoplosaurus, meaning “double armored dinosaur.

The student’s research is reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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