Paleontology

Earliest Unhatched Bird-Bird Fossil Found – Old as Dinosaurs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 21, 2004   View Article

Paleontologists in China have unearthed a 121-million-year-old fossil bird embryo that is likely the world’s oldest. (See pictures.) The bird was found scrunched in an oval-shaped space slightly smaller than a chicken egg—one of several clues that suggest the bird never hatched.

More important, scientists say, is the evidence that the embryonic bird had feathers, a large skull, and hardened bones. The findings support the notion that early birds, like dinosaurs, were well developed at birth and able to move and forage on their own from the get-go.

T. Rex Found in Montana – Dig Goes Interactive

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 14, 2004   View Article

Dinosaur hunters often regale the world with news of their exotic discoveries after the fact—bones of ancient giants pulled from a hillside in Madagascar, chipped from the ice in Antarctica, dug from the pampas of Patagonia.

Now the world is invited along as a team of paleontologists excavate a Tyrannosaurus rex from the siltstone at a ranch in eastern Montana. All they need to do is log on to Unearthing T. rex.

Fins to Limbs: New Fossil Gives Evolution Insight

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 1, 2004   View Article

Today researchers announced their discovery of a 365-million-year-old fossil limb bone of an ancient tetrapod. Tetrapods, including humans, are four-limbed animals with backbones. The fossil was found during road construction that revealed an ancient streambed.

Scientists say the find will help shed light on how early animals evolved limbs from fins. This crucial adaptation enabled Earth’s animal life to crawl from water to land.

Dino-Age Flyers Were Sharp-Eyed, Nimble, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 29, 2003   View Article

Chances were good that prey snared in the sight of a soaring pterodactyl was as good as dead as soon as it was spotted, according to scientists who used sophisticated scanners and computer graphics to digitally reconstruct the brains of the extinct flying reptiles.

“It gives us a window into the behavior of these animals in a way we never thought possible,” said Lawrence Witmer, an evolutionary biologist at Ohio University in Athens.

Ancient, Lizard-Like Reptile Discovered

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 8, 2003   View Article

A pair of Argentine paleontologists have discovered numerous 90-million-year-old fossils of a new type of sphenodontian—an ancient lizard-like reptile thought to have gone extinct about 120 million years ago except for a few relicts that live today in New Zealand, the tuatara.

The fossils, including several well-preserved skulls, were found in the red sandstone cliffs of the La Buitrera fossil quarry in northwestern Patagonia, about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) east of Buenos Aires.

World’s Largest Rodent: Buffalo-Size Fossil Discovered

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 22, 2003   View Article

The fossil remains of a giant rodent that weighed an estimated 1,500 pounds (700 kilograms) is helping scientists form a clearer image of what northern South America was like some eight million years ago.

Heralded as the world’s largest rodent, Phoberomys pattersoni looked more like a giant guinea pig (Cavia porcellus) than an oversized house rat (Rattus rattus) and it apparently flourished on a diet of vegetation, not scraps dropped on the kitchen floor.

Female Moa Birds Liked the Little Guys, Studies Suggest

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 11, 2003   View Article

Female moa birds had a sweet spot for the little guys, according to two papers appearing in the September 11 issue of Nature.

The research teams, led by scientists in New Zealand and England, applied a pioneering technique in genetic analysis that allowed them to determine the sex of extinct moa by analyzing nuclear DNA extracted from fossils.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach