In The Beginning Was the Mudskipper?
[…] these fossils now offer an illuminating look at one of the most crucial transitions in the history of life. Without it, we’d still be fish in the sea.
Skulls of adult (top) and juvenile (bottom) Bistahieversor sealeyi, a tirannosauroid that lived in New Mexico 75 million years ago. (via DinosaurTracking)
Some days ago, a friend on tumblr, knowing of my love for dinosaurs, sent me the link to this Ted talk by paleontologist Jack Horner: ‘Shape-shifting dinosaurs’. Horner proposes that a number of bones that paleontologists have classified as belonging to different species, belong in fact to the same dinosaur. He argues that the skull of some dinosaurs, like triceratops, changed with the the triceratops growing older, and the change was so remarkable that scientists, finding bones of young and older triceratops, thought they could not belong to the same species. Horner’s hypothesis is supported by some empirical evidence, in particular from the study of bones histology, but there are some that have doubts.
After watching that video, I found another one, in which Horner talked about his idea of building a dinosaur from a chicken. Basically, since birds are dinosaurs descendant, it’s possible, at least theoretically, through genetic engineering, to reactivate ancestral traits such as tail, teeth, hands, and create what Horner calls “chickenosaurus”. Cool, isn’t it?
These Crocs Were Made for Chewing?
Paleontologists scouring a river bank in Tanzania have unearthed a previously unknown crocodile from 105-million-year-old, mid-Cretaceous rock in the Great East African Rift System.
The discovery of a relatively lanky, cat-sized animal with mammal-like teeth and a land-based lifestyle supports a growing consensus that crocodiles were once far more diverse than they are today, dominating ecological niches in the Southern Hemisphere during the Cretaceous Period that were filled in the Northern Hemisphere by early mammals. […]
Prehistoric giant hyena’s bone-cracking habit
Scientists have established how the largest bone-cracking carnivore to have ever lived went about its business.
The giant hyena, Pachycrocuta brevirostris, roamed Africa more than 2.5 million years ago. […]
The force that this hyena was able to exert with its huge premolar teeth was an order of magnitude higher than in living bone-crackers. […]
Fossils of an ancient, spiny creature dubbed a “walking cactus” have been found in China, a new study says.
The 2.4-inch-long (6-centimeter-long) Diania cactiformis had a worm-like body and ten pairs of armored and likely jointed legs. It would have lived about 500 million years ago during a period of rapid evolution called the Cambrian explosion. […] (via nationalgeographic)