Meet Mnyamawamtuka: The New Tanzanian Titanosaur

By Gemma Tarlach | February 13, 2019 1:00 pm
Mnyamawamtuka

Its name isn’t the only big thing about Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia, a new titanosaur from Tanzania rendered here with a whiff of whimsical romance, just in time for Valentine’s Day (“I bless the rains down in Aaaaaafrica…”). (Credit: Mark Witton)

Hailing from East Africa, the newly described giant, plant-eating dinosaur Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia lived around 100-110 million years ago, during the middle of the Cretaceous. The animal, a member of the titanosaur lineage, is helping paleontologists understand how, where and when the mightiest of land animals evolved.
Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Bone Cancer In 240 Million-Year-Old Proto-Turtle Pappochelys

By Gemma Tarlach | February 7, 2019 10:00 am
Pappochelys rosinae lived during the Triassic Period, about 242 million years ago, and was an early, shell-free member of the turtle lineage. New research has identified bone cancer in a Pappochelys fossil. (Credit: Wikimedia)

Pappochelys rosinae lived during the Triassic Period, about 240 million years ago, and was an early, shell-free member of the turtle lineage. New research has identified bone cancer in an individual of the species. (Credit: Wikimedia/Rainer Schoch)

While many people think of cancer as a modern plague, researchers continue to find examples of tumors in animals much older than our own species. Discovery of bone cancer in a very early member of the turtle lineage, which lived 240 million years ago, reveals new information about the disease and just how long it’s been a scourge to living things.
Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Dinosaur Relative Antarctanax Lived In Antarctica After Biggest Mass Extinction

By Gemma Tarlach | January 31, 2019 2:01 am
“The midnight sun over Early Triassic Antarctica.” Along the banks of a river, three archosaur inhabitants of the denseVoltziaconifer forest cross paths:Antarctanax shackletonisneaks up on an early titanopetraninsect,Prolacertalazes on a log, and an enigmatic large archosaur pursues two unsuspecting dicynodonts,Lystrosaurus maccaigi.© Adrienne Stroup, Field Museum

In the wake of the end-Permian mass extinction, the greatest die-off known, Antarctica was a land of rivers and lush conifer forests teeming with animals, as shown in this artist rendering of newly described Antarctanax shackletoni on the hunt (foreground). (Credit: Adrienne Stroup/Field Museum)

A dinosaur relative about the size of an iguana, which lived at the bottom of the world 250 million years ago, is throwing paleontologists for a loop. Antarctanax shackletoni, named for explorer Ernest Shackleton, hints at unexpected biodiversity on the now-frozen continent of Antarctica.
Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Denisova Cave: New Fossils And Dates For Human Presence

By Gemma Tarlach | January 30, 2019 12:00 pm
Bone points and pierced teeth from the early Upper Palaeolithic layers of Denisova Cave sampled for radiocarbon dating Credit: Katerina Douka

Researchers sampled these Denisova Cave artifacts — bone points and pierced teeth — and fossils to determine a more precise timeline for hominins using the site. The Siberian cave has been home to Neanderthals as well as Denisovans, our enigmatic evolutionary cousins. (Credit: Katerina Douka)

Nestled in the foothills of southern Siberia’s Altai Mountains, Denisova Cave has yielded numerous artifacts, as well as fossils of many animals and at least two hominins: Neanderthals and Denisovans. The cave is the only place in the world known to have remains of the Denisovans, who, like Neanderthals, were our close evolutionary cousins.

The site is one of the most significant for understanding human evolution, but study of it has been hampered by difficulty dating the finds. Today, a pair of papers reveal new Denisovan fossils, scores of new dates and a refined timeline for a hominin presence at the cave: important steps in untangling the complicated role it has played in the human story.
Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Fossil Shark Teeth Found With Sue The T. Rex Are Clues To Ecosystem

By Gemma Tarlach | January 21, 2019 7:00 am
Fossil shark teeth found near the famous T. rex known as Sue led to the identification of new species Galagadon nordquistae. (Credit: Velizar Simeonovski/The Field Museum)

Fossil shark teeth found near the famous T. rex known as Sue led to the identification of new species Galagadon nordquistae, shown here in an artist rendering. (Credit: Velizar Simeonovski/The Field Museum)

Tiny fossil shark teeth trapped in the matrix — that’s the matrix of rock and other material that once encased the world’s most famous T. rex — represent a new species. The find is helping researchers recreate a Cretaceous environment that might not be what you’d expect. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Ancient Whale Basilosaurus Isis Was Head-Chomping Apex Predator

By Gemma Tarlach | January 9, 2019 1:00 pm
basilosaurus

About 37 million years ago, the ancient whale Basilosaurus isis ruled the seas as an apex predator, according to new research. (Credit: Asmoth/Wikimedia Commons)

Analysis of its fossilized stomach contents suggests that Basilosaurus isis, an ancient whale that could grow to more than 50 feet long, swam at the top of the food chain and took its prey by the head. The new findings challenge previous suggestions that the formidable animal was a scavenger and suggest instead that it may have had orca-like behavior. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Meet Saltriovenator: Oldest Known Big Predatory Dinosaur

By Gemma Tarlach | December 19, 2018 6:00 am
Saltriovenator was likely covered with filamentous protoplumage. The presence of horns on the lacrymal and nasal bones is inferred from its close kinship with dinosaurs which possess those cranial onamentation. Credit: Davide Bonadonna.

An artist’s rendering of Saltriovenator includes filamentous protoplumage and horns, the latter suggested by its evolutionary links to species with similar ornamentation. (Credit: Davide Bonadonna)

Paleontologists working in northern Italy have announced the oldest large-size predatory dinosaur known to the fossil record. Saltriovenator zanellai weighed about a ton and, at nearly 200 million years old, predates more famous megapredators by at least 25 million years.

Saltriovenator’s bones are also the first dinosaur remains to preserve evidence of marine animals that gnawed on its carcass. The biggest thing about S. zanellai, however, may be its hands: The animal’s fingers could solve a long-running debate about how bird wings evolved.  Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Pterosaur Feathers Deepen Debate Over Their Evolution

By Gemma Tarlach | December 17, 2018 10:00 am
pterosaur feathers

Artist rendering of a short-tailed pterosaur feathers and all. (Credit: Yuan Zhang/Nature Ecology & Evolution)

The discovery of novel filaments on two species of pterosaur suggests that the extinct flying reptiles had complex coats of “feathers” and fuzz, say the authors of a new study. The presence of these apparent pterosaur feathers may indicate that the ancestor of both pterosaurs and their cousins, dinosaurs, sported similar coverings — but that’s not the only hypothesis.
Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Behold Thylacoleo, Australia’s Extinct Giant Marsupial “Lion”

By Gemma Tarlach | December 12, 2018 1:00 pm
An artist's rendering of Thylacoleo carnifex, Australia's massive marsupial "lion," based on earlier fossil evidence. A new, nearly complete skeleton of the animal, announced today, refines our understanding of its body plan and biomechanics. (Credit: Wikimedia/Jose Manuel Canete)

An artist’s rendering of Thylacoleo carnifex, Australia’s massive marsupial “lion,” based on earlier fossil evidence. A complete skeletal reconstruction, announced today, refines our understanding of its body plan and biomechanics. (Credit: Wikimedia/Jose Manuel Canete)

Multiple recently discovered specimens of Thylacoleo carnifex have allowed researchers to reconstruct the extinct animal’s entire skeleton for the first time, revising what we know about how Australia’s largest-ever carnivorous mammal moved. Spoiler alert: It appears that, despite weighing in excess of 200 pounds, the animal was an adept climber. Add that skill to the list of traits, including unique flesh-shearing teeth and a lethal thumb claw, that make Thylacoleo so fascinating. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts

Fossil Ichthyosaur Blubber Is Evidence They Were Warm-Blooded

By Gemma Tarlach | December 5, 2018 12:00 pm
ichthyosaur

A roughly 180-million-year-old ichthyosaur fossil includes preserved skin, with pigmentation, and blubber. (Credit: Johan Lindgren)

For the first time, researchers have identified blubber, and other soft tissue, preserved in an Early Jurassic ichthyosaur. The new interpretation of the 180-million-year-old fossil suggests that the extinct marine reptiles were warm-blooded. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Dead Things

Digging up the dirt on the latest finds and weirdest revelations, from lost civilizations to dinosaurs.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+