Field of Science

News from the field of paleonotology

Paleontologists a little busy-bodies. Within the last couple of weeks several new finds of fossils have been reported:

Seitaad ruessi
In Utah, the nearly complete skeleton of this new dinosaur has been unearthed.
The discovery of Seitaad confirms that this group of dinosaurs was extremely widespread and successful during the Early Jurassic, approximately 175 million to 200 million years ago.
[Science Daily | Brian Switek's blog on Smithsonian.com]

Cloudina carinata
What the heck is this?
The discovery of new species of Cloudina is important "for understanding the early evolution of animals," states Cortijo, who adds that "its importance for understanding the origin of skeletons is indisputable." Despite the fact that its relation to other groups of animals is uncertain, Cloudina has been compared to cnidaria (medusas and corals) and annelida (polychaeta sea worms, earthworms and leeches).

(...)

According to the research team, the study of fossils from the Ediacaran period (between 630 and 540 million years ago) and of other fossils from the early Cambrian (540 million years ago) reveals the path followed by evolution at a crucial moment in the history of life, when the first animals appeared.
Strange, that. Cloudina had a skeleton, and yet the paleontologists compare them to annelids, who have none. [Science Daily]

Tyrannosaurus
The first fossil of a tyrannosaur has been found in the southern hemisphere. And it's just a hip bone.
The 30cm-long pubis bone from Dinosaur Cove looks like a rod with two expanded ends, one of which is flattened and connects to the hip and the other looks like a 'boot'.

According to Dr Roger Benson of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge, who identified the find: "The bone is unambiguously identifiable as a tyrannosaur because these dinosaurs have very distinctive hip bones."
It makes me uneasy that they say they know this much from just one hip bone. Just how certain are they, I wonder? [Science Daily]

Diplodocus
Paleontologists don't have to go outside to make interesting finds, anymore. A deep look in the drawers at a museum is sometimes enough, as in this case where a skull found in 1921 has now been identified as a juvenile Diplodocus.
"Although this skull is plainly that of a juvenile Diplodocus, in many ways it is quite different from those of the adults," Whitlock said. "Like those of most young animals, the eyes are proportionally larger, and the face is smaller. What was unexpected was the shape of the snout -- it appears to have been quite pointed, rather than square like the adults. This gives us a whole new perspective on what these animals may have looked like at different points in their lives."
[Science Daily | Palaeoblog]

Nasunaris flata
A new species of ostracod has been discovered in 425 million year old rocks, and it's inner organs identified.
The specimen, which was found in rocks in Herefordshire, represents a new species of ostracod, and has been named Nasunaris flata. Like water-fleas and shrimps, ostracods belong to the group of animals called Crustacea. The find is important because the fossil has been found with its soft parts preserved inside the shell.

(...)

Professor Siveter and colleagues were able to identify the 5mm-long fossil, its body and appendages inside the shell, including the antennae and also a set of paired eyes.
[Science Daily]

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