Pterosaur flight, an engineer’s perspective


This video is called Largest flying creature ever – Pterosaurs Documentary HQ.

From Palaeocast today:

Episode 42: Pterosaur aerodynamics

Palaeontology is more than just going out into the field, digging up bones, and putting them back together. A good understanding of biology, geology, and even engineering can help to figure out how extinct animals lived and especially how they moved around.

To further comprehend how we can use knowledge of engineering in palaeontology, especially with respect to understanding extinct animal flight, we spoke to Colin Palmer from the University of Bristol, and the University of Southampton. His background in engineering provides a unique set of skills and angle to studying pterosaur flight.

Two-milion-year-old redshank discovery


This is a redshank video from the Netherlands.

Translated from Vroege Vogels TV in the Netherlands:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dutch amateur paleontologists have found a bone of a redshank, two million years old. This makes this fossil the oldest known redshank in the world, two hundred thousand years older than previous finds. They will publish their findings soon in the renowned paleontological journal Cranium.

Carboniferous forest simulation on your computer?


This video is called The Carboniferous Period.

From the Carboniferous Forest Simulation site, where you can download this program:

Carboniferous Forest Simulation

Lost in the darkness of our coal mines for more than 300 millions of years, the swamps and forests of the ancient past of our planet now come to new life:

A free, interactive realtime simulation places you into a time machine and enables you to take a walk through the overgrown jungle of ferns, tree-like clubmosses and giant insects our modern civilization was founded on.

The application is currently in alpha state. This means, that the application is not complete both technical and content-wise (for example plant descriptions and sound are not complete, and animals are still missing) and it may contain errors. Nevertheless, we decided to release it as early as possible to share the development progress with you. You can also track and discuss the progress in the interesting “Making of”-thread in The Fossil Forum.

In its final version, the application will be free for personal, museum and educational use, in its current alpha version it is only free for personal use.

Any feedback, hints and reviews by paleontologists, fossil specialists, game/simulation developers and any interested persons are highly appreciated!

Please note, that you will need a pretty tough computer to run the simulation. The minimum requirement is a 2.4 GHz Core I5 processor or similar, 4 GB of RAM and a 1GB 3D graphics card (at least Geforce 560TI or similar).

Big Triassic amphibian fossil discovery in Portugal


This video says about itself:

24 March 2015

Excavation in Portugal of giant Triassic fossil amphibian Metoposaurus algarvensis – Paleontology dig.

From Associated Press:

Researchers Find Fossil of ‘Super Salamander’ Species

LONDON — Mar 24, 2015, 11:01 AM ET

Fossil remains of a previously unknown species of a crocodile-like “super salamander” that grew as long as a small car and was a top predator more than 200 million years ago have been found in southern Portugal, researchers announced Tuesday.

The species grew up to two meters (six feet) in length and lived in lakes and rivers, University of Edinburgh researchers said.

The team said the species, given the name Metoposaurus algarvensis, was part of a wider group of primitive amphibians that were widespread at the time but became extinct. They are the ancestors of modern amphibians such as frogs, and are believed by paleontologists to have lived at the same time the dinosaurs began their dominance.

Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said the new species, which had hundreds of sharp teeth, is “weird compared to anything today.”

It was at the top of the food chain, feeding mainly on fish, but it was also a danger for newly appeared dinosaurs and mammals that strayed too near the water, Brusatte said.

The team says the find establishes that this group of amphibians lived in a more diverse geographic area than had been thought.

Andrew Milner, an expert on early amphibians at the Natural History Museum in London who was not involved in the study, said the find “is another piece of the picture.” The Portuguese site has “very good potential to give us more and different types of animal” from the Upper Triassic period, he added.

The dig in Portugal began in 2009 and took several years. The “super salamander” bones were uncovered in a half-meter thick layer of rock in a hillside that is “chock-full” of bones, Brusatte said. The team hopes to raise funds to continue excavating the site.

See also here.

The scientific description of this newly discovered species is here.

Human ancestor discovery in Ethiopia


This video says about itself:

Becoming Human Documentary

16 December 2013

Humans (variously Homo sapiens and Homo sapiens sapiens) are primates of the family Hominidae, and the only extant species of the genus Homo. Humans are distinguished from other primates by their bipedal locomotion, and especially by their relatively larger brain with its particularly well developed neocortex, prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes, which enable high levels of abstract reasoning, language, problem solving, and culture through social learning. Humans use tools to a much higher degree than any other animal, and are the only extant species known to build fires and cook their food, as well as the only known species to clothe themselves and create and use numerous other technologies and arts. The scientific study of humans is the discipline of anthropology.

Humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of symbolic communication such as language and art for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families and kinship networks to states. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society. The human desire to understand and influence their environment, and explain and manipulate phenomena, has been the foundation for the development of science, philosophy, mythology, and religion.

The human lineage diverged from the last common ancestor with its closest living relative, the chimpanzee, some five million years ago, evolving into the australopithecines and eventually the genus Homo. The first Homo species to move out of Africa was Homo erectus, the African variety of which, together with Homo heidelbergensis, is considered to be the immediate ancestor of modern humans. Homo sapiens originated in Africa, where it reached anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago and began to exhibit full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago.

From Science:

Published Online March 4 2015

Early Homo at 2.8 Ma from Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia

Abstract

Our understanding of the origin of the genus Homo has been hampered by a limited fossil record in eastern Africa between 2.0 and 3.0 million years ago (Ma). Here we report the discovery of a partial hominin mandible with teeth from the Ledi-Geraru research area, Afar Regional State, Ethiopia, that establishes the presence of Homo at 2.80-2.75 Ma. This specimen combines primitive traits seen in early Australopithecus with derived morphology observed in later Homo, confirming that dentognathic departures from the australopith pattern occurred early in the Homo lineage. The Ledi-Geraru discovery has implications for hypotheses about the timing and place of the origin of the genus Homo.

‘Hunting dogs made Neanderthals extinct’


This video says about itself:

Neanderthal: Episode 1 – Evolution History Documentary

16 August 2014

Discovery Channel presents Neanderthal, a two-part, two-hour production documenting the experiences of a small clan of Neanderthals living in the Dordogne region of France at one of the most important junctures in human evolution.

Neanderthal is the story of the rise and demise of one the most successful human species ever to have walked the earth. A species that thrived – until modern man came along. Produced as a compelling drama following the lives of one group of Neanderthals, the special draws on cutting-edge scientific research that challenges the stereotype of the brutish savage.

The Observer: “Easily the year’s most exciting TV science programme… handled with such panache it’s impossible not to be drawn into the tribe’s strange, grim existence.”

This video is the sequel.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Humans eradicated Neanderthal rivals thanks to early dogs bred from wolves

Humans bred wolves to help them hunt in Europe 40,000 years ago

Ben Tufft

Sunday 01 March 2015

Humans were able to eradicate their Neanderthal rivals in Europe thanks to early dogs bred from wolves, according to a prominent American anthropologist.

Dogs were used by humans to gain a competitive edge in hunting that led to the extinction of Neanderthals on the continent 40,000 years ago, Professor Pat Shipman of Pennsylvania State University claims.

“We formed an alliance with the wolf and that would have been the end for the Neanderthal,” Prof Shipman told The Observer.

Her theory challenges the conventional academic wisdom that wolves were only domesticated a mere 10,000 years ago, coinciding with the rise of agriculture.

The professor believes that wolves were bred by humans as early as 70,000 years ago, when humans first came to Europe from Africa – leading to the domestic dogs we know today.

The theory would solve the mystery of why the dominant Neanderthals in Europe died out a few thousand years after the arrival of humans on the continent, despite having lived in the region for more than 200,000 years.

Prof Shipman argues that the alliance with the wolf, along with superior weapons and hunting skills, enabled humans to outwit their Neanderthal rivals and become the dominant species.

“Early wolf-dogs would have tracked and harassed animals like elk and bison and would have hounded them until they tired. Then humans would have killed them with spears or bows and arrows,” Prof Shipman said.

“This meant the dogs did not need to approach these large cornered animals to finish them off – often the most dangerous part of a hunt – while humans didn’t have to expend energy in tracking and wearing down prey.

“Dogs would have done that. Then we shared the meat. It was a win-win situation,” she added.

A study published last year found that modern humans and Neanderthals lived alongside each other in Europe for 4,000 years, exchanging culture and genes.

In Asia humans and Neanderthals could have lived side by side for up to 20,000 years, as anatomically modern humans colonised the continent long before reaching Europe.

The last Neanderthals in Europe are thought to have died out in modern-day Belgium, where they lived in caves as their numbers dwindled.

Most scientists believe that Neanderthals quickly died out after the arrival of Homo sapiens to Europe, owing to competition for resources and possibly violent conflict.

Baby woolly rhino discovered, first time ever


This video says about itself:

FIRST BABY WOOLLY RHINO FROM MORE THAN 10,000 YEARS [OLD]

FEBRUARY 25, 2015

Siberia: For the first time the remains of a baby woolly rhinoceros were discovered in the permafrost of Siberia.

The extinct woolly rhinoceros that has been called “Sasha” [is] at least 10,000 years old according to the experts and thanks to the ice he still has his hair and [people are] hoping to extract DNA.

The remains of the rhinoceros were found by a hunter beside a stream, in the largest and coldest region of Russia, the Republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia, in September.

See also here. And here. And here.