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.

New ichthyosaur species discovery in English museum


This video from England says about itself:

Ichthyosaur Doncaster – ITV Calendar interview (19.02.2015)

Interview with ITV Calendar, discussing the newly described species of ichthyosaur from the collections of Doncaster Museum (Ichthyosaurus anningae – Lomax & Massare, 2015).

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Museum staff thought this fossil was a plaster model, but it turned out to be a new species

By Rachel Feltman

February 23 2015

The BBC reports that a newly discovered species of ichthyosaur — an aquatic reptile resembling a toothy dolphin that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs — languished in a British museum for 30 years. And it wasn’t mistaken for the fossil of another species, but for a plaster cast of one.

Paleontologist Dean Lomax, an honorary scientist at the University of Manchester in England, was studying the fossil collections of his hometown museum in Doncaster when the education director offered him the use of an ichthyosaur copy for a display he was putting together.

But it was no copy — and it wasn’t a known species of ichthyosaur, either. Unusual features in the limb bones of the 189-million-year-old creature set it apart from other ichthyosaurs that Lomax had studied.

“When I looked at it, I realized this wasn’t a cast at all. It was real,” Lomax said in a video for the BBC. In fact, Lomax found that the fossil had preserved the ichthyosaur‘s final meal in its stomach. He thinks that the fossil shows bits of tentacle from a squid.

Since that first examination in 2008, Lomax and his colleague Judy Massare, a professor at Brockport College in New York, have compared the fossil with nearly 1,000 other specimens to make sure the discovery was unique. Last week, they published their official findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Lomax and Massare have named the new species Ichthyosaurus anningae in honor of Mary Anning, a 19th-century British fossil hunter who found the first confirmed ichthyosaur fossil.

“It is an honor to name a new species, but to name it after somebody who is intertwined with such an important role in helping to sculpt the science of palaeontology, especially in Britain, is something that I’m very proud of,” Lomax said in a statement. “In fact, one of the specimens in our study was even found by Mary herself!”

It’s shockingly common for new species to be discovered dusty and forgotten in museum collections, which is why it’s so important that they receive enough funding to store and protect their extensive collections. Every time a researcher goes diving into these neglected archives, they’re almost sure to surface with something new and exciting.

Read More:

Long-forgotten secrets of whale sex revealed

Forgotten for a century on a museum shelf, a ‘new’ cricket is discovered

Museum fossil find pushes snake origins back by 65 million years

New cricket discovered in long-neglected amber collection<

Prehistoric turtles and climate change


This March 2014 video is called Global Warming 56 Million Years Ago: What it Means for Us .

From the University of Florida in the USA:

Tropical turtle discovery in Wyoming provides climate-change clues

Published: February 23 2015

Tropical turtle fossils discovered in Wyoming by University of Florida scientists reveal that when the earth got warmer, prehistoric turtles headed north. But if today’s turtles try the same technique to cope with warming habitats, they might run into trouble.

While the fossil turtle and its kin could move northward with higher temperatures, human pressures and habitat loss could prevent a modern-day migration, leading to the extinction of some modern species.

The newly discovered genus and species, Gomphochelys (pronounced gom-fo-keel-eez) nanus, provides a clue to how animals might respond to future climate change, said Jason Bourque, a paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and the lead author of the study, which appears online this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology</em>.

The wayfaring turtle was among the species that researchers believe migrated 500-600 miles north 56 million years ago, during a temperature peak known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Lasting about 200,000 years, the temperature peak resulted in significant movement and diversification of plants and animals.

“We knew that some plants and lizards migrated north when the climate warmed, but this is the first evidence that turtles did the same,” Bourque said. “If global warming continues on its current track, some turtles could once again migrate northward, while others would need to adapt to warmer temperatures or go extinct.”

The new turtle is an ancestor of the endangered Central American river turtle and other warm-adapted turtles in Belize, Guatemala and southern Mexico. These modern turtles, however, could face significant roadblocks on a journey north, since much of the natural habitat of these species is in jeopardy, said co-author Jonathan Bloch, a Florida Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology.

“If you look at the waterways that turtles would have to use to get from one place to another, it might not be as easy as it once was,” Bloch said. “Even if the natural response of turtles is to disperse northward, they have fewer places to go and fewer routes available.”

To put the new turtle in evolutionary context, the researchers examined hundreds of specimens from museum collections around the country, including turtles collected during the 1800s housed at the Smithsonian Institution. Co-author Patricia Holroyd, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the fossil history of the modern relatives of the new species shows they could be much more wide-ranging, if it were not for their restricted habitats.

The Central American river turtle is one of the most endangered turtles in the world, threatened by habitat loss and its exploitation as a human food source, Holroyd said.

“This is an example of a turtle that could expand its range and probably would with additional warming, but — and that’s a big but — that’s only going to happen if there are still habitats for it,” she said.

Giant lemur fossils discovery in Madagascar


This video says about itself:

Enormous Underwater Fossil Graveyard Found

8 January 2015

National Science Foundation-funded anthropologists and paleontologists uncovered what could be the largest single collection of lemur remains ever found. What’s more, they found it in a most unusual place–hidden in a series of underwater caves in a remote desert region of Madagascar.

Described as a lemur graveyard, the discovery of hundreds of potentially thousand-year old skeletons make it one of the most unique sites in the world. The finding, reported in this video, could be important for understanding human relatives and other animals and result in a totally new era for underwater paleontology.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

In an underwater graveyard, scientists discover bones of giants from Madagascar’s past

By Sarah Kaplan

February 19 2015

Not too long ago, huge animals dominated the island of Madagascar: elephant birds the height of professional basketball players, giant, lumbering tortoises, massive lemurs that weighed up to 15 times as much as their smaller, living relatives.

Those creatures have all but died out within the past thousand years in one of the swiftest extinction events known to scientists. Researchers still puzzle over what exactly led to their demise. But a newly-discovered “underwater graveyard” filled with thousands of fossils may offer a key to understanding what happened to Madagascar’s megafauna.

A team led by National Geographic fellow and Brooklyn College professor Alfred Rosenberger found three flooded caves in Tsimanampesotse National Park, each containing an unprecedented number of large, perfectly preserved specimens. One in particular, Aven Cave, is so packed with bones that divers felt them every time they put their hands down.

“It’s just phenomenal,” researcher Laurie Godfrey, a paleontologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “A huge cache of fossils like this has never been explored before. Now that we know that it’s there, it’s opening up a new era in paleontological exploration.”

The researchers’ most prized findings are the bones of several extinct species of giant lemurs, ranging from several hundred to several thousands of years old. Among them are specimens of Megaladapis, a big-nosed, beady-eyed creature whose heavy, squat body more closely resembled a koala’s than those of the diminutive lemurs we know today, and Archaeoindris, the largest known lemur species that was the same size and weight as a gorilla.

The discovery, which National Geographic announced Tuesday, is just the first step in what Godfrey hopes will be a more thorough investigation of the caves. The initial sweep brought up so many fossils that researchers haven’t even begun to dig into the sediments on the cave floors. Once they do, Godfrey estimates they’ll find thousands of specimens from dozens of extinct species.

The caves remained unexplored for so long because of the difficulty of probing their flooded interiors. In Aven Cave, where the fossils were most abundant, the water is 130 feet deep and often murky.

But that same water is also what makes the caves such perfect places to find fossils.

“In a flooded cave the preservation can be just marvelous,” Godfrey said. “Nothing’s bothering them, nothing’s disturbing them.”

The quality of the fossils will be key for scientists’ research into the causes of the animals’ disappearance. Godfrey said that researchers will likely be able to obtain DNA samples from the specimens, carbon date them to see when they died, and examine them for cut marks or other signs of human butchering.

“All of this information can help us flesh out the story that we’re telling about what happened to the giant lemurs and the associated fauna,” she said.

It’s long been understood that human arrival on Madagascar about 2,000 years ago coincided with the sudden die-off of much of the island’s wildlife. Two-thirds of the species that lived on the island a millennium ago are now extinct, in part because of changes caused by humans, Godfrey said. What’s not clear is exactly how those changes led to the animals’ demise.

“You’re dealing with a situation where not only are humans coming but they’re bringing a lot of other animals and plants that transform the habitat. They’re hunting,” for example, she said, and “it could be that certain species didn’t want to come near water or food sources because humans were around. There’s competition with new introduced species. There’s a number of long, complicated stories people have put forth as to why these animals are extinct.”

Untangling those stories isn’t just a matter of understanding history — it can help with conservation efforts today. Lemurs are the most threatened mammal species on Earth, according to a policy paper published last year in the journal Science, and Madagascar is the only place where they are found in the wild.

“It’s a very sad situation in Madagascar. The threat to species is tremendous, there’s a high rate of extinction,” Rosenberger said in a video for National Geographic. “We’d like to know what the interaction was between people, climate change, habitat change … that contributed to the demise of the giant lemurs. Because knowing that might give us some perspective on what we have to prepare for the future.”

Eocene fossil seashell discovery on Texel island


Venericor planicosta

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands, 19 February 2015:

Never before had a Venericor planicosta seashell been found across the whole Wadden Sea region. The shell lived in the Eocene epoch, 56 to 42 million years ago.

Subtropical

Last year, Ms. Kenselaar found it on the beach at Den Hoorn. The shell for a while remained in her cottage, but last week she took it to Ecomare. Curator Arthur Oosterbaan showed it to various experts, and they all said the same thing: Venericor planicosta. It lived in our region in the early and middle Eocene. That’s about 15 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Europe then was an archipelago with a subtropical climate.

In the Netherlands, until this discovery, this fossil species had really only been known from the south-west of the country.

International symposium on pterosaurs in England


This video says about itself:

Largest flying creature ever – Pterosaurs Documentary HQ

25 July 2014

Pterosaurs (/ˈtɛrɵsɔr/, from the Greek πτερόσαυρος, pterosauros, meaning “winged lizard”) were flying reptiles of the clade or order Pterosauria. They existed from the late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous Period (228 to 66 million years ago).

Pterosaurs are the earliest vertebrates known to have evolved powered flight. Their wings were formed by a membrane of skin, muscle, and other tissues stretching from the ankles to a dramatically lengthened fourth finger. Early species had long, fully toothed jaws and long tails, while later forms had a highly reduced tail, and some lacked teeth. Many sported furry coats made up of hair-like filaments known as pycnofibers, which covered their bodies and parts of their wings.

Pterosaurs spanned a wide range of adult sizes, from the very small Nemicolopterus to the largest known flying creatures of all time, including Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx

From the Flugsaurier 2015 Portsmouth site in England:

Second Circular

Flugsaurier 2015: The Fifth International Symposium on Pterosaurs

August 25th-30th 2015

School Of Earth And Environmental Sciences

Portsmouth, UK

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to present you with the second circular for the Fifth International Symposium on Pterosaurs. This includes information on conference structure, fees, abstract submission, accommodation, workshops and the conference dinner. Please visit our website at www.flugsaurier2015.com and remember further information will be provided in the third circular.

We look forward to seeing you all next year.

Flugsaurier 2015 committee.

Registration

Registration is now open and can be found at flugsaurier2015.com/register. The conference fee is £60, with a student concession of £30. All payments will be conducted through Paypal with the required information emailed to delegates following their registration. All students must provide their student numbers and a letter signed by their supervisor/lecturer confirming their student status. This letter should accompany the initial registration and can be emailed to registration@flugsaurier2015.com.

Presentation and abstract submission

We are now accepting submission of abstracts relating to any aspect of pterosaur research. Abstracts must be no more than 1000 words including references and may include 1 figure/A4 plate. Please ensure references are in the style of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. While we prefer that presentations are specifically on pterosaur research, we are willing to accept submission of more peripheral topics for posters e.g. the associated faunal assemblage of a pterosaur bearing unit. Abstract submission closes on March 1st to allow time for the review process. We are also arranging a special publication through the Geological Society of London which we encourage delegates to consider contributing to.

Workshops

We are happy to confirm two workshops for Flugsaurier this August. The first workshop, “Biomechanics and aerodynamics of pterosaurs” will be chaired by Colin Palmer and Mike Habib and focuses on the biomechanics of flight. The second workshop is “The taphonomy of Lagerstätten and the implications for pterosaurs”, chaired by Dave Martill and Steve Sweetman. Dave will be focusing on Konservat Lagerstätten, and Steve will focus on pterosaur-bearing Konzentrat Lagerstätten in the UK.

In addition to our workshops, we will have several pterosaur specimens on display which can be examined by the delegates, including the skull of Parapsicephalus purdoni, on loan from the British Geological Survey. There will also be opportunities to examine the holotypes of Cuspicephalus and Caulkicephalus. Other specimens on display will be announced in the third circular.

Conference dinner

The conference meal will be held in The Royal Maritime Club, adjacent to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. The dinner will cost £37 and will include 3 courses and a half bottle of wine. Any delegates interested in attending should sign-up for the meal when registering for the conference. If you have any specific dietary requirements, please include them in the comments field on the registration form.

Field trips

The fees for the conference field trips to the Isle of Wight and the Jurassic Coast (the second in conjunction with SVPCA 2015) are still to be determined. Delegates are welcome to register their interest for the field trips and will be informed of the price in the third circular.

Accommodation

Accommodation is available in the University of Portsmouth’s Rees Hall for Flugsaurier delegates. There are 50 single rooms available for £45 per night. Double rooms are £63 per night, but will only be available upon request. To register your interest in a room, please tick the appropriate box on the registration form. If you would like a double room, please mention it in the comments section.

Questions or comments should be directed to the organising committee at enquiries@flugsaurier2015.com.

Click here to view a PDF copy.

Biggest rodent ever, new research


This video says about itself:

22 April 2010

CC en Español

A short animated video about the largest rodent that ever lived, Josephoartigasia monesi, also known as the Giant Pacarana. A fossil skull discovered in Uruguay belonged to a rodent, which researchers estimate weighed up to 1 tonne (1000kg)! Andrés Rinderknecht and R. Ernesto Blanco named the new species “monesi” in honor of the famous paleontologist, Alvaro Mones.

The largest rodent alive today is the capybara, which can weigh over 60kg, much smaller than its extinct cousin.

The original article describing J. monesi can be read here.

The skull is housed in Montevideo, Uruguay in the Museum of Natural History and Anthropology.

Much thanks to Dr. Blanco and Dr. Rinderknecht for their amazing discovery! And thank you to Luisa for her Spanish translation…I owe you one!

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Biggest ever rodent was a huge guinea pig with strong, tusk-like teeth

Bite was about as strong as that of a tiger

Andrew Griffin

Wednesday 04 February 2015

The biggest rodent that ever lived, which looked like a huge guinea pig and used its big teeth like an elephant does its tusk, according to new research.

Josephoartigasia monesi, which lived about three million years ago, is the biggest fossil rodent ever found.

Computer modelling has been used to determine how powerful its bite was, and how it used its huge teeth. The research was led by Philip Cox, of the University of York’s Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences.

He found that the bite forces were similar to that of a tiger — about 1400 Newtons. The teeth would have been able to withstand three times that force.

“We concluded that Josephoartigasia must have used its incisors for activities other than biting, such as digging in the ground for food, or defending itself from predators,” said Cox. “This is very similar to how a modern day elephant uses its tusks.”

To conduct the research, Cox made a CT scan of the fossil and used it to reconstruct its skull. Researchers then used finite element analysis on the model, a technique that can be used to predict how an object would undergo stress and strain.