Jurassic ‘flying’ mammals discovery


This video says about itself:

Flying Squirrel | World’s Weirdest

9 January 2013

Flying isn’t just for the birds. A stretchy membrane and rudder-like tail help this little mammal sail through the treetops, avoiding land-bound predators with ease.

From the University of Chicago Medical Center in the USA:

First winged mammals from the Jurassic period discovered

160-million-year-old fossils suggest a new model of life — gliding — for the forerunners of mammals, in an evolutionary parallel to modern mammal gliders

August 9, 2017

Two 160 million-year-old mammal fossils discovered in China show that the forerunners of mammals in the Jurassic Period evolved to glide and live in trees. With long limbs, long hand and foot fingers, and wing-like membranes for tree-to-tree gliding, Maiopatagium furculiferum and Vilevolodon diplomylos are the oldest known gliders in the long history of early mammals.

The new discoveries suggest that the volant, or flying, way of life evolved among mammalian ancestors 100 million years earlier than the first modern mammal fliers. The fossils are described in two papers published this week in Nature by an international team of scientists from the University of Chicago and Beijing Museum of Natural History.

“These Jurassic mammals are truly ‘the first in glide,'” said Zhe-Xi Luo, PhD, professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago and an author on both papers. “In a way, they got the first wings among all mammals.”

“With every new mammal fossil from the Age of Dinosaurs, we continue to be surprised by how diverse mammalian forerunners were in both feeding and locomotor adaptations. The groundwork for mammals’ successful diversification today appears to have been laid long ago,” he said.

Adaptations in anatomy, lifestyle and diet

The ability to glide in the air is one of the many remarkable adaptations in mammals. Most mammals live on land, but volant mammals, including flying squirrels and bats that flap bird-like wings, made an important transition between land and aerial habitats. The ability to glide between trees allowed the ancient animals to find food that was inaccessible to other land animals. That evolutionary advantage can still be seen among today’s mammals such as flying squirrels in North America and Asia, scaly-tailed gliders of Africa, marsupial sugar gliders of Australia and colugos of Southeast Asia.

Maiopatagium reconstruction, © April I. Neander, University of Chicago

The Jurassic Maiopatagium and Vilevolodon are stem mammaliaforms, long-extinct relatives of living mammals. They are haramiyidans, an entirely extinct branch on the mammalian evolutionary tree, but are considered to be among forerunners to modern mammals. Both fossils show the exquisitely fossilized, wing-like skin membranes between their front and back limbs. They also show many skeletal features in their shoulder joints and forelimbs that gave the ancient animals the agility to be capable gliders. Evolutionarily, the two fossils, discovered in the Tiaojishan Formation northeast of Beijing, China, represent the earliest examples of gliding behavior among extinct mammal ancestors.

The two newly discovered creatures also share similar ecology with modern gliders, with some significant differences. Today, the hallmark of most mammal gliders is their herbivorous diet that typically consists of seeds, fruits and other soft parts of flowering plants.

But Maiopatagium and Vilevolodon lived in a Jurassic world where the plant life was dominated by ferns and gymnosperm plants like cycads, gingkoes and conifers — long before flowering plants came to dominate in the Cretaceous Period, and their way of life was also associated with feeding on these entirely different plants. This distinct diet and lifestyle evolved again some 100 million years later among modern mammals, in examples of convergent evolution and ecology.

“It’s amazing that the aerial adaptions occurred so early in the history of mammals,” said study co-author David Grossnickle, a graduate student at the University of Chicago. “Not only did these fossils show exquisite fossilization of gliding membranes, their limb, hand and foot proportion also suggests a new gliding locomotion and behavior.”

Thriving among dinosaurs

Early mammals were once thought to have differences in anatomy from each other, with limited opportunities to inhabit different environments. The new glider fossils from the dinosaur-dominated Jurassic Period, along with numerous other fossils described by Luo and colleagues in the last 10 years, however, provide strong evidence that ancestral mammals adapted to their wide-ranging environments despite competition from dinosaurs.

“Mammals are more diverse in lifestyles than other modern land vertebrates, but we wanted to find out whether early forerunners to mammals had diversified in the same way,” Luo said. “These new fossil gliders are the first winged mammals, and they demonstrate that early mammals did indeed have a wide range of ecological diversity, which means dinosaurs likely did not dominate the Mesozoic landscape as much as previously thought.”

Fossil ape discovery in Kenya


Kenyan fossil hunter John Ekusi found the fossil ape infant skull jutting from the Turkana Basin’s rocky terrain. Isaiah Nengo, photo by Christopher Kiarie

From Science:

Ancient infant ape skull sheds light on the ancestor of all humans and living apes

By Michael Price

Aug. 9, 2017, 1:00 PM

Anthropologists have waited decades to find the complete cranium of a Miocene ape from Africa—one that lived in the hazy period before the human lineage split off from the common ancestors we share with chimpanzees some 7 million years ago. Now, scientists in Kenya have found their prize at last: an almost perfectly preserved skull roughly the size of a baseball. The catch? It’s from an infant. That means that although it can give scientists a rough idea of what the common ancestor to all living apes and humans would have looked like, drawing other meaningful conclusions could be challenging.

“This is the sort of thing that the fossil record loves to do to us,” says James Rossie, a biological anthropologist at the State University of New York in Stony Brook who wasn’t involved with the study. “The problem is that we learn from fossils by comparing them to others. When there are no other infant Miocene ape skulls to which to make those comparisons, your hands are tied.”

The remarkably complete skull was discovered in the Turkana Basin of northern Kenya 3 years ago. As the sun sank behind the Napudet Hills west of Lake Turkana, primate paleontologist Isaiah Nengo of De Anza College in Cupertino, California, and his team started walking back to their jeep. Kenyan fossil hunter John Ekusi raced ahead to smoke a cigarette. Suddenly he began circling in place. When Nengo caught up, he saw a dirt-clogged eye socket staring up at him. “There was this skull just sticking out of the ground,” Nengo recalls. “It was incredible because we had been going up and down that path for weeks and never noticed it.”

The young ape was about 16 months old when it died. Nyanzapithecus alesi is the name of this new species.

Troodon dinosaurs, new research


This video is called Troodon: Dinosaur Genius.

From the University of Alberta in Canada:

Dino hips discovery unravels species riddle

Finding opens door for dozens of new species to be discovered

August 8, 2017

New research from University of Alberta paleontologists shows one of North America’s most broadly identified dinosaur species, Troodon formosus, is no longer a valid classification, naming two others in its stead. The discovery by graduate student Aaron van der Reest leaves North America’s paleontology community in upheaval.

In June 2014, van der Reest discovered an intact troodontid pelvis in Dinosaur Provincial Park, leading him to take a closer look at previously collected troodontid cranial bones from southern Alberta.

“That’s when everything fell together and we were able to confirm that there were in fact two different species in the Dinosaur Park Formation, instead of just one,” said van der Reest.

He named one of the new species Latenivenatrix mcmasterae and resurrected another, Stenonychosaurus inequalis.

Setting the record straight

Up until then, the vast majority of troodontid specimens found in North America had been classified as Troodon formosus.

“Troodon formosus has been found from Mexico all the way to Alaska, spanning a 15 million year period — a fantastic and unlikely feat,” explained van der Reest, a graduate student of paleontologist Philip Currie.

“The hips we found could ultimately open the door for dozens of new species to be discovered,” said van der Reest. “Researchers with other specimens now have two new species for comparison, widening our ability to understand the Troodontid family tree in North America.”

Aside from being a new species, Latenivenatrix is in a league of its own.

“This new species is the largest of the troodontids ever found anywhere in the world, standing nearly two metres at the head and close to 3.5 metres long,” van der Reest said. “It’s about fifty per cent larger than any other troodontids previously known, making it one of the largest deinonychosaurs (raptor like dinosaurs) we currently recognize.”

Personal connection

For van der Reest, naming a new dinosaur species has been an especially powerful experience. He has named his discovery Latenivenatrix mcmasterae, or L. mcmasterae, in honour of his late mother, Lynne (McMaster) van der Reest, whose encouragement was essential for his pursuit of paleontology.

“Having brought my first find full circle, from discovery to publishing my research three years later, has been really incredible,” he explained. “I can’t think of a better way to honour her memory.”

The paper “Troodontids (Theropoda) from the Dinosaur Park Formation, Alberta, with a description of a unique new taxon: implications for deinonychosaur diversity in North America” is published in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

Dinosaur age diving bird discovery in Japan


This video says about itself:

Hesperornis Tribute

3 May 2009

Hesperornis is an extinct genus of flightless aquatic birds that lived during the Santonian to Campanian sub-epochs of the Late Cretaceous (89-65 mya). One of the lesser known discoveries of paleontologist O. C. Marsh in the late 19th century Bone Wars, it was an important early find in the history of avian paleontology. Famous locations for Hesperornis are the Late Cretaceous marine limestones from Kansas and the marine shales from Canada, but the genus had probably a Holarctic distribution.

Hesperornis was a large bird, reaching up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) in length. It had virtually no wings, and swam with its powerful hind legs. The toes were probably lobed rather than being webbed, as in today’s grebes; like in these, the toes could rotate well, which is necessary to decrease drag in lobed feet but not in webbed ones such as in loons, where the toes are simply folded together.

Like many other Mesozoic birds such as Ichthyornis, Hesperornis had teeth in its beak which were used to hold prey (most likely fish). In the hesperornithiform lineage they were of a different arrangement than in any other known bird (or in non-avian theropod dinosaurs), with the teeth sitting in a longitudinal groove rather than in individual sockets, in a notable case of convergent evolution with mosasaurs.

The first Hesperornis specimen was discovered in 1871 by Othniel Charles Marsh. Marsh was undertaking a second western expedition, accompanied by ten students. The team headed to Kansas where Marsh had dug before. Aside from finding more bones belonging to the flying reptile Pteranodon, Marsh discovered the skeleton of a “large fossil bird, at least five feet in height”. The specimen was large, wingless, and had strong legs—Marsh considered it a diving species. Unfortunately, the specimen lacked a head. Marsh named the find Hesperornis regalis, or “great ruling bird” [Western ruling bird].

Hesperornis hunted in the waters of such contemporary shelf seas as the North American Inland Sea, the Turgai Strait and the prehistoric North Sea, which then were subtropical to tropical waters, much warmer than today. They probably fed mainly on fish, maybe also crustaceans, cephalopods and mollusks as do the diving seabirds of today. Their teeth were helpful in dealing with slippery or hard-shelled prey.

On land, Hesperornis may or may not have been able to walk. They certainly were not able to stand upright like penguins as in the early reconstructions. Their legs attached far at the back and sideways, with even the lower leg being tightly attached to the body. Thus, they were limited to a clumsy hobble at best on land and would indeed have been more nimble if they moved by sliding on their belly or galumphing. Indeed, the leg skeleton of the hesperornithids was so much adapted to diving that their mode of locomotion while ashore, as well as where it laid its eggs and how it cared for its young is a matter of much speculation.

Some have even pointed out that it cannot be completely ruled out that these birds were ovoviviparous instead of incubating their eggs. In any case, young Hesperornis grew fairly quickly and continuously to adulthood, as is the case in modern birds, but not Enantiornithes. More young birds are known from the fossil record of the more northernly sites than from locations further south. This suggests that at least some species were migratory like today’s penguins which swim polewards in the summer.

Hesperornis were preyed upon by large marine carnivores. Tylosaurus proriger specimen SDSMT 10439 contains the bones of a Hesperornis in its gut, for example.

Now, a relative of Hesperornis has been discovered.

From the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in the USA:

Amateur collectors in Japan discover country’s first and oldest fossil diving bird

August 8, 2017

Summary: Two brothers from a small town in Hokkaido, Japan, made the discovery of their lives — the first and oldest fossil bird ever identified in their country. Identified as a new species, it has been named Chupkaornis keraorum.

During a walk near a reservoir in a small Japanese town, amateur collectors made the discovery of their lives — the first and oldest fossil bird ever identified in their country.

After sharing their mysterious find with paleontologists at Hokkaido University, brothers Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera later learned the skeletal remains were that of an iconic marine diving bird from the Late Cretaceous Period, one that is often found in the Northern Hemisphere but rarely in Asia. The remarkable specimen — which includes nine skeletal elements from one individual, including the thoracic vertebrae and the femoral bones — is being heralded as the “best preserved hesperornithiform material from Asia” and to be “the first report of the hesperorinthiforms from the eastern margin of the Eurasian Continent.”

Identified as a new species, it has been named Chupkaornis keraorum — Chupka is the Ainu word used by indigenous people from Hokkaido for ‘eastern,’ and keraorum is named after Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera, who discovered the specimen. The bird would have lived during the time when dinosaurs roamed the land.

The scientific paper describing the find, entitled “The oldest Asian Hesperornithiform from the Upper Cretaceous of Japan, and the phylogenetic reassessment of Hesperornithiformes,” has been posted on the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology website.

“This amazing find illustrates the special relationship paleontologists and other scientists have with ordinary citizens who come upon interesting and unusual objects,” said Tanaka. “Thanks to the wisdom and willingness of Masatoshi and Yasuji Kera to share their discovery with us at Hokkaido University, they have made a major contribution to science, and we are very grateful.”

The bones, estimated to be anywhere from 90 million to 84 million years old, were unearthed from the Upper Cretaceous Kashima Formation of the Yezo Group in Mikasa City, Hokkaido. The fossil bird consists of four cervical vertebrae, two thoracic vertebrae, the distal end of the left and right femora, and the middle part of the right fibula. The specimen is currently housed in the collection of the Mikasa City Museum in Hokkaido, Japan.

“Hespeornithiforms is the oldest group of birds that succeeded to adapt for diving in ocean. This study provides better understanding in the early evolution of this group and the origin of diving in birds,” added Tanaka.

Chupkaornis has a unique combination of characteristics: finger-like projected tibiofibular crest of femur; deep, emarginated lateral excavation with the sharply defined edge of the ventral margin of that the thoracic vertebrae (those vertebrae in the upper back); and the heterocoelous articular surface of the thoracic vertebrae. Phylogenetic analysis of this study revealed that Chupkaornis is one of the basal hesperornithiforms, thereby providing details of the evolution of this iconic group of diving birds.

“In Japan, many important vertebrate fossils have been discovered by amateurs because most of the land is covered with vegetation, and there are few exposures of fossil-bearing Cretaceous rocks. This research is a result of collaboration with amateurs, and I am thankful to their help and understanding of science,” said Kobayashi.

Hesperornithiformes were toothed, foot-propelled diving birds and one of the most widely distributed groups of birds in the Cretaceous of the northern hemisphere. These birds had extremely reduced forelimbs and powerful hind limbs, suggesting that they were flightless sea-going predatory birds. Most of hesperornithiform fossils have been discovered from North America so far. The discovery of Chupkaornis, the oldest Asian hesperornithiform, suggests that basal hesperornithiform had dispersed to the eastern margin of Asia no later than 90 million to 84 million years old.

The discovery has broader aspects — and that’s why Dr. Fiorillo, curator and vice president of research and collections at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, is involved. Dr. Fiorillo is considered one of the world’s preeminent experts on arctic dinosaurs for his decades of research in Alaska. He has deep interest in the Beringia land bridge that connects North America to Asia. He was asked to collaborate on this discovery because several of the co-authors of the paper, including Kobayashi and lead-author Tanaka, have been members of his field team during past Alaska expeditions.

“This study not only tells important new information about the evolution of this unusual group of birds, it also helps further our understanding of life in the ancient northern Pacific region, more specifically what was going on in the ocean while dinosaurs walked the land” said Fiorillo.

What Stone Age humans ate


This video says about itself:

26 June 2014

According to the oldest fossil evidence of human feces ever discovered, the extinct species known as Neanderthals probably ate vegetables. Researchers from the University of La Laguna on the Canary Islands in Spain, working along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, analyzed fossil samples that include 50 thousand year-old feces from a Neanderthal campfire site close to Alicante, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Data from the study shows that the Neanderthal diet was mostly meat, but the fossil evidence indicates also the presence of plants in their excrement.

Ainara Sistiaga, a PhD student at the University of La Laguna is quoted as saying: “If you find it in the faeces, you are sure that it was ingested. This molecular fossil is perfect to try to know the proportion of both food sources in a Neanderthal meal.”

Neanderthals are modern humans’ closest extinct relative living between 250 thousand to 40 thousand years ago, and some experts believe that Neanderthals interbred with Homo sapiens before they became extinct.

Experts say that the prehistoric human diet probably varied quite a bit by region and availability, so it is plausible that some populations of Neanderthals ate plants and vegetables.

From the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Germany:

On the early human’s menu: Mammoth and plenty of raw vegetables

Early modern humans consumed more plants than Neanderthals but ate very little fish

August 4, 2017

Senckenberg scientists have studied the diet of anatomically modern humans. With their recent study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, they were able to refute the theory that the diet of early representatives of Homo sapiens was more flexible than that of Neanderthals. Just like the Neanderthals, our ancestors had mainly mammoth and plants on their plates — the researchers were unable to document fish as part of their diet. Therefore, the international team assumes that the displacement of the Neanderthals was the result of direct competition.

The first representatives of Homo sapiens colonized Europe around 43,000 years ago, replacing the Neanderthals there approximately 3,000 years later. “Many studies examine the question of what led to this displacement — one hypothesis postulates that the diet of the anatomically modern humans was more diverse and flexible and often included fish,” explains Prof. Dr. Hervé Bocherens of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) at the University of Tübingen.

Together with his colleague, Dr. Dorothée Drucker, the biogeologist from Tübingen now set out to get to the bottom of this hypothesis. In conjunction with an international team, he studied the dietary habits of early modern man on the basis of the oldest know fossils from the Buran Kaya caves on the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine. “In the course of this study, we examined the finds of early humans in the context of the local fauna,” explains Drucker, and she continues, “Until now, all analyses of the diet of early modern humans were based on isolated discoveries; therefore, they are very difficult to interpret.”

In order to reconstruct our ancestor’s menu — despite the lack of a fossil dietary record — the team around the scientists from Tübingen measured the percentage of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the bones of the early humans and the locally present potential prey animals such as saiga, horses, and deer. In addition, they also analyzed the nitrogen-15 content of individual amino acids, making it possible to not only determine the origin, but also the proportion of the nitrogen. “Our results reveal a very high proportion of the nitrogen isotope 15N in early modern humans,” adds Bocherens, and he continues, “However, contrary to our previous assumptions, these do not originate from the consumption of fish products, but primarily from mammoths.”

And yet another result came as a surprise for the scientists: The proportion of plants in the diet of the anatomically modern humans was significantly higher than in comparable Neanderthal finds — mammoths, on the other hand, appear to have been one of the primary sources of meat in both species.

“According to our results, Neanderthals and the early modern humans were in direct competition in regard to their diet, as well — and it appears that the Neanderthals drew the short straw in this contest,” adds Drucker in conclusion.

This video says about itself:

1 December 2009

Natural History Museum scientists, working as part of the Gibraltar Caves Project, excavated and studied remains of shellfish and other marine animals such as dolphins from two caves in Gibraltar where Neanderthals once lived and have discovered that Neanderthal diets were more like those of early modern humans than previously thought.

Dinosaur age snails discovered near Prado museum, Spain


This video says about itself:

1 August 2015

Concavenator” is a genus of theropod dinosaur that lived approximately 130 million years ago during the early Cretaceous period. The type species is “C. corcovatus”. “Concavenator corcovatus” means “hump backed hunter from Cuenca”. The fossil was discovered in the Las Hoyas fossil site of Spain by paleontologists José Luis Sanz, Francisco Ortega and Fernando Escaso from the Autonomous University of Madrid and the National University of Distance Learning.

“Concavenator” was a medium-sized primitive carcharodontosaurian dinosaur possessing several unique features. Two extremely tall vertebrae in front of the hips formed a tall but narrow and pointed crest on the dinosaur’s back. The function of such crests is currently unknown. Paleontologist Roger Benson from Cambridge University speculated that one possibility is that “it is analogous to head-crests used in visual displays”, but the Spanish scientists who discovered it noted it could also be a thermal regulator.

Additionally, the forelimb of “Concavenator” preserved evidence of what may be quill knobs or homologous structures, an anatomical feature so far known only in animals with large, quilled feathers on the forelimb.

“Concavenator” had structures resembling quill knobs on its forearm, a feature known only in birds and other feathered theropods, such as “Velociraptor“. Quill knobs are created by ligaments which attach to the feather follicle, and since scales do not form from follicles, the authors ruled out the possibility that they could indicate the presence of long display scales on the arm. Instead, the knobs probably anchored simple, hollow, quill-like structures. Such structures are known both in coelurosaurs such as “Dilong” and in some ornithischians like “Tianyulong” and “Psittacosaurus“.

If the ornithischian quills are homologous with bird feathers, their presence in an allosauroid like “Concavenator” would be expected. However, if ornithischian quills are not related to feathers, the presence of these structures in “Concavenator” would show that feathers had begun to appear in earlier, more primitive forms than coelurosaurs. Feathers or related structures would then likely be present in the first members of the clade Neotetanurae, which lived in the Middle Jurassic. No impressions of any kind of integument were found near the arm, although extensive scale impressions were preserved on other portions of the body, including broad, rectangular scales on the underside of the tail, bird-like scutes on the feet, and plantar pads on the undersides of the feet.

Some amount of skepticism exists among experts about the validity of the interpretation that the ulna bumps represent quill knobs, though a more detailed analysis has not yet been published. Darren Naish of the blog Tetrapod Zoology speculates that the bumps would have been unusually far up and irregularly spaced for quill knobs. He additionally pointed out that many animals have similar structures along intermuscular lines that act as tendon attachment points among other things. This dissent has been supported by Christian Foth and others.

From FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology:

Cretaceous snails conceal themselves in monuments in Madrid

August 3, 2017

The fountains standing next to the Museo del Prado are built using a sedimentary rock full of gastropod shells from the time of the dinosaurs. These fossils have revealed the origin of the stone: forgotten quarries in Redueña, in the province of Madrid, where the building material for the Fountain of Apollo and the Palacio de las Cortes also came from.

In the Fountain of Apollo stone (shown in the image) and the four fountains facing the Museo del Prado, the Trochactaeon lamarcki fossils, a species of gastropod which lived around 85 million years ago, are easily seen. Credit: D.M. Freire-Lista /IGEO

In the Fountain of Apollo stone (shown in the image) and the four fountains facing the Museo del Prado, the Trochactaeon lamarcki fossils, a species of gastropod which lived around 85 million years ago, are easily seen. Credit: D.M. Freire-Lista /IGEO

The tourists who visit the Museo del Prado can take the opportunity to see fossils of snails that lived alongside dinosaurs millions of years ago. They are embedded in the stone of four small fountains designed by the architect Ventura Rodríguez in the 18th century, which stand next to the art gallery.

Now, researchers from the Institute of Geosciences (IGEO, a CSIC-UCM joint centre) have discovered the old quarries where the rock was extracted in order to sculpt these fountains and other monuments in Madrid. The study was published in the journal AIMS Geosciences.

“These quarries, lost over a century ago, are located in Redueña in the province of Madrid,” according to David M. Freire-Lista, one of the authors: “Here the geological formation of the dolomite (a sedimentary rock similar to limestone) known as Castrojimeno presents characteristic features, such as a layer containing fossils that do not appear in other areas.”

Specifically, numerous gastropod fossils (measuring up to 2.5 cm) of the species Trochactaeon lamarcki, which lived in the Upper Cretaceous approximately 85 million years ago, were identified in the fountain stone, which has proven key for dating and tracing the origin of the rocks.

Through historical documents and direct observation, the researchers then confirmed that they are the same quarries which supplied the stone used to construct the jambs, lintels and mantelpieces in the Palacio de las Cortes, where the Spanish Parliament sits.

The same material was also used to build the Fountain of Apollo, located in the Paseo del Prado between the most famous fountains, Neptune and Cybele, whose terrazzo stone was also from Redueña -according to the original plans drawn up by Ventura Rodríguez-, although over time it was replaced by another.

“The dolomite from Redueña containing gastropods was highly used in monuments dating back to the 18th century due to its light colour, ease of carving, and the proximity to Madrid,” points out Freire-Lista. “Its petrographic and petrophysical properties, being of particular note its low solubility and porosity, lend it an excellent quality and durability for use in places where water is present, such as these fountains,” he adds.

Nevertheless, the researchers warn that the passage of time affects even the most resistant stones, and they consider it necessary to carry out petrophysical studies, using non-destructive techniques, to determine the degree of deterioration of the monuments and to take measures for their successful conservation.

200 million years of geological history in the Trinitarians

In another study published in the journal Ge-conservación, the same authors analysed the material used to construct the Convento de las Trinitarias Descalzas de San Ildefonso in Madrid, where the remains of Miguel de Cervantes lie, and they have also found Cretaceous dolomite (in this instance Tamajón-Redueña stone, without gastropods) in the coats of arms and low reliefs on the church’s façade.

“This convent is constructed using the four traditional building stones most representative of the capital: flint, granite, Cretaceous dolomite and Miocene limestone, and the presence of these four on its façade makes it a showcase of the last 200 million years of geological history of the region of Madrid,” concludes the researcher.

Dinosaur age flowers


This video says about itself:

When Did the First Flower Bloom?

3 July 2017

During the Cretaceous Period, dinosaurs were more diverse, more fierce, and more strange than ever. But something else was happening under the feet of the terrible lizards: for the first time in history, there were flowers.

From the University of Vienna in Austria:

What flowers looked like 100 million years ago

August 2, 2017

Flowering plants with at least 300,000 species are by far the most diverse group of plants on Earth. They include almost all the species used by people for food, medicine, and many other purposes. However, flowering plants arose only about 140 million years ago, quite late in the evolution of plants, toward the end of the age of the dinosaurs, but since then have diversified spectacularly. No one knows exactly how this happened, and the origin and early evolution of flowering plants and especially their flowers still remains one of the biggest enigmas in biology, almost 140 years after Charles Darwin called their rapid rise in the Cretaceous “an abominable mystery.”

This new study, the “eFLOWER project,” is an unprecedented international effort to combine information on the structure of flowers with the latest information on the evolutionary tree of flowering plants based on DNA. The results shed new light on the early evolution of flowers as well as major patterns in floral evolution across all living flowering plants.

Among the most surprising results is a new model of the original ancestral flower that does not match any of the ideas proposed previously. “When we finally got the full results, I was quite startled until I realized that they actually made good sense,” said Hervé Sauquet, the leader of the study and an Associate Professor at Université Paris-Sud in France. “No one has really been thinking about the early evolution of flowers in this way, yet so much is easily explained by the new scenario that emerges from our models.”

According to the new study, the ancestral flower was bisexual, with both female (carpels) and male (stamens) parts, and with multiple whorls (concentric cycles) of petal-like organs, in sets of threes. About 20% of flowers today have such “trimerous” whorls, but typically fewer: lilies have two, magnolias have three. “These results call into question much of what has been thought and taught previously about floral evolution!,” said Juerg Schoenenberger, a Professor at the University of Vienna, who coordinated the study together with Hervé Sauquet. It has long been assumed that the ancestral flower had all organs arranged in a spiral.

The researchers also reconstructed what flowers looked like at all the key divergences in the flowering plant evolutionary tree, including the early evolution of monocots (e.g., orchids, lilies, and grasses) and eudicots (e.g., poppies, roses, and sunflowers), the two largest groups of flowering plants. “The results are really exciting!” said Maria von Balthazar, a Senior Scientist and specialist of floral morphology and development at the University of Vienna. “This is the first time that we have a clear vision for the early evolution of flowers across all angiosperms.”

The new study sheds new light on the earliest phases in the evolution of flowers and offers for the first time a simple, plausible scenario to explain the spectacular diversity of floral forms. Nevertheless, many questions remain. The fossil record of flowering plants is still very incomplete, and scientists have not yet found fossil flowers as old as the group itself. “This study is a very important step toward developing a new and increasingly sophisticated understanding of the major patterns in the evolution of flowers,” said Peter Crane, President of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation and a colleague familiar with the results of the study. “It reflects great progress and the results on the earliest flowers are especially intriguing.”

See also here.