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.

‘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.

International cave bear symposium in the Netherlands, September 2015


This video is called Cave Lion vs Cave Bear – Ice Age Giants – Episode 2 Preview – BBC Two.

From the Pleistocene Mammals site:

The 21st edition of the International Cave Bear Symposium (ICBS) will take place in the Netherlands in 2015. It is a fitting host as this is a unique country in paleontological terms. While the sediments that are found near the surface are of a relatively young age (Holocene), our fossil record is also particularly rich in Pleistocene material – mostly the effect of being bordered by the North Sea. In Pleistocene glacial times, the North Sea was dry land and densely populated by mammoths, bison, woolly rhinoceros and horses, closely followed by carnivores such as the cave lion, cave hyena, wolves and brown bear – evidence of which is still commonly discovered.

The symposium will be 10-13 September 2015 at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. The provisional programme is here.

DNA extracted from 40,000 year old giant kangaroos


This video is called When did Marsupial and Placental Mammals split?

From Wildlife Extra:

Scientists extract DNA from 40,000 year old giant kangaroos

The study of DNA reveals that the red kangaroo was a close relative of the extinct giant wallaby

A team of scientists led by Dr Bastien Llamas and Professor Alan Cooper from the University of Adelaide‘s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) have succeeded in extracting DNA sequences from two extinct Australian species: a giant short-faced kangaroo (Simosthenurus occidentalis) and a giant wallaby (Protemnodon anak).

These specimens died around 45,000 years ago and their remains were discovered in a cold and dry cave in Tasmania.

Relatively good preservation conditions in the cave allowed enough short pieces of DNA to survive so researchers could reconstruct partial “mitochondrial genomes” ─ genetic material transmitted from mother to offspring and widely used to infer evolutionary relationships.

“The ancient DNA reveals that extinct giant wallabies are very close relatives of large living kangaroos, such as the red and western grey kangaroos,” says lead author Dr Bastien Llamas, ACAD senior research associate.

“Their skeletons had suggested they were quite primitive macropods, a group that includes kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons and quokkas, but now we can place giant wallaby much higher up the kangaroo family tree.”

The research has also confirmed that short-faced kangaroos are a highly distinct lineage of macropods, which had been predicted on their unusual anatomy.

Although the ancient DNA confirms that the short-faced kangaroos left no descendants, it also shows their closest living cousin could be the banded hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus), which is now restricted to small isolated islands off the coast of Western Australia.

“Our results suggest the banded hare-wallaby is the last living representative of a previously diverse lineage of kangaroos,” says co-author Professor Mike Lee of the South Australian Museum and the University’s School of Biological Sciences.

“It will hopefully further encourage and justify conservation efforts for this endangered species.”

Mastodon discovery in Michigan backyard


This video from the USA says about itself:

Bachelor party makes rare mastodon fossil discovery

13 June 2014

People at a bachelor party on a lake shore in New Mexico stumbled upon a rare fossil: the skull of a mastodon. It is considered to be an ancient elephant, complete with tusks and teeth. Scott Pelley reports.

From Popular Science in the USA today:

These Guys Found The Remains Of A 14,000-Year-Old Butchered Mastodon In Their Backyard

Mastodon burgers anyone?

By Mary Beth Griggs

Posted 39 minutes ago

It isn’t every day that you find bones in your backyard, much less a 4-foot long rib bone sticking out of the earth. After that initial, massive find, neighbors Daniel LaPoint Jr. and Eric Witzke kept digging, eventually unearthing 42 massive bones from a property in Bellevue Township, Michigan last November. At first, they thought the bones might have belonged to a dinosaur, but it turns out that the remains were far younger.

“Preliminary examination indicates that the animal may have been butchered by humans,” Daniel Fisher, director of the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology told the Lansing State Journal. Fisher examined the bones when LaPoint and Witzke contacted the museum, and eventually determined that in addition to being butchered by humans, the bones belonged to a 37-year-old mastodon (a relative of elephants and mammoths) that lived roughly 14,000 years ago.

The Journal reports that while unusual, finding the bones of mastodons isn’t totally unheard of in Michigan; about 330 sites have been confirmed around the state, two in the past year.

Fossils found on private land in the United States belong to the landowner, not the government, so the fossil finders LaPoint and Witzke are keeping a few of the bones as the coolest mementoes ever and donating the rest to the University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology. But before they travelled to the museum, the pair took the bones to a local school, where kids got to experience the fossils up close and personal.

“All the kids got to pick them up and hold them. Some kids, it was life-changing for them. To change one kid’s life because they got to touch it, I think, is an incredible opportunity.” LaPoint told the Lansing State Journal.

See also here.