Tag Archives: ancient

Ancient reptile fossils claw for more attention

Newly recovered fossils confirm that Drepanosaurus, a prehistoric cross between a chameleon and an anteater, was a small reptile with a fearsome finger. The second digit of its forelimb sported a massive claw. (more…)

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Ancient Cold Period Could Provide Clues About Future Climate Change

AUSTIN, Texas — Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found that a well-known period of abrupt climate change 12,000 years ago occurred rapidly in northern latitudes but much more gradually in equatorial regions, a discovery that could prove important for understanding and responding to future climate change. (more…)

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Ancient sharks reared young in prehistoric river-delta nursery

ANN ARBOR — Like salmon in reverse, long-snouted Bandringa sharks migrated downstream from freshwater swamps to a tropical coastline to spawn 310 million years ago, leaving behind fossil evidence of one of the earliest known shark nurseries.

That’s the surprising conclusion of University of Michigan paleontologist Lauren Sallan and a University of Chicago colleague, who reanalyzed all known specimens of Bandringa, a bottom-feeding predator that lived in an ancient river delta system that spanned what is today the Upper Midwest. (more…)

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Ancient Fossilized Sea Creatures Yield Oldest Biomolecules Isolated Directly from a Fossil

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Though scientists have long believed that complex organic molecules couldn’t survive fossilization, some 350-million-year-old remains of aquatic sea creatures uncovered in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa have challenged that assumption.

The spindly animals with feathery arms—called crinoids, but better known today by the plant-like name “sea lily”—appear to have been buried alive in storms during the Carboniferous Period, when North America was covered with vast inland seas. Buried quickly and isolated from the water above by layers of fine-grained sediment, their porous skeletons gradually filled with minerals, but some of the pores containing organic molecules were sealed intact. (more…)

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Genetic Patterns of Deep-Sea Coral Provide Insights into Evolution of Marine Life

Patterns Also Shed Light on How Environmental Disturbances Affect Aquatic Organisms

The ability of deep-sea corals to harbor a broad array of marine life, including commercially important fish species, make these habitat-forming organisms of immediate interest to conservationists, managers, and scientists. Understanding and protecting corals requires knowledge of the historical processes that have shaped their biodiversity and biogeography.

While little is known about these processes, new research described in the journal Molecular Ecology helps elucidate the historical patterns of deep-sea coral migration and gene flow, coincident with oceanic circulation patterns and events. The investigators propose a scenario that could explain the observed evolutionary and present-day patterns in certain coral species. The findings can help scientists determine how climate change and other global processes have affected ocean habitats in the past and how they might do so in the future. (more…)

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Terracotta Army Craftsmen Pioneered Toyota-style Industry

The most comprehensive analysis of the Terracotta Army’s weapons has revealed that the craftsmen responsible for arming the 7000 warriors, chariots and horses followed a sophisticated labour model now associated with Toyota, the world’s biggest car maker.

Toyota is widely credited with introducing an alternative method of mass production to standard assembly lines. Sometimes referred to as ‘Toyotism’, the approach involves using small workshops of highly skilled engineers, capable of producing any model of car as and when it is needed, rather than a production line where each unit concentrates on making individual components. (more…)

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