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…)
Tag Archives: crocodiles
A new study of sharks that lived in warm Arctic waters millions of years ago suggests that some shark species could handle the falling Arctic salinity that may come with rising temperatures.
The Arctic today is best known for its tundra and polar bear population, but roughly 38 to 53 million years ago during the Eocene epoch, the Arctic was like a huge temperate forest with brackish water, home to a variety of animal life, including ancestors of tapirs, hippo-like creatures, crocodiles and giant tortoises. Much of what is known about the region during this period comes from well-documented terrestrial deposits. Marine records have been harder to come by. (more…)
What are turtles, and where did they come from?
Precise answers to these questions have long eluded scientists. But new research led by Daniel Field of Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution recasts the turtle’s disputed evolutionary history, providing fresh evidence that the familiar reptiles are more closely related to birds and crocodiles than to lizards and snakes. (more…)
New Research Revises Conventions for Deciphering Color in Dinosaurs While Suggesting Connection between Color and Physiology
AUSTIN, Texas — New research that revises recently established conventions allowing scientists to decipher color in dinosaurs may also provide a tool for understanding the evolutionary emergence of flight and changes in dinosaur physiology prior to the origin of flight.
In a survey comparing the hair, skin, fuzz and feathers of living terrestrial vertebrates and fossil specimens, a research team from The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Akron, the China University of Geosciences and four other Chinese institutions found evidence for evolutionary shifts in the relationship between color and the shape of pigment-containing organelles known as melanosomes, as reported in the Feb. 13 edition of Nature. (more…)
Picture a turtle the size of a Smart car, with a shell large enough to double as a kiddie pool. Paleontologists from North Carolina State University have found just such a specimen – the fossilized remains of a 60-million-year-old South American giant that lived in what is now Colombia.
The turtle in question is Carbonemys cofrinii, which means “coal turtle,” and is part of a group of side-necked turtles known as pelomedusoides. The fossil was named Carbonemys because it was discovered in 2005 in a coal mine that was part of northern Colombia’s Cerrejon formation. The specimen’s skull measures 24 centimeters, roughly the size of a regulation NFL football. The shell which was recovered nearby – and is believed to belong to the same species – measures 172 centimeters, or about 5 feet 7 inches, long. That’s the same height as Edwin Cadena, the NC State doctoral student who discovered the fossil. (more…)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Did an ancient crocodile relative give the world’s largest snake a run for its money?
In a new study appearing Sept. 15 in the journal Palaeontology, University of Florida researchers describe a new 20-foot extinct species discovered in the same Colombian coal mine with Titanoboa, the world’s largest snake. The findings help scientists better understand the diversity of animals that occupied the oldest known rainforest ecosystem, which had higher temperatures than today, and could be useful for understanding the impacts of a warmer climate in the future. (more…)
The fears connected with shark attacks are stronger in the world today than those related to much more dangerous predators – crocodiles. However, crocodiles pose a greater threat to humans than sharks do.
A crocodile snatched Hendrik Coetzee, a South African guide, 35, from his kayak while he led an American expedition into the heart of Congo last week. Two American tourists could only watch the scene in horror as the guide was killed and eaten by the predator. They paddled to safety unharmed. Coetzee’s body has not been recovered.
Stories about croc attacks are just as terrible as they are hopeless. Experts say that it is possible to stay to fight off a shark, but it is much more difficult or even impossible to rescue themselves from an attacking croc. (more…)