Tag Archives: derek briggs

Cementing a theory about the sea creatures of the Ediacara Biota

Earth’s earliest community of complex sea creatures lived in a warm, slimy, planetary petri dish that nurtured a broad array of exotic species. Yet we likely wouldn’t know about it at all, scientists say, if not for a quirk in the chemistry of ancient oceans. (more…)

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Meet Pentecopterus, a new predator from the prehistoric seas

You don’t name a sea creature after an ancient Greek warship unless it’s built like a predator.

That’s certainly true of the recently discovered Pentecopterus, a giant sea scorpion with the sleek features of a penteconter, one of the first Greek galley ships. A Yale University research team says Pentecopterus lived 467 million years ago and could grow to nearly six feet, with a long head shield, a narrow body, and large, grasping limbs for trapping prey. It is the oldest described eurypterid — a group of aquatic arthropods that are ancestors of modern spiders, lobsters, and ticks. (more…)

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Research in the news: A 520 million-year-old food plan

Anyone who’s read a children’s menu at a restaurant knows that kids and adults tend to like different foods. New research suggests at least one animal species had the same arrangement half a billion years ago.

It seems the earliest ancestors of spiders and horseshoe crabs, called chelicerates, had separate ecological niches for adults and larvae. They ate different foods, in other words, and did not compete for the same prey. This approach has been seen in many modern animal species, but never in one this old. (more…)

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Found: Tiny ancient crustaceans, buried alive with eggs and embryos

Scientists have found 450-million-year-old fossilized crustaceans entombed with their eggs and newly hatched offspring. At least one of the animals is a newly identified species.

The tiny ostracods — arthropods related to shrimps, lobsters, and crabs — were buried by a mudslide in an area of upstate New York, near Rome, at a time when the entire region was deep underwater. In one specimen, both eggs and early embryos are present with the adult female. (more…)

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From Mercury to Morocco, and onward to Yale: a meteorite’s tale

Talk about a precious stone — the largest piece of the only known meteorite from the planet Mercury has found its way to Yale, where it is now on display at the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Known as NWA 7325, the fist-size, greenish space rock is a rarity among rarities:  there just aren’t many verified planetary meteorites. Scientists know of about 70 from Mars and, until now, none from any of the other planets in Earth’s solar system. There are about 180 known meteorites from the moon. NWA 7325 is the first believed to be from Mercury. (more…)

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True colors of some fossil feathers now in doubt

Geological processes can affect evidence of the original colors of fossil feathers, according to new research by Yale University scientists, who said some previous reconstructions of fossil bird and dinosaur feather colors may now merit revision.

The discovery reveals how the evidence for the colors of feathers — especially melanin-based colors — can be altered during fossilization, and suggests that past reconstructions of the original colors of feathers in some fossil birds and dinosaurs may be flawed. (more…)

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Fossil of Ancient Marine Animal Reveals Softer Side

A Yale scientist and colleagues in Britain have found a highly unusual ancient marine fossil that retains soft body parts as well as its shell, including limbs, eyes, gills and alimentary system. The fossil represents a new species of ostracod, a tiny crustacean related to crabs, lobsters and shrimps.

“Fossil ostracods often provide evidence of the relative ages of the rocks in which they occur, but it is very difficult to determine their relationship to living forms because only the shell is normally preserved,” said Derek E. G. Briggs, director of Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History and a co-author of the research. “This 425-million-year-old new form is remarkable in preserving the limbs and other anatomical features as well.” (more…)

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