Tag Archives: jonathan bloch

Ancient Giant Turtle Fossil Revealed

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…)

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Evolution of Earliest Horses Driven by Climate Change

*The hotter it gets, the smaller the animal?*

When Sifrhippus sandae, the earliest known horse, first appeared in the forests of North America more than 50 million years ago, it would not have been mistaken for a Clydesdale.

It weighed in at around 12 pounds–and it was destined to get much smaller over the ensuing millennia.

Sifrhippus lived during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a 175,000-year interval of time some 56 million years ago in which average global temperatures rose by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. (more…)

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UF Study Names New Ancient Crocodile Relative from The Land of Titanoboa

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…)

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Researchers Discover Oldest Evidence of Nails in Modern Primates

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — From hot pink to traditional French and Lady Gaga’s sophisticated designs, manicured nails have become the grammar of fashion.

But they are not just pretty — when nails appeared on all fingers and toes in modern primates about 55 million years ago, they led to the development of critical functions, including finger pads that allow for sensitive touch and the ability to grasp, whether it’s a nail polish brush or remover to prepare for the next trend. (more…)

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UF Pine lsland Pollen Study Leads to Revision of State’s Ancient Geography

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida study of 45-million-year-old pollen from Pine Island west of Fort Myers has led to a new understanding of the state’s geologic history, showing Florida could be 10 million to 15 million years older than previously believed.

The discovery of land in Florida during the early Eocene opens the possibility for researchers to explore the existence of land animals at that time, including their adaptation, evolution and dispersal until the present. (more…)

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