Tag Archives: paleontologists

Building a Better Alligator: Researchers Develop Advanced Three-Dimensional Models of Bite Data to Study Dinosaurs, Birds, Crocodiles

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The skulls of alligators protect their brains, eyes and sense organs while producing some of the most powerful bite forces in the animal kingdom. The ability to bite hard is critical for crocodilians to eat their food such as turtles, wildebeest and other large prey; therefore, their anatomy is closely studied by veterinarians and paleontologists who are interested in animal movements and anatomy. (more…)

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Research in the news: Eunotosaurus has the early word on turtles

There’s a twist in the turtle timeline.

Thanks to new fossil evidence, paleontologists are able to prove that turtles share a recent common ancestor with birds and crocodiles. The discovery may settle a longstanding argument among scientists about the origins of turtles. (more…)

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Ancient snakes — a new hiss-tory

The ancestral snakes in the grass actually lived in the forest, according to the most detailed look yet at the iconic reptiles.

A comprehensive analysis by Yale University paleontologists reveals new insights into the origin and early history of snakes. For one thing, they kept late hours; for another, they also kept their hind legs. (more…)

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Modern genetics confirm ancient relationship between fins and hands

Paleontologists have documented the evolutionary adaptations necessary for ancient lobe-finned fish to transform pectoral fins used underwater into strong, bony structures, such as those of Tiktaalik roseae. This enabled these emerging tetrapods, animals with limbs, to crawl in shallow water or on land. But evolutionary biologists have wondered why the modern structure called the autopod—comprising wrists and fingers or ankles and toes—has no obvious morphological counterpart in the fins of living fishes. (more…)

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Brain of World’s First Known Predators Discovered

Scientists have found the fossilized remains of the brain of the world’s earliest known predators, from a time when life teemed in the oceans but had not yet colonized the land.

An international team of paleontologists has identified the exquisitely preserved brain in the fossil of one of the world’s first known predators that lived in the Lower Cambrian, about 520 million years ago. The discovery revealed a brain that is surprisingly simple and less complex than those known from fossils of some of the animal’s prey. (more…)

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Scientists Find Possible Solution to an Ancient Enigma

The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera.

The findings, by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Connecticut; Harvard Medical School; and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, were published online the week of May 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (more…)

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Studying The Evolution of Life’s Building Blocks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Studying the origin of life at its building blocks offers a unique perspective on evolution, says a researcher at Michigan State University.

Robert Root-Bernstein, MSU physiology professor, will answer the question of why a physiologist studies the origin of life at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Feb. 16-20 in Vancouver, British Columbia. (more…)

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Caltech-led Researchers Measure Body Temperatures of Dinosaurs for the First Time

*Some Dinosaurs Were as Warm as Most Modern Mammals*

PASADENA, Calif.—Were dinosaurs slow and lumbering, or quick and agile? It depends largely on whether they were cold or warm blooded. When dinosaurs were first discovered in the mid-19th century, paleontologists thought the y were plodding beasts that had to rely on their environments to keep warm, like modern-day reptiles. But research during the last few decades suggests that they were faster creatures, nimble like the velociraptors or T. rex depicted in the movie Jurassic Park, requiring warmer, regulated body temperatures like in mammals.

Now, a team of researchers led by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has developed a new approach to take body temperatures of dinosaurs for the first time, providing new insights into whether dinosaurs were cold or warm blooded. By analyzing isotopic concentrations in teeth of sauropods, the long-tailed, long-necked dinosaurs that were the biggest land animals to have ever lived—think Apatosaurus (also known as Brontosaurus)—the team found that the dinosaurs were about as warm as most modern mammals. (more…)

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