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How the Turtle Got Its Shell

The 240M-year-old 'grandfather' turtle had no shell and a very long tail

(Newser) - For at least a century, scientists have puzzled over the turtle. Thanks to a gap in the fossil record between 260 million and 220 million years ago, it's unclear how the turtle got its shell and to whom it's most closely related. Now a fossil from 240 million... More »

Alligator Taken From Backyard After 37 Years

'Jaxson' had been family pet of sorts in California since 1977

(Newser) - The Los Angeles Animal Services Department found an 8-foot male alligator in the backyard of a home in Van Nuys, Calif, and he wasn't exactly a recent arrival to the neighborhood. Named Jaxson, the reptile had lived there for 37 years. Jaxson was soon transported to the Los Angeles... More »

Toothless 'Dragons' Roamed Our Skies

Pterosaurs were neither dinosaurs nor ancient birds but winged reptiles

(Newser) - A family of animals ruled the skies some 90 million years ago, but they weren't dinosaurs, and they weren't birds, and they didn't even have teeth. The winged reptiles of the late Cretaceous period belong to a family of pterosaurs called Azhdarchidae, and they appear to have... More »

Were Dinos Cold-Blooded or Warm-Blooded? Neither

Scientists call for a new class called 'mesothermy'

(Newser) - A new study suggests that dinosaurs aren't either warm-blooded (endothermic) or cold-blooded (ectothermic) but rather a little bit of both, occupying a newly-described intermediate category scientists are calling "mesothermy." The debate on just where dinosaurs fall has raged for years, but in this study scientists looked primarily... More »

Ancient Sea Beasts Were Dark as Night

Sea beasts weren't so colorful

(Newser) - Ancient sea reptiles are finally showing their true colors. Researchers investigated skin remnants from ancient leatherback turtles and ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs, which resembled fish. The researchers found that all three creatures were covered in black skin or scales, with reason: The coloration may have helped camouflage them and protect them... More »

Extinct 'Lizard King' Named After Doors Singer

Jim Morrison honored with 'Barbaturex morrisoni'

(Newser) - Scientists recently found that a 6-foot, 60-pound lizard that lived 36 million to 40 million years ago was the largest plant-eating lizard ever to have walked the Earth, so they gave it a fitting moniker: Barbaturex morrisoni, a play on Jim Morrison's "Lizard King" alter ego. The lizard... More »

19% of Reptiles at Risk of Extinction

Study reviewed 1,500 species

(Newser) - Farming and logging are destroying the habitats of the world's reptiles, putting nearly one in five in danger of extinction, reports AFP . The new study—in which 200 experts examined 1,500 species of snakes, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, and other reptiles—claims to be the most comprehensive made of... More »

Cranky Crocodile Steals, 'Drowns' Lawnmower

Cranky Aussie croc Elvis defeats noisy machine

(Newser) - Even by the less-than-happy-go-lucky standards of saltwater crocodiles, Elvis is one cranky and aggressive critter. The 16-foot croc, apparently annoyed by the sound of workers cutting the grass in his enclosure at an Australian reptile park, lunged at a lawnmower and dragged it into a pond. The croc, who lost... More »

Man Fights Off Croc by Slugging Him in Snout

Father was swimming with daughters when attacked

(Newser) - A father attacked by an 8-foot crocodile in northern Australia while swimming with his daughters survived by punching the reptile repeatedly in the snout, reports the Independent . The man suffered two big bites on his back and 10 puncture wounds on his wrist, but the injuries are not life-threatening, said... More »

Virus Wiping Out Crickets Raised for Snakes

Cricket farms being forced out of business

(Newser) - These are hard times for America's cricket farmers, and unless a virus is brought under control, they could become hungry times for pet snakes. The virus has swept through farms, killing millions of the crickets raised for pet reptiles and zoo animals, and driving several farmers out of business, the... More »

Defense Dept Trying to Learn Secrets of Flying Snakes

Agency funding research into reptile's aerodynamics

(Newser) - A type of snake in Asia can remain airborne far longer than any snake should, and the Defense Department wants it to give up its secrets. The feds are funding Virginia Tech studies to figure out the aerodynamics of the tree-dwelling reptile (genus Chrysopelea), reports the Washington Post . The biologist... More »

Snakes Headed the Way of the Dinosaur?

Snakes may face fate similar to that of frogs and fish

(Newser) - After more than 150 million years on earth, snakes may be slithering toward extinction. A new study shows snake populations plummeting around the world, with an especially sharp and mysterious drop in 1998. Researchers who tracked 17 snake populations in Africa, Europe, and Australia were "alarmed" to find 11... More »

13-Foot Alligator Kills 11-Year-Old Girl

Victim was swimming in shallow water of Brazilian river

(Newser) - An 11-year-old girl who was swimming with friends in a river in Brazil was attacked and killed by a 13-foot-long alligator, according to local media reports. The girl was playing in shallow water in the northern part of the country, near the Amazon, when the alligator struck. The reptile was... More »

Crocs Know Their Names, Open Up on Call

Brit aquarium has reptiles answering to Paleo, Suchus

(Newser) - Two crocodiles at a British aquarium have been taught to recognize their own names, a feat that works with mammals in captivity but rarely with reptiles. “They are very intelligent and started responding to their names in just a few days,” the zoo’s manager tells the Telegraph... More »

100M Years Ago, Africa Was Crocodile Central

3 new species unearthed from Sahara include DogCroc

(Newser) - The universe of diverse prehistoric crocodile species keeps expanding, suggesting crocs were one of the dominant forms of life 100 million years ago. Paleontologists have just unearthed three new species in the Sahara desert: the 20-foot BoarCroc, which likely fed on dinosaurs; the 20-foot PancakeCroc, a flat-bodied fish-gobbler; and the... More »

Scientists Unearth Fossils of 'Missing Link' Flying Reptiles

Researchers believe Darwinopterus is proof of modular evolution

(Newser) - Scientists have discovered the remains of a flying reptile in China that they believe represents the "missing link" in a controversial theory of evolution. The reptile—named Darwinopterus in honor of Charles Darwin—lived some 160 million years ago and has features from both early, short-tailed pterodactyls and their... More »

Floridians Gang Up on New Neighbor: 8-Foot Gator

Said to have come from local canal

(Newser) - Residents of a South Florida town found a surprise visitor in their pool last night: an 8-foot alligator. Someone—nobody owned up—tied the creature to a tree with an extension cord before calling for help, the Miami Herald reports. When deputies arrived, a crowd of 30 was ogling the... More »

Fossil of Giant Flying Reptile Found

Newly discovered species had car-sized wingspan

(Newser) - Scientists have uncovered a new species of gigantic reptile that flew the skies over Brazil 115 million years ago, the BBC reports. The reptile, by far the largest of its kind ever found, had a wing span of over 16 feet. Lacusovagus—meaning lake wanderer—had a huge jaw, suggesting... More »

Australian Boy Fed Zoo Animals to Crocodile

Rare turtle, lizards among 13 reptiles killed by 7-year-old

(Newser) - A 7-year-old boy snuck into an Australian zoo on Wednesday and killed 13 animals, the BBC reports. The child jumped a fence and evaded security cameras to gain access to the Alice Springs Reptile Center, where he bashed three lizards with rocks and fed 10 other animals, some of them... More »

South Jersey Man Finds Gator on Side the Road

No explantion where 4-foot, 60-to-80-pound beast in cage came from

(Newser) - A South Jersey man spotted something unusual on his way to work yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports: a caged alligator on the side of a road. Fred Schubert decided to help out the 4-foot, 60-to-80-pound beast, loading the cage into his pickup. After calling several wildlife agencies, an official came... More »

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