paleontology

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Rarest of Rare Discoveries: a Swimming Dinosaur

It's believed to be only the 2nd swimming dinosaur ever found

(Newser) - The dinosaur was the size of a turkey and had a neck like a swan, teeth like a crocodile, forelimbs similar to a penguin's flippers, and clawed feet ideal for use on land. It's such a strange assortment of features that researchers who identified the new species from... More »

It Was a Wolf-Sized Otter, but With Jaws Like a Bear

Modern otters wouldn't stand a chance against Siamogale melilutra

(Newser) - Modern-day sea otters would prove no match for their 6-million-year-old, wolf-sized ancestors , who didn't need rocks to smash open mollusks. They could do that, and perhaps rip into tougher and larger prey, with a single bite from surprisingly powerful jaws, according to new research. In the latest study of... More »

Scientists Find Surprise in 75M-Year-Old Dino Poop

'Herbivores' might have eaten shellfish, say researchers

(Newser) - One of the most common herbivores of the dinosaur era might have been, well, not an herbivore. Fossilized poop likely to have come from a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed southern Utah some 75 million years ago contains ancient shellfish, shaking what researchers thought they knew about hadrosaurs and other egg-laying... More »

The Dodo May Be Dead, but We Just Learned More About Its Life

New study reveals life cycle of famously extinct bird

(Newser) - Big dodo news out of the science world this week. Yes, it's still extinct, but a study published Thursday in Scientific Reports finally sheds light on the life cycle of the famously dead bird. “We know so little about these birds that everything was basically a surprise,”... More »

'Frankenstein' Dinosaur Transforms Evolutionary Tree

Chilesaurus bridges two major dino groups, scientists say

(Newser) - Like the theropod dinosaur T. rex, Chilesaurus stood upright, with strong hind legs and shorter front limbs. But its flat teeth were more closely related to ornithischians like triceratops and stegosaurus. That's just one thing that irked scientists when Chilesaurus was named a theropod following its discovery in Chile... More »

T. Rex Just Got a Lot Less Scary

New research shows beast could only travel up to 12mph

(Newser) - Jurassic Park had us all fooled: Outstripping a Tyrannosaurus rex in a Jeep would've been easy-peasy because, well, T. rex couldn't run. After much debate about how fast T. rex moved—previous estimates suggested up to 45 miles per hour—scientists at the University of Manchester used advanced... More »

In Australia's 'Jurassic Park,' World's Largest Dino Prints

21 different types of tracks found Down Under—some 6 feet long

(Newser) - Twenty-one is the lucky number for paleontologists in Australia: That's the "globally unparalleled" number of different varieties of dinosaur prints they appear to have found in a "magical place" they call the country's own "Jurassic Park," per Phys.org . In a study published in... More »

New Twist on Why Dinosaurs Got So Big So Fast

Those with funky-looking skulls grew most quickly

(Newser) - For years, paleontologists have theorized that many of the world's largest dinosaurs sported head ornaments (think horns, knobs, and crests) as a means of intimidation and defense, and that these giants evolved to be so big because size helped them be more effective killers. But now new research published... More »

100-Year First: 'Extremely Rare' Dodo Skeleton Sold

It fetched $431K at auction in the UK

(Newser) - All that's left of the dodo bird is a smattering of bones—a nearly complete set of which has just sold for $431,000 at auction. This "extremely rare" version is one of the most complete with about 95% of bones present, reports the BBC . Only a portion... More »

Meet the Guy With World's Largest Collection of Hard Poop

George Frandsen nabs Guinness World Record with fossilized feces

(Newser) - One of George Frandsen's prize possessions weighs over 4 pounds, hails from the Miocene Epoch, and is named "Precious." This paleontological treasure also happens to be a huge piece of fossilized coprolite—aka prehistoric poop—and nearly 1,300 similar samples like Precious have catapulted Frandsen to... More »

Bus-Sized Dino Comes With a Surprise

It suggests migration from South America, not Asia

(Newser) - An Australian sheep farmer has discovered a beast far bigger than he's ever handled—along with new clues as to how dinosaurs ended up Down Under. Paleontologists, together with dinosaur enthusiast/sheep farmer David Elliot, say they've uncovered a new monster of a dinosaur belonging to the titanosaur subgroup... More »

For T. Rex, Size Originally Didn't Matter

Horse-sized ancestor reveals evolutionary path, and intellect came before size

(Newser) - Though one of the most well-known dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex is actually somewhat of a mystery, having suddenly emerged as a fearsome beast some 80 million years ago. As a 20-million-year gap in the fossil record preceded T. rex, paleontologists have known little about its evolutionary path—until now. The discovery... More »

Meet 'Earth's First Animal'

Sea sponges have been around for 640M years, says MIT study

(Newser) - Way before humans, sharks, or dinosaurs, the sea sponge was very likely the first animal on Earth. That's according to a PNAS study out of MIT concluding that a molecule in 640 million-year-old rocks came from the simple creature. Assuming the researchers are right, that means the multi-celled organisms... More »

Stadium Crew Scores a Mammoth in End-Zone Dig

Oregon workers find bones belonging to Ice Age critter

(Newser) - Construction crews have scored big—and we mean big—in the end zone of Oregon State University's Reser Stadium. But this was no touchdown. While working on the Valley Football Center expansion, crews uncovered the remains of a mammoth that roamed the region at least 10,000 years ago... More »

Workers on New Homes Make an Ancient Discovery

Lots of old animal fossils

(Newser) - Workers grading a Carlsbad, California, site in preparation for hundreds of new homes earlier this summer were shocked to find the neighborhood's previous residents still there. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports work was stopped as paleontologists removed fossils—some as old as 200,000 years—belonging to ancient mammoths... More »

First Big Predator Was 'Angry' Water Bug

You wouldn't want to swim with 'Pentecopterus decorahensis'

(Newser) - Earth's first big predatory monster was a weird water bug as big as Tom Cruise, newly found fossils show. Almost half a billion years ago, way before the dinosaurs roamed, Earth's dominant large predator was a sea scorpion that grew to 5 feet 7 inches, with a dozen... More »

Scientists Can Finally Tell Animal's Head From Its Butt

What experts thought was Hallucigenia's head turned out to be fluid from its anus

(Newser) - A strange sea creature's embarrassment is over. More than a century after the now-extinct Hallucigenia was first found, scientists say they've discovered which end is its face and which is its butt. In Hallucigenia's defense, all fossils of the tiny creature—which was thinner than a hair... More »

Scientists Find First Evidence of Dinosaurs in Wash. State

80M-year-old femur belonged to a theropod

(Newser) - It appears that around 80 million years ago, a theropod dinosaur roughly the size of a transit bus died near the sea and was jostled by waves, and at some point part of its femur became wedged into a rocky outcrop alongside clam fossils in Washington state's San Juan... More »

Researcher Says He's First to Tell Male, Female Dinos Apart

It all comes down to a stegosaurus's plates

(Newser) - If the sight of broad, wide plates along the back of a stegosaurus fails to drive you wild with desire, that's probably because you're not a female stegosaurus. In what the University of Bristol calls the "first convincing evidence for sexual differences in a species of dinosaur,... More »

The Brontosaurus Really Did Exist, Study Says

Scientists say it's deserving of its own genus after all

(Newser) - It's big news, quite literally. New research indicates that the Brontosaurus really did exist, some 112 years after scientists declared the opposite was true. The backstory: Paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh and his team discovered the fossils of two long-necked dinosaurs in the Western US in the 1870s and had... More »

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