paleontology

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Thigh Bone Reveals Timing of Human-Neanderthal Sex

We were probably getting it on between 50K and 60K years ago

(Newser) - It's no surprise that modern humans and Neanderthals used to get it on —most people of Eurasian descent are, genetically, 1.6% to 2.1% Neanderthal. The question has long been when they did, with a wide estimate putting it between 37,000 and 86,000 years ago... More »

Newly Found Dinosaur Survived 'Horrific' Extinction

Tachiraptor fossils discovered in Venezuela

(Newser) - A newly discovered dinosaur in Venezuela may help us understand how species survived a mass-extinction event about 200 million years ago, phys.org reports. Based on two leg-bone fossils, paleontologists say Tachiraptor admirabilis was fairly small (5 or 6 feet, tip to tail), ran on two feet, and ate meat.... More »

Giant Shark-Eating Dinosaur Found

Spinosaurus was able to swim, say researchers

(Newser) - Move over, T. rex: Fossils unearthed in the Sahara Desert have revealed that Spinosaurus was not only a bigger carnivore, it dined on giant sharks. The creature from 95 million years ago, now believed to be the first swimming dinosaur ever found, was first discovered around a century ago, but... More »

Dinosaurs May Have Had Babysitters

Researchers find fossils suggesting older sibling watched younger ones

(Newser) - Even dinosaurs need a babysitter—or would that be dino-sitter? Researchers say a group of hatchlings found in a layer of rock might have been under the care of "a big brother or sister," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The 120-million-year-old Psittacosaurus bones were found in northeast China, the... More »

'Flying' Dino Had 4 Wings, Long Feathers

Turkey-sized raptor may have been expert glider

(Newser) - Take the velociraptors made famous by Jurassic Park, make them a bit smaller, add feathers, then change the limbs to wings and you will have something resembling a newly discovered dinosaur species found in China. Researchers say Changyuraptor yangi, a carnivore that lived around 125 million years ago, has the... More »

Herds of Dinos Thrived in ... Alaska?

Thousands of 'world-class' hadrosaur prints discovered in Denali

(Newser) - Forget seeing Russia from Alaska: Scientists have found a trove of tracks left behind by dinosaurs that once roamed our northernmost state—and some of them are pretty big. A paleontology team discovered a "world-class" trail in the northeast corner of Denali National Park that was littered with thousands... More »

Biggest-Ever Flying Bird Unearthed at Airport

Pelagornis had wingspan up to 24 feet

(Newser) - The biggest flying bird ever discovered had a wingspan bigger than that of some small planes—and appropriately enough, its fossil was found at an airport. The bird, named Pelagornis sandersi, lived around 25 million years ago and had a wingspan of up to 24 feet across, around twice that... More »

Second Half of Turtle Fossil Found 165 Years Later

Paleontologist makes surprising find in New Jersey stream bed

(Newser) - An amateur paleontologist hunting for shark teeth in a New Jersey stream bed found something a lot more interesting: one half of an arm bone from an ancient, massive sea turtle, reports the LA Times . The astonishing part is that the other half of the bone has been sitting in... More »

New Dinosaur Was 'Chicken From Hell'

Tough, 10-foot beast roamed western US

(Newser) - Col. Sanders' nightmare come true? Researchers say a new species of dinosaur unearthed in the US was a bit like a chicken—a 10-foot tall, 550-pound chicken that could rip your head off. The dinosaur, which lived around 66 million years ago, has been nicknamed the "chicken from hell"... 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 »

Massive 'King of Gore' Dinosaur Found in Utah

Lythronax argestes was a ferocious beast, the largest of its ecosystem

(Newser) - Tyrannosaurus rex may have ruled the land in its day, but a newly discovered species, its closest known relative, was the top dog some 10 million years earlier. Lythronax argestes—which translates to "the king of gore from the southwest"—lived 80 million years ago in the central... More »

Teen Makes 'Spectacular' Dino Fossil Find

Youngest, smallest, most complete Parasaurolophus skeleton

(Newser) - A California high school student made a find LiveScience calls "amazing": While doing paleontology fieldwork for school in Utah in 2009, Kevin Terris helped to discover an almost complete baby Parasaurolophus skeleton—in fact, the most complete one ever found. Nicknamed "Joe," it also turned out to... More »

Scientists Reconstruct 520M-Year-Old Nervous System

Mega-claw's brain fossilized, looks like a spider's

(Newser) - Scientists digging through old fossils have identified a 520-million-year-old mega-claw with an almost completely preserved nervous system—the oldest such find ever, the LA Times reports. The specimen belongs to the Alalcomenaeus family, which is part of a larger group of "megacheirans," meaning roughly "mega-claw" or "... More »

Construction Worker Finds Massive Dino Fossil

Tail is from 35-foot-long dinosaur

(Newser) - A construction worker installing pipeline in Alberta, Canada, never thought he’d find this. A backhoe operator was working on a pipeline when the shovel broke off a piece of what he thought was a rock. He laid the piece aside and got back inside the backhoe to keep working.... More »

Tooth Be Told: T. Rex Was Hunter

Finding may wipe out theory it was scavenger

(Newser) - Lately, scientists have suggested that Tyrannosaurus rex wasn't the vicious hunter from the movies—instead, with its slower speeds and weak eyesight, it was a scavenger, they argue. But a new finding offers clear evidence against that rather disappointing theory. Researchers have discovered a T. rex tooth lodged in... More »

New Study Offers Proof: Asteroid Wiped Out Dinos

New study puts mass extinction within 32K years of meteor

(Newser) - Paleontologists and dinosaur nerds have long debated what killed off the "terrible lizards"— one meteor or many , volcanoes , or something else. Now one researcher says he has the answer: an asteroid believed to be about six miles wide that landed in the Caribbean about 66 million years ago.... More »

Extinct Toothy Lizard Named After Obama

Obamadon gracilis disappeared with the dinosaurs

(Newser) - President Obama's toothy grin inspired researchers to name a newly discovered species of prehistoric lizard after him. Obamadon gracilis, a small, insect-eating lizard found in northwest Montana, went extinct along with the dinosaurs after a giant asteroid hit Earth around 65 million years ago. "The lizard has these... More »

New Dinosaur Named After Tolkien's 'Eye of Sauron'

Beast IDed from eye-socket-containing fossil fragment

(Newser) - Paleontologists have identified a new 40-foot, flesh-eating dinosaur from a single fossil fragment containing a single eye-socket—and named the beast after an evil character from the Lord of the Rings, National Geographic reports. The Sauroniops pachytholus (or "Eye of Sauron" in Greek) apparently rivaled the Tyrannosaurus Rex in... More »

New Fossils Reveal More Human Species

Early human evolution was more crowded than we thought: Leakeys

(Newser) - The discovery of three new fossils, unveiled today, illuminate and confirm a line of human evolution that is more complicated than scientists once thought. The groundbreaking bones, about 2 million years old and unearthed in Kenya, prove that there were at least two Homo species—in addition to Homo erectus—... More »

Ancient Relatives of Humans Ate Wood

Scientists analyzed dental tartar in fossils

(Newser) - Did our ancestors eat trees? New fossil evidence shows that a 2 million-year-old relative of humans nibbled on bark and leaves, reports BBC . Scientists analyzed the teeth of two members of the "southern ape" species, or Australopithecus sediba, and found evidence that they included wood in their diet. More »

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