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These Rocks May Hold Oldest Evidence of Life on Earth

Researchers say Greenland stromatolites are 3.7B years old

(Newser) - Researchers claim to have discovered evidence of life on Earth more than 200 million years before the oldest known fossils, the BBC reports. A layer of permanent snow melted away last spring on Greenland's Isua supracrustal belt, revealing a series of wavy peaks called stromatolites in the 3.7... More »

One of Most Complete T. Rex Skulls Ever Arrives at Museum

'An iconic specimen'

(Newser) - It may look like a giant rock right now, but inside is what dinosaur expert Jack Horner calls "one of the most significant" Tyrannosaurus rex specimens ever found, the AP reports. According to the Seattle Times , a 2,500-pound, plaster-encased lump of dirt and rock arrived at the Burke... More »

North America's 1st Monkey Crossed a Sea to Get There

And it arrived 18M years before scientists thought possible

(Newser) - Researchers have discovered evidence that monkeys arrived in North America 18 million years earlier than previously believed, according to a study published Wednesday in Nature . And they were truly impressive monkeys indeed. The newly discovered Panamacebus transitus had to somehow cross the 100 miles of water that separated South America... More »

Scientists Finally Know Why Snakes Lost Their Legs

Apparently it was a need to burrow underground

(Newser) - "How snakes lost their legs has long been a mystery to scientists," Dr. Hongyu Yi says in a press release from the University of Edinburgh. But that mystery may have finally been solved thanks to a 90 million-year-old skull and advanced CT scan technology. It's been long... More »

Scientists Find Tropical Forest—in the Arctic

It would have thrived near the equator 380M years ago

(Newser) - Bet you didn't know there was a tropical forest in the Arctic. That's what scientists say they've uncovered in Svalbard, Norway, though the remnants of the forest are actually 380 million years old and fossilized. Back when the early trees—a type dubbed Protolepidodendropsis pulchra—were alive... More »

Ancient Crystals Rewrite 300M Years of History

Life may have started 'almost instantaneously'

(Newser) - Life of one kind or another has been around on this planet for 300 million years longer than thought, according to US researchers who took a close look at some incredibly ancient crystals unearthed in Australia. The scientists say that the zircon crystals from 4.1 billion years ago contain... 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 »

Dinosaur-Age Cockroach Was Fearsome Predator

100M-year-old insect also had swiveling head, took flight

(Newser) - A mean-looking cockroach that lived alongside the dinosaurs had a long neck, swiveling head, and elongated legs that enabled it to surprise prey, New Scientist reports via Gizmodo . Found embedded in amber in Myanmar, the 100-million-year-old insect resembles a cross between a roach, a crane fly, and a praying mantis:... More »

Fossils Reveal Scottish Sea Monster

Scotland's first known ichthyosaur discovered

(Newser) - It was the size of a motorboat and looked like a "sinister dolphin," reports Discovery News in describing Scotland's first known—and newly discovered—ichthyosaur. In 1959, Brian Shawcross came upon prehistoric bones on the Isle of Skye; the amateur fossil hunter donated them to Glasgow's... More »

N. America's Oldest Horned Dino Was Size of Bunny

Triceratops relative from early Cretaceous period also picky eater: scientists

(Newser) - When paleontologists on a National Geographic Society expedition dug up a 100-million-year-plus sample sticking out of the dirt in Montana in 1997, they initially thought it was a rock—until they saw it had teeth. Now, 17 years later, they've finally gotten around to naming and describing the creature,... More »

'Hallucigenia' Fossil Mystery Cracked

Surreal Cambrian creature has modern relatives

(Newser) - After four decades of confusion, scientists have finally figured out how to classify a creature so surreal it was given the name Hallucigenia. The tiny creature, found in fossils from the "Cambrian Explosion" of diverse life 500 million years ago, has 14 to 16 legs and large spikes on... More »

Mother, Son Both Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Andrew Harrelson says his fossil weighs 162 pounds

(Newser) - Like mother, like son: An Alaska man uncovered a woolly mammoth tusk 22 years after his mother found one in the very same location. According to the Alaska Dispatch, 25-year-old Andrew Harrelson was fishing with his fiancee and his two children near his home village of White Mountain Sunday when... More »

World's 'Longest Poop' Could Fetch $10K

A Beverly Hills gallery will put fossilized excrement on the auction block

(Newser) - This Saturday, a Beverly Hills gallery plans to auction off a piece of crap—literally. The IM Chait Gallery says it will put a 40-inch-long piece of excrement up for auction, and it hopes to fetch around $10,000, LiveScience reports. Why the big bucks? The "eye-watering" poop "... 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 »

Bachelor Party Unearths Ancient Remains

Revelers appear to have stumbled upon an intact stegomastodon skull

(Newser) - Many bachelor parties' participants get more than they bargained for, but for one group of revelers at Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico, what they got on Monday could turn out to be historic. "As we are cruising by we see ... what seems to be a large... More »

Your Jaw May Come From This Ancient Fish

Minnow-sized creature had something akin to one 500M years ago

(Newser) - Introducing Metaspriggina, a minnow-sized fish that lived about 500 million years ago and appears to occupy a crucial branch of your family tree. Scientists say the creature might just be the ancestor of nearly all vertebrates, reports LiveScience . The revelation comes after study of dozens of remarkably well-preserved Metaspriggina fossils... More »

Inside S. Carolina's Tussle Over the ... Woolly Mammoth

Lawmaker calls for Bible quote in fossil bill

(Newser) - Olivia McConnell, 8, wants South Carolina to have a state fossil—after all, it's one of fewer than 10 that don't. But her efforts to get approval for the woolly mammoth have met with some obstacles in the state capital, USA Today reports. Republican state Sen. Kevin Bryant... More »

Insects Caught in the Act —in 165M-Year-Old Fossil

Offers rare look at froghoppers' mating evolution

(Newser) - Meet the world's longest-lasting couple: Two insects who've been doing the deed for 165 million years. Yep, Chinese scientists have uncovered an ancient fossil of the love birds, er, froghoppers—the oldest instance of insects caught in the act in rock form, Popular Science reports. "This one... 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 »

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