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First Mass Extinction Likely Caused by 'Utterly Weird' Animals

Animals shaped like 'Frisbees and lumpy mattresses' may have killed early Ediacarans

(Newser) - New fossil evidence dug up in Namibia lends credence to the theory that we should blame "ecosystem engineers" for the world's first mass extinction, and that's not a euphemism for man, asteroids, or aliens. Instead, per a Vanderbilt University study published in the October issue of the... More »

Ancient Proof of Mother's Love Unearthed in Taiwan

4,800-year-old human fossil is of mother, baby

(Newser) - Archaeologists in Taiwan were "shocked" to unearth a 4,800-year-old human fossil of a mother cradling an infant in her arms. The discovery, among 48 sets of remains excavated from graves in the Taichung area, represents the earliest trace of human activity in central Taiwan, according to Reuters . "... 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 »

Ancient Flower Species Found Trapped in Amber

Perfect specimen could be up to 45M years old

(Newser) - A beautiful and probably deadly plant preserved in amber for years has turned out to be a species completely new to science. The new species, which has been named Strychnos electri, was identified from two tiny flowers perfectly preserved in amber found in a mine in the Dominican Republic. It... More »

Dinosaurs' Last Moments Found—Behind a Lowe's?

Weirdly, this quarry is open to the public

(Newser) - Amateur enthusiasts and kids on field trips have been flocking to a New Jersey quarry pit for years to dig up some of its many prehistoric fossils. Incredibly, this pit may also be the only known dinosaur graveyard dating back to their destruction 66 million years ago, the New York ... 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 »

World's '1st Flower' Dates Back 130M Years

The oldest known flowering plant, found in Spain, was aquatic

(Newser) - The world's oldest known flower dating back 130 million years is an aquatic species called Montsechia found fossilized in limestone deposits in Spain. But it wouldn't necessarily be recognized as a flower today, given it didn't boast petals or nectar-producing structures. "The fruit contains a single... More »

In 'Crap' Dinosaur Fossils, Scientists Strike Gold

If 75M-year-old soft tissue has survived, could DNA, too?

(Newser) - The fossils may be in such poor shape that scientists are calling them "crap," but the 75-million-year-old fragments are golden in another sense. A theropod claw, triceratops-like toe bone, and duck-billed dinosaur limb and ankle bones first unearthed in Canada 100 years ago appear to retain soft tissue,... More »

Hiker Stumbles Onto 90M-Year-Old Turtle

Experts then dig it up for museum display

(Newser) - What looked like a pile of weirdly gray rocks was actually something far more significant: a fossil dating back to the dinosaurs, the Las Cruces Sun-News reports. Jeff Dornbusch, a museum volunteer, noticed the gray mound while hiking in New Mexico's brown desert landscape more than ten years ago,... More »

'Rare' Mammoth Found in Idaho Now Underwater

Excavation team temporarily thwarted by rising water levels

(Newser) - A portion of a Columbian mammoth skull and tusks have been uncovered in southeastern Idaho, and experts say a rare entire skeleton might be buried there. Experts estimate the mammoth was about 16 years old and lived about 70,000 to 120,000 years ago in what was a savanna-like... More »

Whales Got So Big After Super-Sized Shark Died Out

Megalodon died out 2.6M years ago, scientists estimate

(Newser) - Great white sharks have nothing on the ancient megalodon, which grew up to 50 feet in length and sported teeth as long as 7 inches. And now scientists have their firmest timeframe yet for when the creature went extinct. Scientists at the University of Florida in Gainesville report this week... 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, 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 »

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 »

10 Dinosaur Mysteries That Still Linger

Who was biggest and how they mated are still unknown

(Newser) - Dinosaur articles, movies, and museum displays are common enough that you might consider all dino-mysteries solved, but the Smithsonian reports that major ones still remain. Among them:
  • Who was first? Nobody knows which dinosaur species came first, partly because fossil records provide fragmentary insights rather than "the entire reel,
... More »

Ice Age Fossils Found in Wyoming Cave

Analysis of specimens underway, and some might date back 100K years

(Newser) - It's called the Natural Trap Cave for a reason: The 15-foot-wide hole in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming is all but impossible to see until it's too late, and animals have been falling to their deaths there for eons. But what was bad news for them is great... More »

Moon May Hold Clues to Earth's Ancient Past

Study says fossils from Earth could survive the trip via meteor

(Newser) - Might the moon be able to shed some light on the origins of life on Earth? A new study out of the University of Kent opens the possibility that the moon could be littered with ancient fossils from our planet, reports New Scientist . No such fossil has been found to... More »

Scientists Find World's Oldest Sperm

Shrimp-like creatures were preserved nearly in mid-act 17M years ago

(Newser) - About 17 million years ago, a shrimp-like creature had sex in a cave in Australia, but instead of an afterglow, she got hit almost immediately with what one scientist thinks was a "torrential rain of bat droppings," reports Australia's ABC News . Her misfortune then is scientists' delight... More »

How an Ancient Whale Graveyard Appeared in Chile

2011 find mystified experts

(Newser) - Researchers were left scratching their heads in 2011 when they came upon a trove of whale fossils between 6 million and 9 million years old, of all places in Chile's Atacama Desert. It featured dozens of specimens, accounting for "at least 10 different kinds of marine animals, recurring... More »

New Fossil Find One of History's Greatest

3K fossils, 55 species found in Canada's Kootenay National Park

(Newser) - Researchers in Canada have made an "extraordinary" find: a vast collection of fossils that offer an in-depth look at prehistoric life. The site in Kootenay National Park is being compared to what experts call one of history's greatest fossil finds, a 1909 discovery about 26 miles away in... More »

Saudi Arabia Milestone: Dinosaur Fossils

Scientists find first that can be identified in Arabian Peninsula

(Newser) - A new fossil discovery confirms that dinosaurs roamed present-day Saudi Arabia. Researchers report in PLoS One that they found bone fragments of two different dinosaurs that lived about 72 million years ago. One is a distant cousin of T-Rex, a meat-eating theropod. The other is a plant-eating titanosaur, reports LiveScience... More »

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