a collection of fossil snippets from around the world

Recent skeleton studies from the 17th-18th century in Warsaw Poland suggest that six bodies were buried with stones under their chins and sickles across their bodies, folklore traced to the 11th century says that this is a preventative measure because the first person(s) to die from a disease were likely to become a vampire and this would prevent them from biting the living. Health research of the area suggests that this was a time of repeated cholera epidemics in the region and a lack of understanding resulted in the community turning to supernatural explanations & preventions.

rockingem magazine issue 66

The cause of the dinosaur mass extinction is still under debate; was it a Meteorite impact, famine or lava flow(or combination of serveral events); anyway the latest research into the Deccan traps in India which is a huge lava flow has been dated to 66.29 million years ago using zircon crystal formations to confirm the actual date. More research is required but it does fuel the debate with the lava appearing some 250 000 years prior to the Mexican meteorite impact. At 3000 meters high and a product of 123 000 cubic miles it’s a strain to comprehend the size of the Deccan Traps, the timescale is also yet to be determined.

Eugène Dubois a famous 19th century paleoanthropologist and geologist has plenty of work still under scrutiny and re-evaluation by present day researchers, during cataloguing of his fossilised mollusk shell collection from Indonesia Stephen Munro of Australian National University and the National Museum of Australia realised one of the specimens was actually engraved. This remarkable discovery points to Homo erectus being a little craftier than we thought, this example pushing back the date of decorative use to 500 000 years old.

The analysis of fossil human and animal bone remains in the prehistoric Czechoslovak Republic has discovered that although the population and predators both show evidence of feeding on mammoth meat, the dogs local to the area were predominately feeding on the reindeer. University of Tübingen researcher Hervé Bocherens suggests that the people saved the choiciest meatss for themselves whilst the the dogs were given the foods that they didn’t like...

University of Missouri and Virgina researchers have been trying to substantiate a theory that goes against convention regarding the formation of fossils. The team suggests that the decay of soft tissue actually fuels the fossil making process. The researchers studying soft bodied tube worms discovered that as soon as bacteria began to ingest the tissue of the worm pyrites started to form. With potentially billions of species not preserved in the fossil record this research will hopefully fuel further studies into the formation of fossils.

Studying Neanderthal nasal complexes with 3-D coordinate data and CT imaging leads researchers to believe that modern humans have a separate evolution, although being close relatives we have nasal systems that have adapted to environmental climates.

Researchers used different radiocarbon dating techniques on a collection of 36 fossil teeth and bones of the American mastodons(ancient relative to elephants) found that the mastondons were from the late Pleistocene, between 10 000 and 125 000 years ago and spent some time inhabiting the artic & sub artic regions when they were less chilly, however this only lasted until approximately 75 000 years ago when a return to the chill encourage the creatures to migrate steadily south where they only survived for a mere 10 000 years later.

Continuing on the subject of teeth, biologist researchers studied birds tooth genes from more than 40 species, to determine that birds lost their toothy grins more than 100 million years ago.

A rare chancelloriid find in China is the result of a collaboration between Chinese and UK experts, the globe shaped creatures which had protective spines appears flat due to the process of fossilisation. It’s hoped the sample will aid further research into ancient oceans and creatures of the time. This species was named Nidelric pugio after the late Professor Aldridge of Leicester University.

A Telamonocarcinus antiquus found in Columbia is a new record for the oldest example found, the ancient crab could now have been around in the late Jurassic period, of particular interest with example from the tropics being particularly rare. Crabs are known to be the most evolved crustacean with nearly 10 000 species from millions of years of evolution.

A 300 million year old fossil fish has given up a secret by having its eye tissue in a preserved state where it could be examined, the findings suggest that the fish could see in colour. The 10cm long resident of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo is the last common ancestor of a variety of modern creatures including sharks. Researchers are hopeful that from this and other examples they’ll be able to demonstrate the range of actual colours these ancient specimens could see.

The first dinosaur skeleton to be displayed at the Natural History museum for some time is a Stegosaurus, found in Wyoming in 2003 the 80-90% complete specimen is the most complete found to date, acquired by the museum (with help) for an undisclosed sum after a visit to an international fossil fair! The juvenile specimen is about 5.5m in length and almost 3m tall, now called Sophie she’s sure to be a draw for researchers and visitors alike. German researchers have discovered the remains of 2 types of carnivorous plants dated to approximately 35-47 million years old. Initial theories suggest that the plants might be related to the Roridulacea family of carnivorous plants, which does have modern relatives. The discovery was made after examining specimens of amber from Russia.

A study in the journal ZooKeys has the latest updated family tree utilising fossil records for the metatheria (marsupial type mammals), reviewing their Cretaceous evoluionary history It’s thought that during the dinosaur extinction event mammals were also affected, however placental mammals survived much better than the metatheria and became the dominant mammal species.

Eohupehsuchus brevicollis is a recently discovered marine reptile from the Triassic period of the elusive Hupehsuchia family, it has a beak and a shorter neck with only 6 cervical vertebrae in comparison to the 9 vertebrae relatives found in China.

A recent announcement identified the oldest known horned dinosaur species from North America(Montana), if you’re expecting some giant formidable creature you’d be wrong Aquilops americanus was most likely similar to the size of a crow but a little heavier.This ceratopsian lived approximately 40 million years before the well-known distant relative triceratops. Featuring a sharp beak, slicing jaw and blade like teeth the creature was an established plant eater.

Since the discovery of Archaeopteryx it’s common conjecture that all birds descended from toothed ancestors. Being two legged with wings, jaws and sharp teeth Archaeopteryx was a transition between dinosaurs and birds, subsequent fossil finds have recorded creatures with part beaks and teeth. Through genomics researchers have concluded that birds lost their teeth some 116 million year ago. Being able to study the ‘turned off’ genes allowed researchers to compare 48 different bird species and a close crocodile ancestral relative, whose corresponding ‘teeth’ genes are all ‘active.

For over a 10 year period researchers have been collecting sharks teeth, however they originally travelled to Banks Island in Canada to look for mammoth remains, with no luck and cold weather they almost gave up until they stumbled upon huge quantities of sharks teeth predominately from just two:- the Striatolamia and Carcharias generas. It’s known that the area was much warmer then now but it surprised researchers that the species of shark was so limited, one theory was due to the very low salinity of the coastal waters at the time.

With the help of 3D scanners researchers have been revisiting sites of large fossil finds in order to capture them in detail using the scanning technology, unfortunately the wearther and in some instances vandalism had affected the remains. The aim is to provide a public record of the fossils and allow attempted removals where possible.

Vintana sertich has also been given a new lease of life by the use of scanning techonology, the rare & virtually unknown gondwanatherian has been carefully studied and the results have been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology this creature is now known to be like a badger in size, a herbivore with excellent vision, smell and hearing abilities.

University of Zurich researchers have studied bony fish from the Permian and Triassic periods (some 300 to 200 million years ago) which spanned several extinction events, it was found that cartilaginous fish were the original predominate fish group, however forward to the Middle Permian epoch and they suffered badly from an extinction event unlike their fellow ray finned fish which were relatively unscathed.

A further event at the Permian-Triassic border, wiped out up to 96% of sea creatures, but the ray finned fish diversified and took the role of the most abundant biodiverse species in both fresh and saltwater and helped shape the current fish population of today.

Spare a thought if you’re tucking into a festive lunch or Sunday roast, University of Kent researchers suggest that turkeys & chickens have less genomic changes from their dinosaur ancestors than other birds. Researchers also discovered that amplified rates of change were found among songbirds.

A 100+ 000 year old woolly mammoth originally from Siberia recently sold for £150 000 a little less than experts predicted, whilst a diplodocus skeleton sold for it’s lower estimate of £400 000 with only 40% of the bones original the other comprised of copies of other specimens.

Will a woolly mammoth be cloned? A 40 000 year old find from Siberia (called buttercup) has yielded enough blood & DNA for it to happen...

The Dinosaur 13 popcorn film which features the infamous T rex ‘Sue ‘by the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research has been accused of incorrectly stating that current US laws hamper fossil collecting & recovery.
Understandably this hugely important specimen is now preserved under public trust making it available for scientific and public study.
Unrelated to ‘Sue’ the Institute had previously been found guilty on 3 counts related to fossil theft from public lands.


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