fossil news from issue 59

I'm sure we all had a dinosaur toy whilst growing up, the only issue being that your rubber/plastic toy might have led you astray and mis-educated you, however I'm sure coming across a dinosaur in the wild you may recognise it however research has shown that school children and older students (not studying science topics) believed that T-rex was upright with his tale on the ground. We're all aware that Trex now has a more bird type posture with his tale in the air and head leaning forward.
Luckily images, references, exhibitions and toys are now reflecting this however older toys, comics and media references to dinosaurs are still guilty of portraying dinosaurs incorrectly.

It's estimated that only up to 2% of the earths fossils are from volcanic rock, due to heat destroying specimens journal Plos One recently published details of one, a 9.2 million year old rhino skull. From the common large 2 horned rhino species it's thought the animal living in Turkey was trapped in a lava flow, cooked and swept up to 20 miles away.

We like it when modern techniques and research challenge previous traditional standards, University of Manchester researcher Charlotte Brassey looked into how we measure the size of dinosaurs, noticing that uniformly measuring the diameter and length of sample fossil bones, then using modern animal weight, bone size, mass ratio to estimate the actual size didn't take into account that many bones aren't uniform in shape and are often curved or irregular. Results from modern 3D models of a range of animals highlighted to researchers that actually the previous 'standardised' method could actually overestimate the stress bones could carry, drawing the conclusion that those big dinosaurs might not be so big after all!

They never had the opportunity to see or even confront each other, originating at different times and continents but these meat eating dinosaurs are the largest of their kind, Spinosaurus lived in North Africa 112 million to 97 million years ago and grew up to 20+ tons probably had a diet of fish, small herbivores and scavenged, Tyrannosaurus (67 - 65 million years ago) the most known and favoured among little dinosaur fans, didn't go into battle with other large creatures as most media suggests but scavenged for carcasses and small herbivores, evidence has also been found to indicate it also attacked it's own kind.

Giganotosaurus (circa 97 millions years old from South America) weighing slightly more than t-rex's 8 tons was equipped for tackling live prey including large herbivores, having a top speed of 30 mph definately helped! However all three of these dinosaurs are dwarfed by Argentinosaurus at a huge 80+tons.

From large to small or even micro, foram a common micro fossil has been living in the sea's and oceans for millions of years and it's these tiny creatures that have helped scientists research and understand how the bodies of water in our world have formed and played a part in the diversity of planet earth. Being 0.1 - 1mm in size that's quite an achievement; however their ancient relatives have been found up to 10cms in diameter. The tiny creatures grow a mineralised shell which is the part of the organism that scientists are interested in.
They exist at all water depths and their remains have been extracted from drill and bore holes in strategic positions to build a picture of how the seas have changed. Of particular interest is how the Antarctic Circumpolar Current or ACC was created isolating Antarctica and allowing the ice to form which in turn has a great effect on our modern day climate.

A 270 million year old fish named Helicoprion has puzzled researchers for some time, a recent fossil find in Idaho luckily had evidence of the Helicoprion’s jaws obtained by CT scan of the host rock.
Bizarrely the fish has a spiral of teeth fixed to it's lower jaw resembling a partial circular saw blade. It's thought that Helicoprion is more like a chimaera rather than a shark, which was originally assumed, possibly due to the number of its formidable teeth previously found. The state university's Museum of Natural History has the largest collection of Helicoprions in the world.

Discovered in a remote part of Saudi Arabia a previously unknown civilisation from 9,000 years ago, amongst various artifacts recovered is a huge horse like head carving weighing over 135kg. Researchers were able to find remains of a horse like animal with evidence of wear on the teeth & jaws indicating a riding type bit was used, this confirms the animals were domesticated, dogs were also found. I wonder if the horses were part of the local diet as well.

Using argon-argon dating geochronology (art of aging rocks and fossils) techniques researchers from universities including Glasgow examined ash found in fossil laden areas and concluded that the discovery suggests the mass dinosaur extinction was 66,038,000 years ago and due somewhat to a large impact event (give or take 11000 years).

 A question researchers have been in disagreement about for sometime is when did the placental  mammals appear, researchers collaborated with research data using a purpose researchers collaborated with research data using a purpose built web accessed database system

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