ScienceDaily (Sep. 8, 2011) — Skeletal remains found in a South African cave may yield new clues to human development and answer key questions of the evolution of the human lineage, according to a series of papers released in the journal Science co-written by a Texas A&M University anthropology professor.
Researcher Darryl de Ruiter is part of an international team that examined the discovery in a cave about 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg and originally found in 2008. This same team named the new species, Australopithecus sediba, in April 2010. The team, composed of members from U.S., African, European and Australian universities, found multiple individuals of Australopithecus sediba that show both human-like and ape-like characteristics intermediate between Australopithecus and present-day humans.
“The key message is that these remains appear to be a transitional form of Australopithecus, intermediate between earlier australopiths and later Homo, the genus to which present-day humans belong,” de Ruiter explains. Read more.
Fossils from the oldest known Antarctic “sea monster” have been found, a new study says.
The discovery of an 85-million-year-old plesiosaur has pushed back the marine reptile’s presence in Antarctica by 15 million years.
“The fragments we found don’t belong to any group registered on the continent before, which indicates a greater diversity of the plesiosaurs in Antarctica than previously suspected,” said team leader Alexander Kellner, of the National Museum of Brazil at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
Fragments of the vertebrae, head, and flippers suggest the newfound plesiosaur was 20 to 23 feet (6 to 7 meters) long. The bones weren’t, however, enough to identify the species of the plesiosaur.
Plesiosaurs roamed the seas worldwide between about 205 million to 65 million years ago, reaching the Southern Hemisphere by the mid-Jurassic. The animals had a range of different sizes and features, but mostly shared small heads, long necks, and big bodies.
“If the Loch Ness monster ever existed, this would be its best representation,” Kellner said. Read more.
Washington, August 17 : The fossil of world’s oldest known fingernails has been found. The fossils were collected over the last seven years in northwestern Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin.
The prehistoric fingernails date to about 55.8 million years ago and belonged to a primate, now extinct, named Teilhardina brandti. This little lemur-like mammal measured just 6 inches long and lived in trees.
“While we are not sure about the original function of nails in primates, it seems clear that they evolved within the context of living in the trees, possibly associated with specialized grasping behaviours for moving in small diameter branches and manipulation of small food items (fruit, seeds, etc.),” co-author Jonathan Bloch told Discovery News.
“They are not exactly shaped like our nails,” said Bloch, who is an associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus. Read more.
San Pedro Valley News - Two paleontologists, with a fascinating collection of prehistoric bones and fossils, will be hosting a free show for the community’s enjoyment.
Excavating the bones and fossilized remains of creatures that inhabited earth millions of years ago is Joe and Frona Fileccia’s passion. Known as the “Dino Seekers,” the couple will be sharing that passion with the public through an informational exhibit from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday at Frontier Fitness, 500 S. Highway 80 in Benson.
“We’ve always been interested in rocks and minerals and have been collecting rocks, minerals, bones and fossils for years now,” said Frona. “It’s a dream come true for us to share what we’ve learned with the community, especially children.” Read more.
For Palenque inhabitants, marine fossils were the convincing proof of the land being covered by the sea long time ago, and parting from this fact they created their idea of the origin of the world.
MEXICO CITY.- Recent interdisciplinary investigations regarding 31 marine fossils found at Palenque Archaeological Zone, in Chiapas, reveal that Maya people conceived their beliefs parting from this kind of vestiges, so their idea of the underworld was associated to water.
For Palenque inhabitants, marine fossils were the convincing proof of the land being covered by the sea long time ago, and parting from this fact they created their idea of the origin of the world, declared archaeologist Martha Cuevas, responsible, with geologist Jesus Alvarado, of research conducted by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Ongoing for 3 years, the investigation is oriented to understand symbolism given by ancient Mayas to Prehistoric vestiges, specifically the 31 specimens found at the archaeological site. Read more.
Grandparents are a relatively new phenomenon, researchers said today.
Until around 30,000 years ago, mankind’s ancestors had lifespans that were too short for three generations to live side-by-side, according to a study.
Simply, most people died before they were old enough to have grandchildren.
Scientists said their findings show that once life expectancy began to grow, populations expanded and societies started to thrive.
A long-running research project, studying the fossils of proto-humans stretching back three million years, reported some of its findings in the magazine Scientific American.
Anthropologist Rachel Caspari said that by examining Neanderthal dental records, her team established that 130,000 years ago, ‘no-one survived past 30’, which was the age at which they would have become grandparents.
The study, which involves fossil remains from 768 individuals, has been calculating the ratio of older to younger adults in ancient human societies down the millennia.
In the Neanderthal culture there were just four adults past the age of 30 for every 10 young adults. The average life expectancy was between 15 and 30. Read more.
BOGOTA - A CACHE of some two dozen fossils up to 200 million years old and destined for the black market have been found at the airport in the southern Colombian city of Florencia, police said on Tuesday.
The police report said the fossils were part of the ‘skeletal remains of early mammals and reptiles that inhabited the Andean region,’ and also included the jaw of a dinosaur.
The Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History and the Colombian Institute of Geology and Mining say they determined that the remains belonged to the Mesozoic and the Cretaceous period, which puts them at 150 million to 200 million years old.
Police say fossils are highly sought after by collectors and dealers, not only locally but internationally. Their value is incalculable, according to the police report. (source)
When you die, what will you leave behind? Local history and archeology buffs are invited to join the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan for a special exhibition and presentation on fossils and archaeology this Sunday, July 10, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM. George Kampouris, local paleontologist, and Dr. Jean-Luc Pilon, archaeologist, will be on hand to introduce visitors to the wonders of fossils and cultural artifacts from this area.
Mr. Kampouris began his journey into the world of fossils while picking stones on a local farm long ago. “A rock fell apart in my hands and inside was a giant snail which had died some 400 million years ago.” Since then, he’s hunted the earliest mammals, the oldest dinosaurs, armoured sharks the size of a pickup truck and other weird, hard-to-explain animals from the distant past. Read more.