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Top Ten Dinosaur and Fossil Finds: Most Viewed of 2009

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Tyrannosaurus Rex
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« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2009, 06:27:24 am »



Paleontologists uncover two rib bones from the newly discovered plant-eating dinosaur Matilda in the Australian outback town of Winton in 2008.

Skeletons of Matilda and a carnivorous dinosaur dubbed Banjo were found buried together in an ancient billabong, or oxbow lake.

The intermingling of their bones suggests the two dinosaurs died at the same time, Hocknull said, and few disturbances to the site over millions of years kept the fossils well preserved.
—Photograph courtesy Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History
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Tyrannosaurus Rex
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« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2009, 06:28:16 am »

NEW FOSSIL PHOTOS: "Graceful Weasel," Jewel Bug, More


August 21, 2009--This newfound fossil in the Masillamys genus--a group of extinct rodents with chisel-like incisors--is among the exceptionally well-preserved species recently unearthed from the Messel Pit, a paleontological site in Germany.

Although today Messel lies about 12 miles (20 kilometers) southeast of Frankfurt, around 47 million years ago the pit was at the same latitude as modern-day Sicily, where a wetter, warmer climate supported a rich diversity of plants and animals (see a map of Europe).

Annual digs conducted by the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt have uncovered thousands of fossils of primeval rodents, reptiles, insects, and hoofed mammals that lived in or around Messel during the Eocene epoch, about 55.8 to 33.9 million years ago. At that time the now grassy pit was a volcanic lake surrounded by dense forest.

Some of the artifacts are now on display at the research institute's museum.
— Photograph courtesy Senckenberg Research Institute

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/08/photogalleries/new-fossils-messel-pit-pictures/
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Tyrannosaurus Rex
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« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2009, 06:29:05 am »



Between 2007 and 2008, researchers found more than 6,500 fossils embedded in shale from Germany's Messel Pit, including an ancient ungulate, or hoofed mammal, called Kopidodon macrognathus, whose skull is seen above. Researchers think this animal was a young male, based on its bony head crest and still-developing teeth in its upper jaw.

Despite its long canines, the animal's flat molars, specialized hip joints, and the strong grip of its front limbs suggest the creature was a tree-dwelling fruit-eater, not a predator. The scientists hope that analysis of the animal's preserved stomach contents will reveal more about its lifestyle during the Eocene.
— Photograph courtesy Senckenberg Research Institute
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Tyrannosaurus Rex
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« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2009, 06:29:56 am »



Seeming to crawl from under a blanket of shale, the fossil of a well-preserved lizard found in Germany has been shown to be an ancient relative of venomous Gila monsters. Modern day Gila monsters are found only in the deserts of the U.S. Southwest and northern Mexico.

The fossil reptile lived about 47 million years ago near a volcanic lake surrounded by a rich diversity of wildlife. Researchers with the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, who examined the fossil, say that canals in its teeth suggest the primitive creature was already producing venom.
— Photograph courtesy Senckenberg Research Institute
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« Reply #34 on: December 28, 2009, 06:30:40 am »



An ancient leafcutter bee, Friccomelissa schopowi, was among the more than 1,400 fossil insects found in the Messel Pit site near Frankfurt, Germany, between 2007 and 2008.

Unlike its modern relatives, though, the Messel bee apparently didn't build its nest with disks cut from planet leaves, according to researchers with the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt who analyzed the fossil.
— Photograph courtesy Senckenberg Research Institute
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« Reply #35 on: December 28, 2009, 06:31:13 am »



Seemingly frozen mid-hop, this fossil of a juvenile Leptictidium was unearthed in Germany's Messel Pit in September 2008. The animal, whose scientific name means "graceful weasel," was a small, carnivorous mammal with a long nose similar to that of an elephant shrew, researchers say.

The scientists aren't sure if the extinct Eocene animal walked on two legs or hopped like a kangaroo, but further examination of its spine might help solve the puzzle.
— Photograph courtesy Senckenberg Research Institute
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« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2009, 06:32:02 am »



About 47 million years after it died, this jewel beetle, found in Germany's Messel Pit, still displays a shimmering metallic coloration.

Both ancient and modern jewel beetles sport their iridescent exteriors thanks to the way different layers in their outer body coverings refract light.
— Photograph courtesy Senckenberg Research Institute
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« Reply #37 on: December 28, 2009, 06:32:44 am »



This drowned weaver ant queen fell to her death around 47 million years ago as she flew over Lake Messel, an ancient volcanic lake that once filled the Messel Pit near modern-day Frankfurt, Germany.

Modern members of the Oecophylla ant genus can be found in the tropics of Africa and Southeast Asia, where they are famed for weaving nests of plant material using silk from their larvae.
— Photograph courtesy Senckenberg Research Institute
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« Reply #38 on: December 28, 2009, 06:33:24 am »

Biggest Snake Discovered; Was Longer Than a Bus
John Roach
for National Geographic News
February 4, 2009


The world's biggest snake was a massive anaconda-like beast that slithered through steamy tropical rain forests about 60 million years ago, says a new study that describes the ancient giant.

(See pictures of the ancient giant and other huge snakes and watch video.

Fossils found in northeastern Colombia's Cerrejon coal mine indicate the reptile, dubbed Titanoboa cerrejonesis, was at least 42 feet (13 meters) long and weighed 2,500 pounds (1,135 kilograms).

"That's longer than a city bus and … heavier than a car," said lead study author Jason Head, a fossil-snake expert at the University of Toronto Mississauga in Canada and a research associate with the Smithsonian Institution.

Previously the biggest snake known was Gigantophis garstini, which was 36 to 38 feet (11 to 11.6 meters) long. That snake lived in North Africa about 40 million years ago.

Hans-Dieter Sues, associate director for research and collections at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, was not involved with the study but has seen the snake fossils.
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« Reply #39 on: December 28, 2009, 06:33:37 am »

Sues noted that humans would stand no chance against one of these giants, which killed their prey by slow suffocation.

"Given the sheer size—the sheer cross-section of that snake—it would be probably like one of those devices they use to crush old cars in a junkyard," Sues said.

In addition, the snake's heft indicates that it lived when the tropics were much warmer than they are today, a find that holds potential implications for theories of once and future climate change.
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« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2009, 06:33:58 am »

Biggest Snake Needed the Heat

Scientists know there's a link between a snake's body size, how fast it uses and produces energy, and climate.

(Related: "World's Smallest Snake Discovered, Study Says" [August 3, 20008].)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090204-biggest-snake-fossil.html
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« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2009, 06:34:43 am »

"We were able to use the snake, if you will, as a giant fossil thermometer," study author Head said.

His team found that, for Titanoboa to reach its epic proportions, mean year-round temperatures would have been about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius)—significantly hotter than today's tropics.

This supports the idea that tropical temperatures spike as the rest of the world heats up due to global warming, the study authors say.

The competing theory is that, during bouts of warming, the tropics stay about the same average temperatures as they are today while areas north and south of the Equator heat up.

James Zachos, an expert on ancient climates at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who was not involved in the study, agreed.

As the biggest known snake, Titanoboa supports the idea of "much hotter tropics during extreme greenhouse periods," Zachos said.
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« Reply #42 on: December 28, 2009, 06:35:07 am »

Big Reptiles on the Horizon?

Study co-author Jonathan Bloch is a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.

The same Colombian coal mine that contained the biggest snake also yielded massive turtles and crocodiles, he said.

"You can think about it as an ecosystem dominated by giants, I think, and these are probably giants that got large because of the warmer mean annual temperature," he said.

The findings, detailed in this week's issue of the journal Nature, paint a picture of what the future might hold if supercharged global warming takes place.

According to some models, global temperatures could approach the same levels that gave rise to the biggest snake by the end of this century.

If current greenhouse gas emissions continue apace, there's a chance snakes the size of Titanoboa could return, Bloch said.

"Or maybe snakes would go extinct in the tropics," he said. "In other words, the warming could happen so rapidly that they wouldn't have time to adapt."
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« Reply #43 on: December 28, 2009, 06:37:24 am »

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« Reply #44 on: December 28, 2009, 06:38:15 am »

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/bigphotos/37952536.html
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