Blogs about paleontology

Fossil bird from the Messel Pit. Markings show the uropygial gland (Photo courtesy Sven Traenkner/ Senckenberg)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” describes the discovery of a fossil bird from 48 million years ago in which the uropygial gland was preserved, a gland that secretes an oil birds use to preen their plumage. The examination showed that it still contained lipids, the oldest ever found in the remains of a vertebrate.

Siphusauctum lloydguntheri (Photo courtesy Julien Kimmig | KU News Service)

An article published in the “Journal of Paleontology” describes the identification of an animal that lived in the Middle Cambrian, between 513 and 501 million years ago. Named Siphusauctum lloydguntheri, it was studied thanks to a specimen discovered years ago in Utah. According to the researchers who studied it, it’s the oldest stalked filter feeder discovered in North America.

Ieldraan melkshamensis fossil (Image courtesy Davide Foffa)

An article published in the magazine “Journal of Systematic Palaeontology” describes a research on a marine predator that was recently identified and called Ieldraan melkshamensis. This is a reptile about three meters (10 feet) long that lived in the shallow and warm seas that covered most of today’s Europe in the Middle Jurassic, about 163 million years ago. This species was classified as part of the taxonomic tribe of Geosaurini and provides new information on the origin of today’s crocodiles’ distant relatives.

Palaeolenus lantenoisi (Image courtesy Hopkins et al)

An article published in the magazine “PLOS ONE” describes a research on primitive trilobites with the discovery of the oldest digestive system consisting of digestive glands and a crop. A team of researchers led by Melanie Hopkins, an assistant curator in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History, examined 270 specimens of which most were discovered in Yunnan, China, where they lived more than 500 million years ago, discovering that at least the species Palaeolenus lantenoisi and Redlichia mansuyi had a stomach.

Linguamyrmex vladi (Image courtesy Phillip Barden et al.)

An article published in the journal “Systematic Entomology” describes a research on an ant that lived about 98 million years ago and was preserved in amber. Called Linguamyrmex vladi, it was studied using modern technologies by a team of researchers led by Dr Phillip Barden. It turned out that it was a species with morphological characteristics that indicate a highly specialized predator behavior. It was part of an extinct group nicknamed “hell ants” and fed off its prey’s blood.