Paleontology

Blogs about paleontology

Doliodus problematicus specimen (Photo courtesy John G. Maisey et al)

An article published in the journal “American Museum Novitates” describes a research that provides the strongest evidence yet that sharks descended from a very ancient group of fish called acanthodians. A team of researchers led by John Maisey of American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Paleontology analyzed fossil remains that were exceptionally preserved of an ancient shark-like fish called Doliodus problematicus identifying it as a transitional species between acanthodians and sharks.

Ramathallus lobatus tomography (Image courtesy Stefan Bengtson et al.)

An article published in the journal “PLOS Biology” describes the study of two types of fossil plants discovered in India dating back 1.6 billion years. A team of the Swedish Museum of Natural History led by Stefan Bengtson studied these two different species that look like red algae calling them Rafatazmia chitrakootensis and Ramathallus lobatus. The oldest red algae known so far date back to 1.2 billion years ago and the new discovery indicates that complex life evolved earlier than expected.

The Aroeira cranium (Photo courtesy Javier Trueba)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ describes the study of the oldest fossil cranium discovered in Portugal, in the Aroeira cave. A team led by archaeologist João Zilhão which includes anthropologist Rolf Quam of Binghamton University found that incomplete cranium which has an age estimated at about 400,000 years along with animal remains and various artifacts including stone tools among which several handaxes.

Diagram of the skeletal anatomy of Ichthyosaur communis from 1824

An article published in the “Journal of Systematic Palaeontology” describes a research that proposes a taxonomic revision among ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles that lived in the Triassic and Cretaceous periods. Dean Lomax, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester, and Professor Judy Massare of Brockport College studied fossils of the species Ichthyosaurus communis and Ichthyosaurus intermedius concluding that they are actually the same species.

Virtual reconstruction of the two skulls found in China (Image courtesy Xiujie Wu)

An article published in the journal “Science” describes the study of two incomplete skulls dated between 105,000 and 125,000 years discovered in the Henan province in eastern China. An international team examined the fragments found describing the mixed characteristics that put together those of various species of hominids. An intriguing hypothesis is that these are the mysterious Denisovans, of which very few bones were found. Unfortunately the attempt to recover DNA fragments failed.