Blogs about paleontology

Artist's concept of Gorynychus masyutinae hunting a Suminia getmanovi (Image courtesy Matt Celeskey)

Two articles published in the journal “PeerJ” describe the discovery of two species of saber-toothed predators that were named Gorynychus masyutinae and Nochnitsa geminidens, both belonging to the group of therapsids. Christian Kammerer of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, USA, and Vladimir Masyutin of the Vyatka Paleontological Museum in Kirov, Russia, examined the fossils, which improve our knowledge of the evolution of early mammals.

Megachirella Wachtleri (Photo courtesy MUSE - Science Museum, Trento, Italy)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on Megachirella wachtleri, a reptile that lived about 240 million years ago of which a fossil skeleton was discovered in the Dolomites Mountains of Northern Italy. A team of researchers examined the remains of this animal concluding that it’s the oldest known ancestor of modern squamates, the taxonomic order that includes lizards, snakes and amphisbaenians.

Anomalocaris Canadensis fossil from the Cambrian (Image courtesy A. Daley)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describes a research on ancient animal fossils connected to the Cambrian explosion. A team of researchers from the British University of Oxford and the Swiss University of Lausanne carried out the most complete examination ever made of fossils of early euarthropods. The conclusions are that the origins of these animals date back to no earlier than 550 million years ago and their diversification took about 40 million years.

Fossil skin fragments

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a research on the skin of feathered dinosaurs. A team of researchers examined fragments of fossil skin of specimens of some species discovered in north-eastern China: Microraptor, Beipiaosaurus and Sinornithosaurus together with an early bird of the genus Confuciusornis. The conclusion is that those dinosaurs shed their skin in tiny flakes, like modern birds, and not all together like many modern reptiles.