Paleontology

Fossil tick in amber (Photo courtesy Oregon State University)

An article published in “Journal of Medical Entomology” describes the study of a drop of blood that belonged to a mammal that lived tens of millions of years ago preserved in amber. A team led by George Poinar, Jr. of the College of Science at Oregon State University, studied what are the oldest traces of mammalian blood. That blood was sucked by a tick that probably belonged to the genus Amblyomma which was then trapped in amber.

Daspletosaurus horneri skull

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes the discovery of a new tyrannosaurid, a group of carnivorous theropod dinosaurs that included the famous T. rex. Called Daspletosaurus horneri, it was discovered in Montana and has an age of about 75 million years. The fossils’ excellent state of preservation allowed an analysis that suggests that it had sense organs on its snout similar to those of crocodiles and was a descendant of Daspletosaurus torosus.

Old and new dinosaur classification (Image courtesy Nature)

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a new hypothesis regarding the relationships within the group of dinosaurs. A team of scientists from the British Cambridge University and the Natural History Museum in London proposed a new structure for the tree of the dinosaur group that heavily restructures the classical groups by assigning a number of new names as well. The scientists also proposed the hypothesis that dinosaurs originated in the northern hemisphere and not in the southern.

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.