Paleontology

An article published in the “South African Journal of Science” describes the sophisticated technologies used to create a 3D map of the cave in which the bones of more than 1,500 hominid fossils called Homo Naledi were found. The team of Professor Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand’s (Wits) was forced to work in difficult conditions and it’s for this reason that Ashley Kruger, part of his team, turned to various technologies to map the cave.

Reproduction of a marine environment in Antarctica at the end of the Cretaceous (Image courtesy James McKay)

An article published in the journal “Nature Communications” describes a research based on the analysis of more than 6,000 fossils of Antarctic marine organisms concluding that the mass extinction occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period that wiped out the dinosaurs was as deadly in the polar regions. This contradicts the idea that in far south regions of the world there would be less danger during that event.

Sclerocormus parviceps complete (a), in close-ups (b, c, d) and in reconstructions (e, f, g, h)

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes the analysis of an ichthyosauriform reptile that lived at the beginning of the Triassic period, about 248 million years ago, in today’s Anhui province in China. Called Sclerocormus parviceps, it has very different characteristics from most other members of the same group. This shows that those marine reptiles had rapidly evolved and diversified after the great extinction at the end of the Permian period, far quicker than previously thought.

Teconstruction of Spiclypeus shipporum's skull with the missing parts faded (Image Jordan C. Mallon et al.)

An article published in the journal “PLOS ONE” describes the analysis of the bones of a dinosaur that was called Spiclypeus shipporum. It’s a so-called horned dinosaur that belongs to the family of the ceratopsids (Ceratopsidae). The only specimen found lived about 76 million years ago in today’s Montana, USA.

Mosasaurus hoffmannii skeleton

An article published in the journal “Palaeontology” describes a research which concluded that mosasaurs were warm-blooded. These animals were marine reptiles that became extinct along with the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period. Dr. Alberto Perez-Huerta, a professor of geology at the University of Alabama, and then students T. Lynn Harrell Jr. and Celina Suarez believe they have found evidence that mosasaurs were warm-blooded and not cold-blooded, like other scientists claimed.