Paleontology

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.

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.