Paleontology

Fossils of Tullimonstrum gregarium, the Tully monster

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a study that provides a solution to the mystery represented by the animal commonly known as “Tully” monster”. Its scientific name is Tullimonstrum gregarium and it’s a creature that lived just over 300 million years ago in today’s Illinois, USA. For decades no one could figure out what kind of animal it was but according to a team from Yale University led by Dr. Victoria McCoy of the University of Leicester it was a vertebrate related to modern lampreys.

Reconstruction of Timurlengia euotica skeleton (Image courtesy Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ describes the study of fossils of Timurlengia euotica, a horse-sized dinosaur that lived about 90 million years ago of which various bones have been discovered in Uzbekistan allowing to identify this new species. It’s a tyrannosaurus that lived before the famous T.rex: it wasn’t its direct ancestor but provides information on its evolution.

The skull of Teyujagua paradoxa

An article published in the journal “Scientific Reports” describes the study of a fossil of Teyujagua paradoxa, a reptile lived at the beginning of the Triassic, about 250 million years ago. A well-preserved skull was found at the beginning of 2015 near the city of São Francisco de Assis, in southern Brazil. According to the members of the international team that studied it, this discovery represents a help in understanding the evolution of the group of animals called archosauriforms (Archosauriformes), which includes dinosaurs, pterosaurs and crocodiles but also birds.

The ancient reptiles trapped in amber (Photo David Grimaldi)

An article published in the journal “Science Advances” describes the exams carried out on the remains of lizards and a primitive chameleon exceptionally preserved in amber. There’s a total of 12 specimens of which a geko, an archaic lizard and the chameleon were particularly well preserved. There are missing links in the history of these species so they’re providing new information on the evolution of these animals.

Filaments of Tortotubus protuberans (Image courtesy Martin R. Smith)

An article published in the journal “Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society” describes a research on a fossil of Tortotubus protuberans, a kind of primordial fungus identified as the most ancient organisms that lived on the mainland so far discovered. The fossil dates back about 440 million years ago and it’s an organism that was crucial to pave the way for other life forms on the mainland.