Paleontology

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.

Fossil of Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis and the magnification of part of its nervous cord (Image courtesy Jie Yang (top), Yu Liu (bottom))

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describes a research conducted on five fossils of Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis, a crustacean-like arthropod that lived about 520 million years ago in today’s China. They preserved beautifully, so much that their individual nerves are visible making them the oldest fossils to show such details.

A sea sponge of the species Aplysina aerophoba

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” describes a research that provides evidence that ancient sea sponges were the first animals existed on Earth. A study led by Dr. David Gold of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) reached this conclusion by analyzing an unusual molecule found in 640 million years old rocks.