Paleontology

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.

Reconstruction of a trilobite attacking a worm-like prey (Image courtesy Stacy Turpin Cheavens of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Missouri)

An article published in the journal “Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology” describes a research of truly exceptional fossils because they kept in ancient ocean sediments the traces left in the Cambrian by trilobites and their prey, worm-like creatures. Their analysis reveals the trilobites’ predatory behavior, which was already sophisticated more than half a billion years ago.