Paleontology

Illustration of Drepanosaurus (Image courtesy Victor Leshyk. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Current Biology” describes the study of fossils of Drepanosaurus unguicaudatus, a reptile that lived in the Triassic period, about 212 million years ago. The discovery complete fossils of this animal in New Mexico allowed to carry out detailed exams which confirmed that it had very strong forelimbs with a huge claw and an anatomic conformation definitely out of the normal that surprised the paleontologists.

Convergence between ancient reptiles and dinosaurs (Image courtesy Michelle Stocker et al.)

An article published in the journal “Current Biology” describes a research on a species of reptile that was called Triopticus primus. A group of paleontologists led by Michelle Stocker of Virginia Tech College of Science studied this reptile that lived about 230 million years ago, noting several features similar to those of pachycephalosaur dinosaurs that lived 100 million years later. The research also revealed other similarities between animals contemporary to Triopticus primus and dinosaurs that lived millions of years later.

American alligator

Two articles, one published in the “Journal of Herpetology” and another in the journal “Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology”, describe a research about the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). A team of researchers led by Dr. Evan Whiting of the University of Minnesota states that 8 million years ago they looked the same as today and even 30 million years ago they were not very different so they’re older than expected.

Fossil of Psittacosaurus

An article published in the journal “Current Biology” describes a research on a dinosaur belonging to the genus Psittacosaurus that lived in modern China at the beginning of the Cretaceous period, about 120 million years ago. A team from the University of Bristol examined the skin remains of a very well preserved specimen cataloged as SMF R 4970 concluding that its coloration provided it some camouflage.

Fossil of Acanthostega gunnari

An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on Acanthostega gunnari (photo ©Ghedoghedo), that about 360 million years ago was one of the first tetrapods as it was one of the first vertebrates to have limbs recognizable as legs. A team of researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen led by Jennifer Clack, who in 1987 discovered a deposit containing many skeletons of Acanthostega, examined those specimens and concluded that they were juveniles.