science paleontology

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Scientists find mind blowing feathered dinosaur tail suspended in amber

  • Scientists have discovered a 99-million-year-old fragment of a dinosaur tail suspended in amber.
  • It’s “a once in a lifetime find,” as paleontologist Ryan McKellar told CNN, because it provides rare insight into the way dinos actually looked.
  • These are “the first non-avialan theropod fragments preserved in amber.”
  • he segment is believed to have come from a juvenile dinosaur, possibly a coelurosaurian.
  • The tail is covered in brown and white feathers, with bones and tissues and even some blood mummified in its amber tomb. Read more

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In 2015, Lida Xing was visiting a market in northern Myanmar when a salesman brought out a piece of amber about the size of a pink rubber eraser. Inside, he could see a couple of ancient ants and a fuzzy brown tuft that the salesman said was a plant.

As soon as Xing saw it, he knew it wasn’t a plant. It was the delicate, feathered tail of a tiny dinosaur.

“I have studied paleontology for more than 10 years and have been interested in dinosaurs for more than 30 years. But I never expected we could find a dinosaur in amber. This may be the coolest find in my life,” says Xing, a paleontologist at China University of Geosciences in Beijing. “The feathers on the tail are so dense and regular, this is really wonderful.”

He persuaded the Dexu Institute of Palaeontology to buy the artifact.

After analyzing the delicate tail, Xing and his colleagues in China, the U.K. and Canada now have an idea of what type of dinosaur it is, and of the evolutionary clues it holds. Their research was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

They say that 99 million years ago, a baby dinosaur about the size of a sparrow got stuck in tree sap and never made it out. Had the young dinosaur had a more auspicious day, it would have grown up to be a little smaller than an ostrich.

Baby Dinosaur’s 99-Million-Year-Old Tail, Encased In Amber, Surfaces In Myanmar

Photo: Ryan McKellar/Royal Saskatchewan Museum
Caption: A baby dinosaur’s tail is encased in amber along with ants, a beetle and plant fragments.

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politicians: your “”””science”””” is fake

scientists: yeah ok sure

branches of biology → paleontology

the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene Epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms’ evolution and interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BC.

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Watch humans conquer the world. In the grand scheme of things, it did not take very long – just 200,000 years or so.

Daeodon, from the late Oligocene and early Miocene of North America (~29-19 mya). About 1.8m tall at the shoulders (6′), it was one of the last and largest of the entelodonts, a group of omnivorous even-toed ungulates with long bone-crushing jaws.

Although often called “hell pigs” or “terminator pigs”, entelodonts weren’t actually pigs at all – instead they were much more closely related to hippos, whales, and Andrewsarchus.

Bathornis grallator, a flightless bird about 75cm tall (2′6″) from the Late Eocene and Early Oligocene of Midwestern USA (~37-34 mya).

It was originally mistaken for a long-legged vulture (under the name Neocathartes) when first discovered in the 1940s, but later studies have shown it was actually one of the smaller members of the bathornithids – close cousins of the more well-known South American “terror birds”, successfully occupying terrestrial predator niches alongside large carnivorous mammals.

Teraterpeton, an unusual archosauromorph from the Late Triassic of Nova Scotia, Canada (~235-221 mya). Probably around 1m long (3′3″), it was a member of the trilophosaurs, a group of lizard-like archosauromorphs with toothless beaks at the front of their jaws and chisel-like cheek teeth at the back.

It had a very long, thin, rather bird-like snout, with a huge nasal opening, and a euryapsid-type skull with the lower temporal fenestra closed off – a condition seen in some marine reptiles like ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, but unique among all its close relatives.

Its forelimbs also had deep narrow blade-like claws, and the rest of its body is only known from fragmentary remains. It was clearly adapted for some sort of highly specialized niche in its ecosystem, but we just don’t yet know what that niche actually was.

Maybe one day we’ll find more complete fossils of this odd animal and get some answers… or even more surprises.

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111116 [ kinyoubi ]
—I didn’t go to school yesterday but I made an explosion box for earth science about the geologic time scale. was inspired by the stars I’ve been reblogging all week.

(the moon broke off before I could submit it ;-;)

Wiehenvenator albati, a megalosaurid dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of Germany (~166-164 mya). At an estimated length of about 9m long (29′6″), it was one of the largest known European theropods.

Although its remains were discovered in the late 1990s, it wasn’t officially named and described until 2016 – so for years it was informally known only by its nickname of “Das Monster von Minden” (the Minden Monster).

Homalodotherium, a South American notoungulate mammal from the Early-to-Middle Miocene of Patagonia (~20-15 mya). Standing about 1.4m tall at the shoulder (4′7″), it seems to have convergently evolved to fill the same selective browsing niche as the North American chalicotheres and the later giant ground sloths.

Despite being an ungulate it had claws rather than hooves, and walked plantigrade on its hind feet but digitigrade on its front feet. It would have been capable of rearing up bipedally to pull down branches with its long forelimbs, with the shape of its nasal bones suggesting it may have also had a prehensile upper lip to help it strip off vegetation while feeding.