Monday, July 10, 2017

Archeopteryx

Archaeopteryx is a bird that has sparked quite a bit of debate ever since its fossils were discovered in Germany in the mid-19th century. It was described and named by Hermann von Meyer in 1861. Its name means “ancient wing.” It lived during the Late Jurassic Period, about 150 years ago and flew over what is now known as Europe, but at the time was
an archipelago of islands in a shallow tropical sea, much closer to the Equator than it is today.

Similar in shape and size to a modern-day magpie, Archaeopteryx was 30 cm long, and weighed between 300 - 500 grams. It had legs that were longer than what birds usually possess and its wings were asymmetrical – which means that it probably used them to generate lift for flight. However, what scientists don’t currently know about this bird was whether it could fly by flapping its wings or if it had to employ some form of gliding strategy.

Some scientists have referred to it as a bird-like dinosaur and other scientists have referred to it as the first bird.The truth, most likely, is that it is a “missing link” between dinosaurs and birds and was in a transitional form between a dinosaur and a bird.Despite its small size, broad wings, and the inferred ability to fly or glide, this prehistoric animal had more features in common with the other dinosaurs from the Age of Reptiles (such as jaws full of sharp teeth, long bony tail, etc.) than with modern birds.

Archaeopteryx pictures show this bird with a wide-variety of different colors of feathers. Some artists show them as having blue or green feathers accented with red and gold, while other artists show them as being solid colors such as brown or gray. However, the truth of the matter is that the feathers of this bird were more than likely black. This has been confirmed using X-ray analysis of the fossils.

One of the most interesting facts about Archaeopteryx is that it might have had a primitive warm-blooded metabolism – meaning that it could generate body heat on its own. However, its metabolic system probably wasn’t as fine-tuned as warm-blooded animals today, so it had a slower growth rate than most birds and probably ate a lot less. It was a carnivore, so it probably fed off of some of the small animals that were available at the time.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

ARCHELON

Archelon (from Greek αρχελών meaning ruler turtle) is a genus of extinct sea turtles, the largest genus of sea turtles that has ever been documented, and the second-heaviest turtles documented behind Stupendemys.
 
The largest Archelon fossil measured more than 4 metres long, and about 5 metres  wide from flipper to flipper. It was a marine turtle, whose closest living relative in the present day is the leatherback sea turtle. It lived at a time when a shallow sea covered most of central North America. Most of the known remains have been found in South Dakota and Wyoming. Though anatomically similar to the earlier species Protostega gigas, it was much larger. Unlike most modern turtles, Archelon did not have a solid shell, but instead had a skeletal framework supporting a leathery or bony carapace. Other distinguishing features include a pointed tail, a narrow skull, a relatively narrow, high-vaulted shell, and a pronounced overbite. The live weight of an Archelon is estimated at more than 2200 kg. They probably had a very strong bite, and were optimized for feeding on pelagic mollusc's such as squid.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Quetzalcoatlus

 Quetzalcoatlus (KWET-Sal-coh-AT-lus)

Image result for quetzalcoatlusWas an azhdarchid pterosaur known from the Late Cretaceous of North America (Maastrichtian stage)  It is a member of the family Azhdarchidae, a family of advanced toothless pterosaurs with unusually long, stiffened necks.

Its name comes from the Mesoamerican feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl. With a wingspan of 12 metres and a weight of 65kg, Quetzalcoatlus was the largest flying animal ever. It probably soared over inland areas, looking for carcasses to eat. 

Coelurosauravus


Image result for coelurosauravusCoelurosauravus (meaning "hollow lizard grandfather") is a genus of basal diapsid reptile that lived during the Upper Permian (Lopingian) period in Northern Europe - Germany, England and Madagascar. It had specialised wing-like structures allowing it to glide. These were rod like structures with skin stretched over them. These bony rods are not extensions of the ribs but are newly evolved dermal bones, a feature which is unique to the genus.The average length of the specimens was 40 centimetres and the body was long and flat, suitable for gliding. The skull was lizard-like with a pointed snout and contained a broad back with a serrated crest, superficially resembling the crests of ceratopsian dinosaurs.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dimorphodon

 Dimorphodon  was a genus  of medium-sized pterosaur from the early Jurassic Period. It was named by palaeontologist Richard Owen in 1859. Dimorphodon means "two-form tooth", derived from Greek ‘di’  meaning 'two', morphe meaning 'shape' and ‘odon’ meaning 'tooth', referring to the fact that it had two distinct types of teeth in its jaws - which is comparatively rare among reptiles. The body structure of Dimorphodon displays many primitive characteristics, such as a very small brain-pan and proportionally short wings. The first phalanx in its flight finger is only slightly longer than its lower arm. Its neck was short but strong and flexible and may have had a membranous pouch on the underside. The vertebrae had pneumatic foramina, openings through which the air sacks could reach the hollow interior. The Dimorphodon had an adult body length of 1 metre long, with a 1.45 metre wingspan. Its tail was long and consisted of thirty vertebrae. The first five or six were short and flexible, but the remainder gradually increased in length and were stiffened by elongated vertebral processes.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The smart troodon

The troödon was a fast-moving, intelligent, meat-eating dinosaur.  It lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 76-65 million years ago. The  Troodon had a relatively large brain, and a surprisingly small head with an elongated skull, and one very long toe claw. It was about 2-3.5m long and weighed about 50kg. The long tail acted as a counterbalance and as a stabilizer during fast turns. The Troodon was a carnivore (a meat eater). It probably ate just about anything it could slash and tear apart with its sharp teeth and with its long-clawed fingers and toes. It was first discovered by Ferdinand V. Hayden in 1855.  Troodon fossils have been found in North America (US states of Montana, Wyoming, and Canadian province of Alberta).

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Diprotodon (rhinoceros-sized wombat)

Archaeologists have uncovered teeth from the extinct Diprotodon, a giant wombat-like marsupial, at Lancefield swamp north of Melbourne.

The Dipratodon was was the biggest marsupial that ever lived and was about the size of a rhino.

The teeth found are quite long (40mm) and wide. The fossils are dated between 50,000 to 80,000 years old from an animal that probably 'got bogged'.

Fossils were first located at the swamp in the 19th century, and there were previous digs at the site in the early 1990s, 2004/5.

These animals are unusual with there meat shearing teeth. Todays wombats eat roots and the stems of leaves. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

T=Rex stars in Minions



Trivia

The dinosaur can be seen again in a commercial video for GoPro based of the The Secret Life of Pets; in the video, Sweetpea flies in front of the television which is playing a scene with an alley full of hung clothes, and he hides himself into his cage when he sees the T-Rex dinosaur.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

New Dinosaur from Uzbekistan timurlengia euotica.

A new species of tyrannosaur has been discovered in the Kyzyl Kum desert of Uzbekistan.  The fossils found are believed to be dated to 90 to 92 million years old, in the Cretaceous period. This early tyrannosaur, which has been named Timurlengia euotica was a close cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex and its discovery may hold the key to explaining how its infamous big cousin went on to become such fearsome predators and reach such massive sizes (12 metres in length and weighing a colossal 6.8 tonnes). It would have weighed between 170 to 270 kilograms, would have been about the size of a horse, but covered in a mixture of skin and feathers.


It was a nimble pursuit hunter and would have chased down its prey before making short work of them with its slender razor sharp teeth, highly suitable for slicing through meat. It probably preyed on the various large plant-eaters, especially early duck-billed dinosaurs, which shared its world.

From just a handful of fossilised bones and a well preserved brain case, palaeontologist’s have been able to build a picture of the Timurlengia  euotica.

 Researchers believe that the animal marks an evolutionary turning point for the tyrannosaurs, where the keen senses and brainpower of the top hunters were developed and refined.  Analysis of its brain casing showed it had already developed inner ear structures which would have enabled it to hear lower frequencies, an advantage for top predators when it came to hearing prey and rivals.  It shows that the advanced brain and senses of the colossal later Cretaceous apex predator T. rex were were already present in the Late Jurassic, more than 90 million years ago. 

However, the sinuses of Timurlengia were seen to be much simpler than their later cousin - whose heightened sense of smell would have helped it to find prey - hinting that the tyrannosaurs had not yet finished evolving all of the master hunter's attributes. As the animals are on a separate branch of the tyrannosaur family tree, it would also indicate that the these attributes developed in a common ancestor even further back, before splitting off.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Some interesting facts about the Parasaurolophus

 
Scientific name: Parasaurolophus

Higher classification: Parasaurolophini

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Ornithischia

Rank: Genus
 
Source: Wikipedia 

Some interesting facts about the Parasaurolophus
  • Parasaurolophus is a genus of ornithopod dinosaur that lived in what is now North America during the Late Cretaceous Period, about 76.5–74.5 million years ago. Fossils have been found in Alberta, Canada as well as Utah and New Mexico, USA.
  • Parasaurolophus were herbivores (plant eaters).
  • It could walk on either two legs (biped) or all four (quadruped) and was around 9.5 metres in length and weighed around 2.7 tonnes.
  • It  comes from a family of dinosaurs known as Hadrosauridae that were known for having strangely shaped skulls. Parasaurolophus featured a crest on its head that formed a long, curved pipe pointing backwards from the skull.  There is much debate about the functions of the crest, scientists say that it helped the male and females identify each other. Further that increased their hearing ability (acoustic resonance) and allowed them to regulate their body temperature (thermoregulation).

  • Source:  http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/dinosaurs/parasaurolophus.html

    Thursday, January 12, 2017

    The woolly mammoth reborn?

    The woolly mammoth one of the closest ancestor of todays elephants.
     
    Woolly mammoths, which had significant populations in the northern hemisphere during the pre-glacial period, went extinct due to hunting and the climate change.  According to experts, warmer atmosphere due to the end of the ice age shrank the habitat of these giants. And although the creature went extinct thousands of years ago, scientists are now trying to artificially create this elephant-like mammal through cloning. A team of researchers at Harvard University believe they could bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction within the next two years. 
     
    They believe that advances in gene cloning science will allow them to make what just a few years ago would have been considered an impossibility that is to bring a species back from extinction. They have been studying the DNA from frozen mammoths found preserved in the Arctic. Specifically, they’ve been looking for genes that separated them from elephants.
     
    Mammoth DNA was obtained from Siberian permafrost specimens. The DNA helped them to recreate 14 genes of the mammoth after rigorous analysis. Sophisticated technique of ‘clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat ‘allowed them to edit DNA in such a way that modern DNA was manipulated to replace prehistoric genes.  The Asian elephant, closest living species to mammoth as per the gene map was chosen for the experiment.
     
    Elephant cells are fully functioning now with mammoth DNA. Scientists by splicing mammoth DNA into the genome of an elephant embryo believe they can create a mammoth-elephant hybrid. Then grow it  within an artificial womb.The resultant creature would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits than a mammoth. As awesome as playing Ice Age Jurassic Park sounds, there are also other preventative applications for this technology for engineering the DNA of rapidly declining species or those that are becoming too inbred to increase their chance of survival.
     
    Many scientific commentators have termed this process as a part of ‘De-Extinction’.  The scientists at Harvard also believe that the 'new' woolly mammoth can help for the betterment of ecology in Siberia.
     


     

    Friday, January 6, 2017

    Sabre-toothed Tiger


    The saber toothed tiger also known as a smilodon any of the extinct catlike carnivores belonging to either the extinct family Nimravidae or the subfamily Machairodontinae of the cat family (Felidae). Named for the pair of elongated bladelike canine teeth in their upper jaw, they are often called sabre-toothed tigers or sabre-toothed lions, although the modern lion and tiger are true cats of the subfamily Felinae.
    Smilodon is perhaps one of the most famous prehistoric mammals. Although commonly known as the saber-toothed tiger, it was not closely related to the tiger or other modern cats. Smilodon lived in the Americas during the Pleistocene epoch (2.5 mya–10,000 years ago). Overall, Smilodon was more robustly built than any extant cat, with particularly well-developed forelimbs and exceptionally long upper canine teeth. Its jaw had a bigger gape than that of modern cats, and its upper canines were slender and fragile, being adapted for precision killing. S. gracilis was the smallest species at 55 to 100 kg in weight. S. fatalis had a weight of 160 to 280 kg and height of 100 cm. Both of these species are mainly known from North America, but remains from South America have also been attributed to them. S. populator from South America is perhaps the largest known felid at 220 to 400 kg in weight and 120 cm in height. The coat pattern of Smilodon is unknown, but it has been artistically restored with plain or spotted patterns.

    The Smilodon hunted large herbivores such as bison and camels, and is thought to have killed its prey by holding it still with its forelimbs and biting it in the neck. Scientists debate whether Smilodon had a social or a solitary lifestyle; analysis of modern predator behaviour as well as of Smilodon's fossil remains lends support to either view. The Smilodon probably lived in closed habitats such as forests and bush, which would have provided cover for ambushing prey. The Smilodon died out at the same time that most North and South American megafauna disappeared, about 10,000 years ago. Its reliance on large animals has been proposed as the cause of its extinction, along with climate change and competition with other species, but the exact cause is unknown.