Sunday, December 28, 2008

Humans lived alongside dinosaurs

Dinosaurs and people coexist only in books, movies and cartoons. The last dinosaurs - other than birds - died out dramatically about 65 million years ago, while the fossils of our earliest human ancestors are only about 6 million years old.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dinosaurs Were Airheads CT Scans

Paleontologists have long known that dinosaurs had tiny brains, but they had no idea the beasts were such airheads.

A new study by Ohio University researchers Lawrence Witmer and Ryan Ridgely found that dinosaurs had more air cavities in their heads than expected. By using CT scans, the scientists were able to develop 3-D images of the dinosaur skulls that show a clearer picture of the physiology of the airways.

“I’ve been looking at sinuses for a long time, and indeed people would kid me about studying nothing—looking at the empty spaces in the skull. But what’s emerged is that these air spaces have certain properties and functions,” said Witmer, Chang Professor of Paleontology in Ohio University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fossil "Pompeii" of Prehistoric

The Ashfall Fossil Beds were uncovered in the early 1970s by Mike Voorhies, the current curator of paleontology at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln.

In 1971 he found a skull of a rhino calf protruding from an eroding ravine. The skull turned out to be part of a complete skeleton embedded in volcanic ash.

Voorhies led excavations of the site in 1978 and 1979, supported by a grant from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration. (National Geographic News is part of the National Geographic Society.)

About 12 million years ago, a volcano in modern-day Idaho spread a blanket of ash over large parts of what is now the midwestern United States. A layer of this powdered glass one or two feet (one- to two-thirds of a meter) thick covered the grasslands of northeastern Nebraska.

Most of the animals living in the area survived the actual ashfall, but as they continued to graze on the ash-covered grasses, their lungs began to fill with the deadly particles.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winton Dinosaurs

The Queensland Museum Geosciences and Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum [opens in new window] have been actively excavating dinosaurs from western Queensland, near the township of Winton, since 2001. This collaboration was sparked by the discovery, in 1999, of one of Australia's largest dinosaurs, dubbed "Elliot", a gigantic sauropod from the Cretaceous Period (95 million years ago).

The dinosaur bones are from rocks found in the Winton Formation, a geological layer 102-98 million years old. Since excavations began, several other types of dinosaurs have been found, including plant-eating ankylosaurs and ornithopods, plus the serrated teeth of carnivorous theropod dinosaurs.

Among the remains of these dinosaurs are the fossils of small animals and plants, which may have been considered dinosaurs' food!

Volunteers from across Australia and overseas help to excavate the dinosaur bones, putting them in plaster jackets ready for transport to the lab. There, they are painstakingly prepared for scientific study and display.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Utah Shows Land Plants Of 200 Million Years Ago

new archeological site in St George, Utah, U.S. was recently highlighted by Andrew Milner, Paleontologist, City of St. George, Jim Kirkland, State Paleontologist and Sidney Ash, Paleo-botanists. The site is significant because it is the only early Jurassic land flora known in the western United States. It provides evidence that a variety of land plants were present in the area about 200 million years ago.