Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The fossil of a monster, 5 foot tall, Penguin, from the late Eocene period has been found in Peru. There is some preservation of its feathers, which, unlike modern penguins, appeared to be grey and reddish brown.

Possible evidence of the ‘Great Oxidation Event’ 2.4 billion years ago, that resulted in a rise in atmospheric oxygen that jumpstarted life on earth, has been found by French researchers in Gabon.
Using x-ray microtomography they claim to have identified microscopic colonial organisms in 2.4 billion year old rocks.

Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, China, has purchased a unique fossil, found by a local farmer of a pterosaur lying next to a fossil egg. It is assumed that the pterosaur laid the egg.
Subsequent research suggests that pterosaurs behaved more like reptiles than birds when it comes to laying and looking after eggs. Current theory is that they buried their eggs and left them unlike birds who invest considerable energy in incubating their eggs.
The egg itself had a relatively soft parchment like shell, which was not strongly mineralised.

Four upper cheek teeth and two lower incisors are evidence of the first fossil porcupines to be found in Iran. They date from the late Miocene.

How about this for bad translation: from the tourist brochure for the Lascaux Cave Paintings in France, ‘A highly technological achievement and a strictly scientific approach allowed a restitution of the deep emotion given by the most famous Palaeolithic sanctuary in the world’…The Dutch version sounds even sillier.

A set of tracks from marine sediments in Poland from the early Devonian period (395 million years) are upsetting established beliefs about the chronology of life emerging from the sea onto land. The tracks are 18 million years older than any known Tetrapods (the first true land creatures) and 10 million years older than the first known fish to use its lobefins to scoot overland from one pool to another.
The largest print was 26cms suggesting an animal 2.5 meters in length.

The recent discovery of a 4.4 million year old primate skeleton from Ethiopia is causing considerable debate about human origins.
Ardipithecus-Ardie for short-has been describes as ‘evolutions’ bad girl’ as she upsets some long held beliefs about human evolution. This primate had the appearance of an early hominid-large body, chimpanzee-like hands and feet, flattened face and upright stance and seemed equally at home in the trees as with both feet on the ground.
Ardie was a four-foot tall adult, weighed 110lbs,had a chimpanzee sized brain (smaller than Lucy) and lived in the forest.
Her small canines were capable of grinding seeds, fruit and insects.
Don’t give up on the Royal Scottish Museum if you visit Edinburgh, like I nearly did.
The modest but significant fossil display is housed in the poorly lit basement of the weird new building, a maze of corridors and dead ends.
I almost gave up at this point but stumbled by chance in to the old museum, which is an absolute joy, a grand Victorian edifice on 3 floors with a huge glass roof. It’s full of STUFF and fossils and minerals are to be found in a number of places, which adds to the thrill of discovery.
Kids, small or grown-up, will love it.

Treasures of the December Bonham’s Natural History Auction in December include a 6.25” T Rex tooth (estimate $2500), a small but complete Protoceratops skeleton (estimate$150000+) a Diplomistus fish trying to swallow a Priscacara fish
(estimate $15000+), a big sabre tooth cat skull (estimate$50000+) a fossil camel leg bone from the La Brea tar pits(Estimate $1000)and some Siberian mammoth hair
(estimate $600+).

Workers at a limestone quarry making tiles at Nuovo Ollinde, Brazil used to enjoy a mildly lucrative pastime of fossil collecting from economically useless beds above the tile layer. Many new species of insects have been found and described from there
Since new laws have been passed making private fossil collecting illegal and ceding possession of all fossils to the state, workers have been ordered by the management to throw away anything they find.

Last July’s episode of New Tricks an ITV detective series called Old Fossil reinvestigated the death of a particularly sleazy curator at the Natural History Museum. Did he fall or was he pushed…or was he bludgeoned to death with a dinosaur bone? Was he drunk, as usual? Had he seduced one postgrad student too many? Was an ex employee covering up his thefts that funded his upmarket fossil gallery and had he been secretly living in the cellars of the museum to escape the notice of the cops…. All fiction of course.

If you missed the most complete display of Archaopteryx specimens brought together under one roof at the Munich Mineral show 2 years ago you can see it a t The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff until March.