Biology news

Marsupial Panda

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/09/new-flying-reptile-s... ... a new species of pterosaur is among the largest ever flying animals according to a new study from Queen Mary University in London. Its remains were found in Alberta some 30 years ago but paleontologists, at the time, bracketed it with other known species of pterosaur.

Well I Never

In the evolutionary model of human development the Lower Palaeolithic humans (such as Homo erectus), responsible for the Acheulian stone tool assemblage, mostly hand axes and cleavers, are generally considered as primitive - and more primitive than the Middle Palaeolithic (Neanderthal/ Denisovan etc) and many streets more primitive than Upper Palaeolithic modern humans.

Giant Parrot

New Zealand is known for some unusual birds, from flightless (such as the kiwi) to over large (such as the Moa). It once harboured giant geese and a giant eagle. Now, it has a giant parrot - see https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/08/meet-herculesthe-gia... ... the fossil remains are said to go back 19 million years - to the Miocene period. In fact, the site has offered up a rich assemblage of fossil birds. One may wonder how birds come to be fossilised intach and buried in the earth. Why don't they just fly away.

Fossil Forest China

Gary sent in the link to www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/fossil-forest-asia-devonian-period... ... the oldest fossil forest in Asia (or the oldest until an older one is uncovered). It goes back to a remote geological period, the Devonian. It was discovered in the walls of a clay quarry in China and is made up of 250,000 square meteres of fossilised lycopsid trees. Other Devonian forests are known from North America and Norway. See https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.06.053

Sahara Dust

Gary also sent in a link to www.newscientist.com/article/2211699-the-amazon-rainforest-depends-on-fi... ... it seems the Amazon rainforest gets most of its phosphorous from cooking fires and landscape fires in Africa, via dust whipped up from the Sahara desert and wafted across the Atlantic. How it got its phosphorous, a vital nutrient, when the Sahara was a green and wet landscape 10,000 to 5,000 years ago, is left unmentioned.

Dinosaur Burial Ground

At www.yahoo.com/entertainment/giant-dinosaur-bone-found-southwestern-19262... ... link sent in by William. The thigh bone of a massive dinosaur, probably a sauropod, was dug up by French paleontologists in SW France. See image below

   ... Sauropods lived during the Late Jurassic era and weighed up to 50 tonnes. Some 7500 fossils of 40 different species have been excavated at the site near Cognac (since 2010).

Duck billed dinosaur

At https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/tfg-sns071219.php ... a strange looking dinosaur but apparently a fairly common herbivore. It has a nose suitable for shovelling that resembles that of an eagle - but is described as duck billed. In other words it had what looks like an ornamental head that probably evolved for a specific way of feeding - an arched nasal crest. It is said to be a primitive form of hadrosaurid and yet dates to the middle Cretaceous (fairly late in the dinosaur era). It was a herbovore and they were common - providing meals for the big predators.

Grazing Animal Dispersal of Grains and Seeds

This is an interesting story at https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/07/grazing-animals-drov... ... many of the grains, including quinoa, amaranth, the millets, hemp, and buckwheat, have traits that indicate they co-evolved to be dispersed by large grazing animals. During the Pleistocene there were great herds of ruminants and these directed the ecology over most of the surface of the earth (or that is the assumption made). As such, they brought into being evolutionary changes in plants.

Lily

A completely preserved lily was found in calcareous sediments of a former lake in NE Brazil dating back, it is said, to 115,000 years ago (in the early Cretaceous). Go to https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/07/oldest-completely-pr... ... It is in fact a member of the lily family (which is fairly broad, including for example the diminutive lily of the valley). It is nothing like your modern garden lily. Its roots, flower, and stem are perfectly preserved, and 40cm in length.

Amino Acids and Enzymes

At https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2019/07/origin-of-life-insig... ... peptides, which are a chain of amino acids, are an essential element of all life on Earth. They form the fabric of proteins which serve as a catalyst for biological processes. However, it is thought they require enzymes to control their formation from amino acids. This is described as a chicken and egg problem - how did the original enzymes come into being.