Biology news


At ... fossil birds of the Cretaceous. We don't usually hear much about birds in the dinosaur era - not the size of crows or magpies (or even the size of turkeys). It seems there were several different kind of birds at large in the dinosaur era - but only one type of bird turns up after the K/T boundary event. The fossils in question come from a famous dinosaur site in Utah, in the Grand Staircase-Escalante area. However, what we have are the enantiarmithines.

More on Soft Tissue

It seems not everyone is satisfied by the new explanation of why soft dinosaur tissue would survive for 100 million years. Robert sent in a link at ... where David Coppedge, an ex Cassini Mission scientist, presents the case for a Young Earth point of view on dinosaurs. This is the opposite angle to that in the research paper at Nature Communications (see earlier post on the subject on November 11th, yesterday).

Soft Tissue Dinosaur Fossils

At ... the discovery of what looks very much like soft tissue of dinosaurs preserved in rocks in recent years has obviously perplexed scientists as they have now come up with an explanation that seems to have a lot of merit. Hard tissue such as bones, eggs, teeth and enamel scales are able to survive the process of fossilisation but soft tissue such as blood vessels, cells, and nerves, which are located inside hard tissue, are more delicate and should degrade and decay rapidly after death.

Super Lungs

Remaining on the subject of dinosaurs and birds we have a really interesting post at ... biologists have speculated that birds descend from one branch of the dinosaurs. Not all dinosaurs are related to birds - but some are. This is the theory. It seems birds have a unique respiratory system which enables powered flight. The question is being asked - did dinosaurs have a similar respiratory system (allowing them to run like Velociraptor). Unlike mammals, including humans, whose lungs expand and contract with effort, bird lungs are rigid.

Dinosaurs and Birds

At ... we have a possible missing linke - between dinosaurs and birds. It looks like they might need to find a fossil from the dinosaur age to conclusively show birds are descended from one group of the dinosaurs. A team from Manschester University (in collaboration with the Chinese) think they might have isolated such a fossil. The findings are published in the journal 'Historical Biology' (2018) DOI:10.1080/08912963.2018.1818443

Fossils and Bones

At ... a researcher at Oxford's department of zoology in collaboration with an Australian scientist has been looking at fossils from Utah collected 25 years ago and post their findings at Nature Communications (September 2018). Y=The fossil in question if an arthropod, an extinct relative of modern crabs and spiders ...

Mini Mammoths

Sent in by Robert - two posts at the Daily Mail online site - ... and ... to which Robert comments, 'new pterodactyl and mini mammoth found. Interestingly, both are at sites of 'mass kill' events ....'.


Sent in by Robert. An interesting post at ... yes, one amino acid gone awry can cause vertigo. How does this happen? It is down to chirality - how life ended up with one handed (chiral) building blocks such as amino acids and sugars, when both are just as likely to form by the laws of physics. The author claims it is an unsolved mystery in the study of life sciences - because proteins cannot work without 100 per cent one handed. Electricity may of course play an undefined role.

Snake in Amber

At ... a fossilised snake embryo preserved in amber and dating back over a 100 million years ago - has been discovered.

Itg seems the snake was living in an ancient forest environ with numerous insects and plants (also trapped in amber). Jovan sent in the link

Rice and Water

At ... rice is grown in rice paddies - a wetland environment. Why? Plants do not like excessive waterlogging - and some plants actively dislike it. On the other hand there are plant variants that adapt to watery conditions. For example water forget me not is a variation on the forget me not. Rice, I suppose, is a grass - a variation in related grasses. In S and SE Asia periodic flooding comes with the annual monsoon season - and can last several months at a time.