Paleonews

Il blog dedicato ai Paleontologi !!!!

2009-07-05 – Indonesian elephant fossil

Indonesian elephant fossil opens window to past

By NINIEK KARMINI – Jun 22, 2009

Indonesia Prehistoric Elephant

Scientists arrange the bones of an estimated 200,000 year-old giant elephant at Geology Museum in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Thursday, June 18, 2009. Indonesian scientists are reconstructing the largest, most complete skeleton of an ancient elephant ever found in the tropics, a finding that may offer new clues into the largely mysterious origins of its modern Asian cousin. Based on the fossil, the ancient elephant stood four meters (13-feet) tall, was five meters (16-feet) long and weighed more than 10 tons, considerably larger than the great Asian mammals now on Earth. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

 BANDUNG, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian scientists are reconstructing the largest, most complete skeleton of a prehistoric giant elephant ever found in the tropics, a finding that may offer new clues into the largely mysterious origins of its modern Asian cousin.

The prehistoric elephant is believed to have been submerged in quicksand shortly after dying on a riverbed in Java around 200,000 years ago. Its bones — almost perfectly preserved — were discovered by chance in March when an old sand quarry collapsed during monsoon rains.

The animal stood four meters (13-feet) tall, five meters (16-feet) long and weighed more than 10 tons — closer in size to the woolly mammoth of the same period than to the great Asian mammals now on Earth.

Animal fossils are rare in the humid, hot climate of the equator because decomposition occurs extremely quickly.

Following a monthlong excavation, a team of seven paleontologists from the Geology Museum in Bandung, West Java, set the bones in plaster for the trip back to their office where they will be laboriously pieced back together.

“We believe from the shape of its teeth that it was a very primitive elephant,” but little else has been verified, said paleontologist Fachroel Aziz, who is heading a 12-strong skeletal reconstruction team.

Scientists agree it is the first time an entire prehistoric elephant skeleton has been unearthed since vertebrate fossil findings began to be recorded in Indonesia in 1863.

“It is very uncommon to discover a fossil like this in a tropical region like Indonesia,” said Edi Sunardi, an independent expert at Indonesia’s Pajajaran University in Bandung, West Java. “It apparently was covered by volcanic sediment that protected it from high temperatures, erosion and decay.”

The next challenge will be removing the delicate bones from their molds and joining them into a stable, upright structure, a process that experts said is already being hampered by a lack of funding, inadequate tools and poor expertise.

Indonesia, an emerging and impoverished democracy of 235 million people, cannot afford to allocate more than a token sum to its aging museums, even for projects that have the potential to advance knowledge about the origin of key native species.

Gert van den Berg, a researcher at Australia’s Wollongong University who helped dig up the skeleton, said tests are under way to determine its precise age and species, and that they will help provide details “about when the modern elephants evolved into what they are now.”

About 2,000 old elephant remains have been found across the island nation over the past 150 years, but never in such good condition, Aziz said.

“We want to exhibit it publicly because this is a spectacular discovery,” he said.

 The Associated Press

Annunci

luglio 5, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, An. Vertebrates, Asia, Cenozoic, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-06-15 – Mare del Nord: pescati resti di “Uomo di Neanderthal” (North Sea, Homo neanderthalensis)

SCIENZA: FOSSILE DEL MARE DEL NORD APPARTENEVA A UOMO NEANDERTHAL

(ASCA) – Roma, 15 giu – Un frammento di osso recuperato nelle acque del mare del Nord apparteneva ad un uomo di Neanderthal. Secondo quanto rende noto il sito web della Bbc, il primo ritrovamento del genere, e’ stato confermato dall’analisi degli isotopi del fossile, che risale a 60 mila anni fa ed e’ appartenuto ad un uomo la cui alimentazione era carnivora, caratteristiche specifiche dell’uomo di Neanderthal.

Il Mare del Nord e’ una delle aree piu’ ricche del pianeta per ritrovamenti di fossili di mammiferi, dovuto al fatto che nelle ere passate i livelli dell’acqua erano sostanzialmente piu’ bassi di quelli odierni con vaste zone di terraferma.

Qui sono stati ritrovati molti reperti di animali dell’era glaciale, come cavalli, renne, rinoceronti e mammuth.

Il frammento di osso frontale scoperto a Leiden, nei Paesi Bassi, e’ il primo conosciuto reperto umano ”arcaico” recuperato dalle acque del mare in tutto il mondo. Fu ritrovato fra resti di altri animali e manufatti di pietra a 15 chilometri al largo delle coste olandesi nel 2001. Gli studi sui reperti sono stati condotti dal professor Jean-Jacques Hublin, del Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology di Leipzig, in Germania. ”Anche avendo un piccolo frammento di disposizione, possiamo ora sicuramente confermare la sua appartenenza ad un uomo di Neanderthal”, ha detto Hublin alla Bbc.

L’uomo di Neanderthal e’ vissuto nel periodo detto paleolitico, fra 130 mila e 25-30 mila anni fa in Europa, Africa e Asia

fonte: asca.it

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Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil

By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News

Neanderthal frontal bone (Museum of Antiquities in Leiden)

The fragment of skull belonged to a young adult male

Part of a Neanderthal man’s skull has been dredged up from the North Sea, in the first confirmed find of its kind.

Scientists in Leiden, in the Netherlands, have unveiled the specimen – a fragment from the front of a skull belonging to a young adult male.

Analysis of chemical “isotopes” in the 60,000-year-old fossil suggest a carnivorous diet, matching results from other Neanderthal specimens.

The North Sea is one of the world’s richest areas for mammal fossils.

But the remains of ancient humans are scarce; this is the first known specimen to have been recovered from the sea bed anywhere in the world.

For most of the last half million years, sea levels were substantially lower than they are today.

Significant areas of the North Sea were, at times, dry land. Criss-crossed by river systems, with wide valleys, lakes and floodplains, these were rich habitats for large herds of ice age mammals such as horse, reindeer, woolly rhino and mammoth.

Even with this rather limited fragment of skull, it is possible to securely identify this as Neanderthal
Jean-Jacques Hublin, Max Planck Institute

Their fossilised remains are brought ashore in large numbers each year by fishing trawlers and other dredging operations.

According to Professor Chris Stringer, from London’s Natural History Museum, some fishermen now concentrate on collecting fossils rather than their traditional catch.

“There were mammoth fossils collected off the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts 150 years ago, so we’ve known for some time there was material down there that was of this age, or even older,” Professor Stringer, a museum research leader, told BBC News. Indeed, some of the fossil material from the North Sea dates to the Cromerian stage, between 866,000 and 478,000 years ago.

It had been “only a matter of time”, he said, before a human fossil came to light.

Professor Stringer added: “The key thing for the future is getting this material in a better context.

“It would be great if we could get the technology one day to go down and search (in the sea floor) where we can obtain the dating, associated materials and other information we would get if we were excavating on land.”

Private collection

Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) were our close evolutionary cousins; they appear in the fossil record some 400,000 years ago.

These resourceful, physically powerful hunter-gatherers dominated a wide range spanning Britain and Iberia in the west, Israel in the south and Siberia in the east.

Our own species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa, and replaced the Neanderthals after entering Europe about 40,000 years ago.

The specimen was found among animal remains and stone artefacts dredged up 15km off the coast of the Netherlands in 2001.

Artist's impression of Neanderthal man (Museum of Antiquities)

Neanderthals were our close evolutionary cousins

The fragment was spotted by Luc Anthonis, a private fossil collector from Belgium, in the sieving debris of a shell-dredging operation.

Study of the specimen has been led by Professor Jean-Jacques Hublin, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

“Even with this rather limited fragment of skull, it is possible to securely identify this as Neanderthal,” Professor Hublin told BBC News.

For instance, the thick bony ridge above the eyes – known as a supraorbital torus – is typical of the species, he said.

The fragment’s shape best matches the frontal bones of late Pleistocene examples of this human species, particularly the specimens known as La Chapelle-aux-Saints and La Ferrassie 1.

These examples, which were both unearthed in France, date from between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

The North Sea fossil also bears a lesion caused by a benign tumour – an epidermoid cyst – of a type very rare in humans today.

The research links up with the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain 2 (AHOB 2) project, which aims to set Britain’s prehistory in a European context. Dutch archaeologist Wil Roebroeks, a collaborator on this study, is a member of the AHOB 2 research team.

Extreme ways

Dr Mike Richards, from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, analysed different forms, or isotopes, of the elements nitrogen and carbon in the fossilised bone. This shed light on the types of foods eaten by this young male.

The results show he was an extreme carnivore, surviving on a diet consisting largely of meat.

“High in the food chain, they must have been quite rare on the ground compared to other mammals, which explains their rarity to some degree,” said Wil Roebroeks from the University of Leiden.

The results of the stable isotope analysis fit with what is known about other examples of this species, though other research suggests that in Gibraltar, on the southern coast of Iberia, some Neanderthals were exploiting marine resources, including dolphins, monk seals and mussels.

Researchers decided against carbon dating the specimen; this requires the preservation of a protein called collagen.

CT scan (Max Planck Institute)

A CT scan shows the find super-imposed on another Neanderthal skull

Professor Hublin explained that while there was some collagen left in the bone, scientists would have needed to destroy approximately half of the fossil in order to obtain enough for dating.

Professor Roebroeks told BBC News: “Dutch scientists – geologists and archaeologists alike – are hoping this find will convince governmental agencies that the Netherlands needs to invest much more in that… archive of Pleistocene sediments off our coast – and off the coast of Britain.”

He said this submerged repository contained “high resolution information on past climate change and its environmental consequences, points of reference for how rivers ‘worked’ before any human interference and now, as this find shows, remains of people who once roamed these landscapes.”

Professor Hublin said the individual was living at the extreme edge of the Neanderthals’ northern range, where the relatively cold environment would have challenged their capabilities to the limit. Neanderthal remains have been found at only two sites this far north.

“What we have here is a marginal population, probably with low numbers of people,” Professor Hublin explained.

“It’s quite fascinating to see that these people were able to cope with the environment and be so successful in an ecological niche which was not the initial niche for humans.”

While these hunting grounds would at times have provided plentiful sources of meat for a top carnivore, Neanderthals living in these areas would also have been at the mercy of fluctuations in the numbers of big game animals.

Periodic dips in populations of mammals such as reindeer could have caused local extinctions of Neanderthal groups which hunted them, Dr Hublin explained.

Paul.Rincon-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

Neanderthal frontal bone (Museum of Antiquities in Leiden)

source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8099377.stmf

giugno 15, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, - Ominidi, - Primati, An. Vertebrates, Cenozoic, Europa, Lang. - Italiano, P - Paleoantropologia, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-06-06 – Serbia: ritrovato scheletro di mammuth (Mammoth skeleton)

Serbia’s Million-Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton

Local media reported on Wednesday that a finely preserved skeleton of a mammoth believed to be around one million years old was uncovered near an archaeological site in eastern Serbia, AFP reported.

An archeologist works on a recently unearthed skeleton of a mammoth at the open pit coal mine in Kostolac, some 95 km east of Belgrade, Thursday, June 4, 2009. A skeleton of a so-called southern mammoth or mammuthus meridionalis, originating from northern Africa believed to be about one million years old has been unearthed in eastern Serbia. The mammoth was more than 4 meters (13 feet) high, 5 meters (16 feet) long and weighed more than 10 tons, Miomir Korac from the Archaeology Institute says. Another mammoth skeleton, from a much later period, was discovered at a factory in Serbia in 1996 and was named Kika. (AP Photo/Srdjan Ilic)

An archeologist works on a recently unearthed skeleton of a mammoth at the open pit coal mine in Kostolac, some 95 km east of Belgrade, Thursday, June 4, 2009. A skeleton of a so-called southern mammoth or mammuthus meridionalis, originating from northern Africa believed to be about one million years old has been unearthed in eastern Serbia. The mammoth was more than 4 meters (13 feet) high, 5 meters (16 feet) long and weighed more than 10 tons, Miomir Korac from the Archaeology Institute says. Another mammoth skeleton, from a much later period, was discovered at a factory in Serbia in 1996 and was named Kika. (AP Photo/Srdjan Ilic)

Archaeologist Miomir Korac said the skeleton was uncovered during ongoing excavations of the site at Viminacium, a Roman military settlement on the Danube river.

“The skeleton is extremely well preserved, with only a slightly damaged skull,” said Zoran Markovic of Serbia’s Nature museum.

Markovic told B92 television the skeleton is believed to be about one million years old, based on the layers of the grounds where it was uncovered.

The mammoth was estimated to be over 13 feet and possibly weighing up to 10 tons, according to experts.

B92 reported that the animal could have died near the Danube on its way from northern Africa and to southern Europe.

Fossil remains of a mammoth were found near the northern Serbian town Kikinda in 1996. The half a million year old mammoth was named Kika and soon became a tourist attraction.

Local authorities will organize a “Mammoth fest” on September 6 to celebrate “Kika’s 12th birthday,” according to its Website www.kika-mamut.com.

Source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports

giugno 6, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, 2 Pleistocene, An. Vertebrates, Europa, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-06-03 – Anoiapithecus brevirostris “Lluc”: new Hominid (nuovo ominide scoperto in Spagna)

In Italiano:

Lluc è il nome dell’ “Anoiapithecus” possibile nuovo antenato dell  – Soverato News – ‎2-giu-2009‎ – Non è detto però che l’ Anoiapithecus (nome scientifico attribuito sulla base del luogo di ritrovamento), benchè abbia un aspetto moderno sia un diretto

Firenze: un nuovo antenato per la famiglia Hominidae inToscana
 ECCO LLUC, NUOVO ANTENATO DELL’UOMO ANSA
Scoperto nuovo antenato dell’uomo ANSA
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New Hominid 12 Million Years Old Found In Spain, With ‘Modern’ Facial Features

ScienceDaily (June 2, 2009) — Researchers have discovered a fossilized face and jaw from a previously unknown hominoid primate genus in Spain dating to the Middle Miocene era, roughly 12 million years ago. Nicknamed “Lluc,” the male bears a strikingly “modern” facial appearance with a flat face, rather than a protruding one. The finding sheds important new light on the evolutionary development of hominids, including orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and humans.

In a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Salvador Moyà-Solà, director of the Institut Català de Paleontologia (ICP) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and colleagues present evidence for the new genus and species, dubbed Anoiapithecus brevirostris. The scientific name is derived from the region where the fossil was found (l’Anoia) and also from its “modern” facial morphology, characterized by a very short face.

 

Lluc reconstruction. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) Lluc reconstruction. (Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

 The research team at the ICP also includes collaborator David M. Alba, predoctoral researcher Sergio Almécija, postdoctoral researcher Isaac Casanovas, researcher Meike Köhler, postdoctoral researcher Soledad De Esteban, collaborator Josep M. Robles, curator Jordi Galindo, and predoctoral researcher Josep Fortuny.

Their findings are based on a partial cranium that preserves most of the face and the associated mandible. The cranium was unearthed in 2004 in the fossil-rich area of Abocador de Can Mata (els Hostalets de Pierola, l’Anoia, Barcelona), where remains of other fossilized hominid species have been found. Preparing the fossil for study was a complicated process, due to the fragility of the remains. But once the material was available for analysis, the results were surprising: The specimen (IPS43000) combined a set of features that, until now, had never been found in the fossil record.

Anoiapithecus displays a very modern facial morphology, with a muzzle prognathism (i.e., protrusion of the jaw) so reduced that, within the family Hominidae, scientists can only find comparable values within the genus Homo, whereas the remaining great apes are notoriously more prognathic (i.e., having jaws that project forward markedly). The extraordinary resemblance does not indicate that Anoiapithecus has any relationship with Homo, the researchers note. However, the similarity might be a case of evolutionary convergence, where two species evolving separately share common features.

Lluc’s discovery may also hold an important clue to the geographical origin of the hominid family. Some scientists have suspected that a group of primitive hominoids known as kenyapithecines (recorded from the Middle Miocene of Africa and Eurasia) might have been the ancestral group that all hominids came from. The detailed morphological study of the cranial remains of Lluc showed that, together with the modern anatomical features of hominids (e.g., nasal aperture wide at the base, high zygomatic rood, deep palate), it displays a set of primitive features, such as thick dental enamel, teeth with globulous cusps, very robust mandible and very procumbent premaxilla. These features characterize a group of primitive hominoids from the African Middle Miocene, known as afropithecids.

Interestingly, in addition to having a mixture of hominid and primitive afropithecid features, Lluc displays other characteristics, such as a very anterior position of the zygomatic, a very strong mandibular torus and, especially, a very reduced maxillary sinus. These are features shared with kenyapithecines believed to have dispersed outside the African continent and colonized the Mediterranean region, by about 15 million years ago.

In other words, the researchers speculate, hominids might have originally radiated in Eurasia from kenyapithecine ancestors of African origin. Later on, the ancestors of African great apes and humans would have dispersed again into Africa — the so-called “into Africa” theory, which remains controversial. However, the authors do not completely rule out the possibility that pongines (orangutans and related forms) and hominines (African apes and humans) separately evolved in Eurasia and Africa, respectively, from different kenyapithecine ancestors.

The project at els Hostalets de Pierola is continuing and, the researchers anticipate, more fossil remains will be found in the future that will provide key information to test their hypotheses.


Journal reference:

  1. Salvador Moyà-Solà, David M. Alba, Sergio Almécija, Isaac Casanovas-Vilar, Meike Köhler, Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno, Josep M. Robles, Jordi Galindo, and Josep Fortuny. A unique Middle Miocene European hominoid and the origins of the great ape and human clade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811730106

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Other Links:

  • In English

Our earliest hominid ancestors may have been European

Thaindian.com – ‎1-giu-2009‎
According to a report in New Scientist, the fossil, named Anoiapithecus brevirostris by Salvador Moya-Sola of the Catalan Institute of Palaeontology in

Researchers from the Institut Catala de Paleontologia describe a

EurekAlert (press release) – ‎2-giu-2009‎ – The new hominid has been given the scientific name of Anoiapithecus brevirostris, in reference to the region where the town of els Hostalets is situated

Найденные останки Anoiapithecus brevirostris. Фото National

Lenta.ru – ‎9 ore fa‎
Они отмечают, что важность находки Anoiapithecus brevirostris безусловна, но вот выводы ученых могут быть ошибочны. В частности, специалисты говорят,
  • In GERMAN

Aus Europa nach Afrika und wieder zurück

wissenschaft.de – ‎19 ore fa‎ – Die Anoiapithecus brevirostris genannte Art hat sich vor rund zwölf Millionen Jahren in Europa entwickelt und wanderte von dort aus nach Afrika ein,

Unser spanisches Erbe sueddeutsche.de

 Knochenfund Stammt der Mensch aus Spanien? Bayerischer Rundfunk. Hominiden-Fossil Waren unsere frühesten Vorfahren Europäer? ZEIT ONLINE

All news in German

  • In SPANISH – ESPANOL

Investigadores catalães definem espécie Anoiapithecus brevirostris

Ciência Hoje – ‎44 minuti fa‎
Os cientistas baptizaram esta nova espécie de Anoiapithecus brevirostris (pois o fóssil foi encontrado em Anoia) eo ser de Lluc (aquele que ilumina).

Fóssil de Lluc ‘ilumina’ história dos hominídeos Diário de Notícias – Lisboa

giugno 3, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, - Ominidi, - Primati, An. Vertebrates, Articolo sc. di riferimento, Cenozoic, Europa, Lang. - German, Lang. - Italiano, P - Paleoantropologia, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia, X - PNAS | Lascia un commento

2009-05-27 – Peru`: scoperto bradipo fossile (fossil Sloth)

Five-million-year old sloth fossil found in Peru

click here for video

LIMA (Reuters) – The nearly intact fossil of an ancient sloth that lived 5 million years ago has been unearthed in Peru, a find about 4 million years older than similar ones discovered in the Americas, researchers said.

The sloth was found beneath the cement floor of a house in the Andean region of Espinar in southern Peru when workers were installing a water system. Parts of a giant armadillo that has also been dated to 5 million years ago were also found nearby.

The sloth, about 10 feet long, was an herbivore and lived during the Mio-Pliocene era, said paleontologist Rodolfo Salas of Peru’s Natural History Museum and one of the scientists on the dig sponsored by the French government.

“This skeleton of the sloth is especially important as it is the first complete skeleton of its kind that is 5 million years old in the Americas,” he told Reuters. “Previously, discoveries have been made of partial skeletons of similar animals, but from the Pleistocene era, meaning from the last million years.”

The sloth was found at 13,000 feet above sea level.

Salas said the sloth was relatively small compared with other animals of its type and would help researchers better understand evolution of mammals in the Andes.

Peru’s dry climate has helped preserve thousands of fossils from the Pacific coast to the Andes highlands, making it a favorite of fossil hunters.

(Reporting by Carlos Valdez; Writing by Terry Wade; Editing by Peter Cooney)

source: http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSTRE54P0H520090526

maggio 27, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, America Southern, An. Vertebrates, Cenozoic, Multimedia, P - Geositi, P - Paleoantropologia, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia, Video | , , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-05-12 – Darwinius masillae: l’anello mancante dell’evoluzione umana? (missing link of human evolution?)

Trovato l’anello mancante dell’evoluzione: un Adapide di oltre 37 milioni di anni fa

LONDRA (10 maggio) – La Bbc ha preparato uno straordinario documentario, presentato da David Attenborough, in cui rivelerà la scoperta di uno scheletro fossilizzato che rappresenterebbe l’anello mancante dell’evoluzione umana. Secondo il Mail on Sunday il documentario è top secret, ma fonti negli Usa dicono che la rivoluzionaria scoperta verrà presentata il prossimo 19 maggio da un gruppo di scienziati e documentaristi a New York. In quell’occasione verrà presentato il primo scheletro intero mai trovato di un particolare tipo di un animale che si chiamava Adapide, battezzato Darwinius masillae: le ossa fossilizzate, che hanno dai 37 ai 47 milioni di anni, sono stati trovati nella cava Messel in Germania, un sito famoso per i suoi fossili.

L’animale, una femmina, somiglia a un lemure (il mammifero dalla lunga coda che vive in Madagascar). Attenborough spiegherà che i ricercatori hanno concluso che quell’animale non è semplicemente un antenato dei lemuri (mancano diverse caratteristiche), ma fa parte di un gruppo collegato di primati che si sarebbero evoluti in scimmie ed esseri umani.

Lo studio cui fa riferimento la Bbc verrà pubblicato dalla rivista angloamericana “Public library of science”. Philip Gingerich, presidente della Us paleontological society, co-autore dello studio, ha detto al Mail: «Ho esaminato questo scheletro, è incredibilmente completo e datato con precisione. Lo abbiamo tenuto nascosto perché non si può parlare di qualcosa finché non la capisci a fondo. Ora abbiamo capito, farà progredire la nostra conoscenza dell’evoluzione». Interpellato sul documentario Bbc, Sir David ha risposto: «Temo di non essere autorizzato a parlarne».

fonte: IlMessaggero.it

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Is David Attenborough set to reveal the Missing Link in human evolution?

By Sharon Churcher

The BBC has made an extraordinary new documentary, presented by Sir David Attenborough, which will reveal the discovery of a fossilised skeleton that may be a vital ‘missing link’ in human evolution.

The 90-minute programme is top secret but The Mail on Sunday has learned from sources in America that the results of the study on which it is based will be revealed by a team of scientists and broadcasters in New York on May 19.

The centrepiece of the programme is the unveiling of the first-ever complete skeleton of an extinct animal called an adapid.

david attenborough

Relative values: Sir David Attenborough with a lemur – one of the creatures at the centre of the fossil debate

The fossilised bones, which are thought to be between 37 and 47million years old, were found in Germany’s Messel Shale Pit, a disused quarry near Frankfurt famous for its fossils.

The team who examined the young female animal say it has some resemblance to a lemur, a mammal with a distinctive tail that is found to this day in the forests of Madagascar.

But Sir David’s documentary will explain that the researchers have, controversially, concluded the fossil ‘is not simply a lemur’ but from a related group of primates which evolved into monkeys, apes and human beings.

The BBC programme is based on a scientific study to be published by the Public Library of Science, a leading academic journal with offices in Cambridge and San Francisco.

Last night, the study’s co-author, Philip Gingerich, the president-elect of the US Paleontological Society, said: ‘I examined this skeleton. It is exceptionally complete and it is well-dated.

We have kept it under wraps because you can’t blither about something until you understand it. We now understand it. It is going to advance our knowledge of evolution.’

Prof Gingerich confirmed he had spoken to Sir David.

The significance of the discovery, according to New York’s academic community, is that it could resolve the fierce debate about which kind of primates humans are descended from.

graphic

Some palaeontologists believe we evolved from the adapids – but that theory is hotly contested. The new skeleton appears to be a previously unknown type of adapid which would be the ‘missing link’ between small mammals and the apes which evolved into humans.

The study’s authors insist that the fossil can’t be a lemur because it lacks two features: the ‘toothcomb’, a set of lower front teeth used to groom fur; and ‘toilet claws’, toes on the hind feet used for scratching.

Half of the fossil was found a few years ago, but it was only when the rest of the body was discovered last year that scientists realised its importance.

The ground-breaking research was only possible after Norway’s National History Museum managed to buy the two parts of the fossil from private collectors.

The study, led by Norway’s Professor Jorn Hurum, says the fossil is so well-preserved that its soft tissues and stomach contents can be analysed.

Christened Darwinius masillae, it belonged to an extinct group of primates which lived in rainforests.

It was a female that was less than a year old but had been weaned and had developing teeth. It had nails rather than claws and would have weighed just 2lb when fully grown.

When asked about the BBC documentary, Sir David said: ‘I’m afraid I am not allowed to talk about it.’ Prof Hurum also refused to comment.
Why a wet nose could ruin research

While all the experts agree that the Messel fossil is an exciting discovery, some doubt that it will settle the debate about mankind’s ancestors.

Professor Matt Cartmill of Boston University, a leading authority on primates, said: ‘What remains to be shown is that this animal had features which link it decisively to higher primates.

If it turns out that it had a dry nose, like monkeys and people, rather than a wet nose like dog or a lemur, that could have a big impact on ideas about the origins of monkeys, apes and humans.’

Roger Thomas, secretary of the US Paleontological Society, said: ‘According to one group of thought, we are descended from the same primates as lemurs. Another argument is that hominids evolved from another small primate, the tarsiidae.’

Prof Cartmill added: ‘This specimen could settle that debate but, if I had to put my money on it, my expectation would be that they will not be able to tell one way or another.’

source: http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1179926/Is-David-Attenborough-set-reveal-Missing-Link-human-evolution.html

maggio 12, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, - Ominidi, - Primati, 6 Eocene, An. Vertebrates, Articolo sc. di riferimento, Cenozoic, Europa, Lang. - Italiano, P - Evoluzione, P - Paleoantropologia, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 commenti

2009-04-28 – Chongqing, China: “China’s Prehistoric Animal Fossil Exhibition”

Prehistoric “dinosaur”, “mammoth” fossils displayed in Chongqing 

 see the video
 
www.chinaview.cn 2009-04-27 21:49:04

BEIJING, April 27 — A herd of animals led by two “mammoths” and nine “dinosaurs” are causing a stir in the central Chinese city of Chongqing.

    “China’s Prehistoric Animal Fossil Exhibition” is underway at the city’s Liberation Monument Square. More than 30 precious artifacts are on display.

    The show features relics from well-known museums in 8 provinces and cities. Many of the fossils are considered national treasures and date between the Jurassic and the Quatenary periods 190 million years ago.Among the highlights are the bones of nine dinosaurs and a well-preserved woolly mammoth skeleton. Researchers estimate the 2-and-a-half-meter-tall mammoth is about three million years old. A nearby mechanical replica mimics the movements and sound of the real thing.This exhibition runs until May 24th.

    Xinhua News Agency correspondents reporting from Chongqing.

    (Source: XHTV)

 
Editor: Bi Mingxin

aprile 28, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, - R. Dinosauri, An. Vertebrates, Asia, Mostre & Fiere, Paleontology / Paleontologia, Places | , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-04-26 – Lyuba, tha baby Mammoth, on NG channel

 

Meet Lyuba, the most perfectly preserved mammoth ever found. This baby, frozen for 40,000 years, will yield new information about life in the Ice Age. Don’t miss the television event on NGC Sunday, April 26 at 9 p.m.

 

 

In USA: SUN APR 26 9P (link)

In UK: SUN MAY 3 AT 8PM (link)

aprile 26, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, An. Vertebrates, Cenozoic, Europa, Paleontology / Paleontologia, TV | , , , | 1 commento

2009-04-23 – Puijila darwini: Anello mancante nell`evoluzione dei Pinnipedi (missing link in pinniped evolution)

recommended links:

http://nature.ca/puijila/index_e.cfm (Official home page)

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/cmon-feo042009.php (good scientific description of the discovery)

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 Fossil of a walking seal found

Remains of a previously unknown mammal could represent a missing link in pinniped evolution
Web edition : Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 
Researchers discovered remains of a previously unknown pinniped in the Canadian Arctic. (Inset shows bones that were found.) The fossilized skeleton was about 65 percent complete. (Illustration fills in the missing pieces.)
Researchers discovered remains of a previously unknown pinniped in the Canadian Arctic. (Inset shows bones that were found.) The fossilized skeleton was about 65 percent complete. (Illustration fills in the missing pieces.)

A fossilized skeleton of what researchers are calling a walking seal has been uncovered in the Canadian Arctic. The remains of this previously unknown mammal could shed light on the evolution of pinnipeds, the group that includes seals, sea lions and walruses, researchers report in the April 23 Nature.

The animal, named Puijila darwini, had a long tail and an otterlike body with webbed feet and legs like a terrestrial animal, the researchers report. But P. darwini also had a pinniped-like skull.

“We realized there was no way this was an otter,” says study coauthor Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. The walking seal probably lived about 20 million years ago and was adept at moving both on land and in water, the team reports. 

 
Researchers describe Puijila darwini (illustration shown) as a walking seal, with the legs of a terrestrial animal, a seal-like skull and webbed feet.

Researchers describe Puijila darwini (illustration shown) as a walking seal, with the legs of a terrestrial animal, a seal-like skull and webbed feet.

 Scientists had theorized that pinnipeds evolved from land-dwelling ancestors but had little fossil evidence to support that claim. The new finding could be the missing link in pinniped evolution, the researchers report.

“This is a fantastic discovery,” comments evolutionary biologist Annalisa Berta of San Diego State University.

The finding may also indicate that the Arctic was a geographic center for pinniped evolution, the researchers speculate.

But, Berta notes, other early pinnipeds have been discovered in the North Pacific and Eurasia. “We can’t yet conclude the Arctic was the area of origin for pinnipeds,” Berta says.

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Otter-like fossil reveals early seal evolution

The Associated Press – ‎22-apr-2009‎
One expert called it “a fantastic discovery” that fills a crucial gap in the fossil record. The 23 million-year-old creature was not a direct ancestor of

aprile 23, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, America Northern, An. Vertebrates, Articolo sc. di riferimento, P - Evoluzione, P - morfologia funzionale, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia, X - Nature | , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-04-22 – Bimbi di Neanderthal (how Neanderthals gave birth)

Paleontologia/Bimbi di Neanderthal nascevano come quelli di oggi
Anche se, scoperte differenze in alcuni meccanismi del parto
Roma, 20 apr. (Apcom) – Come nasceva l’uomo di Neanderthal? Esattamente come fanno oggi tutti i bambini del mondo, anche se c’erano differenze tra il canale del parto delle nostre progenitrici e quello delle donne moderne. A scoprirlo Tim Weaver e Jean Jacques Hublin, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, CA, che, come riferiscono in una ricerca pubblicata su Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, hanno ricostruito la dimensione e la forma del condotto della nascita (che comprende utero, vagina e vulva), utilizzando una pelvi fossile trovata a Tabun in Israele e confrontata con il canale del parto delle donne moderne. La ricostruzione virtuale, realizzata dai paleontologi, ha mostrato che le donne di Neanderthal possedevano un maggior numero di meccanismi primitivi che facilitavano il parto e che non permettevano la rotazione del corpo del feto quando transitava attraverso il condotto per nascere. Nelle donne moderne questo passaggio di forma ovale cambia, durante il parto, le sue dimensioni e orientamento dal punto di entrata a quello di uscita, costringendo il bambino a ruotare. La rotazione è uno di quei meccanismi che aiuta la madre durante il travaglio e il bambino a venire al mondo. Secondo ricerche precedenti i meccanismi della nascita degli uomini sarebbero il risultato della pressione evolutiva della postura eretta, della deambulazione sulle due estremità degli arti e del dare alla luce bambini con un cervello più grande. Ma, malgrado le differenze anatomiche , il canale del parto del Neanderthal e quello delle donne moderne è sostanzialmente molto simile soprattutto nelle dimensioni, a testimoniare che anche i bambini che nascevano allora erano, più o meno, grandi quanto quelli che nascono oggi e che le difficoltà del parto non sono cambiante in centinaia di migliaia di anni.
 
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Child Delivery Has Never Been Easy

 


Researchers from the University of California at Davis and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig digitally reconstructed the pelvis of a Neanderthal female found in the Tabun Cave in Israel. The virtual model provides valuable insight into how early humans gave birth.

From the announcement issued by Max Planck Institute:

The size of Tabun’s reconstructed birth canal shows that Neanderthal childbirth was about as difficult as in present-day humans. However, its shape indicates that Neanderthals retained a more primitive birth mechanism than modern humans, without rotation of the baby’s body.A significant shift in childbirth apparently happened quite late in human evolution, during the last 400,000 – 300,000 years. Such a late shift underscores the uniqueness of human childbirth and the divergent evolutionary trajectories of Neanderthals and the lineage leading to present-day humans.

The virtual reconstruction of the pelvis from Tabun is going to be the first of its kind to be available for download on the internet for everyone interested in human evolution. The computer files will be available from the websites of University of California at Davis and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

 

Press release: “You will give birth in pain”: Neanderthals too …

Image: Virtual reconstruction of the pelvis of a female Neanderthal from Tabun (Israel). The colours indicate the individual bone fragments that were fit together. The gray wedge shows the estimated configuration of the sacrum (lower part of the spinal column). Credit: Tim Weaver, University of California

source: http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2009/04/child_delivery_has_never_been_easy.html

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Other links:

Childbirth Was Painful for Neanderthal Women, Too

FOXNews – ‎21 ore fa‎
By Clara Moskowitz Neanderthal women had different birth canals than humans today. But childbirth was probably just as difficult, a new study finds.
Neandertals Babies Didn’t Do the… Science Magazine (subscription)

aprile 21, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, - Ominidi, - Primati, 1 Olocene, An. Vertebrates, Europa, Lang. - Italiano, P - morfologia funzionale, P - Paleoantropologia, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , | Lascia un commento