- by Bob Yirka
“Researchers from the United States have identified fossilized remains found in Kenya seven years ago, as those belonging to an old-world monkey (Cercopithecidae) and relative of modern proboscis and colobus monkeys—they date back to a time 3 million years before any other previous find of its kind. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes the fossils as two teeth—a molar and a premolar—enough to identify its owner as a member of a group of old-world monkeys of the Cercopithecoidea superfamily.
Old-world monkeys are a group of primates that include monkeys that evolved in Africa and Asia (as opposed to new-world monkeys that evolved in the Americas, etc.) One of their distinguishing features is that unlike new-world monkeys, their tails are not prehensile. They are believed to have emerged as a group during the Miocene epoch, a period that lasted from 5 to 23 million years ago. The newly identified fossils have been found to be approximately 12.5 million years old and were found in 2006 at a site in Tugen Hills, Kenya. The researchers believe that at the time the monkey was alive, the place where it lived was grassland.
The researchers have identified the fossilized teeth as coming from one or two colobine monkeys—their modern counterparts include proboscis (known for their large oddly shaped nose) and the colobus, which actually looks similar to a skunk. They believe the monkey weighed about ten pounds and based on the look of the teeth, ate mostly seeds and perhaps unripe fruit, rather than leaves—the main component of the diet of modern similar monkeys. This suggests, they say, that the evolution of a more advanced gut was underway that would lead to an ability to digest leaves. It also offers clues that might hint at the competition that likely existed between the colobine monkeys and other archaic primates, which subsequently resulted in some of those other species going extinct” (read more).
(Source: Phys Org)
Archaeologists have discovered a rare woolly mammoth field containing the remains of at least five of the giant animals.
The experts believe the huge animals, which are related to modern Elephants, lived in the region of Serbia tens of thousands of years ago. The discovery was made last week at the Kostolac coal mine, east of the country’s capital of Belgrade, and was the first of its kind in the region.
Miomir Korac from Serbia’s Archaeology Institute said the find could offer important insight about the Balkans during the ice age.
“There are millions of mammoth fragments in the world, but they are rarely so accessible for exploration,” Korac said. ”A mammoth field can offer incredible information and shed light on what life looked like in these areas during the ice age.”
The remains were found during digging for coal in an open pit that sinks to around 20 metres below ground level. Korac said the mammoth field stretched over more than 20 acres of sandy terrain.
In 2009, a well-preserved skeleton of a much older mammoth was found at the same site. Vika, as the female skeleton was named, is up to one million years old and belonged to a furless breed called the southern mammoth.
Sanja Alaburic, a mammoth expert from Serbia’s Museum of Natural History, said the bones discovered last month belong to woolly mammoths, which disappeared around 10,000 years ago.
Alaburic said: “This discovery is interesting because, unusually, there are many bones in one place, probably brought there by torrential waters.”
Korac said Serbian archaeologists already have contacted colleagues in France and Germany for consultation. He said at least six months of work will be needed before all the bones are unearthed.
Another mammoth skeleton was discovered in northern Serbia in 1996. It belonged to a female mammoth that lived about 500,000 years ago and is now on display in the town of Kikinda, near the Hungarian border.
(click-through for more photos)
German scientists have just reported an extraordinary discovery: the first known pairs of mating vertebrate fossils.
And along with the thrill of a fossil first comes another possible breakthrough. The 47-million-year-old turtle remains offer clues to how a prehistoric lake became one of the world’s richest fossil troves.
“Just finding these couples is completely unique worldwide,” lead study author Walter Joyce said. “There are no other vertebrate fossils to be found like this.”
The turtle pairs were discovered in Messel Pit, a tropical lake turned Lagerstätten—paleontologist speak for a “really, really, really, spectacular place for fossils,” according to Columbia University’s Mark Norell. Read more.
The 60-million-year-old remains of a gigantic predatory turtle the size of a car was found in a Columbian coal mine, giving researchers new insights into the tendency for oversize species to thrive after the age of the dinosaurs.
The turtle had a 5.7-foot shell, large enough to double as a kiddie pool. So, how did it get so big?
The largest known crocodile was big enough to swallow a human being and likely terrorized our ancestors two to four million years ago.
Remains of the enormous horned croc, named Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni, were unearthed in East Africa. The impressive aquatic reptile exceeded 27 feet long and is described in the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
The croc was the dominant predator of its ecosystem, so there is little doubt that it preyed upon our distant ancestors, especially since remains of Australopithecus (a now-extinct genus of hominids) were found nearby.
These relatively tiny individuals would have had no choice but to enter the crocodile’s territory for much needed water.
“Humans might have eaten food along a lakeside or riverbank, but more importantly, they would have needed water to drink,” lead author Christopher Brochu told Discovery News. “This would have brought them right to where the crocodiles might have been living.” Read more.