Rare intermediate fossils give researchers insight into evolution of bird-like dinosaur An international team of researchers discovered a new species of dinosaur, Xiyunykus pengi, during an expedition to Xinjiang, China. The discovery is the latest stemming from a partnership between the George Washington University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The findings along with the description of a second new intermediate species, Bannykus wulatensis. Xiyunykus and Bannykus are both alvarezsaurs, an enigmatic group of dinosaurs that share many characteristics with birds. Their bodies are slender, with a bird-like skull and many small teeth instead of the usual large, sharp cutting teeth of their meat-eating relatives.
Fossil of 'first giant' dinosaur discovered in Argentina BBC - July 10, 2018
They are the biggest animals to have walked the Earth, with some weighing as much as a space shuttle. However, it is unclear how dinosaurs grew to such massive proportions. A new dinosaur discovery from Argentina gives fresh evidence on the rise of the giants. The animal used a novel strategy to become super-sized, involving very fast growth spurts and efficient bird-like lungs, say paleontologists. The fossil was found in the northwest of Argentina during a field trip. The scientists found four skeletons in all, one of a new species and three of related dinosaurs.
Genome structure of dinosaurs discovered by bird-turtle comparisons Science Daily - May 21, 2018
A discovery has provided significant insight into the overall genome structure of dinosaurs. By comparing the genomes of different species, chiefly birds and turtles, the Kent team were able to determine how the overall genome structure (i.e. the chromosomes) of many people's favourite dinosaur species - like Velociraptor or Tyrannosaurus - might have looked through a microscope.
Rare Tiny T. Rex Unearthed in Montana Smithsonian - April 4, 2018
In the last 100 years of excavations, fewer than five juvenile T. rex have come out of Hell Creek, which boasts an impressive assemblage of ancient remains. And the latest find may be the best so far. This is probably the most preserved and most complete. This is a 1-in-100-million specimen.
Dinosaur tracks on Skye 'globally important' BBC - April 3, 2018
New light has been shed on a little understood period of dinosaur evolution after giant prehistoric footprints were discovered on the Isle of Skye. Researchers, including some from Edinburgh University, have been analyzing dozens of the footprints, left about 170 million years ago. They found that the tracks belonged to sauropods and therapods from the Middle Jurassic period. The discovery has been described as being "globally important". Few fossil sites have been found around the world from the Middle Jurassic period. The footprints, left in a muddy, shallow lagoon, are helping the researchers build a more accurate picture of an important period in dinosaur evolution.
Rare Scottish dinosaur prints give key insight into era lost in time PhysOrg - April 2, 2018
Dozens of giant footprints discovered on a Scottish island are helping shed light on an important period in dinosaur evolution. The tracks were made some 170 million years ago, in a muddy, shallow lagoon in what is now the north-east coast of the Isle of Skye. Most of the prints were made by long-necked sauropods - which stood up to two metres tall - and by similarly sized theropods, which were the older cousins of Tyrannosaurus rex. The find is globally important as it is rare evidence of the Middle Jurassic period, from which few fossil sites have been found around the world. Researchers measured, photographed and analysed about 50 footprints in a tidal area at Brothers' Point - Rubha nam Brathairean - a dramatic headland on Skye's Trotternish peninsula. The footprints were difficult to study owing to tidal conditions, the impact of weathering and changes to the landscape. In spite of this, scientists identified two trackways in addition to many isolated foot prints. Researchers used drone photographs to make a map of the site. Additional images were collected using a paired set of cameras and tailored software to help model the prints.
From dinosaurs to birds
Baby bird fossil is 'rarest of the rare' BBC - March 5, 2018
The chick lived 127 million years ago and belonged to a group of primitive birds that shared the planet with the dinosaurs. Fossils of birds from this time period are rare, with baby fossils seen as "the rarest of the rare". Scientists say the discovery gives a peek into the lives of the ancient, long-extinct birds that lived between 250 and 66 million years ago.
New Egyptian dinosaur reveals ancient link between Africa and Europe Science Daily- January 29, 2018 When it comes to the final days of the dinosaurs, Africa is something of a blank page. Fossils found in Africa from the Late Cretaceous, the time period from 100 to 66 million years ago, are few and far between. That means that the course of dinosaur evolution in Africa has largely remained a mystery. But in the Egyptian Sahara Desert, scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that helps fill in those gaps.
Fossils of 75 million-year-old dinosaur that looked like a mutant swan with a reptilian tail are found by stunned archaeologists in Mongolia Daily Mail - December 7, 2017
A bizarre feathered dinosaur resembling a nightmarish mutant swan has been identified by scientists. The strange creature had a graceful swan-like neck but also scythe-like claws, a reptilian tail, and a beak lined with teeth. Halszkaraptor escuilliei, which lived 75 million years ago, was about the size of a modern swan and is thought to have been semi-aquatic.
'Bandit-masked' feathered dinosaur hid from predators using multiple types of camouflage PhysOrg - October 26, 2017
By reconstructing the likely color patterning of the Chinese dinosaur Sinosauropteryx, researchers have shown that it had multiple types of camouflage which likely helped it to avoid being eaten in a world full of larger meat-eating dinosaurs, including relatives of the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as potentially allowing it to sneak up more easily on its own prey.
Move aside T-Rex! New species of 'mega-carnivore' dinosaur roamed southern Africa 200 million years ago and was 'top of the food chain' Daily Mail - October 26, 2017
A dinosaur as big as a bus roamed southern Africa 200 million years ago, scientists have revealed thanks to the discovery of several huge three-toed footprints. The new species, Kayentapus ambrokholohali, is a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex and was identified by its footprints, which are nearly two feet (23 inches) long. Dinosaurs are recorded as only first appearing on Earth around 230 million years ago, so the new find shocked researchers as it shows they grew big very quickly.
'Ugly' 16ft-long dinosaur is found in the south of France with terrifying 2.5-inch teeth that tore through food like scissors 80 million years ago Daily Mail - October 26, 2017
The plant eater - which grew to more than 16 feet long - had an unusually short face with powerful jaws that enabled it to snack on tough riverside palm trees. Its two-and-a-half inch teeth worked 'like a pair of scissors' as it chewed the hard foliage, before swallowing.
New tyrannosaur fossil is most complete found in Southwestern US Science Daily - October 19, 2017
A fossilized skeleton of a tyrannosaur discovered in Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was airlifted by helicopter Oct 15, and delivered to the Natural History Museum of Utah where it will be uncovered, prepared, and studied. The fossil is approximately 76 million years old and is likely an individual of the species Teratophoneus curriei.
How did dinosaurs evolve beaks and become birds? Scientists think they have the answer PhysOrg - September 28, 2017
Once you know that many dinosaurs had feathers, it seems much more obvious that they probably evolved into birds. But there's still a big question. How did a set of dinosaurian jaws with abundant teeth (think T. rex) turn into the toothless jaws of modern birds, covered by a beak? Two things had to happen in this transition, suppression of the teeth and growth of the beak. Now new fossil evidence has shown how it happened.
Scientists track the brain-skull transition from dinosaurs to birds Science Daily - September 11, 2017
The dramatic, dinosaur-to-bird transition that occurred in reptiles millions of years ago was accompanied by profound changes in the skull roof of those animals -- and holds important clues about the way the skull forms in response to changes in the brain -- according to a new study. It is the first time scientists have tracked the link between the brain's development and the roofing bones of the skull.
How dinosaurs evolved into birds - Scientists reveal how incredible transition 100 million years ago saw profound changes to animals' skulls Daily Mail - September 11, 2017
The transition of dinosaurs to birds began around 100 million years ago, and a new study suggests that the changes during this time went well beyond the growth of feathers. New research indicates that the transition was also accompanied by profound changes to those animals' skulls. The findings hold important clues about the way the skull forms in response to changes in the brain, according to the researchers.
66 Million Years Ago, Bird-Like Dinosaurs Laid Blue-Green Eggs NBC - August 31, 2017
A type of bird-like dinosaur that lived in what is now China during the Cretaceous period - about 145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago - laid eggs that had a bluish-green tint, the first evidence of pigment in dinosaur eggs, according to a new study. The well-preserved eggshells belonged to the oviraptorid Heyuannia huangi, and analysis revealed the hints of blue-green color, the researchers said. Oviraptorids were a small-bodied, short-snouted group of dinosaurs with toothless beaks, and are known from fossils found in Mongolia and China. Blue and green egg hues are found in eggs belonging to many types of modern birds, and were long thought to have originated in bird lineages. This new finding, however, implies that egg coloration appeared earlier in the dinosaur family tree, and might have emerged alongside nesting behavior that left eggs partially exposed in nest mounds, rather than buried underground.
So Long, Sue! Famed T. Rex Makes Way for Bigger Beast Live Science - August 31, 2017
After spending nearly 18 years in the Field Museum's great hall in Chicago, Sue - the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered - will move to an exhibit upstairs, making room for the world's largest known dinosaur: a titanosaur.
Unique imaging of a dinosaur's skull tells evolutionary tale Researchers using Los Alamos' unique neutron-imaging and high-energy X-ray capabilities have exposed the inner structures of the fossil skull of a 74-million-year-old tyrannosauroid dinosaur nicknamed the Bisti Beast in the highest-resolution scan of tyrannosaur skull ever done. The results add a new piece to the puzzle of how these bone-crushing top predators evolved over millions of years.
Rare tooth find reveals horned dinosaurs in eastern North America PhysOrg - May 24, 2017
A chance discovery in Mississippi provides the first evidence of an animal closely related to Triceratops in eastern North America. The fossil, a tooth from rocks between 68 and 66 million years old, shows that two halves of the continent previously thought to be separated by seaway were probably connected before the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. Horned dinosaurs, or ceratopsids, had previously only been found in western North America and Asia. A seaway down the middle of North America, which linked the Arctic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, split the continent into eastern and western halves during much of the Late Cretaceous (around 95 to 66 million years ago). This means that animals that evolved in western North America after the split-including ceratopsids were prevented from traveling east.
Tooth that proves 'Triceratops-style' horned dinosaurs roamed eastern US could rewrite our planet's history Daily Mail - May 24, 2017
A chance discovery of a single tooth in Mississippi provides the first evidence of an animal closely related to Triceratops in eastern North America. Until now, most experts believed North America was split by a vast sea. However, this rare 68 to 66 million-year-old tooth suggests there was a bridge between the two sides.
First baby of a gigantic Oviraptor-like dinosaur belongs to a new species PhysOrg - May 9, 2017
A new species of giant bird-like dinosaur - which tended to enormous nests that were bigger than a monster truck tire - has been discovered in Henan, China. The new species, named Beibeilong, lived about 90 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. It is described by a joint Chinese-Canadian-Slovakia team based on a number of large eggs and an associated embryo that were collected in China
Mars volcano, Earth's dinosaurs went extinct about the same time PhysOrg - March 20, 2017
Around the same time that the dinosaurs became extinct on Earth, a volcano on Mars went dormant, NASA researchers have learned. Arsia Mons is the southernmost volcano in a group of three massive Martian volcanoes known collectively as Tharsis Montes. Until now, the volcano's history has remained a mystery. But thanks to a new computer model, scientists were finally able to figure out when Arsia Mons stopped spewing out lava. According to the model, volcanic activity at Arsia Mons came to a halt about 50 million years ago. Around that same time, Earth experienced the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which wiped out three-quarters of its animal and plant species, including the dinosaurs.
How dinosaurs learned to stand on their own two feet Science Daily - March 3, 2017
Paleontologists have developed a new theory to explain why the ancient ancestors of dinosaurs stopped moving about on all fours and rose up on just their two hind legs. Bipedalism in dinosaurs was inherited from ancient and much smaller proto-dinosaurs. The tails of proto-dinosaurs had big, leg-powering muscles. Having this muscle mass provided the strength and power required for early dinosaurs to stand on and move with their two back feet. We see a similar effect in many modern lizards that rise up and run bipedally. Over time, proto-dinosaurs evolved to run faster and for longer distances. Adaptations like hind limb elongation allowed ancient dinosaurs to run faster, while smaller forelimbs helped to reduce body weight and improve balance. Eventually, some proto-dinosaurs gave up quadrupedal walking altogether.
Paleontologist suggests path to flight for dinosaurs not as straight as thought PhysOrg - February 25, 2017
When most people think of the evolution of a particular feature or ability, they tend to think of a straight line - a species develops a feature that allows it to do something better; its offspring also express that feature, and soon another feature is added until something like wings for flight develop.
First live birth evidence in dinosaur relative BBC - February 16, 2017
Scientists have uncovered the first evidence of live births in the group of animals that includes dinosaurs, crocodiles and birds. All examples of this group, known as the Archosauromorpha, lay eggs. This led some scientists to wonder whether there was something in their biology that prevented live births. But examination of the fossil remains of a very long-necked, 245 million-year-old marine reptile from China revealed it was carrying an embryo.
Entire Chunk of Feathered Dinosaur Discovered in Amber Scientific American - December 11, 2016
The color appears to have been chestnut brown on top and cream or white on the bottom, but it is possible the colors have been altered by, and it bears repeating here, the 99 million years they've spent in the ground.
Dino-bird fossil had sparkly feathers 'to attract mate ' BBC - November 15, 2016
An extinct bird that lived about 120 million years ago had iridescent feathers that it may have used to attract a mate, fossil evidence shows. The prehistoric bird, which was found recently in China, may have puffed up its feathers like a peacock. The bird's feathers are "remarkably preserved", including the chemical that gave them sparkle. The animal belongs to a group of early birds known as enantiornithines, which lived during the Age of the Dinosaurs. All known specimens come from rocks in Liaoning, China, which have yielded numerous fossils of feathered dinosaurs, primitive birds and pterosaurs.
Biggest map of dinosaur tree yet suggests they emerged 20 million years earlier than thought PhysOrg - November 9, 2016
A team of researchers from the U.K. and the U.S. has mapped the biggest dinosaur tree yet, and in so doing, has found that the creatures may have evolved 20 million years earlier than most in the field have thought.
The Incredible Reptiles That Flew 200 Million Years Ago Smithsonian - November 7, 2016
A 200-million-year-old fossil reveals the amazing body structure of a reptilian creature known as the dimorphodon. Not only did it possess wings, it was one of the first large vertebrates to travel by air. (2:41)
Fossilized dinosaur brain tissue identified for the first time Science Daily - October 28, 2016
Researchers have identified the first known example of fossilized brain tissue in a dinosaur from Sussex. The tissues resemble those seen in modern crocodiles and birds. An unassuming brown pebble, found more than a decade ago by a fossil hunter in Sussex, has been confirmed as the first example of fossilized brain tissue from a dinosaur. The fossil, most likely from a species closely related to Iguanodon, displays distinct similarities to the brains of modern-day crocodiles and birds. Meninges -- the tough tissues surrounding the actual brain -- as well as tiny capillaries and portions of adjacent cortical tissues have been preserved as mineralized 'ghosts'.
Giant dinosaur footprint discovered in Mongolia desert PhysOrg - September 30, 2016
One of the biggest dinosaur footprints ever recorded has been unearthed in the Gobi Desert, researchers said Friday, offering a fresh clue about the giant creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago. A joint Mongolian-Japanese expedition found the giant print, which measures 106 centimetres (42 inches) long and 77 centimetres wide. One of several footprints discovered in the vast Mongolian desert, the huge fossil was discovered last month in a geologic layer formed between 70 million and 90 million years ago, researchers said.
Ancient birds' wings preserved in amber BBC - June 28, 2016
Two wings from birds that lived alongside the dinosaurs have been found preserved in amber. The "spectacular" finds from Myanmar are from baby birds that got trapped in the sticky sap of a tropical forest 99 million years ago. Exquisite detail has been preserved in the feathers, including traces of colour in spots and stripes. The wings had sharp little claws, allowing the juvenile birds to clamber about in the trees. The tiny fossils, which are between two and three centimetres long, could shed further light on the evolution of birds from their dinosaur ancestors.
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