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Fossil

  1. Scissor-Handed Fossil Named in Honor of Johnny Depp, History’s Greatest Scissor-Handed Actor

    On a recent expedition, researchers from Imperial College London discovered an ancient fossil from Earth's cambrian period that had never been seen before. The long lost relative of animals like lobsters and scorpions had one clear connection to both of those animals -- a set of arms ending in scissor-like pincers. The appendages instantly reminded team members of the iconic character of Edward Scissorhands, and thus, Kooteninchela deppi -- the first fossil creature named in honor of actor Johnny Depp -- was born.

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  2. New Fossils Reveal the Mouthparts, Nervous System of Ancient Horror

    The hypothetical ancestor of all mammals might be all cuddly, fuzzy, and warm, but its hideous arch-nemesis must have been an arthropod that spawned all the crustaceans, insects, and spiders we rightly fear today. In a new discovery concerning one such ancestor, scientists have found fossils in South China that finally reveal the complex "feeding limbs" and nervous system hidden beneath its shell. Until now, all we had was the shape of the creature's body and head, which was more than terrifying enough.

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  3. Fossil Bird Had Hardened Teeth for Crushing Hard-Shelled Prey

    While modern birds have beaks for eating, their ancient ancestors still had toothsome mouths, full of the sharp dental legacies of their dinosaur past. Paleontologists have discovered a new species of early bird, though, and rather than getting the worm, it seemed to prey on hard-shelled animals like snails and crabs. That left it with an evolutionary first -- a mouthful of teeth meant for crushing prey, not tearing flesh. It's an unexpected discovery, suggesting that even as some birds were losing their teeth to evolution, others were developing new kinds of teeth to help them become more specialized hunters.

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  4. First Freshwater Mosasaur Discovered, Was Basically A 20-Foot Long, Terrifying Reptilian River Dolphin

    Researchers from the Hungarian Natural History Museum and University of Alberta have discovered fossils that they believe represent the world's first real river monster -- a never-before-identified breed of mosasaur that thrived in fresh water rather than open ocean. The specimens represent the first evidence of mosasaurs -- initially land-dwelling reptiles that returned to the sea like modern dolphins and whales -- who left their ocean habitats in favor of freshwater homes like rivers, developing adaptations that would have let them thrive in the new environments where they were likely to top of the food chain.

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  5. You’re Gonna Get Some Hop Ons: Ancient Flightless Bug Caught Hitching Ride On Mayfly

    A piece of fossil amber may have offered researchers a glimpse at a never-before-seen insect behavior: A flightless bug known as a springtail that looks for all the world like it's hitching a ride on the back of a mayfly. It's not the first time that a fossilized springtail has been seen catching a lift -- another piece of amber contains a springtail that seems to be riding atop an eight-legged harvestman -- but it's the first time researchers have found the ancient bugs catching a flight to a new destination.

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  6. Ancient Arthropod Fossil Had First Modern Brain

    The fossilized example of Fuxianhuia protensa above might be smarter than it looks. The darker inset area is the creature's fossilized brain, and it may be the earliest example on record of a modern brain structure. If that's the case, this 520 million year-old fossil could demonstrate that complex brains developed much earlier than once thought, settling years of debate among paleontologists and providing a long-sought missing link in evolutionary development among insects and crustaceans.

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  7. Scientists Uncover Giant Prehistoric Sperm Cache

    We've discovered evidence of fossilized sperm before. Let that soak in for a moment. Now paleontologists have found what's being described as the "richest" evidence of fossilized sperm to date. The evidence was discovered in a large batch of prehistoric ostracods -- which makes sense as their sperm can end up ten times as large as their body. Overall, it's a great time for science, don't you think?

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  8. Giant Wombat Mass Grave Found In Australia, Paleontologists Rejoice

    Scientists in Queensland, Australia hit a 'paleontologists' goldmine' when 50 diprotodon fossils were unearthed at the site. Get excited, people. This is a mass grave of giant wombats we're taking about. So many bones, so much history!

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  9. Pregnant Fossil Is First Evidence That Plesiosaurs Gave Birth To Live Young

    For nearly 25 years a spectacular fossil that could answer scientists' questions about an ancient marine reptile lay buried in the basement of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The fossil was of a plesiosaur, a large four-flippered creature that roamed the oceans some 78 million years ago. But it wasn't just any fossil, this fossil was pregnant. The fossil shows the mother, around 470 cm long, carrying a single fetus, around 150 cm long. The fetus has 20 vertebrae, shoulders, hips and paddle bones, and is believed to be about two-thirds grown. This is the first case of a pregnant plesiosaur fossil, and it shows that the creatures gave birth to live babies rather than hatching eggs. The finding also suggests that the creatures cared for their young similar to modern day whales and dolphins.

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  10. Fossil of Largest Wombat Ever Discovered

    Palaeontologists in Australia have found a virtually complete skeleton that is the largest known example of a diprotodon, a giant wombat-like animal. This diprotodon is comparable in size to a four wheel drive vehicle and when alive looked similar to a rhinoceros. Researchers say the three-ton monster, known for having massive tusks and a small brain, may have lived approximately two million years ago. Diprotodons were plant eaters, and are believed to have gone extinct around 55,000 years ago as a result of either the arrival of the first indigenous people of Australia, or climate change, or a combination of the two. The skeleton was found on a remote cattle station near the Leichhardt River between Normanton and Burketown in Queensland. The area has become known for being saturated with the remains of prehistoric megafauna. Led by professor Sue Hand, a palaeontologist at the University of New South Wales, the researchers found the fossil after they spotted an arm bone sticking out of the ground. Further digging showed that the bone was connected to a shoulder blade, and ultimately the entire skeleton was unearthed. The bones were found next to the tooth of a giant goanna (a type of lizard) that the researchers suspect may have become dislodged while the creature was feasting on the carcass of the diprotodon. The fossil is virtually complete, which makes it one of Australia’s most significant prehistoric discoveries. (via The Telegraph Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

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