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Palaeontology



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Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 15.08.2019
Dinosaur brains from baby to adult
Dinosaur brains from baby to adult
New research by a University of Bristol palaeontology post-graduate student has revealed fresh insights into how the braincase of the dinosaur Psittacosaurus developed and how this tells us about its posture. Psittacosaurus was a very common dinosaur in the Early Cretaceous period - 125 million years ago - that lived in eastern Asia, especially north-east China.

Palaeontology - 26.06.2019
Blue colour tones in fossilised prehistoric feathers
Blue colour tones in fossilised prehistoric feathers
Examining fossilised pigments, scientists from the University of Bristol have uncovered new insights into blue colour tones in prehistoric birds. For some time, paleontologists have known that melanin pigment can preserve in fossils and have been able to reconstruct fossil colour patterns. Melanin pigment gives black, reddish brown and grey colours to birds and is involved in creating bright iridescent sheens in bird feathers.

Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 03.06.2019
Feathers came first, then birds
Feathers came first, then birds
New research, led by the University of Bristol, suggests that feathers arose 100 million years before birds - changing how we look at dinosaurs, birds, and pterosaurs, the flying reptiles. It also changes our understanding of feathers themselves, their functions and their role in some of the largest events in evolution.

Earth Sciences - Palaeontology - 02.05.2019
Chewing versus sex in the duck-billed dinosaurs
Chewing versus sex in the duck-billed dinosaurs
The duck-billed hadrosaurs walked the Earth over 90-million years ago and were one of the most successful groups of dinosaurs. But why were these 2-3 tonne giants so successful? A new study, published in Paleobiology, shows that their special adaptations in teeth and jaws and in their head crests were crucial, and provides new insights into how these innovations evolved.

Environment - Palaeontology - 08.04.2019
Earth's recovery from mass extinction could take millions of years
Earth’s recovery from mass extinction could take millions of years
How long will it take our biosphere to recover from the current climate crisis' It's a question that makes for a sobering examination of Earth's ongoing destruction. It's to the past, specifically the fossils of a tiny species that went out with the dinosaurs, that scientists have turned for the answer.

Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 29.03.2019
Untangling the evolution of feeding strategies in ancient crocodiles
Untangling the evolution of feeding strategies in ancient crocodiles
Ancient aquatic crocodiles fed on softer and smaller prey than their modern counterparts and the evolution of skull shape and function allowed them to spread into new habitats, reveal paleobiology researchers from the University of Bristol and UCL. For the study, published today in Paleontology , the team digitally reconstructed the skull of an extinct species of marine crocodile and compared it to similar living species to gain new insights into the diet of ancient crocodiles and their role in ecosystems around 230 million years ago.

Earth Sciences - Palaeontology - 06.03.2019
Dinosaurs were thriving before asteroid strike that wiped them out
Dinosaurs were thriving before asteroid strike that wiped them out
Dinosaurs were unaffected by long-term climate changes and flourished before their sudden demise by asteroid strike, new research, co-authored by the University of Bristol, has found. Scientists largely agree that an asteroid impact, possibly coupled with intense volcanic activity, wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago.

Palaeontology - Earth Sciences - 06.03.2019
Dinosaurs were thriving before asteroid strike that wiped them out
Dinosaurs were thriving before asteroid strike that wiped them out
Dinosaurs were unaffected by long-term climate changes and flourished before their sudden demise by asteroid strike. Scientists largely agree that an asteroid impact, possibly coupled with intense volcanic activity, wiped out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago. Dinosaurs were likely not doomed to extinction until the end of the Cretaceous, when the asteroid hit.

Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 11.02.2019
Oldest evidence of mobility on Earth
Ancient fossils of the first ever organisms to exhibit movement have been discovered by an international team of scientists. Discovered in rocks in Gabon and dating back approximately 2.1 billion years, the fossils suggest the existence of a cluster of single cells that came together to form a slug-like multicellular organism that moved through the mud in search of a more favourable environment.

Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 20.12.2018
Newborn insects trapped in amber show first fossil evidence of how to crack an egg
Fossilised newborns, egg shells, and egg bursters preserved together in amber provide the first direct evidence of how insects hatched in deep time, according to a new article published today in the journal Palaeontology . One of the earliest and toughest trials that all organisms face is birth. The new findings give scientists evidence on how tiny insects broke the barrier separating them from life and took their first steps into an ancient forest.

Palaeontology - Earth Sciences - 17.12.2018
New discovery pushes origin of feathers back by 70 million years
New discovery pushes origin of feathers back by 70 million years
An international team of palaeontologists, which includes the University of Bristol, has discovered that the flying reptiles, pterosaurs, actually had four kinds of feathers, and these are shared with dinosaurs - pushing back the origin of feathers by some 70 million years. Pterosaurs are the flying reptiles that lived side by side with dinosaurs, 230 to 66 million years ago.

Palaeontology - 10.12.2018
Birds and dinosaurs evolved to dazzle with colourful displays
Birds and dinosaurs evolved to dazzle with colourful displays
Iridescence is responsible for some of the most striking visual displays in the animal kingdom. Now, thanks to a new study of feathers from almost 100 modern bird species, scientists have gained new insights into how this colour diversity evolved. Iridescence refers to the phenomena where colour changes when an object is viewed from different angles.

Palaeontology - Earth Sciences - 17.09.2018
Tiny fossils reveal how shrinking was essential for successful evolution
Tiny fossils reveal how shrinking was essential for successful evolution
A new study published today in Nature, using research carried out at the University of Bristol, shows that getting smaller was a key factor contributing to the exceptional evolution of mammals over the last 200 million years. The origin of modern mammals can be traced back more than 200 million years to the age of dinosaurs.

Life Sciences - Palaeontology - 30.08.2018
Russian connections of reptile from the Jurassic Coast
Russian connections of reptile from the Jurassic Coast
The Triassic red rocks of the Devon coast around Sidmouth, some 240 million years old and pre-dating the earliest dinosaurs preserve fossil fishes, amphibians and reptiles, and a new specimen, uncovered with help from palaeontologists at the University of Bristol, shows distinct connections with Russia.

Earth Sciences - Palaeontology - 07.08.2018
New species of rare ancient ’worm’ discovered in fossil hotspot
Scientists have discovered a new species of lobopodian, an ancient relative of modern-day velvet worms, in 430 million-years-old Silurian rocks in Herefordshire, UK. The team, comprising researchers from the universities of Oxford, Yale, Leicester and Manchester, and Imperial College London, has been able to three-dimensionally reconstruct the exceptionally well-preserved fossil using digital technology.

Palaeontology - Earth Sciences - 25.07.2018
New dinosaur found in the wrong place, at the wrong time
A new dinosaur called Lingwulong shenqi or 'amazing dragon from Lingwu' has been discovered by an Anglo-Chinese team involving UCL. The announcement, published today , reports the surprising discovery of the new dinosaur which roamed the Ningxia Autonomous Region, northwest China, approximately 174 million years ago.

Earth Sciences - Palaeontology - 25.07.2018
Creating 'synthetic' fossils in the lab sheds light on fossilisation processes
Creating ’synthetic’ fossils in the lab sheds light on fossilisation processes
A newly published experimental protocol, involving University of Bristol scientists, could change the way fossilisation is studied. In addition to directly studying fossils themselves, experimental treatments of fresh organismal remains can be utilised to study fossilisation. One commonly employed experimental approach is known as ‘artificial maturation', where high heat and pressure accelerate the chemical degradation reactions that normally occur over millions of years when a fossil is buried deep underground and exposed to geothermal heat and pressure from overlying sediment.

Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 23.07.2018
New sources of melanin pigment shake up ideas about fossil animals' colour
New sources of melanin pigment shake up ideas about fossil animals’ colour
A team of palaeontologists, led by University College Cork (UCC) and including the University of Bristol, have discovered new sources of the pigment melanin, calling for a rethink of how scientists reconstruct the colour of fossil birds, reptiles and dinosaurs. Many recent studies of fossil colour have assumed that fossilized granules of melanin - melanosomes - come from the skin.

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