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Environment - Palaeontology - 01.04.2020
Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world
Traces of ancient rainforest in Antarctica point to a warmer prehistoric world
Researchers have found evidence of rainforests near the South Pole 90 million years ago, suggesting the climate was exceptionally warm at the time. A team from the UK and Germany discovered forest soil from the Cretaceous period within 900 km of the South Pole. Their analysis of the preserved roots, pollen and spores shows that the world at that time was a lot warmer than previously thought.

Life Sciences - Palaeontology - 13.02.2020
Boom and bust for ancient sea dragons
Boom and bust for ancient sea dragons
A new study by scientists from the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, shows a well-known group of extinct marine reptiles had an early burst in their diversity and evolution - but that a failure to adapt in the long-run may have led to their extinction. Ichthyosaurs were fish-like reptiles that first appeared about 250 million years ago and quickly diversified into highly capable swimmers, filling a broad range of sizes and ecologies in the early Mesozoic oceans.

Life Sciences - Palaeontology - 27.11.2019
Animal embryos evolved before animals
Animal embryos evolved before animals
Animals evolved from single-celled ancestors, before diversifying into 30 or 40 distinct anatomical designs. When and how animal ancestors made the transition from single-celled microbes to complex multicellular organisms has been the focus of intense debate.

Palaeontology - Earth Sciences - 04.11.2019
Discriminating diets of meat-eating dinosaurs
Discriminating diets of meat-eating dinosaurs
A big problem with dinosaurs is that there seem to be too many meat-eaters. From studies of modern animals, there is a feeding pyramid, with plants at the bottom, then plant-eaters, and then meat-eaters at the top. A new study by scientists at the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences , published in the journal Palaeontology, shows that dinosaurian meat-eaters, the theropod dinosaurs, specialised a great deal, and so broadened their food base.

Environment - Palaeontology - 17.10.2019
How ocean ecosystems recovered after mass extinction event 66 million years ago
How ocean ecosystems recovered after mass extinction event 66 million years ago
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, have produced an unprecedented record of the biotic recovery of ocean ecosystems that followed after the last mass extinction, 66 million years ago. In an article published in the journal Nature , the team, which includes researchers from Southampton, University College London, Frankfurt and California, present a 13 million-year record of fossil plankton dynamics in the aftermath of near annihilation, providing a remarkable glimpse into how the marine ecosystem ‘reboots'.

Environment - Palaeontology - 26.09.2019
Ecosystems take two million years to recover after mass extinctions
Ecosystems take two million years to recover after mass extinctions
It takes ecosystems two million years to recover after a mass extinction and for them to become functional and resilient again, according to new UCL co-led research. The study Hojung Kim and Dr Sarah Alvarez) and academics from Southampton, Frankfurt and California. The team looked at 13 million years' worth of fossil plankton records in the aftermath of near annihilation of ocean plankton, during the Cretaceous/Paleogene mass extinction, providing a remarkable glimpse into how the marine ecosystem 'reboots'.

Palaeontology - 29.08.2019
First human ancestors breastfed for longer than contemporary relatives
First human ancestors breastfed for longer than contemporary relatives
By analysing the fossilised teeth of some of our most ancient ancestors, a team of scientists led by the universities of Bristol (UK) and Lyon (France) have discovered that the first humans significantly breastfed their infants for longer periods than their contemporary relatives. The results, published in the journal Science Advances , provide a first insight into the practice of weaning that remain otherwise unseen in the fossil record.

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.

Earth Sciences - Palaeontology - 18.02.2019
Diversity on land is not higher today than in the past
The rich levels of biodiversity on land seen across the globe today are not a recent phenomenon: diversity on land has been similar for at least the last 60 million years, since soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs. According to a new study led by researchers at the University of Birmingham and involving an international team of collaborators, the number of species within ecological communities on land has increased only sporadically through geological time, with rapid increases in diversity being followed by plateaus lasting tens of millions of years.

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.

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