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Life Sciences - Paleontology - 12.04.2021
Unusual fossil reveals last meal of prehistoric pollinator
Unusual fossil reveals last meal of prehistoric pollinator
An amber fossil of a Cretaceous beetle has shed some light on the diet of one of the earliest pollinators of flowering plants. The animal's remains were unearthed by researchers at the University of Bristol and the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NIGPAS) who were able to study its fossil faecal matter, which was composed solely of pollen.

Paleontology - Environment - 08.03.2021
'Pompeii of prehistoric plants' unlocks evolutionary secret - study
’Pompeii of prehistoric plants’ unlocks evolutionary secret - study
Spectacular fossil plants preserved within a volcanic ash fall in China have shed light on an evolutionary race 300 million years ago, which was eventually won by the seed-bearing plants that dominate so much of the Earth today. New research into fossils found at the ‘Pompeii of prehistoric plants', in Wuda, Inner Mongolia, reveals that the plants, called Noeggerathiales, were highly-evolved members of the lineage from which came seed plants.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 03.03.2021
Cutting-edge analysis of prehistoric teeth sheds new light on the diets of lizards and snakes
Cutting-edge analysis of prehistoric teeth sheds new light on the diets of lizards and snakes
New research has revealed that the diets of early lizards and snakes, which lived alongside dinosaurs around 100 million years ago, were more varied and advanced than previously thought. The study, led by the University of Bristol and published in Royal Society ,showed lizards, snakes, and mosasaurs in the Cretaceous period already had the full spectrum of diet types, including flesh-eating and plant-based, which they have today.

Environment - Paleontology - 26.02.2021
Pioneering prehistoric landscape reconstruction reveals early dinosaurs lived on tropical islands
Pioneering prehistoric landscape reconstruction reveals early dinosaurs lived on tropical islands
A new study using leading edge technology has shed surprising light on the ancient habitat where some of the first dinosaurs roamed in the UK around 200 million years ago. The research, led by the University of Bristol, examined hundreds of pieces of old and new data including historic literature vividly describing the landscape as a “landscape of limestone islands like the Florida Everglades?

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 27.01.2021
Cell death shines a light on the origins of complex life
Organelles continue to thrive after the cells within which they exist die, a team of University of Bristol scientists have found, overturning previous assumptions that organelles decay too quickly to be fossilised. As described in the journal Sciences Advances today [27 January], researchers from Bristol's School of Earth Sciences were able to document the decay process of eukaryotic algal cells, showing that nuclei, chloroplasts and pyrenoids (organelles found within chloroplasts) can persist for weeks and months after cell death in eukaryote cells, long enough to be preserved as fossils.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 20.01.2021
Amber-encased fossil shines light on evolution of bioluminescent insects
Amber-encased fossil shines light on evolution of bioluminescent insects
Trapped in amber for 100 million years, an exceptionally well-preserved, light-producing beetle sheds light on the diversification of bioluminescent beetles in the Cretaceous period and provides the missing fossil link between fireflies' living relatives. With over 3,500 described species, light-producing beetles are the most diverse bioluminescent terrestrial animals.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 19.01.2021
Dinosaur-era sea lizard had teeth like a shark
New study identifies a bizarre new species suggesting that giant marine lizards thrived before the asteroid wiped them out 66 million years ago. Last updated on Monday 18 January 2021 A new species of mosasaur - an ancient sea-going lizard from the age of dinosaurs - has been found with shark-like teeth that gave it a deadly slicing bite.

Paleontology - Environment - 07.01.2021
Research explains why crocodiles have changed so little since the age of the dinosaurs
New research by scientists at the University of Bristol explains how a 'stop-start' pattern of evolution, governed by environmental change, could explain why crocodiles have changed so little since the age of the dinosaurs. Crocodiles today look very similar to ones from the Jurassic period some 200 million years ago.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 14.12.2020
Unexpected insights into early dinosaur’s brain, eating habits and agility
A pioneering reconstruction of the brain belonging to one of the earliest dinosaurs to roam the Earth has shed new light on its possible diet and ability to move fast. Research, led by the University of Bristol, used advanced imaging and 3-D modelling techniques to digitally rebuild the brain of Thecodontosaurus , better known as the Bristol dinosaur due to its origins in the UK city.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 26.11.2020
Ancient bird with sickle-shaped beak offers insights into evolution
A 68 million-year-old fossil of a crow-sized bird discovered in Madagascar offers new insights into the evolution of face and beak shape of modern birds' ancestors, according to a new study involving UCL researchers. The findings are helping scientists to understand convergent evolution of complex anatomy.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 06.11.2020
Earliest example of a rapid-fire tongue found in extinct amphibians
Fossils of small armoured amphibians provide the oldest evidence of a slingshot-style tongue, according to a new study co-led by a UCL researcher. The research team analysed 99-million-year-old fossils to find that the animals were sit-and-wait predators that snatched prey with a projectile firing of their tongue, as reported in the journal Science .

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 02.11.2020
Fossil poop shows fishy lunches from 200 million years ago
A new study of coprolites, fossil poop, shows the detail of food webs in the ancient shallow seas around Bristol in south-west England. One hungry fish ate part of the head of another fish before snipping off the tail of a passing reptile. Marie Cueille, a visiting student at the University of Bristol's School of Earth Sciences , was working on a collection of hundreds of fish poops from the Rhaetian bone bed near Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, dated at 205 million years ago.

Paleontology - 30.10.2020
Plankton turned hunters to survive dinosaur-killing asteroid impact
After the last global mass extinction, 66 million years ago, most of the plankton that survived were those able to capture food to eat, according to a study led by UCL and University of Southampton researchers. The findings, published in Science Advances , support the theory that darkness drove the global extinctions, after an asteroid impact, as plankton and plants would not have been able to use photosynthesis to get their energy from the sun.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 28.10.2020
Giant lizards learnt to fly over millions of years
Pterodactyls and related winged reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs steadily improved their ability to fly, becoming the deadly masters of the sky, over the course of millions of years. A new study, ‘150 million years of sustained increase in pterosaur flight efficiency' , published in the journal Nature has shown that pterosaurs - a group of creatures that became Earth's first flying vertebrates - evolved to improve their flight performance over their 150 million-year existence, before going extinct at the same time as dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 28.10.2020
Pterosaurs undergo dental examination to reveal clues about diets and lifestyles
Microscopic analysis of the teeth of pterosaurs has revealed new insights into the diets and behaviours of Earth's earliest flying reptiles. Researchers at the University of Leicester's Centre for Palaeobiology Research and the University of Birmingham used dental microwear analysis to look at the wear patterns still visible on the teeth of 17 different species of pterosaur.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 12.10.2020
Ancient tiny teeth reveal first mammals lived more like reptiles
Reconstruction of Morganucodon (left) and Kuehneotherium (right) hunting in Early Jurassic Wales 200 million years ago. Original painting by John Sibbick, 2013. Copyright: Pam Gill Synchrotron micro-CT scan of a fossil Morganucodon tooth root from 200 million years ago. Elis Newham Scientists count fossilised growth rings in teeth like tree rings to find out how long the earliest mammals lived.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 21.09.2020
Modelling of ancient fossil movement reveals step in the evolution of posture in dinosaur and crocodile ancestors
Life reconstruction of Euparkeria highlighting the body parts investigated in this study. Illustration: Oliver Demuth. The oblique ankle joint did not allow Euparkeria to assume a fully upright posture as the foot also turns medially when the ankle joint is extended. An ankle joint allowing a more upright posture evolved later independent from the hip structure.

Environment - Paleontology - 16.09.2020
Discovery of a new mass extinction
Summary of major extinction events through time, highlighting the new, Carnian Pluvial Episode at 233 million years ago. D. Bonadonna/ MUSE, Trento. 16 September 2020 It's not often a new mass extinction is identified; after all, such events were so devastating they really stand out in the fossil record.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 17.06.2020
Insect crunching reptiles on ancient islands of the UK
By analysing the fossilised jaw mechanics of reptiles who lived in the Severn Channel region of the UK 200-million-years ago, researchers from the University of Bristol have shown that they weren't picky about the types of insects they ate - enjoying both crunchy and less crunchy varieties. The study, published today in the journal Palaeontology , describes how the team analysed the biomechanics of the skulls of some early lizard-like reptiles called rhynchocephalians to explore their diets.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 11.06.2020
Oldest relative of ragworms and earthworms discovered
Scientists at the Universities of Oxford, Exeter, Yunnan and Bristol and have discovered the oldest fossil of the group of animals that contains earthworms, leeches, ragworms and lugworms. This discovery pushes the origin of living groups of these worms (polychaetes) back tens of millions of years, demonstrating that they played an important part in the earliest animal ecosystems.
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