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Two Thirds of Portugal's Large Mammals Extinct in Last 1M Years

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Almost half of all mammals have become extinct, with the proportion reaching two-thirds in the case of large mammals.

"It is overwhelming", Otávio Mateus of the Faculty of Science and Technology at Lisbon’s Universidade Nova told Lusa, adding that scientists.

The study, which shows that the country’s current biodiversity of mammals is only "a fraction" of what it was a million years ago.

Of 77 species of mammals found in fossil form in Portugal, only 41 or 54 percent still exist. Nineteen species, such as hyenas, have disappeared from what is now Portugal, and a further 11 – such as the straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) - have become extinct.

The fauna and environment of the Iberian peninsula was once, according to Mateus, similar to that of Africa today.

"There were already humans and they lived [alongside] the fauna, but the emergence of humans has contributed to this extinction," he said.

The results emerged in the Master's thesis in Paleontology by Dário Estraviz López, who on defended his work, securing a mark of 19 out of 20, according to a statement released by the university.

"We are seeing enormous extinction of mammals in the last million years, which in paleontology is not that long a time," said Mateus, who supervised the thesis.

The data also makes it possible to assess the quality of the fossil record in Portugal, which is "very good" where large mammals are concerned, and may attract other researchers to the country, according to the academic.

"Less than a million years ago there were ancestral species of rhinoceros, elephants, hippopotamus and leopards in Portugal - all extinct today," writes Otávio Mateus. The pattern found in the study, he continues, is similar to that in the rest of Europe over a million years, which is "very fast in geological terms".

The extinction coincided with "the proliferation of humans", which should prompt reflection, Mateus argued in comments to Lusa.


The Origin of Earth’s Water

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Illustration of a comet, ice grains and Earth’s oceans. SOFIA found clues in Comet Wirtanen’s ice grains that suggest water in comets and Earth’s oceans may share a common origin. (Credit: NASA/SOFIA/L. Cook/L. Proudfit)

Earth is known as the only planet on the solar system to sustain life. Aside from this, it is also identified to have large amount of water and its axis being stabilized by the moon. Researchers from the University of Münster (Germany) was able to show for the first time, the role of moon on bringing water on the planet. Studies found that the formation of moon 4.4 billion years ago caused to bring water on Earth.

The moon was formed when Earth was hit by a body with the same size as Mars, also called Theia. At first, it was thought that Theia comes from the inner solar system near Earth but later on it turns out that it was originated from the outer solar system and carried large quantities of water, according to Phys.

It might be impossible and shocking to know that Earth has water since it came from dry inner solar system. So how can this be possible? The solar system was formed 4.5 billion years ago and based on previous studies, it is structured where dry and wet materials are separated. The dry material which is called non-carbonaceous meteorites come from inner solar system while the wet material which is rich in water called carbonaceous meteorites come from outer solar system. Even though studies have showed that the carbonaceous meteorites are responsible for water on Earth though it still a mystery on how and when it happened.

"We have used molybdenum isotopes to answer this question. The molybdenum isotopes allow us to clearly distinguish carbonaceous and non-carbonaceous material, and such from the outer and inner solar system," said Dr. Gerrit Budde, paleontology in Münster University and the lead author of the study.

Researchers also found out that Earth's molybdenum isotopic composition lies between the carbonaceous and non-carbonaceous meteorites. It was observed that some of Earth's molybdenum comes from the outer solar system and plays an important role because of its iron-loving property.

"The molybdenum which is accessible today in the Earth's mantle, therefore, originates from the late stages of Earth's formation, while the molybdenum from earlier phases is entirely in the core," said Dr. Christoph Burkhardt, second author of the study.

Based on the results, it shows that carbonaceous material came late on earth given that it was from the outer solar system. Provided this fact, molybdenum was supplied by Theia whose collision with the planet happened 4.4 billion years ago leading to the moon's formation. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that molybdenum in earth's mantle also came from the outer solar system which only means that Theia also originated from the outer solar system. Scientists believed that the collision provided enough carbonaceous material which supplied great amount of water on Earth.

"Our approach is unique because, for the first time, it allows us to associate the origin of water on Earth with the formation of the Moo. To put it simply, without the Moon there probably would be no life on Earth," explained Thorsten Klein, professor of Paleontology at the University of Münster.


Chinese Researchers Discover 300,000-Year-Old Ancient Human Fossils

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Different types of ancient human fossils in contrast: A. Human fossil from Hualong Cave B. Peking Man fossil from Zhoukoudian site C. Fossil of Nanjing Homo erectus D. Human fossil found at the Dali Man site E. Human fossil found at Jinniushan Site F. Fossil of Maba Man. (Photo: China News Service)

Chinese paleontologists have discovered more than 30 ancient human fossils that dated back to about 300,000 years, at an excavation site in Dongzhi County in east China's Anhui Province.

They have also found more than 100 stone artifacts used by ancient humans as well as mammalian fossils of over 40 species. The discoveries are expected to shed new light on how ancient humans in the East Asia continent had evolved, according to the paleontologists.

The fossils and artifacts were discovered during archaeological excavations over the past 15 years at the site, which experts believe to be a collapsed cave, said Wu Xiujie, a member of the research team and a professor with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Wu Xiujie, professor with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, displays the fossils discovered at an excavation site in Dongzhi County in east China's Anhui Province. (Xinhua/Ma Shurui)

"In the cave, we not only have discovered a large number of ancient human fossils, but also found a variety of evidences of ancient human behaviors, which could shed light on scenarios of their life," Wu said.

The fossils include a human skull of the Middle Pleistocene Epoch (from 781,000 to 126,000 years ago) that contains a largely complete facial structure, most of the brain cranium, and one side of the mandible.

The site was first discovered in 2004, when mammalian fossils were accidentally found when a local farmer was building a sheep-holding pen. The first excavation of the site was conducted in the summer of 2006, which yielded a partial human frontal bone, a molar, and stone artifacts. 

Source: / Xinhua

Paleontologists Find One-Billion-Year-Old Fossil Fungi in Canada

Friday, May 24, 2019

Microphotograph of Ourasphaira giraldae. Image credit: Loron et al, doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1217-0.

An international team of paleontologists has discovered 1,000- to 900-million-year-old microfossils of a fungus in estuarine shale of the Grassy Bay Formation in Arctic Canada. These multicellular organic-walled microfossils are more than half a billion years older than previously reported occurrences of fungi.

“Fungi are essential components of modern ecosystems and are among the first traces of life to colonize the continents,” said University of Liège researcher Corentin Loron and colleagues.

“To date, the earliest fossil fungi are 410-million-year-old specimens from Scotland and spores of glomeromycotan fungi from Wisconsin that date to 450 million years ago, in the Ordovician Period.”

“The 1-0.9-billion-year-old (Proterozoic era) fossil fungi from the Grassy Bay Formation are older than these previously reported fossils by more than half a billion years.”

The paleontologists discovered abundant microfossils of a fungus named Ourasphaira giraldae.

These fossilized specimens have a wall made of chitin, a fibrous compound that forms fungal cell walls.

“These organic-walled microfossils consist of multicellular, branching filaments with terminal spheres,” the scientists said.

“Transmitted-light and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) examinations show smooth unornamented walls of filaments and spheres.”

“SEM images also reveal the presence of locally well-preserved and intertwined (approximately 15–20-nm thick) microfibrils, which make up the walls.”

“Ultrastructural analyses using transmission electron microscopy show that the flattened microfossils are hollow, with a bilayered wall that consists of an electron-dense thick inner layer and a thin electron-tenuous outer layer.”

This combination of complex morphology, right-angle branching, multicellularity, bilayered wall ultrastructure, compositional recalcitrance and relatively large size permits the unambiguous placement of Ourasphaira giraldae among eukaryotes.”

“Together they indicate the presence of a complex cytoskeleton, which is absent in prokaryotes.”

Extant fungi are mostly terrestrial, although some marine forms are known.

Because Ourasphaira giraldae is preserved in shallow-water estuarine shale of the Grassy Bay Formation, this fungus may have lived in an estuarine environment. The fungus may also have been transported into this estuarine setting from land or marine niches.

“The later colonization of terrestrial settings by fungi may have preceded and aided the colonization of land by plants through symbioses and through soil processing, which would have provided ecological niches, improved the substrate, nutrient uptake and increased aboveground productivity,” the researchers said.

“As multidisciplinary studies of Proterozoic fossil assemblages progress, we predict that more fossil fungi and other early eukaryotes will be discovered and will improve our understanding of the evolution of the early biosphere.”

The discovery is reported in a paper published in the journal Nature.


Corentin C. Loron et al. Early fungi from the Proterozoic era in Arctic Canada. Nature, published online May 22, 2019; doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1217-0


9 Best Dino Games on PC

Friday, May 24, 2019

T-Rex Breakout (Free Dinosaur Game) by unity5games

There aren’t many Jurassic wonders on PC, so we’ve compiled a list of the best dino games available.

Looking for a list of the best dinosaur games on PC? Whether you’re looking to hunt the Mesozoic monsters or want to stomp and chomp humans while playing as them, the appeal of dinosaurs in gaming is endless. What is endless however, is the number of games that successfully realise that fantasy. Let’s be honest: until recently, fans of dinosaurs and big guns haven’t exactly walked the primrose path, even on PC.

It’s been a long hard road, marked by velociraptors that look like lumpy dogs, rifles that feel as satisfying as lobbing a bullet by hand, and jeeps that seem to magnetically roll themselves into a nearby ditch, no matter what keys to press. Still, the undeniable lure of blasting a T-rex in the face with a grenade launcher continues to resonate with a great portion of the gaming public, and while few triple-A developers have proffered quality dino games, there are a few ambitious indie dinosaur games that fill the gap in the market.

If dino thrills are what you’re looking for, here are the best dinosaur games on PC.

The best dinosaur games on PC are: 



It might be hard to believe now, but before the one-two punch of Gears of War and Call of Duty 4 tethered the blockbuster shooter to beige reality, the genre had its fair share of colourful contenders. The first Turok in particular is a relic of the Quake era, packed with weapons that spin in mid-air, your dinosaur hunter’s frantic footspeed, and endless canyons of baddies to blast through, but it offers some of the best dino-slaughter of its era.

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is an altogether more sophisticated game, with an emphasis on non-linear labyrinths rather than the traditional corridor crawls of other shooters of the era. However, it’s probably best-known today for its creative weaponry, especially the fearsome Cerebral Bore, which performs exactly the gory deed it says on the tin. Overall, these aren’t the best old games out there, but they’re fondly remembered for a reason, andthey let you wreck some giant reptilians, so they’re perfect for this list.


As the subtitle in its name implies, Ark belongs to the survival genre, which means the dinosaur murdering can only commence after crafting your own spear to chuck at those pesky raptors. The shooting isn’t the tightest, and there are still plenty of bugs, but the sheer range of creatures to fight, hunt, and befriend in Ark will keep you exploring the game’s many biomes for hundreds of hours.

After learning their quirks, you can even ride and tame Ark dinosaurs and use them to help you survive in the world, whether as simple mounts so you can get around faster, or as resource-gatherers, freight carriers, and loyal foot soldiers. On top of that, there’s also plenty of Ark: Survival Evolved mods to pick from.


While most PC dinosaur games concern themselves with hunting dinos, Frontier Developments has instead opted to create the opposite with Jurassic Park Evolution: dino ranching. Rather than mowing down rare creatures with a minigun, you try to build a Jurassic Park that doesn’t fall apart before its first day. You don’t necessarily have to build the archetypical theme park – instead, you could build a park dedicated to science, or an ominous “security center” patrolled by genetically beefed-up mega-dinos.

This isn’t the deepest management sim ever made, but it does let you delve deeper into the fantasy of running your very own dinosaur park, right down to letting you mess with the DNA of the most dangerous creatures to ever walk the planet.


Sticking with the Jurassic Park franchise, Lego Jurassic World marries the gameplay of action-adventure games specialist TT Games’ with the storylines of the Jurassic Park trilogy, plus the first Jurassic World movie. This is essentially a greatest hits of series, including more blocky, talky Jeff Goldblum than you can handle.

The real treat here is that the Lego games are among the best co-op games available, making this a great dinosaur game to play with friends and family. There’s not a huge amount that separates this Lego game from others – apart from the setting – but you can play as a huge number of different dinosaurs, which is a lot of fun.


The best multiplayer games with shooter elements can be pretty stodgy, humorless affairs, especially when it comes to those that strive to be period-accurate. Dino D-Day is a refreshing alternative to the traditional WWII shooter, mixing the semi-tactical gunplay of Day of Defeat with the ferocious claws and talons that only dinosaurs can supply.

While it sounds like a joke game in the vein of Blood and Bacon, it’s actually a surprisingly creative class-based shooter with some truly wild ideas, like a tiny dino that boosts the power of its explosive payload by swiping at your ankles, or a raptor that can pin down single targets and take them out in just a few swipes, just like Left 4 Dead’s Hunter.

Unfortunately, D-Day is nearly a decade old and its player count has dwindled considerably. Still, if you can convince some friends to get it on a sale, this is a great palate cleanser.


Dinosaur-hunting games are all about the battle between man vs. beast, and that’s exactly what you get with Primal Carnage. On one side, you have hunters in sunglasses toting big guns; on the other, you have giant reptiles ready to rumble.

While there are people who go in deep for the roleplay servers, Primal Carnage is at its best when both sides are just throwing everything they have at each other, resulting in a stupid, irresistible melee. Any game where you can play as a pterodactyl, swoop down, pick up a guy, and drop them to their death is worth checking out. Along with Dino D-Day, this is a multiplayer game that lacks player population, so you’ll probably need a few friends if you want to guarantee yourself a game.


If you’re looking for a triceratops-toppling experience that’s a little closer to traditional hunting sims than the likes of Turok, this is your best bet. This remake of a beloved series from the late ‘90s focuses on tracking, hunting, and killing a variety of dinos.

You have to sneak up on these big boys and hold your breath to get accurate shots, and the size and condition of each target determines what rewards you get for a clean kill.

It’s a bit light on content, but if you’re tired of hunting down deer, boar, and other harmless woodland critters then this could be the change of scenery you need.


Sure, so they’re not technically dinosaurs, but it’s hard to deny that a Apceros or Anjanath are based on real dinosaurs, even if some of the bigger beasts in the game aren’t. In case you’ve let the series pass you by, Monster Hunter: World is pretty much what is says on the tin: you play a monster hunter, and you have a whole world teeming with fantastical creatures to identify, track, and bring down in cinematic boss battles. Once you’ve secured a kill you can strip the carcass for resources, take them back to your camp, and craft tougher weapons and armour that will let you take on even bigger beasties.

Aside from the seductive power creep, Monster Hunter: World also boasts some of the best action-RPG combat around. There’s a huge range of weapon types, from standard sword and shield combos to more eccentric tools like the gunlance, and learning the movesets of each one promises to be a steep difficulty curve. If you’re willing to put in the time – and we can help you a little with our Monster Hunter: World weapons guide – then this is probably the best dinosaur hunting game out there, even if some of its dinos have wings and breath fire.


Yes, for all you amateur archeologists cracking your knuckles to type a lengthy comment out there, we know that Primal is set in the Mesolithic era, millions of years after the dinosaurs were wiped out by a cataclysmic event. However, if you’re a fan of dinosaurs then wooly rhinos, mammoths, and formidable cave bears are the next best thing, and Far Cry Primal has the lot.

Primal lets you hunt all of these creatures and tame some of them as well so you can send them charging into battle on your behalf. And if you find yourself tiring of all the mammalian slaughter then this is still one of the best open-world games around, and there are plenty of distractions and hidden quests to discover along the way. It’s not the best Far Cry, but it captures the feeling of prehistory better than most games.

That’s your lot, the very best dinosaur games on PC. If you’re looking to dig up more classic-feeling greats then check out our list of the best retro games on PC. In the meantime we’ll be quietly waiting for more triple-A studios to realise how much better their games would be with the odd dino sprinkled in.


5 Dinosaurs We Hope Come Back For The Next Jurassic World (And 5 We Don't)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies have had their ups and downs. With another Jurassic World movie on the horizon, we have started thinking about what we expect and hope to see in this sequel. The main attractions of these films are obviously the dinosaurs. As such, we are looking forward to any new marvelous behemoths the upcoming movie throws our way.

We also know what we aren't looking forward to. Trust us. After three Jurassic Park films and two Jurassic World films, fans know which dinosaurs make the best impact on screen (and which don't).



If you can remember the first Jurassic Park movie, you might recall the frightening Dilophosaurus. These small-ish dinosaurs had the ability to spit paralyzing juices in the face of their prey. Aside from the Velociraptors, the Dilophosaurus was one of the more formidable smaller inhabitants of the original park.

They made cute chirping noises, but could flare up and spit when you least suspected it. If they made a return to the big screen, maybe the new Jurassic World film would go back to its dinosaur-horror roots instead of remaining the spectacle it has become.


Jurassic World wowed us with its vision of what a fully realized Jurassic Park might look like. Part of its charm lay in the actual success of John Hammond's idea. What Jurassic World failed to do was impress us with its new Indominus Rex. The Indominus was clearly meant to be some kind of replacement for the Tyrannosaurus, but it failed to live up to its predecessor.

Luckily, the movie itself recognizes the T. rex's supremacy. Jurassic World ends with a big fight between the T. rex and the Indominus, with the good old T. rex (eventually) winning. So, please, let's end the Indominus' time with us on a high note, and don't bring it back.


Jurassic World:Fallen Kingdom ended with several dinosaurs free in the continental United States. Honestly, we don't see that as much of a problem as the film tries to convince us it is. What are a few wild animals that need to be captured? The one dinosaur that does delight/concern us is the Mosasaurus.

The ending to Fallen Kingdom showed us that it is now loose in the world's oceans. Did you get a good look at that thing? It is huge! Even so, the ocean is bigger, and we believe the Mosasaurus could live out its days preying on unsuspecting surfers for quite a while. We hope to see more of the Mosasaurus in the upcoming film. It could be the new Jaws.


Enough with trying to beat the T. rex. It's been done more than once, or at least it has been attempted more than once. Fans of Jurassic Park were livid when Jurassic Park III released. The film tried to portray the Spinosaurus as an equal, if not superior, contender against the Tyrannosaurus rex. Regardless of whether or not that's scientifically accurate, it was not pleasing for fans.

We don't want to see our boy (or girl) tossed around by a lousy Spinosaurus. Plus, it's been done once already, or twice if you include the T. rex's fight with the Indominus in Jurassic World.


Can the new movie really be called a Jurassic World movie if it does not include a Tyrannosaurus rex? That dinosaur is practically the franchise's mascot. The T. rex has made an appearance in every Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movie to date. Not having it make an appearance in the new film would be close to sacrilege.

Is the Tyrannosaurus overused? Maybe. Should the film-makers try to include more unique dinosaurs instead? Possibly. Do we still hope to see the T. rex come back? Most definitely.


Just hear us out on this one. The Velociraptors we see in the Jurassic World movies are not what they were in the Jurassic Park ones. In the original Jurassic Park, the Velociraptors were a thing of terror, stalking children in a kitchen with splice-and-dice claws. Nowadays, the Velociraptors are kind of the heroes of the series since they have been tamed.

Instead of rehashing the same story between Blue and Owen Grady, it would be better if Velociraptors were not a part of the new movie at all. Or maybe they could be replaced by the scarier, less well-known Deinonychus.


Sadly, the Brachiosaurus makes only the most cursory of appearances in the Jurassic films. It is the first dinosaur that Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler see when they arrive at Jurassic Park. The Brachiosaurus is also the final dinosaur that Owen Grady and Claire Dearing see on the original island.

However, we think it deserves more than just cameo appearances. The Brachiosaurus is one of the tallest dinosaurs that ever existed. We think it should get something like a starring role in the next Jurassic World film. It could be a dinosaur companion, like droid companions in Star Wars. Except bigger. Much, much bigger.


The Compsognathus (try saying that ten times fast) first appeared in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. They are small dinosaurs, no bigger than the size of a chicken. However, despite their tiny stature, The Lost World makes them out to be one of the most lethal of dinosaurs on the Site B island.

We don't mean to ridicule any characters taken down by these...fearsome...beasts, but they definitely appear to be a step down from the Velociraptors from the original Jurassic Park. If they never make an appearance in the new Jurassic Worldmovie, we'd call that a resounding success.


Dimorphodons were part of the large group of flying dinosaurs that attacked the park in Jurassic World. They were the ones with a beak full of teeth. Honestly, that was one of the most frightening parts of the movie, and one of the most enjoyable.

The Dimorphodon hordes played a huge role in the panic that ensued. They swooped down from the sky and attacked people, occasionally carrying them off. If a pack of those got loose in a city (and Fallen Kingdom suggests they might have) it would make for a perfect, cinematic chase sequence.


Enough with the hybrid dinosaur menaces. The Indoraptor was just a lame attempt at making another Indominus Rex. The only difference between the Indoraptor and the Indominus Rex is the kind of dinosaur they were based on. The Indominus Rex was a Tyrannosaurus rex rip-off. The Indoraptor was meant to steal the vibe of the Velociraptor.

Still, the "scary" part of Fallen Kingdom, where they're hiding in the mansion from the Indoraptor, does not compare to the Jurassic Park kitchen scene with Velociraptors. The Indoraptor should maintain the same status from last we saw it: extinct.


Construction workers find dinosaur fossils in Denver suburb

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Photo Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Construction workers have unearthed fossils in a Denver suburb that experts say could be from a rare horned dinosaur.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science said that it is exploring the construction site near a retirement community in Highlands Ranch where a dinosaur’s lower leg bone and several ribs were found.

Fossil expert Natalie Toth told KDVR-TV the fossils could be from a Torosaurus — a dinosaur similar to the Triceratops but differentiated by three bones.

Toth says the fossils seem to be intact, so crews are hoping to uncover the entire dinosaur.

The fossils are embedded in a 66- to 68-million-year-old rock layer.

Toth says fossils in the Denver formation are from dinosaurs that were among the last “walking around before the big extinction.”


Paleontologists Link Fossil Site To Dinosaur-Killing Meteor

Friday, May 24, 2019

The seismic shockwave would have triggered a water surge, known as a seiche. ROBERT DEPALMA

Paleontologists have discovered a fossil site containing fossilized remains of fish, mammals, and plants that were buried as a result of the meteor strike that killed dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

This fossilized graveyard containing fish piled one atop another, burnt tree branches, dead animals, marine microorganisms, and some parts of the carcass of the Triceratops (a genus of herbivorous ceratopsid dinosaur), was unearthed by Robert DePalma, paleontologist in a 6 yearlong study conducted in the Hell Creek Formation, North Dakota. “This is the first mass death assemblage of large organisms anyone has found associated with the K-T boundary,” said DePalma, curator of paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History in Florida and a doctoral student at the University of Kansas. “At no other K-T boundary section on Earth can you find such a collection consisting of a large number of species representing different ages of organisms and different stages of life, all of which died at the same time, on the same day.”

Robert DePalma along with a team of researchers which included two geologists from the University of California, Berkeley have co-authored a paper on the subject. According to the team, the fossil trove (dubbed Tanis) contains evidence that associates it with the asteroid impact from 66 million years ago which created a massive crater in the ocean floor and sent vaporized rock and cubic miles of asteroid dust into the atmosphere. The cloud eventually enveloped Earth, and eventually led to Earth’s last mass extinction. Mark Richards, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of earth and planetary science describes the site as ‘a museum of the end of the Cretaceous in a layer that is a meter-and-a-half thick’.


Canyon Fossils Tell Story of Life Before Dinosaurs

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Close-up view of the Ichniotherium trackway from Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo courtesy of Heitor Francischini via NPS)

Newly-discovered footprints lead paleontologists to rethink life in the ancient desert.

An international team of paleontologists has united to study important fossil footprints recently discovered in a remote location within Grand Canyon National Park.

A large sandstone boulder contains several exceptionally well-preserved trackways of primitive tetrapods (four-footed animals) which inhabited an ancient desert environment. The 280-million-year-old fossil tracks date to almost the beginning of the Permian Period, prior to the appearance of the earliest dinosaurs.

The first scientific article reporting fossil tracks from the Grand Canyon was published in 1918, just a year before the park was established as a unit of the National Park Service. One hundred years later, during the Centennial Celebration for Grand Canyon National Park, new research on ancient footprints from the park is being presented in a scientific publication released this week. Brazilian paleontologist Dr. Heitor Francischini, from the Laboratory of Vertebrate Paleontology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, is the lead author of the new publication, working with scientists from Germany and the United States.

Francischini and Dr. Spencer Lucas, Curator of Paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, New Mexico, first visited the Grand Canyon fossil track locality in 2017. The paleontologists immediately recognized the fossil tracks were produced by a long-extinct relative of very early reptiles and were similar to tracks known from Europe referred to as Ichniotherium (ICK-nee-oh-thay-ree-um). This new discovery at Grand Canyon is the first occurrence of Ichniotherium from the Coconino Sandstone and from a desert environment. The Coconino Sandstone is an eolian (wind-deposited) rock formation that exhibits cross-bedding and other sedimentary features indicating a desert / dune environment of deposition. In addition, these tracks represent the geologically youngest record of this fossil track type from anywhere in the world.

The Ichniotherium footprint is believed to have been made by an enigmatic group of extinct tetrapods known as diadectomorphs, a primitive group that possessed characteristics of both amphibians and reptiles. The evolutionary relationships and paleobiology of diadectomorphs have long been important and unresolved questions in the science of vertebrate paleontology.

Although the actual track maker for the Grand Canyon footprints may never be known, the Grand Canyon trackways preserve the travel of a very early terrestrial vertebrate. The measurable characteristics of the tracks and trackways indicate a primitive animal with short legs and a massive body. The creature walked on all four legs and each foot possessed five clawless digits.

According to Francischini, "These new fossil tracks discovered in Grand Canyon National Park provide important information about the paleobiology of the diadectomorphs. The diadectomorphs were not expected to live in an arid desert environment, because they supposedly did not have the classic adaptations for being completely independent of water. The group of animals that have such adaptations is named Amniota (extant reptiles, birds and mammals) and diadectomorphs are not one of them."

Lucas also notes that "paleontologists have long thought that only amniotes could live in the dry and harsh Permian deserts. This discovery shows that tetrapods other than reptiles were living in those deserts, and, surprisingly, were already adapted to life in an environment of limited water."

During 2019, in recognition of the Grand Canyon National Park Centennial, the National Park Service is undertaking a comprehensive paleontological resource inventory for the park. A large team of specialists in geology and paleontology will participate in fieldwork and research to help expand our understanding of the rich fossil record for Grand Canyon National Park.

Information provided by NPS


Rumor: Dinosaurs Are Coming To Battlefield V

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Rumor: Dinosaurs Are Coming To Battlefield V

According to a new rumor, dinosaurs might be coming to Battlefield VWhat are you even doing to us anymore, 2019?

Now, Jurassic Park is an icon of 1990s cinema. The world will never forget Jeff Goldblum prattling about chaos theory, Samuel L. Jackson’s hilariously fake severed arm, or that brachiosaurus with the head cold. Now that we’ve also seen Chris Pratt training velociraptors in Jurassic World for a modern audience (as part of his world domination plan to be cast in every movie ever), one thing’s been made abundantly clear: dinosaurs will always captivate our imaginations.

From Barney to the awe-inspiring specimens seen in museums around the world, there’s just something about these unimaginable titans that fascinates us. Being the pop culture legends they are, it’s no surprise that they’ve popped up in all kinds of video games. Battlefield, however, is probably one franchise that you wouldn’t expect to feature them.

Nevertheless, the word on the gaming grapevine is that dinosaurs are going to be added to Battlefield V in some way. As Game Rant reports, YouTube’s JackFrags has created a video presenting the (somewhat dubious) evidence. In a flow chart documenting the development of the game, we’re told, a message is hidden in Morse code. It reads, “soon preround red flares.”


As any Jurassic Park fan will tell you, the series would be nowhere without those trusty red flares. That scene where the T. Rex is lured away by them? That’s some unforgettable stuff, right there. Is this a way of indicating that some kind of "dinosaur mode" will be added to the game, without being too overt about it? The internet seems to think so, but then the internet does love to grab at these theories and run away with them.

For those wondering why a World War II-themed shooter would feature dinosaurs, there is an odd precedent for this sort of thing. Remember that megalodon Easter egg in Battlefield I? With members of the dev team posting obscure images that may or may not feature pterodactyls, it’s clear that something’s going on.

Hopefully, the upcoming showcase at E3 2019 will shed some light on this odd situation. Heck, the game could use a shot in the arm, especially with that unfortunate business with Firestorm duos.