New discovery of an articulated bovid skelton dating to 3.1 million years ago from Camp dels Ninots, Girona, Spain
“Traces of vegetables, fish and small vertebrates that will facilitate paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the environment surrounding this ancient lake have also been recovered.
Negotiations have begun for the site to be declared a National Cultural Heritage site given its uniqueness and singularness.
A talk will be given on Thursday, 13 June, 2013 at Casino Municipal de Caldas Malavella by the co-directors of the excavation, Bruno Gómez and Gerard Campeny”.
- translated from Catalan/not authored by me
“The excavation campaign by IPHES (Catalan Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution) ran from 2 May to 31 May at Camp dels Ninots in Caldes de Malavella, Girona. Excavators discovered a new bovid skeleton in anatomical position (i.e., the original skeletal structure is intact) dating to 3.1 million years ago, the fourteenth of which that has been found in this area. Along with this finding, fossilised imprints of vegetal material, fish and small vertebrates have been recovered that will facilitate paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the area surrounding this ancient lake, which is located in the crater of a volcano. Meanwhile, negotiations have begun for the site to be declared a National Cultural Heritage site (BCIN), given its uniqueness and singularness…
Nearly 30 researchers from various universities and research centres both in Spain and abroad took part in the excavation. They come from disciplines as diverse as geology, biology, palaeontology, archaeology and restoration. The research project of Camp dels Ninots is directed by George Augustine Gomez and Bruno Gerard Campeny, members of IPHES.
This time, the excavation has concentrated on two areas of the volcano: one to the north, called Cateura sector, and the other to the south, known as Ca n’Argilera. At both sites, which are separated by about 600 metres, researchers worked simultaneously, recovering abundant paleontological and palaeobotanical material .
The first of bovid from Sector Cateura
The new bovid skeleton of the species Tigneresi aleph, was located in Cateura sector and is the first to be recovered in Cateura. ”The fact that it was found more than 600 metres away from the previous campaigns demonstrates the density of the palaeontological remains scattered across the surface of the crater of the volcano,” observed Bruno Gómez and Gerard Campeny.
It is an entire skeleton and in anatomical position and belongs to an individual adult. Furthermore, along with thirteen skeletons of the same species recovered from earlier excavations, it “will provide important information for understanding the evolution of both these cattle and their social dynamics,” the archaeologists stressed.
Amphibians, reptiles and fish attract the interest of specialists from all over
Along with the remains of large vertebrates recovered during the excavation this year, hundreds of small vertebrate remains, including amphibians, reptiles and fish have also been found. Of these remains, the most abundant in Camps dels Ninots are probably the numerous skeletons both articulated and disarticulated that have been recovered of fish. Most of these fish are lake carp in the order of Cypriniformes, of which three have been identified to a taxon. This includs a specimen in perfect condition, which shows that the sediments of this site are excellent for the preservation of such fossils. These remains have drawn the attention of researchers from the Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Palaeoecology from the Institute of Geology in Prague, who have traveled to Caldes de Malavella to study them in situ” (read more in Catalan).
Posts tagged fossil.
Temporal Range: Early Cretaceous (126 Mya)
Length: 3.8 metres
Height: 1.2 metres
Feeding Type: Herbivore
- Discovery: Falcarius represents a fairly recent discovery in the palaeontology world. The first remains were discovered at the Crystal Geyser Quarry, Utah in 1999 by commercial fossil collector Lawrence Walker. Walker informed palaeontologist James Kirkland who, from 2001onwards, led a team who began to recover the large number of fossils present. Over the past 10 years Kirkland and his team have recovered a huge number of fossils from the Crystal Geyser site; in 2010 they estimated that the fossils collected represent around 3,000 different individuals. The wealth of fossil material meant the first scientific report on Falcarius was published in 2004; however it was not officially named until 2005.
Falcarius’ place in the dinosaur phylogeny is one of significant importance. It does not belong to the therizinosaurid dinosaur group, but instead is a member of the therizinosaurian family. This classification is important because it means researchers believe that Falcarius represents a transitional form between primitive theropods and the more developed therizinosaurids. Scott Sampson, chief curator at University of Utah’s Museum of Natural History is quoted as saying that Falcarius “is the missing link between predatory dinosaurs and the bizarre, plant-eating therizinosaurs”.
- Statistics: The wealth of fossil material found means that length and weight estimates for Falcarius are belived to be very accurate. Falcarius is thought to have measured almost 4 metres in length and weighed only 100kg. The smallest, near-complete, juvenile specimens measured lengths of around 1 metre. Falcarius had 16 teeth in the maxilla of the upper jaw and 28 in the lower jaw.
- Description: Falcarius shares characteristics with both early theropods and with the therizinosaurids. Despite the number of fossils found, the head is still relatively unknown. It was fairly small and elongated, and was home to a number of finely serrated, leaf-shaped teeth, which indicated it consumed plant material. However the front five teeth of the lower jaw are longer and more pointed, which some researchers believe suggests a partially omnivorous diet, including small mammals and lizards. In addition, Falcarius supported a robust arm, with large hand-claws; similar to those of the later therizinosaurids. The hand-claws were likely used as a self-defence mechanism or for clutching at vegetation branches. These claws measured 10-13cm in length and were slightly re-curved. It is belived that Falcarius, like the therizinosaurids, would have supported a feather coating, however the colour and depth of this coating is currently unknown.
Despite its similarities to the therizinosaurids, Falcarius still shared some characteristics with the earlier theropods. It had a long tail that was likely used for balance when moving swiftly and it also had a foot which did not have a fourth toe that touched the ground.
Bird Fossil, unknown species - late Eocene
- by John Nobel Wilford
“A nearly complete skeleton of a tiny, ancient primate — one that weighed no more than an ounce, had a tail longer than its body and would fit in the palm of your hand — is the earliest well-preserved fossil primate ever found, dating back some 55 million years and dialing back the fossil record for primates by an impressive eight million years, a research team declared on Wednesday.
The finding adds weight to the evidence that primates originated in Asia — not Africa — and that they emerged relatively soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs, which happened about 66 million years ago in an event known as the Cretaceous mass extinction. The older date brings scientists closer to pinpointing a pivotal event in primate and human evolution: the divergence between the lineage leading to anthropoids — which include modern monkeys, apes and humans — and the one leading to tarsiers.
In a report published in the journal Nature, an international team of paleontologists led by Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing said that the skeleton, recovered from an ancient lake bed in Hubei Province in central China, set a new benchmark for the time that primates started roaming the planet” (read more).
***Should note that I think it’s not the oldest but the best preserved of its age…
(Source: New York Times)
Taphonomy and paleoecological implications of fossorial microvertebrates at the Middle Paleolithic open-air site of Nesher Ramla, Israel
“Variation in taphonomic modes, which describe the characteristics of fossil depositional environments, is an important but much understudied aspect of the formation of microvertebrate assemblages. This study examined an assemblage of microvertebrate remains which was recovered from archaeological deposits in a deep karst depression at an open-air setting – a unique and so far undocumented type of depositional environment in the southern Levant. Taxonomic and taphonomic characteristics of the assemblage reveal a striking difference from other known assemblages in the region from cave and fluvial depositional settings. This includes especially low density, taxonomic diversity and skeletal element survivorship. Three of the four taxa are fossorial or semi-fossorial and their remains dominate the assemblage indicating strongly an accumulation history which involves underground burrow deaths of fossorial animals. This is supported by additional evidence from skeletal modifications showing rare evidence of weathering, extensive in situ fragmentation where the fragments remain fused together and abundant evidence for light abrasion. These taphonomic patterns suggest extended underground protection of the remains, followed by limited dispersal within a sedimentary matrix likely due to movement from the surrounding soil mantle into the karst depression through colluviation processes. This taphonomic reconstruction has significant implications for understanding the long record of hominid occupation at the Middle Paleolithic site of Nesher Ramla. Phases of high density of the remains along the section correspond with glacial phases of Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 6 and 5a-4 indicating an association between enhanced fossorial activity and environmental conditions during glacial stages. Intense deposition of cultural remains was recorded only during MIS 6, however, and this leads us to suggest that continued low intensity hominid presence in the upper layers of the site is related either to change in the usefulness of the site for hominid subsistence activities as it was being filled with sediments or to demographic changes linked to the arrival of new populations during MIS 5a-4. Detailed paleoenvironmental sequences which are recovered directly from hominid sites are critical for testing such hypotheses” (read more/not open access).
***Respect your rodent molars. Microfauna as a group can be the source of critical information if we screen for them and take their presence, absence and taphonomic status into account when assessing stratrigraphic integrity and when reconstructing chronologies, microenvironment and site formation processes. Also diet too.
(Source: Quaternary International, in press 2013)
Allosaurus fed more like a falcon than a crocodile.
“Many people think of Allosaurus as a smaller and earlier version of T. rex, but our engineering analyses show that they were very different predators.”
Scientists combined current knowledge of how dinosaur relatives, like raptors and crocodilians, feed with information gleamed from dinosaur fossils to recreate the muscles of Allosaurus in computer models. They then ran simulations to see how Allosaurus may have fed on prey.
Read more at Ohio.edu
Foraminifera are a type of amoeboid protist, still extant, but abundant from the Cambrian. Some are plankton, many dwell in ocean sediment. The photo above is of prehistoric foraminifera tests [shells] which have survived as fossils.
Read about the foram fossil record …