This Unusual Bird Superpower Goes Back to the Dinosaur Extinction

The ibis and the kiwi are dogged diggers, probing in sand and soil for worms and other buried prey. Sandpipers, too, can be seen along the shore excavating small creatures with their beaks. It was long thought that these birds were using trial and error to find their prey.

But then scientists discovered something far more peculiar: Their beaks are threaded with cells that can detect vibrations traveling through the ground. Some birds can feel the movements of their distant quarry directly, while others pick up on waves bouncing off buried shells — echolocating like a dolphin or a bat, in essence, through the earth.

There’s one more odd detail in this story of birds’ unusual senses: Ostriches and emus, birds that most definitely do not hunt this way, have beaks with a similar interior structure. They are honeycombed with pits for these cells, though the cells themselves are missing.

Read More

Teacher’s decades-old find turns out to be the island’s first-ever dinosaur discovery

You never know what you might find while walking along the beach.



a person holding an animal: Mike Simms, who led the research team, holds the theropod tibia on the left and the Scelidosaurus femur on the right.


© From University of Portsmouth
Mike Simms, who led the research team, holds the theropod tibia on the left and the Scelidosaurus femur on the right.

People often come across coins, shells and trash, but a teacher in Northern Ireland made a discovery that will go down in history.

In the 1980s, the late Roger Byrne, a schoolteacher and fossil collector, found several unidentified fossils on the east coast of County Antrim. He held onto them for several years before donating them to the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Mystery swirled around what the fossils could be until a team of researchers with the University of Portsmouth and Queen’s University Belfast confirmed they are fossilized dinosaur bones.

The 200-million-year-old fossils are the “first dinosaur remains reported from anywhere in Ireland,” according to the article by the research

Read More

Teacher’s decades-old find on a Northern Ireland beach turns out to be the island’s first-ever dinosaur discovery

You never know what you might find while walking along the beach.



a person holding an animal: Mike Simms, who led the research team, holds the theropod tibia on the left and the Scelidosaurus femur on the right.


© From University of Portsmouth
Mike Simms, who led the research team, holds the theropod tibia on the left and the Scelidosaurus femur on the right.

People often come across coins, shells and trash, but a teacher in Northern Ireland made a discovery that will go down in history.

In the 1980s, the late Roger Byrne, a schoolteacher and fossil collector, found several unidentified fossils on the east coast of County Antrim. He held onto them for several years before donating them to the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Mystery swirled around what the fossils could be until a team of researchers with the University of Portsmouth and Queen’s University Belfast confirmed they are fossilized dinosaur bones.

The 200-million-year-old fossils are the “first dinosaur remains reported from anywhere in Ireland,” according to the article by the research

Read More

The sale of an amazing dinosaur fossil could be bad news for science

An artist's model of the Montana Dueling Dinosaurs based on geographical placement of the fossils.
An artist’s model of the Dueling Dinosaurs

CK Preparations. Courtesy of Bonhams

The Duelling Dinosaurs are just the sort of remains that fossil fans dream about. Encased in huge lumps of tan sandstone are the dark bones of two dinosaurs that were buried together more than 66 million years ago.

One of the fossils is a familiar three-horned Triceratops. The other is a young Tyrannosaurus, a probable cousin of T. rex, a rare representative of what the “tyrant king” was like during its gangly, awkward years. There’s no evidence that these two dinosaurs died in combat but they have still been the subject of palaeontological gossip for a decade.

Enough cash has now finally been stumped up to give the bones a home. Rather than a private bidder, a museum has paid – probably millions – for the fossilised duo. Although palaeontologists should be

Read More

Rare baby dinosaur skeleton shows it looked remarkably like its parents

This baby Plateosaurus fossil is named “Fabian” and appears in in the Sauriermuseum Frick in Switzerland. The larger bone above it is a thigh bone from a more grown-up Plateosaur.


Sauriermuseum Frick, Switzerland

Human babies look pretty different from human adults. The same can’t be said for the Plateosaurus, a large long-necked dinosaur that once dwelled in Europe. An exceptional fossil of a baby Plateosaurus is helping scientists better understand the life and times of these long-extinct animals.

The baby dino, which weighed up to 130 pounds (60 kilograms) and stretched 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) long, was uncovered in 2015 in Switzerland. Paleontologists at the University of Bonn in Germany published a study of the dinosaur, nicknamed “Fabian,” in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica this week. 

An adult Plateosaurus could weigh in at over 4

Read More

The first duckbill dinosaur fossil from Africa hints at how dinosaurs once crossed oceans — ScienceDaily

The first fossils of a duckbilled dinosaur have been discovered in Africa, suggesting dinosaurs crossed hundreds of kilometres of open water to get there.

The study, published in Cretaceous Research, reports the new dinosaur, Ajnabia odysseus, from rocks in Morocco dating to the end of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago. Ajnabia was a member of the duckbill dinosaurs, diverse plant-eating dinosaurs that grew up to 15 meters long. But the new dinosaur was tiny compared to its kin — at just 3 meters long, it was as big as a pony.

Duckbills evolved in North America and eventually spread to South America, Asia, and Europe. Because Africa was an island continent in the Late Cretaceous, isolated by deep seaways, it seemed impossible for duckbills to get there.

The discovery of the new fossil in a mine a few hours from Casablanca was “about the last thing in

Read More

We’ve Rarely Seen a Dinosaur Brain Like This Before

“Probably this change is related with the feeding habits changing,” he said. “Carnivorous animals generally need more cognitive capabilities.”

These details about Buriolestes’s brain are intriguing because it is such an early dinosaur, said Lawrence Witmer, a paleontologist and professor of anatomy at Ohio University who studies sauropods.

“It gives us a window into the earliest evolution of the brain and sensory systems of the largest animals ever to walk on land, the sauropod dinosaurs,” he said, noting that Buriolestes’s inner ear canal and floccular lobe suggest it used quick, coordinated movements of the head, neck and eyes.

“For the slow-moving sauropods, there was no premium on retaining such capabilities, and we now know that they must have lost these capabilities,” he said, “since ancestral species like Buriolestes had them.”

Our knowledge of early dinosaur brains is very slight, said Fabien Knoll, a paleontologist at the Dinopolis Foundation in

Read More

Extreme Life Thrived in Hot Asteroid Pit After Dinosaur Extinction, Evidence Suggests

An asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula, seen here from the International Space Station, 66 million years ago, sparking a mass extinction event.

An asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula, seen here from the International Space Station, 66 million years ago, sparking a mass extinction event.
Photo: Tim Peake/ESA/NASA

A gigantic pool of magma emerged beneath Earth’s surface following the impact event that wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs. New research suggests this hellish subterranean chamber hosted a biological ecosystem, a finding that could give clues as to how life emerged during Earth’s tumultuous early days.

When the asteroid struck our unfortunate planet some 66 million years ago, it created a 110-mile-wide (180-kilometer) impact crater in what is now the Yucatan Peninsula. Evidence presented earlier this year showed the impact also produced a gigantic subterranean magma chamber, which persisted for hundreds of thousands of years, possibly even millions of years. Incredibly, this hydrothermal system supported an entire microbial ecosystem, according to new research published today in Astrobiology.

David Kring, the

Read More

Winged dinosaur more squirrel than graceful bird

During a blip in time in the late Jurassic, a dinosaur that weighed no more than a chinchilla flung itself from tree to tree, spread its wings and tried to soar. In theory, it sounds beautiful — an early attempt at flight before birds figured out the blueprint.

In practice, it was chaotic.

The dinosaur, Yi qi, only barely managed to glide, stretching out and shimmying its skin-flap, downy-feathered wings in a valiant attempt at flying. “It was rocketing from tree to tree, desperately trying not to slam into something,” said Alex Dececchi, a paleontologist at Mount Marty University in South Dakota. “It wouldn’t be something pleasant.”

Unsurprisingly, Yi qi is not an ancestor of modern birds. It went extinct after just a few million years, presumably doomed by its sheer lack of competency in the air. In a study published Thursday in the journal iScience, Dececchi and other researchers

Read More

Dinosaur Asteroid Hit Worst-Case Place

We all know the story: 66 million years ago, a giant asteroid crashed into Earth, killing off three quarters of all species, including most of the dinosaurs. Researchers suspect that the impact caused the extinction by kicking up a cloud of dust and tiny droplets called aerosols that plunged the planet into something like a nuclear winter.

“These components in the atmosphere drove global cooling and darkness that would have stopped photosynthesis from occurring, ultimately shutting down the food chain.”

Shelby Lyons, a recent Ph.D. graduate from Penn State University.

But scientists have also found lots of soot in the geologic layers deposited immediately after the asteroid impact. And the soot may have been part of the killing mechanism too—depending on where it came from.

Some of the soot probably came from wildfires that erupted around the planet following the impact. But most of these particles would have lingered in

Read More