The biggest dinosaur… debatable

It would have weighed more than 10 African elephants put together and had a thighbone taller than the man who helped dig it up. A team of researchers finally decided what to call this new species of prehistoric colossus: Patagotitan mayorum. The name roughly translates to the “giant from Patagonia” — with a nod to the Mayo family, which own the farm where the fossils were found.

Researchers say the size of the femur (from the thigh) and humerus (from the upper arm) suggests the species’ mass outpaces other massive sauropods that have had those two bones preserved. And because Patagotitan‘s skeleton was so complete when recovered, they were able to arrive at separate estimates — through three-dimensional modeling — that “represent approximately twice (or more) the body mass inferred by the same volumetric methods for other sauropods.”

Yet some paleontologists remain unconvinced the find represents an undisputed record. Rather, given the margin of error surrounding such size estimates — especially estimates of other massive (but far less complete) sauropod skeletons — paleontologist Mathew Wedel argues the competition for World’s Largest Dinosaur™ is closer to a “three-way tie” between Patagotitan and two other titanosaurs, Argentinosaurus and Puertasaurus.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m about to start googling the above three dinosaurs so I can have an informed opinion about which one is the largest. Goodbye productivity for today… hello massive dinosaurs.

Read about it here, read the original paper here.

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There is no such thing as a “pure” European-or anyone else

After the migrant crisis from Syria hit Germany, it challenged the Willkommenskultur (Welcome culture). While most Germans swung into action to help settle the millions of refugees coming to Germany, some (self-proclaimed) neo-nazis were quoted as saying the German people faced “the destruction of our genetic heritage” and risked becoming “a gray mishmash”.

Well I have good/bad news for everyone. There is no unique German genetic heritage. There also isn’t a unique French genetic heritage, or Norwegian or Polish or Italian genetic heritage. All Europeans are already a mishmash of repeated ancient migrations. New studies show that almost all Europeans descend from three major migrations in the past 15,000 years including two from the Middle East.

Want to know more? Check it out over at Science. 

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The most important (transitional) fossil you’ve never heard of

I LOVE ME SOME TRANSITIONAL FOSSILS!

But this one is particularly interesting, as it fills a crucial hole in the fossil record and demonstrates how four-limbed creatures became established on land. Found on the Scottish border, it’s called (wait for it…) Tiny.

Read about it here! _95576018_fa89156d-5853-4015-88e4-1e18fea86279.jpg

 

Caves made from Giant Sloths

Local geologists in South America were investigating a series of caves that didn’t look anything like caves they had seen before. They didn’t look natural.
Well it turns out that they may be made by the long extinct giant sloths that used to roam the landscape. Or other megafauna that have long since gone extinct. Captivated? Read about it here. 
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The Woolly Mammoth’s Last Stand

Woolly mammoths once flourished from northern Europe to Siberia. As the last ice age drew to a close some 10,000 years ago, the mainland population perished, victims of climate change and human hunters.

However, a remote island population survived for 6000 years after the mainland had died off. And from a tooth of a male mammoth, geneticists have now deciphered the reason the population ultimately went extinct.

Read about it in the New York Times.

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Oldest fossil on earth?

The history of life on earth is fascinating, and largely one of the reasons I started studying evolutionary biology.

There is solid evidence of life dating back to 3.5 billion years, at which point the earth was a billion years old.

Last August, Dr. Van Kranendonk and his colleagues reported discovering fossils in Greenland that are 3.7 billion years old and were once mats of bacteria that grew in shallow coastal waters.

But then, a new study, published in the journal Nature, Mattew S.Dodd, Dominic Papineau and their colleagues at University College London studied rocks that are older.

They came from a remote geological formation in Canada called Nuvvuagittuq, which stretches across four square miles on the coast of Hudson Bay.Researchers have variously estimated its age at 3.77 billion years or 4.22 billion years — just 340 million years after the formation of the planet.

Want to read more? Check it out at the Washington post!

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Iron-rich chert, shown here in red, containing ancient fossils was formed near hydrothermal vents on an ancient seafloor, according to a new study.