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Extinct Animals News

United States tigerluver Offline
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( This post was last modified: 09-24-2018, 12:08 AM by Ngala )

Posts paleontological finds on species other than dinosaurs or felids here.
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Earliest baboon found at Malapa
Skull confirms earlier suggestions that fossil baboon is quite possibly the earliest known member of the modern baboon species Papio hamadryas
Date:
August 19, 2015
Source:
University of the Witwatersrand
Summary:
A team of international researchers has discovered a fossil monkey specimen representing the earliest baboon ever found. Dating back more than two million years ago, the partial skull was found in South Africa's Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, the same site where the partial skeletons of the new early hominin species, Australopithecus sediba, were discovered in 2010.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Here is a comparison of morphology in UW 88-886 (left), P. angusticepts males (CO 100, center), and P. izodi males (TP 89-11-1, right).

[i]Credit: Wits University[/i]

A team from Wits University's Evolutionary Studies Institute has discovered a fossil monkey specimen representing the earliest baboon ever found.

Dating back more than 2 million years ago (between 2.026-2.36 million years ago), the partial skull was found at Malapa, in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, the same site where the partial skeletons of the new early hominin species, Australopithecus sediba, were discovered in 2010.
"Baboons are known to have co-existed with hominins at several fossil localities in East Africa and South Africa and they are sometimes even used as comparative models in human evolution," says Dr Christopher Gilbert (Hunter College, CUNY), lead author of the study.
The skull, found during excavations for A. sediba, confirms earlier suggestions that the fossil baboon species to which it belongs, Papio angusticeps, was in fact closely related to modern baboons, and quite possibly the earliest known members of the modern baboon species Papio hamadryas.
Modern baboons (genus Papio) are typically divided into a number of populations recognised as either species or subspecies spread all throughout sub-Saharan Africa and into the Arabian Peninsula. Despite their evolutionary success, modern baboon origins in the fossil record have not well-understood or agreed upon.
"According to molecular clock studies, baboons are estimated to have diverged from their closest relatives by ~1.8 to 2.2 million years ago; however, until now, most fossil specimens known within this time range have been either too fragmentary to be definitive or too primitive to be confirmed as members of the living species Papio hamadryas," says Gilbert.
"The specimen from Malapa and our current analyses help to confirm the suggestion of previous researchers that P. angusticeps may, in fact, be an early population of P. hamadryas."
Analyses of the specimen at Malapa, and the group of fossil specimens traditionally placed in the fossil species P. angusticeps, suggest that P. angusticeps displays anatomy that is consistent with modern baboon populations.
"If you placed a number of P. angusticeps specimens into a modern osteology collection, I don't think you'd be able pick them out as any different from those of modern baboons from East and South Africa," says Gilbert.
Furthermore, the estimated age of the specimen from Malapa, ~2.026-2.36 Ma, is in almost perfect agreement with molecular clock analyses for the initial appearance of modern baboons. Thus, the specimen at Malapa may help to solve the evolutionary origins of these highly successful animals and confirm the estimates of molecular studies. In addition, because monkeys are widely recognised as key time-sensitive elements in the fossil record, the fact that the Malapa P. angusticeps specimen is well-dated allows future studies to better estimate the age of fossil sites where the species is found. South African early hominin sites, in particular, may be able to achieve more accurate age estimates on the basis of these new findings.






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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of the WitwatersrandNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.




Journal Reference:

  1. Lee R. Berger et al. Papio Cranium from the Hominin-Bearing Site of Malapa: Implications for the Evolution of Modern Baboon Cranial Morphology and South African Plio-Pleistocene Biochronology.PLOS ONE, August 2015 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133361
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/201...143639.htm
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( This post was last modified: 08-21-2015, 02:44 AM by tigerluver )

Humans responsible for demise of gigantic ancient mammals
Early humans were the dominant cause of the extinction of a variety of species of giant beasts
Date:
August 13, 2015
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Scientists claim their research settles a prolonged debate over whether mankind or climate change was the dominant cause of the demise of massive creatures in the time of the sabretooth tiger, the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhino and the giant armadillo.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Image of a woolly mammoth family. Known collectively as megafauna, most of the largest mammals ever to roam the earth were wiped out over the last 80,000 years, and were all extinct by 10,000 years ago. New research shows humans were to blame.

[i]Credit: © photology1971 / Fotolia[/i]


[i]Early humans were the dominant cause of the extinction of a variety of species of giant beasts, new research has revealed.[/i]


Scientists at the universities of Exeter and Cambridge claim their research settles a prolonged debate over whether humankind or climate change was the dominant cause of the demise of massive creatures in the time of the sabretooth tiger, the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhino and the giant armadillo.


Known collectively as megafauna, most of the largest mammals ever to roam the earth were wiped out over the last 80,000 years, and were all extinct by 10,000 years ago.



Lewis Bartlett, of the University of Exeter, led the research, which also involved the universities of Reading and Bristol and is published in the journalEcography. He said cutting-edge statistical analysis had helped solve the mystery almost beyond dispute, concluding that man was the dominant force in wiping out the creatures, although climate change could also have played a lesser role.



The researchers ran thousands of scenarios which mapped the windows of time in which each species is known to have become extinct, and humans are known to have arrived on different continents or islands. This was compared against climate reconstructions for the last 90,000 years.



Examining different regions of the world across these scenarios, they found coincidences of human spread and species extinction which illustrate that man was the main agent causing the demise, with climate change exacerbating the number of extinctions. However, in certain regions of the world -- mainly in Asia -- they found patterns which patterns were broadly unaccounted for by either of these two drivers, and called for renewed focus on these neglected areas for further study.



Lewis Bartlett, a researcher from the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation, said: "As far as we are concerned, this research is the nail in the coffin of this 50-year debate -- humans were the dominant cause of the extinction of megafauna. What we don't know is what it was about these early settlers that caused this demise. Were they killing them for food, was it early use of fire or were they driven out of their habitats? Our analysis doesn't differentiate, but we can say that it was caused by human activity more than by climate change. It debunks the myth of early humans living in harmony with nature."



Dr Andrea Manica, of Cambridge University, was lead supervisor on the paper. He said: "Whilst our models explain very well the timing and extent of extinctions for most of the world, mainland Asia remains a mystery. According to the fossil record, that region suffered very low rates of extinctions. Understanding why megafauna in mainland Asia is so resilient is the next big question."






Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Exeter.Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.




Journal Reference:

  1. Lewis J. Bartlett, David R. Williams, Graham W. Prescott, Andrew Balmford, Rhys E. Green, Anders Eriksson, Paul J. Valdes, Joy S. Singarayer, Andrea Manica. Robustness despite uncertainty: regional climate data reveal the dominant role of humans in explaining global extinctions of Late Quaternary megafauna.Ecography, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01566

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/201...104305.htm
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( This post was last modified: 08-24-2015, 10:13 PM by tigerluver )

Mammoths killed by abrupt climate change

Date:
July 23, 2015

Source:
University of Adelaide

Summary:
New research has revealed abrupt warming, that closely resembles the rapid man-made warming occurring today, has repeatedly played a key role in mass extinction events of large animals, the megafauna, in Earth's past.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Mammoth vertebrae in ice, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Credit: Kieren Mitchell, University of Adelaide

New research has revealed abrupt warming, that closely resembles the rapid human-made warming occurring today, has repeatedly played a key role in mass extinction events of large animals, the megafauna, in Earth's past.

Using advances in analysing ancient DNA, radiocarbon dating and other geologic records an international team led by researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of New South Wales (Australia) have revealed that short, rapid warming events, known as interstadials, recorded during the last ice age or Pleistocene (60,000-12,000 years ago) coincided with major extinction events even before the appearance of man.

Published today in Science, the researchers say by contrast, extreme cold periods, such as the last glacial maximum, do not appear to correspond with these extinctions.

"This abrupt warming had a profound impact on climate that caused marked shifts in global rainfall and vegetation patterns," said University of Adelaide lead author and Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, Professor Alan Cooper.

"Even without the presence of humans we saw mass extinctions. When you add the modern addition of human pressures and fragmenting of the environment to the rapid changes brought by global warming, it raises serious concerns about the future of our environment."

The researchers came to their conclusions after detecting a pattern, 10 years ago, in ancient DNA studies suggesting the rapid disappearance of large species. At first the researchers thought these were related to intense cold snaps.

However, as more fossil-DNA became available from museum specimen collections and through improvements in carbon dating and temperature records that showed better resolution through time, they were surprised to find the opposite. It became increasingly clear that rapid warming, not sudden cold snaps, was the cause of the extinctions during the last glacial maximum.

The research helps explain further the sudden disappearance of mammoths and giant sloths that became extinct around 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

"It is important to recognize that man still played an important role in the disappearance of the major mega fauna species," said fellow author Professor Chris Turney from the University of New South Wales.

"The abrupt warming of the climate caused massive changes to the environment that set the extinction events in motion, but the rise of humans applied the coup de grace to a population that was already under stress."

In addition to the finding, the new statistical methods used to interrogate the datasets (led by Adelaide co-author Professor Corey Bradshaw) and the new data itself has created an extraordinarily precise record of climate change and species movement over the Pleistocene.

This new dataset will allow future researchers a better understanding of this important period than has ever been possible before.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

Alan Cooper, Chris Turney, Konrad A. Hughen, Barry W. Brook, H. Gregory McDonald, and Corey J. A. Bradshaw. Abrupt warming events drove Late Pleistocene Holarctic megafaunal turnover. Science, 23 July 2015 DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4315

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/201...181113.htm

Go to the "Cause of Pleistocene Extinction" discussion thread for the journal article.
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( This post was last modified: 08-28-2015, 09:42 AM by tigerluver )

Mammoth remains, as far as the eye can see: Widest distribution of mammoths during the last Ice Age

Date:
August 25, 2015
Source:
Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum
Summary:
Ice Age paleontologist recorded the maximum geographic distribution of the woolly mammoth during the last Ice Age and published the most accurate global map in this regard. The ice-age pachyderms populated a total area of 33,301,000 square kilometers and may thus be called the most successful large mammals of this era. The study determined that the distribution was limited by a number of climate-driven as well as climate-independent factors.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Complete left tusk of an ice-age Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) from the Siberian Arctic on the Taimyr Peninsula. Each individual discovery increases our knowledge about the past distribution of these Ice Age giants.

Ice Age paleontologist Prof. Dr. Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke of the Senckenberg Research Station for Quaternary Paleontology in Weimar recorded the maximum geographic distribution of the woolly mammoth during the last Ice Age and published the most accurate global map in this regard. The ice-age pachyderms populated a total area of 33,301,000 square kilometers and may thus be called the most successful large mammals of this era. The study, recently published online in the scientific journal Quaternary International,determined that the distribution was limited by a number of climate-driven as well as climate-independent factors.

The mammoth is the quintessential symbol of the Ice Age -- and the status of these shaggy pachyderms has now been confirmed scientifically. "The recent research findings show that during the last Ice Age, mammoths were the most widely distributed large mammals, thus rightfully serving as a flagship species of the glacial era," according to Prof. Dr. Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke, an Ice Age researcher at the Senckenberg Research Station for Quaternary Paleontology in Weimar.
Kahlke has summarized the mammoth's distribution during the most recent Ice Age, i.e., the period between approx. 110,000 and 12,000 years ago, on a worldwide map. All in all, the Weimar paleontologist determined a total distribution area of 33,301,000 square kilometers for these large mammals -- almost 100 times the area of Germany today. From Portugal in the southwest across Central and Eastern Europe, Mongolia, Northern China, South Korea and Japan up to Northeastern Siberia, and thence to the American Midwest and Eastern Canada, from the shelf regions of the Arctic Ocean and Northwestern Europe to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea and to the mountains of Crimea: the fossil remains of woolly mammoths have been found everywhere.
"We related the computed distribution area to the real land surface at that time, thus generating the most precise map to date regarding the global habitats of the woolly mammoth," explains Kahlke, and he adds, "Such detailed knowledge regarding the distribution area is not even available for many species of animals alive today."
The generated map is based on decades of surveys of thousands of excavation sites on three continents. "Even sites under water, off the North American Atlantic shore and the North Sea, were taken into account. Due to the lower sea levels during the Ice Age -- a large volume of water was bound in glaciers -- these areas had fallen dry and were also inhabited byMammuthus primigenius," according to Kahlke.
Only the ice-age bison (Bison priscus) had a widespread distribution similar to that of the mammoths. Kahlke explains, "The bison were clearly more variable than the woolly mammoths. Obviously, the mammoths had a higher tolerance toward various environmental factors and they were able to successfully settle in a variety of rather different open landscapes."
But there were certain factors that limited the distribution of the hirsute pachyderms: glaciers, mountain chains, semi-deserts and deserts, as well as changes in sea level and shifts in vegetation placed restrictions on the mammoths' distribution area. "The analysis of these limiting factors is useful in understanding the distribution of fossil species and their extinction -- as with the mammoths toward the end of the last Ice Age. In addition, the data aid in comprehending current changes in the distribution areas of recent animal species," offers Kahlke in summary.






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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History MuseumNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.




Journal Reference:

  1. Ralf-Dietrich Kahlke. The maximum geographic extension of Late Pleistocene Mammuthus primigenius (Proboscidea, Mammalia) and its limiting factorsQuaternary International, 2015; DOI:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.03.023
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Fossil remains of Old World lizard discovered in the New World overturn long-held hypothesis of lizard evolution
Date:
August 26, 2015
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
Paleontologists have discovered a new species of lizard, named Gueragama sulamericana, in the municipality of Cruzeiro do Oeste in Southern Brazil in the rock outcrops of a Late Cretaceous desert, dated approximately 80 million years ago.


*This image is copyright of its original author

This is an illustration of Gueragama sulamerica.

[i]Credit: Julius Csotonyi[/i]


[i]University of Alberta paleontologists have discovered a new species of lizard, named[i]Gueragama sulamericana, in the municipality of Cruzeiro do Oeste in Southern Brazil in the rock outcrops of a Late Cretaceous desert, dated approximately 80 million years ago.
[/i][/i]

"The roughly 1700 species of iguanas are almost without exception restricted to the New World, primarily the Southern United States down to the tip of South America," says Michael Caldwell, biological sciences professor from the University of Alberta and one of the study's authors. Oddly however, iguanas closest relatives, including chameleons and bearded dragons, are all Old World. As one of the most diverse groups of extant lizards, spanning from acrodontan iguanians (meaning the teeth are fused to the top of their jaws) dominating the Old World to non-acrodontans in the New World, this new lizard species is the first acrodontan found in South America, suggesting both groups of ancient iguanians achieved a worldwide distribution before the final break up of Pangaea.
A terrestrial Noah's Arc
"This fossil is an 80 million year old specimen of an acrodontan in the New World," explains Caldwell. "It's a missing link in the sense of the paleobiogeography and possibly the origins of the group, so it's pretty good evidence to suggest that back in the lower part of the Cretaceous, the southern part of Pangaea was still a kind of single continental chunk."
Distributions of plants and animals from the Late Cretaceous reflect the ancestry of Pangaea when it was whole. "This Gueragama sulamericanafossil indicates that the group is old, that it's probably Southern Pangaean in its origin, and that after the break up, the acrodontans and chameleon group dominated in the Old World, and the iguanid side arose out of this acrodontan lineage that was left alone on South America," says Caldwell. "South America remained isolated until about 5 million years ago. That's when it bumps into North America, and we see this exchange of organism north and south. It was kind of like a floating Noah's Arc for a very long time, about 100 million years. This is an Old World lizard in the new world at a time when we weren't expecting to find it. It answers a few questions about iguanid lizards and their origin."
The University of Alberta is a world leader in paleontology. This study was a collaboration between the University of Alberta and scientists in Brazil. Caldwell says of the collaboration, "It's providing an opportunity for our students and research groups to expand our expertise and interests into an ever-increasing diversity of organisms within this group of animals called snakes and lizards."
The lead author of the paper is Caldwell's PhD student, Tiago Simoes, a Vanier scholar. "As with many other scientific findings, this one raises a number of questions we haven't previously considered," says Simoes. "This finding raises a number of biogeographic and faunal turnover questions of great interest to both paleontologists and herpetologists that we hope to answer in the future."
In terms of next steps, Caldwell notes "Each answer only rattles the questions harder. The evolution of the group is much older than has been previously thought, which means we can push an acrodontan to 80 million years in South America. We now need to focus on much older units of of rock if we're going to find the next step in the process."
The findings, "A stem acrodontan lizard in the Cretaceous of Brazil revises early lizard evolution in Gondwana," were published in the journal Nature Communications, one of the world's top multidisciplinary scientific journals.






Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of AlbertaNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.




Journal Reference:

  1. Tiago R. Simões, Everton Wilner, Michael W. Caldwell, Luiz C. Weinschütz, Alexander W. A. Kellner. A stem acrodontan lizard in the Cretaceous of Brazil revises early lizard evolution in Gondwana.Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 8149 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9149
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A new cave hyena fossil in China.


*This image is copyright of its original author




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Fossil Specimen Reveals a New Species of Ancient River Dolphin
In marine sciencenew speciespaleontologyResearch Newszoology / 1 September 2015 / 1 Comment
By Johnny Gibbons


*This image is copyright of its original author

An artistic reconstruction of “Isthminia panamensis,” a new fossil dolphin from Panama, feeding on a flatfish. Many features of this new species appear similar to today’s ocean dolphins, yet the new fossil species is more closely related to the living Amazon River dolphin. The fossils of “Isthminia panamensis” were collected from marine rocks that date to a time (around 6 million years ago) before the Isthmus of Panama formed and a productive Central American Seaway connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. (Credit: Julia Molnar, Smithsonian Institution)

Smithsonian scientists and colleagues have discovered a new genus and species of river dolphin that has long been extinct. They made the discovery after carefully examining fossil fragments from Panama. The fossil fragments also shed new light on the evolution of today’s freshwater river dolphin species. The team’s research was published Sept. 1 in the scientific journal [i]Peer J.

The fossil, which dates from 5.8–6.1 million years ago, was found on the Caribbean coast near the town of Piña, Panama. It consists of half a skull, lower jaw with an almost entire set of conical teeth, right shoulder blade and two small bones from the dolphin’s flipper. In comparison with other river dolphins—both fossil and living—the shape and size of these parts suggests that the full specimen may have been more than 9 feet long.[/i]



*This image is copyright of its original author

The skull and jaws of “Isthminia panamensis,” a new fossil dolphin from Panama. The specimen is housed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, but a painted 3D print can be viewed at the BioMuseo in Panama City, Panama. A 3D model can also be downloaded and printed from the Smithsonian X 3D website at http://3d.si.edu/browser (Credit: Donald E. Hurlbert; NMNH Imaging, Smithsonian Institution)

Today there are only four species of river dolphins―all living in freshwater or coastal ecosystems and all endangered, including the Yangtze river dolphin, which is likely now extinct. Each of the modern river dolphin species show a common solution to the problem of adapting away from marine to freshwater habitats by converging upon a body plan that includes broad, paddle-like flippers, flexible necks and heads with particularly long, narrow snouts—all the better to navigate and hunt in winding, silty rivers.

But fossil evidence suggests that river dolphins’ ancestors were widespread around the globe. I. panamensis was clearly one of them, and its fossil remains have helped the team understand something less clear: When in their evolutionary tract did river dolphins transition from the saltwater of the ocean to the freshwater of rivers?
“We discovered this new fossil in marine rocks, and many of the features of its skull and jaws point to it having been a marine inhabitant, like modern oceanic dolphins,” said the study’s lead author Nicholas D. Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “Many other iconic freshwater species in the Amazon, such as manatees, turtles and stingrays have marine ancestors, but until now, the fossil record of river dolphins in this basin has not revealed much about their marine ancestry. [i]Isthminia now gives us a clear boundary in geologic time for understanding when this lineage invaded Amazonia.”[/i]


*This image is copyright of its original author

[i]Scientists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute collect the fossils of “Isthminia panamensis,” a new fossil dolphin, from the Caribbean coast of Panama on 18 June 2011. The fossil was then encased in a white plaster jacket, and recovered as the tide rushed in. (Credit: Jorge Velez-Juarbe, Smithsonian)[/i]

[i]Other fossilized animals found at the same site as [i]I. panamensis were marine species, indicating that unlike river dolphins living today, I. panamensis lived in the salty waters of a food-rich Caribbean Sea, before the full closure of the Panama Isthmus.
[/i]
[/i]

Isthminia is actually the closest relative of the living Amazon river dolphin,” said study co-author Aaron O’Dea, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. “While whales and dolphins long ago evolved from terrestrial ancestors to fully marine mammals, river dolphins represent a reverse movement by returning inland to freshwater ecosystems. As such, fossil specimens may tell stories not just of the evolution these aquatic animals, but also of the changing geographies and ecosystems of the past.”

The Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office collaborated with the scientific team to create a high-resolution 3-D scan of the fossil, allowing the scientists to create 3-D prints of the delicate specimen, whose bones are too fragile to be molded and casted by traditional approaches. A 3-D print of the fossil is on permanent display at Panama’s BioMuseo—the original specimen will remain in the Smithsonian’s collection at the National Museum of Natural History. The public can also explore and download high resolution scans of the dolphin’s skulljaw and shoulder blade at the Smithsonian X 3-D website 3D.SI.EDU.
[i]The fossil was discovered by Dioselina Vigil, then a STRI intern and student at the University of Panama. The name of the new genus, [i]Isthminia, recognizes both the Panama Isthmus and the fossil specimen’s living relative, the Amazon river dolphin, Inia geoffrensis. The study’s authors chose the species name, panamensis, to recognize the Republic of Panama, its people, and the many generations of scientists who have studied its geological and biological histories.[/i][/i]

[i]Source[/i]
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( This post was last modified: 09-19-2015, 07:06 AM by tigerluver )

Pre-reptile may be earliest known to walk upright on all fours
Date:
September 17, 2015
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Wandering an arid region of the ancient supercontinent of Pangea about 260-million years ago, the pre-reptile Bunostegos akokanensis is the oldest known creature to have walked upright on all fours, according to a newly published study.


*This image is copyright of its original author

About the same size as a cow, this pre-reptile also stood the same way -- upright with its legs underneath. It may be the earliest known creature to do so, according to a new study.

[i]Credit: Morgan Turner[/i]

[i]A newly published analysis of the bones of[i]Bunostegos akokanensis, a 260-million-year-old pre-reptile, finds that it likely stood upright on all-fours, like a cow or a hippo, making it the earliest known creature to do so.
[/i][/i]

To date all of the known pareiasaurs who roved the supercontinent of Pangea in the Permian era a quarter of a billion years ago were sprawlers whose limbs would jut out from the side of the body and then continue out or slant down from the elbow (like some modern lizards). Morgan Turner, lead author of the study in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, expectedBunostegos would be a sprawler, too, but the bones of the animal's forelimbs tell a different story.
"A lot of the animals that lived around the time had a similar upright or semi-upright hind limb posture, but what's interesting and special aboutBunostegos is the forelimb, in that it's anatomy is sprawling-precluding and seemingly directed underneath its body--unlike anything else at the time," said Turner who performed the analysis under the supervision of Professor Christian Sidor while a student at the University of Washington. Now Turner is a graduate student at Brown University. "The elements and features within the forelimb bones won't allow a sprawling posture. That is unique."
The findings allowed Turner, Sidor and her co-authors to characterize howBunostegos might have looked. Standing like a cow, and about the same size.
"Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back," said co-author Linda Tsuji of the Royal Ontario Museum, who discovered the fossils in Niger along with Sidor and a team of paleontologists in 2003 and 2006.
Four forelimb findings
Turner examined much of the skeleton of several individuals. The findings that matter most, however, are all in the forelimbs. In particular, four observations make the case, she said, that Bunostegos stood differently than all the rest, with the legs entirely beneath the body.
Starting at the shoulder joint, or the glenoid fossa, the orientation of it is facing down such that the humerus (the bone running from shoulder to elbow) would be vertically oriented underneath. It would restrict the humerus from sticking out to the side, too.
Meanwhile Bunostegos's humerus is not twisted like those of sprawlers. In a sprawler, the twist is what could allow the humerus to jut out to the side at the shoulder but then orient the forearm downward from the elbow. But the humerus of Bunostegos has no twist suggesting that only if the elbow and shoulders were aligned under the body, could the foot actually reach the ground, Turner said.
The elbow joint is also telling. Unlike in sprawling pareiasaurs, which had considerable mobility at the elbow, the movement of Bunostegos's elbow is more limited. The way the radius and ulna (forearm bones) join with the humerus forms a hinge-like joint, and wouldn't allow for the forearm to swing out to the sides. Instead, it would only swing in a back and forth direction, like a human knee does.
Finally, the ulna is longer than the humerus in Bunostegos, which is a common trait among non-sprawlers, Turner said.
"Many other sprawling 4-legged animals have the reverse ratio," she said.
Going back 260 million years
The idea that Bunostegos would be an outlier in terms of its posture matches well with the idea that it was somewhat of an outlier in its choice of habitat.
"Bunostegos was an isolated pareiasaur," Turner said.
Way back when, Niger was an arid place (like some of it is today) where plants and water sources might well have been few and far between. Scientists have associated walking upright on all fours with a more energy efficient posture than sprawling. For the long journeys between meals, Turner said, the upright posture might have been necessary for survival.
The significance of such an early example of the upright posture is thatBunostegos dates very far back on the evolutionary tree, pushing back the clock on when this posture shows up in evolution.
But Turner said she wouldn't be surprised if other animals of the time are eventually also found to have similarities to this posture, which evolved independently in reptiles and mammals several times over the eras.
"Posture, from sprawling to upright, is not black or white, but instead is a gradient of forms," Turner said. "There are many complexities about the evolution of posture and locomotion we are working to better understand every day. The anatomy of Bunostegos is unexpected, illuminating, and tells us we still have much to learn." At Brown, Turner is working in the lab of Professor Stephen Gatesy, where she is studying a continuum of postures and locomotion in ancient creatures. In addition to Turner, Tsuji and Sidor, Oumarou Ide of the University of Niamey in Niger is an author of the study.






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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Brown University.Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.




Journal Reference:

  1. Morgan L. Turner, Linda A. Tsuji, Oumarou Ide, Christian A. Sidor. The vertebrate fauna of the upper Permian of Niger—IX. The appendicular skeleton ofBunostegos akokanensis(Parareptilia: Pareiasauria)Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 2015; e994746 DOI:10.1080/02724634.2014.994746  
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United States tigerluver Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-11-2016, 02:38 AM by tigerluver )

King Kong was inflexible: The giant ape went extinct 100,000 years ago, due to its inability to adapt
Date:
January 4, 2016
Source:
Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum
Summary:
The demise of the giant ape Gigantopithecus has been the focus of recent study, where researchers have reached the conclusion that the presumably largest apes in geological history died due to their insufficient adaptability. Analyses of fossil tooth enamel show that the primates were restricted to forested habitats.


*This image is copyright of its original author

Estimated size of Giganthopithecus in comparison with a human.

[i]Credit: © H. Bocherens[/i]


Scientists from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment in Tübingen and from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt examined the demise of the giant ape Gigantopithecus. In their study, published recently in the scientific journal "Quaternary International," they reach the conclusion that the presumably largest apes in geological history died due to their insufficient adaptability. Analyses of fossil tooth enamel show that the primates were restricted to forested habitats.



It is well documented that the giant ape Gigantopithecus was huge -- but beyond this fact, there are many uncertainties regarding the extinct ancestor of the orangutan. Size indications vary from 1.8 to 3 meters, and weight estimates between 200 and 500 kilograms. And there are various theories regarding its diet as well: Some scientists assume a strictly vegetarian lifestyle, while others consider the ape a meat eater, and a few believe that its diet was exclusively limited to bamboo. "Unfortunately, there are very few fossil finds of Gigantopithecus -- only a few large teeth and bones from the lower mandible are known," explains Prof. Dr. Hervé Bocherens of the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) at the University of Tübingen, and he continues, "But now, we were able to shed a little light on the obscure history of this primate."



Together with his colleagues from the Senckenberg Research Institute, Prof. Dr. Friedmann Schrenk and PD Dr. Ottmar Kullmer, as well as other international scientists, the biogeologist from Tübingen examined the fossil giant ape's tooth enamel in order to make inferences on its diet and to define potential factors for its extinction. "Our results indicate that the large primates only lived in the forest and obtained their food from this habitat," explains Bocherens, and he adds, "Gigantopithecus was an exclusive vegetarian, but it did not specialize on bamboo."



The team of researchers studied stable carbon isotopes in the tooth enamel of the large primates -- which are able to reveal information about the animals' dietary habits even after several million years. The examined teeth came from China and Thailand -- among them the first record of Gigantopithecus, which was discovered by paleoanthropologist Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald in 1935 among a collection of fossils from a Chinese pharmacy. The results show that the giant ape's habitat was restricted to forested areas -- even though the ape was presumably too heavy to climb trees. This was the case both in China and Thailand, where open savannas would have been available in addition to the wooded landscapes.



"In order to be able to comprehend the evolutionary history of primates, it is important to take a look at their diet," explains Bocherens, and he adds, "Our results also contribute to a better understanding of the reasons that led to the giant ape's extinction."



Bocherens and his colleagues work on the assumption that Gigantopithecus's size, in connection with its restriction to one habitat type, doomed the giant apes. "Relatives of the giant ape, such as the recent orangutan, have been able to survive despite their specialization on a certain habitat. However, orangutans have a slow metabolism and are able to survive on limited food. Due to its size, Gigantopithecus presumably depended on a large amount of food. When during the Pleistocene era more and more forested areas turned into savanna landscapes, there was simply an insufficient food supply for the giant ape," concludes the scientist from Tübingen.



Story Source:



The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.



Journal Reference: The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Hervé Bocherens, Friedemann Schrenk, Yaowalak Chaimanee, Ottmar Kullmer, Doris Mörike, Diana Pushkina, Jean-Jacques Jaeger. Flexibility of diet and habitat in Pleistocene South Asian mammals: Implications for the fate of the giant fossil ape Gigantopithecus. Quaternary International, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.059

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( This post was last modified: 01-11-2016, 03:00 AM by GrizzlyClaws )

The Gigantopithecus was adapted to live on the ground, so they might have a convergent body morphology of a Gorilla instead of an Orangutan.

Even the Orangutan was the same subfamily closely relative of the Gigantopithecus genus, but the Gigantopithecus cannot be exactly a larger carbon copy of the Orangutan.

The body of a Gorilla with a face of an Orangutan should match the likely appearance of the Gigantopithecus.

King Kong was considered as the fictional descendant species of the Gigantopithecus, and see how the Gigantopithecus has been kept convergently evolving toward the Gorilla after living many millennia on the fictional Skull Island.
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( This post was last modified: 01-11-2016, 04:42 AM by GrizzlyClaws )

Ironically, the early nature-film industry manipulated reality to make their films exciting. They did such things as to "set up" fights between various wild beasts. They started the rumor that gorillas had the habit of stealing native women from villages and would carry them off into the jungle for... need I continue? Many of the early jungle movies and horror films featuring gorilla were based on this ignorant belief, including King Kong. To be honest, I miss the old "killer gorilla."  
 > GRIZZLY ( Ursus arctos horribilis ) the AMERICAN BROWN BEAR <  
  
             
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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(01-11-2016, 04:25 AM)brotherbear Wrote: Ironically, the early nature-film industry manipulated reality to make their films exciting. They did such things as to "set up" fights between various wild beasts. They started the rumor that gorillas had the habit of stealing native women from villages and would carry them off into the jungle for... need I continue? Many of the early jungle movies and horror films featuring gorilla were based on this ignorant belief, including King Kong. To be honest, I miss the old "killer gorilla."  

The current generation of movies is more based on the hypothesized theories on the fiction, so it is making a lot of more common sense than the old school monster movies.

Even King Kong is purely fictional, but it is very scientific that they are trying to explain how a group of Gigantopithecus was evolving to become even bigger and more gorilla-like on an island with full of dangerous prehistoric predators.

It is like Avatar, how they are making the fiction to look more scientological.

PS, sorry for accidentally hitting the edit button again.
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United States Polar Offline
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( This post was last modified: 01-11-2016, 06:37 AM by Polar )

I severely doubt the validity of the theory that migrating H.erectus killed off the Gigantopithecus, in fact, they would've been more terrified of the giant ape and most fossils of H.erectus around the Old World do not indicate advanced tool improvising (they only possessed easily-breakable wooden spears, or, in the case of China, bamboo spears.) IMO, everytime the early humans encountered this ape, they would most likely avoid it. Now modern humans? That's a different outcome for the giant ape.
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago."

- E.O Wilson
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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(01-11-2016, 06:02 AM)Polar Wrote: I severely doubt the validity of the theory that migrating H.erectus killed off the Gigantopithecus, in fact, they would've been more terrified of the giant ape and most fossils of H.erectus around the Old World do not indicate advanced tool improvising (they only possessed easily-breakable wooden spears, or, in the case of China, bamboo spears.) IMO, everytime the early humans encountered this ape, they most likely avoid it. Now modern humans? That's a different outcome for the giant ape.

The killer that destroyed Gigantopithecus was likely belonged to our species.

The first wave of sapiens men that out of Africa.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_sapiens_idaltu

And their remains were found in China that dated about 120-80kya, so it does match the extinction timeline of Gigantopithecus.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/scienc...94946.html
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