There is a world somewhere between reality and fiction. Although ignored by many, it is very real and so are those living in it. This forum is about the natural world. Here, wild animals will be heard and respected. The forum offers a glimpse into an unknown world as well as a room with a view on the present and the future. Anyone able to speak on behalf of those living in the emerald forest and the deep blue sea is invited to join.
--- Peter Broekhuijsen ---

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Extinct Animals News

Italy Ngala Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast
( This post was last modified: 09-01-2017, 08:55 PM by Ngala )

Xibalbaonyx oviceps, a new megalonychid ground sloth (Folivora, Xenarthra) from the Late Pleistocene of the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, and its paleobiogeographic significance
Xibalbaonyx oviceps Stinnesbeck et al., 2017

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

Fig. 3: Xibalbaonyx oviceps in situ within the Zapote cenote; Skull and mandible (Za2014-01, -05)

"Here we describe a new genus and species of giant ground sloth, Xibalbaonyx oviceps (Megalonychidae, Xenarthra), from the drowned cave system of the northeastern Yucatán Peninsula. The specimen is Late Pleistocene in age and was discovered in the Zapote sinkhole (cenote) near Puerto Morelos in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Xibalbaonyx oviceps differs significantly from all hitherto known Megalonychidae including those from the Greater Antilles and South America. The new taxon suggests a local Caribbean radiation of ground sloths during the Late Pleistocene, which is consistent with the dispersal of the group along a Mexican corridor."

Other articles related:
Ancient species of giant sloth discovered in Mexico
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Venezuela epaiva Offline

(11-06-2016, 04:33 PM)Ngala Wrote: Giant extinct salmon fought with spike teeth during upriver spawning events
October 28, 2016

*This image is copyright of its original author

An illustration by Jacob Biewer Credit: Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

The ancient coastal waters of the Pacific, roughly 11 to 5 million years ago, were home to a bizarre and fascinating species of giant salmon with large spike-like teeth. This spike-toothed salmon reached sizes of 3 to 9 feet in length (1-3 meters), much larger than the typical salmon found in the Pacific today. These hefty spike-toothed fish would have made for a difficult catch at nearly 400 pounds (177 kg). The spike-like teeth of the salmon could be over an inch long (3 cm), much longer than modern Pacific salmon teeth, even after compensating for their larger size. Researchers from California State University in Turlock, California have been studying the strange teeth of these unusual fish and discovered some tantalizing clues into their past behavior and life history.

Much like modern Pacific salmon, the giant salmon was likely primarily a filter-feeder, so the spike teeth were probably not part of catching prey. Modern salmon go through physical changes in their body, especially their skull, before migrating upriver to spawn where males will fight to defend the eggs they have fertilized. To see if these teeth played an important role in breeding of the giant fossil salmon, the team of researchers, led by Dr. Julia Sankey, compared 51 different fossils from ancient deposits of both freshwater and saltwater environments. The teeth of these salmon found in past freshwater environments consistently had longer, more recurved teeth with much larger bases, as well as showed clear signs of wear. Fossil salmon teeth from saltwater deposits were much smaller and less worn. This indicates that they changed prior to migration upriver to spawn.

These results help show that these impressive spike-like teeth of the giant salmon are indeed used as part of the breeding process in these extinct fish. Researchers think it is likely these hefty bruisers were using their spike-like teeth for fighting and display against each other during the spawning season, up in the ancient rivers of California. "These giant, spike-toothed salmon were amazing fish. You can picture them getting scooped out of the Proto-Tuolumne River [near Modesto, California] by large bears 5 million years ago." said Dr. Sankey "Scientifically, our research on the giant salmon is filling in a gap in our knowledge about how these salmon lived, and specifically, if they developmentally changed prior to migration upriver like modern salmon do today. This research is also helping paint the picture of this area 5 million years ago for the general public and my college students, and it excites them to think of this giant salmon swimming up our local rivers 5 million years ago!". Dr.Sankey and colleagues presented their research at this year's meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Salt Lake City, Utah.

*This image is copyright of its original author

An illustration by Jacob Biewer. Credit: Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Incredible Giant Salmon
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Canada HyperNova Offline

Giganthopithecus blacki size has been vastly exagerrated.

''Given the very large size of the cheek teeth and massiveness of the mandible it can be presumed that G. blacki was larger than any living hominoid, including extant gorillas (with an average male body weight of 169 kg; Smith & Jungers, 1987). Weidenreich (1945) speculated that it was twice the size of Gorilla. Others have proposed an estimated body mass of 225–300 kg (Ciochon et al., 1990; Dean & Schrenk, 2003; Fleagle, 2013; Simons, 1972; Simons & Ettel, 1970) and a standing height of 9–12 ft (2.7–3.7 m) (Ciochon et al., 1990; Pei, 1957b; Simons, 1972). Johnson (1979) argued that the limb bones of G. blacki would have been 20–25% larger than those of extant gorillas. Based on M1area to body mass correlations (Conroy, 1987; Gingerich, Smith, & Rosenberg, 1982), we are able to calculate an estimated body mass of 204 kg (using the Gingerich formula) and 280 kg (using the Conroy formula for apes). Obviously, the use of dental size as a predictor of body mass in fossil primates is problematic because dental size varies considerably within any body size class for a variety of functional and phylogenetic factors (Delson et al., 2000). Nevertheless, one might make a reasonable case from what is known about its anatomy that G. blacki was likely to have been a relatively megadont hominoid, and that any body mass prediction based on molar size will probably represent an overestimation. Without postcranial remains it is simply not possible to obtain a reliable estimate of the body mass for G. blacki, but 200–300 kg does seem like a reasonable guide. Such a size (which overlaps with the upper end of the body mass range for extant male gorillas) may have precluded or greatly restricted arboreal behaviors in G. blacki, but once again postcranial remains are needed in order to determine its inferred locomotor repertoire.''

Source : Gigantopithecus blacki: a giant ape from the Pleistocene of Asia revisited
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Italy Ngala Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast
( This post was last modified: 09-08-2017, 05:05 PM by Ngala )

A Devonian tetrapod-like fish reveals substantial parallelism in stem tetrapod evolution 
Hongyu chowi Zhu et al., 2017

*This image is copyright of its original author

Fig. 4 - Life restoration. Hongyu chowi gen. et sp. nov. and associated antiarchs (Ningxialepis spinosa) from the Zhongning Formation (Famennian, Late Devonian period), Ningxia, China. Illustration: B. Choo.

"The fossils assigned to the tetrapod stem group document the evolution of terrestrial vertebrates from lobe-finned fishes. During the past 18 years the phylogenetic structure of this stem group has remained remarkably stable, even when accommodating new discoveries such as the earliest known stem tetrapod Tungsenia and the elpistostegid (fish–tetrapod intermediate) Tiktaalik. Here we present a large lobe-finned fish from the Late Devonian period of China that disrupts this stability. It combines characteristics of rhizodont fishes (supposedly a basal branch in the stem group, distant from tetrapods) with derived elpistostegid-like and tetrapod-like characters. This mélange of characters may reflect either detailed convergence between rhizodonts and elpistostegids plus tetrapods, under a phylogenetic scenario deduced from Bayesian inference analysis, or a previously unrecognized close relationship between these groups, as supported by maximum parsimony analysis. In either case, the overall result reveals a substantial increase in homoplasy in the tetrapod stem group. It also suggests that ecological diversity and biogeographical provinciality in the tetrapod stem group have been underestimated."

Other articles related:
Weird fish fossil changes the story of how we moved onto land
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Italy Ngala Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast
( This post was last modified: 09-13-2017, 10:15 PM by Ngala )

An edrioasteroid from the Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte of England reveals the nature of the water vascular system in an extinct echinoderm Briggs et al., 2017

*This image is copyright of its original author

Heropyrgus disterminus. Credit: © Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2017).

"Echinoderms are unique in having a water vascular system with tube feet, which perform a variety of functions in living forms. Here, we report the first example of preserved tube feet in an extinct group of echinoderms. The material, from the Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte, UK, is assigned to a new genus and species of rhenopyrgid edrioasteroid, Heropyrgus disterminus. The tube feet attach to the inner surface of compound interradial plates and form two sets, an upper and a lower, an arrangement never reported previously in an extant or extinct echinoderm. Cover plates are absent and floor plates are separated creating a large permanent entrance to the interior of the oral area. The tube feet may have captured food particles that entered the oral area and/or enhanced respiration. The pentameral symmetry of the oral surface transitions to eight columns in which the plates are vertically offset resulting in a spiral appearance. This change in symmetry may reflect flexibility in the evolutionary development of the axial and extraxial zones in early echinoderm evolution."

Other articles related:
430-million-year-old extinct echinoderm found in England
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Italy Ngala Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast

A new giraffid (Mammalia, Ruminantia, Pecora) from the late Miocene of Spain, and the evolution of the sivathere-samothere lineage
Decennatherium rex Ríos, Sánchez & Morales, 2017

*This image is copyright of its original author

Fig 41. Reconstruction of Decennatherium rex sp. nov. from BAT10.
A, skeletal reconstruction; B, life reconstruction of an adult female; C, life reconstruction of the head of an adult female. Illustration by Oscar Sanisidro.

"Giraffids include the only living giraffomorph ruminants and are diagnosed by the presence of bi-lobed canines and a special type of epiphyseal cranial appendages called ossicones. The family Giraffidae ranges from the latest early Miocene until today. However they are currently extant relics with only two living representatives, the African genera Okapia and Giraffa. Giraffids were much more diverse and widespread in the past, with more than 30 fossil species described. For the past decades a number of studies intended to resolve the phylogenetic relationships of the family, but due to the lack of really good cranial material no clear consensus was reached regarding the phylogenetic relationships amongst the different members of the group. The exceptionally complete remains of a new large giraffid from the late Miocene of Spain, Decennatherium rex sp. nov., allows us to improve and reassess giraffid systematics, offering a lot of new data, both anatomic and phylogenetic, on the large late Miocene giraffids of Eurasia. The results of our cladistic analysis show Decennatherium as a basal offshoot of a clade containing the gigantic samotheres and sivatheres, characterized by the presence of a Sivatherium-like ossicone-plan among other features. Decennatherium thus offers the most ancient evidence of this Sivatherium-plan and firmly establishes the early morphological patterns of evolution of a sivathere / samothere-clade that is defined as the less inclusive clade that contains Decennatherium and Sivatherium. Finally, this large group of four-ossiconed giraffids evolutionarily links Miocene Europe and Africa indicating vicariance / migration processes among the giraffid genetic pools separated by the Mediterranean Sea."
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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Italy Ngala Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast

Highly derived eutherian mammals from the earliest Cretaceous of southern Britain
Durlstotherium newmani Sweetman, Smith & Martill, 2017
Durlstodon ensomi Sweetman, Smith & Martill, 2017

*This image is copyright of its original author

Fig. 7. Artist’s impression of the Purbeck lagoon at dusk with Durlstodon gen. nov. (left foreground), Durlstotherium gen. nov. (right and center foreground) and the theropod Nuthetes holding a captured Durlstotherium (centre middle distance). 

"Eutherian mammals (Placentalia and all mammals phylogenetically closer to placentals than to marsupials) comprise the vast majority of extant Mammalia. Among these there is a phenomenal range of forms and sizes, but the origins of crown group placentals are obscure. They lie within the generally tiny mammals of the Mesozoic, represented for the most part by isolated teeth and jaws, and there is strongly conflicting evidence from phenomic and molecular data as to the date of origin of both Eutheria and Placentalia. The oldest purported eutherians are Juramaia from the Upper Jurassic of China, and Eomaia and Acristatherium from the Lower Cretaceous, also of China. Based on dental characters and analyses of other morphological and molecular data, doubt has recently been cast on the eutherian affinities of the Chinese taxa and consequently on the date of emergence of Eutheria. Until now, the only tribosphenic mammal recorded from the earliest Cretaceous (Berriasian) Purbeck Group of Britain was the stem tribosphenidan Tribactonodon. Here we document two new tribosphenic mammals from the Purbeck Group, Durlstotherium gen. nov. and Durlstodon gen. nov., showing highly derived eutherian molar characters that support the early emergence of this clade, prior to the Cretaceous."

Other articles related:
Teeth discovered in Dorset reveal secrets of the origins of modern mammals
"Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." C. Darwin
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India brotherbear Offline
Grizzly Enthusiast

Not a dinosaur but rather a giant lizard -  
The dragon down under
Posted on October 8, 2014 by twilightbeasts
Not so long ago an enormous lizard dragged it claws through the dried, dead leaves deep in the Australian woodlands. Longer than a black cab, this was the largest lizard (so far discovered) ever to walk on land. Its teeth were around 2 inches long, curved back, and as sharp (and as big) as steak knives.
Fossils of this enormous lizard were first discovered in 1859 on the beautiful farmlands of Darling Downs, Queensland in Eastern Australia.  Named by the great Victorian scientist, Richard Owen (is there a beast he didn’t name?), the creature was called Megalania prisca which translates as the ‘roaming lizard’. Today the name of this giant should belong in the same Genus as monitor lizards, like the infamous Komodo Dragon, so should be called Varanus priscus. Both genus names are accepted, although Varanus is preferred. Megalania is accepted as the common name. Taxonomists can be a pernickety bunch sometimes.

This terrifying lizard is only known from a few scattered remains. Skull fragments, teeth, a few arm and leg bones, and vertebrae have been found at several sites across Eastern and Southern Australia. No complete skeleton has yet been found. Isolated fossils have been found in old stream and river bed sediment, and in cave sites: but these were not their natural habitats, the bones ended up there after falling into water or carcases being scavenged and dragged into caves. It is more likely that Megalania trundled through open woodlands and forests.
With such fragmented fossil remains, where Megalania sits within the family of monitor lizards (Varanidae) is difficult to ascertain. These extinct lizards may be closely related to Australia’s largest living lizard, the particularly cute looking perentie; the shape of the top of the skull shares similarities. However, studies of the brain case look like it may be a sister species to the Komodo Dragon. Until more complete specimens are found, the true relationship remains contentious.
As to it’s size, we can make a fairly educated guess by comparing the fossils to skeletons of monitor lizards alive today. This was a massive lizard; bone size calculations compared to other monitor lizards to work out the percentage size difference, place this giant to be somewhere between 4.5 meters and 7 meters. Working out sizes based on a few bones can be problematic, because individuals in populations vary quite dramatically. The Megalania fossils do not represent a fantastically significant sample. However, even based on ‘smaller’ size ranges, it shows that this was one pretty big lizard.

This was a terrifying predator roaming Australia for almost 2 million years. For such an enormous lizard there had to be some pretty big prey around. And there most certainly was. Australia was isolated for over 40 million years since the break up of Gondwana, and the animals there evolved into some incredible forms. During the Pleistocene, the continent was home to a rich and diverse mega-fauna including giant kangaroos, Diprotodon (a kind of massive wombat), and the mihirung (a giant flightless bird). All these strange animals, and many others would have supplied ample food for Megalania. The largest lizard alive today, the Komodo Dragon, has little trouble in taking down massive prey, like water buffalo, and there is no doubt that Megalania would have tackled a Diprotodon with ease. But how could they overcome such big animals?

It was thought that Komodo Dragons had extremely bad dental hygiene resulting in deadly bacteria building up around the rotting flesh stuck to their teeth, resulting in just one bite from this animal causing a slow, and painful death. Komodo Dragons actually have venom glands in their lower jaws. Around 5 glands push venom up, inbetween the teeth; when the Dragon sinks it’s teeth into it’s prey, the venom seeps into the open flesh. It is possible, although not confirmed with fossil evidence, that the huge Megalania also had venom glands: several other species of monitor lizards have venom glands, as well as many other types of lizards. For reptiles, venom makes a lot of sense. Reptiles can move pretty fast, but only in short bursts over small distances; they lack the ability to burn enough continuous energy for a good run. If a reptile can bite and inject venom, the job of seriously wounding (or even killing) it’s prey is done. Megalania may have used this technique, along with ambushing its prey. Fossil footprints preserved at Lake Callabonna, in South Eastern Australia, show evidence of the huge marsupial Diprotodon moving in herds. Animals move in herds for safety. For such large animals like Diprotodons to be travelling in groups means they were protecting themselves from something. Something big.

Contrary to cryptozoologist claims, it appears that this enormous lizard became extinct  about 40,000 years ago. Around this time, Australia’s climate was beginning to get warmer, and drier, resulting in less forested areas. The open lands would have been too hot for such a large lizard to survive in the intense heat (smaller lizards can easily scurry into little crevices for shade). Along with the vanishing safety of the wooded areas, the large herbivores that were once at home here, and also the food for Megalania, began to decline. This extinction coincides with many other of Australia’s mega-fauna. Some animals may have survived in small refugia, pockets where little populations were safe. The arrival of a new hunter, Homo sapiens, may have been the final blow to the big herbivores. And as the prey vanished, so did the last hope for these incredible, unique reptilian giants.

Written by Jan Freedman (@JanFreedman)
 Grizzly  - Boss of the Woods.
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Virgin Islands, U.S. Rage2277 Offline
animal enthusiast

By The Siberian Times reporter
11 August 2018
Sensational find of world’s only completely preserved ancient baby horse, aged just three months when it died in the Palaeolithic period.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Clipety-clop! The Upper Paleolithic foal held by Semyon Grigoryev, head of the Mammoth Museum 
This is the first picture of an ancient foal dug out of the permafrost in the Batagai depression - also known as the ‘Mouth of Hell’ -  in the Yakutia region of Siberia. 
Head of the world famous Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, Semyon Grigoryev,  said: ‘The foal was approximately three months old (when it died). 
‘The unique find was made in the permafrost of Batagai depression. The foal was completely preserved by permafrost.   
‘The extra value of the unique find is that we obtained samples of soil layers where it was preserved, which means we will be able to restore a picture of the foal’s environment.’

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

The Batagai depression in Verkhoyansky district of Yakutia. Pictures: The Siberian Times

The Ice Age foal lived up to 40,000 years ago, it is understood.
It was buried at a level of around 30 metres in the tadpole-shaped depression, which is a ‘megaslump’ one kilometre long and around 800 metres wide. 
‘We will report the exact time when it lived after studying the soil samples,’ said the scientist.
‘The foal has completely preserved dark-brown hair, its tail and mane, as well as all internal organs. 
‘There are no visible wounds on its body. 
‘This is the first find in the world find of a pre-historic horse of such a young age and with such an amazing level of preservation.’

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

Semyon Grigoryev, head of the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, and the Batagai depression in Verkhoyansk depression in Verkhoyansk district of Yakutia. Pictures: The Siberian Times

One unconfirmed account suggests that hair on the ancient horse has ‘zebra-like stripes’ on its legs. 
The foal was found by an expedition to the Verkhoyansky district of Yakutia.
The find was located by scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University, and Kindai University in Japan along with a crew from Fuji TV.
Nine years ago locals in Batagai village found a bison calf and part of an ancient horse’s body.
Locals in the remote Yakutia region see this spectacular crater as superstitious, and know it as the 'gateway to the underworld'. In fact, the depression was caused by the Soviets, who cleared forest here, but it is now being enlarged and shaped by climate change, according to local scientists.
"ssshhh...listen to the rain"...
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Virgin Islands, U.S. Rage2277 Offline
animal enthusiast
( This post was last modified: 10-01-2018, 09:45 AM by Rishi )

Rare Tree Kangaroo Reappears After Vanishing for 90 Years
Once thought to be extinct, the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo has just been photographed in a remote New Guinea mountain range.

*This image is copyright of its original author

This is one of the only known photographs of the Wondiwoi tree kangaroo, taken recently by amateur botanist Michael Smith.


SEPTEMBER 25, 2018

THE WONDIWOI TREE KANGAROO are so elusive that it disappeared for nearly a century and was assumed to be extinct. Now it has not only been spotted, but also photographed for the first time ever.
The unusual monkey-like kangaroo clambers through the trees of the montane forests of New Guinea. It had been seen there only once before by Western scientists, in 1928.
The Wondiwoi tree kangaroo had not been collected, seen, or reported since that first sighting. “It is one of the most poorly known mammals in the world,” says Mark Eldridge, a marsupial biologist at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

Now an amateur botanist from the U.K. has led an expedition into near-impenetrable bamboo forests 5,000 feet high in the remote Wondiwoi Mountains of West Papua, Indonesia, to find it.

“Just showing that it still exists is amazing. It’s such a remote and difficult spot to access that I was uncertain we would ever know,” says Eldridge, who was not involved in the expedition. 
Surprising Tree-Dwellers
Tree kangaroos are tropical marsupials that are close relatives of ground-dwelling kangaroos and wallabies. These medium-size kangaroos have muscley forearms to pull themselves up the trunks of trees and move around the branches using an odd mix of climbing and hopping.

Despite being little-known to the world at large, they are a surprisingly diverse group. There are 17 species and sub-species, two in the far north of Australia and the remainder on the huge island of New Guinea.
Michael Smith, 47, an amateur botanist from Farnham, England, led the expedition to find the rare species. Smith trained as a biologist at university and now works for a medical communications company, but spends vacations trekking in remote parts of Pakistan, Kurdistan, and Indonesia on the hunt for rare orchids, rhododendrons, and tulips. He hatched the expedition plan after hearing about the mysterious animal while scouring West Papuan mountains for rhododendrons in 2017.
With the aid of four Papuan porters, a local hunter acting as a guide, and Norman Terok, a student at the University of Papua in Manokwari who is a fellow natural history enthusiast, Smith trekked into the jungle on July 23, emerging a week later with news of the find.

He reached out to the world experts on tree kangaroos, including Eldridge and Roger Martin of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, to confirm the find before going public. 

Shot at First Sight
The Wondiwoi tree kangaroo was first spotted by legendary evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr in 1928. Mayr spotted it in the mountains of the Wondiwoi Peninsula, which is in the Indonesian state of West Papua on the western half of the huge island of New Guinea.

Mayr shot what became the only specimen known to science and sent its pelt to the Natural History Museum in London. It was described as a species, Dendrolagus mayri, in 1933.
Since then, locals have rarely reported even hints that the species still existed. But this may be because “the hunters only ever go up to about 1,300 meters (4,265 feet), when the forest starts getting really dense with bamboo thickets,” explains Smith. To get above that level his crew had to cut a path through.
Once they ascended to about 1,500 to 1,700 meters (4,900–5,600 feet), they began to see characteristic scratch marks on trunks left by tree kangaroos, and occasional dung. “We could also smell the scent marks left by the kangaroos—a sort of foxy smell,” he adds.

Hidden Treasure
Despite weighing up to 35 pounds, tree kangaroos are remarkably cryptic, often remaining totally hidden high in the forest canopy. On one of the final days of their expedition, having had no luck spotting one, the crew started to head down.
That was when the hunter “spotted a kangaroo 30 meters [90 feet] up,” Smith says. “After a lot of scrambling around trying to get my lens to focus on the animal peeking out from behind the leaves, I got a few half-decent shots.”
Tim Flannery, of the University of Melbourne, in Australia, who described four of the New Guinea tree kangaroos in the 1990s and authored Tree Kangaroos: A Curious Natural History, describes the find as a great breakthrough. “The images are clear and reveal the distinctive coat color,” he says, leaving little doubt the animal is a Wondiwoi tree kangaroo.
Adding to the credibility of the find, the Wondiwoi Mountains are also hundreds of miles away from suitable high-altitude habitat for related kangaroos. The Wondiwoi tree kangaroo has a very limited distribution— perhaps just 40 to 80 square miles—but the numerous scratch marks and dung suggest “it is amazingly common in a very small area,” Flannery adds.

*This image is copyright of its original author


“It’s a hybrid of a  kangaroo, a koala, a sloth, a monkey, and a bear.” Conservation scientist Lisa Dabek is on the prowl for the unimaginably cute  tree-kangaroo of Papua New Guinea.

An Uncertain Future
Many tree kangaroos in New Guinea are declining due to overhunting, logging, palm oil plantations, and mining, so “it’s exciting to have a positive story for a change,” says Roger Martin. “It makes the point that if we provide habitat for animals and otherwise leave them alone, then they will get on just fine,” he says.
“The reason they remained unknown for so long is probably due to that bloody bamboo forest,” adds Martin. “Only an intrepid Pom [Brit] in pursuit of rhododendrons would have persevered.”
He says the priority now will be for scientists to return to collect dung or a small piece of ear tissue to extract DNA and compare with DNA from the pelt collected in 1928.
“Knowing [the animal] still exists provides a great opportunity to gather more information, since we know virtually nothing about it, as well as to ensure its survival,” agrees Eldridge.
Smith hopes the find will lead to greater protection for a national park that encompasses the Wondiwoi Mountains. There is already a proposal for a gold mine in the park that would pose a threat to the area’s unique wildlife.

“All this just shows that you can find interesting things if you simply go and look,” Smith says. “On holidays over the years, I’ve discovered all kind of weird bits of archeology and ethnography. The general belief that there’s nothing more of interest to discover is quite mistaken.”
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Canada Kingtheropod Offline
Bigcat Expert

The same also occurred for the Zanzibar Leopard. It was extinct for 25 years, and now it isn't...
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United States tigerluver Offline
Prehistoric Feline Expert
( This post was last modified: 02-09-2019, 01:52 AM by tigerluver )

Bone cancer found in Triassic turtle ancestor's fossilised femur

ABC Science

By science reporter Belinda Smith

Posted yesterday at 13:40

*This image is copyright of its original author

Artist's impression of turtle ancestor Pappochelys rosinae, living at the edge of a lake 240 million years ago.
(Supplied: Brian Engh)

A 240-million-year-old ancestor of today's turtles also has the unfortunate honour of being one of the oldest known cancer cases ever found.
Key points:
  • Pappochelys rosinae is a four-legged animal that looked a bit like a turtle, but without a shell
  • Researchers used micro-CT to X-ray a lump on its leg bone and diagnosed a type of bone cancer called sarcoma
  • It's the oldest-known case of cancer in the group of animals called amniotes, which includes humans

Researchers in Germany took detailed X-rays of one of the Triassic creature's leg bones and diagnosed it with a type of malignant bone cancer called osteosarcoma, which humans get today.
The scans and diagnosis were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology.
The ancient growth is thought to be the oldest-known cancer so far found in the evolutionary branch that comprises birds, reptiles and mammals, said study author Yara Haridy, who is completing a PhD at Berlin's Natural History Museum.
"Ancient cancer tells us that cancer is not a modern disease, but in fact it is a vulnerability within our DNA, and goes back at least to the Triassic," she said.
"Cancer overall [in the fossil record] is very rare, making this an exceptional find."
How to diagnose an extinct animal
The cancerous bone belonged to Pappochelys rosinae, a four-legged animal that looked a bit like a turtle, but without a shell.
Only one Pappochelys fossil has been found so far, discovered in a quarry in southwest Germany.
It was unveiled in 2015 and filled a gap in the modern turtle's evolutionary timeline.

*This image is copyright of its original author

The Pappochelys rosinae fossil, found in a Germany quarry, is 240 million years old.
(Wikimedia Commons: Rainer Schoch)

But one of its discoverers, German palaeontologist Rainer Schoch, noticed a rough patch on the fossil's left femur — the long bone running from hip to knee.

"He found this interesting and brought it to our attention for further diagnostics," Ms Haridy said.

The Pappochelys femur is only around 4 centimetres long, but the uneven growth covered nearly the entire top half of one side of the bone.
Using micro-CT to take X-ray slices through the bone, Ms Haridy and her colleagues were able to "see" fine details inside.
This allowed them to analyse the growth's size, shape and appearance, all of which pointed to a malignant tumour, or osteosarcoma.
Teghan Lucas, a forensic anthropologist at the University of New South Wales who was not involved in the new research, agreed with the diagnosis.
"It has what we call a 'sunburst' appearance, where the bone looks rigid and spiky," Dr Lucas said.
"That's very typical of osteosarcoma."

*This image is copyright of its original author

An ancient bone, found with what appears to be a cancerous growth, was a femur of a turtle ancestor called Pappochelys rosinae.
(Supplied: Brian Engh)

In humans, osteosarcomas are the most common cancer that starts in bone cells.
Some arise when genes that keep dividing cells in check, called tumour suppressor genes, malfunction.
Unhampered by tumour suppressor genes, cells can divide out of control and lead to cancer.
Unfortunately, we won't know if the genes that went awry in the ancient turtle were the same as those found in human bone cancers because we don't have any ancient DNA, nor could the German team tell if the osteosarcoma proved fatal.
Diseases in the fossil record
Finding cancer in the fossil record is rare, but Pappochelys isn't alone.
For instance, it joins a 245-million-year-old amphibian, which had signs of a type of cancer called a neoplasm on its skull.
When it comes to human fossils, the oldest is a 1.7-million-year-old human ancestor, which was discovered in South Africa with osteosarcoma.
People who study ancient diseases — palaeopathologists — also examine remains of modern humans to gauge how disease rates changed over time.
The overall incidence of cancer in remains from a few hundred years ago might be lower than cancer rates today, Dr Lucas said, but that's because people died younger back then.
And while finding signs of cancer in skeletal remains might be few and far between, loads of other conditions leave tell-tale signs in bones.
"You've got tuberculosis, leprosy, dwarfism, gigantism, syphilis — lots of diseases show up on bones," Dr Lucas said.

I've attached the paper here. The full sized artistic renditions are on the website linked in the title.

Attached Files
.pdf   Haridy et al_Osteosarcoma_in_fossil.pdf (Size: 861.34 KB / Downloads: 0)
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700,000-Year-Old Horse Found in Yukon Permafrost Yields Oldest DNA Ever Decoded!!!!!!!!

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The frozen remains of a horse more than half a million years old have reluctantly given up their genetic secrets, providing scientists with the oldest DNA ever sequenced.
The horse was discovered in 2003 in the ancient permafrost of Canada’s west-central Yukon Territory, not far from the Alaskan border.

And although the animal was dated to between 560,000 and 780,000 years old, an international team of researchers was able to use a new combination of techniques to decipher its genetic code.
(Read about another recent find: “Wyoming Cave Yields a Trove of Ice Age Fossils — and Ancient Animal DNA“)

Among the team’s findings is that the genus Equus — which includes all horses, donkeys, and zebras — dates back more than 4 million years, twice as long ago as scientists had previously believed.

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The Przewalski’s Horse, which lives on the steppes of central Asia, likely deviated from the lineage leading to modern domesticated horses some 50,000 years ago. (Photo: Joe Ravi)

“When we started the project, everyone — including us, to be honest — thought it was impossible,” said Dr. Ludovic Orlando of the University of Copenhagen, who coordinated the research, in a statement to Western Digs.

“And it was to some extent, with the methods available by then. So it’s clearly methodological advances that made this possible.”
Orlando and his colleagues published their findings this summer in the journal Nature; he discussed them today in a lecture at The Royal Society, London.

Previous to this, the oldest genome ever sequenced was of a 120,000-year-old polar bear — no small feat considering that the half-life of a DNA molecule is estimated to be about 521 years.
By this reckoning, even under the best conditions, DNA could remain intact for no more than 6.8 million years.

(See this recent amazing find: “First Columbian Mammoth With Hair Discovered on California Farm“)

But Orlando’s team was able to make the most of what they had for a number of reasons, he said.
The fact that the remains were frozen helped slow the rate of decay. But they also “targeted specific DNA preservation niches,” he said, like the protein called collagen found in the animal’s bones, which is more DNA-rich than other tissues.

“But also we pioneered the usage of what is called true Single Molecular Sequencing that basically reads through molecules as they stand, without further manipulation,” Orlando added.
By tracking a full, single DNA molecule, the team was able to avoid having to “amplify” fragments, which can often introduce errors.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Two pieces of the 700,000 year-old horse metapodial bone, just before being extracted for ancient DNA. Photo: © Ludovic Orlando

To get a better sense of what this new, ancient genome held, Orlando’s team compared it against that of a 43,000-year-old horse, plus modern domestic horse breeds, and finally the Przewalski’s horse, an equid that makes its home on the Asian steppes and holds the title as the last surviving population of wild horses.

These full-genome comparisons allowed the scientists to construct “a molecular clock” that can reveal benchmarks in the horse’s evolutionary history, Orlando said.
And first among its revelations is that the shared ancestor of all horses, donkeys, and zebras lived more than 4 million years ago.
“So basically we know that members of the genus Equus are at least twice as old as previously believed,” he said.

The comparisons also shed light on genetic variations, and therefore population size, over time, Orlando noted, revealing “bursts of expansion” during cooler periods as grasslands grew, and contractions in size during times of warming.

(Learn more about how global warming  affected the size of prehistoric mammals: “Prehistoric Global Warming Caused Dwarfism in American Mammals, Fossils Show“)

The next, most obvious subject for these DNA-decoding techniques are early human ancestors, he said.
Methods like those used on the ancient horse could be applied to determine, for example, how human species like Homo heidelbergensis may have been related genetically to Homo neandertalensis and modern humans, he said.

(Explore the history of humans and horses: “Ice Age Cave Dwellers in Oregon Lived Among Extinct ‘Stout-Legged’ Horses, Fossils Show“)

“Basically genomes of that age will enable us to test the validity of the many paleontological species in our family tree,” he said, “and to determine how they relate to each other, and whether they exchanged genes or not.”
“It’s not the future,” he said of whether this technology is in reach.
“It’s basically already there.”

Orlando and his colleagues report their findings in the journal Nature.
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27,000-year-old giant ground sloth tooth is like a climate time capsule

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Photos: Ancient finds
The tooth of an extinct giant ground sloth that lived in Belize 27,000 years ago revealed that the area was arid, rather than the jungle that it is today.

(CNN)Fossil discoveries are exciting on their own, but sometimes, they carry even more information about the past. Newly uncovered fossils from an extinct giant ground sloth that lived in Belize 27,000 years ago provide a portrait of what the climate was like for the last year that the sloth was alive, according to a new study.

During the sloth's lifetime, Belize wasn't the jungle it is today. It was dry and barren. The Last Glacial Maximum had trapped most of Earth's water in glaciers and polar ice caps. The sea level and water tables were lower, and water was hard to find.

The giant ground sloth, which could reach over 13 feet tall, was desperate for water. It found relief in a deep sinkhole, but it was never able to climb out.
Divers searching for ancient Mayan artifacts in a natural pool in Cara Blanca in 2014 found a humerus, a femur and part of a tooth belonging to the sloth. The area is a system of 25 lakes and cenotes, or natural sinkholes.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Fossils were found embedded in a cenote wall.

The tooth, only partially fossilized, contained enough tissue that could be tested to show what the sloth ate for the last year it was alive. The analysis also revealed the region's climate and environment during that time.
The findings of the fossil analysis were published Tuesday in the journal Science Advances.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Tiny tyrannosaur fossil discovery changes the dinosaur timeline

Studying this fossil wasn't easy. The giant sloth didn't have enamel on its teeth like humans and even other giant extinct mammals such as mammoths. Scientists usually use enamel as a way to study a creature's diet. And most of the time, giant sloth teeth are found completely fossilized, which replaces the tissue with minerals.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Part of the extinct giant sloth's upper humerus was also recovered.

The tooth revealed that it contained tissue through cathodoluminescence microscopy, which can show how much something has fossilized. The researchers drilled for samples of orthodentin, a type of dense tooth tissue, from the nearly 4-inch-long tooth.

"This allowed us to trace monthly and seasonal changes in the sloth's diet and climate for the first time, and also to select the best part of the tooth for reliable radiocarbon dating," Stanley Ambrose said in a statement. He's a study author and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign anthropology professor.

*This image is copyright of its original author

This extinct giant sloth could grow to more than four meters in height.

During the last year of its life, the sloth endured a seven-month dry season that was bookended by two short rainy seasons. Rather than a forest, the sloth lived in the open grasslands of a savanna. A variety of plants made up its diet during both seasons.

*This image is copyright of its original author

The cenote where the fossils were recovered.

That diverse diet may be why sloths persisted even as other giant mammals went extinct around them. The sloth was also able to live in areas from southern Brazil to North America's Gulf and Atlantic coastal regions.

"We were able to see that this huge, social creature was able to adapt rather readily to the dry climate, shifting its subsistence to relying upon what was more available or palatable," said Jean Larmon, lead study author and graduate student at the University of Illinois, in a statement.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Newly discovered fossil reveals prehistoric platypus with unusually small eyes

Lisa Lucero, study author and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign anthropology professor, said, "This supports the idea that the sloths had a diverse diet. That helps explain why they were so widespread and why they lasted so long. It's likely because they were highly adaptable."

But it also reveals what might have led to their downfall.
The findings "add to the evidence that many factors, in addition to a changing climate, contributed to the extinction of megafauna in the Americas," Lucero added. "One of those potential factors is the arrival of humans on the scene 12,000 to 13,000 years ago."
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( This post was last modified: 04-19-2019, 04:56 PM by Sanju )

Scientists Extract Blood And Urine From Perfectly Preserved 42,000-Year-Old Foal Found In Siberia
read the full article in above link

Now, with preserved liquid blood in hand, these scientists are eager to clone this extinct species back to life.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Semyon Grigoryev/NEFU/The Siberian Times
The Ice Age foal being analyzed by scientists from the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.

Seven months ago, researchers uncovered a 42,000-year-old foal found perfectly preserved in the Siberian permafrost. That discovery was stunning enough, but Russian and South Korean scientists have now extracted liquid blood from the prehistoric specimen.

According to The Siberian Times, head of the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk Dr. Semyon Grigoryev revealed the foal to be in exceptional condition upon completion of the autopsy.
Liquid urine, too, was successfully extracted from the ancient foal carcass, CNN reported.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Finding the animal intact with even its hair preserved was already remarkable, but scientists have now explored the animal’s interior and found similarly pristine conditions. Perhaps most incredible is that fact that 42,000-year-old liquid blood has successfully been extracted from the animal.

“Samples of liquid blood were taken from heart vessels — it was preserved in the liquid state for 42,000 years thanks to favorable burial conditions and permafrost,” said Dr. Grigoryev.

Quote:“The muscle tissues preserved their natural reddish color.”

“We can now claim that this is the best preserved Ice Age animal ever found.”

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

The preserved liquid blood taken from the foal.

*This image is copyright of its original author

A video from The Siberian Times documenting the foal’s discovery and retrieval. (see above)

“This is extremely rare for paleontological finds, because some of them are either incomplete, fragmented, with serious body deformations or strongly mummified,” he explained. “The foal’s hair is intact on its head, legs and part of its body. Its tail and mane are black, the rest of the foal’s body is bay.”

Analysis of this remarkable find is being undertaken by both Russian scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk and South Korean experts from the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.

Even after two months of intense, collaborative study, Dr. Grigoryev is still impressed by certain unique characteristics of this specimen.

“Having preserved hair is another scientific sensation as all previous ancient horses were found without hair,” he said. “Our studies show that at the moment of death the foal was from one to two weeks old, so he was just recently born.”

“As in previous cases of really well-preserved remains of prehistoric animals, the cause of death was drowning in mud which froze and turned into permafrost.

A lot of mud and silt which the foal gulped during the last seconds of its life were found inside the gastrointestinal tract.”

While this discovery itself was impressive enough and the extraction of perfectly preserved liquid blood only added to the researchers’ excitement, this team of experts has even more astonishing prospects waiting on the horizon:

Namely, they aim to clone this species back into existence.

Scientists are “confident of success” in extracting the requisite cells in order to do so. The foal’s Lenskaya breed is long gone, but by finding the right mother host for this project — which the team is already doing — the ancient species could well make a reappearance after 42,000 years !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quote:“Hopefully, the world will soon meet the clone of the ancient foal who lived 42,000 years ago,” said Michil Yakovlev, editor of the university’s corporate media.
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