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Tag: ancient

Ancient relative of the blue-tongued skink found in Australia

Ancient relative of the blue-tongued skink found in Australia

Science
May 1 (UPI) -- Paleontologists in Australia have unearthed the complete skeleton of an ancient lizard, an early relative of modern blue-tongued and social skinks. Analysis of the remains -- the most complete lizard fossil yet discovered in Australia -- suggests the 15-million-year-old reptile was remarkably similar to modern lizards. Scientists described the new species, Egernia gillespieae, this week in the journal Vertebrate Palaeontology. "This creature looked like something in-between a tree skink and a blue-tongued lizard," Kailah Thorn, PhD student at Flinders University, said in a news release. "It would have been about 25 centimeters long, and unlike any of the living species it was equipped with robust crushing jaws." Scientists conducted DNA and anatomical analysis of ancient ...
NASA rover may have visited ancient Martian sea in 1997

NASA rover may have visited ancient Martian sea in 1997

Science
March 15 (UPI) -- New analysis of data collected two decades ago suggests NASA's Pathfinder mission visited the edges of an ancient Martian sea in 1997. The Pathfinder mission, NASA's first Martian rover mission, was inspired by photographs snapped by the agency's Mariner 9 spacecraft. The probe's images revealed expansive channels scientists determined were carved by massive floods some 3.4 billion years ago. NASA sent Pathfinder to investigate. In 1997, Pathfinder reached the Red Planet. It set up a base station, eventually named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and sent out a small rover named Sojourner to explore the landscape. Sojourner identified an array of fluvial features consistent ancient flooding. However, the rover's data suggested the ancient floods were much shallower than...
Ancient comet impact triggered fires, climate change, megafauna extinctions

Ancient comet impact triggered fires, climate change, megafauna extinctions

Science
March 13 (UPI) -- Scientists have uncovered new evidence that a cosmic impact sparked wildfires and triggered a period of global climate change at the end of the Pleistocene epoch some 13,000 years ago. Previously, researchers had only found evidence of the period of climatic change known as the Younger Dryas, or YDB, in the Northern Hemisphere. New findings, however, suggest the Southern Hemisphere also experienced a sudden climatic shift -- and much more. "We have identified the YDB layer at high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere at near 41 degrees south, close to the tip of South America," James Kennett, geology professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said in a news release. Kennett is a proponent of the Younger Dryas Boundary Impact Hypothesis, which pos...
Ancient feces links climate change to fall of prehistoric city Cahokia

Ancient feces links climate change to fall of prehistoric city Cahokia

Science
Feb. 26 (UPI) -- By measuring fecal remains and climate data among ancient lake cores from Illinois' Horseshoe Lake, researchers were able to link climate change to the decline of Cahokia, a pre-Columbian Native American city located across the Mississippi River from present-day St. Louis. "The way of building population reconstructions usually involves archaeological data, which is separate from the data studied by climate scientists," researcher A.J. White said in a news release. "One involves excavation and survey of archaeological remains and the other involves lake cores. We unite these two by looking at both kinds of data from the same lake cores." White helped conduct the investigation of Cahokia while he was a grad student at California State University, Long Beach. Researchers de...
Ancient skull provides earliest evidence of modern humans in Mongolia

Ancient skull provides earliest evidence of modern humans in Mongolia

Science
Jan. 30 (UPI) -- An ancient Mongolian skull thought to belong to the a unique species of Pleistocene hominin, dubbed Mongolanthropus, is actually the earliest evidence of modern humans in the region. Using radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis, paleontologists determined the skull belonged to Homo sapiens. The discovery is described in a new paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications. As a result of compromised dating efforts and the fossil's archaic skull features, some researchers previously hypothesized the hominid remains hailed from the mid to late Pleistocene and belonged to Homo erectus or the Neanderthals. The new analysis posits that the modern human specimen lived sometime between 34,950 and 33,900 years ago. Because the skull is contaminated with a variety of...