Fir the first time, researchers document the use of a stone with dinosaur tracks in an Ancestral Puebloan building in Utah. The research was presented at the recent Geological Society of America meeting, but you can read about it here.
A wonderfully preserved Psittacosaurus specimen from the Jehol province in China has yielded enough information for paleoartist Bob Nicholls to produce the "most accurate depiction of a dinosaur ever created." More at The Guardian.
In fields like paleoanthropology, where there aren't that many fossils, and the ones we have are are housed in museums and labs around the world, digital scanning and 3D printing could change how scientists share data. It's now possible to print out Lucy's bones.
See the news story in Nature here.
A new specimen from British Columbia suggests that small-bodied pterosaurs persisted a good deal longer than anyone had thought, and that small pterosaurs must have coexisted with birds for a long time.
Scientists are now reporting stromatolite fossils that seem to be around 3.7 billion years old, and 220 million years older than the oldest previously known stromatolites. (For perspective, just think of all that's happened biologically in the last 220 million years.)
Here is an accessible discussion in The New York Times.
And here is the original paper in Nature.
If this holds up, these will be the oldest fossils yet found. And they suggest that microbial life on Earth was well established a good deal earlier than anyone had previously realized.
Carl Zimmer, at The New York Times, reports on recent research at the University of Chicago. Scientists trying to understand the evolutionary origins of tetrapods have discovered some fascinating similarities in the developmental processes that lead to fins (in fish) and digits (in tetrapods).
And here's the original paper, published in Nature.
New research is suggesting that LUCA--the last universal common ancestor of life on Earth--may have been an extremophilic microbe. It's a fascinating effort to draw inferences about organisms that lived way, way, back in deep time.
Darren Naish, at Tetrapod Zoology, reflects on the functional morphology of Stegosaurus plates. What, if anything, were they for? Thermoregulation is a popular hypothesis, but how strong is the case for that, really?
Plos One* just published a description of a new ceratopsid, Spiclypeus shipporum (how many dang ceratopsid can there be?) based on a specimen named Judith (who had some really interesting pathology...). There's also a lovely new art-work by Michael Skrepnik, which you can see here.
*what makes a ceratopsid 'Boldly Audacious' is unclear to us here at Extinct, but we'd love to know why!
When you're inferring a critter's morphology and feeding strategies from a few incomplete finds, hypotheses can be pretty unstable. This is nicely illustrated in the dramatic shift Chun et al have just pushed in the mid-Triassic marine reptile Atopodentatus. Here's the article, and here's a nice summary in the guardian (with pictures!)