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RE: Ancient fossils
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Schoolboy finds 300 million year old fossil

An Oxford schoolboy has discovered what appears to be an extremely rare fossil of footprints from more than 300 million years ago.
Ten-year-old Bruno Debattista, who attends Windmill Primary School in Oxford, brought a piece of shale rock containing what he thought might be a fossilised imprint to the after-school club at Oxford University's Museum of Natural History.
Oxford University Natural History Museum experts were astonished to find that it appeared to contain the trackways left by a horseshoe crab crawling up the muddy slopes of an ancient shore around 320 million years ago.

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Ancient Fossilised Sea Creatures Yield Oldest Biomolecules Isolated Directly from a Fossil

Though scientists have long believed that complex organic molecules couldn't survive fossilisation, some 350-million-year-old remains of aquatic sea creatures uncovered in Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa have challenged that assumption.
The spindly animals with feathery arms - called crinoids, but better known today by the plant-like name "sea lily" - appear to have been buried alive in storms during the Carboniferous Period, when North America was covered with vast inland seas. Buried quickly and isolated from the water above by layers of fine-grained sediment, their porous skeletons gradually filled with minerals, but some of the pores containing organic molecules were sealed intact.

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Sirenia
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Title: Cranial Remain from Tunisia Provides New Clues for the Origin and Evolution of Sirenia (Mammalia, Afrotheria) in Africa
Authors: Benoit J, Adnet S, El Mabrouk E, Khayati H, Ben Haj Ali M, et al. (2013)

Sea cows (manatees, dugongs) are the only living marine mammals to feed solely on aquatic plants. Unlike whales or dolphins (Cetacea), the earliest evolutionary history of sirenians is poorly documented, and limited to a few fossils including skulls and skeletons of two genera composing the stem family of Prorastomidae (Prorastomus and Pezosiren). Surprisingly, these fossils come from the Eocene of Jamaica, while stem Hyracoidea and Proboscidea - the putative sister-groups to Sirenia - are recorded in Africa as early as the Late Paleocene. So far, the historical biogeography of early Sirenia has remained obscure given this paradox between phylogeny and fossil record. Here we use X-ray microtomography to investigate a newly discovered sirenian petrosal from the Eocene of Tunisia. This fossil represents the oldest occurrence of sirenians in Africa. The morphology of this petrosal is more primitive than the Jamaican prorastomids' one, which emphasises the basal position of this new African taxon within the Sirenia clade. This discovery testifies to the great antiquity of Sirenia in Africa, and therefore supports their African origin. While isotopic analyses previously suggested sirenians had adapted directly to the marine environment, new paleoenvironmental evidence suggests that basal-most sea cows were likely restricted to fresh waters.

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RE: Ancient fossils
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Prehistoric ghosts revealing new details

Scientists at The University of Manchester have used synchrotron-based imaging techniques to identify previously unseen anatomy preserved in fossils.
Their work on a 50 million year old lizard skin identified the presence of teeth (invisible to visible light), demonstrating for the first time that this fossil animal was more than just a skin moult. This was only possible using some of the brightest light in the universe, x-rays generated by a synchrotron.
Dr Phil Manning, Dr Nick Edwards, Dr Roy Wogelius and colleagues from the Palaeontology Research group used Synchrotron Rapid Screening X-ray Fluorescence at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource in California to map the chemical make up of a rare fossil lizard skin. This cutting edge technology uses powerful x-rays that enabled the team to map the presence of phosphorus from teeth in this ancient reptile.

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Castle Rock family finds 64 million-year-old fossils in back yard

On a recent hot summer day, while digging a sand box in their back yard, Troy Carmann and sons Grant and Winston found 64 million year old fossils.
Ian Miller is with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He says the find is significant in that it is just up the road from one of the best flora finds ever, which was made at the Wolfensberger exit on I-25 back in 1997.

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London's fossils: An ancient world hidden in the city

Issy Gilbert, a palaeontology PhD student from Imperial College London, reveals the ancient world that can be found at some of London's most famous destinations.
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Buried in the deserts of the world are fossils of trees and animals that died millions of years ago. Those fossils are often made of packed sediment. Occasionally, that sediment is uranium.
A lot of old fossils are filled to the brim with uranium that has a high percentage of U-235.

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It is not unusual for fossils to contain elevated levels of uranium and its associated decay products. This is particularly true for those parts of the country rich in uranium deposits (for example, the Morrison formation). Uranium from the ore will dissolve in the local groundwater and when the latter comes into contact with porous organic material, such as a buried tree trunk or dinosaur bone, the uranium precipitates (the precise chemistry is not something I have information about). Over time, the replacement of the organic material by uranium can become substantial.
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Palaeontologists found about 300 well-preserved fossils of pre-historic animals at two quarries outside Buenos Aires, Argentine officials said.
The fossils were found by specialists from the University of La Plata in a 1,000 sq. meter lot in Marcos Paz, a city about 40 km from the capital.

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British scientists find 'lost' Charles Darwin fossils

British scientists have found scores of fossils the great evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin and his peers collected but that had been lost for more than 150 years.
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A "treasure trove" of fossils - including some collected by Charles Darwin - has been re-discovered in an old cabinet.

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