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X-rays reveal fossil secrets

A sophisticated imaging technique has allowed scientists to virtually peer inside a 10-million-year-old sea urchin, uncovering a treasure trove of hidden fossils.
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Fossils show big bug ruled the seas 460 million years ago

Almost half a billion years ago, way before the dinosaurs roamed, Earth's dominant large predator was a sea scorpion that grew to 170 centimeters, with a dozen claw arms sprouting from its head and a spike tail, according to a new study.
Scientists found signs of these new monsters of the prehistoric deep in Iowa, of all places.

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Earliest evidence of reproduction in a complex organism

How some of the first complex organisms on Earth possibly some of the first animals to exist reproduced has been identified in a new study of 565 million-year-old fossils by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Bristol and Oxford.
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Fractofusus
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Sex life of ancient Fractofusus organism revealed

One of the earliest complex organisms had a surprisingly complicated sex life, scientists say.
Until now, little was known about the biology of Fractofusus, which lived in the ocean 565 million years ago.
But new research has revealed a dual mode of reproduction. In one method, the organism sprouted young from its body in much the same way that a spider plant or strawberry plant multiplies.

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RE: Ancient fossils
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A 425-million-year-old parasite found attached to host

Researchers have discovered the 425-million-year-old remains of a new species of parasite - still clamped to the host animal it invaded.
The international team found the fossil at a site in Herefordshire.

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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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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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