Rock study may have just revealed cause of Triassic mass extinction

Rocks from two hundred million years ago show us how everything died and how nothing is new.

Credit: Elenarts/Shutterstock
  • A new study suggests that the mass extinction that gave dinosaurs the evolutionary upper hand was caused by oceanic oxygen deprivation.
  • Using ratios of sulfur isotopes, researchers could estimate changes in ocean oxygen levels in ancient seas.
  • The authors suggest a similar mechanism as that which can cause dead zones in oceans today caused a mass extinction.
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Fossil reveals 'cute' baby dinosaur's skull features

A rare titanosaur embryo was discovered with its skull preserved in 3 dimensions.

Kundrát et al., Current Biology, 2020
  • Researchers have uncovered what the facial features of a baby titanosaurus embryo looked like using cutting-edge imaging technology.
  • This in the first-ever discovery of a 3D embryonic titanosaurian sauropod skull.
  • The embryo reveals that titanosaur babies had binocularly focused vision in the front of the head rather than on each side, retracted openings on their snout, and a single horn in the front of their head.
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3,000-pound Triceratops skull unearthed in South Dakota

"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.

Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College
  • The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
  • It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
  • Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
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Rare fossil depicting battle sheds light on ancient ant

Fossils depicting animals in action are very rare.

Barden et al., Current Biology, 2020
  • A fossil of a prehistoric ant hunting has recently been discovered.
  • Fossilization is rare, so depictions of activities like hunting are hard to come by.
  • Other fossils show us how dinosaurs hunted, fought, and died.
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Dinosaurs suffered from cancer, study confirms

A recent analysis of a 76-million-year-old Centrosaurus apertus fibula confirmed that dinosaurs suffered from cancer, too.

  • The fibula was originally discovered in 1989, though at the time scientists believed the damaged bone had been fractured.
  • After reanalyzing the bone, and comparing it with fibulas from a human and another dinosaur, a team of scientists confirmed that the dinosaur suffered from the bone cancer osteosarcoma.
  • The study shows how modern techniques can help scientists learn about the ancient origins of diseases.
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