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Paleontology

Tropical climate in the Antarctic: Palm trees once thrived on today’s icy coasts 52 million years ago

1000pa (Aug. 1, 2012) — Given the predicted rise in global temperatures in the coming decades, climate scientists are particularly interested in warm periods that occurred in the geological past. Knowledge of past episodes of global warmth can be used to better understand the relationship between climate change, variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the reaction of Earth’s biosphere. An international team led by scientists from the Goethe University and the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt, Germany, has discovered an intense warming phase around 52 million years ago in drill cores obtained from the seafloor near Antarctica — a region that is especially important in climate research.

The study...

Atmospheric CO2 drove climate change during longest interglacial

1000pa (July 31, 2012) — Known as the marine isotope stage 11 (MIS 11), the interglacial period centered around 400,000 years ago was the longest and possibly the warmest interglacial in the past 0.5 million years. Because the orbital configurations, atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, climate, and faunal characteristics during MIS 11 closely resemble those of the past 5,000 years, paleoclimatologists use MIS 11 as a geological analogue of the present and the near...

Cooling, not population loss, led to fewer fires after 1500 in New World

1000pa (July 29, 2012) — In the years after Columbus' voyage, burning of New World forests and fields diminished significantly -- a phenomenon some have attributed to decimation of native populations by European diseases. But a new University of Utah-led study suggests global cooling resulted in fewer fires because both preceded Columbus in many regions worldwide.

"The drop in fire [after about A.D. 1500] has been linked previously to the population collapse. We're saying no...

World’s greatest plant diversity for the Paleogene: Over a hundred different plant species recorded at the Messel fossil site

1000pa (July 27, 2012) — Scientists from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt have investigated the extensive collection of fruits and seeds from the Messel pit. They found 140 different plant species, 65 of which were previously unknown.

The results were published July 27 in the series "Abhandlungen der Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung." They show that Messel had one of the world's most diverse floras of the Paleogene -- the era between about 65 and 23...

Engineering technology reveals eating habits of giant dinosaurs

1000pa (July 16, 2012) — High-tech technology, traditionally usually used to design racing cars and aeroplanes, has helped researchers to understand how plant-eating dinosaurs fed 150 million years ago.

A team of international researchers, led by the University of Bristol and the Natural History Museum, used CT scans and biomechanical modelling to show that Diplodocus -- one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered -- had a skull adapted to strip leaves from tree...

Giant fossil turtle from Colombia round like car tire

1000pa (July 11, 2012) — Paleontologist Carlos Jaramillo's group at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and colleagues at North Carolina State University and the Florida Museum of Natural History discovered a new species of fossil turtle that lived 60 million years ago in what is now northwestern South America.

The team's findings were published in the Journal of Paleontology.

The new turtle species is named Puentemys mushaisaensis because it was found in...

Trigger for past rapid sea level rise discovered

1000pa (July 11, 2012) — The cause of rapid sea level rise in the past has been found by scientists at the University of Bristol using climate and ice sheet models. The process, named 'saddle-collapse', was found to be the cause of two rapid sea level rise events: the Meltwater pulse 1a (MWP1a) around 14,600 years ago and the '8,200 year' event.

The research is published July 11 in Nature.

Using a climate model, Dr Lauren Gregoire of Bristol's School of Geographical...

Outstanding for the past 15 million years: Swiss Alps have influenced Europe’s climate since the Miocene

1000pa (July 10, 2012) — Switzerland's highest peaks in the geologically young central Alps have been this high for quite some time, as a new study shows. 15 million years ago Europe's own mountain range was at least as high as today. Scientists at the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F), the Goethe University in Frankfurt and the ETH Zurich compared the isotopic ratios of water and oxygen in rocks in the Alps and Alpine foreland and were able to determine the height of the...

Natural climate shifts drove coral reefs to a total ecosystem collapse lasting 2,500 years

1000pa (July 5, 2012) — Climate change drove coral reefs to a total ecosystem collapse lasting thousands of years, according to a paper published this week in Science. The paper shows how natural climatic shifts stopped reef growth in the eastern Pacific for 2,500 years. The reef shutdown, which began 4,000 years ago, corresponds to a period of dramatic swings in the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). "As humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the climate is...

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Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...