Floridian Fossil Fortune Found

As it turns out, some of the earliest Americans were artists. A bone fragment some 13,000 years old, with images carved on it of a mammoth or mastodon was discovered down in Florida.

Similar prehistoric art depicting animals with trunks has been unearthed in Europe, however, this is the first in the Western Hemisphere. The bone fragment contains an incised image roughly 3 inches long from head to tail and about 1 3/4 inches from head to foot.

The only other ancient bone found in North America carved with the image of a mastodon was found in Mexico in 1959.
The newly found North American image is similar somewhat to a few found in Europe.

Stout suggested the similarities between this and ancient European art could imply certain cultural contact or movement of people across the Atlantic is quite controversial. This idea has erstwhile been proposed by Stanford and others, though, has attracted a lot of skepticism and criticism from other archaeologists.

One of Largest Animals Ever Found in Angola

Scientists say they discovered the first fossil of a dinosaur in Angola.

The animal was a long-necked, plant-eating sauropod, one of the largest creatures ever to have walked the earth. The fossil was found alongside fish and shark teeth in what would have been a sea bed 90 million years ago, leading its discoverers to believe the dinosaur might have been washed into the sea and torn apart by ancient sharks. The dinosaur was dubbed Angolatitan adamastor – Angolatitan means “Angolan giant” and the adamastor is a sea giant in Portuguese sailing myths.

Matthew F. Bonnan, a sauropod expert at Western Illinois University said:

“I think they’ve been very careful…The neat thing about dinosaur paleontology is that it’s becoming more global…The more people and places that we involve in science, the better off we all are…”

This was the first archeological expedition in Angola in 70 years. An anti-colonial war broke out in that country in the 1960s; civil war followed independence from Portugal in 1975.

PaleoAngola member Octavio Mateus of Portugal’s Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museum of Lourinha indicated a lack of money has been the major barrier to research.

Tatiana Tavares of the Universidade Agostinho Neto is also on the PaleoAngola team, and her Luanda, Angola university has Angolaitan adamastor fossil specimens on display publically. Other specimens in Portugal are to be returned later to the university.

Traces of Homo Sapien Genesis Found in Israel

New fossil findings show that modern man has existed longer than once posited. The new findings by members of a Tel Aviv University research team could reverse theories of the origin of humans.

Excavated in a cave in central Israel, teeth were found from a man who lived some 400,000 years ago. They resemble the teeth of other modern men – Homo Sapiens.

Mideast Israel Ancient Teeth“It’s very exciting to come to this conclusion,” said archaeologist Avi Gopher. The findings were scanned by X-ray and CAT scans, though further research will be required to concretize the hypotheses. If the hypothesis is concretized, he said, “Tthis changes the whole picture of evolution.”

The commonly known theory is that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa and migrated off the continent. If the remains found in Israel are definitively linked to modern human’s ancestors, said Gopher, it could mean that modern man actually originated in what is now Israel.

Sir Paul Mellars, a prehistory scholar at England’s Cambridge University, said the study is legitimate, and the find is “important”.

According to the accepted scientific theories today, modern humans and Neanderthals stemmed from a common ancestor who lived in Africa some 700,000 years ago. A single group of descendants migrated to Europe and developed into Neanderthals, before going extinct; while, another group stayed in Africa and evolved into Homo Sapiens — modern humans.
According to Mellars, however, teeth are often unreliable indicators of origin, and analysis of skull remains would more definitively identify the species found in the Israeli cave.

Gopher, though, says he is confident his team will find skulls and bones in the cave if they keep on looking.

The prehistoric Qesem cave was first found in 2000. Excavations began in 2004.

Missing Link Between Bird and Dinosaur Found?

ArchaeopteryxWhen I came across this piece of news, my mind immediately fell to the Archaeopteryx. This was a bird/dinosaur combo that flew around 65 million years ago or so. It was purported to be the missing link between birds and reptiles. Apparently, they found another type of these flying reptiles in China.

“The extensive feathering of this specimen, particularly the attachment of long pennaceous feathers to the pes, sheds new light on the early evolution of feathers and demonstrates the complex distribution of skeletal and integumentary features close to the dinosaur-bird transition”, researchers from the Shenyang Normal University wrote.

The fossil is 160 million years old, and is the oldest of its kind to be found so far. At that date, it is millions of years older than the archaeopteryx, putting it at the forefront of being the missing link instead.

Discoveries before this one had put archaeologists in a little bit of a temporal pickle because the fossils found were younger than the fossils of birds they had found. So that didn’t really work out so well. What might have happened is birds and reptiles splitting off evolutionarily from this guy millions of years before, and then you’d have both the hybrids and the birds showing up in the fossil record after. The only thing that could mess up the chronology now would be a 160 million year old bird fossil.

The research findings will also be published in “Nature” magazine on Oct. 1. Take a look at it there for a more in depth survey.