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Key: Meeting Journal Funder
Public Release: 19-Sep-2014
Journal of Systematic Palaeontology
New hadrosaur noses into spotlight
Call it the Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs -- a newly discovered hadrosaur with a truly distinctive nasal profile. The new dinosaur, named Rhinorex condrupus by paleontologists from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University, lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

Contact: Mick Kulikowski
North Carolina State University

Public Release: 18-Sep-2014
GSA Bulletin
Tree rings and arroyos
A new GSA Bulletin study uses tree rings to document arroyo evolution along the lower Rio Puerco and Chaco Wash in northern New Mexico, USA. By determining burial dates in tree rings from salt cedar and willow, investigators were able to precisely date arroyo sedimentary beds 30 cm thick or greater. They then combined this data with aerial imagery, LiDAR, longitudinal profiles, and repeat surveys to reconstruct the history of these arroyos.

Contact: Kea Giles
Geological Society of America

Public Release: 18-Sep-2014
Miranda: An icy moon deformed by convection
Miranda, a small, icy moon of Uranus, is one of the most visually striking and enigmatic bodies in the solar system. Despite its relatively small size, Miranda appears to have experienced an episode of intense resurfacing that resulted in the formation of at least three remarkable and unique surface features -- polygonal-shaped regions called coronae.

Contact: Kea Giles
Geological Society of America

Public Release: 17-Sep-2014
Modern Europeans descended from three groups of ancestors
New studies of ancient DNA are shifting scientists' ideas of how groups of people migrated across the globe and interacted with one another thousands of years ago. By comparing nine ancient genomes to those of modern humans, Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have shown that previously unrecognized groups contributed to the genetic mix now present in most modern-day Europeans.

Contact: Jim Keeley
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Public Release: 17-Sep-2014
New branch added to European family tree
Previous work suggested that Europeans descended from two ancestral groups: indigenous hunter-gatherers and early European farmers. This new study shows that there was also a third ancestral group, the Ancient North Eurasians, who contributed genetic material to almost all present-day Europeans. The research also reveals an even older lineage, the Basal Eurasians.
NIH/National Cancer Institute, NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

Contact: David Cameron
Harvard Medical School

Public Release: 16-Sep-2014
PLOS Biology
Meteorite that doomed the dinosaurs helped the forests bloom
66 million years ago, a 10-km diameter chunk of rock hit the Yucatan peninsula with the force of 100 teratons of TNT. It left a crater more than 150 km across, and the resulting megatsunami, wildfires, global earthquakes and volcanism are widely accepted to have wiped out the dinosaurs and made way for the rise of the mammals. But what happened to the plants on which the dinosaurs fed?

Contact: PLOS Biology

Public Release: 16-Sep-2014
PLOS Biology
Meteorite that doomed dinosaurs remade forests
The impact decimated slow-growing evergreens and made way for fast-growing, deciduous plants, according to a study applying biomechanical analyses to fossilized leaves. The study provides much-needed evidence for how the extinction event unfolded in the plant communities at the time.
National Science Foundation, Geological Society of America

Contact: Daniel Stolte
University of Arizona

Public Release: 15-Sep-2014
Geological Journal
'Jaws' lived in Doncaster
Sharks, swamps and a tropical rainforest teeming with life -- it's not what comes to mind when you think of Yorkshire, England. But for the first time evidence of Doncaster's 310-million-year-old past, including a fossilized shark egg case, has been discovered in a derelict mining tip.

Contact: Aeron Haworth
University of Manchester

Public Release: 14-Sep-2014
Asian monsoon much older than previously thought
The Asian monsoon already existed 40 million years ago during a period of high atmospheric carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures, an international research team led by a University of Arizona geoscientist reports in the journal Nature. Scientists thought the climate pattern known as the Asian monsoon began 22-25 million years ago as a result of the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalaya Mountains.
French National Research Agency, Universities of Poitiers and Nancy, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Marie Curie Career Integration, Ministry of Culture of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Contact: Mari N. Jensen
University of Arizona

Public Release: 11-Sep-2014
Journal of Geology
Microscopic diamonds suggest cosmic impact responsible for major period of climate change
A new study published in the Journal of Geology provides support for the theory that a cosmic impact event over North America some 13,000 years ago caused a major period of climate change known as the Younger Dryas stadial, or 'Big Freeze.'

Contact: Emily Murphy
University of Chicago Press Journals

Public Release: 11-Sep-2014
Scientists report first semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus
Scientists today unveiled what appears to be the first truly semiaquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. New fossils of the massive Cretaceous-era predator reveal it adapted to life in the water some 95 million years ago, providing the most compelling evidence to date of a dinosaur able to live and hunt in an aquatic environment.
The National Geographic Society

Contact: Claire Gwatkin Jones
National Geographic Society

Public Release: 10-Sep-2014
Journal of Paleontology
Ancient swamp creature had lips like Mick Jagger
A swamp-dwelling, plant-munching creature that lived 19 million years ago in Africa has been named after Rolling Stones lead singer Sir Mick Jagger, because of its big, sensitive lips and snout. The name of the animal, Jaggermeryx naida, translates to 'Jagger's water nymph.'
National Science Foundation

Contact: Robin Ann Smith
Duke University

Public Release: 10-Sep-2014
Study ties groundwater to human evolution
Our ancient ancestors' ability to move around and find new sources of groundwater during extremely dry periods in Africa millions of years ago may have been key to their survival and the evolution of the human species, a new study shows.

Contact: Ry Crozier
University of New South Wales

Public Release: 10-Sep-2014
Researchers discover 3 extinct squirrel-like species
Paleontologists have described three new small squirrel-like species that place a poorly understood Mesozoic group of animals firmly in the mammal family tree. The study supports the idea that mammals -- an extremely diverse group that includes egg-laying monotremes such as the platypus, marsupials such as the opossum, and placentals like humans and whales -- originated at least 208 million years ago in the late Triassic, much earlier than some previous research suggests.
National Basic Research Program of China, National Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Contact: Kendra Snyder
American Museum of Natural History

Public Release: 9-Sep-2014
Nature Communications
Testing the fossil record
How good is the fossil record? And does it paint an accurate picture of the history of life? Those are the long-standing questions that geobiologist Bjarte Hannisdal at the University of Bergen's Centre for Geobiology is trying to answer.

Contact: Bjarte Hannisdal
The University of Bergen

Public Release: 9-Sep-2014
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Sloths are no slouches when it comes to evolution
Today's sloths might be known as slow, small animals, but their ancestors developed large body sizes at an amazing rate, according to an evolutionary reconstruction published today in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. The fast rate of change suggests that factors such as environmental conditions, or competition with other species must have strongly favored the bigger sloths, before they died out.

Contact: Alanna Orpen
BioMed Central

Public Release: 9-Sep-2014
FASEB Journal
New species of extinct dolphin sheds light on river dolphin history
In the new issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, researchers describe a new fossil dolphin species from the Miocene -- dating to more than 16 million years ago -- of the Pisco Basin, a desert on the coast of Peru. It belongs to a rare extinct family of marine dolphins, the squalodelphinids, which are related to the endangered Ganges and Indus river dolphins living today.

Contact: Cody Mooneyhan
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

Public Release: 8-Sep-2014
Whale sex: It's all in the hips
Whales and dolphins need their hips, it turns out. The bones that we used to believe were vestigial turn out to be important to reproduction.
University of Southern California, National Institutes of Health, William Cheney, Jr. Memorial Fund for Mammalogy

Contact: Robert Perkins
University of Southern California

Public Release: 8-Sep-2014
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Ohio University paleontologists discover new species of titanosaurian dinosaur in Tanzania
Ohio University paleontologists have identified a new species of titanosaurian, a member of the large-bodied sauropods that thrived during the final period of the dinosaur age, in Tanzania. Although many fossils of titanosaurians have been discovered around the globe, especially in South America, few have been recovered from the continent of Africa.
National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity

Contact: Andrea Gibson
Ohio University

Public Release: 4-Sep-2014
Trinity geologists re-write Earth's evolutionary history books
Life forms appeared at least 60 million years earlier than previously thought. They added oxygen to our atmosphere, which led to the evolution of complex life.

Contact: Thomas Deane
Trinity College Dublin

Public Release: 4-Sep-2014
Nature Communications
How good is the fossil record?
Do all the millions of fossils in museums around the world give a balanced view of the history of life, or is the record too incomplete to be sure? This question was first recognized by Charles Darwin and has worried scientists ever since.

Contact: Hannah Johnson
University of Bristol

Public Release: 4-Sep-2014
Scientific Reports
Drexel team unveils Dreadnoughtus: A gigantic, exceptionally complete sauropod dinosaur
The new 65-ton (59,300 kg) dinosaur species Dreadnoughtus schrani is the largest land animal for which body mass can be accurately calculated. Its skeleton is the most complete ever found of its type, with over 70 percent of the bones, excluding the head, represented. Because all previously discovered supermassive dinosaurs are known from relatively fragmentary remains, Dreadnoughtus offers an unprecedented window into the anatomy and biomechanics of the largest animals to ever walk the Earth.
National Science Foundation, Jurassic Foundation

Contact: Rachel Ewing
Drexel University

Public Release: 3-Sep-2014
Team develops new, inexpensive method for understanding earthquake topography
Using high-resolution topography models not available in the past, geologists can greatly enrich their research. However, current methods of acquisition are costly and require trained personnel with high-tech, cumbersome equipment. In light of this, Kendra Johnson and colleagues have developed a new system that takes advantage of affordable, user-friendly equipment and software to produce topography data over small, sparsely vegetated sites at comparable (or better) resolution and accuracy to standard methods.

Contact: Kea Giles
Geological Society of America

Public Release: 3-Sep-2014
Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Ancient mammal relatives were active at night 100 million years before origin of mammals
New study reveals that nocturnality has older origin than previously thought. Synapsids, living about 300 million years ago, were probably active at night.
The Field Museum/Geology Department

Contact: Emily Waldren
Field Museum

Public Release: 2-Sep-2014
Chemical Geology
Scientists obtain new data on the weather 10,000 years ago from sediments of a lake in Sierra Nevada
Scientists have found evidence of atmospheric dust from the Sahara in the depths of the Rio Seco lake, 3,020 meters above sea level, accumulated over the last 11,000 years.

Contact: Antonio García-Alix Daroca
University of Granada