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'Little Foot' may have been humans' forefather

A short, hairy "ape man" who tumbled into a pit in South Africa millions of years ago is back in the running as a candidate ancestor for humans, scientists said Friday. A painstaking 13-year probe has "convincingly shown", they said, that the strange-looking creature named Little Foot lived some three million years ago -- almost a million years earlier than calculated by rival teams. If so, it would make Little Foot -- so named for the diminutive size of the bones -- one of the oldest members of the Australopithecus hominid family ever found.

Huge new dinosaur in Portugal was predator king

A new dinosaur species discovered in Portugal dominated the food chain 150 million years ago -- the Tyrannosaurus Rex of its time, researchers said Wednesday. The new species is the largest land predator discovered in Europe and one of the largest worldwide of the Jurassic era, said authors Christophe Hendrickx and Octavio Mateus of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinha.

Huge new dinosaur in Portugal was predator king

A new dinosaur species discovered in Portugal dominated the food chain 150 million years ago -- the Tyrannosaurus Rex of its time, researchers said Wednesday. The new species is the largest land predator discovered in Europe and one of the largest worldwide of the Jurassic era, said authors Christophe Hendrickx and Octavio Mateus of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinha.

Construction crews uncover tusk of Ice Age mammoth in Seattle

By Eric M. Johnson SEATTLE (Reuters) - Construction workers digging in a Seattle neighborhood have found the curved tusk of a mammoth, an ancient elephant relative that inhabited North America at least 10,000 years ago during the Ice Age. Seattle's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture said its paleontologists were confident that the fossil, uncovered on Tuesday, came from an Ice Age mammoth.

Mass extinction happened fast

Something wiped out nearly all life on Earth more than 250 million years ago, and whatever unleashed this mass die-off acted much faster than previously thought, scientists said Monday. Based on an analysis of rocks in China, the end-Permian extinction occurred over the course of 60,000 years, give or take 48,000, researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That is about 10 times faster than scientists believed up until now and a blink of an eye in geological terms.

Giant tooth identifies extinct monster platypus in Australia

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Thanks to a large ancient tooth, an Australian university student has filled in an evolutionary gap with a giant carnivorous platypus that became extinct at least 5 million years ago. Before the discovery, fossil records suggested only one species of platypus inhabited the Earth at any one time, with the creatures becoming smaller and the size of their teeth reducing through time.

Extinct 'Godzilla' platypus found in Australia

A giant extinct species of the platypus with powerful teeth has been discovered in Australia, with a scientist on Tuesday describing the duck-billed water animal as a Godzilla-like monster. The new species, named Obdurodon tharalkooschild, was identified by a single but highly distinctive tooth found in the Riversleigh site in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland -- a World Heritage area rich in fossil deposits.

Extinct 'Godzilla' platypus found in Australia

A giant extinct species of the platypus with powerful teeth has been discovered in Australia, with a scientist on Tuesday describing the duck-billed water animal as a "Godzilla" like monster. The new species, named Obdurodon tharalkooschild, was identified by a single but highly distinctive tooth found in Riversleigh in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland -- a World Heritage site rich in fossil deposits.

Out of the oil emerges Venezuela's 'Jurassic Park'

Under the rich Venezuelan soil, paleontologists have found treasures rivaling the bountiful oil: a giant armadillo the size of a Volkswagen, a crocodile bigger than a bus and a saber-toothed tiger. Oil companies' surveys of the soil have uncovered a trove of fossils dating from 14,000 to 370 million years ago. Many of the 12,000 recorded specimens from different eras are now kept in a tiny office of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research.

Chinese super-rat roamed Earth 160 million years ago

A fossil of the oldest known ancestor of modern rats -- an agile creature that could climb, burrow and eat just about anything -- has been unearthed in China, scientists said Thursday. The newly named species Rugosodon eurasiaticus had flexible ankles for tree-climbing and sharp teeth that could gnaw both animals and plants, according to the US journal Science.
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