Tag: Prehistoric animal

This 24ft Long Crocodile That Had Razor Sharp Teeth Was A Top Land Predator In Madagascar Million Years Ago

Razanandrongobe sakalavae

A new study has finally shed light on a mysterious, jaw fragment discovered on Madagascar years ago. It is from an ancient crocodile, nearly 24-feet in length, with teeth like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The study, published in the journal PeerJ, highlights the creature, identified as Razanandrongobe sakalavae, as an enormous crocodile ancestor. The ancient croc likely walked on land, hunting its prey with its massive teeth and jaws.

Put together by researchers Cristiano Dal Sasso , Giovanni Pasini, Guillaume Fleury and Simone Maganuco , the study notes that the teeth are “remarkably large, even larger than the largest denticles in large-bodied theropods.

The longest tooth found was 15 cm (5.9 inches) in length. By comparison, the longest T. rex tooth ever found was 12 inches, though they often vary in length.

Razanandrongobe sakalavae

R. sakalavae means “giant lizard ancestor from Sakalava region.”

“Razanandrongobe sakalavae is the largest terrestrial carnivore from this Middle Jurassic terrestrial ecosystem and was perhaps one of the top predators in Madagascar at the time,” the study’s conclusion reads.

“Its jaws were extremely robust and high, but possibly short, and bore large teeth with serrated edges resembling those of theropod dinosaurs. Many features of this species strongly suggest that it fed also on hard tissue such as bone and tendon.”

Razanandrongobe sakalavae

It is the oldest and largest known “notosuchian,” a suborder of Gondwanan mesoeucrocodylian crocodylomorphs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. It predates other members of the species by 42 million years.

The fossils are from the mid-Jurassic period, approximately 166 million years ago. They were first found in the early 1970s, with other parts of the Razana skull found later.

The findings were made after the fossils were made available to the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Toulouse, France, where they were then analyzed and reconstructed. They had been previously part of a private collection.


The skull was reconstructed using a CT scan, as well as using 3-D printers to print out missing bone fragments, using mirror images of existing fragments.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

This Prehistoric ‘Sea Monster’ May Be Largest That Ever Lived

This reassembled jaw bone belonged to the 85-foot ichthyosaur.

The ancient remains of a gigantic marine reptile have been found in southwestern England.

Known as an ichthyosaur, the animal lived about 205 million years ago and was up to 85 feet long—almost as big as a blue whale, say the authors of a study describing the fossil published today in PLOS ONE.

Biology textbook have long touted the modern blue whale as the largest animal that ever lived, but this and other fascinating fossil finds hint that there may once have been even bigger creatures swimming Earth’s seas.

What is this animal?

Ichthyosaurs were ocean-going contemporaries of the dinosaurs, with body shapes superficially similar to dolphins.

They reached their greatest diversity about 210 million years ago in the late Triassic, but some persisted into the late Cretaceous.

They vanished from the fossil record about 25 million years before the mass extinction that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs.

Most ichthyosaurs were much smaller than the newly discovered creature—several species in the genus Ichthyosaurus also found in the U.K. were just 5 to 11 feet long.

How did paleontologists find it?

Self-taught fossil hunter and study coauthor Paul de la Salle was combing the beach at Lilstock, Somerset, in May 2016 when he found a large and puzzling chunk of fossil bone.

Suspecting it might be an ichthyosaur, he sent images to marine reptile experts Dean Lomax at the University of Manchester in the U.K. and Judy Massare at SUNY Brockport in New York.

Further searching revealed five fossil pieces that fitted together to form a 3.2-foot-long bone, which the scientists identified as being from the lower jaw of an ichthyosaur.

Based on the size of the bone, the scientists think this ichthyosaur was bigger than any previously known to science.

Reconstructions of the giant ichthyosaur Shonisaurus show its skeletal structure and what it might have looked like in life.

Why is this discovery important?

Lomax says the discovery has led them to reinterpret a whole series of isolated bones found near the village of Aust in Gloucestershire, England.

Some collected as early as 1850, these fragments had long been interpreted to be the limb or other bones of terrestrial dinosaurs, but this never quite made sense.

The scientists realized these pieces also belonged to giant ichthyosaurs—and possibly to ones even bigger than the newly identified animal.

Darren Naish, a paleontologist at the University of Southampton in the U.K., agrees that the sizes of all these bones are astounding.

He is part of a different team that recently examined the Aust bones and similarly concluded that they belonged to enormous ichthyosaurs.

He concurs with the size estimates of the study authors, and says that these animals were “approaching or exceeding various giant baleen whales in size.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

According To Scientists, Winged Archaeopteryx Dinosaur Flew In Short Bursts Like A Pheasant

Archaeopteryx flapped its wings but was not capable of long distance flight. Nor could it soar like birds of prey.

Instead, the feathered Jurassic creature probably made short bursts of ­limited low-level flight to escape danger, say experts in Grenoble, France, after X-ray analysis of fossil bones.

Pheasants fly in a similar way to avoid predators or human hunters.

Archaeopteryx – which means “ancient wing” – lived in the Late Jurassic period in what is now southern Germany.

The first fossil skeleton of one of the creatures, known as the London Specimen, was unearthed in 1861 near Langenaltheim and is housed at London’s Natural History Museum.

Similar in size to a magpie, it shared characteristics of Earth-bound dinosaurs and modern birds, including winged feathers, sharp teeth, three fingers with claws, and a long bony tail.

However despite being thought of as the first bird, experts now view Archeopteryx as a flying dinosaur.

Nor was it a direct ancestor of modern birds. Despite sharing a common dinosaur ancestor with birds, Archaeopteryx represents a “dead end” side branch on the evolutionary tree.

Present day birds are generally believed to have evolved from a group of small meat-eating dinosaurs known as maniraptoran theropods.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: New Scientist

Pinky-Sized Fossil Of A Vulnerable Baby Bird That Died Shortly After It Hatched 127 Million Years Ago Sheds New Light On The Evolution Of Avians

The bird fossil.

Look at the length of your pinky finger. There was once a teeth-bearing, claw-wearing bird on this planet that was just that small.

About a decade ago, scientists unearthed the fossilized remains of a baby bird at the bottom of a lake in central Spain.

With recent analysis, they have found that the nearly complete avian skeleton dates back roughly 127 million years, putting it in the Mesozoic Era, during the time of dinosaurs.

The fossil is of a young hatchling belonging to the Enantiornithes family, a group of prehistoric birds. These flyers would have looked similar to modern birds, but with teeth and clawed fingers at the ends of their wings.

The specimen is less than two inches long and would have weighed just three ounces in life, making it possibly the smallest Mesozoic avian fossil known to date.

And this immature hatchling find could provide some clues about how ancient birds developed over time. A study, published March 5 in the journal Nature Communications, outlines just that.

Baby Bird Bones

Since the bird likely died soon after it hatched, it’s difficult to identify its species, says study co-author Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute at the LA Natural History Museum.

It could have died in a forest nearby and then may have been brought to the lake at the Los Hoyas archaeological site in central Spain. There, it would have fallen to the bottom and been preserved for millions of years.

[Hatchling fossils are] extremely fragile and very difficult to find in the fossil record,” Chiappe says. “[This find is] really neat because it’s one of those very rare, very young individuals.”

At first, the team tried to analyze the specimen with micro-CT scanning.

After that, they used a synchrotron—a high-tech particle accelerator that studies miniscule matter using very intense light—to zoom in on the specimen at the submicron level.

There, they were able to observe the detailed microstructures of the bones.

The skeleton only lacks its feet, most of its hands, and the tip of its tail. Its partially crushed skull is large in relation to its body, and its bones are largely disarticulated.

The nearly complete specimen is smaller than others, but its wings are larger than complete isolated wing remains described from mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber.

The young hatchling would have been in a critical stage of skeletal formation when it died, so its bones could provide insights about the species’ bone structure and development.

Its sternum is made of cartilage, meaning it hadn’t fully developed at the time of death.

“It gives some hint as to flight ability,” says Ryan McKellar, curator of invertebrate paleontology at Canada’s Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

“It would have been a weak flyer probably, if at all.”

But being youthfully flightless didn’t necessarily mean the hatchling was dependent on its parents. Some modern birds, like love birds, are born naked with their eyes shut, so they rely heavily on their parents from birth.

But others, like chickens, are fiercely independent, born with feathers and able to move from the time they hatch.

This shows that birds in the group Enantiornithes were more diverse than archaeologists have previously thought them to be.

Our goal is to understand the deep history of the bird lineage and to get a better idea of how early some of the birds develop the same types of strategies and systems that we see among living birds,” Chiappe says.

Avian Preservation

Birds are perfect for surveying bone development because they have large, easily accessible eggs. They also have to be able to fuse their bones to strengthen their skeletons, which must withstand the stress of flight.

This isn’t the first hatchling to be discovered, but it’s certainly one of the smallest. Other fossilized samples have been found preserved in tree sap.

Last year, a 99-million-year-old hatchling from the same enantionithes family was found in a chunk of Burmese amber. Other remains of birds, along with ticks, spiders, and dinosaur feathers, have also been found.

Sometimes, recrystallization can damage the structure of fossils. But this hatchling is still well preserved.

McKellar says the preservation of the bone in this specimen appears to be just as good as it would be had it been preserved in Burmese amber.

There are spectacular finds that are coming out of many places,” Chiappe says. “We’re very fortunate to be living now, from that perspective.”

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

Giant Frog From Hell Ate Baby Dinosaurs


Beelzebufo (Greek for “devil frog”); pronounced bee-ELL-zeh-BOO-foe


Woodlands of Madagascar

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About a foot and a half long and 10 pounds


Insects and small animals

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; unusually capacious mouth

About Beelzebufo (Devil Frog)

Slightly outweighing its contemporary descendant, the seven-pound Goliath Frog of Equatorial Guinea, Beelzebufo was the largest frog that ever lived, weighing about 10 pounds and measuring nearly a foot and a half from head to tail.

Unlike contemporary frogs, which are mostly content to snack on insects, Beelzebufo must have chowed down on the smaller animals of the late Cretaceous period, perhaps including baby dinosaurs and full-grown “dino-birds” in its diet.

Reprising a common theme, this prehistoric amphibian evolved to its giant size on the relatively isolated Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, where it didn’t have to deal with the large, predatory, theropod dinosaurs that ruled the earth elsewhere.

Recently, researchers investigating a second fossil specimen of Beelzebufo made an amazing discovery: as big as it was, this frog may also have sported sharp spikes and a semi-hard, turtle-like shell along its head and back.

Presumably, these adaptations evolved to keep the Devil Frog from being swallowed whole by predators, though they may also have been sexually selected characteristics, the more heavily armored males being more attractive to females during Devil Frog mating season.

This same team also determined that Beelzebufo was similar in appearance to, and perhaps related to, horned frogs, genus name Ceratophrys, which today live in South America–which may hint at the exact time of the breakup of the Gondwanan supercontinent toward the end of the Mesozoic Era.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science