Paleo-news roundup.

5 02 2009

Good-tidings and well-wishes ladies and gents!

There’s been some pretty exciting paleo-news sprouting up lately and I thought that I’d highlight a few of my favorite new discoveries:

Titanoboa, the largest snake ever known to science, discovered in Columbia!

The fossil record of snakes is quite fascinating (though somewhat scanty, unfortunately). Titanoboa was an enormous constrictor which, according to size estimates, reached a colossal 13 meters (43 feet) in length! That’s the length of a T.rex! This amazing animal lived approximately ten million years after the infamous K-T event which is most popularly recognized for the fact that it wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. At this time, very few creatures were getting much larger than an adult human, which quite possibly means that this snake was the largest non-marine animal on Earth at the time! For more info, do go here (make sure that you check out the picture at the top of the article).

Miacetus: A whale ancestor that gave birth on land.

The evolution of whales and their kin (cetaceans) is a perpetual hot-topic in the field of evolutionary biology, and the gaps in their fossil record are being filled in at an alarming rate these past few decades. Miacetus is the latest in a long line of cetacean transitional fossils and is particularly interesting because the specimen recovered contained a developing fetus! As if this weren’t exciting enough, the fetus is almost fully-developed and facing outwards. Modern marine mammal infants aren’t born head first because, due to the lengthy birthing process, they’d almost certainly drown, meaning that, since Miacetus also boasts stubby legs, the infants were delivered on dry land. Check it out!

May the fossil record continue to enchant us all!

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