Tag Archives | Fossils

Cloning Of Dinosaurs And Ancient Animals Proven Impossible

Humanity will never be able to resurrect the creatures of long ago. New research suggests that even under ideal conditions, DNA becomes unreadable after a mere 1.5 million years. Thus all the dino bones and amberized insects in the world are useless for cloning purposes, Scientific American writes:

Palaeogeneticists led by Morten Allentoft in Perth, Australia, examined 158 DNA-containing leg bones belonging to three species of extinct giant birds. By comparing the specimens’ ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on.

The team predicts that even in a bone at an ideal preservation temperature of −5 ºC, effectively every bond would be destroyed after a maximum of 6.8 million years.

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Archaeology Being Undermined By Fake Fossils Of Imaginary Animals

Could your favorite ancient animal species not be real? Via the Archaeology News Network:

Fake fossils are duping scientists and museums, a senior paleontologist has warned, after a scholar was forced to retract a controversial essay that stated the cheetah originated in China.

According to Li Chun, associate researcher at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, counterfeits are now widespread and have become a serious risk to genuine study projects. “I believe many scholars are victims of fake fossils,” he said, before estimating that more than 80 percent of marine reptile specimens on display in Chinese museums “have been altered or artificially combined to varying degrees”.

Li’s alert follows the debunking last month of an essay co-authored by Huang Ji, a Chinese scientist, and Danish researcher Per Christiansen in 2008 about an alleged new species of cheetah.

“Probably to make it appear more complete, thus enhancing its commercial value, Chinese fossil dealers makes numerous fake fossils.

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Mysterious 450-Million-Year-Old Sea Monster Fossil Baffles Scientists

monsterKing of the jellyfish? Or a giant, living, underwater doormat? Whatever your worst nightmare is, this ancient sea-bound entity could be it. LiveScience reports:
A mysterious fossil that has evoked images of a sea monster roaming the shallow waters of prehistoric Ohio [has] scientists stumped as to what kind of creature it was. One thing is sure: The enigmatic "blob" — discovered in elliptical pieces that, when fitted together, extended about 7 feet long, was once alive. The team, along with the fossil hunter who discovered the 450-million-year-old specimen, suggest a range of possibilities: a type of huge algae or microbial mat, or even a member of the cnidarian family, which includes jellyfish (though scientists concede the jellyfish idea is highly unlikely).
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Beyond The Valley Of The Whales

Whale skeleton at Wadi Al-Hitan. Photo:Volker Scherl

Whale skeleton at Wadi Al-Hitan. Photo:Volker Scherl

BBC News reports on an unlikely location for massive whale fossils: the Sahara desert in Egypt:

Its name in Arabic is Wadi Hitan but it is known as the Valley of the Whales.

For years archaeologists have been unearthing a remarkable collection of whale fossils, all the more surprising because the area is now inland desert in upper Egypt.

It is believed that about 40 million years ago the area was submerged in water, part of the Tethys Sea. As the sea retreated north to the Mediterranean it left a series of unique rock formations and also a cornucopia of fossils.

One of the most exceptional finds was a 37 million-year-old whale from the species Basilosaurus Isis, unearthed by a team led by Prof Philip Gingerich of the University of Michigan in the United States.

But now it has become the subject of a bizarre customs wrangle at Cairo airport.

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