Category Archives: Prehistoric

The oldest fossils suggest that life should be common in the Universe

Are we alone in the Universe? Or any other life forms exist out there? A new study, published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)Notes 1 suggests that the life emerged so early on Earth – it should be widespread. In other words, the Universe should be filled with life.

The story goes back to 1982. 35 years ago, UCLA Scholar and Pioneer in Study of the Evolution of Life, J. William Schopf collected 3.465-billion-year-old fossils from the Apex Chert in western Australia, and interpreted them as early life. When he described the fossils in the journal Science in 1993, critics had argued that they were not early lifeforms – they were just odd minerals that only looked like biological specimens.

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Dinosaur-killer asteroid hit “worst possible place”, say Scientists

According to the scientists who drilled into the Chicxulub crater buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, the asteroid hit the “worst possible place”. They summarized their findings so far in a BBC Two documentary titled The Day The Dinosaurs Died. The documentary presented by professors Alice Roberts and Ben Garod.

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Largest dinosaurs ever lived

Identifying the largest dinosaurs ever lived isn’t an easy task, because it’s very rare to unearth a complete fossil. Furthermore, only a tiny percentage of these amazing animals ever fossilized, and most of these “lucky” bodies will remain buried underground forever. So, we may never know exactly what dinosaur was the biggest (or the tiniest) ever.

Despite this fact, size always has been one of the most interesting aspects of these prehistoric animals. There are extreme variations in their size, from the tiny hummingbirds, which can weigh as little as three grams, to the titanosaurs, which could weigh as much as 70 tonnes, or even more.

Here are the largest dinosaurs ever lived.

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Top 6 largest fish species

Here are the top six largest fish species (within around 33,100 described species).

But, first of all, what is a fish? At first, it looks like an easy question, but in fact, it is not. There are a wide range of animals we call “fish”, so it is not easy to define what makes a fish “a fish”. A general description: “a fish is any member of a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals that lack limbs with digits” (Wikipedia).

All fishes have a brain protected by a braincase, and an obvious head region with eyes, teeth, and other sensory organs.

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How the darkness and the cold killed the (non-avian) dinosaurs

Now we have a computer simulation of how the afterward effects of famous Chicxulub asteroid (estimated to be 10 km/6.2 mi) wide) killed the non-avian dinosaurs (and also a wide range of other species). On January 13, 2017, an article titled “Baby, it’s cold outside: Climate model simulations of the effects of the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous”, published by the Climate scientists of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), revealed a detailed model of what happened to the atmosphere and the climate after the Chicxulub impact.

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Largest prehistoric mammals

After the extinction of the dinosaurs, approximately 66 million years ago, the rise of mammals begun. There were mammals on earth before that date, but after the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event (a mass extinction of some three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, including all non-avian dinosaurs), mammals took over the medium- to large-sized ecological niches. Some of these mammals reached enormous sizes, and usually, they were larger than today’s counterparts (with the exception of whales). Here are some of the largest prehistoric mammals ever known.

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Top 5 largest prehistoric cats

Like all prehistoric counterparts of today’s animals, the prehistoric cats were usually larger, heavier and more robust than today’s felines. Here are the top five largest prehistoric cats.

For a comparison, male African Lions sometimes exceed 250 kg (550 lb) in weight. Reported body measurements in males are head-body lengths ranging from 170 to 250 cm (5 ft 7 inches to 8 ft 2 inches), tail lengths of 90–105 cm (2 ft 11 in–3 ft 5 in). Male Siberian (Amur) tigers have a head and body length of between 190–230 cm (75–91 in) and weigh between 180 to 306 kg (397 to 675 lb).

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A giant prehistoric crocodile discovered in the Sahara: Machimosaurus rex

National Geographic grantee Federico Fanti and his research team have unearthed a sea-dwelling crocodylomorph (a teleosaurid) skeleton in southern Tunisia, in the Sahara desert: Machimosaurus rex. It is the world’s largest marine crocodyliform, and was previously unknown to science. Its length is estimated at more than 30 feet (9.14 meters). The giant was probably weighed three tons.

The fossil dates back 130 million years ago. The head of the crocodile alone is over 5 feet long. The discovery proves that this animal lived 25 million years past the hypothesized global extinction at the end of the Jurassic period.

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If Earth’s life time was the distance from Los Angeles to New York City

Our old planet, the Earth is 4.54 billion years old. In fact, the human mind can no longer make any sense of large numbers like that. Numbers like 1, 2, 14, 20, 50 are all quantities that we encounter quite frequently in our daily lives. And our brain evolved to conceptualize numbers like that: our ancestors saw two lions; they hunted five deer in one hunting party, the population of their tribe was 20, etc… But when the numbers are getting big, i.e. 1,000; 10,000… the problem begins: these numbers become increasingly difficult to conceptualize. Now, what happens when we try to conceptualize quantities like billions, like the Earth’s age? We can’t actually rationalize the immensity of such a big number. Because we haven’t a model of 4.54 billion that’s been compressed into something recognizable to the human mind.

To put this number into a perspective, Alex Kuzoian of Business insider prepared a beautiful video: you can watch Earth’s lifespan as the distance from Los Angeles to New York City. Along the trip, we see the formation of our Moon, the beginning of the life, the evolving of the multi-cellular organisms, and the rise and fall of the dinosaurs. Probably the most interesting part is that modern humans only evolved 175 meters (570 feet) from the finishing line of this journey. And the big jump to the first multi-cellular organisms.

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