How Old Is the Wasatch Formation at Fossil Butte? – #365papers – 2017 – 119

#365papers for April 29, 2017

Gunnell, Zonneveld, and Bartels, 2016, Stratigraphy, mammalian paleontology, paleoecology, and age correlation of the Wasatch Formation, Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming: Journal of Paleontology, v. 90, p. 981-1011.

What’s it about?

Here is a nice description of all the mammalian species found from early Eocene rocks in Fossil Butte National Monument. Not only is there a list of fossil species, but they’re also put in chronological order, so that changes over time can be discussed. Continue reading

Y is for Yerbua – #AtoZChallenge – 2017 – Uintan Mammals

Y is for Yerbua

Yerbua is a genus of hopping rodent. The name “Yerbua” was coined in 1778, but has since been replaced with “Pedetes.” I have this name written down as a Uintan mammal, but Pedetes is a modern taxon from Africa, so I’m not sure what happened. But here you go:

Spring Hare, Pedetes capensis. Credit: Bernard DuPont CC 2.0 By-SA

Homo floresiensis didn’t come from H. erectus – #365papers – 2017 – 118

#365papers for April 28, 2017

Argue, Groves, Lee, and Jungers, 2017, The affinities of Homo floresiensis based on phylogenetic analyses of cranial, dental, and postcranial characters: Journal of Human Evolution, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.02.006.

What’s it about?

Homo floresiensis is a species of the genus Homo that was discovered and descibed over 10 years ago. It is a species of small stature from the island of Flores. Many have argued about its placement with other members of the genus Homo and why it might have been so small.

The authors here show that H. floresiensis is at best a sister to H. habilis and may represent an even more ancient lineage of the genus. It probably represents an early migration of homonins out of Africa. Continue reading

X is for Xylotitan – #AtoZChallenge – 2017 – Uintan Mammals

X is for Xylotitan

Xylotitan is a new species of brotothere, a hoofed mammal related to horses and rhinos. Brototheres were giant mammals, considered the earliest of the ‘megaherbivores.’

Among brototheres, Xylotitan is among the smallest, only about the size of a large tapir.

This new species was named in 2016 by Mihlbachler and Samuels.

An Early Cretaceous Baby Turtle! – #365papers – 2017 – 117

#365papers for April 27, 2017

Shao, Yang, LI, Sun, and Zhou, 2017, The first juvenile specimen of Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota: PeerJ 5:e3274; DOI 10.7717/peerj.3274.

What’s it about?

This paper is the description of a juvenile turtle attributed to the species Manchurochelys manchoukuoensis. The authors compare this new specimen with several other species of turtle from the Jehol Biota and other faunas of similar age to argue that 1) it is a juvenile and 2) that their species attribution is correct. Continue reading

Cold Conditions Result in Rapid Evolution – #365papers – 2017 – 116

#365papers for April 26, 2017

Clavel and Morlon, 2017, Accelerated body size evolution during cold climatic periods in the Cenozoic: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1606868114

What’s it about?

There are many papers published that discuss the dwarfing of animal species during episodes of global warmth. Here, the authors show that during times of coldness, the types of body shapes and sizes in both mammals and birds change rapidly. Continue reading

V is for Viverravus – #AtoZChallenge – 2017 – Uintan Mammals

V is for Viverravus

Viverravus is a carnivorous mammal. Interestingly, I have written up Viverravus in an earlier A to Z Challenge about Paleocene mammals, here. Viverravus as a genus lasted many millions of years.

Here is an early Eocene Viverravus from the Yale-Peabody Museum:

Viverravus sp. YPM VPPU 022652. right ramus with P/4, M/1

How Can We Know How Much Global Warming is Responsible for Extreme Weather? – #365papers – 2017 – 115

#365papers for April 25, 2017

Diffenbaugh, Singh, Mankin, Horton, Swain, Touma, Charland, Liu, Haugen, Tsiang, and Rajaratnam, 2017, Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events: Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1618082114

What’s it about?

Global warming is an important issue in the modern world. Many people are attributing extreme weather events – hurricanes, droughts, flooding, etc. – to global climate change. This paper is an attempt to assess and quantify how much global warming was an influence for such events. Continue reading