15 Unbelievable Fossil Discoveries

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From fossils of distant human sub-species, to trees that survived the apocalypse which nearly wiped out life on Earth, we count 15 fascinating pieces of history carved into rocks and bones from the past

15 – Zombie Ant Fossil

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  • 2010, the 48 million year old fossil of a leaf is discovered, one with several ants inexplicably biting down on the surface as they’ve died
  • Investigations revealed a fungus had taken control of the ants minds when they were still alive and forced their bodies to leave the hive to seek out a leaf
  • Then, the fungus forced them to go into a “death grip” on the leaf surface, thereby allowing the fungus to propagate itself using the undead ant as a host
  • Creepy stuff, glad evolution decided NOT to let this one become the norm

14 – Giant Ant

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  • Speaking of ants, four palaeontologists discovered a fossil in 2011 that clearly showed a 50 million year old winged queen ant the size of a hummingbird from the Western Hemisphere
  • It’s believed this ant sprayed formic acid as a form of self defence, and may have followed a carnivorous lifestyle butchering larger animals as food for the swarm
  • Since it’s appeared across continents, some call it the first reported cross-Arctic thermophilic insect resettlement

13 – Four Winged Dinosaur

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  • 2002, a remarkable discovery hailed as the possible missing link between ground dinosaurs and birds – they’re also known as the “microraptor”
  • This fossil estimated at around 130 million years of age was discovered in a Chinese rock quarry known to be a massive trove of ancient fossils
  • It used feathers on its various legs as well as its wings to keep itself afloat

12 – Devil Frog

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  • This one was discovered in Madagascar, a 70 million year old frog fossil the size of a beach ball
  • This humungous frog weighed around 4.5 kilograms with a height exceeding 41 centimeters – to put it into perspective, the current largest frog alive can only reach 32 centimeters maximum
  • The first fossil fragments were found in 1993, but it took 14 years before scientists had enough data to publicise their findings

11 – Kosmoceratops

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  • This one comes in from the late Cretaceous period, just before the dinosaurs got wiped
  • The fossil was discovered in Utah, what was once known as the island continent of Laramidia, and here we find a Triceratops-like dinosaur with an absurd amount of horns
  • Not only does it have around 5 along its face, but it has a long head brimming with downward spiking horns like a hair-do all down the skull to make a total of 15
  • It’s generally thought to be a sexual trait appealing to those of the opposite gender

10 – Saber-Toothed Squirrel

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  • 2002, a skull is found buried in rock near northern Argentina, but since palaeontologists can’t crack open the rock to inspect it, the skull gets shelved
  • Then, 2005, a technician finally removes the rock around the fossil and discovers a squirrel creature with a narrow snout and long fangs, used for hunting insects
  • These things were only 20 centimetres long, but it could still bite right through a human neck

9 – First Ever Squid

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  • We find this fossilised mollusk from 500 million years ago, known as the first ever squid and ancestor to the modern octopus
  • This was discovered in the Burgess Shale of Canada, a relic from the Cambrian period of long ago
  • This thing could shoot jets of water through its funnel like a nozzle would, and it’s BECAUSE of this we can link them to modern day sea creatures

8 – Whale Land Descendants

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  • 2007, India, a fossil is discovered of a dog-like creature from 48 million years ago with many of the same body structures as aquatic animals, like bone structure, teeth, etc
  • Likewise, in 2008, it’s discovered that an ancient whale used legs to swim like a doggy paddle, and that eventually over millions of years these legs devolved into fins
  • It turns out, whales evolved from land mammals and we finally had the missing link

7 – Baby Dinosaur Nest

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  • 2011, Mongolia, the fossilised remains of 15 juvenile protoceratops dinosaurs are discovered by David Fastovsky
  • It was the very first indication that this particular genus remained in their nest for a period of time, possibly protected by a single mother
  • But on the grander scope, it also revealed that young dinosaurs were kept in the nest during early development, cared for by the parents

6 – Living Fossil Tree

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  • Not much survived the extinction event that marked the end of the dinosaurs, but mammals rose to dominance and certain plants struggled though
  • One tree, known as the ginkgo tree, not only survived the extinction event, but global warming too – in fact, you can still find it today in harsh areas of the world, used for medicine
  • Since the trees leaves didn’t absorb carbon-dioxide, it plowed through one of the deadlist eras on Earth, and today it’s more-or-less fully resistant to weather, disease and types of insect

5 – Spider Attack

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  • During the same dinosaur period, we find the first ever photograph of a spider attacking its prey captured in a hundred million year old amber fossil
  • It was discovered in 2012 by experts from Oregon State University, and they remarked, “The wasp was watching the spider just as it was about to be attacked, when tree resin flowed over and captured both of them.”
  • Both the spider and wasp seen in the fossil are now regarded as extinct

4 – Mysterious Human Ancestor

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  • A humanoid skull is discovered 40 years ago in Kenya, but a name is never put to this off-shoot of humanity living at the time of homo sapiens and neanderthals
  • In the years between 2 million and 1.7 million BC, it co-existed with other humanoid species in the Rift Valleys of Africa
  • While it had the big brain indicative of the genus Homo, it also had a long, flat face no other species had at the time, often thought a third sub-species offshoot
  • Today, theories go out there might have been MANY sub-species at the time, not just one or two

3 – Ghost Dragon

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  • Northeast China, some palaeontologists discover a wildly snaggle-toothed skull belonging to a mysterious 120 million year old flying reptile
  • Its proper name is Guidraco venator, Chinese or Latin for ‘ghost dragon hunter’, a variety of pterosaur with a wingspan extending beyond 10 feet in diameter
  • Though these aren’t technically dinosaurs, they’re the worlds first flying vertebrates and this particular fossil was found a good distance away from the place we currently assumed they’d call home – still a mystery

2 – Giant Penguins

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  • New Zealand penguins, alive 25 million years ago, ones that stood nearly 4 feet 6 inches tall
  • At the time of their existence, most of New Zealand was underwater leaving isolated, rocky land masses that kept these giant penguins safe from predators and provided a plentiful food supply
  • These specific fossils from 1977 were reconstructed using two separate bones and parts and pieces from a King Penguin – and is now known as the largest of the five species that lived on New Zealand

1 – Largest Shark Jaw

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  • This comes from the biggest predator ever to exist on Earth: the Megalodon
  • This thing died out 1.5 million years ago, weighing in at over 100 tons of pure carnage, and it took 20 years to reconstruct this jaw from fragments
  • The jaw set is composed of over 180 individual teeth, MASSIVE ones

 

 

LINKS
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http://www.discovery.com/

http://www.oddee.com/

http://archaeology.knoji.com/

http://www.wired.com/

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