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Protoavisbody

Protoavis (meaning "first bird") is a problematic taxon of archosaurian whose fossils have been recovered from Late Triassic Norian stage deposits near Post, Texas. Much controversy remains over the animal, with many different interpretations of what Protoavis actually is existing. When it was first described, the fossils were ascribed to a primitive bird which, if the identification is valid, would push back avian origins some 60-75 million years. The original describer of Protoavis texensis, Sankar Chatterjee of Texas Tech University, interpreted the type specimen to have come from a single animal, specifically a 35 cm tall bird that lived in what is now Texas, USA, between 225 and 210 million years ago. Though it existed far earlier than Archaeopteryx, its skeletal structure is allegedly more bird-like. However, this description of Protoavis assumes that Protoavis has been correctly interpreted as a bird. Almost all paleontologists doubt that Protoavis is a bird, or that all remains assigned to it even come from a single species, because of the circumstances of its discovery and unconvincing avian synapomorphies in its fragmentary material. (Read more...)


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Paul Sereno2

Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"A fossil hunter needs sharp eyes and a keen search image, a mental template that subconsciously evaluates everything he sees in his search for telltale clues. A kind of mental radar works even if he isn't concentrating hard. A fossil mollusk expert has a mollusk search image. A fossil antelope expert has an antelope search image. ... Yet even when one has a good internal radar, the search is incredibly more difficult than it sounds. Not only are fossils often the same color as the rocks among which they are found, so they blend in with the background; they are also usually broken into odd-shaped fragments. ... In our business, we don't expect to find a whole skull lying on the surface staring up at us. The typical find is a small piece of petrified bone. The fossil hunter's search therefore has to have an infinite number of dimensions, matching every conceivable angle of every shape of fragment of every bone on the human body."
—Describing the skill of his co-worker, Kamoya Kimeu, who discovered the Turkana Boy, the most complete specimen of Homo erectus, on a slope covered with black lava pebbles. Taken from Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human (1992), 26.


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Hybodontspine

A hybodont spine from Morocco. In hybodonts, such spines were mounted at the leading edges of the dorsal and pectoral fins. This spine in particular is a dorsal spine.

Hybodontiformes are an order of extinct sharks, characterized by possessing 1-2 pairs of hooked protrusions on their heads. Hybodontiformes first appeared in the Lower Triassic, some 320–290 million years ago, but blossomed during the Mesozoic era. They did not survive past the end of the Cretaceous period, which ended some 65 million years ago. Hybodont sharks were originally described in the early 19th century from fossil teeth. Complete or partial skeletons of several hybodont genera have been found, although most of what is known about these sharks is based upon the study of their isolated teeth, fins, and cephalic spines.

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