Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nearly 50 new species of prehistoric creatures discovered in record time

09.02.2009
In just four years a University of Portsmouth palaeontologist has discovered 48 new species from the age of the dinosaurs – while other scientists took 180 years to identify the same number.

Dr Steve Sweetman’s discoveries, found hidden in mud on the Isle of Wight, are around 130 million years old and shed valuable light on the poorly understood world in which well known dinosaurs roamed.

Steve, a research associate with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has found in ancient river deposits, at least eight new dinosaurs, many different types of lizard, frogs, salamanders, and perhaps rarest of all from the time of the dinosaurs, six tiny mammals, some as small as a shrew.

Palaeontologists have previously relied on conventional surface prospecting to collect fossils exposed naturally by weather and waves. Broken bits and pieces of bone stick out of the ground which often leads to a larger fossil being discovered.

The techniques Steve adopted are far more thorough – he carried some three and a half tonnes of mud along beaches and up cliffs in buckets and backpacks before driving samples back to his farm on the island where he has set up his own laboratory.

He dried and sieved it until buckets of mud became bowls of sand and then examined every single grain under a microscope. It wasn’t long before he was picking out tiny fossil bones and teeth.

Steve said: “It has taken me just four years of hard graft to make my discoveries. Living on the Isle of Wight made this research physically possible. You can get to most places within half an hour, so transporting tonnes of mud wasn’t too much of an obstacle. It would have been near impossible if I had been based on the mainland.

“In the very first sample I found a tiny jaw of an extinct newt-sized, salamander-like amphibian and then new species just kept coming.

“Although we knew a lot about the larger species that existed on the island during the Early Cretaceous no-one had ever filled in the gaps. With these discoveries I can paint a really detailed picture of the creatures that scurried at the feet and in the shadows of the dinosaurs,” he said.

The research wouldn’t have happened had it not been for a chance meeting with University of Portsmouth palaeontologist Dr Dave Martill on a beach on the south-west coast of the island. On this beach, while standing on ancient remains – the famous Hypsilophodon Bed, Steve was persuaded to renew his interest in palaeontology and study for a PhD.

Steve said: “I graduated from Oxford in the 1970s with a degree in Geology and had planned to go on to study for a PhD doing the research I am now involved with. However, plans had to be shelved for financial reasons – I got married!”

Steve grew up on the Isle of Wight, sometimes referred to as ‘Dinosaur Island’ as it is the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe. He has always been interested in fossils and decided to return there after 25 years on the mainland.

Dr Martill from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences said: “Steve is an exceedingly diligent worker and is tireless in his efforts to discover ancient life. His hard work has really paid off, but it probably helped that his first samples were productive, yielding the remains of extremely rare Mesozoic mammals - our earliest ancestors.

“Steve has become internationally recognised as a leading expert in his field and has many more exciting discoveries yet to be announced. He has already discovered 48 new species and he hasn’t even started on the fish.

Sophie Billyard | alfa
Further information:
http://www.port.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>