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Dublin, Ireland

Smith A.S.,National Museum of Ireland | Vincent P.,CNRS Center for Research on Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

The exquisitely preserved holotype of the pliosaur '. Rhomaleosaurus victor (SMNS 12478) is described from the Toarcian Posidonien-Schiefer (Upper Lias, Lower Jurassic) of Holzmaden (Baden-Württemberg), Germany. The specimen presents a novel combination of synapomorphies and unique morphometric proportions separating it from Rhomaleosaurus sensu stricto and warranting the erection of a new genus, Meyerasaurus gen. nov. Historically, the name 'Thaumatosaurus has been interchangeable with Rhomaleosaurus and is frequently associated with SMNS 12478 in the literature. However, this is an invalid taxon and cannot be reinstated. The anatomy of Meyerasaurus victor is compared in detail with other pliosaurs, and its taxonomic affinity is reviewed. M. victor belongs to the family Rhomaleosauridae and shares several anatomical characters with Rhomaleosaurus including a short and robust premaxillary rostrum (length-to-width ratio c. 1.0), parallel premaxilla-maxilla sutures anterior to the nares, vomers contacting the maxillae posterior to the internal nares, and c. 28 cervical vertebrae minus the atlas-axis. The known geographical distribution of Rhomaleosaurus, which previously extended across the German and English palaeobiogeographical zones, is reduced to the English zone as a consequence of the referral of SMNS 12478 to a new genus. This is significant because it contributes to an ongoing trend of increasing generic separation between the German and English zones, while increasing the generic diversity within the German zone itself. © The Palaeontological Association. Source

Dowd M.,Institute of Technology Sligo | Carden R.F.,National Museum of Ireland
Quaternary Science Reviews

The colonisation of North West Europe by humans and fauna following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) has been the subject of considerable discussion in recent decades and within multiple disciplines. Here we present new evidence that pushes back the date of human footfall in Ireland by up to 2500 cal BP to the Upper Palaeolithic. An assemblage of animal bones recovered from a cave in the west of Ireland during antiquarian excavations in 1903 included a butchered brown bear bone (patella) which was recently subjected to two independent radiocarbon dating processes; the resultant dates were in agreement: 12,810-12,590 cal BP and 12,810-12,685 cal BP. This find rewrites the antiquity of human occupation of Ireland and challenges the traditional paradigm that certain biota may have naturally colonised the island prior to human arrival. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Benson R.B.J.,University of Cambridge | Butler R.J.,Bayerische Staatssammlung fur Palaontologie und Geologie | Lindgren J.,Lund University | Smith A.S.,National Museum of Ireland
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

The fossil record is our only direct means for evaluating shifts in biodiversity through Earth's history. However, analyses of fossil marine invertebrates have demonstrated that geological megabiases profoundly influence fossil preservation and discovery, obscuring true diversity signals. Comparable studies of vertebrate palaeodiversity patterns remain in their infancy. A new species-level dataset of Mesozoic marine tetrapod occurrences was compared with a proxy for temporal variation in the volume and faciès diversity of fossiliferous rock (number of marine fossiliferous formations: FMF). A strong correlation between taxic diversity and FMF is present during the Cretaceous. Weak or no correlation of Jurassic data suggests a qualitatively different sampling regime resulting from five apparent peaks in Triassic-Jurassic diversity. These correspond to a small number of European formations that have been the subject of intensive collecting, and represent 'Lagerstätten effects'. Consideration of sampling biases allows re-evaluation of proposed mass extinction events. Marine tetrapod diversity declined during the Carnian or Norian. However, the proposed end-Triassic extinction event cannot be recognized with confidence. Some evidence supports an extinction event near the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary, but the proposed end-Cenomanian extinction is probably an artefact of poor sampling. Marine tetrapod diversity underwent a long-term decline prior to the Cretaceous-Palaeogene extinction. © 2009 The Royal Society. Source

Ashe P.,33 Shelton Drive | O'Connor J.P.,National Museum of Ireland
Fauna Norvegica

An update of the more significant changes affecting Part 1 of 'A World Catalogue of Chironomidae (Diptera)' is provided. These concern new taxon names, new combinations and new synonymies that were proposed, as well as omissions and errors detected, since the publication of the Catalogue at the end of 2009. Source

News Article | March 23, 2016
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/earth.xml

What has an ancient bear got to do with human existence? Well, a lot, because it can push back the first human arrival in Ireland as early as 2,500 years. Since the 1970s, experts believed the Irish civilization began during the Mesolithic Period or around 8,000 B.C. following the discovery of a settlement in a Londonderry county. However, in a paper published in Quaternary Science Reviews on March 21, researchers revealed that the first humans in Ireland might have arrived in 10,500 B.C. or during the Paleolithic Period. The discovery was accidental. In 2010, National Museum of Ireland research associate and co-author Ruth Carden found a 113-year-old patella (kneecap) bone of an adult bear, which was excavated in Alice and Gwendoline Cave in Co Clare, untouched inside a cardboard box in the museum since the 1920s. The bone had noted markings, but it never underwent dating since the technology was not available until the 1940s. So Carden, together with Institute of Technology Sligo archeologist and lead author Marion Dowd, applied for funding from the Royal Irish Academy. After receiving it, they asked Queen's University Belfast to do it. They also sent bone samples to Oxford University researchers who confirmed the date as well as to three other specialists in Europe who noted that the age of the cut marks is the same as that of the bone. The authors were "shocked" by the results. "Yes, we expected a prehistoric date, but the Paleolithic result took us completely by surprise," Dowd shared. The bone markings also suggested that the carcass was still fresh when it was being butchered but that whoever wanted to separate the joint didn't succeed perhaps because of lack of experience, poor tools or level of difficulty. For her part, Carden, who is also an animal osteologist, calls the discovery "exciting" and that "this paper should generate a lot of discussion within the zoological research world ... it's time to start thinking outside the box ... or even dismantling it entirely!" The authors are presently seeking more funding so they can date hundreds of other bones in the same collection. In 2015, the discovery of a partial leg bone fossil found in Red Deer Cave in southwest China also suggested that some human ancestors may have lived longer than the Late Plestoceine Period.

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