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Paleontology

SCIENCE
September 20, 2003 | Rosie Mestel, Times Staff Writer
Eight million years before the invention of cheese and running wheels, the mighty Phoberomys -- a spectacular rodent the size of a buffalo -- roamed the swamps of South America. To picture what it looked like, "think of a guinea pig and make it really big and you're getting pretty close," said zoologist Marcelo R. Sanchez-Villagra of Germany's University of Tubingen.
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SCIENCE
April 26, 2003 | Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer
Humanity's great-grandparents may be a million years older than previously believed, according to researchers who recalculated the age of important prehuman remains in South Africa using cosmic rays and radioactive decay. The new dating -- based on a controversial and still experimental technique -- may force experts in human origins to reassess the earliest beginnings of humankind. It suggests that these early human ancestors ranged throughout Africa 4 million years ago.
SCIENCE
June 3, 2002 | From Times staff and wire reports
Plant-eating dinosaurs of different species may have herded together to escape meat eaters, according to an analysis of 163-million-year-old dinosaur footprints on a muddy coastal plain in England. In Friday's issue of Science, British researchers said that 40 tracks of dinosaur footprints hint at a life-and-death struggle between prey and hunter.
SCIENCE
May 20, 2002 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
An asteroid may have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but an earlier one probably allowed the rise of the giant creatures, which dominated the planet for 135 million years, says a team from Rutgers University in New Jersey.
NEWS
March 21, 2002 | ROBERT LEE HOTZ, TIMES STAFF WRITER
A newly discovered fossil skull suggests that an early human species migrated from Africa to Asia and back again before evolving into modern humankind, an international team of researchers said Wednesday. The fossil is the strongest evidence yet that the species called Homo erectus--a tool-making, nomadic ancestor of humanity that was the first creature to master fire--was a single species ranging across Africa, Europe and Asia.
NEWS
March 7, 2002 | USHA LEE McFARLING, TIMES STAFF WRITER
One of the most heralded findings of paleontology--3.5-billion-year-old rocks considered to be the Earth's oldest fossils--may be merely "an illusion," according to a new analysis published Thursday. The report, which claims the rocks do not contain any signs of life at all, is hotly contested by the fossils' original discoverer. If true, however, it could rewrite much of Earth's early history.
NEWS
January 3, 2002 | KATHY BRYANT, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
GeoDecor's showroom in El Segundo perfectly sets up an otherworldly prehistoric mood, a flashback to childhood trips to a natural history museum: black walls, nearly frigid air and overhead lights that focus on dinosaur bones and other fossils, some 100 million years old. But this is not a museum--everything here is for sale. Not just meteorites, minerals and crystals, but fossilized plants, fish and dinosaurs' bones.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 21, 2001 | From Associated Press
Even the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex can't escape the merciless progress of scientific knowledge. The truth is cruel: T-rex was probably T-wrecks. "If we did Jurassic Park 4," says Wyoming paleontologist Robert Bakker, "T-rex would be portrayed in a fear-, angst-ridden role--sort of a large Woody Allen character."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 9, 2001 | MIKE PETERS, GREELEY TRIBUNE
Not much has changed on the Pawnee National Grassland in 35 million years, scientists say. There was more precipitation then, about 25 inches annually compared with 15 today, and there were more trees. The rolling hills would have been much the same, with taller grass and a warmer climate. Instead of the treeless prairie of today, there were clusters of trees 35 million years ago--walnut, maple and cottonwood. But the real change in this land is with the animals.
NEWS
August 3, 2001 | STEPHANI SUTHERLAND, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Scientists long have suspected that dinosaurs were land animals. Only recently, however, have the giants of the Earth been depicted as the terrestrial creatures they were. To get a true picture, a small but significant change needed to be made in the dinosaurs' appearance. They needed a nose job. A study by Ohio University paleontologist Lawrence Witmer found that the traditional depiction of dinosaur nostrils was wrong.
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