I stopped blogging about various bits of palaeo news quite a while ago when I slipped way behind and couldn't be bothered to catch up. Well, now I can, so here are the stories which have been catching my eye recently:
Darwinopterus is sexy
pterosaur crest evolution was driven by sexual selection. Amusingly, Attenborough's ambitious pterosaur documentary in 3D apparently shows two crested pterosaurs mating (I intend to review his documentary at some point, as palaeontologists attending the premier in London recently were heavily critical of it). The females also had larger pelvises than the males, which naturally fits with their need to lay eggs. For more info on pterosaur sex, see here. For the press release, see here.
Palaeobiology is important for conservation
For a while now I have been making the claim that palaeobiology is important for our understanding of how organisms respond to environmental change and that this data is important for conservation efforts. (I most often make this claim to creationists when they claim evolutionary biology is not fruitful.) It is good to see that this is occurring, see here.
Two oxygen related stories for the price of one
It turns out that the early oceans were oxygen-free, which puts considerable constraints on what sort of life can exist. This helps explain why the Earth has been barren with regards to complex life for the majority of its history. See here. Oxygen has also impacted the early evolution of animals more than we realised as it has fluctuated a fair bit. See here.
A study has shown that they would not have had the strength to do this and had limited movement. Instead they could only have preyed on small, soft-bodied animals, and may even have been scavengers or herbivores.
Their sheer size has led to at least one imaginative rendering: