London, March 10, 2017: Researchers have found the world’s oldest crocodilian eggs that were laid 152 million years ago.
The eggs, discovered in cliffs in Portugal, were laid by close relatives of “true” crocodiles, a group called crocodylomorphs, which according to paleontologists, had been two metres long.
“The fact that they are from the Late Jurassic period makes these eggs the oldest crocodilian eggs known so far,” Joao Russo from the Nova University of Lisbon in Portugal was quoted as saying to the BBC.
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“The fossil record tells us that crocodiles and their relatives (forming the larger group of crocodylomorphs) were much more diverse in the past, with different feeding habits, ecological niche distribution or morphology,” he added.
The eggs were found in several clutches and appear to be of two different types, the researchers said in the paper published in the journal, Plos One.
“This new discovery from Portugal extends the knowledge of this type of egg by approximately 40 million years,” Russo added. (IANS)
A team of scientists from Britain and China has claimed to have solved what Charles Darwin called the “abominable mystery” of when flowers originated.
Flowering plants likely originated between 149 and 256 million years ago, said the study published in the journal New Phytologist.
“The discrepancy between estimates of flowering plant evolution from molecular data and fossil records has caused much debate. Even Darwin described the origin of this group as an ‘abominable mystery’,” explained lead author Jose Barba-Montoya from University College London.
“To uncover the key to solving the mystery of when flowers originated, we carefully analyzed the genetic make-up of flowering plants and the rate at which mutations accumulate in their genomes,” he explained.
Through the lens of the fossil record, flowering plants appear to have diversified suddenly, precipitating a Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution in which pollinators, herbivores, and predators underwent explosive co-evolution.
“In large part, the discrepancy between these two approaches is an artifact of false precision on both palaeontological and molecular evolutionary timescales,” said Professor Philip Donoghue from the University of Bristol in England.
The new findings underline the power of using complementary studies based on molecular data and the fossil record, along with different approaches to infer evolutionary timescales to establish a deeper understanding of evolutionary dynamics many millions of years ago. (IANS)