Macrauchenia -- the "long llama". The oldest fossils dated back approximately 7 million years ago in South America during the Miocene epoch and the last species disappeared from the fossil record during the late Pleistocene roughly 20,000-10,000 years ago. This animal possessed a camel-like body, long neck, stable legs, and a small head. Macrauchenia's feet resembled those of a modern rhinoceros with three hooves each. Despite the animal's relatively large size, Macrauchenia was able to rapidly change direction while running at high speeds to avoid predators. Macrauchenia was a perfect prehistoric hybrid, but its most noticeable feature was its small trunk or highly developed prehensile upper lip much like an elephant or tapir. Yet, Macrauchenia, being a litoptern was unrelated to all of these animals.
Thanks to carbon isotope analysis of teeth enamel from Macrauchenia told scientists that this bizarre animal was capable of eating plants and grasses. The trunk/prehensile lip would assist when it came to stripping leaves and branches from shrubs while the high crown teeth was used for chewing the grasses. Macrauchenia could have been the last of the litoptern mammals. The event known as the Great American Interchange really tested Macrauchenia's survival. With the birth of the Isthmus of Panama a land bridge was formed connecting the North and South American continents. New herbivores from the north competed with Macrauchenia for food and new carnivores such as saber-toothed cats and wolves began hunting the queer litopterns. On top of that, the arrival of humans in South America and the changing climates eventually pushed Macrauchenia into extinction.
Two warriors dueled upon the battle ground, Their arms scattering bright sparks and blood; above This sport, the clash of steel gave forth the sound Of youth fallen a prey to puling love.
The blades are broken, darling, like the moon Of our sweet youth! but teeth and fingernails Avenge the sword and traitorous dagger soon. Old hearts that love's old bitterness assails!
In the ravine where lynx and panther ramble, Our heroes bite the dust in fierce embrace, Their skin shall bring new bloom to the dry bramble. This pit is hell, our friends' choice dwelling place! Let us roll there, O cruel Amazon, So our fierce hatred may live on and on!
I am sure you have all heard of this one. Does the title "Biggest predatory shark in history" ring a bell?
The teeth are by far the most abundant when it comes to the preservation of this animal. The larger teeth can reach approximately 18 centimeters in height. In fact, it wasn't until 1667 that these structures were realized to be shark teeth, before then it was widely believed that they were petrified dragon tongues. Teeth are most commonly found, but over time more and more vertebrae have been discovered. And when it comes to general shark biology the shark's skeleton is composed of 'soft' cartilage, but the vertebrae are made up of calcified cartilage. This type of cartilage was harder and took longer to decompose and had a better chance at becoming fossilized. Thanks to the surplus amount of C. megalodon teeth and limited vertebrae paleontologists know that C. megalodon was big, but how big is the question? Through various methods scientists have estimated C. megalodon to be 15-16 meters long. Larger estimates put it at 17 meters while some theorize a colossal length of 20 meters (however, this estimation is mere speculation). A more modest size of 15m still meant that C. megalodon easily dwarfed all other predatory sharks to ever live. Now we go onto weight estimations... These weights are estimated when compared to great white sharks. Weight Estimations -At 16m = ~47 metric tons -At 17m = ~59 metric tons -At 20m = ~103 metric tons Megalodon's large size meant it needed large food (not dinosaurs. C. megalodon first appeared at the end of the Oligocene; long after the extinction of the dinosaurs). It appears that adults preferred to hunt small to medium sized whales. Evidence from cetacean vertebrae indicate that C. megalodon shared the same classic hunting method as the great white sharks do today -- striking from below to prevent self injury and land a potential fatal hit on the prey item.
C. megalodon seemed like the perfect predator, but yet it went extinct during the beginning stages of the Pleistocene. At this time of Earth's history, global cooling began rising at an alarming rate. As more water solidified into ice at the poles global sea levels dropped -- creating the Isthmus of Panama. The Isthmus of Panama closed the Central American Seaway which was a key migration route for whales. Without being able to migrate and reproduce whale numbers began to drop. Some whales such as Baleen whales were still able to migrate up into the polar regions thanks to their blubber; a place where C. megalodon could not follow. During this time the majority of whale genera disappeared and to this day only 1 toothed whale was able to survive; the sperm whale. With limited food C. megalodon was in for some trouble, not to mention that C. megalodon itself had a some of its nurseries disrupted by either the creation of the Isthmus of Panama or cooling temperatures. A final theory is that as more predaceous delphinids (represented by the modern Orca aka Killer Whale) appeared the numbers of C. megalodon declined. Which is true, but it is uncertain whether the delphinids caused the shark's population to drop or the shark's dropping population allowed more delphinids to appear.
But is C. megalodon really extinct? Some have theorized that this great shark is still alive in the oceans today, but scientists say otherwise...
(The jaws of a great white compare to C. megalodon.)
Mammoths and mastodons may have roamed the Earth together, but each animal represents two different branches of the Proboscidean family.
Mammoths belongs to the Mammuthus genus that first appeared roughly 5 million years ago in Africa and as time progressed they migrated up into Eurasia and then into North America. The most famous of all was Mammuthus primigenius (the Woolly Mammoth) which appeared ~250,000 years ago. Mammoths went extinct approximately 10,000 years ago. However, it's plausible that a population of dwarfs survived on an isolated island off the northeastern coast of Siberia until about 3,500 years ago. Mammoths and modern elephants are closely related and are a part of same family (Elephantidae). Mastodons, however, appeared much earlier -- about 30 million years ago. They primarily inhabited North and Central America and disappeared between 12,000-10,000 years ago.
-The two animals were similar in size and build, but mastodons were slightly smaller with shorter legs and lower, flatter skulls. -Mammoths had a hump on their backs that stored fats and nutrients reserved for harsher times. -The most noticeable difference were their teeth... Mastodons had cone-shaped cusps on the molars which were designed to crush leaves, twigs, and branches. Mammoths had ridged molars that allowed them to cut grass and graze like elephants do today.
This was the first pterosaur to be discovered in South America. Pterodaustro's jaws were long and narrow that curved upward in a bow-like shape. There were no teeth on the bottom jaw, but instead Pterodaustro possessed up to 500 elastic bristles. The top jaw perfectly fits within the bristles when the mouth is closed. Short blunt teeth also lined the upper jaw that could have been used to scrap food from the bristles and into the mouth.
Pterodaustro would've have fed upon tiny invertebrates much like flamingos today. It has even been suggested that Pterodaustro's hair-like filaments known as pycnofibres were pink in color -- an alteration in pigments due to their crustacean diet just like the plumage of a flamingo. However, this is mere speculation.
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One of the most distinctive of all hadrosaurs, Parasaurolophus was not only popular but it was also quite beautiful. The most stand-out feature on this dinosaur was its crest. This crest could've been used for display purposes to attract mates or maybe in order to recognize other individuals of the same species. The crest is also widely viewed to be used for auditory communication. The crest housed tubes that ran up the skull to the tip where they curved round and back down the skull. The calls produced by the throat travel through the passages where they are amplified by the crest so they are louder with a broader frequency. Each species would produce different calls thanks to their unique crests. Current Parasaurolophus species include: P. walkeri P. tubicen P. cyrtocristatus
Mummified remains of an 18-foot long dinosaur emerged from a mine in Canada. For the past five years researchers have spent over 7,000 hours chiseling away at the rock that encased the animal. There are no visible bones because the skeleton is covered with fossilized skin; even some gut content is still intact. It was a nodosaur that lived 110 million years ago. The death of this land-dwelling herbivore is still a mystery, but somehow it ended up at the bottom of an ancient sea which is why the animal is so well preserved.
The fossil was put on display at the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada.
Modern whales are amongst the largest animals to ever live on Earth. But where did these gigantic mammals come from? Well I'll tell you. Whales evolved from small terrestrial mammals that lived in the Eocene period such as Pakicetus. Pakicetus looked like the typical land animal and didn't have any whale-like features, however, their ears strongly resemble living whales and are unlike those of other mammals. Pakicetus is often regarded as the most basal whale.
As millions of years of evolution go by animals such as Ambulocetus appeared. They had shorter legs and larger, paddle-like feet. Recovered from sediments comprised of a prehistoric estuary as well as isotopes of oxygen in the bones are evidence for Ambulocetus' semi-aquatic lifestyle.
Beyond that more modernized whales showed higher levels of saltwater oxygen isotopes -- indicating ocean habitats. The nostrils gradually were positioned further back on the snout. This trend would continue into modern whales as "blowholes". As the aquatic whales continued to evolve their pelvis' reduced in size and separated from the spine. Dolphins and whales today have horizontal tail flukes and swim by undulating up and down (unlike fish who have vertical caudal fins and undulate side to side while swimming) -- revealing a terrestrial heritage. But evolution does not stop there. The front limbs transitioned into durable flippers used for steering and swimming and the hind legs slowly began to disappear. By around 40mya whales like Dorudon and Basilosaurus appeared and the puny reminiscent of hind limbs are still visible. These vestigial appendages are more evidence to support the whale's terrestrial ancestry.
Fun Fact: Hippos are the closest living relatives of whales, but they are not the ancestors!
Our planet currently consists of approximately ten million species of plants and animals and that number grows every single year as science discovers new ones. We think this is remarkable diversity, yet it is nothing compared to what existed before. We estimate that there have been five billion species on this planet since life began. That means for every five hundred species that ever existed on Earth only one remains today. Thus 99.8 percent of all species that had ever lived are extinct; and mass extinctions only account for a small percentage of that total. No species lasts forever.
As a follow-up to my previous blog, I'm trying something similar to the Featured Forum thread the moderators used to do at Gaming Lounge. But here, I'm not only linking to the forum, but also linking to some of the notable threads.
Since some of the above threads pertain to the Mario Kart series in general rather than just Mario Kart 8/Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, fans of the series who don't even have the game can always feel free to participate in them too.
So, do you guys have any feedback for this blog post?
Charnia is a genus of frond-like Ediacaran life form with segmented, leaf-like ridges branching alternatively to each side from a zig-zag medial structure. Charnia was an organism that grew on the ocean floor and could've fed on nutrients floating in the water. Despite its appearance it is not a plant nor alga because the fossil beds where Charnia specimens have been discovered demonstrate deep water -- where photosynthesis cannot occur.
Charnia was the first living organism discovered before the Cambrian period in 1958. There is also no life forms, still living today, that resemble Charnia and as of now there hasn't been any specimens discovered outside of the Ediacaran period. Thus, Charnia could represent an evolutionary dead-end.
Kosmoceratops richardsoni was a ceratopsian dinosaur (more specifically a chasmosaurine) discovered in 2010 in what is now known as Utah, United States. The name means "ornament horned face" and for good reason... The horns above the eyes are long and thin, but they project laterally and downward. The frill is relatively short and the size of the frill and fenestrae are quite different when compared to other chasmosaurines. Ten hook-like projections line the top of the frill; eight of these curve forward over the frill while the remaining two are located on either side. In total, there's 15 horns and horn-like structures on Kosmoceratops' skull -- which is alot even for a horned dinosaur.