Top Ten Creepy Fossil Finds of 2006
by Loren Coleman, coauthor, Creatures of the Other Edge.
As often happens with fossil finds, sometimes they are stored away, forgotten, rediscovered, even exhibited, but then all of a sudden, an old find experiences a grand new awareness. The fossil is significant again. Or the fossil might be a recent or actual new find gaining its fifteen minutes of popular media fame, often before the journal articles are written. Such has been the case regarding the following selections, all from extinct species (supposedly). It is a roundup of certainly a unique collection of ten bizarre fossil species that were found for the first time, or rediscovered by the media during the Year of 2006.
1. Volaticotherium antiquus – Ancient Gliding Beast.
Discovered in Mongolia, this little half a pound squirrel-like animal is a whole new order of animals. It is a mammal that glided 70 million years before any other mammals—and maybe before birds flew.
2. Sinohydrosaurus lingyuanensis – Two-headed Aquatic Reptile.
This miniature two-headed young aquatic reptile is the first fossil ever found with two necks and two heads. It was discovered in China, and aged to 100 million years ago.
3. Ekaltadeta – Riversleigh Killer Kangaroo.
News digs at the Riversleigh site in northwest Queensland have unearthed new specimens and apparently a new species (unnamed) of the carnivorous giant rat-kangaroos from Australia.
4. Bullockornis – Demon Duck of Doom
Also discovered at Riversleigh, in the same site as the "Killer Kangaroo," were examples of the "Demon Duck of Doom," so, of course, the press had a field day with that.
5. Bubalus cebuensis – Dwarf Buffalo.
A new dwarf buffalo species from the Pleistocene was discovered by chance in the Philippines. This color drawing of the new species may be made clearer and more full-sized (even though it is a tiny animal to begin with) by clicking on it.
6. Camelus sp. unknown species – Giant Camel.
A 13 feet tall camel — double the size of the modern-day camel — was discovered in Syria. Dating back 100,000 years, the fossil bones clearly demonstrate the animals that they came from were much bigger than modern camels.
7. Killikaike blakei Large new unidentified monkey.
The fossil of a new species of monkey that once roamed the rainforests of Patagonia, South America, dating to 16.4 million years ago, was discovered.
8. Homo sp. unknown species – Small new hominid?
A new hominid cranium was found in two pieces at Gawis in Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar region. It is believed to be between 500,000 and 250,000 years old. It is relatively small, and seems to point to a link between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.
9. Australopithecus sp. unknown species – Little Foot or Stw 573.
The remains of Little Foot which were discovered in a cave complex at Sterkfontein, South Africa, came under new analysis this year. The species had been tentatively dated to three to four million years before present, but the new findings show the small upright Australopithecus died only about 2.2 million years ago and thus co-existed with Homo.
10. Homo floresiensis – Flores Human – Hobbits.
During the continuing debate, in which the 8-9 individual Hobbit fossil finds are being lost in the shuffle, the first skull replica of the Hobbits, Homo floresiensis became available from Bone Clones. It is the most famous fossil discovery of recent memory, and now you can own an affordable but good quality replica, if you wish. That’s what I call a "celebrity fossil."
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