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New Fossils Suggest Ancient Cat-sized Reptiles in Antarctica
LiveScience.com on Yahoo ^ | 6/7/08 | Jeanna Bryner

Posted on 06/07/2008 7:53:24 PM PDT by NormsRevenge

Cat-sized reptiles once roamed what is now the icebox of Antarctica, snuggling up in burrows and peeping above ground to snag plant roots and insects.

The evidence for this scenario comes from preserved burrow casts discovered in the Transantarctic Mountains, which extend 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the polar continent and contain layers of rock dating back 400 million years.

"We've got good evidence that these burrows were made by land-dwelling animals rather than crayfish," said lead researcher Christian Sidor, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Washington and curator at UW's Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Ancient digging

About 245 million years ago, floodwaters likely overflowed river banks in parts of Antarctica, sending water and sand across the landscape and into various animal homes, such as burrows. No animal bones or remains were found inside the burrows, suggesting the burrow dweller must have escaped the deluge, according to study researcher Molly Miller of Vanderbilt University.

When the waters receded, the sand inside of these burrows hardened into casts. The largest burrow cast, measuring 14 inches (35 cm) long, 6 inches (16 cm) wide and 3 inches (9 cm) deep, was buried in rock layers of the Wahl Glacier dating back to about 245 million years ago during the Early Triassic period.

"The burrow is an inclined hole and at the end of the burrow the animal would scrape out a larger area and that's where it would huddle down," said Miller, a geologist.

Nine smaller burrow casts previously were discovered in the Allen Hills region in southern Victoria Land and date to the early Middle Triassic. The newly discovered casts predate fossils of tetrapods in the area, pushing back the date for such four-legged vertebrates (animals with backbones) living in Victoria Land by at least 15 million years, Sidor said.

"This would be the earliest record of any kind of tetrapod in that part of Antarctica," Miller told LiveScience.

Burrow dwellers

None of the burrows contained animal remains. However, the burrows' sizes and shapes, along with associated scratch marks, are nearly identical to tetrapod burrows found in South Africa also dating to the Triassic.

One of these South African burrows contained a complete skeleton of an extinct mammal-like reptile called Thrinaxodon liorhinus. The larger burrow from the Wahl Glacier was likely crafted by the same type of animal, Sidor said.

The term "mammal-like reptile" is actually a little misleading. The animals belonging to this group do have a mixture of mammalian and reptilian characteristics, Sidor said, but the group is actually more closely related to mammals than to reptiles. And today's mammals are the living descendants of mammal-like reptiles, he said.

"Thrinaxodon is a distant relative of mammals," Sidor said. "It lived in the Early Triassic whereas the first mammals are Late Triassic/Early Jurassic in age. Thrinaxodon is not related to any specific type of mammals but to mammals in general."

Based on comparisons with other South African burrows, the researchers speculate the smaller burrows in Victoria Land housed mole-sized reptiles called Procolophonids.

"We have documented that tetrapods were burrowing, making dens in Antarctica, back in the Triassic," Sidor said. "There are lots of good reasons for burrowing at high latitudes, not the least of which is protection from the elements."

Different Antarctica

At the time the ancient animals presumably were excavating their subterranean homes, Antarctica would have been ice-free, with a cool temperate climate, Miller said. And Antarctica and southern Africa could have shared residents, since during the Triassic, the two regions were connected as part of the supercontinent Pangea.

The Permian-Triassic extinction had just occurred, and so very few tetrapods existed at the time, with just seven tetrapod genera identified in Antarctica.

Today, no land-based animals live in Antarctica, where temperatures stay below freezing and the earth is covered in ice. (Penguins and seals of Antarctica are dependent on the sea.)

The research, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, is detailed in the June issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: ancient; antarctic; antarctica; catsized; fossils; godsgravesglyphs; jurassic; paleontology; reptiles; triassic

1 posted on 06/07/2008 7:53:24 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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Restoration of the Early Triassic mammal-like reptile Thrinaxodon emerging from its Antarctic den. Credit: copyright, Jude Swales.


2 posted on 06/07/2008 7:57:20 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi ... Godspeed ... ICE toll-free tip hotline 1-866-DHS-2-ICE ... 9/11 .. Never FoRget!!!)
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To: NormsRevenge
Yep, sure looks like a reptile.

NOT!

Where's this guys scales?

3 posted on 06/07/2008 8:02:33 PM PDT by R_Kangel (`.`)
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To: R_Kangel
So.

They found some holes, and the only logical conclusion is that they must have been made by this thing.

4 posted on 06/07/2008 8:06:20 PM PDT by R_Kangel (`.`)
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To: R_Kangel

Wow, I’m sure we could sell these on Rodeo Drive, they’d have to be defanged and declawed but the exoticness, oy veh.


5 posted on 06/07/2008 8:07:08 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: NormsRevenge

There’s little doubt that there was abundant life on Antarctica in the past.

It wasn’t at the South Pole for most of the time.

There is no reason to doubt that there are huge oil and gas reserves there....

...Unless you think the world is 6,000 years old. The conversation pretty much ends at that point.


6 posted on 06/07/2008 8:10:02 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: R_Kangel

In his bathroom. Some things never change...


7 posted on 06/07/2008 8:10:27 PM PDT by null and void (Bureaucracies are stupid. They grow larger by the square of the population and stupider by its cube.)
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To: tet68
Yeah, we could call them Ferrets or Minks. Oh wait, the already exist.

Don't tell my wife though, she has a kind of fetish for ferrets.

Luckily I put my foot down after her pet RATS died. Yup, she loves rats to.

GEE, I bet the world would be much better off without RATS.

8 posted on 06/07/2008 8:12:12 PM PDT by R_Kangel (`.`)
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To: NormsRevenge
One of these South African burrows contained a complete skeleton of an extinct mammal-like reptile

They found burrows in South Africa. One of them contained a skeleton.

From this, we can gather that the burrows in Antarctica were dug by cat-sized mammal-like reptiles which huddled together, lived 400 million years ago, enjoyed watching sunsets, blinked an average of 7 times a minute, dreamed in color and chewed their food slowly.

How do we know all this? I told you -- we found a burrow in South Africa. It contained a skeleton. THAT'S why we know so much about life in Antarctica!!

9 posted on 06/07/2008 8:17:43 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Et si omnes ego non)
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To: NormsRevenge

They burrowed from South Africa to Antarctica. “I knew I should have made a left turn at Albuquerque.”


10 posted on 06/07/2008 8:18:05 PM PDT by gitmo (From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.)
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To: NormsRevenge

So global warming was good then but bad now?


11 posted on 06/07/2008 8:20:39 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (G-d is not a Republican. But Satan is definitely a Democrat.)
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To: NormsRevenge
A Type of Platypus?


12 posted on 06/07/2008 8:26:45 PM PDT by antonia ("Information is terrain and someone will occupy it.")
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To: NormsRevenge

The ecosystem CANNOT SURVIVE without the genetic information of EACH and EVERY species. If the Stinking Hairless Jumping Rat of South Azania is allowed to go extinct, we will never find a cure for cancer, all crops will die, and the oceans will flood Coney Island.


13 posted on 06/07/2008 8:46:24 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Dog Gone

What if you think petroleum has nothing to do with dead animals?


14 posted on 06/07/2008 8:47:32 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: R_Kangel

We could call them Merrets, ya.
Antarcdic Meerrets, yes Ma’dam, from the Triassic.
Loverly creatures, easily house broken, although we recommend one of our Eco-borro-habitat tm. for their
natural comfort.
I believe it’s quite taken with you too.
See! It likes you.
Jerome bring the lady a bandage, and another glass of Champagne.


15 posted on 06/07/2008 8:48:22 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: NormsRevenge
"We've got good evidence that these burrows were made by land-dwelling animals rather than crayfish,"

Why not? There weren't too many Cajuns around back then, so the mudbugs would've had a chance to get reeeeeal big!

16 posted on 06/07/2008 8:55:47 PM PDT by uglybiker (I do not suffer from mental illness. I quite enjoy it, actually.)
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To: NormsRevenge
Hmmmm.....the prototypical Democ Rat, spawned during the last Global Warming period.
17 posted on 06/07/2008 9:00:14 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhaul Congress! It's the sensible solution to restore Command to the People.)
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To: Arthur McGowan
What if you think petroleum has nothing to do with dead animals?

Ah! But coal does have a biological origin!

And three are vast deposits down there, too.

18 posted on 06/07/2008 9:00:39 PM PDT by uglybiker (I do not suffer from mental illness. I quite enjoy it, actually.)
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To: uglybiker
Ah! But coal does have a biological origin!

Though there are occasional fossils in coal, it is remarkably fossil free. It also doesn't have the right chemical signature for being of biological origin.
19 posted on 06/07/2008 9:02:28 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: Arthur McGowan
What if you think petroleum has nothing to do with dead animals?

It depends. If you think it just seeps up from the earth's core, then you're a lunatic. If you think it is derived primarily from organic matter like dead plankton, plant material, and fish poop that sinks to the ocean floor and is eventually buried, I'd say you're correct.

Nobody is arguing that oil comes from dead dinosaurs or other reptiles.

20 posted on 06/08/2008 7:14:45 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: R_Kangel
"Yeah, we could call them Ferrets or Minks. Oh wait, the already exist."

We could compromise and call them Finks.

21 posted on 06/08/2008 7:24:47 AM PDT by mass55th
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To: aruanan
Though there are occasional fossils in coal, it is remarkably fossil free. It also doesn't have the right chemical signature for being of biological origin.

Well, that is news to me. I assume you have a source link for that contention, which I believe would also be news to the rest of the world.

22 posted on 06/08/2008 8:02:00 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
Well, that is news to me. I assume you have a source link for that contention, which I believe would also be news to the rest of the world.

I'll find it. I may have it on another browser on this or another computer. As far as being news to the rest of the world, 95% of this is accounted for by kids growing up being told that coal was formed by compression of ancient forests in the "forest ->peat->lignite->bituminous->anthracite coal" pathway. Coal, like petroleum, however, and unlike peat, has the wrong chemical footprint to have come from a biological source. There are elements far in excess or in paucity to be explicable in terms of the buried forest theory.
23 posted on 06/08/2008 10:38:38 AM PDT by aruanan
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To: aruanan

Now you’re saying petroleum has the wrong chemical footprint to have an organic source, too?


24 posted on 06/08/2008 10:53:37 AM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
Now you’re saying petroleum has the wrong chemical footprint to have an organic source, too?

Organic just means carbon. This may or may not be of a biogenic source. Most of the carbons/hydrocarbons in the universe are abiogenic. There are two main reasons petroleum is thought to be of biogenic origin: 1. The presence in petroleum of certain molecules that appear to be of a biological origin. But these molecules are also consistent with the presence of deep-dwelling bacteria that live off methane and petroleum (as well as other substrates) that contaminate the petroleum. The underground biomass in the form of bacteria is many times that of the entire surface biomass. This underground biomass was not known in the early days of theorizing of origins of petroleum. 2. The levorotatory nature of petroleum. When molecules are synthesized, they usually are produced as a mix of L and R isomers. Chemicals or molecules produced by living things are mostly L isomers. They rotate light to the left. Petroleum, though, is only slightly L-rotatory, consistent also with its having been contaminated with biogenic products rather than being of biogenic origin itself.

The abiogenic origin of petroleum was supplanted by the biogenic origin based mostly on these two reasons. Recent discoveries, as well as the presence of too many of certain elements and too few of others, indicate that the switch may have been premature.

In an email I got from Thomas Gold a few years ago:
All hydrocarbon reservoirs show excesses of certain elements or molecules, compared with non hydrocarbon bearing areas. Those include helium, vanadium, elemental carbon, nickel, ferrous iron, sulfides, hopanes in the same narrow carbon isotope range, carbonate cements with a large scatter in the same locality of carbon isotope range, iridium and other heavy elements. Many only in trace amounts, but nevertheless much in excess of their average abundance It would seem very strange that plant debris and primordial petroleum would have swept up the same group of substances. Especially helium, which can only have become concentrated by being washed up from a long pathway - therefore from great depth. Even farmers' water wells that contain an excess of methane frequently also contain an excess of helium.
Thomas Gold

25 posted on 06/08/2008 1:36:46 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: aruanan

I was afraid you’d use Thomas Gold as a source.

To your credit, you didn’t mention Eugene Island as an example.

There’s a reason 95% of shcool children believe that coal and petroleum have organic sources, which is that only 5% believe quackery. That’s a very good percentage.

You can make a very good case that some of the natural gas (methane) comes from sources other than decayed organic matter which was deposited.

Not most of it, but certainly some of it.

The same can’t be true of petroleum, and it definitely is not true of coal.

The reason some people are resistant to natural organic sources of hydrocarbons and coal is, that despite all the evidence, it doesn’t fit into a young earth model.

Fair enough, it doesn’t. But if you let your model predetermine your facts, that’s not scientific in any way.

I have no desire to “win” the discussion with you. I just wanted to know where you got your information.


26 posted on 06/08/2008 2:31:10 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone

If it comes from garbage on the ocean floor that gets folded under at the edges of the continents, then the supply is still endless.


27 posted on 06/08/2008 2:43:56 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Dog Gone
Nobody is arguing that oil comes from dead dinosaurs or other reptiles.

Yeah, settled question.

28 posted on 06/08/2008 2:47:42 PM PDT by Balding_Eagle (OVERPRODUCTION......... one of the top five worries for American farmers.)
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To: Dog Gone

I think part of the problem is that science tries to establish ‘one’ source for coal, or oil.

There are many different types of coal, and oil.

The reason for that is that they were made from different ‘things’, and different ‘processes’.

All life on Earth is carbon based, and all things ‘return’ to the Earth.

Coal may be formed by the layering of dead animals and plants, after being subjected to heat and pressure.

It is also likely that a stratifying process may take place deeper in the Earth, where elements are subject to unimaginable pressure and temperature.

So, oil, and coal, may come from both sources.

We just don’t know enough about the Earth, to say for sure.

If we did know for sure, then finding it would be a lot more predictable.

(just my thoughts. Not expecting anyone to agree)


29 posted on 06/08/2008 2:51:29 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (I reserve the right to misinterpret the comments of any and all pesters)
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To: Arthur McGowan
If it comes from garbage on the ocean floor that gets folded under at the edges of the continents, then the supply is still endless.

Sort of. If we're using it faster than it can be made, and we are, there's a problem.

30 posted on 06/08/2008 2:55:56 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: UCANSEE2

It’s pretty well understood that coal is formed from the carboniferous forests that existed onshore. We don’t find coal beds that are formed in marine environments ever.

Oil is bit trickier, but it’s nearly 100% marine. The reason it’s trickier is that oil is not usually found in the sediments where it was formed, but has migrated toward the surface to a completely different rock formation which has a seal above it.

Coal can’t do that.


31 posted on 06/08/2008 3:01:37 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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32 posted on 06/08/2008 7:56:01 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: R_Kangel
They found some holes, and the only logical conclusion is that they must have been made by this thing.

The holes were made by ancient prehistoric post hole diggers, most likely for telephone poles.

The diggers were 345 feet tall, lived in trees and ate bacon.

33 posted on 06/08/2008 7:59:45 PM PDT by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
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To: NormsRevenge

“Reptiles at the Mountains of Madness”


34 posted on 06/08/2008 8:01:25 PM PDT by Philo-Junius (One precedent creates another. They soon accumulate and constitute law.)
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To: Dog Gone

I’m not so sure. The proven reserves of oil have never been more than a few years’ supply—because nobody is going to invest what it would take to PROVE a, e.g., 500-years’ supply.


35 posted on 06/08/2008 8:45:35 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Arthur McGowan

True. Nobody in their right mind would invest money hoping to get it back in 500 years.


36 posted on 06/09/2008 3:23:44 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
The same can’t be true of petroleum, and it definitely is not true of coal.

The reason some people are resistant to natural organic sources of hydrocarbons and coal is, that despite all the evidence [sic], it doesn’t fit into a young earth model.

Fair enough, it doesn’t. But if you let your model predetermine your facts, that’s not scientific in any way.

I have no desire to “win” the discussion with you. I just wanted to know where you got your information.


Looks as though you've had a lot of erroneous assumptions. The abiogenic origin of petroleum was one of the early major theories. It had nothing to do with a belief in a so-called "young earth." It had sought to explain the origin of petroleum in terms of what was actually observed rather than, as later happened, trying to make it fit a particular earth history model.

Besides, you don't have to be "afraid" of Thomas Gold as a source. He's had quite a good track record of being correct where others in particular fields had themselves been unable to see reality because of the assumptions/current dogma of their fields. In the matter of the origins of petroleum and coal, he had been revisiting what had already had been almost a century of research in the field.
37 posted on 06/10/2008 3:05:39 AM PDT by aruanan
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