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Titanoboa cerrejonensis

Titanoboa, meaning "titanic boa", is an extinct genus of snake that lived approximately 60 to 58 million years ago, during the Paleocene epoch, (approximately 60-58 million years ago) a 10-million-year period immediately following the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event that wiped out the majority of terrestrial life, including the dinosaurs. After the mass extinction event, Titanoboa was, for the majority of the Paleocene epoch, the largest non-marine vertebrate. It is the largest snake ever discovered at an estimated 43 feet long, and to date, paleontologists have identified about 180 different bones, mainly vertebrae and costae (rib bones) belonging to 28 individual specimens from a cache of fossils excavated from El Cerrejon coal mine in northern Colombia. The prepped fossils were later revealed in early 2007 at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida. However, this is not the first occurence of large snake fossils that have been discovered in South America before. An example would be Madtsoia bai, a huge constrictor known from fossils discovered in Argentina in the mid 1930s. This particular species was believed to be up to 12 meters long, huge by modern snake standards but still 20% smaller than Titanoboa. (Read more...)


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Paul Sereno2

Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"Fossilized brains are unusual, and this is by far the oldest known example."
John Maisey, Curator in the Division of Paleontology at the AMNH describing the discovery of the oldest known fossil brain.


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Helicoprion whorl 13

Helicoprion, meaning ("Spiral Saw"), is an extinct genus of whorl-toothed shark that first arose in the oceans of the Late Carboniferous, approximately 280 million years ago, and survived the Permian-Triassic extinction event, and eventually went extinct during the Early Triassic, some 225 million years ago. Its fossils can be found in Russia and in the Western U.S. but no other part of the jaw or shark has ever been found. The type species, H. bessonovi, was discovered and described in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1899 by Russian paleontologist Andrzej P. Karpinski. The type specimen is a holotype based upon a single tooth-whorl. The tooth-whorl has puzzled paleontologists for decades, as it was unknown as to where it fit into the jaw, until a modern reconstruction determined that the most feasible place was within the shark's mouth.

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