Herodotus Returns

Top Ten Dinosaur and Fossil Finds of 2009
December 31, 2009, 1:48 am
Filed under: Fossils | Tags: , ,

National Geographic’s top ten dinosaur and fossil finds of 2009 includes a snake longer than a bus, the skeleton of the oldest human ancestor, and Ida, the 47 million-year-old skeleton that may be ‘missing link’ between humans and lemurs.

10. Biggest Trilobite Sea Beasts Found … in SwarmsThe “remarkable,” yard-long, horseshoe crab-like arthropods roamed in swarms of up to a thousand animals, a May study suggests.
9. “Lost World” of Dinosaurs Survived Mass Extinction?An isolated group of dinosaurs may have outlived their doomed relatives by as much as half a million years, an April study suggested.
8. A Third of Dinosaur Species Never Existed?

Young dinosaurs weren’t Mini-Me versions of their parents, evidence presented in October suggests—meaning that up to a third of dinosaur species may be misidentified.

7. Tiny “T. Rex” Found —150-Pound Species Came FirstNo heavier than a small man, Raptorex was Mini-Me to T. rex’s dinosaur Dr. Evil. But in this case, the tiny gave rise to the titanic, researchers said in September. 
6. Five “Oddball” Crocs Discovered, Including Dinosaur-Eater

A “saber-toothed cat in armor” and a pancake-shaped predator are among five strange, dinosaur-era crocodile cousins discovered in the Sahara, archaeologists announced in November. Meet BoarCroc, PancakeCroc, DuckCroc, RatCroc, and DogCroc.


Fossils of a ferocious predator and two giant plant-eaters, named for an Aussie poet and his creations, have been unearthed in the outback, paleontologists announced in July.

4. NEW FOSSIL PHOTOS: “Graceful Weasel,” Jewel Bug, More

A long-legged mammal, a sharp-toothed rodent, and an iridescent beetle are among the more than 6,500 Eocene-epoch fossils unearthed in Germany’s Messel Pit, scientists announced in August.

3. Biggest Snake Discovered; Was Longer Than a Bus

The 60-million-year-old reptile was also heavier than a car, scientists said in February, adding that the fossil could shed light on climate change. 

2. Oldest Skeleton of Human Ancestor Found

There was never a chimp-like missing link between humans and today’s apes, according to an October fossil-skeleton study that could rewrite human evolutionary history. Said one scientist, “It changes everything.” 

1. “Missing Link” Found: Fossil Connects Humans, Lemurs?

The 47-million-year-old, exceptionally preserved primate fossil “Ida,” unveiled on May 20, was hailed by some as a major discovery in human evolution. The publicity frenzy made National Geographic News’s brief coverage our most viewed page of the year—and inspired a backlash as some experts, including one here at Nat Geo HQ, suggested Ida was more media event than milestone.


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