A few days ago, we shared with you a non-exhaustive list of ten dinosaur discoveries that marked 2022. Now let’s move on to the other fossils unearthed or analyzed this year which are just as important from a scientific point of view.
The oldest fossilized brain
The Chengjiang Fossil Site in China preserves a series of Lower Cambrian deposits within which lie fossils of soft-bodied organisms. Among them is Cardiodictyon cattenulum which was discovered in 1984. Further analysis of these remains eventually led to the discovery of a preserved nervous system, including a brain.
One of the largest turtles in history
Last November, a team of paleontologists announced the discovery of an extinct species of giant sea turtle that once roamed the Cretaceous seas, between 83.6 and 72.1 million years ago. Analysis of its pelvis suggests that the reptile was nearly four meters long. The animal could thus have rivaled in size Archelon, present about 66 million years ago, and which is today considered the largest sea turtle ever documented.
One of the last pandas in Europe
Analysis of fossil teeth kept in a Bulgarian museum this year led to the discovery of an ancient European panda. These animals would have evolved about six million years ago. This new species, named Agriarctos nikolovi, had much larger teeth than its European cousins, meaning it was likely similar in size to giant pandas today.
Earliest known example of a flower bud
In January, a team announced the discovery of the oldest flower bud in a 164 million year old fossil unearthed in the Jiulongshan formation, Inner Mongolia (China). The button, which measures only three square millimeters, is characterized by several tightly enveloping petals. The discovery firmly pushes the emergence of flowering plants back into the Jurassic period.
Impeccably preserved fish
A team of paleontologists announced a few months ago the discovery of several dozen Jurassic fossils buried under the soil of an English farm. Of the more than 180 recorded fossils, one of the most remarkable was undoubtedly a fish head preserved in three dimensions for more than 180 million years. It would be a Pachycormus, an extinct genus of finfish.
A pregnant ichthyosaur
This summer, melting glaciers led to the discovery of dozens of ichthyosaur fossils in Chilean Patagonia. Among them were the remains of a four-meter-long pregnant female, as evidenced by the presence of several embryos still nestled among her remains.
Two new giants discovered in Argentina
Pterosaurs are a group of flying reptiles that evolved alongside dinosaurs 228 to 66 million years ago. These two new specimens, discovered in the Plottier Formation, were not as large as Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx, two reptiles with a wingspan of more than twelve meters, but they were still imposing. One was about seven meters wide wings outstretched and the other nine meters wide. Both belonged to the Thanatosdrakon amaru species.