Oldest dinosaur nest site foundBy BBC | Tuesday, January 24 2012 at 16:43
A nesting site for dinosaur eggs found in South Africa is 100 million years older than the previous oldest site.
Palaeontologists found 10 separate nests, each containing clutches of up to 34 eggs measuring 6-7cm.
The fossils are of the prosauropod Massospondylus, a relative of the long-necked sauropods such as Diplodocus.
They suggest that Massospondylus returned to the site repeatedly, laying their eggs in groups in the earliest-known case of "colonial nesting".
The 190-million-year-old finds also included embryonic dinosaur skeletons, and are described in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They were found in a 25m stretch of rock in South Africa's Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
The researchers suggest that many more sites remain embedded in the rock, which will be exposed as natural weathering processes continue.
But the current find already vastly extends what is known about dinosaurs in their earliest days on Earth.
"Even though the fossil record of dinosaurs is extensive, we actually have very little fossil information about their reproductive biology, particularly for early dinosaurs," said David Evans, associate curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum.
"This amazing series of 190-million-year-old nests gives us the first detailed look at dinosaur reproduction early in their evolutionary history, and documents the antiquity of nesting strategies that are only known much later in the dinosaur record."
EGYPT: Archaeologists discover tomb of temple singerBy BBC | Tuesday, January 17 2012 at 15:18
Archaeologists working in Egypt have discovered the tomb of a female singer in the Valley of the Kings.
The tomb was found by a team from the University of Basel in Switzerland who came across it by chance.
The woman, Nehmes Bastet, was a temple singer during Egypt's 22nd Dynasty (approximately 945 - 712BC), according to an inscription in the tomb.
The coffin found in the tomb contains an intact mummy from almost 3,000 years ago.
Professor Susanne Bickel of the University of Basel told the BBC that the coffin was opened on Monday and she was able to see the "nicely wrapped" mummy of the woman who was buried in the tomb.
The opening of the coffin was carried out by Prof Bickel and her Basel colleague, field director Elina Paulin-Grothe, together with the Chief Inspector of Antiquities of Upper Egypt, Dr Mohammed el-Bialy and inspector Ali Reda.
Prof Bickel said that the upper edge of the tomb was found on the first day of Egypt's revolution, on 25 January 2011. The opening was sealed with an iron cover and the discovery was kept quiet.
Last week, after the start of this year's field season, the feature was identified as a tomb - and one of the very few tombs in the Valley of the Kings which have not been looted.
Elina Paulin-Grothe said that the tomb was not built for the female singer, but was re-used for her 400 years after the original burial, according to AP.
There are other non-royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, Prof Bickel said, which mostly date from the 18th Dynasty (1500 - 1400BC).
The woman in the coffin was the daughter of the high priest of Amon, Egypt's Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP.
The discovery was important because "it shows that the Valley of the Kings was also used for the burial of ordinary individuals and priests of the 22nd Dynasty", he added.
Egyptian news site Ahram reports that the wooden sarcophagus was painted black and decorated with hieroglyphic texts.
This tomb is only the second found in the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922, and is referred to as KV64 in the naming system used to label tombs in the valley. It is one of a cluster of tombs without any wall decoration found near the royal tomb of Thutmoses III.
A tomb found in 2006, known as KV63, had seven coffins in it but none of them contained any mummies - it seems to have been used as a burial cache.
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