Deadly predator with bad manners

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early predator . The Pampas killer lived 265 million years ago and it is the earliest land-living predator to have been discovered in South America.

It came from South America, a cold-blooded killer that was discovered using Google Earth.

The Pampas killer lived 265 million years ago and it is the earliest land-living predator to have been discovered in South America. It also happens to be one of our earliest relatives.

Today, the Pampas killer is to be revealed in the journal, Proceedings, of the National Academy of Sciences, after years of work by an international team of scientists that included several South Africans.

The Pampas killer, or Pampaphoneus biccai, was discovered in 2008 in the pampas region of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil. The name Pampaphoneus means Pampas killer, the pampas being the open plains found in South America.

Its species name, biccai, is in honour of José Bicca, the owner of the farm where the fossil was found. This predator was probably about the size of a leopard and is a dinocephalian therapsid, a mammal-like reptile that roamed long before the dinosaurs.

Dr Juan Cisneros and Cesar Schultz found the skull at a site they identified from a “flyover” with Google Earth.

“Brazil is covered in vegetation, so with Google Earth you can spot open areas in the middle of the green,” said Dr Fernando Abdala, a senior researcher at the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research at Wits.

Increasingly, said Abdala, scientists were using Google Earth to prospect for sites that might be fossil-yielding. In the pre-Google Earth era, scientists had to obtain and source aerial photographs or rely on luck.

Shortly after finding the skull, Cisneros, who was a doctoral student at Wits, e-mailed a picture to his alma mater, and then the excitement began.

SA is a leading authority on therapsids because the majority of fossils have been found in the Karoo.

On examining the skull, Professor Bruce Rubidge, also of the Bernard Price Institute, found that the new Brazilian species was closely related to a SA mammal-like reptile known as Australosyodon, which was discovered in the late 1980s on a farm close to the Prince Albert road in the southern Karoo. Since the 1980s, other therapsid species have been found in Russia and China.

Having only the Pampas killer’s skull to work with, scientists have had to draw on the knowledge gleaned from SA fossils to compile a profile of how this beast looked and lived.

“From footprints found in South Africa, they probably moved in herds,” explained Rubidge.

Abdala and Rubidge suspect this early predator was cold-blooded, different from the later dinosaurs.

“It might have been fast on a hot day,” laughed Rubidge.

The academics believe that after downing its prey, the Pampas killer tore chunks of flesh out of it, probably while it was still alive.

“This oke was no polite feeder,”Rubidge said. “It would have been a messy experience.”

By comparing the Pampas killer to its other therapsid cousins found in SA, Russia and China, scientists are hoping to plot the migration of land-living animals across the then supercontinent, Pangaea. - The Star

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Meme-Man, wrote

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09:31am on 20 January 2012
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carl botha @ 05.03pm > Footprints are very common in archaeology - commonly left in mud or ash and then covered over by new layers of mud or ash. Vast amounts of information come from footprints - think of how much tracker can pick up from modern tracks; speed, direction, number of individuals, injuries on a limb, etc. The fossilized tracks can indicate whether tracks were laid down simultaneously (a herd) or over time; and how quickly they were covered over; ie - the hominid tracks of two pre-humans from Africa; and adult and child walking hand in hand through ash debris from a volcano indicates a parent and child.

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carl botha, wrote

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05:03pm on 19 January 2012
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"“From footprints found in South Africa, they probably moved in herds,” explained Rubidge." Really??? Footprints that are how old? I dont believe this footprint-story for one minute -- any expert is welcome to correct me.

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Meme-Man, wrote

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10:15am on 19 January 2012
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[email protected] - well said in every line; fully agree.

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Goodness Gracious, wrote

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10:14am on 19 January 2012
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Anonymous @4:01pm - You seem to be talking in riddles. In terms of such a debate you either believe that everything was created just as they are, or you believe that things evolved to what they are. If you have some knowledge and qualifications that can in some way enlighten us to a third stream of possibility I would dearly love to know what that is. If, however, you are a creationist, then I have to say that it is not theory, it is mythology, and there is no science in it - in other words there is no evidence, no quantifiable proof, and (in my opinion) no substance to it. Like, for instance, if things were created just so without ever having changed, when did this creation occur? Do you believe in the biblical mythology of creation or do you have some greater understanding than that? I will be the first to admit that evolution IS a theory, but it is a very well educated one based on tangible evidence that can be seen with certainty and proven by means of such techniques as carbon dating, such as dinosaurs DID exist millions of years before us, and that we have only been on this planet in our current form for roughly 120 000 years - this then begs the question, if we were just created without evolution, did we just suddenly magically appear one day? These questions deserve answers, so please, as I earlier mentioned, if you have some greater knowledge, please share it with us. If, however, you do not have said knowledge, rather don't rubbish scientific knowledge with mythology you cannot substantiate.

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Gamer, wrote

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08:22am on 19 January 2012
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Guys, a new Dinosaur was discovered! Now come back to topic and congratulate the guys that had the mind and know-how to do this. These are the same people that assist in the global scientific community. Every piece fits the world puzzle, the more we find, the more complete understanding we get. The creationist has their points, albeit, limited in knowledge. When taking that into a factor I must say I feel sorry for them, they're good people with limited understanding and knowledge. Its thanks to Science that creationists can watch TV, drive to the shops and down the road on Sundays. Your hot shower and warm food via microwave is thanks to science. So to sum this all up in a nutshell, there's a community in USA called the Amish, if you are a true creationist I recommend migration.

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Meme-Man, wrote

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04:34pm on 18 January 2012
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Hello [email protected] - You mention the "right science" - sorry, sir, there is only once science - the science where data, double blind testing, theory, prediction, experiment and peer review all intersect. If you have ever flown in an airplane, you will appreciate what I'm saying - there are the laws of flight and then there is you standing on the ground imagining that you can soar. I'm very interested in the cunning trap you reckon you caught GG and Meme in - because, perhaps a bit like the emperor's new clothes, it's not very obvious.

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Meme-Man, wrote

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04:27pm on 18 January 2012
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[email protected] (same anonymous all the time?) Nobody needs to vouch for Darwin's credibility - re-read the sentence, it says "Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are" - I paid credit to the process and methodology that he pioneered; his personal credibility is of no consequence. Yes - we are all proof of evolution in process - we resemble yet differ from our parents and children. "Superheroes"? You mean Darwin? He is no superhero - but credit is given where it is due - no more, no less. I'm afraid your questions are too muddled to make sense of - please rephrase and I will revert minutely on each. Death is tragic and, sadly, indifferent - I have experienced death close to me as anyone has; I am consoled by the life of those individuals that I remember, by all they taught me. When my life inevitably comes to its end, it will be without fear or expectation - instead I will simply be sad to be leaving an experience I have enjoyed immensely and console myself with the hope that I leave behind a better planet than the one I arrived on - with more understanding, caring and reverence for all life. I hope I can pass on some of what I've learned.

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Meme-Man, wrote

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04:10pm on 18 January 2012
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Hello "GG"@03:32pm - Thank you for your comments. At outset I already know that "active" creationists will block out everything I write - and that is okay; I don't mind being attacked or even 'grilled' and insulted over and over - the facts stand on their own feet and I will keep on providing an education service as long as counter-claims keep coming through. I never take offense or intend to ridicule creationists - people only know what they know. Where they intentionally don't want to know and intend to remain ignorant, I understand that attitude for what it is - the mind-virus of religion utterly corrupts the software of minds and takes them over; so that when individuals pig-headedly ignore facts or become violently angry I understand that it is not the individual reacting, it is the virus fighting for life. If you're interested in more details on this - look up the study of memetics (hence my pen-name).

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Anonymous, wrote

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04:01pm on 18 January 2012
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You really do underestimate the skills and knowledge and qualifications of the people you ridiculing on these forums. And GG and Meme is a great example of the current "scientific" community that deem themselves to have the only right "science" Would have wondered if we would still have some of the genius inventions today if ALL scientist and inventors allowed themselves to be bullied into only one "acceptable" scientific theory. The earth probably would still be flat me thinks. But since they pride themselves so much in this they will be to blind to even see that I caught them in their own game. Enjoy the day

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Guy, wrote

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03:49pm on 18 January 2012
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@Meme-Man. No more nightmares than you have with lions and other predators "roaming among us"

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Anonymous, wrote

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03:45pm on 18 January 2012
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Good boy Meme - Same Darwin that allowed his own children to starve to death? And you knew him personaly that you can vouch for his credibility. Where you part of the puzzle builders? The I stand corrected because then you yourself must be a proof of evolution all in it self. Awesome, a true scientist is someone that is objective and does not cloud their judgement but having superheroes. So beam me up spotty and all that. So answer my question as to why it is not so easy to find a cure for diseases but spent millions on these fairy tales. So here is my question purely of benefit to a normal human being that is hungry disease ridden, what is whether or not I was a blob, a reptile, an ape, space rock goo worth? Purely base on the scientific basis of benefit (non-academic) Have you had a child died in your arms from hunger and tell him Daddy Darwin said it is natural selection. When you get out of you academic aloofness and see the world for what it is, then I will believe something of this hogwash

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Goodness Gracious, wrote

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03:32pm on 18 January 2012
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Bravo meme-Man... tell it like it is. Unfortunately, however, proof, fact, and logic do very little to get through to those incapable of seeing through the veil of mythology represented as fact. To see science-fact for what it is would crumble and destroy their long held belief that everything has been created exactly the way their ure describes. I do, however, applaud your valiant and eloquent attempts to get understanding through to the "science-deaf"… albeit in vain.

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Jiems, wrote

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03:32pm on 18 January 2012
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@Anonymous at 1:22pm. Some of homo sapiens have not yet developed any further yet.

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meme-Man, wrote

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02:50pm on 18 January 2012
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"Anonymous @ 01:56pm" Sir Ma'am - It's not a case of 'believing' - it is a case of proof; whether that proof is something you can swallow or not - science does not have to be in agreement with your personal preferences or beliefs before it is valid. Your attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy, except that your attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.

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Goodness Gracious, wrote

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02:49pm on 18 January 2012
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What, what, WHAT? Adam was a carnivorous mammal-like reptile who was no polite feeder from 265 million years ago? Hmmm... and creationism makes SO much sense... NOT!!

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Meme-Man, wrote

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02:05pm on 18 January 2012
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Sorry - Anonymous @ 01:22pm - in my reply to you a few moments ago I did omit to answer your "When" question ("wend did we evolve") - the answer to that is "whenever offspring are born" (regardless of what species). Each new birth carries copies of (mostly) successful parent DNA; inevitable 'mistakes' in copying of that digital information library (which DNA is), causes mutation. Most mutations prove to be not better adjusted to environment, but occasionally mutations give small advantages. Those advantages translate into an individual and linage more suited to survival and breeding. "Good" mutations tend to accumulate in populations, bad ones tend to end in dead ends for that sub-species. The process is called 'specification' if you want to look it up. So, the simple answer to your question of "when" is "always"... evolution down or up any line of specis is the sum of continuous tiny incremental changes.

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:56pm on 18 January 2012
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@Meme-Man You believe what you believe. I find it a bit too thick to swallow, the one day we find a new species of fly or a couple of thousand and the next day we adjust evolution and the earth age based on a piece of bone. And Hollywood even brings us better graphic and better actors. And of course it is the editor's choice. They must have been great at puzzles when they were kids or worse since they can fit a hell of a lot of puzzle pieces from different puzzles. I do love Star Wars and Star Trek, to go where no scientist has gone before

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Meme-Man, wrote

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01:49pm on 18 January 2012
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Anonymous @ 01:22pm - yes - we evolved from common ancestors with reptiles - we evolved from common ancestors to roses, sea urchins, mushroom, sea coral and bacteria, etc. - We all ultimately evolved ultimately from single cellular organisms a billion (thousand million) or more years ago. Read Professor Richard Dawkins' books "Ancestors Tale", "River out of Eden", "Climbing Mount Improbable", "Greatest Show on Earth", or other good books on the topic. How do we know this? Well - your and my DNA is 40% the same as an oak tree - that is why you can splice DNA from arctic jellyfish into a tomato to enjoy it's anti-freeze. The DNA evidence is conclusive, the molecular clock evidence is conclusive, the fossil record is conclusive - and a dozen other indicators along with those major three branches of conclusive study. A lack of education in this day an age is nothing but a reflection on your own willingness to avail yourself of the ready information waiting for you.

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Anonymous, wrote

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01:22pm on 18 January 2012
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Wow we were once like reptiles, interesting. So can somebody tell me, when did we evolve?

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Meme-Man, wrote

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01:11pm on 18 January 2012
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[email protected] - you have a problem with what's extrapolated from the find? Why... I've summarized the statements below and find nothing to dispute other than a single statement by a scientist about 'messy eating'... big deal, but that hardly brings the rest of the article into disrepute: > discovered using Google Earth > Pampas killer lived 265 million years ago, > earliest land-living predator discovered our earliest relatives > {I've omitted other 'where, when, how' details of discovery which are indisputable] > predator the size of a leopard and is a dinocephalian therapsid, a mammal-like reptile that roamed long before the dinosaurs. > On examining the skull... found closely related to a SA mammal-like reptile discovered in Karoo. > other therapsid species found Russia and China. > Having only skull, scientists draw on knowledge from SA fossils > From footprints they probably herds, > suspect cold-blooded (body structure & mechanics gives this away) > might have been fast on a hot day (as cold blooded creatures are... note flies, snakes, etc) > after downing prey tore chunks of flesh etc (teeth shape and spacing indicate evolutionary specialization. > “This oke no polite feeder, etc.” - (merely an opinion...) > hoping to plot the migration... (take fossil spread and factor in tectonics and geology... this is reasonable objective). So, Anon... given the facts above... please explain specifically where your problem is with the article...

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