One of the largest diamond mines in Africa holds tracks of ancient animals

Diamond mine reveals trove of prehistoric tracks

One of the largest diamond mines in Africa holds more than gems. The Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology reports the site in Angola contains tracks of an 118 million-year-old dinosaur, a crocodile ancestor and a large mammal.

The Early Cretaceous mammal tracks show a raccoon-size animal that lived at a time when most were no larger than a rat.

Nearby, 18 sauropod tracks were also found, with a preserved skin impression. These are the first dinosaur tracks found in Angola, and were discovered by the same paleontologist, Octavio Mateus, who discovered Angolatitan adamastor, the first Angolan dinosaur ever found, in 2005.

Another trackway was attributed to a crocodilomorph, a reptile group that includes all modern crocodiles and extinct relatives and that has a unique laterally rotated handprint.

For almost eight months, the Catoca mine, fourth-largest diamond mine in the world, stopped mining that sector to preserve the findings and make the study possible.

New frog identified in North Carolina

More than a half-century after claims were dismissed that a new frog species existed in New York and New Jersey, a team of scientists led by Rutgers University researcher Jeremy Feinberg has proved that it is living in wetlands on the Interstate 95 corridor from Connecticut to North Carolina and are naming it after the ecologist who first noticed it.

The late Carl Kauffeld, an authority on amphibians and reptiles, identified the frog in a 1937 paper. But it was confused with two closely related species – including one to the north and one to the south – because it looks so similar. It was not recognized by others as a completely separate species. Now genetic testing and bioacoustic analysis prove that it is.

In a paper published in PLOS ONE, it was announced this leopard frog will be commonly referred to as the Atlantic Coast leopard frog and have the scientific name Rana kauffeldi. It was first encountered by Feinberg on New York’s Staten Island six years ago, not far from the Statue of Liberty.

Museum’s Fossil Fair is Saturday

The annual Fossil Fair returns to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences on Nov. 15; the event, billed as the nation’s largest event dedicated to fossils and paleontology, will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is free (there is a fee to see movies in the museum’s WRAL 3D Theater).

All four floors of the downtown Raleigh facility and two floors of its Nature Research Center will have exhibits and activities related to fossils. This year’s theme is sauropods, the focus of the museum’s current traveling exhibit, “World’s Largest Dinosaurs.” The day includes displays, speakers and craft activities for kids. Outside will be a “fossil pit” where you can dig for actual fossils. You’re also welcome to bring your own fossils to the fair for experts to identify. Details: Staff Reports

Tuesday’s for veterans at Discovery Place

On Tuesday – Nov. 11 is Veterans Day – there will be free admission for active military and veterans at all Discovery Place museums. There will also be discounted admission for their families.

The museums are Discovery Place, Charlotte Nature Museum, Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville and Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham.

At Discovery Place, military and veterans will also receive a free ticket to see “D-Day: Normandy 1944” in the IMAX theater (9 a.m.-4 p.m.). Details: Staff Reports