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Top Paleontology Finds of 2022

Updated: Jan 16

Every year, new paleontological discoveries are made in all four corners of the world. Here are five notable finds from 2022.


1. Frog eating dinosaur, Mongolia

Image Credit - Wang et al

A new species of small flying dinosaur called Daurlong Wangi was found in Inner Mongolia. The fossil is from a mid-sized dromaeosaurid or bird-like predatory dinosaur that lived about 130 or 120 million years ago. The fossil was so complete and articulated that researchers also found the partial skeleton of an ancient frog in its gut contents. This marks the first case of intestinal preservation in a dinosaur closely related to birds.




2. The oldest African dinosaur, Zimbabwe

Image Credit: Andrey Atuchin

Giant, long-necked Sauropods are prevalent in the fossil record, but for the first time, the remains of an omnivorous mini-sauropod was found in Africa.


The five-foot long Mbiresaurus raathi is an ancestor of the lineage of sauropods. It is a 230-million-year old dinosaur that ran on two legs. The fossil skeleton is nearly complete and contains parts of the skull, spinal column and elements of both the front and hind legs.









3. World’s oldest DNA, Greenland

Image credit: Beth Zaiken

A new chapter in the history of evolution was found in Greenland, where researchers discovered fragments of environmental DNA dating back two million years into the Pliocene.

Researchers were able to sequence sediment samples from Kap København to identify the animals and plants that once inhabited the area. Finds include 102 different genera of plants and nine animals, including horseshoe crabs, hares, geese and mastodons. According to Eske Willerslev, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Cambridge and senior author of the research paper on the find, “There is almost no life of any significance here now, but two million years ago, it would have been a forest teeming with life surrounding a river running into the bay.


4. First swimming dinosaur, Mongolia

Image credit: Yusik Choi

Dinosaurs soared through the skies and stalked the earth, but not until this year has there been evidence that dinosaurs swam. The discovery of the foot-long Natovenator who lived about 71 million years ago in Mongolia have the swept back ribs of diving birds like auks and penguins and a long jaw full of tiny teeth. Researchers believe that Natovenator was a semi-aquatic fish hunter and a cousin of the Velociraptor.



5. South America’s largest pterosaur, Argentina

Image Credit: Leonardo D. Ortiz David

Small creatures would have scattered as the imposing shadow of the Thanatosdrakon amaru flew overhead. This gigantic ancient pterosaur that flew in Argentina 86 million years ago had a wingspan of 30 feet. This aptly named “dragon of death” was one of the largest flying reptiles in the world and the largest in South America. Their bodies were oddly shaped, with large skulls that were sometimes larger than their bodies and held up by an elongated neck. Two specimens—an adult and juvenile were found, so researchers surmise they were together at the time of their death.


Research gleaned from Smithsonian and Discover Magazines


Work alongside paleontologists and contribute to science by joining a paleontology dig from Ancient Odysseys in 2023.



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