In 1916, Bone War veteran (and poet) Charles H. Sternberg loaded 22 crates of fossils from the Alberta Badlands onto the SS Mount Temple, intending to ship them to the British Museum of Natural History. They never made it. [via Dinosaur Tracking]
"So I called my dad over and about five metres away he started swearing, and I was like 'what did I do wrong?' and he's like, 'nothing, nothing - you found a hominid'."The remarkable remains of two ancient human-like creatures (hominids) have been found in South Africa. Some researchers dispute that the fossils are of an unknown human species, but others say they may help fill a key gap in the fossil record of human evolution. [more inside]
Artist Ray Troll (previously 1, 2) and paleontologist Kirk Johnson, the self-described "paleo-nerd duo", have been working as a team ever since they took a road trip across the American West in search of fossils. In 2007, the pair published the book Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway based on those travels. Most recently, they have collaborated with Dr. Elizabeth Nesbitt at the Burke Museum (previously) in Seattle to produce a traveling exhibit by the same name. [more inside]
"These data revealed a surprisingly consistent pattern of decomposition throughout time. This pattern shows that as these modern fish decayed, their most recently evolved features -- those characters that are most informative because they distinguish closely related animals within the same lineage -- rotted first. The last features to disappear were more ancient; those that are shared by all vertebrates, such the notochord."
Conceived at the 2007 Flugsaurier pterosaur research meeting in Munich, pterosaur.net is devoted to the titular prehistoric reptiles. [more inside]
There is no evidence that Quetzalcoatlus could see dinosaur pee with its ultraviolet vision, or that a herd of hadrosaurs could knock over a predator with their concentrated infrasound blasts.
Paleontologist Matt Wedel was a talking head in the Discovery Channel's Clash of the Dinosaurs, but was not very happy with the final product. The production company, Dangerous, responds. Finally, the Discovery Channel steps up.
"A suite of five ancient crocs, including one with teeth like boar tusks and another with a snout like a duck’s bill, have been discovered in the Sahara." [more inside]
Ardipithecus: We Meet At Last. (Single Link Carl Zimmer)
Meet Ida, the missing link. "Ida is the most complete early primate fossil ever found, and scientists believe that she could be one of our earliest ancestors. She is a remarkable link between the first primates and modern humans and despite having lived 47 million years ago, her features show striking similarities to our own."
On April 23, 2009 Natalia Rybczynski, Mary R. Dawson, and Richard H. Tedford published their paper "A semi-aquatic Arctic mammalian carnivore from the Miocene epoch and origin of Pinnipedia" in the journal, Nature, detailing their 2007 discovery of the species they have named Puijila darwini. The carnivorous marine mammal, which lived about 21 to 24 million years ago, was discovered practically by accident, but as a "transitional fossil" is re-writing our understanding of pinniped evolution. It could also be noted that it was most likely cute as all get out, and is already the star of it's own mini documentary.
Stephen Jay Gould tells the story of the 18th Century German professor Beringer who published a book, Lithographiae Wirceburgensis in 1726 which purported to show remarkable fossils, including spiders in their web, copulating frogs and Yahweh written in Hebrew (high resolution images of the original plates: 1, 2, 3, 4) This turned out to be a fake but the conventional story of the humiliated Professor Beringer and his Lying Stones of Wurzburg is not as simple as the one usually retold in textbooks. And as Gould mentions fossil fakes are not a thing of the past.
"My cat dragged in what appeared to be an odd-looking bird. Imagine my excitement when on closer inspection, it proved to be a real live dead Rhamphorhynchus! I had to dissect it immediately! Unfortunately, my camera jammed, so I had to paint the whole process." - John Conway's Paleontography
A Dinosaur Paleontologist's View of Godzilla; fabulous views from Godzilla (previously); an alternate history view of Godzilla; a view of Godzilla's insides.
Two-hundred -and-forty million years ago, a recently-discovered amphibian hunted with a special feature: teeth in the roof of the mouth. [more inside]
The Unofficial Stephen Jay Gould Archive, an online library dedicated to the Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002). Includes an excellent selection of videos. And The Official Stephen Jay Gould Archive [still under development], which includes two of his books and his Harvard course online. [more inside]
Lost Tribes of the Green Sahara. "How a dinosaur hunter uncovered the Sahara's strangest Stone Age graveyard."
Tens of millions of brittlestars have been discovered inhabiting the peak of a sea mount in the Macquarie Ridge south of New Zealand. Strong currents are believed to be responsible for sweeping their predators away, more or less recreating their home 300 million years gone....
The little windows in the walls of time amber provides aren't always open. Opaque amber is common and, until now, has hidden away many fossil creatures. 100,000,000 years.... via bbc [more inside]
The Strange Lives of Polar Dinosaurs: How did they endure months of perpetual cold and dark? See also Taking A Dinosaur's Temperature: Polar species heat up one of paleontology's great debates. And Bones To Pick: Paleontologist William Hammer hunts dinosaur fossils in the Antarctic. From Smithsonian Magazine.
John Updike writes about bizarre dinosaurs for National Geographic. "How weird might a human body look to them? That thin and featherless skin, that dish-flat face, that flaccid erectitude, those feeble, clawless five digits at the end of each limb, that ghastly utter lack of a tail—ugh. Whatever did this creature do to earn its place in the sun, a well-armored, nicely specialized dino might ask. " Besides the Updike essay there's a image gallery, an interview with John Updike [audio starts automatically], a dino IQ test, an audio critique of the way dinosaurs have been depicted in the latter half of the 20th Century [audio starts automatically], a closer look at the odder features of some of the stranger dinosaurs, an examination of the nigersaurus (images) as well as dinosaur wallpapers and jigsaw puzzles. [via MeFi's Own ed]
Project Pterosaur The goal of Project Pterosaur is to mount an expedition to locate and bring back to the United States living specimens of pterosaurs or their fertile eggs, which will be displayed in a Pterosaur Rookery that will be the center piece of the planned Fellowship Creation Science Museum and Research Institute (FCSMRI). Although, sadly, it may not be real.
Ask a Biologist. "We think that kids don't always get the access to real scientific information (or real scientists!) outside of the classroom so we are here to do just that." One of the newest in a line of question-and-answer sites, this one is run by fifty professional scientists and directed toward school kids. Is is possible to clone dinosaurs? Why do I sneeze when I look at the sun? How many mutations do I have? How do polar bears keep their feet warm?
Welcome to the world of giant Cambrian predators! The anomalocaris is one of the ancient creatures found fossilized in the Burgess Shale in British Columbia, a particularly rich trove of fossils from the Cambrian period (543 to 490 million years ago), in which one finds not only the hard parts of animals, but also the soft, squishy bits. Some of the finds were so weird, that they got names like hallucigenia and odontogriphus ("toothed riddle"). Other sites for finding fossils of equal quality from that era are Chengjiang in China and the House Range in Utah.
Tracks of Swimming Dinosaur found in Wyoming The tracks of a previously unknown, two-legged swimming dinosaur have been identified along the shoreline of an ancient inland sea that covered Wyoming 165 million years ago, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder graduate student.
Orsten or stinkstone (it smells like rotten eggs), is a limestone nodule that has preserved Cambrian fossils extremely well. Scanning Electron Microscopic images of the fossils reveals incredible detail.
Bone Wars is an educational game that "simulates the process of creating a scientific hypothesis and testing it against new data" (A good thing to teach kids with people like these guys running around). The game is based on the legendary Cope/Marsh feud: a conflict that caused one Dinosaur to be classified twice and could make for a really cool movie someday.
Why no Pliestocene Park? "Everyone seems to assume that the primeval condition of the Great Plains was bison and prairie dog, with the occasional pronghorn herd, but no other large mammals. Yet for 1.65 million years, North America teemed with large animals: the 'pleistocene megafauna.' Then as the last ice age was ending and the first humans were coming over from Siberia, most of them died out." Sad -- doesn't everybody want a pony?
DREAM WORLD Given that green tea provides a more effective and environmentally-friendly method of preparing computer hard disks, pulsars are used to study gravitational waves with great precision, solar cells made from nanocrystals are found to be much more efficient, and scientists have discovered evidence for the earliest known wildfire in Earth's history, 443 to 417 million years ago, it would be hard to make the case that what we are living in is not, in fact, a Dreamworld.
Coming soon to a museum near you: Attack of the Dinosaur Mummy! (not really though). This very rare, complete dinosaur specimen decayed in such a way that its skin remained intact as well as the contents of its stomach. It was presented yesterday at an annual meeting of scientists.
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