Paleontology

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Tag archives for Paleontology

A toe bone from a Cretaceous ornithischian dinosaur, just laying on the ground. Photographed at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.

Eureka!

My contribution to the Sb-wide Zombie Day will soon be posted, but if you need something to sink your teeth into before then, check out today’s new issue of the Times of London science magazine Eureka (included inside the Times, for UK readers). Inside you will find two stories by me – one on paleobiology…

The skeletons of Lucy (left) and Kadanuumuu (right). Both belong to the early human species Australopithecus afarensis. (Images not to scale.) I never fully appreciated how small Lucy was until I saw her bones for myself. Photographs and restorations of her and her kin within the species Australopithecus afarensis had never really given me a…

A few weeks ago I started prep work on a Tyrannosaurus rex toe bone recovered from Montana’s Hell Creek Formation and kept at the New Jersey State Museum. This is how the gypsum-encrusted bone looked when I started… … and this is how it looked at the end of last week. There’s still a lot…

A restoration of the tiny trilobite Ctenopyge ceciliae. From Schoenemann et al, 2010. The first time I can remember seeing a trilobite, it wasn’t in a museum case or a book about prehistoric animals. It was on card 39 of the gratuitously gory Dinosaurs Attack! card series, a horrific vignette depicting four of the invertebrates…

A golden-mantled ground squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis), photographed in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Though abundant at the Samwell Cave Popcorn Dome, California site during the Late Pleistocene, its numbers in the area decline at the beginning of the present Holocene epoch. “One of the penalties of an ecological education”, the naturalist Aldo Leopold once wrote,…

Pruning the Primate Family Tree

“Dinah”, a young female gorilla kept at the Bronx Zoo in 1914. From the Zoological Society Bulletin. Frustrated by the failure of gorillas to thrive in captivity, in 1914 the Bronx Zoo’s director William Hornaday lamented “There is not the slightest reason to hope that an adult gorilla, either male or female, ever will be…

The skull of Paranthropus boisei (“Zinj,” “Dear Boy,” “Nutcracker Man,” etc.). Louis Leakey had a problem. During the summer of 1959 he and his wife Mary recovered the skull fragments of an early human scattered about the fossil deposits of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The skull had been deposited among the shattered bones of fossil…

The skull of Nyctereutes lockwoodi as seen from the side and above. From Geraads et al, 2010. In 2006 paleoanthropologists working in Ethiopia made a spectacular announcement – they had found the well-preserved remains of a juvenile Australopithecus afarensis, one of our prehistoric hominin relatives. Quickly dubbed “Lucy’s baby” this 3.4 million year old specimen…

The skeleton of Palaeobatrachus from Lake Enspel, Germany. From Wuttke and Poschmann, 2010. In On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin said of the fossil record: For my part, following out Lyell’s metaphor, I look at the natural geological record, as a history of the world imperfectly kept, and written in a changing dialect; of…