Fossils

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Category archives for Fossils

Conodontia

Conodonts are strange and extinct animals that left behind lots of fossils: their teeth. Practically nothing else but teeny-tiny, jagged, pointy teeth. I remember when the animals themselves were total mysteries, and no one even knew what phylum they belonged to — it was only in the 1980s that a few eel-like soft tissue fossils…

What is that thing?

The Tully Monster has been an enigma for half a century. Now it’s been reconstructed on the basis of analysis of 1200 specimens. That thing is weird. It’s been extinct since the Carboniferous, though, so we’re not going to be catching any nowadays, unfortunately. Note the eyes on stalks; the tubby body; the long ‘snout’…

Dinosaur 13

Last night, I watched an excellent documentary, Dinosaur 13, so I’m going to recommend it to you all — it’s available on Amazon streaming video and Netlix. It’s the story of the fossil T. rex, Sue, and it’s enthralling and depressing. The fun part is the beginning, when some commercial fossil hunters discover tyrannosaur bones…

Ken Ham says something stupid and dishonest again. The fish that forgot to evolve? Here’s the difference between observational and historical science: https://t.co/gDBi6iQhjh — Ken Ham (@aigkenham) November 6, 2015 The fish that forgot to evolve? Here’s the difference between observational and historical science: ow.ly/Ug1wU If you bother to read the awful article, it includes…

Anthropology is so entertaining!

John Hawks makes a very good case that Homo naledi is a distinct species from H. erectus. He persuaded me, anyway, and it’s well worth reading. Also entertaining. There is some savage snark in there aimed at Jeffrey Schwartz (oh, man, I’ve long known Schwartz as a hack, not for his anthropology, but for his…

A transitional turtle, Pappochelys

Turtles are nifty animals, with a remarkable adaptation: they’ve taken their ribs and shifted them outside their appendicular skeleton, flattened and expanded them, and turned them into a shell. It’s a clever twist, and it doesn’t require any magic — just a shift in timing during development, with a little extra signaling. The molecular biology…

This new movie, Jurassic World, is stirring up a fascinating love/hate reaction from paleontologists. We all love to imagine dinosaurs resurrected, and the movies give us an image of what they’d be like, so everyone is happy to see that…and it also inspires new enthusiasm for fossils, so it helps lead to better support for…

Beautiful and terrible

This is one of the loveliest fossils I’ve ever seen. They are the bones of a Neanderthal, found in a cave in southern Italy, and although they’ve been calcified by mineral-rich water trickling through the cave where they were found, it’s an almost complete skeleton, with the bones all intact. That’s the grisly part of…

Aegirocassis benmoulae

Anomalocaris has always been one of my favorite Cambrian animals — it was so weird, and it was also the top predator of the age, making it the equivalent of T. rex. The anomalocarids were also a diverse and successful group, so wouldn’t you know it…it also had a distant filter-feeding cousin in the Ordovician.…

Creationists are much vested in the idea of “suddenly” — they love the idea of inserting the fingersnap of God into every abrupt transition. This is why they are infatuated with the Big Bang and the Cambrian Explosion, and why they flirted with the idea of renaming “Intelligent Design” to “Sudden Origins” theory. If something…