Fossils

Pharyngula

Category archives for Fossils

Stinky stuff! This fits perfectly with my biased preconceptions. So here are two examples of chemistry used to analyze things you’d normally run away from. The oldest traces of human poop have been dug out of a cave in Spain — and it’s Neandertal poop. It’s about 50,000 years old, and it’s been reduced to…

Cool free stuff

I’ve mentioned the Earthviewer app from HHMI before: think of it as a bit like Google Earth, only you can dial it back to any period in the planet’s history. There have been a couple of developments: it’s also available for Android, and it’s added some new features, including tracking for major fossils. So now…

It’s not the Koh-I-Noor or the Empress Eugenie Brooch or whatever my wife is wearing right now, it’s this: It’s a small, broken fossil shell, collected from a fossil outcrop and transported 110 kilometers to a hole in the ground in Italy. Close inspection reveals that before it was broken, there was a pattern of…

Only a bird

Another feathered dinosaur has been found in China, prompting Ken Ham to dig in his heels and issue denials. Yet another supposed “feathered dinosaur” fossil has come to light, again in China. (Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, AiG–U.S., reported on another Chinese fossil of a supposed feathered dinosaur in April 2012) Now, one headline described the fossil…

Methinks it is like a sauropsid

Eugene McCarthy, the author of that crackpot stabilization theory, has discovered my review and is now making a noise on twitter. He’s gone from thanking me profusely for mentioning him, to whining that I stole his figures, to complaining that I don’t understand his theory at all, all in the last 24 hours. But here’s…

A Devonian hexapod

It always seems to be the case that there are gaps in the fossil record just where things get interesting — probably with good reason, that forms in transition will be relatively rare. One such gap is the period where insects first emerge and begin to conquer the terrestrial world, a period called the arthropod…

Swimming in the Cambrian

If you ever get a chance, spend some time looking at fish muscles in a microscope. Larval zebrafish are perfect; they’re transparent and you can trace all the fibers, so you can see everything. The body musculature of fish is most elegantly organized into repeating blocks of muscle along the length of the animal, each…

A while back, I told you all about this small piece of the biochemistry of the fly eye — the pathways that make the brown and red pigments that color the eye. I left it with a question: if even my abbreviated summary revealed considerable complexity, how could this pathway evolve? Changing anything produces a…

Protists, not animals

I’ve written about the spectacular phospatized embryos of the Doushantuo formation before. It’s a collection of exceptionally well preserved small multicellular organisms, so well preserved that we can even look at cellular organelles. And they’re pre-Cambrian, as much as 630 million years old. They’ve been interpreted as fossilized embryos for which we have no known…

The eyes of Anomalocaris

Look with your puny camera eyes! Some new specimens of Anomalocaris, the spectacular Cambrian predator, have been discovered in South Australia. These fossils exhibit well-preserved eyes, allowing us to see that the bulbous stalked balls on their heads were actually fairly typical compound eyes, like those of modern insects. Anomalocaris eyes from the Emu Bay…