Fossils

Pharyngula

Category archives for Fossils

Shubin had a tough act to follow, coming after Kingsley’s great talk. I’m sure it will be good, though — last night I got a tour of his lab, saw the original Tiktaalik specimens and some new ones, and some of his work in progress (which I won’t tell you about until it’s published), so…

Oops, missed the first part of this talk due to the distractions of Lunch. Walked in as he was talking about tree vs. ladder thinking (people have a hard time conceptualizing trees) and history as a chronicle — barebones description of events — or a narrative — events linked by causal explanations. It took a…

It’s yet another transitional fossil! Are you tired of them yet? Darwinopterus modularis is a very pretty fossil of a Jurassic pterosaur, which also reveals some interesting modes of evolution; modes that I daresay are indicative of significant processes in development, although this work is not a developmental study (I wish…having some pterosaur embryos would…

Ardipithecus ramidus

What a day to be stuck in airplanes for hours on end; I had to slurp in a bunch of files on my iPhone and then look at them on that itty-bitty screen, just to catch up on the story of Ardipithecus. Fortunately, you can just read Carl Zimmer’s excellent summary to find out what’s…

I want my mini-T. rex!

This is a very cool fossil, a tiny T. rex cousin called Raptorex. Well, tiny is relative — it was still as big as a human being — but it has the same proportions, the oversized fanged head, the tiny forelimbs, etc., as it’s later relative, T. rex. It’s simply adorable, in a viciously evil…

Happy Anniversary, Burgess Shale!

It’s the 100th anniversary (we can’t say “birthday” for a deposit laid down half a billion years ago, I don’t think) of Walcott’s discovery of the Burgess Shale formation in British Columbia. I’m not quite sure what one does to celebrate on such a momentous occasion…maybe someone has a suggestion.

Arthrodires got penises!

This is the skull of an arthrodire, an armored placoderm from the Devonian. Somehow, 20 foot long predatory fish with a mouth lined with razor-edged bony shears has never made me think of sexy time…until I ran across this comparison image. Oh, schwiiing. It really doesn’t take much to get a mammal to associate just…

There is a family resemblance

Here’s an interesting use of tweening: take 5 fossil skulls, use the computer to interpolate between them, and animate the results. 3.5 million years just fly by in 5 minutes. (The sound track is a bit superfluous though—turn the sound down if you’re at work)

Big love among the ostracods

How can anyone resist an article titled “Sexual Intercourse Involving Giant Sperm in Cretaceous Ostracode”? You can’t, I tell you. It’s like a giant brain magnet, you open the journal to the index, and there’s that title, and you must read it before you can even consider continuing on to anything else. Some organisms have…

Limusaurus inextricabilis

My previous repost was made to give the background on a recent discovery of Jurassic ceratosaur, Limusaurus inextricabilis, and what it tells us about digit evolution. Here’s Limusaurus—beautiful little beastie, isn’t it? (Click for larger image)Photograph (a) and line drawing (b) of IVPP V 15923. Arrows in a point to a nearly complete and fully…