Juvenile Dinosaurs Found Huddling in a Nest: A Local or Global Catastrophe?

Remains of 15 baby dinosaurs in a nest. Click to enlarge this image. Image credit: Dr. Kh. Tsogtbaatar

We live in a new golden age of fossil discoveries.  It seems that every week a new and dramatic fossil find is revealed.  This fossil renaissance can be attributed to the opening up of new fossil sources, particularly China and Mongolia but also South America and to improved technology for retrieving and analyzing fossil remains. […]

Canine Transmissible Tumors: Seeking Immortality By Becoming a Parasite

dog-breeds

Cancers are cells that have forgotten who they are supposed to be.  They become independent brats in the body, hogging resources and dividing uncontrollably.  The problem, from the cancers perspective of course, is that being a spoiled brat may bring short-term rewards, like lots of progeny and freedom from having to behave like the cell […]

A Tale of Taphonomy: Clam Shrimp Fossils and the Age of the Earth

A clam shrimp.  This has a nearly clear carapace (the clam shells) and has a large number of eggs in its brood pouch over its back.

One of the great privileges of my job is that I get to  sit on the committees of graduate students. This allows me to get up close and personal with data from areas that often extend far from those of my particular expertise.  You also know by now that I carry a particular fondness for […]

NH Notes: A Fossil Scallop from Calvert Cliffs, MD

Top side of the same scallop as above showing several large barnacles attached.

A colleague has a fossil scallop in his office that he collected while teaching a field course on Chesapeake Bay biology.  He pulled this scallop from the cliff wall at Calvert Cliffs near Calvert, Maryland. It is particularly impressive not only for its size (more than 5 inches in diameter) but also for its condition. […]

The Peat Bog: Chronicler of Human History

Sphagnum_cuspidatum

Peat bogs are a repository of the passage of time. They record changes in the earth’s atmosphere and unique events such as ash falls from volcanic eruptions. Through careful analysis of bogs we can reconstruct the past just like we can reconstruct a crime from the crime scene. Peat bogs in Europe give us a unique window into the effects of human industry and landscape shift due to deforestation and agriculture and even longer term shifts in climate patterns.

Desert Varnish: A Crude Marker of the Passage of Time

Petroglyph carved into desert varnish found in Dinosaur National Park

Anyone who has spent time in a desert has probably noticed many dark streaks or patches on the rocks.  I expect that most people simply look at these dark streaks and think they are simply stains like a stain on a cement driveway or that line of rust color running down a wall from a […]

Naturalis Historia: A Two Year Status Report

Fossil sand dune in slick rock area just east of Moab UT.

Naturalis Historia is a bit more than two years old.   In that time I have written more than 160 articles and notes. The majority of these are reflections upon some aspect of the intersection of science and faith.  My typical modus operandi has been to take discoveries from science and ask how these discoveries impact […]

Geological Context IV: The Pit of Bones – An Ancient Death Chamber

Homo-hiederbergensis-artistic-depiction

Down a 43 foot vertical shaft, another 40 foot slope, and buried under thousands of cave bear, lion and lynx bones, lies the partially fossilized bones of at least 30 individuals’ humans.  Welcome to a chamber of horrors otherwise known as Sima de los Huesos (the pit of bones).   This pit is but a small […]

Rapid Burial Allows Preservation of a Hadrosaur Fleshy Head Comb

An example of a duck-billed dinosaur (hadrosaur) skull that has a projection from its head that just have supported some sort of projection of tissue.  The fossil we are reporting here had no boney projection but the imprint in the rock showed that it had a fleshy comb above its head anyway. Later hadrosaurs may have evolved these bones projections to support even large fleshy head features.

A mummified fossil of common species of hadrosaur was found recently in South Dakota that showed that this particular hadrosaur had a rooster-like fleshy comb on its head.  Many hadrosaurs have exotic extensions of their cranial bones but this evidence that even the “boring” hadrosaurs had fleshy projections suggests that the hadrosaurs were an even […]

Cosmogenic Dating Methods Allow Estimates of Erosion Rates on Mars

Layers of rock seen at yellowknife bay in Gale Crater of Mars by the Curiosity Rover.  Image: JPL/NASA-Caltech

Just how fast are some rocks on Mars eroding?  A few months ago I asked a Martian rock that question (see: My Interview with a Martian: A Story of Origins) and I was not given a very satisfying answer.  Well, that rock can be excused for being a bit confused about time given how boring […]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 302 other followers