Historical Science and the Case of T. rex’s Puny Arms and Dinosaur Diets

An scan of a page from Ken Ham's "Dinosaurs in Eden" book. Here we can see Tyranosaurus-like dinosaurs with small arms enjoying a diet of flower plants.

Everyone has encountered a T. rex in books, movies or museums.   Besides its size and menacing jaws one of the most striking features of a T. rex is its diminutive arms.   So why were the arms of T. rex so short?   There have been many hypotheses including: 1) they had no use and […]

Geological Context V: Human Fossil Footprints Found Below Ice Age Deposits

cliff_erosion_happisburgh

A story is breaking today of a significant fossil find that was made almost a year ago but kept under wraps until the significance of the find could be evaluated.   What has now been reveled is that over 100 footprints were found in newly uncovered rocks along a shoreline of England.  Careful analysis of […]

Fishing for Fossils in the North Sea: The Lost World of Doggerland

The skull of a mammoth is loaded on board a fishing vessel on the North Sea

Imagine trawling for fish and when you pull up your nets you find a massive bone or a huge tooth along with your catch.  For over 100 years fishermen in the North Sea between Britain and Denmark have found such items in their nets but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the items that their […]

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. […]

NH Photography: Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Thunderhead builds over Rapid City SD. Photo: Joel Duff

A visit to Badlands National Park in South Dakota feels a bit like going to see a miniature replica of the Taj Mahal instead of seeing the real thing after you have hung out for a week in Moab UT and traveled around southeastern Utah.  But that isn’t to say that it isn’t worth seeing.  On […]

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. […]

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 […]

Piles of Fossil Poo: Providing a Peak into the Past

Coprolites from site in Argentina.  Image: Fiorelli - See article by Fiorelli et al,, 2013 http://www.nature.com/srep/2013/131128/srep03348/full/srep03348.html

One headline reads “Giant Prehistoric Toilet Found” another refers to the discovery of an ancient latrine.  Don’t know how I missed those a few weeks ago. Surely had I seen that headline I would have had to clicked on it to find out what that was all about.   The actual title, The oldest known communal latrines […]

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