Exceptional Dinosaur Tracksite in Denali National Park Reveals Herd of Hadrosaurs

Figure showing 127  measured hadrosaur footprints from the Denali site in Alaska.  This figure if from Fiorillo et al. Geology 2014.

Thousands of dinosaur footprints have been found on a steep mountain slope in Denali National Park in Alaska.  These are not the first dinosaur tracks to be found in Denali but the size of the tracksite – at least 500 by 150 feet – and the exceptional preservation of the tracks makes this a notable […]

The Earth on Show: Encountering Lost Worlds Through Fossil Displays

A "Young Mammouth" unearthed by Charles Willson Peale on display at the Philadelphia museum in 1821.

Most of us remember our first life-like encounter with dinosaurs sitting in a theater watching Jurassic Park (1993).  Although dinosaurs had been very popular in picture books for many years the vivid recreation of them on the screen rekindled a sense of awe of these amazing creatures of a past age.  Today, movies with depictions […]

We’re Going on a Fossil Hunt to Find a Herpes Virus

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There is a very recent form of fossil hunting that I have gotten to partake in to some small extent, and I can do it while sitting in front of a computer screen! With some computer skills and some knowledge of animal genomes it isn’t difficult to join this hunt for fossils inside the genome of living organisms.

The Pit of Bones: A Death Chamber Time Capsule

Fig. 2. Excavation in a portion of The Pit of Bones in Spain.  Image from: http://www.diariouno.com.ar/mundo/Hallaron-el-ADN-mas-antiguo-del-pariente-humano--20131204-0118.html

A small chamber in a deep, dark cave. Tens of thousands of bones. Animal bones and human bones. Buried under dust and dirt and bat dung. Welcome to an ancient chamber of horrors. This is the Pit of Bones (aka Sima de los Huesos). In 1997, scientists discovered this small chamber within a much larger […]

NH Notes: Discovery of a Marine Reptile Fossil Trackway

An artistic rendereing of the "Sea-rex" Nothosaur.

Following up on a new Ichythosaur discovery last week (When Marine Reptiles Ruled the Sea) the fossilized footsteps of a Nothosaur have been unveiled.    This time we go to China where a geological surveyor stumbled onto a few fossil tracks on a small ledge.  Cutting back into the side of the mountain, paleontologists exposed 350 prints as part of […]

When Marine Reptiles Ruled the Sea: Huge Ichthyosaur Fossil Find and the Age of Reptiles

Plesiosaurus - Plesiosaurus inhabited the oceans 200 million years ago. "flying" underwater with four wing like limbs. Its sharp teeth and snapping jaws formed a deadly trap for small aquatic animals. The long necked Plesiosaurus gave its name to the plesiosaurs, a group of flesh eating marine reptiles that are extinct. Along with the dolphin like ichthyosaurs and other marine reptiles, plesiosaurs were the "sea dragons" that inhabited the seas from 200 to 65 million years ago, while the dinosaurs were dominant on land. Image Credit: Carl Buell

Can you imagine the world’s oceans filled with carnivorous reptiles? Dinosaurs are the most famous members of the age of the reptiles. However, many of the original reptilian fossil discoveries that initiated the idea of the age of reptiles were not dinosaurs. They were instead reptiles that lived in the sea.

NH Notes: Fossils In My Office

Knightia is the most common fossil fish from the Green River formation in Utah.  Image: Joel Duff

I have one plant in my office that I have managed to keep alive for 5 years but mostly I keep organisms in my office that can’t be killed because they are already dead.  I’m a bit more extreme in my lab where I keep thousands of samples of DNA in freezers.  In my office I […]

Mary Anning: Plesiosaurs, Pterosaurs and The Age Of Reptiles

Duria Antiquior - A more Ancient Dorset is a watercolour painted in 1830 by the geologist Henry De la Beche based on fossils found by Mary Anning, and was the first pictorial representation of a scene from deep time based on fossil evidence.  Image: Wikipedia

What do you think of when someone mentions the Jurassic or Cretaceous ages? Most likely you will immediately think of dinosaurs and other large reptiles such as pterosaurs.  Maybe you think of the movie Jurassic Park and the dinosaurs and lush vegetation.   These periods are also known as the Age of the Reptiles and aptly so since many […]

NH Notes: Biggest Dinosaur Ever Found But Is It The Largest Animal?

A single femur from the newly found titanosaurus. PR photo:  MEF

What is the largest animal to have lived on the Earth?  Most people will answer “dinosaurs” or “sauropods” but they would be incorrect. The answer is a blue whale, a mammal that is alive today.  At 190 short tons (380,000 pounds!) blue whales are massive animals that make most dinosaurs look puny. Just how small […]

Kirkdale Cave Hyena Den: A Young Earth Puzzle Since 1821.

The image depicts a late Pleistocene landscape in northern Spain with woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius), equids, a woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis), and European cave lions (Panthera leo spelaea) with a reindeer carcass.  Image credit: Mauricio-Ant

Imagine you live in northern England and you are out exploring and come upon a hidden cave entrance.  Upon climbing down into the cave you discover hundreds of bones belonging to large mammals.  At first you think the bones represent local animals since there are some deer, rabbits, weasels and wolves but soon it becomes clear […]

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