NH Notes: Fossilization Caught in the Act – A Mammoth from Texas

An impressive wooly mammoth skeleton.

Does fossilization require rapid burial as the result of catastrophic global flooding?  Literalist creationists would have us believe so for they point to the fossil record as being proof of a cataclysmic global flood.   Look a bit deeper though and you will find that creationists frequently concede there are thousands of exceptions to this general […]

The Age of the Reptiles: A New Dinosaur Fossil Trackway Near Moab

Dinosaur footprints on a block of rock that became dislodged from higher above.  Two of my boys are serve as size references.  Image: Joel Duff

Moab will have yet another dinosaur attraction coming this fall.  More than 200 reptilian footprints scattered over an area less than a football field have been uncovered after a resident discovered a few tracks while hiking.  Dinosaur tracks are known from dozens of locations in this area but this site is unusual because of the […]

NH Notes: Natural Trap Cave – An Ice Age Fauna Snapshot

Grate over Death Trap Cave entrance.

A 15-foot-wide metal grate covers a hole in a bare rock outcrop in the high desert of the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming.  Beneath the grate lies a 80 foot vertical drop to into a cavern with no other exit.  At the base of cavern situated below the hole in the ceiling are up to 30 […]

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

virus-blue-background

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 […]

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