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: Bent Rock on Display – The Sideling Hill Road Cut

On the eastern side of the road cut you can clearly see the bending of the layers of rock layers.  The vertical lines are drill marks for setting explosives.  Image: Joel Duff

The road cut through Sideling Hill in Maryland on I-68 is one of the best displays of roadside geology east of the Mississippi River.  Having spent considerable time in the western US it doesn’t seem that impressive to me but since I’ve been deprived of seeing geological strata for the past year I took a […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

NH Notes: An Ode to Coprology

Cross section of a corprolite

“Approach, approach, ingenuous youth,
and learn the fundamental truth:
The Noble science of Geology
Is founded firmly in Coprology.
For ever be the Saurians blest,
Who left us this diluvian test.
I claim a grand coronam lauri,
For these, Thesauri of the Sauri.”

William Buckland: Minister and Geologist Grappling with Fossil Feces, Deep Time and the Age of Reptiles

An interpretive drawing of William Buckland crawling into Kirkdale Cave where he found extinct cave hyenas and the remains of their prey. Drawn by Buckland’s friend William Conybeare.

The Reverend William Buckland (1784-1856) was one of the last in a line of influential natural theologians following in the footsteps of John Ray (late 1600s) and William Paley (late 1700s).   I recently gave a seminar in which I explored a number of significant turning points (figure below) in the history of discovery of deep time and the awareness […]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 362 other followers