|Filed Under:||Biology / Paleontology|
|Posts on Regator:||347|
|Posts / Week:||0.7|
|Archived Since:||February 24, 2008|
A prehistoric graveyard reveals the remains of peacefully cohabiting carnivores. How did bear dogs and sabercats manage to get along? Our paleontology blogger, Brian Switek, uncovers some clues in his final blog for Wired Science. The post Carnivorous Neighbors — How Sabercats and a Bear Dog Managed to Coexist appeared first on WIRED.
The North American saber-tooth cat, Smilodon, is a symbol of the big Ice Age animals that roamed the continent thousands of years ago. But the sabercat's gigantic fangs remain a mystery. The post Smilodon the Vampire appeared first on WIRED.
The potential connection between today's great white sharks and the giant fossil shark Carcharocles megalodon has intrigued the public, but scientists aren't so sure. New research casts further doubt on this ancestral tale. The post Great White Shark Ancestry Swims Into Focus appeared first on WIRED.
I can’t remember the exact date anymore, but sometime last month I reached my six year science blogiversary. I was just a directionless Rutgers University undergraduate at the time I started writing. I loved paleontology, but was unsatisfied with my college education, so I pursued the subject on my own time and used my blog [...]
Prehistoric predator traps are wonderful things. From the Allosaurus-dominated bonebed at the Jurassic Cleveland-Lloyd quarry in eastern Utah to the dire wolf and Smilodon-filled graveyard of Los Angeles, California’s La Brea asphalt...Show More Summary
At first glance, the newly-named fossil hangingfly Juracimbrophlebia ginkgofolia doesn’t look especially impressive. Found in the roughly 165 million year old beds of China’s Jiulongshan Formation, and described by paleontologist Yongjie...Show More Summary
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and the American holiday wouldn’t be the same without moist slabs of gravy-drenched dinosaur meat on the table. Of course, our species was not the first to dine on dinosaur, not by a long shot, but we do it with a bit more style than the alligators, lice, sharks, and other creatures [...]
Few predators terrorize our imaginations as fiercely as the great white shark. The immense fish is sublimely attuned to an environment that is alien to us, and, despite the rarity of accidents, the nightmare of slipping down the shark’s throat...
The reign of the dinosaurs came to a catastrophic end 66 million years ago. That’s the common trope, anyway – a holdover from before we recognized that at least one feathery lineage survived and proliferated after the K/Pg devastation. We still live in the Age of Dinosaurs – a 230 million year old success story [...]
Earlier this week I received a press release about pterosaur takeoffs from Texas Tech University. Rather than launching into the air through a pole-vault motion, as paleontologists such as Michael Habib and Mark Witton have argued (check out the video), the email said that giant pterosaurs such as Quetzalcoatlus required a “10-degree downhill slope” where they [...]
Aside from the woolly mammoth, no Pleistocene creature is more iconic than Smilodon. The vanished sabercat is a symbol of North America’s recently-lost megafauna, but it’s also an Ice Age mystery. While the carnivore broadly resembled other felids – a cat is a cat is a cat – the predator’s fangs have confounded paleontologists for [...]
Extinction sucks. Only yesterday, in geologic terms, did mastodons, sabercats, giant ground sloths, and their charismatic Ice Age contemporaries roam North America. Humans even encountered these beasts, but I was born about 10,000 years too late to see the Pleistocene menagerie. I just missed some of the most wonderful mammals ever to trod the continent. [...]
Of all the bears to come and go during the group’s 23 million year old history, none had a bite more powerful than Agriotherium africanum – a ursid as large as today’s grizzly and polar bears that roamed Africa during the latest Miocene and earliest Pliocene epochs. In a new Journal of Zoology paper by [...]
This past week, I attended the 72nd Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m still on the mend from the science hangover. Still, while my memories are relatively fresh, I want to mention one of the important themes that ran through some of the meeting’s sessions. Paleontologists are drawing more information from [...]
Paleontology often relies on superlatives to entice the public. Fossil species are touted as being the biggest, oldest, strongest, weirdest, or whatever other –est applies if the designation will help popularize a discovery. But, sometimes, hype precedes science. In 2009, journalists heralded the arrival of “Predator X” – an immense, big-headed marine reptile said to [...]
Fossils tell stories. I’ve written about this beautiful fact over and over again, but the multiple perspectives on prehistoric life afforded by even the most mundane petrified scrap never cease to impress me. Fossils are not merely individual facts of nature that educate us simply by their identification and accumulation. They are more than that [...]
Lemurs in fancy hats are helping researchers better understand how extinct creatures moved. Although “fancy” may not be the best word for the attire (sadly, we’re not talking about fedoras or bowlers here). As part of a new PNAS study, researcher Michael Malinzak and colleagues fitted lemurs, lorises, and galagos of the Duke Lemur Center [...]
Late last year, while on a tour of California’s Año Neuvo State Park, I saw a shark attack victim lying on the beach. She was a Northern elephant seal, and looked quite placid despite the gaping, crescent-shaped hole in her neck. She bore the traumatic hallmark of the great white shark. Years of watching Discovery’s Shark [...]
Fossils are not always what they seem. Megarachne, once heralded as the largest spider of all time, was actually a sea scorpion. The squishy Cambrian critter Nectocaris has been transformed from one of our early chordate cousins to an enigmatic invertebrate of unknown affinity. Tracks thought to be left by an enormous hopping amphibian were [...]
A little while back, I went on a tear about the phrase “living fossil.” We should scuttle the baggage-ridden aphorism – extant crocodiles, coelacanths, and tuataras are not “unchanged” remnants of an earlier era, but the last branches of amazing animal groups that flourished during Deep Time. I almost wish that I had waited another [...]