Fossils

fossil

Scientists crack the secret of dinosaurs' incubation time

Paleontologists have long thought that the eggs of dinosaurs — like those of their living bird relatives — probably hatched after short incubation times, up to a few weeks at most. But surprising results from a new study suggest that nonavian dinosaurs spent anywhere from three to six months inside an egg, incubation times similar to reptiles like crocodiles and alligators.

18 Apr 2017

Lucy liked hanging out in trees

Lucy, the 3.2-million-year-old human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, is one of the most complete early hominin skeletons ever found. Still, despite the skeleton’s completeness, debate continues about how Lucy got around: Did she spend most of her time walking on the ground or climbing in trees? In a new study, scientists studying Lucy’s upper limb bones have found that she likely spent more time in trees — and was a more capable climber — than later hominin species like Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.

13 Apr 2017

Dental plaque reveals later start date for hominin cooking

Ancient teeth have long been a source of information about ancient diets, mainly through analyses of isotopic compositions and wear patterns. In a new study published in the Science of Nature, researchers studied microfossils of food particles extracted from the teeth of a 1.2-million-year-old unidentified hominin found at the Sima del Elefante site in northern Spain. The microfossils include traces of raw animal tissue, uncooked starch granules from grasses, pollen grains from a species of pine tree and insect fragments. The lack of charring of the recovered fibers and an absence of micro-charcoal suggest the bearer of the teeth neither cooked his or her food nor spent significant time around a fire source.

30 Mar 2017

Tiny fish illuminates tooth fairy mystery

When kids lose their milk teeth, the roots shrivel up and just the outer enamel falls out — a process known as basal resorption. Now, the discovery of a tiny jawbone from a 424-million-year-old fossil fish is shedding light on the origin of our modern mode of tooth replacement.

08 Mar 2017

Discovered: One of the last-surviving Asian dinosaurs

Paleontologists have discovered a new species of oviraptorosaur, a group of strange bird-like dinosaurs without teeth. The species, Tongtianlong limosus, has been described based on a specimen preserved in mudstone dating to the end of the Cretaceous. The find adds to a growing list of newly unearthed and similarly aged oviraptorosaur species, suggesting the group flourished during the last few million years of the Age of Dinosaurs before all nonavian dinosaurs were killed off in the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

21 Feb 2017

Saving Mongolia's dinosaurs and inspiring the next generation of paleontologists

Paleontologist Bolortsetseg Minjin and her team are bringing dinosaurs home to the children of rural Mongolia any way they can: via fossil repatriation, workshops, new permanent museums and even a roving museum.

15 Feb 2017

Rare Late Cretaceous dino skin found fossilized

About 66 million years ago, a dinosaur lay down on a muddy riverbank in what is now Spain, leaving behind the impression of its scaly skin. A team studying sandstone formations near the village of Vallcebre in the Pyrenees recently uncovered the unique artifact, made even more extraordinary by the timing of when it was left: right before the end-Cretaceous extinction that wiped out the nonavian dinosaurs.

10 Feb 2017

Early birds quacked

Researchers have found the oldest-known avian voice box from an ancient bird that lived more than 66 million years ago. Scientists found the vocal structure, called a syrinx, while examining the fossil remains of a specimen of Vegavis iaai, a Late Cretaceous diving bird similar to modern ducks and geese. The finding suggests that the prehistoric bird may have “quacked” like modern ducks, says Julia Clarke, a paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the new study in Nature.

27 Jan 2017

Cave paintings confirm mystery European bison species

Ice-age hunters had an intimate knowledge of the animals they coexisted with — and this familiarity is clearly depicted in paintings on cave walls throughout Europe. Inside a cave in France, scientists recently identified artistic evidence dating to about 17,000 years ago of a previously unknown hybrid species of cattle crossed with bison. The paintings confirm findings from recent genetic studies of fossil bison, the researchers say.

25 Jan 2017

Downgrading the Great Dying

The end-Permian extinction, nicknamed the “Great Dying,” is thought to be the deadliest mass extinction in Earth’s history. Many textbooks claim that up to 96 percent of marine life died out during this event, but a new study suggests this cataclysmic number has been overestimated.
 

23 Jan 2017

Pages