PALEO

paleo

New burgess shale fossil site found in Canada's Kootenay National Park

With its plethora of ancient and exquisitely preserved soft-bodied fossils, the Burgess Shale in Canada’s Yoho National Park is one of the world’s most famous fossil sites. Now a sister site has been discovered just 40 kilometers away in Kootenay National Park, and the new find may prove even richer than the original.
 

18 Jun 2014

Dueling dinosaurs hit the auction block

In 2006, fossil collector Clayton Phipps (a Montana rancher known as the “Dinosaur Cowboy”) and his crew discovered a rare fossil on private land in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation: the bones of two fully articulated dinosaurs that appeared to have died together, locked in battle. The fossil duo — a small, pony-sized carnivorous tyrannosaurid and a slightly larger herbivorous ceratopsian, both now preserved in plaster — became known as the “Montana Dueling Dinosaurs.” Last November, the fossils were put on the block at Bonhams auction house in New York City — but they did not sell. Had the set fetched the nearly $9 million it was expected to, it would have set a record for a fossil sale. For now, the Dueling Dinosaurs remain locked in an unidentified warehouse somewhere in the United States — along with any scientific information the unique specimens may reveal.

09 Jun 2014

Down to Earth With: Scott Sampson

During a recent public lecture at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, dinosaur paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Scott Sampson was making a point as he walked up the aisle when a preschooler charged the stage, grabbed hold of his leg and wouldn’t let go until her mother retrieved her.
 

19 May 2014

Ancient skeleton found in underwater cave reveals DNA of earliest Americans

The 12,000- to 13,000-year-old remains of a teenage girl — the oldest, most complete, genetically intact human skeleton discovered in the New World — were found in the Hoyo Negro cave on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

15 May 2014

Fieldwork revises ice-free corridor hypothesis of human migration

The existence of an ice-free corridor through Canada during  the climax of last glaciation, which allowed the first Americans to cross the Bering land bridge from Siberia and move south (about 13,000 years ago), has long been postulated in North American archaeology. Now, research based on the exposure ages of glacial rocks found in the corridor suggests a puzzling conclusion — that the open pathway closed several thousand years prior to 20,000 years ago and didn’t open again until between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago, well after  first Americans were in the Americas.

13 Apr 2014

The trouble with turtles: Paleontology at a crossroads

Turtles are the last big vertebrate group to be placed firmly on the tree of life, and the arguments are getting messy. Scientists in three fields in particular — paleontolgy, developmental biology and microbiology/genomics — disagree about how, and from what, turtles may have evolved. 

31 Mar 2014

From boom to bust in Neolithic Europe

As agricultural practices spread from the Fertile Crescent across Europe, gradually expanding west and north starting about 8,500 years ago, they brought increased and localized food production to a continent where nomadic hunter-gatherers had long made their living subject to the whims of climate and the environment. With agriculture, long-term settlements developed, fertility rates rose and, thus, populations grew steadily. Or at least that’s been the conventional wisdom.

20 Mar 2014

Brooks Ellwood and the unusual applications of magnetism

The call came out of the blue. Geophysicist Brooks Ellwood was sitting in his office in the geology department at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1990 when the telephone rang. On the other end was Doug Owsley, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, who was calling to ask for Ellwood’s help to find the grave of “Wild Bill” Longley. Little did Ellwood realize that this seemingly straightforward request would set him off on a 10-year quest and a career he never anticipated.

10 Mar 2014

Down to Earth With: Kirk Johnson

In 1967, at a family picnic in Casper, Wyo., 6-year-old Kirk Johnson stumbled across a fossil that looked to him like an ancient rattlesnake tail (it turned out to be a brachiopod). Not long after, while hiking in his home state of Washington, he accidentally knocked over a piece of shale, fortuitously discovering a fossil leaf. The ensuing epiphany that he had a knack for finding fossil treasures led to what he now calls his “paleo obsession.”

16 Oct 2013

Benchmarks: August 3, 1769: The La Brea Tar Pits are described

Long before Los Angeles’ infamous traffic packed the pavement of Wilshire Boulevard, the area teemed with hundreds of species of Ice Age animals that became trapped in an asphalt quagmire of a different sort: the La Brea tar pits.

03 Aug 2013

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