PALEO

paleo

New species of extinct dolphin found in Smithsonian archives

Freshwater river dolphins are one of the most compelling — and endangered — branches of the cetacean family tree. Now the discovery of a new species of extinct river dolphin found in the fossil archives of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is shedding light on the dolphin family tree, as well as the origins of the highly endangered South Asian river dolphin.

01 Dec 2016

Turtle shells evolved for burrowing, not protection

How the turtle got its shell is one of the long-standing conundrums of paleontology. Paleontologists know that one of the first steps toward a shell was a broadening of the ribs, which occurred about 50 million years before full shells evolved. But why the broadening, which conferred some disadvantages to movement and breathing, began, has been a mystery. Now, the discovery of a proto-turtle with a partial shell in South Africa is shedding some light on the early stages of shell development.

11 Nov 2016

Getting there and getting around Tumbler Ridge

There are no direct commercial flights into Tumbler Ridge, which is about a 13-hour drive from Vancouver, B.C. However, Air Canada and WestJet fly from Vancouver into nearby Fort St. John, and from there, it is about a two-hour drive to Tumbler Ridge. Regional airline Central Mountain Air also flies from Vancouver into Dawson Creek, about a 90-minute drive from Tumbler Ridge. You can also fly into Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, a 6.5-hour drive, or Grande Prairie, a 2.5-hour drive.

04 Nov 2016

Unique teeth helped vegetarian dinosaurs

Although the Tyrannosaurus rex might’ve been one of the most fearsome dinosaurs to roam Earth, it wasn’t the most common. That honor belonged to a group of vegetarian duck-billed dinosaurs called hadrosaurs. And now, scientists have uncovered the secret to their success: their teeth.

21 Oct 2016

Travels in Geology: Tumbler Ridge: Finding dinosaurs — and their predecessors and descendants — in northeastern British Columbia

Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark got its start when an 8-year-old found a dinosaur footprint and convinced his father to call the experts. Today, visitors can see an exceptional source of fossils from the Precambrian through the Pleistocene, along with stunning scenery.

18 Oct 2016

Humans, megafauna coexisted in Patagonia before extinction

During the last ice age, giant mammals roamed the wide-open steppes of what is now Patagonia. Around the time that humans were making their way down through North America and into South America, the climate began warming and large species of giant sloths and saber-toothed cats soon disappeared. Now, researchers looking at mitochondrial DNA from some of these megafaunal species are shedding light on the timing of the extinction and whether encroaching humans or changing climate — or both — were to blame for their disappearance.

11 Oct 2016

Antarctic no place to hide during end-Cretaceous extinction

The end-Cretaceous extinction is famous for killing off the dinosaurs, but many other species perished as well. A new study in Nature Communications of marine fossils found in the Antarctic indicates that the extinction event was just as deadly for creatures in the polar regions.

07 Oct 2016

Mammals hit harder than thought by end-Cretaceous extinction

Mammals, unlike the remaining nonavian dinosaurs and many other animals, are thought to have fared relatively well through the massive meteorite impact and protracted volcanism at the end of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago. After the extinction, mammals went on to dominate terrestrial ecosystems. But new research indicates that mammals might have taken a bigger hit than paleontologists have realized: Instead of about 75 to 85 percent of species going extinct, as prior studies suggested, it looks like about 93 percent of all mammal species may have gone extinct during the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction.

05 Oct 2016

Down to Earth With: Fossil preparator Bob Masek

When paleontologists unearth a fossil and rock still entombs part of it, they take it to someone like fossil preparator Bob Masek, who cleans and prepares the fossil for scientific study, and sometimes for display in a museum. In the 1990s, Masek helped prepare “Sue,” the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered, which now stands in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.

 
30 Sep 2016

New species of uniquely horned dinosaur identified

The Triceratops family tree just got a little spikier. A decade ago, a retired nuclear physicist uncovered the large skull, legs, hips and backbone of a dinosaur on his land near Winifred, Mont. Now, the remains have been identified in a new study as a new member of the ceratopsid family, dubbed Spiclypeus shipporum, meaning “spiked shield.”

 
23 Sep 2016

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