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paleo

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

The Dinosaur Garden of the Gobi: Motivating future paleontologists

In June 2016, the tourism board of Dalanzadgad, a small city in the Mongolian Gobi, opened a new dinosaur theme park on the outskirts of town. It was paid for with a government grant awarded before the 2016 economic downturn. The night we arrived in town, our Gobi team was given a tour by two of the project’s biggest advocates.

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

How to hide a dinosaur

Analysis of a finely preserved fossil dinosaur from China has revealed the animal’s erstwhile camouflage. It appears that the meter-high Early Cretaceous ceratopsid Psittacosaurus was light-colored on its underside and dark on top, a pattern known as countershading that may hint that the small herbivore lived in a dense forest environment.

 
11 Jan 2017

The first Americans: How and when were the Americas populated?

The latest research suggests humans first came to the Americas by boat, though along which coast remains controversial. Archaeologists and geologists are working together to try to solve the mystery of how and when the first Americans arrived. 

 

01 Jan 2017

Underwater archaeology

As the ice sheets melted at the end of the last ice age, sea level rose dramatically, drowning much of the paleo coastline of North and South America under meters of water. To find evidence old enough to be associated with the initial colonizers, archaeologists have to get wet, even donning scuba gear to search for human relics along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Such work is highly technical and expensive, but a small handful of divers trained in underwater archaeological excavation techniques insist that it’s worth the trouble. 

01 Jan 2017

Earliest evidence of humans in the Americas

Map showing the earliest evidence of humans in the Americas. 

01 Jan 2017

Tiniest pterosaur found in British Columbia

Pterosaurs have a gargantuan reputation: Most fossils of the flying reptiles have wingspans similar to a small plane. But the recent discovery of fragmentary fossils from an eagle-sized specimen in British Columbia shows that not all pterosaurs were huge.

19 Dec 2016

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