Category Archives: fossils

A bizarre blood-sucking Jurassic maggot

by Matthew Cobb Just out in eLife, an Open Access journal that aims to rival Science and Nature, is this fantastic fossil of an aquatic fly larva from the Chinese mid-Jurassic (around 165 MY ago), published by Chen et al. Soft-bodied animals rarely fossilise well, but the Chinese fossil-hunters have been able to find three […]

Earliest evidence of birds visiting flowers

Angiosperms, or flowering plants, first appear in the fossil record about 160 million years ago. A new paper in Biology Letters, by Gerald Mayr and Volker Wilde (reference below and—I think—a free download) shows that by about 50 million years ago, birds had already evolved to take advantage of this new food source. Mayr and Wild report a […]

Good news! Religion expunged from South Carolina fossil bill

Reader Barry called my attention to a piece on yesterday’s Raw Story that, for once, gives good news.  You may remember the kerfuffle in South Carolina about making the wooly mammoth the state fossil. That suggestion, which came from an eight-year-old girl, Olivia McConnell, riled up some creationist legislators, and though the legislature voted to adopt the […]

The world’s prettiest fossil

And it’s now missing, thanks to thieves who stole it from a private collection. Reader Ant called it to my attention from a post on ZME Science‘s “Fossil Friday”: It’s the fossil of a giant ammonite, an ancient and prolific group of mollusks that has gone extinct without leaving descendants. I have one (not opalized!) about […]

A lovely fossilized beetle

Reader Ant sent me a link to this photo and short article from ZME Science showing a beetle that is way, way old, with jeweled exoskeleton nicely preserved. The caption (the website is starting a “Fossil Friday” feature): So, here’s a jewel beetle from the Messel Pit, Germany, 47 million years old. It’s fossilized in such a […]

Pterosaurs take Manhattan

by Greg Mayer Last weekend, a new exhibit opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York: “Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs“. The New York Times had a piece on the making of the exhibit last week, and today their museum critic, Edward Rothstein, weighs in with his take on the […]

When did modern placental mammals diversify?

by Greg Mayer Almost exactly a year ago, I reported in two posts here at WEIT on a paper in Science by Maureen O’Leary and colleagues on the radiation of placental mammals. Placentals are one of three major groups of living mammals, the others being the marsupials (dominant in Australia, plus a fair number in […]

Tiktaalik had hind limbs!

by Greg Mayer In a paper in press in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Neil Shubin, Ted Daeschler, and the late Farish Jenkins describe the pelvis and partial hind limb of Tiktaalik roseae, the lobe-finned fish from the Canadian high arctic that they discovered in 2004 and described in Nature in 2006. […]

Much ado about something

by Greg Mayer In a paper in press in Nature, Min Zhu and colleagues describe a new species of placoderm from the Silurian period of China. Placoderms are an extinct group of (usually) heavily armored jawed fishes that lived in the Silurian and Devonian. The new species is based on a beautifully preserved 3-D specimen, […]

More about turtles

[JAC: In response to my own and other readers' questions about turtle morphology and evolution, Greg kindly put up another post to clarify matters.] by Greg Mayer To really appreciate what turtles have done with their shells, it helps to see into one. So here’s a view into a turtle’s shell. The shell has been […]

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