Category Archives: paleobiology

New remarkable “Burgess-Shale” fossils from Canada

Here’s an appropriate post for Darwin Day: a new discovery of some very old fossils. You remember the Burgess Shale fauna, right?  The whole story, although it’s since been revised, is given in Steve Gould’s excellent book Wonderful Life (1989).  Discovered by Charles Wolcott in the Canadian Rockies in 1909, the site’s shale-preserved fossils were […]

Famous paleobiologist savages Stephen Meyer’s ID book

Charles R. Marshall, once my colleague here at Chicago, is now a professor at the Department of Intergrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. Along with a handful of other people, including Andy Knoll, Jim Valentine, and Martin Brasier, Marshall is one of the most respected experts on the evolution of early life.  […]

Human evolution: the hobbits were probably real

I’m spending most of the day writing now, and it’s difficult to find time to read scientific papers and report on them.  So do excuse me for a while if I summarize new findings from (reliable) journalistic results, even though I’ll scan and link to the original paper when possible. There are two evolution-related findings […]

Nostradamus Rex

h/t: Matthew Cobb ‏@matthewcobb tw–t via @badsciencemonk

A very precious fossil

From ZME Science via reader Ant, we have a priceless and amazing fossil.  The description: Yes, what you are looking at is a natural, though extremely rare phenomenon – quite possibly unique in the world. This fossilised gastropod from the Colombian mine of Gachala has been completely replaced by precious emerald. Formed from hydrothermal fluids in a shear […]

The first review of Stephen Meyer’s new ID book

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading here regularly, Stephen Meyer, a fellow of the intelligent-design-touting Discovery Institute, has published a new book called Darwin’s Doubt. Its thesis is that the Cambrian explosion of animal life, which I mentioned yesterday, could not reflect natural evolutionary processes, and so must be the work of God an […]

What caused the Cambrian explosion?

The “Cambrian explosion” marked the rapid appearance of many animal phyla that persist today, and began about 570 million years ago (mya). Life itself appeared in the fossil record as simple cyanobacteria—”blue green algae”—about 3.6 billion years ago (bya); the first “true” cell with a nucleus probably arose about 2 bya; and the first multicellular […]

I keep a safe lab

Actually, it’s from the I Fucking Love Science website: Okay, paleobiology buffs—is that number accurate?

Buzzsaw!: An ancient spiral-toothed shark

Imagine an ancient shark with a single spiral tooth, shaped like a buzzsaw, in its lower jaw. That’s what’s reported in a new paper in Biology Letters by Leif Tapanila et al. (free download).  The spiral-like structure of this fossil, Helicoprion, had been known for some time, but it was curious: what seemed to be […]

Today’s Google doodle celebrates paleobiology

Take a look at today’s Google doodle and guess what it’s celebrating? If you don’t know, the answer is here More about the subject can be found here (I know Matthew disdains my use of Wikipedia entries but that is often the most comprehensive source of information!) As the alert reader said who sent me […]


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