Category Archives: paleontology

A new feathered and four-winged dinosaur

Now that my book’s turned in, I have a chance to catch up on the stack of biology papers I’ve had to neglect. I hope to be posting more about them in the next couple of weeks, but be aware that the Dreaded Edits to the book will come back when I’ve returned from Poland, […]

Spot the fossil belostomatids!

[JAC: At least it's not nightjars this time!] by Matthew Cobb This post is entirely based on a fantastic set of fossils posted over at Updates from the Paleontology Lab which is run by the Virgina Museum of Natural History (VMNH) and updated by Dr. Alton “Butch” Dooley. My thanks to him for the pics! If you’re […]

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 […]

Google doodle honors Mary Anning

If you don’t know who this person is, you should—especially if you’re a fan of science. Today’s Google Doodle (which I heard about from a UK friend last night), honors Mary Anning, whose 215th birthday is today (she died in 1847, 12 years before Darwin published On the Origin of Species). She was the first […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

A paleontologist debates an IDer on the Cambrian Explosion

Charles Marshall, a paleontologist and expert on early life at the University of California at Berkeley, recently debated intelligent-design advocate Stephen Meyer on the Cambrian Explosion, the topic of Meyer’s recent book, Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin for Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. I haven’t yet listened to the hour-long debate, but […]

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, […]

Don Prothero guts Stephen Meyer’s new creationist book

The Lord hath delivered Meyer into Prothero’s hands. If you’re a regular here, you’ll know about paleontologist Don Prothero, who wrote one of my favorite “evidence-for-evolution-and-anticreationist” books, Evolution: What the Fossils Say And Why It Matters (read it!).  He’s a crack paleontologist and a superb science educator, as well as an inveterate debunker of creationism (he […]

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