Category Archives: fossils

Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Mark Sturtevant sent some diverse photos from his Ikea Cabinet of Mystery. About a year ago I had posted pictures showing a few specimens from my “Cabinet of Mystery” (from Ikea!). It is once again time open its glass paneled doors and peer inside for more oddities and curiosities. We begin with a fossil […]

A ten pound frog frog lived in ancient Madagascar

A frog that could swallow a small theropod dinosaur? Well, maybe: it was large enough, and weighed in at a hefty ten pounds (4.5 kilograms). This animal, with the clever name of Beelzebufo, was first described in 2008, but a new paper in PNAS by Susan Evans et al. (reference and free link below), describes […]

Giant “paleoburrows” dug by extinct mammals

In the last few years, geologists have been finding—mostly in Brazil—large “paleoburrows” that were almost certainly dug by large, extinct mammals such as giant ground sloths. These burrows can be up to 3000 feet long (!) and 5 feet wide, though the very long ones were surely dug by many individuals over many generations. The […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Please keep your photos coming in; I have a decent backlog, but you know how I worry. . . Today we have some photos of fossilized wildlife, all taken by reader Mark Sturtevant. His notes are indented. As a change from the usual stuff that I have been submitting, I thought to share pictures of some specimens […]

Happy Thanksgiving (and a fossil turducken)

Today’s Bloom County cartoon, courtesy of reader Stash Krod (click to enlarge): Reader John W. sent this salacious Thanksgiving cartoon (if you don’t know what a “turducken” is, go here): And, for some biology on this day, we have an item reported in September by Discover Magazine and National Geographic: a “preshistoric turducken”.  Yes, it’s a […]

Earliest organisms: 3.7 billion years old?

There’s a new paper in Nature that has everyone excited, for it reports what is said to be the earliest evidence for microbial life—”microbial structures” dated 3.7 billion years ago. The paper, by Allen P. Nutman et al. (reference and free link at bottom), describes what are said to be ancient traces of stromatolites—layered colonies of cyanobacteria that trap sediments […]

Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader James Blilie sent some landscapes, plant, and fungi photos; his notes are indented: White pine (Pinus stroba) left foreground and red pine (Pinus resinosa) right foreground and cottonwood trees (Populus deltoides), background, along the St. Croix River.  Minnesota in the foreground, Wisconsin in the background.  Some newly-emerged leaves (not sure of species): Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), an early emergent: Bloodroot (Sanguinaria […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

As I mentioned when in Portland, I encountered reader Bruce Thiel at my free will talk; Bruce’s avocation is preparing fantastic fossils that he finds locally. I’ve featured some of his preparations before; have a look, as I’ve never seen anything like them. Using a dental drill and working slowly and meticulously, he produces fossils like […]

Guest post: Kite runner fossil – babies or phoretic mites?

JAC:  Both Matthew and I had forgotten about Matthew’s 2013 post here on mites, describing a phenomenon that might explain the  the “Kite Runner fossil that received a lot of attention.  At that time the Kite Runner wasn’t known, but biologist/author Ross Piper submitted a post (he’s a friend of Matthew) arguing that the objects tethered to the Kite Runner […]

Silurian arthropod dragged its offspring around tethered to its body like kites

The Irish paleontologist and Yale professor Derek Briggs—no relationship to the other famous Irish paleontologist Sir Arthur “Artie” O’Dactyl—is famous for his work on the Burgess Shale fauna. He’s actually speaking today on that fauna at Chicago’s Field Museum, but I’ll be unable to attend. But we can all still marvel at some new work on younger specimens just published […]