Category Archives: fossils

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 […]

Ottawa: a visit to The Canadian Museum of Nature

While in Ottawa, I spent a couple of engrossing hours at The Canadian Museum of Nature. I don’t have a picture of the entire building (built around 1905), but here’s one from Wikipedia. The incongruous glass addition was put on between 2004 and 2010 to replace the original stone tower, whose weight was causing the building […]

Birds of Stone: Avian Fossils from the Age of Dinosaurs

by Greg Mayer This coming Monday, February 1, at 7 PM in the Student Union Cinema, the University of Wisconsin-Parkisde will present Luis Chiappe, Director of the Dinosaur Institute of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, will speak on “Birds of Stone: Avian Fossils from the Age of Dinosaurs”. Many of the features […]

Readers’ wildlife photographs

Just in: a cool fossil courtesy of reader James Blilie: This photo isn’t of a living thing; but rather its traces:  A tetrapod trackway in Permian or Carboniferous sedimentary rocks, Cedar Mesa, southern Utah.  2001, Kodachrome 64, probably a Pentax A 20mm f/2.8 lens.  Probably f/11 at 1/125 sec. Pure speculation, but it could be from Eryops, or a similar […]

A four-legged snake

by Greg Mayer It has long been known that some snakes are two-legged, because many modern species have two legs– externally visible hind limbs– a fact we’ve noticed here at WEIT before. These small external legs, capped by keratinous claws, are supported internally by vestigial femurs and a vestigial pelvis. They are larger in males, […]

A very early fish

Many readers sent me a note about this paper, but, given my schedule, I simply hadn’t gotten around to reading it. Fortunately, Greg did, and gives us a nice summary of what it means. by Greg Mayer In the latest issue of Nature, Simon Conway Morris and Jean-Bernard Caron provide a detailed description of Metaspriggina […]

When did the Neanderthals go extinct?

by Greg Mayer In a recent paper in Nature (abstract only), Tom Higham of Oxford and several colleagues report on their effort to determine by radiocarbon dating when Neanderthals went extinct. Higham et al. conclude that it was about 40,000 years ago. It’s gotten a fair amount of media coverage—more on this below—but let’s look at the […]

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