Category Archives: fossils

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 […]

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. […]


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