Jurassic Archaeopteryx Nature Photography Paleontology 

Jurassic Celebrity: Early Bird Gets the Spotlight

By Steven Spence A Lasting Impression For its sheer beauty, the Berlin specimen of Archaeopteryx has been described as a “paleontological Mona Lisa” by Dr. Luis M. Chiappe of the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. Without a doubt it is one of the most attractive fossils that I have ever seen. It is striking because it clearly has avian features, yet it is so different from modern birds. Clawed Wings and Teeth A previous article on the reference specimen of Archaeopteryx (London Natural History Museum) mentioned both the claws and…

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Berlin Mounted Dinosaur Skeleton: The huge mounted Giraffatitan in the main hall in Berlin, dwarfing the Diplodocus that stands behind it. (Photo by Steven Spence) Paleontology 

Mounting a Monument to a Mesozoic Monster

Renowned paleontologist Dr. Dave Hone explains how the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world was put together. Photography by Steven Spence. By David Hone Dr. Dave Hone is a lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in dinosaurs and pterosaurs. In addition to writing for The Guardian, he blogs at Archosaur Musings, is a contributor to Pterosaur.net, created Ask A Biologist, and has published more than 50 academic papers on dinosaur biology. His latest book, The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, is now available from Bloomsbury Publishing. Few visitors to the…

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Shelf Life Episode 1: 33 Million Things, American Natural History Museum Biology Paleontology Science Videos Zoology 

Shelf Life Episode 1: 33 Million Things

About Shelf Life Episode 1: 33 Million Things Can’t get to New York to visit the American Museum of Natural History? No problem! EH Science invites you to take a virtual trip behind the scenes. In this the first episode of the museum’s brand new original series, Shelf Life, you can walk in the shoes of a research scientist and explore the enormous collection of specimens, many of which aren’t on public display. Shelf Life is a video series for curious minds—opening doors, pulling out drawers, and taking the lids off some…

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3D reconstruction of the tetrapod skull. Top image: Right facial skeleton and skull roof shown in "exploded" view to show how the bones fit together. Center image: Left side of the cranium (braincase omitted) is shown in internal view. Bottom image: Right lower jaw in "exploded" view to illustrate sutural morphology. Individual bones shown in various colors. (Porro et al.) Biology Paleontology 

Early Tetrapod Skull Looks like Crocodile

Our 360 million-year-old tetrapod ancestors may have been more like modern crocodiles than previously thought, according to a new 3D skull reconstruction from the University of Bristol, UK. Acanthostega gunnari was a “four-footed” vertebrate, also known as a tetrapod, that invaded land during one of the great evolutionary transitions in Earth’s history, 380-360 million years ago. Tetrapods evolved from lobe-finned fish and display a number of adaptations that helped them survive on land. “These new analyses provide fresh clues about the evolution of the jaws and feeding system as the…

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Human evolution: The fossil mandible near where it was found (Brian Villmoare) Archaeology Biology Paleontology 

Fossil Sheds Light on Early Human Evolution

The discovery of a fossilized lower jaw bone in Ethiopia has pushed back evidence of the human genus — Homo — to 2.8 million years ago. The find predates all previously unearthed fossils of the Homo lineage by approximately 400,000 years. For decades, scientists have been searching in Africa for fossils documenting the earliest phases of the Homo lineage. However, specimens recovered from between 3 and 2.5 million years ago have been frustratingly few and often in poor condition. As a result, there has been little agreement on when the…

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Signs of life on Earth: The oldest rock samples, from 3.2 billion years ago, were collected at this site in the desert in northwestern Australia. (R. Buick / University of Washington) Biology Paleontology 

Life on Earth May Be Older than We Thought

Life on our planet could be at least one billion years older than previously thought, according to new geological research from the University of Washington. Nitrogen is a chemical element that is essential for building genes. Without plenty of nitrogen, life on the early Earth would have been scarce. Researchers looking at some of the planet’s oldest rocks have found evidence that organisms were already pulling nitrogen out of the air 3.2 billion years ago, and converting it in ways that could support larger communities of lifeforms. Finding Ancient Life…

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Oldest Primate: Scientists believe Purgatorius looked similar to Dryomomys szalayi, another primitive primate discovered near Yellowstone National Park by Jonathan Bloch. (Illustration courtesy of Doug Boyer) Biology Paleontology 

Oldest Primates Lived in Trees

By Kate Stone A new study from the University of Florida suggests that humans’ earliest primate ancestor was a tree-dwelling creature. Named Purgatorius, scientists believe it looked like a cross between a squirrel and tree shrew, and weighed less than a deck of playing cards. This ancient animal was previously known only by its teeth. The shape of the teeth allowed paleontologists to determine the Purgatorius — estimated to have weighed about 3.5 ounces — ate insects and plants, but researchers knew little else about its lifestyle. With the discovery of…

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EH Science: Ankylosaurus_skull, By William Diller Matthew (1871-1930) Paleontology 

Armored Dinosaurs, Elaborate Nasal Passages

Since paleontologists began using CT scans and 3D reconstructions of dinosaur remains, they have been able to tell us much more about dinosaurs than ever before. Now a new study shows that armor-plated dinosaurs (ankylosaurs) had the capacity to modify the temperature of the air they breathed using nasal passages shaped like “crazy straws.” We know that animals use strategies such as sweating, panting, and swimming to prevent their brains from overheating. However, the ankylosaur appears to have relied upon its long and winding nasal cavity to cool down, using…

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A Steppe bison on display at the University of Alaska Museum of the North (Bernt Rostad of Oslo, Norway) Paleontology 

Extinct Bison Found Frozen in Siberia

Many large mammals went extinct at the end of the last Ice Age (approx 11,000 years ago), including the Steppe bison, or Bison priscus. A team of scientists has found a complete specimen of this extinct bison frozen and naturally mummified in Eastern Siberia. According to the research team, they have uncovered the most complete frozen mummy of the Steppe bison ever found. The frozen body has been dated to 9,300 years before the present day. It was found in the Yana-Indigirka Lowland and the team performed a necropsy to reveal how…

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