Category archives for Extinct Animals
National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno and his team have discovered a new dinosaur species! Pegomastax africanus was only about 2 feet long, and had fangs and was covered with quills like a porcupine’s. Even though it had fangs, this tiny dino ate plants. Because of its small size, Sereno says that “it would be a nice pet–if you could train it not to nip you.”
Would you like to have a dinosaur as a pet?
Scientists have recently discovered an odd new saber-toothed creature. As described in an upcoming study, the prehistoric Tiarajudens eccentricus was about the size of a large dog, and lived before the dinosaurs. One odd thing about this creature is that even though it had fearsome canine teeth, it was a herbivore (a plant-eater). “You would usually expect saber teeth in a carnivore,” said paleontologist Jörg Fröbisch, of the Humboldt University of Berlin. “The best known animals are obviously saber-toothed cats or tigers, but there are also some [extinct] forms known among the marsupials, relatives of kangaroos and wombats.” (Fröbisch was not involved in the study, which will be published tomorrow in the journal Science.)
Study leaders suggest that Tiarajudens eccentricus may have used its fearsome-looking teeth to scare rivals or predators.
Scientists have uncovered the fossils of prehistoric penguins in Peru. Evidence from the fossils suggests that these giant penguins, called water king penguins (Inkayacu paracasensis), had reddish-brown colors on the underside of their wings. But that’s not the only unusual thing about this ancient bird–it was also about 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall!
Learn more about the giant water king penguin on National Geographic News.
Get the facts on emperor penguins, the world’s largest living penguins.
Illustration courtesy Katie Browne, U.T. Austin
Scientist have found fossils of an ancient crocodile in Tanzania called Pakasuchus kapilimai. It lived about 105 million years ago, and it was smaller than most crocs–about the size of a house cat. It also had characteristics that are more like a mammal than like a reptile. Modern crocs have a mouth full of pointy teeth, but this new find had molar-like teeth in the back of its jaw. Its nose was also more like a dog’s nose than like a typical crocodile.
Learn more about the Pakasuchus kapilimai crocodile on National Geographic News.
Get the facts on Nile crocodiles in the Creature Feature.
Picture courtesy Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
The fossilized remains of a giant species of sperm whale have been found in a desert in Peru! The 60-foot (18-meter) giant whale is called Leviathan melvillei after Herman Melville, the author of the novel about a whale called Moby-Dick. A study in Nature says that the whale’s massive teeth may mean that the whale actively hunted other whales and not only eating giant squid, like today’s sperm whale.
Learn more about Leviathan melvillei on National Geographic News.
How much do you know about the largest living species of whale? Quiz Your Noodle and find out!
Illustration by C. Letenneur, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France
Have you ever wondered what color dinosaurs were when they walked the earth? Now we know–at least for one species, Anchiornis huxleyi. This dino was about the size of a chicken, and was mostly black and white, except for a rust-colored crest on its head (similar to today’s woodpecker).
How do scientists know that Anchiornis huxleyi looked like this? They examined fossils of the dinosaur’s feathers and were able to determine their colors based on melanosomes. Melanosomes are parts of cells that produce melanin (that’s the stuff that pigments your skin). They were able to figure out the dino’s colors by comparing their fossilized melansonomes with the melanosomes found in modern birds.
Get the whole story on National Geographic News.
Test your knowledge of dino trivia on National Geographic Kids.
Illustration by National Geographic
llustration by Todd Marshall via Science
Meet Raptorex kriegsteini, a new dinosaur species described this week in the journal Science. This “tiny” Tyrannosaurus rex ancestor would still look big to us at nine feet (three meters) tall., but quite small compared to its descendent T. rex. Other than the size difference, the two dinosaurs look remarkably alike, according to Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.
This new dino changes the way scientists think about the evolution of T. rex‘s short arms. Raptorex kriegsteini also had short arms, meaning that T. rex‘s short arms evolved later than previously believed, according to Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland (who is not associated with the study).
Learn more about this find on National Geographic News.
Get the facts on Tyrannosaurus rex on National Geographic Kids.
Search for T. rex bones in Zipper’s Cave Maze.
more about paleontologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence
Paul Sereno on National Geographic.
Image courtesy Travis R. Tischler, Australian Age of Dinosaurs
“Banjo” is the nickname for the newly-named dinosaur Australovenator wintonensis, a meat-eating, raptor-like dino recently found in Australia. The fossilized remains are one of three new dinosaur species discovered in Winton, a town in the Australian outback.
Learn more about the dig and meet new discoveries “Matilda” and “Clancy” on National Geographic News.
Test your knowledge of dinosaurs in this National Geographic Kids Brainteaser.
Illustration by Jason Bourque
Fossils of Titanoboa cerrejonesis were unearthed in a coal mine in Colombia. Studies show that this snake, which lived 60 million years ago, was the biggest snake ever at 42 feet (13 meters) long and weighed almost a ton at 2,000 pounds (1134 kilograms). “That’s longer than a city bus and … heavier than a car,” said lead study author Jason Head, a fossil-snake expert at the University of Toronto Mississauga in Canada and a research associate with the Smithsonian Institution.
Read more about the world’s biggest snake on National Geographic News.
The largest living snake is the anaconda. Get more facts in the Creature Feature.
Image courtesy Farish A. Jenkins, Jr./Harvard University
Scientists recently uncovered fossils of an extinct amphibian called Gerrothorax pulcherrimus whose mouth opens sort of like a toilet seat. The jaws of all other vertebrates (animals with a backbone) open wide by hinging down from their skull, while this creature lifted its head up to open its choppers. Gerrothorax lived about 210 million years ago. It lived in warm lakes and ate fish with its toilet seat mouth. It was about three feet (one meter) long and was flat with short limbs.
Farish Jenkins, of Harvard University, said that Gerrothorax was “the ugliest animal in the world.”
Read more about this freaky find on National Geographic News.
Read about dino discoveries on National Geographic Kids.
Scientists have uncovered a new dinosaur in Argentina, and it’s a big one! The Austroraptor cabazai is the largest raptor ever found in South America and it is among the largest members of the carnivorous raptor family. These raptors grew to be 16.5 to 21 feet long (5 to 6.5 meters).
A raptor this big would certainly have been a fierce predator. Paul Sereno, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago, says that “this was a monster raptor that makes the Velociraptor look like kid’s play.”
Read more on National Geographic News.
Check out the Velociraptor Creature Feature.
Learn more about paleontologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Paul Sereno on National Geographic.
Image courtesy Fernando Novas