Tag archives for Fossils
Paleontologists in Nevada have discovered a Triassic-era sea monster that is the size of a bus! It lived about 244 million years ago during the Triassic era. The creature is called “lizard-eating sovereign of the seas,” or Thalattoarchon saurophagis. T. saurophagis was an early ichthyosaur, a giant reptile that lived in the oceans.
The fossil was partially excavated in 1998, and National Geographic explorer and T. saurophagis study co-author Nadia Fröbisch and her colleagues excavated the rest of the fossil in 2010. The complete fossil has a huge skull and big, sharp teeth that may have been used to eat prey the same size as T. saurophagis.
Caitlin: Today the team went to Two Medicine Dinosaur Center. We had a tour with Timeline Adventures. Learning about identifying fossils, digging up fossils, and preserving them was probably the most enjoyable day, in my opinion. The fossils we uncovered were the lower leg bones of a Hadrosaurus, a T-rex tooth, and scattered Hadrosaurus bones. Getting to help dig up dinosaur bones was amazing. Carefully brushing and chipping off rock helped to expose more of the fossil. Once the fossil is all exposed, paper towels and water are “painted” on. The plaster is applied by hand and the fossil was pried out of the ground. It was a neat experience getting to preserve a real dinosaur fossil. I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since I won the expedition! I learned a lot about dinosaurs and fossils and the rest of the team did too.
Photograph from Museo Paleontologico de Caldera via AP
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
The oldest known fossil skeleton of a human ancestor–a female Ardipithecus ramidus specimen nicknamed “Ardi” (pictured)–has been found, scientists revealed yesterday.
The find reveals that our ancestors underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago. Ardi lived 4.4 million years ago, according to researchers.
See more pictures, a map, and read a report of the discovery on National Geographic News.
Learn more from Science magazine.
The oldest human hairs ever found were discovered in an unusual place–hyena poop! Researchers found the rock-hard dung in a cave in South Africa. They used tweezers to extract 40 fossilized hairs resembling glass needles from one of the hyena coprolites, or fossil turd.
Read the whole story on National Geographic News.
Get the scoop on spotted hyenas in the Creature Feature.