Tag archives for Paleontology
A 150-million-year-old clutch of fossilized dinosaur eggs is providing scientists with new evidence of how eggs evolved. The eggs were laid by a dinosaur belonging to a group of species called theropods. Tyrannosaurus rex, as well as today’s birds, belong to this group. Most of the time, scientists can’t tell what kind of dinosaur laid the eggs they find, but the fossil embryos inside the eggs were developed enough for scientists to tell which group of dinosaurs they were from.
Scientists discovered that the eggs had fewer layers than eggs from later dinosaurs and birds. They also know that the eggs were buried to incubate, because of the amount of pores in the eggshell.
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.
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 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