Fossil Friday: looks like a squirrel, tastes like chicken, is actually a dinosaur

  This is without a doubt one of the most complete and one of the most spectacular dinosaur fossils ever found. It’s a small theropod dinosaur, a group of ancestral predators from the Mesozoic. Oliver Rauhut, who was one of the authors of the study that described the dinosaurs, writes: “It is a small theropod dinosaur (total length c. 70 cm)

#FossilFriday: Dunkleosteus

Dunkleosteus is an extinct placoderm fish that lived some 380 to 360 million years ago, during the late Devonian. It’s called a “placoderm” because its head and thorax was covered in armored plates – this was generally how fish were built in that time. The largest species, D. terrelli, measured up to 10 meters (33 feet). They were probably slow,

#Fossil Friday: Ordovician Edrioasteroidea

This is Streptaster vorticellatus, a member of the Edrioasteroidea class. The Edrioasteroidea is an extinct class of echinoderms that lived all the way on from the Ediacaran period 600 million years ago! However, Streptaster vorticellatus lived “only” 450 million years ago, during a period called the Ordovician. The body plan for this class was simple: a main body (theca), composed of many small plates, a peripheral rim

Fossil Friday: Opalized belemnite

Belemnites are an extinct order of cephalopods (“cephalo” meaning head and “pod” meaning leg) that lived during the Mesozoic era, some 200 to 65 million years ago. They were elongated organisms, resembling today’s squids, only tinier and cuter.

#FossilFriday: Ancient Fern

This is a fossilized Phegopteris guyottii – a species of fern. Its genus still exists today, and is known collectively as the beech ferns. Ferns emerged in the late Devonian, some 360 million years ago. Many ferns still exists today, though most of their ancestors didn’t emerge until roughly 145 million years ago in the early Cretaceous, after flowering plants came to dominate

Fossil Friday: Zhenyuanlong

This magnificent creature is Zhenyuanlong, a genus of dinosaur related to the velociraptor. Living approximately 125 million years ago, this specimen left behind a stunning fossil, with a nearly complete skeleton that contains traces of feathers, including long tail feathers and large wings. Yes, this animal had feathers, just like the velociraptor did – so write-off that image that Jurassic Park left,

Treasure trove of Permian fossils discovered in Brazil

The fossils were discovered in the Parnaiba Basin of north-eastern Brazil, and are some 278 million years old, corresponding to the Permian period, when all the continents we know today were still fused together.

Challenging the “Out of Africa” theory, one tooth at a time

Recent fossils unearthed in the Chinese province of Daoxian come to unravel the story of humanity’s spread as we know it today. The find consists of 47 teeth, belonging to modern humans, but what’s really important is their age – they have been dated to 80,000 years ago. This number doesn’t fit with the “Out of Africa” migration theory, holding that humans originate and have spread from the horn of the continent all around the world. The theory as we know it can’t explain human presence in the area for another 20,000 years.

Fossil Friday: Mesozoic Dragonfly

This is Parahemiphlebia – a dragonfly that lived over 100 million years ago, in the Cretaceous, and was contemporary with T-Rex and the Triceratops. The fossil was taken from the Crato Formation, in Brazil.

Fossil Friday: Peeking inside a beautiful Ammonite

We’re back this week… again with an ammonite! I know, I know, we’re doing ammonites more often than not, but I can’t help it if they just look so amazing!  

FossilFriday: A Magnificently Fossilized Stegosaurus

This is a fossilized in-ground Stegosaurus currently exposed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Stegosaurus is one of the most easily recognizable species of dinosaurs, living until about 150 million years, and this remarkable fossil does a fantastic job at highlighting it. Ironically, although many people associate it with the T-Rex, the Stegosaurus is actually much more ancient. T-Rex

FossilFriday: Ancient sharkbite preserved in fossil whale bone

A fragment of whale rib found in a North Carolina strip mine is offering scientists a rare glimpse at the interactions between prehistoric sharks and whales some 3-4 million years ago, during a period called the Pliocene. Three tooth marks on the rib indicate the whale was once severely bitten by a strong-jawed animal. Judging by the 6 centimeter (2.4

#FossilFriday: Slab of sea-star fossils

It’s chique, awesome looking and really old – it’s the paleontological equivalent of a Louis Vuitton!

#FossilFriday: Cut in half Pyritized Ammonite

I really love pyritized ammonites – they’re such a spectacular sight (as you can see both here and here) – but this one is really interesting and different. Ammonites an extinct group of marine invertebrate animals that (in a way) ruled the Earth’s seas for almost 250 million years. Ammonites thrived so much and they were so numerous that today they are

#FossilFriday: Pyritized Ammonite

This is a heavily pyritized Pleuroceras ammonite fossil collected near Forcheim, Germany. The fossil is approximately 185 million years old, from the Jurassic (the Pliensbachian stage). Naturally the color is much duller but these specimens have been brushed with a wire brush to create a brilliant gold shine. Ammonites are a group of extinct animals which roamed the planet’s oceans for almost 250

#FossilFriday: A fossilized log

It’s not just animals that get fossilized, trees can become amazing fossils as well, and here we have a great example. Log fossilization  is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the

#FossilFriday: A crazy large Spider Fossil

This is the largest spider fossil ever found: Mongolarachne jurassica. Mongolarachne is an extinct genus of spider which lived in the Middle to Late Jurassic, over 100 million years ago (likely some 164 million years ago). Interestingly enough, Mongolarachne jurassica is known only from two fossils. You can see in the picture below a male to the right, and a female to the

#FossilFriday: Man documents how he reconstructs dinosaurs from fossils

Imgur user anthroteus documented, step by step (with pictures, of course) how he reconstructs dinosaurs from fossils. Here’s his process, as described on Imgur:   We make life reconstructions of dinosaurs. If you see an awesome dino in a museum, it was probably us (the crappy ones are definitely someone else). We get photos like this to work from, and sometimes

FossilFriday: giant, fossilized dino footprints in Portugal

Pedreira do Galinha (literally “The chicken’s quarry”, but more on that later) is one of the most important paleontological sites in Portugal and one of the most amazing places that I had the opportunity to visit. So, what is this magical (from a paleontological point of view) place? Well, here lie the fossilized footprints of the biggest beings on Earth

#FossilFriday: Fossil Crab – Tumidocarcinus giganteus – Miocene

Via Tumidocarcinus giganteus roamed today’s New Zealand in the Miocene. The Miocene  is the first geological epoch of the Neogene period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.332 million years ago. Life in the Miocene was marked by the development of two new biomes, kelp forests and grasslands. This allows for more grazers, such as horses, rhinoceroses,and hippos. Marine