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Tag: Fossils

Quick Bite Field Guide: Weird Whales and Swimming Sloths

Marine mammals are fascinating beasts and the subject of our latest Quick Bite episode! Whales, manatees, seals, otters…they’ve all gone back to the water and evolved all kinds of spectacular adaptations to making a living in a soggy setting. Toothed whales evolved an ability to “see” the underwater world around them using echolocation – basically sonar – to track prey with high-pitched sounds a …

Filed under: Cenozoic, Cetacea, Convergence, Eocene, Field Guide, Fossils, Functional Morphology, Marine, North America, Oligocene, Paleontology, Pliocene, Podcast, South America, Xenarthra, dolphin, echolocation, marine biology, ocean, porpoise, sloth, whale

Episode 11 Field Guide: Trilobites from the Cincinnati Sea

Over 400 million years ago the oceans were teeming with life, but it didn’t look much like what you see at the aquarium or in Finding Nemo. Instead of colorful fish flitting through coral reefs, the ancient seas had giant, shelled squids darting past the icons of the early ocean: The Trilobites! Journey back to the Late Ordovician sea with Dr. Brenda Hunda, Curator of Invertebrates at the Cincinna …

Filed under: Cambrian, Field Guide, Fossils, Marine, Mass extinction, Morphometrics, North America, Ordovician, Paleontology, Paleozoic, coral reef, invertebrate, ocean life, trilobite

Quick Bite Field Guide: Terror Bird or Gentle Giant?

50 million-years ago, the heir to Tyrannosaurus stalked the forests of ancient Europe and North America, snapping up the tiny ancestors of horses, cows, and wolves in its colossal meat-cleaving beak. Gastornis was a six-foot-tall, flightless bird and the king of the food chain…or that’s what we thought. For decades paleontologists looked at the huge, parrot-like head and thought the giant bird m …

Filed under: Birds, Carnivory, Cenozoic, Comparative Anatomy, Ecology, Eocene, Europe, Field Guide, Fossils, Herbivory, Isotopes, North America, Paleontology

Quick Bite Field Guide: The Alien Turtle and Ancient Color

Meet Alienochelys selloumi, a giant, snorkel-nosed turtle with powerful, shell-crushing plates in its massive beak! The distant relative of the largest turtle alive today, the leatherback sea turtle, Alienochelys swam the ancient ocean of North Africa at the very end of the Age of Dinosaurs (the Late Cretaceous). It was found in the same rocks as Ocepechelon, the “whale turtle” discussed in our fi …

Filed under: Africa, Cretaceous, Field Guide, Fossils, Functional Morphology, Marine Reptiles, Paleontology, Reptiles, Turtles, ocean, sea turtle

Episode 10 Field Guide: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Discovery

Hobbits! Dragons! Weird elephants and ancient mysteries! It’s the stuff of literary and box office gold. And it turns out it’s the stuff of prehistory, too! In 2004 a group of paleontologists working on the island of Flores, a part of the Indonesian archipelago, discovered the bones of small people in a cave called Liang Bua. The bones represented several individuals that were only 3’ 6” tall (A l …

Filed under: Africa, Asia, Biogeography, Cenozoic, Field Guide, Flores, Fossils, Homo erectus, Human evolution, Indonesia, Lord of the Rings, Mammals, Paleoanthropology, Paleontology, Pleistocene, hobbit, human

Quick Bite Field Guide: The Giant before the Tyrant!

In the last episode of Past Time, we featured Lythronax, the oldest-known North American tyrannosaur and a close relative of Tyrannosaurus rex. But tyrannosaurs weren’t the only big carnivores to tromp through the Mesozoic of North America. Before the tyrant lizards were huge, there was another giant terrorizing the American West: Siats! Named for a Ute mythological giant, Siats was a bus-sized ca …

Filed under: Carnivory, Cretaceous, Field Guide, Fossils, Neovenatoridae, North America, Paleontology, Siats, Systematics, T. rex, Tyrannosarus, dinosaur, theropod, tyrannosaur

Episode 9 Field Guide: New Relatives of Tyrannosaurus rex!

Tyrannosaurus rex is a dinosaur celebrity, a villain in most dinosaur movies and documentaries, but where did the massive beast come from? On November 6, 2013, a team of paleontologists including our expert in this episode, Dr. Randy Irmis from the University of Utah and the Natural History Museum of Utah, published two new skeletons of Tyrannosaurus’s close kin: Teratophoneus and Lythronax. The s …

Filed under: Cretaceous, Dinosaurs, Ecology, Field Guide, Fossils, Laramidia, Lythronax, New species, North America, Paleontology, Systematics, T. rex, Tyrannosaurus, Utah, carnivore, theropod

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