Tag: Systematics

News Bite: Basilisks in the Old(er) West!

The oldest basilisk lizard from North America, described by Jack Conrad from NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, shows the 48 million year old animal was part of an ancient lush jungle ecosystem…in the middle of Wyoming. The beautifully preserved skull has important stories to tell about the evolution of the lizards most famous for their ability to scamper across the water, but it also reveals …

Filed under: Biogeography, Climate Change, Eocsystem, Fossils, Lizards, Reptiles, Systematics, Wyoming, herpetology

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: Field Guide, Fossils, Neovenatoridae, Siats, Systematics, Tyrannosarus, 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: Dinosaurs, Ecology, Field Guide, Fossils, New species, Systematics, carnivore, theropod

Episode 7 Field Guide: Walking through Whale Evolution

Whales are spectacularly specialized mammals that seem perfectly adapted to their marine habitat. Plenty of other mammals have gone back to the water, but whales take it to a whole new level. No back legs, weird ear bones, nose on top of the head. What could the land-based ancestor of whales have possibly looked like? Is there a fossil record of walking whales? In this episode we discover whales b …

Filed under: Cenozoic, Field Guide, Locomotion, Mammals, Systematics, anatomy, hippo, whale

Episode 3 Field Guide: What’s a Reptile?

When you read the word “Reptile” what do you think of? A lizard? A snake? A crocodile? A turtle? All of these animals fit the loose definition of reptiles: covered in scales, unable to regulate their body temperature, and sprawling. But in Episode 2, we explored the close relationship between birds and dinosaurs, so are birds reptiles, too? The feathers and warm-blooded-ness of birds messes with o …

Filed under: Diapsids, Dinosaurs, Lizards, Reptiles, Snakes, Synapsids, Systematics, Turtles, anatomy, mammal, tuatara

Episode 2 Field Guide: Birds are dinosaurs!

What is a dinosaur? What is a bird? They’re related somehow, but how do paleontologists figure out how close Velociraptor and penguins are in the dinosaur family tree? In this episode of Past Time, Matt and Adam talk to Dr. Alan Turner, an expert on fossils from the dino-bird transition to figure out which animals are most important in sorting out this incredible evolutionary story. Listen to this …

Filed under: Archaeopteryx, Jurassic, Systematics, Velociraptor, bird, raptor

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