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Tag: paleontology

Mar 5, 2014

Pigment or Bacteria? Researchers Re-examine the Idea of ‘Color’ in Fossil Feathers

Paleontologists studying fossilized feathers have proposed that the shapes of certain microscopic structures inside the feathers can tell us the color of ancient birds. But new research from North Carolina State University demonstrates that it is not yet possible to tell if these structures – thought to be melanosomes – are what they seem, or… 

Nov 26, 2013

Iron Preserves, Hides Ancient Tissues in Fossilized Remains

New research from North Carolina State University shows that iron may play a role in preserving ancient tissues within dinosaur fossils, but also may hide them from detection. The finding could open the door to the recovery of more ancient tissues from within fossils. Mary Schweitzer, an NC State paleontologist with a joint appointment at the… 

Nov 22, 2013

Dinosaur Discovery

NC State paleontologist Lindsay Zanno and her team have unearthed a colossal carnivore: Siats Meekerorum, the third-largest meat-eating dinosaur ever discovered in North America. 

Jun 17, 2013

Cretaceous Cold Case No. 4: Graveyard Shift

This is the fourth post in a series called “Cretaceous Cold Cases” in which the science of taphonomy, or prehistoric forensics, is explained by fascinating cases from the files of Terry “Bucky” Gates, a research scientist with a joint appointment at NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The graveyard shift in Madagascar… 

May 16, 2013

Cretaceous Cold Cases No. 3: Duck(bill) Amuck

This is the third post in a series called “Cretaceous Cold Cases” in which the science of taphonomy, or prehistoric forensics, is explained by fascinating cases from the files of Terry “Bucky” Gates, a research scientist with a joint appointment at NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. One brisk fall day in… 

May 1, 2013

Cretaceous Cold Case No. 2, Part 1: It’s a Trap?

This is part one of the second post in a series called “Cretaceous Cold Cases” in which the science of taphonomy, or prehistoric forensics, is explained  using fascinating cases from the files of Terry “Bucky” Gates, a research scientist with a joint appointment at NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Part 2… 

Apr 16, 2013

Cretaceous Cold Cases No. 1: A Case With Legs

This is the first post in a series called “Cretaceous Cold Cases” in which the science of taphonomy, or prehistoric forensics, is explained and exemplified by fascinating cases from the files of Terry “Bucky” Gates, a research scientist with a joint appointment at NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Summer, 2001. It… 

Feb 28, 2013

New Species of Plant-Eating Dino Was Lunch for Prehistoric Crocs

Sometimes, the fossil record gives us some really exciting insights into prehistoric life – including grisly details of prehistoric death. Paleontologists have found evidence not only of a new species of herbivorous, or plant-eating, dinosaur, but also that these dinosaurs were preyed upon by the prehistoric forebears of crocodiles. Seventy-five million years ago, southern Utah… 

Erlikosaurus

Dec 19, 2012

Visualize This: Inside a Dinosaur’s Brain

Want to know how well a dinosaur could see, hear and smell? Get inside its head! That’s what a group of researchers from the U.K. and U.S. did when they recreated the brain of a therizinosaur called Erlikosaurus andrewsi – a 10-foot-long feathered theropod that lived in what is now Mongolia during the Cretaceous period,… 

Sep 24, 2012

New Research Findings Consistent With Theory of Impact Event 12,900 Years Ago

New research findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) are consistent with a controversial theory that an extraterrestrial body – such as a comet – impacted the Earth approximately 12,900 years ago, possibly contributing to the significant climatic and ecological changes that date to that time period. The paper includes… 

May 23, 2012

So You Found a Giant Turtle…

Edwin Cadena is a doctoral student at NC State, a member of the team of paleontologists who discovered the recently named Carbonemys carbonii, a giant freshwater turtle that lived in what is now Colombia 60 million years ago. I asked if he would answer a few questions about the find’s larger implications, and he graciously agreed. … 

Oct 6, 2011

Armor Up?

If you were a kid fascinated with dinosaurs, then you’re probably familiar with the iconic – if not exactly scientifically accurate – artist renderings of armored-up dinos like Stegosaurus or Ankylosaurus duking it out with angry T. rexes in epic displays of prehistoric cage fighting. Many species of dinosaur did have specialized bone that served… 

Sep 21, 2011

Into Africa, Via the Penguin Conveyor Belt

Dr. Dan Ksepka is an expert on prehistoric penguins. In his latest research, he delves into the origins of several species of now-extinct African penguin to find out whether they all evolved from one common ancestor or whether they were distinct species that arrived at separate times. His conclusion, based upon fossil evidence, is that…