Some seals still eat like landlubbers.
Just like lions, tigers and bears, certain kinds of seals have claws that help the animals grasp prey and tear it apart. X-rays show that the bones in these seals’ forelimbs look like those found in the earliest seals, a new study finds.
Ancestors of these ancient seals transitioned from land to sea at some point, preserving clawed limbs...
Tiny light-scattering structures that give today’s butterflies and moths their brilliant hues date back to the days of the dinosaurs.
Fossilized mothlike insects from the Jurassic Period bear textured scales on their forewings that could display iridescent colors, researchers report April 11 in Science Advances. The fossils are the earliest known examples of insects displaying structural...
Reviews & Previews
Darwin’s FossilsAdrian ListerSmithsonian Books, $19.95
Charles Darwin famously derived his theory of evolution from observations he made of species and their geographic distributions during his five-year voyage around the world on the H.M.S. Beagle. But in the introduction of On the Origin of Species, the naturalist also cites another influence: the thousands of fossils that he...
News in Brief
About 50 million years ago, a monitor lizard in what is now Wyoming perceived the world through four eyes. Saniwa ensidens is the only known jawed vertebrate to have had two eyelike photosensory structures at the top of the head, in addition to the organs we commonly think of as eyes, researchers report April 2 in Current Biology.
The structures are called the pineal and parapineal...
Letters to the Editor
Diagnosis dinosaur04/05/2018 - 07:52 Paleontology, Evolution, Planetary Science
Some scientists are shaking up the dinosaur family tree and raising questions about which features define the ancient reptiles, Carolyn Gramling reported in “New fossils are redefining what makes a dinosaur” (SN: 3/3/18, p. 18).
“I am a bit put out by the continuing references to dinosaurs as being reptiles,” reader David Persuitte wrote. Dinosaurs’ legs were...
“There’s a very faint dimple here,” Sterling Nesbitt says, holding up a palm-sized fossil to the light. The fossil, a pelvic bone, belonged to a creature called Teleocrater rhadinus. The slender, 2-meter-long reptile ran on all fours and lived 245 million years ago, about 10 million to 15 million years before scientists think dinosaurs first appeared.02/21/2018 - 16:00 Paleontology, Evolution
Nesbitt, a paleontologist at...
Fossilized footprints from an iguana-like reptile provide what could be the earliest evidence of a lizard running on two legs.
The 29 exceptionally well-preserved lizard tracks, found in a slab of rock from an abandoned quarry in Hadong County, South Korea, include back feet with curved digits and front feet with a slightly longer third digit. The back footprints outnumber the front ones...
What looks like a spider, but with a segmented rear plus a long spike of a tail, has turned up in amber that’s about 100 million years old.
Roughly the size of a peppercorn (not including the tail, which stretches several times the body length), this newly described extinct species lived in forests in what is now Myanmar during the dinosaur-rich Cretaceous Period.
Spiders as their...
Newly described little scaly bits could push back the fossil record of the moth-and-butterfly branch on the tree of life by some 70 million years. That raises the question of whether the drinking-straw mouthparts evolved long before the flower nectar many drink today.
The microscopic ridged scales date from roughly 200 million years ago, around the time of one of Earth’s less famous mass...
Ticks once tickled dinosaurs’ feathers.
The tiny arthropods have been surreptitiously sucking blood for more than 100 million years, but evidence of early ticks’ preferred hosts has been scant. Now, samples of amber from Myanmar have caught the critters with their spiny mouthparts inside the cookie jar. A hunk of 99-million-year-old amber holds a tick tangled in a dinosaur feather,...