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  • Cambroraster falcatus
  • Microdocodon gracilis fossil
  • Elektorornis chenguangi
Your search has returned 1176 articles:
  • Introducing

    This newfound predator may have terrorized the Cambrian seafloor

    A fierce predator, with spiny claws and a round, rasping mouth, terrorized the Cambrian seafloor 508 million years ago as it raked through the sand in search of food.

    Dubbed Cambroraster falcatus, the predator was about 30 centimeters long — which, to the tiny prey of the time, likely seemed monstrous enough. But C. falcatus also had a pair of jointed limbs that ended in rakelike claws,...

    07/30/2019 - 19:01 Paleontology
  • News

    A flexible bone that helps mammals chew dates back to the Jurassic Period

    Chew on this: Millions of years before the emergence of true mammals, an early ancestor had a tiny, saddle-shaped bone connected to the jaw that was thought to belong to mammals alone. That bone, scientists say, helps all mammals chew and swallow, and ultimately was one secret to our success, enabling the spread into various ecological niches. 

    Microdocodon gracilis, a shrew-sized mammal...

    07/18/2019 - 14:00 Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    An ancient bird found encased in amber had a bizarrely long toe

    There once was a little bird, smaller than a sparrow, that lived about 99 million years ago. And it had a freakishly long toe.

    Researchers found the ancient bird’s right leg and foot preserved in a chunk of amber. Its third digit is 9.8 millimeters long, about 41 percent longer than its second-longest digit — and 20 percent longer than its entire lower leg. This foot morphology is unique...

    07/11/2019 - 11:00 Paleontology
  • News

    Some ancient crocodiles may have chomped on plants instead of meat

    Some extinct crocs may have been keen to eat greens.

    An analysis of fossil teeth suggests that plant-eating relatives of modern crocodiles evolved at least three times during the Mesozoic Era, which stretched from roughly 252 million to about 66 million years ago, researchers report June 27 in Current Biology.

    Today’s crocodiles are predominantly carnivorous, and have the simple,...

    06/27/2019 - 11:02 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology
  • News

    Signs of the color blue have been found in a fossil for the first time

    A tree-dwelling bird that lived 48 million years ago probably had blue plumage, researchers say. Scientists inspecting a fossil of Eocoracias brachyptera say they have, for the first time, identified the remnants of the color in a fossil.

    The researchers examined 72 feather samples from modern birds of many different colors, and 12 samples of organic material carefully collected from the...

    06/25/2019 - 19:01 Paleontology
  • News

    Hyenas roamed the Arctic during the last ice age

    Modern hyenas stalk the savannas of Asia and Africa, but the animals’ ancient relatives may have had snowier stomping grounds: the Arctic. Two fossilized teeth, collected in Canada in the 1970s, confirm a long-held hunch that ancient hyenas ventured into North America via the Bering land bridge, scientists say.

    The teeth belonged to members of the extinct genus Chasmaporthetes, also...

    06/18/2019 - 06:00 Paleontology, Animals, Ecology
  • Exhibit

    The Smithsonian’s ‘Deep Time’ exhibit gives dinosaurs new life

    After five years, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is finally reopening its dinosaur hall on June 8. Visitors may come for fan favorites like Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus — and these fossils are gorgeously presented. But the new, permanent exhibition, the “David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time,” has a much grander story to tell about the history...

    06/04/2019 - 12:17 Science & Society, Paleontology, Climate
  • News in Brief

    Fossils reveal saber-toothed cats may have pierced rivals’ skulls

    Saber-toothed cats may sometimes have wielded their formidable canine teeth as deadly weapons to puncture the skulls of rival cats.

    It was already suspected that Smilodon cats used their huge canines to take down prey, perhaps by ripping out the prey’s throat (SN: 3/30/19, p. 20). But some researchers argued that the daggerlike teeth, which could grow up to 28 centimeters long in the...

    05/31/2019 - 07:00 Paleontology, Animals
  • News in Brief

    A 50-million-year-old fossil captures a swimming school of fish

    Fossilized fish captured mid-swim offer a rare glimpse into extinct animal behavior — and suggest that swimming in schools developed at least 50 million years ago.

    A limestone shale slab from the Eocene Epoch reveals that extinct, thimble-sized fish called Erismatopterus levatus may have coordinated their motion similar to how fish in groups move today, researchers report May 29 in...

    05/28/2019 - 19:05 Animals, Evolution, Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    Signs of red pigment were spotted in a fossil for the first time

    The 3-million-year-old mouse wore red.

    For the first time, chemical traces of red pigment have been detected in a fossil, scientists say.

    Using a technique called X-ray spectroscopy, researchers led by paleontologist Phillip Manning at the University of Manchester in England searched the fossil for a chemical signature associated with pheomelanin, the pigment responsible for...

    05/21/2019 - 05:00 Paleontology