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  • Mystery Solved

    A tiny mystery dinosaur from New Mexico is officially T. rex’s cousin

    More than 20 years ago, paleontologists unearthed two partial skeletons of a mysterious dinosaur species in New Mexico. This creature, which lived about 92 million years ago, bore some resemblance to giant tyrannosaurs that reigned from about 80 million to 66 million years ago. One was even found with what could have been a partly digested lizard skull. But the dino was so tiny — only about a...

    05/07/2019 - 13:33 Paleontology
  • News

    A dinosaur’s running gait may reveal insights into the history of bird flight

    An early winged dinosaur couldn’t fly, but it could run. Now, with assists from a robotic dino and young ostriches wearing artificial wings, a study suggests that the dinosaur’s running gait caused its wings to flap, in what may have been an evolutionary precursor to flight.

    Caudipteryx was a peacock-sized dinosaur with feathered and winglike forelimbs that lived about 125 million years...

    05/02/2019 - 14:11 Paleontology, Animals
  • News in Brief

    Peruvian fossils yield a four-legged otterlike whale with hooves

    An ancient four-legged whale walked across land on hooved toes and swam in the sea like an otter.

    The newly discovered species turned up in 2011 in a cache of fossilized bones in Playa Media Luna, a dry coastal area of Peru. Jawbones and teeth pegged it as an ancient cetacean, a member of the whale family. And more bones followed.

    “We were definitely surprised to find this type of...

    04/05/2019 - 15:22 Paleontology, Evolution
  • News

    New fossils may capture the minutes after the dinosaur-killing asteroid impact

    About 66 million years ago, a giant asteroid smashed into Earth off the coast of what’s now Mexico. Less than an hour later, a riverbed 3,000 kilometers away sloshed violently back and forth, swiftly burying fish, plants and other organisms in the sediment, a study finds. Evidence of those surges, as well as tiny traces of the impact itself, appear to be preserved in a meter-thick layer of...

    04/02/2019 - 17:35 Paleontology
  • Feature

    Saber-toothed cats were fierce and family-oriented

    The adolescent saber-toothed cat on a summertime hunt realized too late that she had made a terrible miscalculation. 

    Already the size of a modern-day tiger, with huge canine teeth, she had crept across grassy terrain to ambush a giant ground sloth bellowing in distress. Ready to pounce, the cat’s front paw sank into sticky ground. Pressing down with her other three paws to free herself...

    03/24/2019 - 06:00 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution
  • News

    Newfound fossils in China highlight a dizzying diversity of Cambrian life

    Along the banks of China’s Danshui River lies a treasure trove of fossils that may rival the most famous Cambrian fossil assemblage of all, Canada’s Burgess Shale. The roughly 518-million-year-old site contains a dizzying abundance of beautifully preserved weird and wonderful life-forms, from jellyfish and comb jellies to arthropods and algae. 

    So far, researchers led by paleontologist...

    03/21/2019 - 14:36 Paleontology
  • News in Brief

    In a first, a fossilized egg is found preserved inside an ancient bird

    About 110 million years ago, a sparrow-sized bird died with her egg still inside her body. That egg, crushed and flattened by pressure over time, is the first unlaid bird egg known to be preserved in a fossil, researchers report March 20 in Nature Communications. 

    The fossil was unearthed 11 years ago in northwestern China. In 2018, paleontologists led by Alida Bailleul of the Key...

    03/20/2019 - 06:00 Paleontology
  • Exhibit

    A new T. rex exhibit takes a deep dive into the iconic dinosaur

    Ultrafierce Tyrannosaurus rex is an icon. But the “tyrant lizard king,” which lived between 68 million and 66 million years ago, is just the youngest member of a family of dinosaurs that went back to about 167 million years ago. The earliest tyrannosaurs were quick and small. So how did T. rex become so big and bad?

    That’s one of the questions at the heart of “T. rex: The Ultimate...

    03/15/2019 - 07:00 Paleontology, Animals, Science & Society
  • News

    Dueling dates for a huge eruption reignite the debate over dinosaurs’ death

    Which came first: the impact or the eruptions? That question is at the heart of two new studies in the Feb. 22 Science seeking to answer one of the most hotly debated questions in Earth’s geologic history: Whether an asteroid impact or massive volcanism that altered the global climate was mostly to blame for the demise of all nonbird dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

    The dinosaur die-off...

    02/21/2019 - 14:14 Climate, Paleontology
  • News

    A deer-sized T. rex ancestor shows how fast tyrannosaurs became giants

    A new dinosaur shows that even Tyrannosaurus rex had humble beginnings.

    Dubbed Moros intrepidus, or “the harbinger of doom,” the new species is one of the smallest tyrannosaurs yet discovered from the Cretaceous Period. Analyses of the animal’s fossilized leg show that the creature would have stood only 1.2 meters at the hip, and weighed an estimated 78 kilograms — about the size of a...

    02/21/2019 - 09:00 Paleontology, Animals, Evolution