A 36-million-year-old fossil skeleton is revealing a critical moment in the history of baleen whales: what happened when the ancestors of these modern-day filter feeders first began to distinguish themselves from their toothy, predatory predecessors. The fossil is the oldest known mysticete, a group that includes baleen whales, such as humpbacks, researchers report in the May 22 Current...
News in Brief
A fossil dinosaur embryo known as “Baby Louie” has a new name. It belongs to a newly identified species of dinosaur called Beibeilong sinensis, researchers report May 9 in Nature Communications.
In the 1980s and 1990s, farmers found thousands of fossilized dinosaur eggs in the rocks of Henan Province in China and sold them overseas. It turned out that one chunk of rock, purchased by a...
Mooching roommates are an ancient problem. Certain species of beetles evolved to live with and leech off social insects such as ants and termites as long ago as the mid-Cretaceous, two new beetle fossils suggest. The finds date the behavior, called social parasitism, to almost 50 million years earlier than previously thought.
Ants and termites are eusocial — they live in communal groups...
The Science Life
While researching fossils in a museum in 2007, Sterling Nesbitt noticed one partial skeleton that was hard to place. Though the reptile — at the time, unofficially called Teleocrater rhadinus — was thought to be a dinosaur relative, it was an oddball. At about 2 meters long, it was larger than other close relatives, walked on four feet instead of two, and had an unusually long neck and tail....
The oldest known specimens of bedbug relatives have been unearthed in an Oregon cave system where ancient humans once lived. The partial fossils from three different species in the bedbug family date back 5,000 to 11,000 years, predating a previous find from 3,500 years ago, researchers report April 4 in the Journal of Medical Entomology.
“The bedbugs that we know in modern times...
Most visitors to a large natural history museum don’t know it, but they are only scratching the surface of the museum’s holdings, even if they check out every exhibition. Most of the scientific treasures are tucked away in collection rooms filled with millions of specimens, which scientists use in their research.
The Field Museum in Chicago, home to Sue, the famous T. rex, is displaying...
Behind their ferocious façade, tyrannosaurs were probably a bit touchy-feely. A new species of tyrannosaur may have had highly sensitive organs in its face that could detect touch and temperature, researchers report March 30 in Scientific Reports.
Several skulls of the newly identified species, Daspletosaurus horneri, which lived about 75 million years ago and grew about 9 meters long,...
The standard dinosaur family tree may soon be just a relic.
After examining more than 400 anatomical traits, scientists have proposed a radical reshuffling of the major dinosaur groups. The rewrite, reported in the March 23 Nature, upsets century-old ideas about dinosaur evolution. It lends support to the accepted idea that the earliest dinosaurs were smallish, two-legged creatures. But...
What happens when you shoot lasers at a dinosaur fossil? Some chemicals preserved in the fossil glow, providing a nuanced portrait of the ancient creature’s bones, feathers and soft tissue such as skin.
Soft tissue is rarely preserved in fossils, and when it is, it can be easily obscured. A technique called laser-stimulated fluorescence “excites the few skin atoms left in the matrix,...
The true nature of the “Tully monster” may once again be a mystery.
Just last year, some researchers declared that the extinct aquatic animal was a vertebrate, possibly a relative of today’s lampreys. Not so fast, says vertebrate paleontologist Lauren Sallan. Like a mismatched puzzle, the Tully monster lacks some vertebrate pieces and has others that are the wrong shape, Sallan and...