Dr. Carolina Acosta Hospitaleche is over 3,000 kilometers (2,000 miles) away from home, on an island off the coast of Antarctica. She and her team have flown across the ocean to a research base, received supplies from a dedicated research logistics team, flown once more in a helicopter to their camp site, and assembled the tents and radio system that will be their lifeline in the event a storm hits. Now they are making the most of their time in the field, taking advantage of the relatively hospitable summer weather with the knowledge that any fossils left at the surface will likely not survive the harsh winter storms. As she digs through the sediment of the La Meseta Formation, from about 10 million years after the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs, she stumbles on a claw large and curved enough to make any Velociraptor blush. Dr. Acosta Hospitaleche recognizes what she’s found immediately: a terror bird.
Megalodon (aka Otodus megalodon) has enjoyed a recent rise to fame. Even before its star turn, Megalodon was a standout. Almost all sharks are harmless – not Megalodon. With an estimated total length of 15-20 meters (already longer than a school bus) and vast jaws set with immense teeth, the prehistoric shark has the chops to take the lead in any creature feature. It first flirted with fame following the release of the notorious pseudo-documentary “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” in 2013. But Megalodon truly swam into the mainstream in 2018 when it starred in the eponymous blockbuster “The Meg” opposite Jason Statham.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and for Steve May, a research associate at the University of Texas’ Jackson School of Geosciences, inspiration came in the form of a Buc-ee’s billboard. For those uninitiated (or those not from Texas), Buc-ee’s is a famous chain of gas stations and travel centers with a number of world records and an iconic, red-capped beaver mascot.
Long considered one of the world’s most livable cities, Melbourne (Naarm/Narrm in the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung languages) is the cultural capital of Australia and home to brilliant scenery and beautiful beaches. New fossils described in Palaeontologia Electronica from the beaches of the suburb Black Rock suggest that seals also found Melbourne particularly livable, and for longer than previously thought.
Dinosaurs are one of the most widely studied extinct organisms, with their incredible diversity capturing the imaginations of generations of enthusiasts and scientists. One of these diversity traits is the evolution from bipedality (two limbs for walking) to quadrupedality (four limbs), with new research identifying when this important change happened. This shift occurred at least four times within dinosaurs, but probably the least understood of these is within iguanodontians.
BByBy Hannah BirdHannah Bird
Symbiotic relationships, where two organisms closely co-exist, are usually considered beneficial for both parties. But when one takes advantage of the other, parasitism dominates. Remarkably, both of these relationships can be seen in the fossil record from millions of years ago.
Picture a face-off between a giant shark and small whale in the Miocene oceans 15 million years ago and you may think you know the ending. But fossil remains found in the Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, USA, reveal a different story – one of tenacity and survival.
Whilst indulging in a summer picnic or barbeque we may consider flies bothersome, but have you ever contemplated their evolution? Incredibly, many of their genera have astonishing longevity, establishing themselves in the Middle Triassic (247 to 237 million years ago) and with some living species existing for millions of years. There are 161 families of flies today, living in almost all environments on Earth. Perhaps it’s time to regard them a little more kindly and that is exactly what researchers from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and their collaborators, have done for the last decade.
Fossil collecting is a rewarding and educational hobby enjoyed by people of all ages, but paleontologist opinions on amateur collecting are mixed. A new study in Palaeontologia Electronica highlights the invaluable contributions of amateur fossil collectors to vertebrate paleontology, providing recommendations to improve this essential collaborative relationship.