messel Paleontology Photos 

Eocene Fossils: The Mines of Messel

By Steven Spence Gimli: “And they call it a mine. A mine!” Boromir: “This is no mine, it’s a tomb!” (Film: Lord of the Rings) In November 2015, it was my good fortune to tour a special exhibit of never-before-displayed fossils from the shelves of the Hessiches Landesmuseum Darmstadt. The fossils were shown in the Visitor’s Center at the Messel Fossil Pit. Messel is, indeed, a mine and a tomb, but you won’t find the bridge of Khazad-dûm, a Balrog, or the tomb of Durin like in Tolkien’s Middle Earth…

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Deinonychus Paleontology 

Discovering Deinonychus

By David Blagic A dinosaur now known as Deinonychus antirrhopus was discovered by paleontologist J. H. Ostrom in the Cloverly Formation in Montana in 1969. Three sets of Deinonychus remains lay around the partial remains of a Tenontosaurus. This led Ostrom to suggest that Deinonychus was a social animal and a predator, hunting more like modern wolves and lions than like crocodiles and Komodo dragons as previously thought. His claims about Deinonychus being a pack hunter were rejected by most paleontologists then, because they believed that cold-blooded reptiles with relatively…

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mass extinctions Animals Biology Paleontology Videos 

Six Extinctions in Six Minutes: Shelf Life Video

Six (Mass) Extinctions in 440 Million Years     All things must pass. But the idea that a species could go extinct is a relatively new one, first proposed by anatomist Georges Cuvier in a presentation in Paris in 1796 in a lecture on the extinction of the mastodon, then thought by some to still be roaming the ill-explored western reaches of North America.  –American Museum of Natural History Shelf Life is a collection of videos for curious minds—opening doors, pulling out drawers, and taking the lids off some of…

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The Art of Scientific Illustration Paleontology 

Discovering Dakotaraptor Steini

By Featured Guest David Blagic David is a young, amateur paleontologist and student of vertebrate paleontology. He lives in Mladenovac, Serbia. At 14 years old, he enjoys writing on the behavior, morphology, phylogeny, and evolution of dinosaurs, particularly Theropods such as Maniraptorans and Carnosaurs. Connect with him on Google Plus or YouTube. Dakotaraptor steini Dakotaraptor steini is a newly discovered species of dromaeosaurid dinosaur. First remains of this species were discovered in 2005, in the Hell Creek Formation, but it has officially been named only this year. Dakotaraptor steini was about 6…

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how snakes lost their legs Animals Paleontology 

How Snakes Lost their Legs

By Kate Stone Long ago, snakes lost their legs. Now, a fresh clue as to how and why has been found deep in an ancient snake’s inner ear.  Leglessness is not what makes a snake a snake. As this article explains, it is the flexible, unhinged jaw that distinguishes a snake from a legless lizard. And yet, developing legs only to lose them may seem like evolution in reverse. A 90 million-year-old snake skull is giving researchers vital clues about how snakes lost their legs as they evolved. Comparisons between…

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The Art of Scientific Illustration Animals Paleontology Science & Art 

Dakotaraptor: Giant Raptor Straight Out of Hell Creek

By Emily Willoughby For centuries, dinosaurs have captured the public’s imagination through their massive proportions and power, and their ancestral connection to birds has more recently brought a new fascination to paleontology. But when a newly discovered dinosaur is both huge and covered in feathers, it becomes the stuff of legend—a true dragon shaped by evolution instead of mythos. Meet Dakotaraptor steini, one of the largest “raptor” dinosaurs known to science. This 17-foot-long predator was described by Robert DePalma, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural…

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Artist's impression of sabertooth cats hunting mammoths (Mauricio Anton). Animals Environment Paleontology 

Large Hunters Dominated the Pleistocene

For years, evolutionary biologists have wondered about the ecosystems of the Pleistocene epoch. How did so many species of huge, hungry herbivores, such as mammoths, mastodons, and giant ground sloths, not wipe out the plant life? Observations of modern elephants suggest that large concentrations of those animals could have essentially destroyed the environment, but they didn’t. Now, life scientists believe that the ecosystem was kept in balance by predatory carnivores that kept the population of large herbivores in check. Scientists have found fossil evidence of intense, violent attacks by packs…

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Dinosaur fossils: The entrance to New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch in 1947, the year Edwin Colbert discovered the Coelophysis quarry. ©AMNH Paleontology Videos 

Dinosaur Fossils of Ghost Ranch

In more than a century of fossil collecting, paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History have unearthed fossils from every corner of the globe. But there are some sites so fruitful in dinosaur fossils that they are visited again and again by the Museum’s fossil hunters, with each generation turning up new and unexpected finds. One of those sites is New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch, home to four quarries that paleontologists from the Museum have excavated for decades. The remains of animals from the Triassic era, including dinosaurs, reptiles, and…

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Jurassic Archaeopteryx Paleontology Photos 

Jurassic Celebrity: Early Bird Gets the Spotlight

By Steven Spence A Lasting Impression For its sheer beauty, the Berlin specimen of Archaeopteryx has been described as a “paleontological Mona Lisa” by Dr. Luis M. Chiappe of the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. Without a doubt it is one of the most attractive fossils that I have ever seen. It is striking because it clearly has avian features, yet it is so different from modern birds. Clawed Wings and Teeth A previous article on the reference specimen of Archaeopteryx (London Natural History Museum) mentioned both the claws and…

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Berlin Mounted Dinosaur Skeleton: The huge mounted Giraffatitan in the main hall in Berlin, dwarfing the Diplodocus that stands behind it. (Photo by Steven Spence) Paleontology 

Mounting a Monument to a Mesozoic Monster

By David Hone Dr. Dave Hone is a lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in dinosaurs and pterosaurs. In addition to writing for The Guardian, he blogs at Archosaur Musings, is a contributor to Pterosaur.net, created Ask A Biologist, and has published more than 50 academic papers on dinosaur biology. His latest book, The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, is now available for pre-order from Bloomsbury Publishing. Few visitors to the Museum for Nature in Berlin can fail to be impressed by the truly colossal dinosaur that takes centre stage in…

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