Why Do Humans Have Thumbs and Not Fins? Biology Education Paleontology Videos 

Why Do Humans Have Thumbs and Not Fins?

Did you know we can trace the evolution of our hands, and thumbs, back to a 375 million-year-old fish called Tiktaalik? Watch this video with paleontologist and geneticist Dr. Neil Shubin to learn what a fish and a little blue hedgehog can teach us about the evolution of thumbs. This is a video from Dr. Joe Hanson’s It’s Okay To Be Smart series.     Tiktaalik is a 375 years-old fish with fins. When we look under its fin rays and take off the scales, what we find are versions of our…

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Dinosaurs of Ghost Ranch Animals Paleontology Videos 

Shelf Life Video: The Dinosaurs of Ghost Ranch

Dinosaurs’ fossils have attracted paleontologists to the Badlands of Ghost Ranch, NM, since 1881. Here, they have found the best place to find early carnivorous dinosaurs in the world. This video is another in the Shelf Life series from the American Museum of Natural History.   After being unearthed, dinosaurs’ bones are very delicate, and paleontologists need to take really good care of them. Once they are safely brought to the Museum of Natural History, they are ready to be analyzed. By looking at dinosaurs’ fossils, researchers can figure out…

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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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London specimen of Archaeopteryx (photographed with permission from the Natural History Museum) Animals Paleontology 

Piecing Together the Archaeopteryx Puzzle

By Steven Spence Bird, Dinosaur, or Both? The 1861 discovery of Archaeopteryx made it one of the most important fossils ever found. Coming just two years after Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the finding caused a sensation. It had teeth and a bony tail like a lizard, and feathers like a bird. Archaeopteryx was assumed to be a transitional form between non-avian dinosaurs and modern birds, thus supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution, although this assumption was controversial and by no means immediately accepted. In the 150-plus years following the…

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Shelf Life Episode 1: 33 Million Things, American Natural History Museum Animals Biology Paleontology Videos 

Shelf Life Episode 1: 33 Million Things

About Shelf Life Episode 1: 33 Million Things Can’t get to New York to visit the American Museum of Natural History? No problem! EH Science invites you to take a virtual trip behind the scenes. In this the first episode of the museum’s brand new original series, Shelf Life, you can walk in the shoes of a research scientist and explore the enormous collection of specimens, many of which aren’t on public display. Shelf Life is a video series for curious minds—opening doors, pulling out drawers, and taking the lids off some…

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