Articles on Paleontology

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Loskop, one of the two hills at the Permo-Triassic boundary site in the Karoo Basin in South Africa’s Free State province. Jennifer Botha

New analysis sheds important light on an ancient mass extinction event

The analysis suggests that there was a mass extinction event at the time of the end-Permian, on land - and that it happened at the same time as the marine end-Permian extinction.
20 years ago, who could predict how much more researchers would know today about the human past – let alone what they could learn from a thimble of dirt, a scrape of dental plaque, or satellites in space. Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo

Archaeological discoveries are happening faster than ever before, helping refine the human story

20 years ago, who could predict how much more researchers would know today about the human past – let alone what they could learn from a thimble of dirt, a scrape of dental plaque, or satellites in space.
When is bigger better? Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

Climate change created today’s large crocodiles

Paleontologists created an evolutionary map of how croc body size changed over the last 200 million years – with some interesting implications for today's species.
Landscape in the Var area of France with fossilised Permian pelites (Permian Middle, 270 Ma) and “muddle cracks”.

An exoplanet within arm’s reach: the Earth

The geological and biological archives of the Earth shed light on both the distant past of our planet and allow us to imagine its future.
Around 66 million years ago, a huge rock from outer space (called an asteroid) smashed into the Earth. Michael J/flickr

Curious Kids: why did the dinosaurs die?

Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for about 180 million years. But around 66 million years ago, a huge rock from outer space (called an asteroid) smashed into the Earth. Then things got worse for dinosaurs.
A modern mouse lemur Microcebus sits upon the cranium of an extinct Megaladapis lemur. Dao Van Hoang www.daovanhoang.com

Last of the giants: What killed off Madagascar’s megafauna a thousand years ago?

A series of new studies sheds light on the population crash and extinction of the giant birds, lemurs and more that roamed the island until around A.D. 700-1000.
Landscape of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, one of the most abundant fossil fields in the world. P. David Polly, 2018

Shrinking the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a disaster for paleontology

Twenty-two years ago, President Clinton established Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for paleontological conservation. As the Trump administration shrinks its borders, that mission is jeopardized.
With a lot not on display, museums may not even know all that’s in their vast holdings. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Digitizing the vast ‘dark data’ in museum fossil collections

A tiny percentage of museums’ natural history holdings are on display. Very little of these vast archives is digitized and available online. But museums are working to change that.
Dinosaurs had some bad luck, but sooner or later extinction comes for all of us. rawpixel/Unsplash.com

What makes some species more likely to go extinct?

Death is inevitable for individuals and also for species. With help from the fossil record, paleontologists are piecing together what might make one creature more vulnerable than another.

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