Articles on Paleontology

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The hominid skull that gave rise to Homo floresiensis - but is it really a new species? Flickr/NCSSM

‘Hobbit’ more likely had Down Syndrome than a new species

Many people believe that what was found in Liang Bua Cave on the island of Flores in Indonesia in 2003-2004 was some variety of hobbit-like human or prehuman. Our research published today argues that it…
We enjoy a balanced diet today, but it seems our ancestors ate their greens too. Jordan Fischer/Flickr

What the crap? Neanderthals had a taste for vegetables

The evolution of diet is intimately linked to human evolution: from the use of tools to break nuts, collect insects or hunt game, to the use of fire allowing more calories to be extracted from the food…
Why did they always have to go in groups? Martin Ezcurra

How I found the world’s oldest communal toilets

Fossils can tell us lots about animals – their size, age or sex, which is mostly physical characteristics. Evidence about how they may have behaved is rare. But the 240m-year-old fossil dung that I found…
Researchers have figured out for the first time what one dinosaur’s fleshy ‘crest’ looked like. Julius Csotonyi

Think you know what a dinosaur looks like? Think again …

The discovery of soft-tissue comb remnants on a fossil could change the way we visualise dinosaurs. The findings, published…
I’ve put on a bit of weight in the last 4 million years, obviously. Mr Mo-Fo

Prehistoric world’s missing big cats revealed in fossil finds

The fossil record of early humans is punctuated by gaps, voids in our understanding of all the transitions from the common ancestor of humans and other apes to modern day Homo sapiens. While working in…
Sauropods were huge animals, but why were they so massive - and did they really hold their necks like this? Mark Witton

Necks question … how did the biggest dinosaurs get so big?

Alongside Tyrannosaurus rex, the basic sauropod dinosaur is one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable of prehistoric animals. Not only is their elegant shape with four columnar limbs, a long muscular…
Debate continues over how dinosaurs did the deed. Miroslav Petrasko (blog.hdrshooter.net)

Big bang theory: how did dinosaurs have sex?

Dinosaurs were the largest animals to ever walk Earth, and they ruled the planet for more than 160 million years. The long-necked Argentinosaurus, with back vertebrae almost two metres high, possibly grew…
A reconstruction of a ptyctodontid fish, one of the groups of placoderms studied from which well-preserved muscles were found. John A Long

From bone to brawn: ancient fish show off their muscles

Fossilised soft tissues, such as skin and muscle, are exceptionally hard to come by. When you think the chances of an animal being fossilised is less than one in a million - and these usually have only…
Barren and isolated, Riversleigh is actually one of the most important fossil sites in the world. Riversleigh from Shutterstock.

Unknown wonders: Riversleigh

Australia is famous for its natural beauty: the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, the Kimberley. But what about the places almost no one goes? We asked ecologists, biologists and wildlife researchers…
Semitransparent flesh reconstruction of an embryonic dinosaur inside an egg, with skeleton shown. D Mazierski

Dinosaur Jr: raising 200-million-year-old embryos

We should forget about ever finding something as small and delicate as a dinosaur embryo, right? A few months ago I would have agreed – but now, well, things have changed. When my colleague, palaeontologist…
The discovery of the skeleton of the Homo floresiensis has sparked significant debate among evolutionary scientists. Ryan Somma

Saga of ‘the Hobbit’ highlights a science in crisis

To state the obvious: human evolution is not without its drama – and the latest salvo in the ongoing Hobbit, or Homo floresiensis, battle confirms this yet again. The 2004 announcement of Homo floresiensis…
Reconstruction of a 390 million year-old multiplacaphoran … easy when you know how. Jakob Vinther/University of Texas at Austin.

3D printing? Make mine a mollusc

When you think 3D you probably imagine the cinema and popcorn, or that fancy TV you’ve just blown the kids’ university fees on. What you probably don’t think - unless you’re a particular breed of palaeontologist…

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