paleontology

Throughout the past 600 million years there have been five major mass extinction events that devastated life on Earth. While some of these events are very well studied, such as the killer asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, others are more enigmatic and entertain a variety of possible causes. The first… Read more

Scientists have discovered a new giant raptor believed to be the largest specimen ever found with wing feathers. Named Dakotaraptor, the fossil from the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota is thought to be about 17 feet long, making it among the largest raptors in the world. “This new predatory dinosaur also fills the body… Read more

The disappearance of elephants and other large land animals could have a devastating and permanent effect on plants and animals they live with, say researchers. When they analyzed large animal, or megafauna, extinctions in the Americas since humans moved in about 15,000 years ago, they discovered long-lasting changes in the local landscape after the largest… Read more

We tend to associate mass extinctions with catastrophic events, like giant meteorite impacts and volcanic super-eruptions. The world’s first known mass extinction—about 540 million years ago— appears to have had a more subtle cause: evolution itself. Says Simon Darroch, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University: “People have been slow to recognize… Read more

Researchers have measured the body temperatures of a wide range of dinosaurs using eggshells. The results offer clues to how the animals may have regulated their internal heat. The study was led by John Eiler, a professor of geology and geochemistry at Caltech, and Rob Eagle, a former Caltech postdoctoral scholar now at UCLA. The… Read more