Fossil Friday – mammoth molar


Today’s Fossil Friday specimen comes from a location we’ve never before featured on this blog, Joshua Tree National Park. Continue reading


Fossil Friday – dinosaur tibia


We have discovered many isolated dinosaur limb bones in the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico. Although it’s difficult to infer the full appearance of a dinosaur from a single bone, even isolated bones can tell us a great deal about what kinds of dinosaurs were roaming around 80 million years ago, and can be very surprising!

This bone was collected by my colleagues at the Zuni Dinosaur Institute for Geosciences and volunteers with the Southwest Paleontological Society in 2015. We have been thinking that it was possibly two dinosaur limb bones next to each other. However, Western Science Center volunteer Joe Reavis opened up the plaster jacket this week, and it turns out that it contains a single massive shin bone, a tibia. The bone is still partially encased in mudstone, but we’ll keep working on it to determine what sort of dinosaur walked around on this immensely thick bone.

Post by Curator Dr. Andrew McDonald.

Fossil Friday – dinosaur limb bone


In the Western Science Center lab, we’re making steady progress through several field seasons’ worth of fossils from the Menefee Formation in New Mexico. We’re working on fossils of dinosaurs, crocodiles, turtles, and plants, all dating to around 80 million years ago.

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Fossil Friday – ceratopsian vertebra


On January 25, I showed you a horned dinosaur vertebra that was still partially encased in its plaster field jacket. Continue reading

Fossil Friday -crocodile skull

WSC 16509

For Fossil Friday today, I want to give you an update on one of the fossils we collected in New Mexico last year. On December 14, 2018, I posted the smashed up skull of a small crocodile from the Menefee Formation, around 79 million years old.

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Fossil Friday – more on Mystic the whale


Last summer we took delivery of Mystic, a Pliocene baleen whale from Santa Cruz County. It will take us years to fully prepare Mystic, but we have started working on it, and we’ve made some interesting progress. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – ceratopsian vertebra

Identifying fossil bones can be quite the challenge. Fossils might be broken, scattered, or distorted from the weight of the rock encasing them. This dinosaur bone was collected in June 2018 by the Western Science Center, Zuni Dinosaur Institute for Geosciences, and Southwest Paleontological Society in the Menefee Formation of New Mexico. We know from other bones collected in the same spot that we are dealing with the 79-million-year-old partial skeleton of a ceratopsid, one of the large horned dinosaurs related to Triceratops. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – fox squirrels and vampire’s disease


This week we opened a new permanent exhibit at Western Science Center on eastern fox squirrels. This is based on research that I did in 2011-2013 in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Moncrief, Curator of Mammalogy at the Virginia Museum of Natural History (at that time I was Curator of Paleontology at VMNH). Much of the following is taken from a post I wrote for my old blog, Updates from the Paleontology Lab, on 29 February 2012. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – hadrosaur metatarsal


Discovering a dinosaur skeleton is a rare and special event.

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Fossil Friday – Zygolophodon tooth

mammutids for fossil friday

Last week, I visited the Division of Fossil Primates at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina. They have a great collection of fossil proboscideans from Egypt, including early forms like Moeritherium and Paleomastodon, as well as later, larger species such as Gomphotherium angustidens.

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