Fossil Friday – Paramylodon claw

Sloths are fascinating animals, with all kinds of strange anatomical features. One of their signature characters is their enormous claws. 
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Fossil Friday – proboscidean ulna

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Over the last few weeks we’ve started pulling a lot of mastodon material from the collections (more on that in a future post). Some of the bones that are turning up are pretty interesting. Continue reading

Crazy dental pathology

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This post was originally published on my old VMNH blog, “Updates from the Paleontology Lab”, on March 8, 2010. The post includes anatomical observations that are relevant to human evolution; WSC’s exhibit on human origins, “Stepping Out of the Past”, is open until May 21.

Next week I’m attending the Geological Society of America Northeastern/Southeastern Section meeting, and I’ll be posting daily updates on that conference. Prior to leaving for the conference, I’ll be taking most of this week off. I thought an explanation for my absence is justified, especially as it involves some interesting information about mammal teeth. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – pea clam

While the Diamond Valley Lake fossil fauna is best known for its mammals, there were also thousands of mollusks recovered. These are mostly minute freshwater species, and even though we have thousands of them the all fit easily in a single specimen case. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – partial mastodon skeleton

California mastodons have been in the news lately, so I decided to go with one of our Diamond Valley Lake mastodons for Fossil Friday this week. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – possible bobcat tooth

Confession time: I’m not an expert on most of the organisms I feature on Fossil Friday, and it sometimes takes me a fair bit of research to work out what I’m going to say. Because of that, when I’m swamped with other work (like this week), I will usually pick a Fossil Friday specimen that is straightforward so that I can write about it quickly. But sometimes the choice backfires. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – possible mastodon bones

A common theme on this blog is that we can often get a lot of information from very incomplete material. Even so, as a general rule, the more remains we have from a given fossil organism, the more we can say about it. But sometimes we can have multiple bones, and even something as basic as a species identification can be elusive. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – mammoth tooth


With the influence of Max Mastodon, Diamond Valley Lake mammoths sometimes get short shrift around here. But while DVL mammoths are not nearly as common as mastodons, there is still plenty of interesting mammoth material. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – horse metacarpal

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One of the joys of paleontology is that every fossil has a story. Through our understanding of anatomy, geology, ecology, and a host of other field, we can often reveal part of that story, and even a relatively small, nondescript fossil takes on a larger meaning. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Paramylodon skull


Even if a bone is lucky enough to be preserved as a fossil, time is not always kind. There are numerous ways a bone can be altered after burial, including being smushed by the weight of overlying sediment. Continue reading