So far, most of the Late Cretaceous fossils I have shared with you for Fossil Friday have been from the Hell Creek Formation of Montana and were collected over a number of years by the late Harley Garbani. The Hell Creek dates to the very end of the age of dinosaurs, just before the mass extinction 66 million years ago.
In 1938, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a naturalist at the East London Museum in South Africa, discovered a bizarre fish in a fisherman’s haul. Continue reading
Driven by a surge in volcanic activity and a devastating asteroid impact, the mass extinction 66 million years ago was one of the most cataclysmic events in Earth’s long history. Continue reading
Yesterday was World Giraffe Day. Giraffes are members of a once-large superfamily of artiodactyls called the Giraffoidea, that now includes only three extant genera: Giraffa, Okapaia (okapis), and Antilocapra (pronghorns). While giraffes and okapis are only found in the Old World, antilocaprids are native to North America.
I just returned from 18 days of field work in the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico. Continue reading
The Valley of the Mastodons exhibit has closed, and most of out mastodon remains have been moved back to the museum’s repository. But that doesn’t mean they’re forgotten, or that work on them has stopped! Continue reading
Dinosaurs evolved many amazing and sophisticated adaptations during their long history. Continue reading
The fossilized bones of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals certainly hog the spotlight, and they are spectacular. But alongside the bones of giants such as Tyrannosaurus is a very different, much more abundant type of fossil: ancient plants. Paleobotany, the study of fossil plants, is a vital part of understanding Earth history. Fossil plants provide data on bygone environments, ecology, and climate.
This fossil is the impression of a 67-million-year-old palm leaf. It was found in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana by local fossil hunter Harley Garbani and donated to the Western Science Center by his wife, Mary. The living plant probably looked much like modern palm trees, and points to a much warmer climate in Montana during the Late Cretaceous Epoch than today. Next time you see a living palm tree swaying in the breeze, imagine a T. rex under it seeking shade from the midday sun.
Post by Curator Dr. Andrew McDonald
One thing has become quickly obvious as we’ve been examining the Harveston fossil collection: there are a lot of horses. Continue reading
Fossil Friday this week continues our examination of Pleistocene specimens from Temecula Valley, this time with a partial lower jaw from the horse Equus occidentalis. Continue reading