Fossil Friday – hadrosaur metatarsal

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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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Fossil Friday – grasshopper mouse

Abstract deadlines are coming up for conferences taking place in the first 6 months of 2019, so we’re trying to collect as much data as possible for our submissions. One of these is a follow-up to our abstracts from last year on the Harveston locality in Temecula, but this time looking at the small animals (“microvertebrates”). One of our high school volunteers (or “Max’s Minions”, as we call them), Charlotte Hohman, is taking the lead on this project, sorting vials of tiny rodent, lizard, and bird bones and trying to identify them. This week we may have found a bone from a relatively uncommon mouse, the most metal mouse in Southern California. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – crocodile skull

Menefee croc skull, dorsal

Giant reptiles abound in our field area in New Mexico. Big dinosaurs like Invictarx, Dynamoterror, and the hadrosaur we’re working on now; hefty crocodiles; and even sizable turtles are the most commonly found animals in the 79-million-year-old rocks of the Menefee Formation. Fossils of small creatures are comparatively rare, and skull material for any animal is pretty thin on the ground as well.

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Fossil Friday – community on a half-shell

IMG_7835Life as a suspension feeder is a mixed blessing. Most suspension feeders are sessile, staying in one place for practically their entire life. They feed by extracting food particles from water, using a bewildering variety of suction tubes, mucus nets, feathery appendages, and various other anatomical variations. Almost every phylum of animals and many protists include examples of suspension feeders. It’s a lifestyle that could be regarded almost as idyllic, as you sway back and forth in the current, waiting on food to blunder into your mouth (for those suspension feeders that actually have mouths; not all do). But it can be treacherous, too. Those same currents that bring you your food can also rip you from your anchor point, carrying you off, where you may ironically end up as food for some other suspension feeder. Attaching to a solid, stable substrate is critical to survival for a suspension feeder, and in some environments there is a lot of competition for good spots. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – dinosaur jacket

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The fossil prep lab at Western Science Center is abuzz these days (literally, when the air scribes are blasting away). WSC staff and volunteers are working their way through the half-ton of fossils we brought back to the museum last summer from the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Squalodon whitmorei

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Usually we use our Fossil Friday posts to talk about specimens that are housed in the WSC collections. But today I’m going to talk about our newest 3D print, the skull of the primitive toothed whale Squalodon whitmorei. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – ground sloths & therizinosaurs

IMG_2534.JPGIn many ways, dinosaurs and mammals are very different types of animal. And yet, there are some amazing cases of convergent evolution among them. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – creodont skull

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Most of the extinct mammals in the Western Science Center’s collection are Pleistocene Ice Age creatures, such as mastodons, Columbian mammoths, bison, camels, horses, and giant ground sloths, dating to between 50,000 and 14,000 years ago. Today’s Fossil Friday is a much older extinct mammal, dating back to around 30 million years ago, a slice of geological time known as the Oligocene. This is the skull of an oreodont, a totally extinct group of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla) related to camels. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – juvenile hadrosaur jaw

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Last week, five staff members from the Western Science Center, including yours truly, traveled to Albuquerque to attend the 2018 Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference. Continue reading