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Questions tagged [palaeontology]

Palaeontology is the study of organisms that lived in prehistoric times.

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Phylogenetics in R: Modified Gap Excess Ratio. How do I set the parameters?

I am calculating the Modified Gap Excess Ratio of a paleontological phylogenetic tree I created. The Modified Gap Excess Ratio is based upon a paper by Willis et al., (2008). It compares the ...
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What is the term for a given interpretation of a fossil record?

There exists a term, that I have heard and forgotten it appears, for taking a described species in paleontology and creating a version of what it was like in life. For example, a prior ...
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There is any way to know from what animal a piece of bone came from?

On one of my recent trips i found some broken bone pieces, probably from a rabbit. Then i put myself on the mind of a paleontologist and i was curious on how could one person clasiffy bone shards, for ...
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When did placental mammals arrive in North America?

I saw a documentary with a lot of details about the replacement of marsupial bears and wolves of the Americas with placental ones. I can't find information about them, does someone have some ...
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The size of the Triceratops specimen Lane in the Houston Museum of Natural Science

In 2012 the Houston Museum of Natural Science published they discovered an almost complete fossil of Triceratops including fossilized skin, see HMNS post, and nicknamed it "Lane". I am interested to ...
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Why is history not called science even though palaeontology is? [closed]

In the scientific method, we propose models to explain a phenomenon and propose falsifiable tests for it. In palaeontology, we cannot do direct tests to verify our models, but we still make ...
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What is this row of pits along the “upper lip” of theropod skulls?

Consider the row of pits visible in the "upper lip" area (and to some extent, the "lower lip" too) of this T-Rex skull at the Palais de la Découverte, Paris (picture from Wikipedia): I noticed ...
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Bite Force of Triceratops

Estimations (or measurements) of bite force is usually conducted for toothy predators like sharks, theropod dinosaurs and crocodiles. For example: Tyrannosaurus had a bite force of about 57 kN (about ...
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Palaeontology and Palaeobotany

Could someone please clarify the roles and differences between palaeontology and palaeobotany. My textbook says the palaeobotanists study plant and animal fossils, but other sources say that this is ...
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Are Triceratops and Eotriceratops similar enough to be considered as the same genus?

Everybody knows Triceratops, the horned dinosaur from Late Cretaceous North America, who lived 68-66 MYA. In 2007, Eotriceratops xerinsularis was named and described (Wikipedia). It lived in (what is ...
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What does it mean for a type of plant to “vegatatively dominate” as opposed to “taxonomically dominate”?

I'm reading Plants and the K-T Boundary, by Douglas Nichols and Kirk Johnson. On page forty-seven the authors write the following: "By the Campanian many floras were vegetatively co-dominated by ...
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What is the etymology of “moura” in Mourasuchus?

Mourasuchus is a unique species of prehistoric crocodile so far discovered. It is a filter-feeder and has shared its habitat with Gryposuchus and the more fearsome Purussaurus in the Miocene Era -- ...
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Size of Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum

In most books the size of long-necked sauropod Mamenchisaurus is stated as about 26 meters. Recently, a huge specimen of Mamenchisaurus sinocanadorum was discovered. However, Gregory S. Paul ...
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MLE estimation with Mk model in ape or phangorn?

When doing MLE with the R package ape or phangorn, is it possible to set the substitution model to Mk? If so, how does one do this?
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Resources for the study of the environment of Laramidia in the Late Cretaceous

I'm looking for resources (book, web, article, etc.) to learn in detail about the environment of Laramidia in the late Cretaceous, including flora, fauna, landscape, and climate. My goal is to get a ...
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Were there any marine/aquatic dinosaurs?

Most dinosaurs were terrestrial, but there were a couple of groups of arboreal and flying dinosaurs (microraptors, birds etc). I have read that the theory that Brachiosaurids were aquatic has been ...
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Size of Apatosaurus

What are the current and up-to-date estimates of the size of the big sauropod dinosaur Apatosaurus (the biggest species of it) in terms of mass range (weight) and total length? I prefer the answer in ...
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How exactly is the wood fossil process?

I would like to know in deep how exactly is the wood fossilisation process. I am fascinated how after millions of years the fossil wood preserves its microscopic characteristics. Look at this cross ...
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Have skeletons of “failed” animals been found yet?

I don't know what the correct term for "failed animals" is, but I mean those animals which wheren't able to survive due to their "failed" evolution process. Because evolution, as we see it today, has ...
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232 views

How can paleontologists identify morphologically different fossils as members of the same species?

I recently saw a documentary about Tyrannosaurus rex, which detailed the growth stages of the dinosaur. Apparently, it underwent a huge growth spurt at around 14 years of age, growing into the massive ...
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How did palaeontologists discover the age of the Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue?

I'm trying to understand how they discovered or speculated the age of Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex to be about 28–29 years old. How do they know exactly the age of Sue? Could it be wrong? Could it be ...
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How did hydrophilic plants become established on an isolated island with an arid coastal zone?

I find unconvincing the existing explanation of how several hydrophilic endemic plants became established at St Helena. This is one of the most isolated islands in the world, has an arid semi-desert ...
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What are the chances that Tyrannosaurus Rex could roar? [closed]

Tyrannosaurus Rex is now thought to have possibly had lips. Less of chance of it roar though I was told by a friend just because there are birds doesn’t mean they can’t. Evolution isn't linear, just ...
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What are the abilities, sizes, and appearance of tyrannosaur rex? [closed]

Size height 15-20ft tall weight 7-9tons length 40-42ft long did the flim of jurassic park had some corrections of the reality I beilve there many things they gotten right on the trex
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What did the ancestors of textile moths eat?

These days I had to wrestle a lot with textile moths. From the Internet I got the impression that these moths don’t feed on naturally available furs in the wild, but have specialised on man made ...
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347 views

When did birds and mammals diverge?

Which was the most recent common ancestor between mammals and birds? Form a rapid google research I could not find good answers. This site seems to imply it was at least 250 milions of years ago. ...
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Did insects and arachnids diverge before or after moving to land?

Question: Are arachnids and insects so distantly related that they were already diverging before their (independent) emergence(s) on land? I am curious to know what the fossil record and molecular ...
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Has the most recent common ancestor of all living birds lived after dinosaur mass extinction?

I wonder if one or more phylogenetic threads of dinosaurs survived the mass extinction. In other words, are all living birds equally related to any given ancient dinosaur, or do some birds relate ...
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102 views

How is incomplete lineage sorting distinguished from permutations in one clade?

Incomplete lineage sorting, where an ancestral species branches of in one branch, which branches of in two branches Resulting in Species 3 sharing some genes with species 1, as well as some other ...
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What are some examples of interbreeding between species that are separated by 5 million years or more?

Interbreeding is constrained with that the offspring shares the gene pool of the parents. What are some examples of interbreeding that has occurred, where the two species were separated by 5 million ...
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Are the fossil sites in Hadar geographically separated?

The Hadar fossil record is made up of, from oldest to youngest, the Basal Member, Sidi Hakoma Member, Denen Dora Member, and Kada Hadar Member. Are these regions geographically distinct, or, are ...
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Which extinct creatures were most genetically distant from everything alive today? [closed]

The more distant the common ancestor of two creatures the more genetically distinct the creatures will be. For example I am more genetically distinct from a mushroom than an ant. I am more genetically ...
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Lystrosaurus was the largest creature on land in the early Triassic, why did they need burrows?

Lystrosaurus was the largest creature on land in the early Triassic, why did they need burrows? What were they hiding from? (less seriously, why were they so ugly?)
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How is the first Triceratops born?

To clarify at first, I have very little knowledge in biology and paleontology so there might be very obvious things I overlook. According to the evolution theory, there must be a graduate evolution ...
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A fish with 3 paired fins

Many species of fish have 2 or 4 fins combined into pairs. But is there a fish with 3 (or even more) paired fins? Or has it ever existed in the past?
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Book for artists' renderings of extinct species?

I'm looking for a collection, in print or online, of pictures of ancient extinct species (i.e., imagined from fossil remains). Is there a good single resource for this? I'm interested in animals of ...
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How could this fossil's soft tissue be preserved so well?

I found this article for non biologists like myself. It describes, how astounding fossils were found in China. They belong to a crustacean like animal that lived more than 500 Ma ago. The exciting ...
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Can you identify this fossil?

I found this fossil near a beach in Victoria, Australia. Can anyone identify it? It is roughly the size of an Australian 20 cent piece (~30 mm). I think it might have been washed down from an eroding ...
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562 views

Did birds descend from a single or multiple species of dinosaur?

It seems like there are mixed results because sometimes I read about a single missing link, like an archaeopteryx that somehow single-handedly explains all modern-day birds, but then I see conflicting ...
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Identifying Fossil

Few days ago I found this stone with fossil near 6 centimeters. Can anyone identifying it. Location: Europe,Bulgaria, Elena
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Is there really a clear distinction between dinosaurs and birds?

Traditionally, birds are classified as a class of dinosaurs and the term non-avian dinosaurs is introduced to refer to the rest. As recent discoveries suggest that some dinosaurs may have been warm-...
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Identifying Some Kind Of Fossil

This was found off the coast of Ireland by a friend of mine. The running gag is it's some kind of fetish or totem and should be immediately discarded, but we're interested in whether it's perhaps a ...
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Ethics in Paleontology [closed]

Ethics in Paleontology Fossils help researchers understand the evolution of many lineages of plants and animals. But, who actually owns fossils? What if an important fossil (say a transitional fossil ...
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How can soft tissue exist in dinosaur fossils?

In this article the author explains that they found soft tissues inside of 68-million-year-old dinosaur fossils. How can that be possible? It was believed that soft tissues cannot last more than a ...
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Can the Quarternary Extinction event be linked to the spread of mankind around the world?

Evidence is presented in a variety of media by Paul S. Martin as his 'Overkill hypothesis', particularly in Twilight of the Mammoths. The internet describes this idea as 'controversial.' Other than ...
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What is the number of species known through paleontological evidence?

Essentially, this question could also be asked: how many species do all of the paleontological specimens in collections (or collections records) represent? I recognize that species is a temporal ...
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The Mystery of The Cretaceous' Songbirds

Before Passeriformes perched on the branches of our trees and sang their sweet, inspirational tunes, there was Enantiornithes, the "Opposite Birds". So far, we have discovered at least 80 species ...
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706 views

What was the first animal having fur?

Did all early mammals have fur? Is it possible to trace the origins, how early animals with fur looked like and how it evolved?
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Did vertebrates diverge from other deuterostomes via neoteny?

Question: Is there any research corroborating my suspicion that vertebrates diverged from other deuterostomes via neoteny (the attainment of sexual maturity while still in larval stage)? Context: ...
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The Perplexing Trilobite: What is the Evidence Supporting The Hypothesis That They are Not Crustaceans?

In the field of paleontology, one question that's really bugged me (er, no pun intended) of late is why the subphylum/class Trilobitomorpha/Trilobita is off on its own branch of the Arthropoda phylum, ...