Questions tagged [palaeontology]

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

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63
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2answers
3k views

Is there any evidence that sexual selection may lead to extinction of species?

Darwin suggested that sexual selection, especially by female choice, may counter natural selection. Theoretical models, such as a Fisherian runaway process, suggest that evolution of preference and ...
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Were there any flying dinosaurs?

I've seen some articles which came in contradiction with each other. The first article was talking about flying dinosaurs, dinosaurs with feathers and so on. A couple of other articles are talking ...
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1answer
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How did the huge dinosaurs cope with gravity and loads on bones, etc.?

It's very costly to be a huge animal. Your mass grows in cube when you scale up, but you still only have two/four legs to support the same weight. This increases the pressure that your body needs to ...
14
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3answers
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How do we know that dinosaurs were related to lizards and/or birds?

Do we clearly know what the living closest relative of the dinosaurs are? And connected to the first question, in scientific manner how do we know these relationship between extinct species and living ...
14
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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 ...
13
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1answer
439 views

Are there any pre-Holocene venomous animals?

The novel (and subsequently movie) Jurassic Park featured a dinosaur called Dilophosaurus, that was purported to be venomous and had an ability similar to that of the extant spitting cobra. ...
12
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0answers
342 views

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 ...
11
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3answers
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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 ...
11
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2answers
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How did aquatic dinosaurs go extinct?

Dominant theory is that 'normal' dinosaurs went extinct from ether super volcano or meteor impact or combination of both. However there were aquatic dinosaurs that are not present at this day. Was it ...
11
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1answer
308 views

Were dinosaurs 'hot-blooded' or 'cold-blooded'?

Were dinosaurs hot-blooded or cold-blooded? NOTE: The popular term 'hot-blooded' means having an internally maintained average body temperature, which is generally more than that of the surroundings, ...
9
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1answer
294 views

Did any dinosaur molt?

Like snakes or lizards, did any dinosaur molt ? if yes, have we any proof of it ?
8
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1answer
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Are all dinosaur bones radioactive?

I watching some TV program some time ago and a guy in it mentioned that when-ever museums display real dinosaur bones (as opposed to a replica) the bones are painted over with a lead paint, because ...
8
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1answer
186 views

How to determine whether a newly discovered dinosaur is not a young one and not an entirely different species?

Every once in a while, there is an official announce that a new species has been discovered. For example, paleontologists have recently discovered a dinosaur they named Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, which ...
8
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2answers
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How do we know that ammonites are a kind of cephalopod rather than another type of mollusc?

On a recent fossil hunting trip, I found a small fossil that an expert identified for me as an ammonite beak. He told me such fossils are not uncommon, but are not normally found with their parent ...
8
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1answer
213 views

Up to date, extensive documentary about dinosaurs? [closed]

I just finished reading the Wikipedia page about dinosaurs, and I very much enjoyed it. I knew that much of what I learned in the 80's as a child is (and was) incorrect, and now that I am a parent, I ...
7
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1answer
282 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
321 views

How did birds survive the KT impact? [closed]

As I understand it, the ejecta resulting from the K-T impact (also known as the end-Cretaceous or Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event) re-entered the atmosphere all over the world; the heat from ...
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1answer
220 views

Descendants of dinosaurs

It is commonly accepted that birds are descendants of dinosaurs. It is nice that not all dinosaurs died out. Are there other animals, descendants of dinosaurs, that survived ? (Maybe not till our ...
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What were the mammal ancestors like 65 million years ago?

What we know about our mammal ancestors that were alive (and survived) at the extinction event 65 million years ago?
5
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1answer
3k views

How big can cold-blooded animals get?

It seems impossible to have reptiles the size of dinosaurs, just because they are really big! Did they have different systems of maintaining body temperature or maybe they weren't the exact type of ...
5
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1answer
134 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
127 views

Are prosauropods ancestors of all sauropods?

My daughter, while reading a book about dinosaurs, asked me if prosauropods are ancestors of all sauropods. Are they? From the name ("pro-sauropods"), I guess that they are, but am I right?
5
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1answer
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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, ...
5
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1answer
535 views

Why do the proportion of predators increase at mass extinction events?

Why does predation surge with mass extinction? It is caused by extreme selective pressures over resource competition that forces certain species to adapt to predatory niches?
5
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1answer
140 views

The oldest common ancesstor of all human beings

Do all human beings have a single oldest ancestor (a man and a woman), or were there were many ancestors at the same time at different places on earth? This article sheds some light. Is there another ...
5
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0answers
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How old would seashells be if I found them 9 ft deep 30 miles from the ocean while digging a pond in North Carolina

This is a picture of some specimens that I found while digging a pond. I'm 30 miles from the coast in Wilmington, North Carolina and dug down about nine feet past the blue clay and hit a layer of ...
4
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1answer
778 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 ...
4
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2answers
488 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
141 views

Were there any vertebrates with 6 or more limbs?

My question is actually a bit more broad than what's in the title, but I don't know how to put it succinctly. When I was trying to find the answer to that question, I found that all known terrestrial ...
4
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1answer
240 views

Extinction of non-mammal Synapsida

I am following M.J. Benton's Vertebrate Palaeontology, which explains how many groups of Synapsida were already extinct in the Mesozoic Era, with one obvious exception being the group of Cynodontia, ...
4
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1answer
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Does the fossil record disprove Evolution? [closed]

It is said by people opposed to Evolution, that the fossil record contradicts and disproves it. They say all the animals suddenly appeared, exploded everywhere, were fully formed, had no transitions, ...
4
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1answer
141 views

List of dinosaurs synonyms

Is there a comprehensive list of dinosaurs synonyms with indications of which name is now considered correct? Something like "there's no brontosaurus, there's only Apatosaurus", "there's no Anatotitan,...
4
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1answer
204 views

What species of Cerapoda lived during the Jurassic?

So far, I've found eleven species of Cerapoda that lived during the Jurassic period. Are there any other known species that I've missed? The eleven that I've found out about are: Agilisaurus ...
3
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2answers
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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. ...
3
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3answers
164 views

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 ...
3
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3answers
148 views

What is the human species divergence time

How far back along the evolutionary tree do we have to go to find divergence to a completely different species to Hom. sapiens? I don't count Neanderthals because it seems that part of our genome ...
3
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1answer
108 views

How does tree resin capture arthropods?

In regards to a published paper of a spider about to make a meal out of a parasitic wasp (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08912963.2011.640399#.U1kSV14gVBU), it reminded me of a issue I've ...
3
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3answers
698 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
288 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 ...
3
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2answers
83 views

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 -- ...
3
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1answer
303 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
288 views

Master Catalog of all Fossils / Literal Fossil Record?

Is there a website or other resource that catalogs all fossils ever found? Basically, is there a literal "Fossil Record"? Where do scientists gather their results from excavations? Are they just ...
3
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1answer
136 views

Historical recovery from mass extinction events

Is there a way to generally characterize how species "regrew" after the various mass extinction events happening periodically from 450 Ma to 65 Ma. Would the surviving species just start back where ...
3
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1answer
48 views

Oldest Triceratops fossil

In most books, Triceratops is listed to live between 68-66 MYA (million years ago), however some books list Triceratops as living between 70-66 MYA. The Campanian age ended about 72 MYA and then came ...
3
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2answers
75 views

Is there a way tell apart dinosaurs from similar extinct reptiles?

When I was a child, I thought I knew what a dinosaur was. But, as I grew older, I was told that many of the extinct species that I thought were dinosaurs (dimetrodons, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, etc.) ...
3
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1answer
302 views

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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2answers
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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-...
2
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1answer
104 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
123 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
124 views

Has it been confirmed yet that the DNA found in dinosaurs was really DNA?

I hear different sources claiming different things, bbc said they did, wikipedia says it hasn't which is it?