Tracing human origins by foot

A new study has pushed back the estimated age of 50 footprints preserved in rocks on the Mediterranean island of Crete – footprints that were already thought to be among the oldest pre-human prints in the world, and have now been dated to around 6.05 million years ago. The international team of researchers, whose study … Continue reading Tracing human origins by foot

What to do if you find fossils or artefacts

Six years ago, grazier Robert Hacon was driving around his cattle property in outback Queensland when he drove over what he thought was a cow skull. Past into present: A trilobite fossil, Redlichia rex found at Emu Bay, Kangaroo Island – a marine creature that lived over 500 million years ago during the Cambrian period. Credit: The … Continue reading What to do if you find fossils or artefacts

Animal? Vegetable? Now mineral.

All other photos in this story by Ian Connellan. On a hillside just west of the Flinders Ranges, geologist Mary Droser lounges casually on a slab of 550-million-year-old sandstone. The sun has just hit its golden afternoon angle; it illuminates squiggled lines in the rocks, throwing into sharp contrast some of the earliest evidence for … Continue reading Animal? Vegetable? Now mineral.

Bone idle: distressed palaeontologists call for a halt to fossil digs

Happy Fossil Day from Cosmos! Palaeontologists simply can’t stop finding fossils, and leading researchers say it’s beginning to get concerning. “We have museums bursting at the seams with specimens – every day we’re rediscovering and reclassifying species we collected centuries ago,” says Associate Professor Trevor ‘Tee’ Wrecks, a palaeontologist from the State Museum of Eastern … Continue reading Bone idle: distressed palaeontologists call for a halt to fossil digs

9 funky stories for Fossil Day

Happy Fossil Day! Here at Cosmos, we love a good yarn about fossils, from dinosaurs to ancient humans to the earliest animals on the planet. Today we celebrate the exceptionally old specimens that harken from a time past. Here are 9 of our favourite funky fossil stories to get the old bones going! 1. Junior … Continue reading 9 funky stories for Fossil Day

Can we really extract ancient DNA from dinosaurs?

From million-year-old dinosaur remains to ‘resurrecting’ mammoths, stories in the news about ancient DNA make it seem as though Jurassic Park is just around the corner. But ancient DNA is also an important tool for viewing the past. The only problem is that it’s not quite as abundant or easy to use as some think. … Continue reading Can we really extract ancient DNA from dinosaurs?

New species of ancient tardigrade found preserved in amber

A brand-new species of ancient tardigrade has been discovered in 16-million-year-old Dominican amber. The newly found fossil, described in Proceedings of the Royal Society, dates back to the Miocene epoch, looks like a modern-day tardigrade, and represents a whole new genus and species: Paradoryphoribius chronocaribbeus (aka beusty boi). This is only the third tardigrade amber … Continue reading New species of ancient tardigrade found preserved in amber

Decoding the secrets of a forgotten human history during the Pleistocene

An international team of researchers has discovered the first fossilised bone from a Pleistocene-era human in Wallacea, the cluster of Indonesian islands, including Lombok, Sulaewsi, Timor and Sumba, that were the likely seafaring gateway for the first humans to populate Australia. The new find, published today in the journal PLOS one, offers a tantalising glimpse … Continue reading Decoding the secrets of a forgotten human history during the Pleistocene

Meet the new dinosaur: Horned, crocodile-faced hell heron

British palaeontologists have unearthed two new species of dinosaur on the unassuming, 380 square kilometre Isle of Wight, off England’s south coast, according to a new study out today in the journal Scientific Reports. The two new creatures appear to be types of spinosaurids, predatory theropod dinosaurs related to the giant Spinosaurus. The haul of … Continue reading Meet the new dinosaur: Horned, crocodile-faced hell heron

25-million-year-old eagle fossil adds new branch to family

Palaeontologists have uncovered the fossilised bones of a 25-million-year-old eagle. It’s a previously unknown species – and one of the oldest eagles in the world. “This species was slightly smaller and leaner than the wedge-tailed eagle, but it’s the largest eagle known from this time period in Australia,” says Ellen Mather, a PhD candidate at … Continue reading 25-million-year-old eagle fossil adds new branch to family

Forget about dogs: Dinosaurs wagged their tails too

Dogs wag their tails when they are happy, but dinosaurs wagged their tails when they walked, according to new simulations. Researchers from the Queensland Museum and colleagues created simulations to show how a Coelophysis – a 210-million-year-old theropod, weighing around 15 kilograms – would walk. Computer simulation of extinct theropod dinosaur Coelophysis running at maximum … Continue reading Forget about dogs: Dinosaurs wagged their tails too

Junior fossil hunters discover extinct giant penguin

Back in 2006, children from the Hamilton Junior Naturalist Club went on a fossil-hunting field trip and stumbled across the bones of a giant fossil penguin. Little did they know that those bones belonged to an entirely new species. Extinct giant penguin fossil was a new species The fossilised penguin had to be cut out … Continue reading Junior fossil hunters discover extinct giant penguin