John Long: The life of a fossil hunter

Australian palaeontologist Professor John Long has spent a lifetime expanding knowledge of ancient animals, especially fishes from the Devonian age, about 400 million years ago. He’s worked around the world and made ground-breaking discoveries that have contributed to understanding of how reproduction evolved, and the reasons behind global mass extinctions. He’s written more than 20 … Continue reading John Long: The life of a fossil hunter

The dinosaur in the coal mine

Fossil dinosaur footprints found 50 years ago in a Queensland coal mine – and long thought to belong to a massive Triassic carnivore – have been reanalysed, and found to belong to a large, docile herbivore, according to a new study out today in Historical Biology. The researchers, from the University of Queensland (UQ), were … Continue reading The dinosaur in the coal mine

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

Profile: Sibling Scientists

Emmy & Ian Hughes – Martian geologist & marine biologist Growing up, Emmy and Ian Hughes took summer holidays they’ll never forget. Each year they flew from their home in California to South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, where they spent six weeks roaming the semi-arid hills and creeks around the Nilpena fossil site where their mother, … Continue reading Profile: Sibling Scientists

Behind the scenes: new national park offers an exclusive window into life at the dawn of time

This article first appeared in Cosmos Weekly on 16 July 2021. For more stories like this, subscribe to Cosmos Weekly. There’s a place where you can get a glimpse of the world as it was when animals were first becoming animals, and it has just become Australia’s newest national park. Six hours north of Adelaide … Continue reading Behind the scenes: new national park offers an exclusive window into life at the dawn of time

Behind the scenes: new national park offers an exclusive window into life at the dawn of time

There’s a place where you can get a glimpse of the world as it was when animals were first becoming animals, and it has just become Australia’s newest national park. Six hours north of Adelaide on a lonely stretch of highway west of the Flinders Ranges, a dirt road snakes off the bitumen, through a … Continue reading Behind the scenes: new national park offers an exclusive window into life at the dawn of time

Ancient shark-tooth collection uncovered

Scientists have uncovered an unexpected collection of fossilised shark teeth buried in a basement in ancient Jerusalem, in the modern-day Palestinian village of Silwan. The 29 teeth were discovered in a filled-in basement from the time of King Solomon, buried with pottery and food waste such as fish bones. “We had at first assumed that … Continue reading Ancient shark-tooth collection uncovered

Palaeonursery gives glimpse of ancient infants

Chinese researchers have uncovered a ‘palaeonursery’ of fossils in the country’s southern Yunnan province, offering detailed insight into the Cambrian period when life on Earth first began to explode in diversity. The deposit revealed 2846 fossil specimens of early vertebrates and other soft-bodied organisms. More than 50% were in the larval and juvenile stages of … Continue reading Palaeonursery gives glimpse of ancient infants

Fossils of extinct “giant cloud rats” found in the Philippines

Piecing together fossil remains of jaws and teeth in the Philippines, archaeologists have unearthed evidence of three new giant cloud rat species that lived in the treetops until just a few thousand years ago. Two of the species, which come from the Phloeomyini tribe, would have been around for about 60,000 years, they report in … Continue reading Fossils of extinct “giant cloud rats” found in the Philippines

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Prehistoric giant bird had tiny brain The largest flightless bird to ever have walked the Earth had a disproportionately small brain, according to new research. The prehistoric birds of the clade Dromornithidae roamed north-west Queensland for millions of years before going extinct along with many other species of megafauna 50,000 years ago. The largest species, … Continue reading You may have missed…

How to hunt fossils responsibly

By Kailah Thorn, EdCC Earth Science Museum Curator, University of Western Australia Many of us, at some point or another, dreamed of hunting for dinosaur fossils when we grew up. Palaeontology — the study of natural history through fossils — is the scientific reality of this. It encompasses all ancient lifeforms that left their trace … Continue reading How to hunt fossils responsibly