I recently watched Bringing Up Baby, a 1938 screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks. Screwball comedies were common in the 30s-40s, taking a traditional romance story and turning it into a farce. Critics liked this movie, but it only did modestly at the box office. Its reputation has grown into it with time, however; … Continue reading Random movie review: Bringing Up Baby
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Now somewhere in the black mining hills of Dakota, there lay a rich Cretaceous fossil plant site. The tale of this site is a tale of obsession, "petrified pineapples", theft, and one of the very few U.S. National Monuments that has not only been decommissioned, but also lost pretty much all protections it had. That's … Continue reading Fossil Cycad National Monument
Ah, the dinosauroid. At once loved and hated, the idea of troodontids evolving into sapient, even humanoid beings has probably piqued many of our interests at some point. Paleontologist Dale Russell's "lizard man" dinosauroid is the most infamous and well-known expression of the concept, but there are many other instances of the idea being explored, … Continue reading The Dinosauroid sheds its feathers on our culture
The early Cretaceous had a great diversity of pterosaurs. All four major groups of pterodactyloid - Archaeopterodactyloidea, Dsungaripteridae, Pteranodontoidea, and Azhdarchoidea - are present, and very diverse (Barrett et al., 2008). Even a few anurognathids were still present until at least the Aptian. By the end of the Cretaceous, this diversity had been reduced to … Continue reading A Turonian pterosaur turnover?
I wrote this essay for a course on evolution last year. I've made a few edits and reproduced it here. Most tetrapods capable of vocalization, such as mammals, utilize vocal cords located within the larynx for this purpose (Senter, 2008). Birds, however, utilize an organ located at the base of the trachea: the syrinx. Unlike … Continue reading The evolution of stem-bird vocalization
Santanadactylus brasiliensis is one of the many Romualdo Formation pterosaurs, named by P.H. de Buisonje (1980). The holotype is University of Amsterdam M 4894, an associated humerus and scapulocoracoid. The humerus looks pretty standard for Anhangueria, and it likely belongs to this clade (in fact I would not be surprised if it is within Anhanguera … Continue reading On the paratype of Santanadactylus brasiliensis
I apologize for the lack of updates. As you may or may not know, I presented my azhdarchoid phylogeny at the 1st Palaeontological Virtual Conference, and I've been trying to get something done with it elsewhere (fingers crossed!) And now for something completely different: paleocolor! For only a tiny fraction of fossil taxa do scientists … Continue reading The paleocolor list
And might as well publicize this list too while I'm at it. Preserved biomolecules in extinct taxa, such as DNA and proteins, are quite a fascinating topic. They allow scientists to place extinct taxa in molecular phylogenies, understand evolution of certain genes, and quantify prehistoric population dynamics. As well, hypothetically, sequences derived from ancient nuclear … Continue reading The “molecular paleontology” list
As you probably know, a recent paper reports complex branched filaments in two anurognathid specimens (Yang et al. 2019). While this hasn't been the first time branched pycnofibres have been reported (Czerkas and Ji 2002, Cincotta et al. 2016), this is the most credible case yet. Since then I've seen a lot of discussion regarding … Continue reading Fuzzy anurognathids!
Vremir et al. recently published a paper on a new partial mandible of a large (+8 m wingspan) Azhdarchoid pterosaur from Romania. This specimen was collected in 1984 and is... not particularly well-preserved, but it is informative enough to give us an idea of its relations. The authors tentatively proposed a position as a primitive … Continue reading The Romanian azhdarchid mandible: the “missing piece”?