Trilobites are famous not just because they were so beautifully functional, or because they happened to preserve so well. They’re known the world over because they were everywhere!
During the Cretaceous Period, dinosaurs were more diverse, more fierce, and more strange than ever. But something else was happening under the feet of the terrible lizards: for the first time in history, there were flowers.
There are animals in the fossil record that challenge some of our most basic ideas about what animals are supposed to look like. If there ever was a monster on this planet that was worthy of the name, it might have been the Tully Monster.
If you take it as a given that extinct dinosaurs were all weird and wonderful, then you gotta at least consider that Stegosaurus was one of the weirdest and wonderfulest.
Smilodon was a fearsome Ice Age cat, the size of a modern-day tiger, that had a pair of fangs nearly 18 centimeters long. But it was only the last and largest of the great sabertooths: ridiculously long canines had already been a trend for millions of years by the time Smilodon was prowling around. And you know what? Those giant teeth just might make a comeback.
What if we told you that there was a time when oxygen almost wiped out all life on Earth? 3 billion years ago, when the world was a place you’d never recognize, too much of a good thing almost ruined everything for everybody.
Today, we’re familiar with two types of flying vertebrates -- birds and bats. But over 66 million years ago, there was a giraffe-sized reptile that soared through the sky.
With its lizard-like appearance and that distinctive sail on it back, Dimetrodon is practically the mascot of the Palaeozoic Era, a time before flowers, birds, mammals, and even crocodiles. But if you take a close look at this sail-backed animal, you might see a little bit of yourself.
Natural history is full of living things that were long thought to have gone extinct only to show up again, alive and well. Paleontologists have a word for these kinds of organisms: They call them Lazarus taxa.
There are many fossils that challenge our ability to form even the most basic idea of how a living thing looked, or lived, or functioned. One of the longest-running of these mysteries involved a 270-million-year-old sea creature called Helicoprion that once swam the seas around the supercontinent of Pangea.
Insects outnumber humans by a lot and we only like to think we're in charge because we're bigger than they are. But insects and other arthropods weren’t always so small. About 315 million years ago during the Carboniferous Period, they were not only abundant: they were enormous.
Fossil fuels are made from the remains of extinct organisms that have been exposed to millions of years of heat and pressure. But in the case of coal, these organisms consisted largely of some downright bizarre plants that once covered the Earth, from Colorado to China.
Part of why we’re so fascinated with extinct dinosaurs it’s just hard for us to believe that animals that huge actually existed. And yet, they existed! From the Jurassic to the Cretaceous Periods, creatures as tall as a five-story building were shaking the Earth.
Crocodiles, horseshoe crabs and tuatara are animals that have persisted for millions of years, said to have gone unchanged since the days of the dinosaurs. But even the most ancient-looking organisms show us that evolution is always at work.
Our image of dinosaurs has been constantly changing since naturalists started studying them about 350 years ago. Taken together, these pictures can tell us a whole lot about just how much we have learned. Let's explore the history of dinosaur science as seen through the history of dinosaur art.
By looking at the layers beneath our feet, geologists have been able to identify and describe crucial episodes in life’s history. These key events frame the chapters in the story of life on earth and the system we use to bind all these chapters together is the Geologic Time Scale.
More than 4 billion years ago, the crust of the Earth was still cooling and the oceans were only beginning to form. But in recent years, we’ve started to discover that, even in this hellish environment, life found a way.