Questions tagged [paleontology]

Paleontology (also Palaeontology) is the scientific study of past life. Questions about the biological aspect of paleontology (such as taxonomy and anatomy) are off-topic here and should be asked on biology.stackexchange.com

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Has there ever been a case where we have found what appears to be a prehistoric fossil but have no way of dating it?

I find that when ever I learn of a new fossil, the age of said fossil is always mentioned. This perplexes me given how intuitively rare it seems to have radioactive material to date a formation. I ...
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Is there a massive drop in quality of Cretaceous vs. Triassic dinosaur fossils?

One thing that still blows my mind about dinosaurs is the massive timeline. Relevant to this question are the time periods: Triassic Period (252.17 to 201.3 million years ago) Cretaceous Period (145 ...
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What are the key elements defining the separation between Jurassic and Cretaceous?

We have one mass extinction that seperates Trias from Jurassic, roughly huge volcanims over a long period of time, and Pangea starting to divide. Another mass extinction that marks the end of ...
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Was the last glacier too hard for the Neanderthal?

I know several theories are proposed to explain Neanderthal extinction: Consanguinity. Homo Sapiens competence. Climate change. But Finlayson et al (2008) quote the last ones lived south of the ...
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Is there any significance of lacustrine gastropoda fossils regarding paleoenviroment interpretation?

How to interpret lots of gastropoda fossils seen in lacustrine marls? Do they indicate any paleoenvironment conditions? Depth, temperature, chemistry, ph?
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Darwin theory about Japan and China

In a letter by Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, introducing to him an abstract about what would Origin of Species, he talked about migration of different forms during the glacial epoch, and the reason why ...
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Why did notosuchians and similar crocodylomorphs thrive in the Jurassic-Cretaceous but fail to compete with adequate mammalian competitors?

Notosuchia has a long and storied past. They seem to have gotten by just fine with dinosaurs dominating the makeup of mid and late Mesozoic megafauna. Despite dinosaurs having more developed and ...
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What kind of rock is this being eaten by a rock-eating worm?

The New York Times article This Creature Eats Stone. Sand Comes Out the Other End. describes the shipworm Lithoredo abatanica, an organism that appears to "eat solid rock". It links to the item in ...
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How older is this snail shell possible could be?

Last weekend I was in Xınalıq(the village in Azerbaijan) and found this snail shell. I am wondering how old is this?
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“Great Dying” reduction in biomass

In "The Great Dying" About 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, something killed some 90 percent of the planet's species. Less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas ...
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Did low $\small\sf{CO_2}$ levels affected Permo-Triassic mass extinction?

After answering this question: How did plants adapt to $\small\sf{CO_2}$ levels past 400k years? Why won't they do it again? I know Permo-Triassic mass extinction is associated to a catastrophic ...
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Signatures of acid rain at KT boundary

I read in Walter Alvarez' book T. Rex and the Crater of Doom that the Earth's collision with the large meteor leading to the K-T extinction catalyzed the reaction of atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen ...
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Donation Options for Fossil and Mineral Collection

The father of a friend of mine passed away recently. He left behind an extensive collection of fossils and minerals. They include a saber tooth tiger skull, mastodon tooth, shark teeth, tons of ...
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Geological feature - what is it?

Hello, We were walking in Bundoran in Donegal County, Ireland today and we encountered the geological feature shown in the picture (from above from cliffs and from very close up at beach level). We ...
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Fossil from North Norfolk coast, UK

This palm-sized rock is from the beach at Eccles-on-Sea (North Sea coastline). I can see four types of material: A brown, slightly translucent, 6cm tubular fossil(?) that I can mark with a steel ...
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Cleaning fossil samples with acetone

Can I clean fossil samples with acetone, or will this damage them?
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What is this strange fossil I found?

I found this weird fossil rock and I am wondering if anybody could help identify what could have made the imprint in it or what kind of rock it is?
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In what way does the orientation of fossils help? What can we infer from that?

Randomly oriented fossils may indicate an autochthonous deposit whereas parallelly oriented fossils indicate directionality of flow. How?
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Why are Lomekwian tools considered different from Oldowan tools?

I just read this short article from Scientific American: Archaeologists Take Wrong Turn, Find World's Oldest Stone Tools about Sonia Harmand's discoveries. The last sentence is: Harmand says the ...
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What is the oldest fossil on Earth?

What is the oldest fossil ever found on Earth? Where and when was it found? What was the oldest fossil with a brain with 2 hemispheres ever found?
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How to be involved in paleontolgy as a non-earth scientist

I want to be involved in paleontology or archaeology but I don't intend to go back to school for either. I am aware of some opprotunities to volunteer on field studies but am hoping for more resources....
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ID on a potential flint fossil

I was out in Swinley Forest in Bracknell(United Kingdom) last weekend. The area is a large pine forest but the ground is full of flint and is very sandy. I stumbled across a piece of flint and ...
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What type of mammal does this fossil tooth belong to?

The fossil tooth was found western South Dakota in the early 1980s. I can't be sure on the location. It might have been collected from Belle Reservoir, near Belle Fourche, Butte County, South Dakota, ...
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Why are many fossils found in deserts?

Why are deserts famous for fossils? Is it a coincidence? Some examples: Giant Catfish Fossil Found in Egyptian Desert Chile's stunning fossil whale graveyard explained Giant Dinosaur Fossil Found ...
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How were smaller reptiles/mammals more successful at surviving the KT event than larger dinosaurs?

Last night, I was watching this programme on TV The Real T Rex where the presenter pointed out that smaller reptiles (crocodilians and mammals) "somehow managed" to survive the KT extinction event ...
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What is Oligo-Miocene radiation?

Some studies about Earth's fosilized plants/animals mention a "Oligo-Miocene radiation". Examples: Our study therefore strengthens previous suggestions that the absence of very large penguins ...
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What type of fossil is this found at northern Ohio?

I need some help identifying this fossil. I found the rock 30 years ago along the Cuyahoga River in northern Ohio. Northern Ohio is glaciated so it is possible that the specimen was transported to ...
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What are some regions where land-living island animals have left fossil records within the sea, of the coast of the island?

What are some examples of fossil sites where land-living fossils end up in the sea, off the coast-line of an island?
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Aligator or Dinosaur Fossil skin type rock

The more I looked at this stone and touched it, the more this thing looked like it was wrapped in some kind of reptile skin. It may just be a random rock. More photos if needed. Does this look like ...
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Boundary problems in stratigraphy

What do geologists mean when they say - Cambrian/Precambrian Boundary problems or Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary problems?
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Do you have any informations about fossil-rich cherts from Scandinavia?

Me and some of my friends have found many rocks similar to these in central Europe - we believe that it is fossil-rich chert that originally comes from Scandinavia. There are many interesting fossils ...
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Circular patterns at bottom of rock, is it a fossil?

The image below was taken on a hike. Circular patterns at bottom (it is flatter on this face and round otherwise) appear either man-made or possibly it is a fossil. Any idea what this could be?
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I have found this fossil tooth, could it be pliosaur ? Or maybe theropod?

Lenght: 10 mm, striated, circular cross-section Site: Brno-Hády (limestone quarry), Moravia, Czech republic, central Europa Age: Jurassic, oxford The site is a good source of fossil shark teeth, ...
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Dino-birds or “Pigeon-o-saurus”

It seems to be an accepted fact that Theropod dinosaurs evolved into present-day birds, but I am still leery of this theory. Can biologists and paleontologists really compare these distinct animals ...
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How old are Pecten fossils in general?

Many years ago, I found a piece of rock on a lakeside in Switzerland (see picture below). I think that it could be a "fossil" from some Pecten species (do you agree?). My question is: how old such ...
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Recovery From the Great Dying

252 million years ago, Earth underwent its worst, most violent chapter in the form of the Permian-Triassic extinction event, or "The Great Dying". 70% of the terrestrial species and 95% of the marine ...
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How long does earth take to recover from mass extinctions? What is “normal”?

Wikipedia states the following about the P-Tr extinction event: "Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event,[5]...
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What are 'articulate shells'?

I can not really find a definition, not even in a geologic dictionnary: What are articulate (resp. inarticulate) shells? To be more specific, the term is related to tsunami deposits (tsunamite).
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Connection between microbes and serpentinite?

Serpentinite belongs to the serpentine group. This group of minerals are metamorphic minerals caused a special process called serpentinization. Serpentinization created serpentinite on the Earth's ...
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What makes pollen varieties useful index fossils?

What makes pollen varieties useful index fossils? Should pollen not be a poor index fossil?
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Are Pompeii and Herculaneum unique?

Has anyone ever found or gone looking for similar locations, i.e. volcanic eruption sites in which unfortunate victims – human and non-human – have been entombed in the volcanic ash, with the ...
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How to identify a predator's coprolite from an herbivore's?

I have a coprolite that is 8" by 5" and weighs 8 lbs. The shape is similar to a lumpy brain, the colors below outer crust are deep red and the crust is pastel green and grey. It has a strong density ...
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How do scientists measure the age of old animal remains?

The remains of a mammoth were recently unearthed in a Michigan farmer’s field [1]. This find could provide new information on the activity of early humans in the area, experts at the University of ...
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Time relativity relating to Carbon dating? [closed]

Theoretically if in early years the earth was moving at an astronomically different pace (whether in orbit or rotation, whatever sounds better) wouldn't that alter the science of carbon dating? As I ...
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Paleontology science fair ideas?

My daughter, age 8, wants to do her science fair project in paleontology. For the fair, we need to come up with a question that can lead to a hypothesis, then apply the scientific method to test this ...
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Are there any geological periods found on top of each other that have dinosaurs of that period with in them?

In diagrams, It is common to depict geological periods to be directly on top of each other with fossils of that period within them. When looking for evidence of this, I have only found examples of ...
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Why is the concept of “mass extinction” a relatively recent development in geology?

The concept of "mass extinctions", with its catastrophic connotations, is a relatively recent development in the geological sciences. It evolved in the early 1980s, driven by two landmark publications ...
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What is the age of the earliest traces of life on Earth?

In the article Oldest rocks, earliest life, heaviest impacts, and the Hadean–Archaean transition (Moorbath, 2005), the author states (based on previous referenced research) that the $\ce{^13C}$ ...
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Is the Principle of Fossil Succession accurate?

After wondering on the validity of the principle of Original Horizontality, I'm now focusing on the principle of fossil succession. This principle states that : Fossils of species that did not ...
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How do archaeologists address time dilation when analyzing carbon dating results?

It is a proven fact that the gravitational force exerted upon an object directly affects that objects experience of time; the greater the gravity, the slower time passes, and visa versa. While the ...