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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What is taphonomic expansion?

Fossils are bacteria colonies sometimes, a bone can expand with fluid. This is pretty common sense and I understand it. But what is taphonomic expansion? Does it mean a fossil can be bigger than the ...
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Did the K-T event throw dinosaurs to the moon? [closed]

When the asteroid that caused the K-T event hit the earth massive amounts of energy was released. In the ideal conditions, is it possible this could have thrown dinosaurs to the space and maybe even ...
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Is there a geological explanation for the recent Mammoth tusk discovery 185 miles off the California coast?

A recently publicized discovery of a Columbian Mammoth tusk located well of the coast of California in quite deep water made me wonder if geological conditions 100,000 years ago can explain how it got ...
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What is this fossil? What is this crystal?

My daughter found this fossil while walking through the Swabian Jura, in Southern Germany. She asked me about it, but I have absolutely 0 clue about geology. The crystal part is 3cm in diameter, but ...
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Is the Talus (or Astralagus) the most frequently recorded fossil mammal bone?

I was once told by a paleontologist that the talus (or astralagus) bone is one of the most frequently observed fossils among mammals. Can anyone verify if this might be true? Because of the density ...
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Is Radiocarbon dating flawed?

I posted this before on physics stack exchange, but it was deemed off topic, which is understandable, so I hope it won't be here. Recently, I stumbled upon an article by an individual named A.M. ...
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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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Did geologists determine the age of rocks and fossils before the advent of modern scientific dating methods?

Did geologists determine the age of rocks and fossils before the advent of modern scientific dating methods such as radiometric, electron spin resonance and thermoluminescence? If they did, does ...
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Fossil ID: possible fauna fossil, from Perlis, Malaysia

I found this fossil while doing my fieldwork in limestone area. Description below may help to identify it. Location: NW Perlis, Malaysia (Setul Formation). Hilly Area. My Observation: Have a curly ...
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Why can (certain) uranium dating methods only provide a MINIMUM age of a sample?

Has everyone heard the stories about two new sets of archaic human remains found? One set of remains in Israel (Nester Tampa 'Homo') and one set in China (Homo longi -Dragon Man)? Multiple press ...
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Why were the early lifeforms of Proterozoic formation of India devoid of hard parts?

According to Ravindra Kumar's Historical Geology and Stratigraphy, early lifeforms of Proterozoic time could not be preserved as fossils, since they were devoid of hard parts. In addition to that, it ...
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What is this fossil found in flint in Kent?

My 7 year old son found this fossil whilst cracking open flint in Deal, Kent. The fossil (assuming it is) looks like scales/cells/shell and is chalky. The oblong lines are raised and well defined and ...
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How can I learn to spot fossils and fossil-bearing rocks on the Jurassic coast?

Due to a pleasant change in my circumstances, I have been to Lyme Regis several times recently, and it seems as though I'm going to be a regular visitor over the next few years. As a former biologist ...
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Extinctions and geomagnetic inversions [duplicate]

The article Did the Earth’s magnetic field affect our evolution? on Pledge Times cite this Science paper to assert: These authors speculate that, in the Pleistocene, large mammals could have reached ...
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Book recommendation on Homo erectus?

I've just read Rebecca Wragg Sykes' Kindred on Neanderthals, a very thorough and fresh look at that species and I'd love to read something similar on Homo erectus. Is there such a book?
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What is oldest known coal source?

I read coal form in all geologic times but what is oldest know coal source?
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Book on the history of Earth and life on Earth

I am interested in getting a better overview of the full history of the Earth and the evolution of life. Therefore I am looking for a book that goes through the different geological time scales of the ...
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How to start studying dinosaurs and pre-historic mammals/sea creatures

I'm kind new to this hole thing of dinosaurs that I'm really interested in, are there any good books/websites/webpages to study the biology of pre-historic creatures? Dinosaurs, mammals, fishes, ...
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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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What periods of the fossil record are most lacking in specimens?

What parts of the fossil record are most lacking in specimens? That is, if you were to trace the evolution of a modern mammal (humans, for example) from abiogenesis to now, which periods are the most ...
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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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Did the impact event that caused the Chicxulub-Crater definitively and single-handedly cause the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction?

Opinions abound on the web. What is the state of the current science regarding this theory and what is the best evidence? Is the theory gaining or losing traction? If it's losing what's the best of ...
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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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Cleaning fossil samples with acetone

Can I clean fossil samples with acetone, or will this damage them?
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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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How do we know graptolites were pelagic?

How do we know that graptolites were pelagic, and not benthic, creatures? I understand it has something to do with their being found in black shale, but I'm not sure why that is particularly relevant.
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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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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 ...