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March Mammal Madness ft. fossil mammals! (Part 2)

Here's the second part of my picks for the March Mammal Madness competition, specifically, the extinct mammal  'Antecessors' division. You can read my picks for the first four pairs here. ​PSEUDAELURUS VS. ARCHAEOINDRIS Left image by Jay Matternes. Right by Wiki user Smokeybjb. Pseudaelurus were relatively slender ancient felids, ranging in size...

March Mammal Madness ft. fossil mammals! (Part 1)

It's that time of year again: time for March Mammal Madness!  For the uninitiated, March Mammal Madness (or MMM) is a fun fake hypothetical 'battle' between different species of animals, alive or extinct, using a sports-style bracket to guess or predict who you think will win. Then a team of biologists go onto Twitter and (having done their research...

Archaeopteryx may have been too fat to nest

It turns out that ancient birds including Archaeopteryx may have been too fat to sit on their eggs without breaking them.Most modern birds will sit on clutches of eggs to incubate them (this is called 'contact incubation'). And the bird lineage stretches back to the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous (during the Mesozoic). But when did birds start to contact...

Death, decay, dinosaurs... AND SPACE?

I gave a TEDx talk late last year where I chatted about taphonomy and decay in the fossil record, in Japanese Buddhist paintings, and on Mars. If that sounds interesting to you, check out the video below!

Extinct baby 'bird' found in amber

What a week it's been for palaeontology in the news, especially related to taphonomy! There's a new paper on the taphonomy of the Cleveland-Llyod Dinosaur Quarry, a paper describing featherless patches of skin on Tyrannosaurus rex, and now a mid-Cretaceous 'bird' (avialan) hatchling has been found encased in Burmese amber! Photograph of the amber...

Podcast chat about Zuul + oil sands nodosaur

I had a chat with Greg Wah and Dan Beeston at the podcast Smart Enough to Know Better about the taphonomy of two beautifully preserved dinosaur fossils in the news: Zuul crurivastator, a new ankylosaur from Montana named after a Ghostbusters character (image below left), and a beautifully preserved nodosaur from the oil sands deposits of Alberta (image...

Dinosaur footprint...in bone?

EDIT (30/5/2017): The Dinosaur Expeditions centre, where the fossil will be displayed, have offered the following equally likely explanation for this footprint-like impression: "Localised compression fractures, deformation of surface & underlying cancellous bone matches a tridactyl print. Parsimonious explanation." (via this tweet).A dinosaur footprint...

Deer know what humans taste like

A white-tail deer has been caught on camera eating human remains.The remains were part of a taphonomic experiment at the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF) in Texas, USA, where they were studying what types of scavengers visit human carcasses. They were left uncovered with cameras photographing anything that came to scavenge them. Imagine...

The PhD is complete!

The day has finally arrived... I am now Dr Caitlin Syme! My PhD thesis went through the various stages of PDF upload, revision, re-upload, approval, FINAL upload, and then I received the letter I'd been waiting for... I'm looking for more 'normal' paid work while I apply for post-docs and museum-related jobs, but for now I can breathe a little...

The taphonomy of tar seeps

Warm, dark-brown, sticky tar oozes out of the ground at Rancho La Brea in California, creating deep lakes of asphalt belching forth bubbles of methane. These asphalt lakes, or tar seeps, are particularly hazardous to animals passing by, trapping and swallowing up carcasses whole. And the tar seeps at La Brea have been trapping animals and luring predators...

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