Saturday, March 30, 2019

Palaeontology: Some Recent Spectacular Fossil Finds

Sharing some news on exciting fossil discoveries of the recent past:

1) Early animal evolution is a topic that continues to fascinate. A fossil rich sedimentary deposit from China dated to about 518 million years ago reveals exquisitely preserved soft bodied animals of the early Cambrian. This find, termed the Qingjiang biota, compliments the well known Burgess Shale of Canada and the Chenjiang site in China. It contains representatives of early cnidarians (related to corals), comb jellies, sponges, and many other creatures, and is helping paleontologists answer questions about the evolutionary relationships and timing of branching of animal groups.

Link: Spectacular new fossil bonanza captures explosion of early life.

2) Before the early Cambrian diversification of animals, is fossil evidence of the roots of some animal lineages, contained in the Ediacaran biota of late Neoproterozoic age ( 600-542 million years ago). At one site in S. Australia, a farmer is conserving a rich Ediacaran fossil site, turning it in to an outdoor research museum.

Link: This Australian farmer is saving fossils of some of the planet’s weirdest, most ancient creatures.

3) A 4 foot sedimentary layer in South Dakota contains a jumble of fossils of animals and plants. This 'event deposit' formed instantaneously from material gathered and dumped by a tsunami triggered by a large meteorite crashing into the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Readers will recognize this! It happened 66 million years ago and resulted in the end Cretaceous mass extinction.

Link: Fossil Site Reveals Day That Meteor Hit Earth and, Maybe, Wiped Out Dinosaurs.

..and there is a longer article in the New Yorker on this fossil site and the hard work paleontologists have put in to tease out its secrets..  (thanks to Hollis for the reminder! ).

Link: The Day The Dinosaurs Died

Happy reading!


  1. Did you read the article in The New Yorker? (linked in the NYT article) What a story! It will be interesting to hear more reactions from the "establishment" :) (3 free articles per month)

  2. haven't gotten around to it yet. I'll add a link to that too.. thanks for reminding!