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Paleontology/Geobiology News Archive


Eavesdropping on the Secret Lives of Fish

Marine scientists are using “earthstones” from Southern flounder to determine the age, growth history and migration patterns of fish. Nate Miller’s geochemical analyses are a critical part of the process.

Using a combination of traditional and innovative model-building techniques, scientists in the U.S. and a specialist in Denmark have created a lifelike reconstruction of an ancient mollusk, offering a vivid portrait of a creature that lived about 390 million years ago, and answering questions about its place in the tree of life, as described in…

A spiky, well-armored mollusk that lived in the ocean 390 million years ago has been brought back to life with the help of 3-D printers. To reassemble the specimen, a team led by Jakob Vinther, a postdoctoral fellow at the Jackson School, made a three-dimensional model of the fossil using a technology similar to medical…

Researchers from Harvard University, The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere have found evidence that the evolution of birds is the result of a drastic change in how dinosaurs developed. Scientists have long understood that modern birds descended from dinosaurs. Rather than take years to reach sexual maturity, as many dinosaurs did, birds sped…

A team of American and Chinese researchers has revealed the detailed feather pattern and color of Microraptor, a pigeon-sized, four-winged dinosaur that lived about 120 million years ago. A new specimen shows the dinosaur had a glossy iridescent sheen and that its tail was narrow and adorned with a pair of streamer feathers, suggesting the…

Archaeopteryx had (some) black feathers

A team of scientists announced the first evidence of feather color in Archaeopteryx, a feathered dinosaur that has also long been considered one of the earliest birds. The first fossil remains, consisting of a single feather, were discovered in 1861. It’s this single feather that was analyzed using a technique developed by Jakob Vinther, a…

Mammals first evolved their characteristic large brains to enable a stronger sense of smell, according to a new study published this week in the journal Science by paleontologists from The University of Texas at Austin, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. This latest study is the first to use CT…

Traces in Time

When Peter Flaig returned home from Antarctica, he found it pretty amusing that the city of Austin was shut down by an inch of snow, a little bit of ice, and low temperatures in the 20s. The university was closed, as were public schools and many businesses and government agencies. But in what can be…

Highlights of Paleontology at UT Austin

2008: Early hominid Lucy CT-scanned 2001: Fossil fetus of an Elephant bird CT-scanned and reconstructed without breaking egg shell 1999: Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab established 1997: High Resolution XRay CT Lab founded 1994: FAUNMAP, database of North American mammals for the last 40,000 years (E. Lundelius) 1971: Discovery of the largest known flying animal, Quetzalcoatlus, in…

Why Do We Need Paleontology?

Paleontology has been a central part of geology since British scientist William Smith first showed that geological strata could be identified based on the fossils they contained. Because they change through time, fossils put a date stamp on a particular layer of Earth in which they occur. “We are the time keepers for the Earth…

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