Tag «dinos»

The Risky Paleo Diets of Our Ancestors

In 1973, a fossil hunter discovered the partial skeleton of a female Homo erectus in the Koobi Fora formation of northern Kenya. The specimen dated to 1.6 million years ago; today she’s known as KNM-ER 1808. Her skeleton was pretty complete, given its age, including parts of her skull, limbs, and pelvis. And the anthropologists …

When a Billion Years Disappeared

When a Billion Years Disappeared

When geologist Clarence Dutton first saw the Grand Canyon in 1880, he was spellbound by its colorful walls. The Grand Canyon’s walls are made up of rock layers, each representing a distinct period of Earth’s history. And some of the lower rock beds–deep down in the canyon–look kind of tilted. Dutton knew these layers were …

How Two Microbes Changed History

How Two Microbes Changed History

What if I told you that, more than two billion years ago, some tiny living thing started to live inside another living thing … and never left? And now, the descendants of both of those things are in you? Well, brace yourselves, because I gotta tell you about one of the biggest breakthroughs in the …

How the Egg Came First

In 1799, the Keeper of the Department of Natural History at the British Museum didn’t know what to make of a bizarre specimen that had just arrived from Australia. It appeared to be the skin of a beaver or a mole with a beak sewn onto it? Being a good curator, he carefully examined every …

When the Rainforests Collapsed

When the Rainforests Collapsed

Way back, about 310 million years ago, a lizard-like creature took shelter in a hollow stump in what’s now Nova Scotia. It was small, not much bigger than your hand, and it hunted for insects in an ecosystem that was way different from anything you’ll find in Canada today. It lived in a warm, swampy …

That Time the Mediterranean Sea Disappeared

That Time the Mediterranean Sea Disappeared

In 2011, paleontologists working on the Spanish island of Minorca announced the discovery of some very odd fossils. They were the bones of a rabbit, but it wasn’t like any rabbit you’ve ever seen. For one thing, this bunny was a giant, up to six times heavier than your average cottontail. It also had short …

The Fuzzy Origins of the Giant Panda

Thanks to LEGO.com and the LEGO Store—presenting the LEGO Ideas Tree House—for their support of PBS. The mountain forests of China are the last home of a very peculiar bear indeed: the giant panda. It’s one of the most recognizable mammals in the world, with its distinctive black-and-white coat and its adorably round physique. And …

The Forgotten Story of the Beardogs

The Forgotten Story of the Beardogs

When you think of the world’s most fierce, numerous, and dominant meat-eating mammals, you probably think of animals like the big cats, or wolves, or bears. But long before any of those animals existed, there was another predator that prowled North America. And it was neither cat nor dog nor bear, but it was their …