Patagotitan, Farm To Museum


Patagotitan cast, in a hangar. D. Pol.

Thanks to Ed Yong, at the Atlantic, for expanding our horizons beyond the farm to table movement and reminding us that discoveries are still bringing new/old wonders of the planet Earth to the attention of scientists, and then to the rest of us via museums:

…Patagotitan lived during the Cretaceous period around 101 million years ago. And for some reason, it frequented the area that eventually became the Mayo family’s farm. Carballido and Pol’s team returned to the site more than a dozen times, disinterring every fossil they could find. In the process, they built a road and partially removed a hill. Eventually, they recovered bones from at least six Patagotitan individuals. And their bones reveal that they were in their prime—young, still growing, and not yet at their full adult size. Continue reading

Understanding Tapir


Fossils of Macrauchenia patachonica, as depicted in this artist’s reconstruction, baffled Darwin. The odd mammals disappeared about 12,000 years ago. Credit Jorge Blanco

I am sure I remember seeing these in my childhood collection of books with pictures of prehistoric creatures. Like many boys, the saber-tooth tiger was a favorite, which may explain my preoccupation with the big cats at Chan Chich Lodge. When you favor cats, you get to know their diet, so creatures like these in the image above were also among those I was fascinated by, which would explain why the tapir I have seen in the forests surrounding Chan Chich are among my lifetime favorite wild animal sightings. Thanks to Steph Yin for this story:

Strange Mammals That Stumped Darwin Finally Find a Home

It looked like many different animals and, at the same time, like no other animal at all.

From afar, you might think it was a large, humpless camel. Tall, stout legs ending in rhino feet carried a body weight potentially equal to that of a small car. Its neck stretched like a giraffe’s before giving way to a face resembling a saiga antelope’s. From this face extended a fleshy protuberance, similar to a mini elephant trunk or a tapir’s proboscis. Continue reading

Octopus Painted with Its Own Ancient Ink

Image of the completed octopus ink drawing. Photo by Esther van Hulsen, via ThisIsColossal

Octopuses are impressive animals, given their incredible intelligence, impressive sight, and, of course, number of limbs. Now, we’re learning that the pigment in their ink, which has been known to preserve well when fossilized, can still be used today for illustrative purposes. In fact, an English paleontologist did it in the 19th century, and more recently by Esther van Hulsen! More from Kate Sierzputowski at This Is Colossal:

Dutch wildlife artist Esther van Hulsen was recently given an assignment unlike her typical drawings of birds and mammals from life—a chance to draw a prehistoric octopus 95 million years after its death. Paleontologist Jørn Hurum supplied Hulsen with ink extracted from a fossil found in Lebanon in 2009, received as a gift from the PalVenn Museum in 2014.

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