The 505 Million Year Old Fish Metaspriggina: New fossils reveal first hints of the evolution of jaws in primitive fish
Here, Prof. Simon Conway Morris from the University of Cambridge and myself report the description of a half a billion year-old fossil fish, Metaspriggina walcotti, that we think fills an important piece in the earliest story of the vertebrates as a whole. This research paper is published in the scientific journal Nature (June 11, 2014).
- Metaspriggina walcotti as it might have looked in its environment. Reconstruction by Marianne Collins. © Conway Morris and Caron.
- Front part of a specimen of Metaspriggina walcotti (ROM 62933) from the Marble Canyon Burgess Shale locality in Kootenay National Park (BC) – head, showing a pair of eyes, to the left with pairs of pharyngeal bars to the top. Photo by: Jean-Bernard Caron.
- Kate Allen, Toronto Star – Incredible’ fossil find pinpoints a never-before-seen moment in the rise of our ancestors
- Emily Chung, CBC News – Ancient Rockies fish fossils reveal origin of jaws
- Carrie Tait, The Globe and Mail – Feature key to evolution found in fossil in Canadian Rockies
- Carl Zimmer, New York Times – A Long-Ago Ancestor: A Little Fish, With Incipient Jaws
- Tia Ghose, Live Science – Tiny Fish May Be Ancestor of Nearly All Living Vertebrates
- Abridged from original post found HERE.
Guest post by Jean-Bernard Caron. Last update: July 15th, 2014.
1.5 million years ago, the Toxodon, a rhinoceros sized beast, roamed South America, where, according to fossil records, was one of the most abundant large mammals on the continent. Though not related to the rhinoceros, there’s evidence that the Toxodon may have also had a horn.
Interesting Charles Darwin, during his Voyage of the Beagle, was one of several Western scientists to take an interest in the beast from which he would ponder why and how these giant animals were different than those in Europe.
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: March 28th, 2014.
My buds David Evans & Kentaro Chiba gave me a peek at some of their research a few weeks back on dinosaur dating. Like trees, rings inside of dinosaur bones can tell you how old the animal was at death. I was invited to take a look at a hadrosaur shin bone they’re studying and observe the rings.
— Kentaro Chiba (@kchibs)January 22, 2014
In order to gain this data, Kentaro cut a slice along the width of the fossil to later observe under a microscope, photograph, and then study. The image Kentaro took is gorgeous not only in its beauty but also in its quality.
David and Kentaro gave me a peek at the image explaining the rings and details. They’re still in the process of analyzing their data, but once ready, they’ll debut their work for the world to see. At that point I might make a print and hang it above my desk!
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: March 21st, 2014.
The Helmet Of A Titan: Ankylosaur Skull
Recently I hung out with my pals, Brian Iwama & Kevin Seymour from Palaeontology, who were hard at work reinstalling our Ankylosaurus skull back into its case. Occasionally our palaeontology staff will remove specimens from display to take quality photographs to keep their files up to date and for use by colleagues outside of the Museum.
Hanging out with this behemoth was a fascinating experience. The skull is ridiculously heavy as it still houses much of the rock bed it was buried in, within its skull. Ankylosaurus was covered in dermal scutes (essentially armour like bones), which not only added to its heft, but also made it the tank of its time. The scutes are incredibly rough. If you’re not carefully you could easily scratch your skin against the surface.
What I found most amazing was the teeth. Ankylosaurus was a huge beast, whose armour and strong, clubbed tail provided it with weapons to wield against predators. But Ankylosaurus was also a peaceful giant that seemingly preferred to eat alone. What is startling is just how small and few teeth they had. Think of a child’s molar, an Ankylosaurus’ teeth were smaller. Further these teeth wore down fast from the tough low lying vegetation it ate. Many Ankylosaurus had few to little teeth left at the end of their life. But this specimen has a nearly full compliment!
It was great getting an opportunity to hang out with Brian and Kevin while they reinstalled the Ankylosaurus skull into the Dinosaur Gallery!
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: February 10, 2014.
Genuine Albertosaurus tooth. One of the most famous Canadian dinosaurs (just check out the name!) Albertosaurus was a smaller cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex, similar to the Gorgosaurus. Check out the fine serrated edge along the tooth, similar to a steak knife. The detail is remarkable!
Partial lower jaw of the smaller Tyrannosaurus rex cousin, Gorgosaurus.
Gorgosaurus is also incredibly similar to the younger Albertosaurus. In the Walking With Dinosaurs animated movie this dinosaur played the adversary, a different villain over the familiar, though essentially same, Tyrannosaurus rex.