by Hannah C. Bird
Ichnology is the study of trace fossils, the physical evidence for the activities of organisms that lived millions of years ago. Trace fossils depict activities such as walking, resting, feeding and burrowing, which can be represented by tracks ranging from recognizable large footprints to long, grooved trails (Fig. 1). One organism can be responsible for multiple trackways: for example, the extinct invertebrate arthropods called trilobites are known to have produced the burrowing trace Cruziana as well as the resting trace Rusophycus.
Figure 1 — Examples of trace fossils preserved in non-marine environments (after Bromley, 1996), including scorpion trackways (1), crustacean burrows (5; Cruziana problematica), arthropod trackways (8, 9), fish swimm
by Charlotte M. Bird 1
Imagine you are an avid fossil hunter and have just dug up a skull of an extinct vertebrate. You are the first human ever to see it. Not only is that amazing, but you are also at the start of a journey into discovering how this organism lived: whether it was diurnal (active during the day) or nocturnal, whether it hunted above ground or burrowed, had poor vision or an exceptional sense of smell. Despite the millions of years that may have passed, the growing field of virtual palaeontology provides a new world of analysis techniques that can help palaeontologists to peer inside the skull and uncover some truly fascinating insights.
What are digital endocasts?
Virtual Palaeontology is the non-destructive study of fossils using digital method...
by Jack Wilkin*1
The Morrison Formation is renowned worldwide as one of the world’s most significant locations for dinosaur fossils. It covers more than 150 million square kilometres, running from Alberta in Canada to New Mexico in the United States, and from Idaho across to Nebraska (Fig. 1). The Morrison dates to the Oxfordian stage of the late Jurassic period, some 155 million to 148 million years ago. It is what is known as a Konzentrat-Lagerstätten, meaning that it has a very high concentration of fossil remains, with extensive bone beds created by flash floods depositing lots of bones in one place. The Morrison provides palaeontologists with remarkable insight into a late Jurassic terrestrial ecosystem. Not only does the formation contain some of the largest din
by The Palaeontology [online] editorial board*1
At the turn of most years, the some of the editorial board at Palaeontology [online] takes the opportunity to reflect on the past year in palaeontology. Given that we published a wonderful overview of Diploporitans in January, this year we’ve moved our look over our favourite studies from last year to February. Palaeontology and associated disciplines are fast-moving and exciting areas of science — looking back at 2018 lets us highlight just a few of the key developments that really show this. Picking just one article each is difficult, and we have been forced to miss out many of the hundreds of exciting papers published in the past 12 months. Nevertheless, we hope that our choices reflect the breadth and depth of palaeob
by Sarah L. Sheffield*1
Echinoderms, a group of marine animals that includes familiar organisms such as sea stars and sea urchins, were much more diverse in the past than they are today. There are five living classes of echinoderms (sea stars, sea urchins, brittle stars, sea cucumbers and crinoids), but more than 20 extinct classes are known only from the fossil record. During the Palaeozoic Era (542 million to 251 million years ago), especially, echinoderms were incredibly diverse and thrived all over the globe (Fig. 1). This was a time of significant environmental change, with the climate ranging from very warm oceans with high sea levels and high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations to much colder oceans, with extensive glacial ice. By studying how fossil ...