Tetrapod Zoology, the book

Darren Naish has published a book of articles that he wrote for the Tet Zoo blog. Darren writes about four-limbed creatures, which includes fish, lizards, snakes, mammals, and birds. He reports on a lot of original research and explains the evidence for unresolved questions. Check it out! You can find it on Amazon U.S. or Amazon UK.

Hat tip to Dave Hone’s Archosaur Musings.

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Russet feathers!

Before birds, there were feathers–naturally enough. Feathers, like hair, no doubt provided insulation and were grown by dinosaurs. Indeed, reptilian scutes when properly treated with a mild acid can fall apart into a feather-like structure. I suspect that the first advantage that they imparted was warmth for a small animal. But camouflage probably came second. When you have temporary structure like feathers, you can change color with the seasons. The color can vary by combining red and black pigments. It can pulse on and off as the feather grows or in different parts of the body to form pigmented bands. I have seen dinosaur-bird fossils where the bands in the feathers call to mind the wings and tail of a hawk.

But that’s just a hypothesis! Scientists have shaved a pigmented fossil into microscopic bits to identify the pigment granules and classify their color type: black or Irish-setter red. They applied their findings to the reconstructed fossil to see its color pattern. Behold!

True colors

The lovely illustration is by Chuang Zhao and Lida Xing

GrrlScientist has a fine, detailed description and lots of images of how the research on Sinosauropteryx was done with scanning electron microscopy.

It’s easy to create lines, cross-hatching, or speckles when two such color pulses combine into a moire pattern.

Paleoart of Mauricio Anton


I found a blog called Paleomammals online, which got off to a promising start but hasn’t any new articles since May. But it did have links! One of them was to the scientific paleomammal and anthropology art of Mauricio Anton. The home page is in Flash but there are, at least, galleries underneath.

Hadrosaur haunches!

I’ve often thought that the reconstructors of dinosaurs should give their back legs a little more muscle, more like the legs of a cow or a horse (or the drumstick of a chicken) instead of making bony outlines like a lizard’s legs. Old style:

(Hadrosaur picture is from Динозавры, древние животные и растения [diozavr.org])

The wildly unllkely discovery of a mummified hadrosaur has given us its skin impressions and bodily outlines; and Voila!


The hadrosaur’s haunches have about 25% more muscle than we thought. The dinosaur was stronger and faster than we expected.
(The picture is from National Geographic’s Dino Autopsy, which is not showing up on the Canadian schedule now. Maybe it has been and gone.)

Devonian Times

The Devonian Times highlights the fossils, both plants and animals, of the Red Hill Devonian deposits in Pennsylvania, U.S.

What’s in your permafrost?


A man walking in his Arctic village found the remains of a 20,000-year-old bison.

Perhaps unfortunately, the man did not call on scientists immediately, but waited until it melted out of the soil, then gathered it up the bones and some internal organs and carried them away.

The Boneyard 1

Welcome to The Boneyard 1, the blog carnival of all things to do with paleontology. This first edition is hosted by Laelaps.

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