Fossils from the earliest primate group, the appropriately named Purgatorius found in Hell Creek, Montana, date to before the mass extinction 65 million years ago
Paleontology is the scientific study of all fossil life forms other than humans, from plants asnd animals to fungi to creatures that bizarre that we don't know what they were (Ediacarans, looking at you). Paleontologists need knowledge of geology, ecology and biology to gain insight into the being whose usually-crushed remains lie before them, and into the evolution of life, based on mineralized bones and tissues, and sometimes just impressions left in sedimentary rocks.
Some interpretations remain disputed, such as that of layering in 4-billion-year-old rocks as bacterial mats as opposed to geological phenomena. Also, interpretations may change with new insights: certain small tyrannosaurs initially classified as new species were apparently just teenage T-rexes. That is the beauty of paleontology:glimpsing life forms we will never personally meet, from the unimaginably weird like Tully's monster to the downright terrifying, like the giant beaver the size of your father, with teeth as long as your forearm.
We may however have delivered some megafauna species the coup de grâce, especially after a magnetic pole reversal caused global mayhem 42,000 years ago
First shock from genetic analysis of three ancient mammoths: Siberia had two lineages of steppe mammoth. Second surprise: The North American mammoth was a hybrid
Yes it was very small, but the insect found in Colorado is so extraordinarily preserved that we can still see the stripes on his little legs too
Whispers of cosmological meaning can be discerned in the way early humans interacted with prey, argues Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Ran Barkai
Whether or not pterosaurs had feathers has enormous implications for our understanding of dinosaur evolution
We may have overlapped with Neanderthals for thousands of years in the coastal caves of Western Europe, though that isn’t where our Neanderthal genes came from
Lady birds have one ovary but their dinosaur ancestors had the usual two: Extraordinary fossil bird from 120 million years ago sheds light on the evolutionary change
How exactly the sun-loving cyanobacteria among them survived for millions of years in pitch-black sediment is a mystery, even if it is the toughest microbe on Earth
In an abrupt paradigm shift, people reached the New World at the height of the Ice Age, not only afterward, even establishing a ‘school of rock’ in a big cave in Mexico
Four-winged Microraptor could fly and fly well, says team, negating the theory that the chicken-sized early Cretaceous creature could only glide
The Storegga Slide that washed away the last of Doggerland and smashed into the North Sea coasts triggered not one but three mega-tsunami, says a vast team
It was known the Negev was wetter in the past, but evidence of long-gone lakes hadn’t been dated: Now it’s clear that when hominins exited Africa at least 1.8 million years ago, the conditions were gorgeous
The 3-D symmetry and sharpened tip of the rare bone-based artifact shows advances only observed in sites half a million years later
The nano-dinosaur Kongonaphon, ‘tiny bug slayer,’ was an ancient member in the lineage that included pterosaurs and T-rex
Chinese scientists report on wasps and beetles trapped in amber and found in Myanmar still displaying bright colors after 99 million years
Some think Homo erectus and its ilk dined chiefly on plants like latter-day hunter-gatherers. Israeli archaeologists argue that if they did, it wasn’t by choice
Yet even now we aren’t clear how many guinea pig species there are. Or why we continue to bring them into our homes and love them as pets
Early modern humans adapted to life in the South Asian rainforests where nary another hominin ventured to tread, which may help explain why Neanderthals went extinct
Once thought to have been made by giant pterosaurs trotting on two legs, prints in Jinju are revisited and spring a surprise
Groups that drum together bond and can better perform tasks together even later on, Bar-Ilan musicologists and psychologists demonstrate
The spread of the house mouse from Near East to Europe coincided with the advent of early farming and grain storage. Guess who came along for the ride?
Remains of a modern human 45,000 years old found in the Balkans show our ancestors coexisted with Neanderthals in Europe for around 8,000 years
It’s incredibly rare for the predatory pounce to be preserved for eternity in stone: paleontologists suspect the attacker choked on its herring dinner 200 million years ago
There were two early monkey lineages in South America, not one. One lineage became the adorable platyrrhini and one went extinct
Sequencing from a second tooth ‘only’ 800,000 years old provided researchers with key information on the position of the enigmatic Homo antecessor in our evolutionary tree
Archaeologists deduce purpose of huge walled fish ponds on an artificial island built by the powerful Calusa kingdom over 1,000 years ago
Worm-like Ikaria wariootia from 550 million years ago could be the missing link between the mysterious proto-animals of the Ediacaran era and animal life as we know it
Paleontological surprise: Almost 400 million years ago, an Elpistostege had both normal fin rays - and bones typical of vertebrate arms and digits in its fins
Experts explain to Haaretz how mere fragments of two skulls discovered in Ethiopia can be distinguished as male and female, and did it really use both crude and clever tools at the same time?