Meet the nodosaur — the plant-eating armored dinosaur! Discovered by miners in Alberta, it is the best-preserved fossil of its kind.


Apparently these pendants sold quite rapidly.

It’s Fossil Friday! Today I’ve decided to bring them to life with a little acrylic illustration also. These are fossils of ammonites, ancient relatives of octopuses. Ammonites are so common and well documented in the fossil record that they are useful for determining the age of the rock from where they are found. These are known as index fossils. So let’s say a little ammonite fossil is found along side a new dinosaur discovery, it gives us a fairly accurate date of when that dinosaur once lived.

When found, this extinct monkey skull lacked a face and the right side of its jaw. How can we display it whole? Experts used bones from modern monkeys in the Museum’s vast collection to guide reconstruction of the face. As for the jaw, they scanned the existing left side, then reversed the scan and 3-D printed a new right side to match the left.

Celebrate #FossilFriday with the extinct Mono Cubano and learn how bone experts used 3-D printing to reconstruct this primate’s face in the Museum’s newest exhibition ¡Cuba! 


Happy #Fossil Friday!

A few weeks ago at the LA County Natural History Museum, I snapped a shot of one of the most beautiful specimens I have ever seen—the Edmontosaurus skull up top. “But Josh,” you ask, “Why that specimen instead of the one below? It’s got like half of its beak broken off!” To which I answer, “Exactly.” The skull on top has preserved intact a large portion of the keratinous beak that would have covered its bones in life. Beaks deteriorate faster than bone, and are only preserved in extremely rare conditions; only a handfull have ever been found. You’ll notice that the Oxford skull beneath (credit), while a beautiful skull in its own right, has a much slimmer beak. This is because the keratin beak sheath was completely lost to rot and deterioration, leaving only the supporting bone beneath. It changes the shape of the mouth quite a bit, doesn’t it? As a paleo-artist I get excited by specimens like the half-beaked Edmontosaurus because soft tissue preservation offers a rare window into what the animal would have looked like before it was skeletonized by fossilization, as a living, breathing creature. Some of these glimpses are surprising—such as feathered fossils of meat-eating dinosaurs in China, or another Edmontosaurus fossil that shows it had a soft crest on top of its head. Finds like these change the way we portray prehistoric creatures in art, and sharpen the images of the animals held in our imaginations.


Uptilted wall of dinosaur footprints, Bolivia

Fossil Friday, working in tight spaces. 

Sometimes fossils aren’t in the easiest place to reach. Imagine slowly chipping away at a fossil for hours in this small space.

© The Field Museum, CSGEO32665, Photographer Elmer S. Riggs.

John B. Abbott collecting the skull of Dolichorhinus longiceps Douglass, divide near White River, Gilgenite vein #2 Geology specimen P12175

5x7 glass negative 


4 million years ago, sloths like this here Paramylodon were like the size of elephants!

Some lived in North America up until 11,000 years ago. Some believe the Giant Ground Sloth went extinct due to climate change. Others believe these ginormous beasts were hunted to extinction by early humans.

So I dab in awe of the Old School Mammals. We never got to meet you. But your stories live on!


In the summer of 2014, a team led by the Museum’s Provost of Science Mike Novacek and Paleontology Division Chair Mark Norell headed to the Gobi for the joint American Museum of Natural History/Mongolian Academy of Sciences expedition. The group included Aki Watanabe, one of Mark Norell’s students at the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School, who was recently chosen as a beta-tester for Google Glass and who recorded video on Glass throughout the trip.

In this video, Watanabe finds a fossil dinosaur nest, and shows how he extracts and packages it to return to the lab for further research.

Happy #FossilFriday! You’ve got to zoom in to see this one.

This is a chunk of long-neck dinosaur (diplodocid) bone from 150 million years ago. Notice that the spongy holes inside have been “silicified,” or filled with natural growths of quartz crystal. It’s essentially a bone that was preserved for millions of years because it was soaked in glass!

For this fish friday I went to the Aquazoo in Düsseldorf after it had been closed for 3 years of renovation. I saw some old faces, some new faces and had a great time personally. I also found some really old faces - beautyful fossils

Including a little preview to Fishfriday in two weeks ( have something else planned for fishfriday next week )

Bothriolepis , a placoderm.
But then we come to the jawless fishes. And its a perfect example for why researching them is so hard:

I present you Thyestes. … No I swear its there! But I dont blame you! That rock is maybe as long as my smol grabby thumb. And if I didnt know what to look for …. I wouldnt see it either.

This is sadly the status quo for MANY jawless fish fossils, so reconstructing them is pretty hard. But someones gotta try, right?