When Rodents Had Horns

From PBS Eons. These odd rodents belong to a genus known as Ceratogaulus, but they’re more commonly called horned gophers, because, you guessed it, they had horns. And it turns out the horns probably had a purpose – one that rodents would likely benefit from today. Samantha Hopkins’ 2005 paper on Ceratogaulus with figures featured in…

The Sea Monster from the Andes

From PBS Eons. In 1977, a farmer was plowing his field on a plateau high in the Andes mountains when he stumbled upon a giant fossilized skeleton. How did this giant marine reptile end up high in the Andes Mountains? Spanish subtitles/CC by Carlos J. Pardo De la Hoz. Thanks as always to Ceri Thomas for…

The Dinosaur Who Was Buried at Sea

From PBS Eons. Paleontologists have been studying nodosaurs since the 1830s, but nobody had ever found a specimen like Borealopelta before. The key to its exceptional preservation was where it ended up after it died and how it got there. Thanks to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology for providing us with images for this…

The Story of the Dino Stampede

From PBS Eons. To try to solve the puzzle of Lark Quarry, experts have turned to a special subfield of paleontology — paleoichnology, or the study of trace fossils — to reconstruct exactly what happened on that spot, on that day, nearly 100,000 millennia ago. Thanks to Fabrizio de Rossi for the excellent reconstruction(s) of…

How the Walrus Got Its Tusks

From PBS Eons. The rise and fall of ancient walruses, and how modern ones got their tusks, is a story that spans almost 20 million years. And while there are parts of the story that we’re still trying to figure out, it looks like tusks didn’t have anything to do with how or what these animals…

When Dinosaurs Chilled in the Arctic

From PBS Eons. All told, the Arctic in the Cretaceous Period was a rough place to live, especially in winter. And yet, the fossils of many kinds of dinosaurs have been discovered there. So how were they able to survive in this harsh environment? Thanks to Nathan E. Rogers for the really great reconstruction of…

How We Identified One of Earth’s Earliest Animals

From PBS Eons. Scientists had no idea what type of organisms the life forms of the Ediacaran were—lichen, colonies of bacteria, fungi or something else. It turns out, the key to solving the puzzle of Precambrian life was a tiny bit of fossilized fat.  Thanks to Ilya Bobrovskiy for allowing us to use photos from his…

The Two Viruses That We’ve Had For Millions of Years

From PBS Eons. There’s one kind of herpesvirus that’s specific to one species of primate, and each virus split off from the herpesvirus family tree when the primate split off from its own tree. But of course, humans are a special kind of primate. Here are the two studies we discuss in this episode: Wertheim,…