Giant prehistoric snake coming soon to a town near you

PZ may have his colorful mollusca, aka cephalopods, but here at the Zingularity we’re talking giant prehistoric snake evolution like something right out of a b-movie! Meet Titanoboa, 50 feet long and weighing over a ton. It could have gulped down an adult with room left over for the rest of the family and its close cousins were even larger and more bizarre! [Read more…]

Permian forest brought to scientific life

An artist's impression of a 300-million-year-old peat forest in northern China, based on plant fossils preserved in a huge volcanic ash-fall. PNAS

Paleobiologists of all kinds are used to dealing with frustrating scraps. Occasionally they get entire bones and once in a blue moon a nearly complete skeleton or fossil of an extinct plant or animal. But scientists working with remains below a Mongolian coal mine have done one better, they found a 300 million year old forest preserved in volcanic ash and have brought it to virtual life in what is being called the Permian Pompeii:

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Lost fossils from Darwin discovered

It seems a Dr Howard Lang was in the archives of the British Geological Survey when he found some drawers marked Unregistered Fossil Plants. Inside were hundreds of fossils that have not seen the light of day for a smuch as 165 years. Museum curators soon realized that some of the material was actually collected or analyzed by Charles Darwin himself and during his most scientically formative time; see the piece of fossil wood below found by Darwin in 1834 while sailing on the HMS Beagle, and thinking about how biological diversity could arise over time, an idea he would later call evolution. [Read more…]