Today, we think of penguins as small-ish, waddling, tuxedo-birds. But they evolved from a flying ancestor, were actual giants for millions of years, and some of them were even dressed a little more casually.
The climate of the Sahara was completely different thousands of years ago. And we’re not talking about just a few years of extra rain. We’re talking about a climate that was so wet for so long that animals and humans alike made themselves at home in the middle of the Sahara.
About 59 million years ago, the largest animal lurking in the ancient forests of Colombia by far was Titanoboa - the largest snake ever known. It’s only been in the past few years that we’ve put together the many pieces of this puzzling creature, but it turns out that the greatest snake that the world ever saw was made possible by a warming planet.
The Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse set the stage for a takeover that would be a crucial turning point in the history of terrestrial animal life. If it weren’t for that time when the rainforests collapsed - in an extinction event that you probably haven’t heard of - our ancestors might never have made it out of the swamps.
Long necks gave sauropods a huge advantage when it came to food, but not in the way you think. And this benefit would allow them to become the biggest terrestrial animals of all time!
Throughout the Cenozoic Era -- the era we’re in now -- marsupials and their metatherian relatives flourished all over South America, filling all kinds of ecological niches and radiating into forms that still thrive on other continents.
From end to end, its forelimbs alone measured an incredible 2.4 meters long and were tipped with big, comma-shaped claws. But other than its bizarre arms, very little material from this dinosaur had been found: no skull, no feet, almost nothing that could give experts a fuller picture of what this dinosaur actually was.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Neandertals were thought to have been…primitive. Unintelligent, hunched-over cavemen, for lack of a better word. But the discoveries made in that Iraqi cave provided some of the earliest clues that Neanderthals actually behaved -- and likely thought and felt -- a lot like we do.
How could a body of water as big as the Mediterranean just...disappear? It would take decades and more than 1,000 research studies to even start to figure out the cause -- or causes -- of one of the greatest vanishing acts in Earth’s history.
How does a bear -- which is a member of the order Carnivora -- evolve into an herbivore? Despite how it looks, nothing about the history of the giant panda is black and white.
Because of their strange combination of bear-like and dog-like traits, they’re sometimes confusingly called the beardogs. And even though you’ve never met one of these animals, the beardogs are key to understanding the history of an important branch of the mammal family tree.
Woolly mammoths, our favorite ice age proboscidean, disappeared from Europe and North America at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. Today, we’ve teamed up with TierZoo to solve one of the mysteries about these charismatic megafauna: why do most remains of mammoths found in the fossil record turn out to be male?
These hyaenodonts gave the world some of its largest terrestrial, carnivorous mammals ever known. And while these behemoths were the apex predators of their time, they were no match for a changing world.
A 9,500 year old burial in Cyprus represents some of the oldest known evidence of human/cat companionships anywhere in the world. But when did this close relationship between humans and cats start? And how did humans help cats take over the world?
People have been discovering the traces and remains of prehistoric creatures for thousands of years. And they’ve also probably been telling stories about fantastic beasts since language became a thing. So, is it possible that the monsters that populate our myths and legends were influenced by the fossil record?
Its discoverers named it Homo floresiensis, but it’s often called “the hobbit” for its short stature and oddly proportioned feet. And it’s been at the center of a major controversy in the field ever since. Was it its own species? Or was it really just one of us? Or, could it even have descended from a whole lineage of hominins that we don’t even know about?
Paleontologists found a small theropod dinosaur skull right on top of a nest of eggs that were believed to belong to a plant-eating dinosaur. Instead of being the nest robbers that they were originally thought to be, raptors like this one would reveal themselves to actually be caring parents.
Before the start of the Eocene Epoch about 56 million years ago--Antarctica was still joined to both Australia and South America. And it turns out that a lot of what we recognize about the southern hemisphere can be traced back to that time when Antarctica was green.
Just a few thousand years ago, the island of Madagascar was inhabited by giant lemurs. How did such a diverse group of primates evolve in the first place, and how did they help shape the unique environments of Madagascar? And how did they get winnowed down, leaving only their smaller relatives behind?
When pterosaurs first took flight, you could say that it marked the beginning of the end for the winged reptiles. Because, strangely enough, the power of flight -- and the changes that it led to -- may have ultimately led to their downfall.