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20 Mar 2012
Published in Blog

Paleontologists have had an especially hard time identifying the first sauropod (the family of plant-eating dinosaurs typified by Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus); the problem is that the smaller, two-legged prosauropods weren't directly ancestral to their more famous cousins. For now, the best candidate for the earliest true sauropod is Vulcanodon, which lived in southern Africa about 200 million years ago and "only" weighed about four or five tons. (Tantalizingly, early Jurassic Africa was also home to the famous prosauropod Massospondylus.)

20 Mar 2012
Published in Blog

If you've gotten this far down the list, you may not be surprised to learn that the ultimate ancestor of dinosaurs, crocodiles and monitor lizards was the small, inoffensive Hylonomus ("forest dweller"), which lived in North America during the late Carboniferous period. The largest reptile of its time, by definition, Hylonomus weighed about a pound, and probably subsisted entirely on insects (which had only recently evolved themselves). By the way, some paleontologists claim that Westlothiana was the first reptile, but this creature was probably an amphibian instead.

19 Mar 2012
Published in Blog

Of all the "firsts" on this list, Pakicetus may well be the most counterintuitive. This ultimate whale ancestor, which lived about 50 million years ago, looked like a cross between a dog and a weasel, and walked on four legs just like any other respectable terrestrial mammal. Ironically, the ears of Pakicetus weren't especially well adapted to hearing underwater, so this 50-pound furball probably spent more time on dry land than in lakes or rivers. Pakicetus is also notable as one of the few prehistoric animals ever to be discovered in Pakistan.

Page 4 of 8

First Bird

First Bird
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Unexplained artifacts

unexplained artifacts
The 10 most amazing unexplained artifacts


Timeline: Human Evolution

Biggest Dinosaurs

The 10 Biggest Dinosaurs


Fossil Formation: How Do Fossils Form?

Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...