Melanin is a pigment that is found across the animal kingdom. Melanosomes, the organelles that contain melanin, have been found preserved in fossil feathers and melanosome shape has been used to infer the original colors of birds and dinosaurs. Today we’re talking to Caitlin Colleary whose paper - on her Masters research at the University of Bristol - delves into detail regarding the structural and chemical preservation of melanin and describes the color of a fossil mammal for the first time.

Direct download: Ep52.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:26pm UTC

63rd Symposium of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy

The Symposium of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Comparative Anatomy (SVPCA) annual conference was held at the University of Southampton National Oceanography Centre at the beginning of September. This is the first year we've covered this event, and covered a wide range of topics in vertebrate palaeontology. We spoke to several people, which you can listen to here, including information on Romanian and Hungarian fossils, ceratopsian dinosaurs, ankylosaur histology, sesamoid bones, and more.

Direct download: SVPCA.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm UTC

Eurypterids, or ‘sea-scorpions’ are an extinct group of chelicerates: the group containing the terrestrial arachnids (such as spiders and scorpions) and the aquatic ‘merostomes’ (represented today solely by the horseshoe crabs). They bear a gross-morphological resemblance to scorpions (hence the informal name) but, in being aquatic, may have shared more in common with horseshoe crabs. They inhabited the waters of the Paleozoic Era and were typically scavengers or predators. Most eurypterids were quite small and unremarkable, but some genera, such as Pterygotus and Jaekelopterus grew to incredible sizes; the latter reached an estimated 2.5m (8’ 2”) and is still the world’s largest-known arthropod.

Described today in BMC- Evolutionary Biology is the oldest-yet-described eurypterid Pentecopterus decorahensis and we've got lead author Dr James Lamsdell, Yale University, to introduce us to the eurypterids and to discuss the significance of this new genus.

Direct download: Ep51.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am UTC