News from several fronts on fossils today.
First, there’s a great skeleton of a pre-whale about to give birth, fossilized with the fetus’s head facing out, which means the animal probably gave birth on land, even though the body is blatantly aquatic. Maiacetus must have been clumsy on land, but a great find. This was found in Pakistan, and is published in the Open Science journal PLOS.
Second, the remains of a 42-foot long snake dating from 60 million years ago, which would have weighed around 2500 pounds. This is the largest snake to ever be discovered; the titanoboa could swallow a cow. The snake was found in Colombia, the oldest rain forest on the planet.
Finally, sponges left fossil evidence as far back as 635 million years ago. This is 100 million years prior to the so-called Cambrian Explosion (an explosion that took tens of millions of years), and is the oldest fossil evidence so far. The fossils were found in Oman.
These last two stories are from the Feb 5 issue of Nature, a really expensive journal for professional working scientists. Wish I could afford the subscription some days.