Hans-Dieter Sues

Big! The Life of Sauropod Dinosaurs

The last four decades have witnessed a revolution in the study of dinosaurs. Scientists no longer examine just the structure of the skeletons and the relationships of these fascinating animals, but have started probing issues of their biology. How did ...

An Earful of Jawbones

The middle ear of mammals contains a chain of three tiny bones (auditory ossicles), the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes). This chain transmits and amplifies sound vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear. The eardrum (tympanic membrane) ...

Exploring the Realm of Senses in Dinosaurs and Their Relatives

In recent decades paleontologists have been able to document in ever-greater detail the evolution of birds from small predatory dinosaurs. After establishing the broader outlines of this transition, researchers are now focusing on specific adaptations. It is widely believed that ...

Largest Land-Dwelling “Bug” of All Time

The giant extinct invertebrate Arthropleura resembled some modern millipedes, but could grow to be more than one-and-a-half feet wide, and may sometimes have been more than six feet long. Reconstruction of the giant millipede Arthropleura from the Pennsylvanian and earliest ...

Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth

A new study of venomous reptile fossils sheds light on the evolution of snake fangs. By Hans-Dieter Sues Venom is a highly effective means to subdue and kill prey before eating it, as well as a great defense against predators. ...

The Oldest Animal Fossils?

By Hans-Dieter Sues Charles Darwin noted that the oldest fossils known in his day already represented quite complex life forms such as trilobites, an immensely diverse group of extinct marine arthropods most closely related to horseshoe crabs, spiders, and their ...

Giant birds with false teeth

By Hans-Dieter Sues The oldest known birds, classified in the genus Archaeopteryx, lived near the end of the Jurassic Period (145.5 to 150.8 million years ago).  Although Archaeopteryx has a fully developed plumage its skeleton still retains many features of its ...

A “stocky dragon” from Transylvania

Ancestors of dinosaurs and other animals from the Haţeg Basin in Transylvania may have arrived from what was once a continent of Asiamerica by “island hopping,” suggests a fossil discovery published today. By Hans-Dieter Sues Islands are wonderful natural ...

A new look at old terror birds

By Hans-Dieter Sues About 60 million years ago, a group of extinct ground-dwelling birds of often spectacular size and with proportionately enormous heads, the Phorusrhacidae, first appeared in South America, an island continent until about three million years ago. They are ...

Rise of dinosaurs: Competition or just luck?

By Hans-Dieter Sues A lively debate continues regarding the cause(s) of the extinction of dinosaurs (other than their descendants, birds), along with many other organisms, at the end of the Cretaceous Period some 65 million years ago. While this subject ...

The “American Lion” is not a lion

By Hans-Dieter Sues Among the great mammalian predators from the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 million to 10,000 years ago) of North America, an enormous cat stands out. Only the giant bear Arctodus simus (discussed in a previous blog) exceeded it in size. No, ...

Life will find a way

By Hans-Dieter Sues In the movie The Lost World (1997), the eccentric chaos theoretician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) remarked on the all-too-soon apparent instability of the “Jurassic Park” world: “Life will find a way.” It always does. Some animals and ...

Weird wonders at the dawn of animal life

By Hans-Dieter Sues Shortly after World War II, an Australian geologist named Reginald Sprigg discovered peculiar impressions on slabs of ancient quartzite in the Ediacara (pronounced “Ee-dee-acra”) Hills of South Australia. These finds came from a level well below the ...

A remarkable new type of early bird from China

By Hans-Dieter Sues In recent years, discoveries of a spectacular array of Jurassic and Early Cretaceous “missing links,” mostly from China, have allowed scientists to map the evolutionary transition from small predatory dinosaurs to birds in astonishing detail. The ancient ...