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One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic algae can grow rapidly to form harmful algal blooms (sometimes called "red tides"), which create unhealthy water conditions that can kill animals...
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Evidence shows that life probably began in the ocean at least 3.5 billion years...
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Monodontids, the group of whales that includes the belugas and narwhals...
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The whales that we see in today's world can broadly be split into two groups:...

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This early whale was well suited to life at sea. But it also may have spent time on land. An ancestor of the right whale , Maiacetus lived 49-40 million years ago. It had flipper-like limbs and webbed feet, like modern seals. But...
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three...
These "elevator" rudists, an ancient bivalve, used one long heavy valve to...

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Whales swim, but their ancestors walked. Whales are mammals (like us) whose ancestors lived on land. Life probably began in...
Where ocean currents were strong, ancient rudist “recliners” lay unattached on the seabed. Notice the pink tentacles, which were used to filter feed. Learn more about ocean life throughout deep time...
This rendering shows life at the end of the Cretaceous Period, before the impact of a 6.2 mi (10 km) asteroid triggered mass extinctions on land and sea. Dinosaurs are the most famous victims of the...
Most people have never heard of the Hawaiian petrel , an endangered, crow-sized seabird that spends the majority of its life searching for food over the North Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, this bird...
Reaching almost three feet (one meter) long, Anomalocaris canadensis was enormous for this time period.
Come along as scientist Dr. Brendan Roark narrates a submersible dive to collect and study deep-sea corals. Roark studies deep-sea corals to understand the history of the ocean and past ocean...
The Haplophrentis carinatus had two oar-like appendages (called “helens”) used to stabilize the creature and help it move along the ocean bottom.
Opabinia was a strange looking creature: it had five mushroom-like eyes that allowed it to see predators approaching from many directions.
Globotruncana falsostuarti -- a foram that lived about 75 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period, from southeastern Tanzania. By measuring the chemistry in the shell, scientists can estimate...
An archaeologist arranges a deep-sea core from off the coast of Britain. These cores are long cylinders of the earth's crust, drilled up from beneath the seafloor. When the cores shown here are...
How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from the Cambrian period, more than 500 million years ago. It was found buried in Utah —an area that used to be underwater,...
What makes a top predator? Razor-sharp teeth? Speed? Strength? Size? Who is the most fearsome hunter? It depends on where and when you look.
The great predator Hurdia victoria’s prey consisted of trilobites and other smaller animals crawling on the seafloor.
Hantkenina mexicana -- a foram with elongated shell chambers that lived between 45-49 million years ago, during the Eocene Epoch. This specimen is from marine sediments that were drilled in the...
For a long time, scientists thought that some small tentacled fossils were early ancestors of jellyfish. But a new study has found that these ancient animals are actually related to an entirely...
One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic algae can grow rapidly to form harmful algal blooms (sometimes called "red tides"), which create unhealthy water conditions...
About 100 million years ago, during the heyday of the dinosaurs , reefs were built by mollusks called rudist clams . They looked very different from today's coral reefs . Discover more about the...
Long before great white sharks appeared, much larger ancestors roamed the ocean. This giant ancient shark -- the Giant Megatooth ( Carcharodon megalodon ) -- was probably big enough to eat a whale.
A life-sized model suspended over visitors at the San Diego Natural History Museum shows what an ancient shark, the Giant Megatooth ( Carcharodon megalodon ), might have looked like. More about the...
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