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Sirenians , or seacows, are a group of marine mammals that include manatees and dugongs . Currently, only a single species of seacow is found anywhere in the world. However, the fossil record of...
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One of the ocean's tiniest organisms often does the most harm. Microscopic...
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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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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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When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct...
Ocean Overtime Timeline.
Rudist clams are mollusks that went extinct about 65 million years ago. They were the reef builders of the Cretaceous Period, the heyday of the dinosaurs. Today corals have taken over the role...
Jorge and I packed up the night we arrived in Panama with Aaron O'Dea and his team from STRI . The road we took in two field vehicles mostly followed the Panama Canal heading northwards; we had to...
The whales that we see in today's world can broadly be split into two groups: those with teeth (odontocetes), and those that have baleen (mysticetes) instead of teeth. These two groups share a common...
Earth’s first animals had soft bodies. This illustration shows a community of soft-bodied Ediacaran (edi-A-karan) animals. Some species resemble living ocean creatures. Others are unlike any known...
This illustration shows one old idea of what the ancient shark Helicoprion might have looked like. There once was room for many ideas—some more plausible than others—because the only fossils of the...
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...
Today, filter feeders like clams, sponges, krill, baleen whales, fishes, and many others fill the ocean, spending their days filtering and eating tiny particles from the water. But when did the first...
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...
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi ,...
The evolution of whales represents one of the great stories in macroevolution. It's a narrative that has mostly benefitted from an extraordinary series of fossils recovered from rocks around the...
These deep-sea sediment cores were drilled from beneath the seafloor, and hold information about millions of years of ocean and atmospheric chemistry. As dirt, dead organisms, and other particles...
These "elevator" rudists, an ancient bivalve, used one long heavy valve to anchor themselves in the sediment. They used their tentacles (shown here in pink) to filter food from the sea water. And...
When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct creatures swam the ocean. Found all over the world, these fossils can be read...
Lenticulina secans -- this foram lives on the seafloor. This specimen was collected from ocean sediments in southeast Tanzania. It comes from a time over 92 million years ago when both the polar...
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...
The basic body plans of all modern animals were set during the Cambrian Period, 542 - 488 million years ago. Your friends, family, and pet turtle may not look much like the creatures here. But we and...
Opabinia was a strange looking creature: it had five mushroom-like eyes that allowed it to see predators approaching from many directions.
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