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Microscopic, single-celled organisms called foraminifera have a fossil record that extends from today to more than 500 million years ago. Although each foram is just a single cell, they build complex shells around themselves...
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Jorge and I packed up the night we arrived in Panama with Aaron O'Dea and his...
How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from the...
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Monodontids, the group of whales that includes the belugas and narwhals...

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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 , unnamed protocetid, Ocucajea...
How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from...
This well-preserved fossil is the only intact partial skull ever found of a...

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When the cod fishery collapsed in Newfoundland in the early 1990s, the hopes of the local fish harvesters collapsed with it...
After a few long days of hard work on the island, we were finally able to excavate and remove , not just one, but two skeletons of an early "toothed" baleen whale from the rocks near the Carmanah...
Dr. Karen Bice studies the foraminifera in ocean sediment to better understand climate change. More about scientists studying world climate change can be found in our Climate Change featured story .
When paleontologists, like the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's own Nick Pyenson , curator of marine mammal fossils, dig up fossils in the field, they can't just toss them in their...
These are fossil remains of archaeocetes, ancient whales, from the Paracas Formation of Peru's Pisco Basin . Smithsonian paleobiologist Nicholas D. Pyenson and a team of scientists discovered the...
For the last 150 years, paleontologists have debated the origins of the great white shark . Many believe that they descended from the 50-foot megalodon, also known as the megatooth shark (...
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.
When the cod fishery collapsed in Newfoundland in the early 1990s, the hopes of the local fish harvesters collapsed with it. Hundreds of Newfoundlanders moved away and businesses that depended on the...
CREDIT: Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center Basque Whalers Background Having already learned to hunt large whales in the Bay of Biscay in the 13th through 15th centuries, Basques began arriving in the...
Opabinia was a strange looking creature: it had five mushroom-like eyes that allowed it to see predators approaching from many directions.
Nick Pyenson, the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, points to the skull and skeleton of a fossil "toothed" mysticete ( baleen whale ) on the...
A reconstruction of a new fossil beluga relative, Bohaskaia monodontoides , described by Smithsonian scientists, is in the foreground. Its living relatives, the beluga and narwhal, are illustrated...
The Ottoia prolifica has proven that cannibalism did exist in the Cambrian period since there have been portions of one Ottoia prolifica found in another specimen’s gut.
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...
The peaceful Archaeocyatha lived during the most recent part of the Cambrian period. They separated into many families and were the Earth’s first reef-building animals.
Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph...
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,...
A relative of insects, trilobites lived on the ocean floor during the Cambrian period. Some would curl up like pill bugs while others burrowed underneath sand and mud.
Smithsonian curator of fossil marine mammals Nick Pyenson and a team of collaborators are heading into Chile's Atacama Desert , shown here. They'll study a rich bonebed of fossil marine vertebrates...
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