Lost Worlds Resurrected: 40 Captivating Facts about Animal and Human Fossils

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1Wadi Al-Hitan

Wadi Al-Hitan

Wadi Al-Hitan a.k.a. Whale Valley, which is located in the western desert of Egypt contains the fossilized remains of whales that show their evolution from life as a land-based animal to becoming an ocean-going mammal.

2. Homo erectus stood at about 1.79 meters (5'10"). Only 17% of modern human men are taller. Their fossils were the oldest known early humans to have possessed modern human-like body proportions and they are the longest-lived human species, having lived around 9 times as long as our own species, Homo Sapiens, has existed.

3. The most expensive fossil ever sold was Sue the T-Rex. It is a 40-foot 80% complete specimen which was discovered in South Dakota in 1990. She was sold at an auction to Chicago’s Field Museum for $7.6 million.

4. In June 2013, a fossil analysis discovered a large lizard in Myanmar. The extinct reptile was given the moniker Barbaturex morrisoni in honor of Rock Legend Jim Morrison. “This is a king lizard, and he was the lizard king, so it just fit,” said Jason Head, a paleontologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

5. In 1972, in York, English archaeologists discovered the largest piece of fossilized human feces ever found. The dung measured 7 inches long and 2 inches wide and was created by a Viking in the 9th century whose diet consisted of meat and bread and was riddled with intestinal worms.

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6Belemnotheutis cephalopods

Belemnotheutis cephalopods

In 2008, fossilized ink sacs we recovered from preserved remains of Belemnotheutis cephalopods. Mixed with ammonia solution, the team was able to return the ink to its liquid form and used the approximately 150 million-year-old ink to draw a replica of the original illustration of Belemnotheutis.

7. In 1940s, a Californian night school teacher discovered fossils in a local quarry and formed a group of students whom he taught how to uncover them. One of their discoveries included an Antelope with four antlers.

8. The largest known fossil spider is only about half the size of its modern relatives. This means that the biggest spiders that exist today might be the biggest spiders that have ever existed.

9. The Bonn-Oberkassel dog is the oldest undisputed dog fossil, which is over 14000 years old. Pathology of the remains indicates the dog was ill and would not have been able to live without intensive human care.

10. In Antarctica, scientists recently found fossil fragments of 13 trees that are over 260 million years old, meaning that this forest was growing at the end of the Permian Period, before the first dinosaurs. At that time, Antarctica was still at the South pole.

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11Daddy Longlegs

Daddy Longlegs

In 2016, a 99-million-year old Daddy Longlegs was found fossilized inside amber sporting a penis that grew to nearly half of his body length when it was erect.

12. Dreadnoughtus is one of the largest dinosaurs that ever existed. Its only fossil to have been found was of an individual who was 85 feet/26 meters long, but the specimen is not even of a full-grown adult and it might have grown even larger had it not died.

13. Numerous fossil bones indicate some populations of Homo heidelbergensis were "giants" routinely over 2.13 meters (7 feet) tall and inhabited South Africa between 500,000 and 300,000 years ago.

14. Six fossilized specimens of the semiaquatic Dinosaur Spinosaurus were discovered with two species identified (Spinosaurus aegyptiacus and Spinosaurus maroccanus). One specimen was destroyed during the 1944 Bombing of Munich, but detailed notes remain. Spinosaurus is one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs.

15. The ‘first recorded murder victim’ was found from a 430,000 year old hominin fossil record. This is the earliest clear case of deliberate, lethal interpersonal aggression, demonstrating that this is an ancient human behavior.

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16Death pose

Death pose

It's a mystery why so many birds and dinosaur fossils exhibit a 'death pose' - the characteristic posture consisting of head thrown back, tail extended, and mouth wide open.

17. Scientists have identified a 20-foot tall fossil in Saudi Arabia as a giant mushroom that became extinct more than 350 million years ago. It was likely the largest organism in the world at the time.

18. Paleontologists have found fossils of “Machimosaurus rex,” a prehistoric crocodile that would have been the size of a bus, at 30 feet long and weighing 3 tons. With a skull over 5 feet long, it would have been the world’s largest sea-dwelling crocodile.

19. Dueling dinosaur fossils that shows a Triceratops and juvenile T-Rex battling to death hasn’t been available to paleontologists for 13 years after its discovery because of a legal battle between the landowners and the excavation team.

20. A fossil rhinoceros skull was found in a gravel pit in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 1335, and was thought to belong to a dragon. In 1590, the fossil skull was used to model a dragon statue which has been called the world's first paleontological reconstruction.



A mysterious fossil animal from Petrified Forest National Park called Kraterokheriodon, known only from a single tooth, is so strange that it is impossible to classify what kind of animal it came from.

22. There is a species of dinosaur called the "Irritator". The paleontologists who named it were frustrated because illegal fossil dealers had badly damaged its skull.

23. The oldest dingo fossils in Australia are about 4,000 years old, so dingoes’ ancestors must have reached Australia by boat. Whole-genome studies consistently place dingoes between wolves and wolflike dog breeds.

24. Helicoprion is a genus of extinct sharks whose fossil specimens reveal spirally arranged clusters of the individuals' teeth called "tooth whorls" that resemble our modern circular saw blades. The shark's blade, connected to cylindrical muscle tissue, would shred prey into small, bite-sized pieces.

25. A broken humerus of a giant fossil sea turtle (Atlantochelys mortoni) was found in New Jersey in 1849. In 2012, another broken humerus was discovered, which was found out to be the other half of the exact same bone found 163 years prior.

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