On the News | UK | Finding zombies, ghosts and Elvis in the fossil record @ The Guardian

On the News @ The Guardian


Finding zombies, ghosts and Elvis in the fossil record


Photograph: Andy Crawford/Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

“Now that Easter is over, we’re firmly in Halloween now right through until the end of October. So what better time to tenuously justify taking a look at some paranormal concepts in palaeontology and biology such as ghosts, zombies and, err … Elvis. Not actual ghosts, you understand, although there is much research needed into why we don’t see ghosts of graptolites and Sinotubulites more often*.

Recently there have been a number of high profile discoveries of species known better from fossil relative remains than living animals and sightings of not-so-long extinct animals, so it’s timely to take a look at some of the horror-themed terms in palaeobiology used to described species and lineages apparently out of place.

If you keep up to date with the blog posts from the Lost Worlds Revisited team, you’ll know that it’s an understatement to say that investigating the history of life through the fossil record is an interpretive science. There are biases in what gets preserved in the fossil record as well as gaps and sometimes long established ideas in the most studied groups need the dust blowing off of them.

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There’s more to palaeontology than the literal description of fossil material and that’s where the really interesting narratives around changing environment, evolution and relationships between populations, species and ecosystems paint an ever changing picture of the history of life. Occasionally, a fossil or living organism will throw a spanner in these narratives from fossils which appear where all evidence up until that point says that they shouldn’t, through to living organisms from lineages thought to have long gone extinct.” (…) READ MORE

Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)