Sometimes in a toy dinosaur set you’ll find Dimetrodon, the one with the massive sail on its back. But Dimetrodon doesn’t belong with the dinosaurs. In fact, it’s not even a reptile. Although misidentified, Dimetrodon ranks as one of the most recognizable of extinct animals because the form of its sail is quite memorable. But it’s the sail’s function that is the real mystery.
Recent discoveries in Montana and Idaho have uncovered a previously unknown behavior in dinosaurs: digging. These creatures, known as orodromines, had robust and muscular arms, shoulders, and hips that were well-suited to digging out burrows. Fossil remains of adults and juveniles suggest that these peculiar dinosaurs took care of their young.
A fossil whale collected by a group of undergrads from a drainage ditch two decades ago has turned out to be an important transition from archaic to modern species. This and three other newly discovered specimens of Albertocetus, an early dolphin-like species, provide important anatomical information about the earliest ancestors of the living toothed whale lineage.