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May 22 2013

Separating the recent from the ancient past


It is not uncommon to come across claims of fossils being found in layers where we would not expect them to be, with combinations of animals from different geological eras coming together. A foundation of palaeontology is of course that most groups of organisms tend to come and go they wax and wane and eventually most (or all) members of a group will become extinct. Thus while mammals lived alongside non-avian dinosaurs, it's only when the latter became extinct that they really expanded and dominated. So we would not expect to find, for example, the skull of an ungulate alongside bits of non-avian dinosaur bones.

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