Blogs & Videos: Marine Animals

Eight of the Most Nightmarish Prehistoric Animals

There's been life on earth for about four billion years, and a lot of it has been freaking terrifying. Great job, evolution, we’ll all be having bad dreams tonight. 1. Basilosaurus basilosaurus.png © The Field Museum, GEO86500_166d, Photographer Karen Carr, artist.

Illustration of a black squid with red eyes

Inside the World of the Elusive Vampire Squid

Vampire squids live in a world totally alien to us, and almost qualify as alien themselves. They spend most of their lives floating in the ocean’s deep, dark, midwater depths that don’t have much oxygen. A vampire squid brought onboard a ship by a trawl is black with a huge pointed beak—an infernal appearance if there ever was one. Despite their threatening appearance, studies of this ancient group (we think they had their heyday during the time of the dinosaurs) have improved our knowledge of cephalopod evolution.

Four Fossil Sharks That Are Cooler Than Megalodon

Megalodon is the T. rex of the prehistoric shark world—it might have looked like a Great White, only way, way bigger, and it’s everybody’s favorite. It’s had its moment in the sun, even starring in a fake Shark Week documentary saying that it’d been found in modern waters (don’t worry—megalodon has been extinct for millions of years). But The Field Museum is home to some really bizarre sharks that lived millions of years before dinosaurs were even a twinkle in the universe’s eye.

A fossil of a Sclerocormus parviceps, a sea-dwelling reptile, shown with a ruler to show scale.

Strange sea-dwelling reptile fossil hints at rapid evolution after mass extinction

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, life on earth was in a tail-spin—climate change, volcanic eruptions, and rising sea levels contributed to a mass extinction that makes the death of the dinosaurs look like child’s play. Marine life got hit hardest—96% of all marine species went extinct. For a long time, scientists believed that the early marine reptiles that came about after the mass extinction evolved slowly, but the recent discovery of a strange new fossil brings that view into question.

North Carolina Zoo polar bear habitat with fake rocks and painted lichens

Attention to lichen detail in the polar bear habitat

One of the best zoos Collections Manager Robert Lücking has ever visited is the North Carolina Zoo, with its vast area allowing much space for its animals. Also, the attention to detail is quite amazing. Many dioramas include rock features made out of various materials including concrete, specifically designed to meet the animals' needs. What is astonishing, however, that the designers and builders even took care to mimic lichens growing on these fake rocks, and even on close-up these look so real that one has to make sure they are not just paint.

2010 REU Intern Emily Rudick

Comparative Gill and Labial Palp Morphology (Mollusca: Bivalvia)

EMILY LAUREN RUDICK Sophomore Biology major at Temple University, College of Science and Technology REU Mentors: Dr. Rüdiger Bieler (Curator, Zoology, Invertebrates) and Dr. Ana Glavinic (Postdoctoral Fellow, Zoology, Invertebrates) Symposium Presentation Title: Comparative Gill and Labial Palp Morphology (Mollusca: Bivalvia)

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