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After a few long days of hard work on the island, we were finally able to excavate and remove , not just one, but two skeletons of an early "toothed" baleen whale from the...
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Most people have never heard of the Hawaiian petrel , an endangered, crow-sized...
How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from the...
Like the modern nautilus, this relative of modern squid hunted from inside the...

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Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi , unnamed protocetid, Ocucajea...
These "elevator" rudists, an ancient bivalve, used one long heavy valve to...
How long have jellyfish lived in the ocean? This jellyfish fossil is from...

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Whales swim, but their ancestors walked. Whales are mammals (like us) whose ancestors lived on land. Life probably began in...
A scientific illustration of the most powerful fish of its time, Carcharodon megalodon , which swam the ocean 30 million years ago. This shark may have reached a size of 20 meters/66 feet. Meet other...
The whales that we see in today's world can broadly be split into two groups: those with teeth (odontocetes), and those that have baleen (mysticetes) instead of teeth. These two groups share a common...
This illustration shows the edge of a warm inland sea during the Cretaceous Period, heyday of the dinosaurs. Constantly shifting sediment supported new groups of organisms, including rudist clams—...
The Ottoia prolifica has proven that cannibalism did exist in the Cambrian period since there have been portions of one Ottoia prolifica found in another specimen’s gut.
About 100 million years ago , during the heyday of the dinosaurs, reefs were built by mollusks called rudist clams. Like modern clams, rudists were bivalves , with two shells (or valves) joined at a...
The basic body plans of all modern animals were set during the Cambrian Period, 542 - 488 million years ago. Your friends, family, and pet turtle may not look much like the creatures here. But we and...
Earth’s first animals had soft bodies. This illustration shows a community of soft-bodied Ediacaran (edi-A-karan) animals. Some species resemble living ocean creatures. Others are unlike any known...
400 to 1,000 year old bones from an endangered seabird, the Hawaiian petrel. Bones such as these provide a window into the lives of seabirds before and after human arrival in the open ocean...
Humans are late arrivals on Earth. For nearly 75% of Earth’s history, life consisted of single-celled microbes without a nucleus (prokaryotes). Volcanoes and erosion sculpted Earth 3.5 billion years...
Crinoids (echinoderms related to sea stars and sea urchins) dominate the Paleozoic shallow water habitat in this illustration. They evolved a variety of stalk heights, which enabled them to capture...
The great predator Hurdia victoria’s prey consisted of trilobites and other smaller animals crawling on the seafloor.
Opabinia was a strange looking creature: it had five mushroom-like eyes that allowed it to see predators approaching from many directions.
An archaeologist arranges a deep-sea core from off the coast of Britain. These cores are long cylinders of the earth's crust, drilled up from beneath the seafloor. When the cores shown here are...
Long before great white sharks appeared, much larger ancestors roamed the ocean. This giant ancient shark -- the Giant Megatooth ( Carcharodon megalodon ) -- was probably big enough to eat a whale.
When you're standing in a museum surrounded by fossils, you can almost imagine drifting through time to when long-extinct creatures swam the ocean. Found all over the world, these fossils can be read...
Lenticulina secans -- this foram lives on the seafloor. This specimen was collected from ocean sediments in southeast Tanzania. It comes from a time over 92 million years ago when both the polar...
Where ocean currents were strong, ancient rudist “recliners” lay unattached on the seabed. Notice the pink tentacles, which were used to filter feed. Learn more about ocean life throughout deep time...
About 100 million years ago, during the heyday of the dinosaurs , reefs were built by mollusks called rudist clams . They looked very different from today's coral reefs . Discover more about the...
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