The chinese beautiful feather, Sinocalliopteryx (2007)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : SaurischiaSuborder : TheropodaFamily : CompsognathidaeGenus : SinocalliopteryxSpecies : S. gigas
Early Cretaceous (124,6 Ma)
2,4 m long and 20 kg (size)
Yixian formation, China (map)
As an example of how big Sinocalliopteryx was, compared to other dino-birds of the early Cretaceous period, a fossilized specimen has been found with the remains of a raptor in its gut—proving that some feathered dinosaurs hunted and ate other feathered dinosaurs. While 7 feet long and 75 pounds may not sound very impressive, in terms of later dinosaurs, these measurements were apparently enough to put Sinocalliopteryx near the top of the Eurasian food chain. (The closest competitor of this dinosaur appears to have been another large dino-bird, Huaxiagnathus.)


Not only was Sinocalliopteryx big, but it sported big feathers, too. The remains of this theropod bear the imprints of tufts as long as four inches, as well as shorter feathers around its feet. And a new study shows that Sinocalliopteryx put its size to good use: an individual has been identified harboring the remains of no less than three fossilized specimens of Confuciusornis, a much smaller dino-bird that may actually have been capable of powered flight.

The chinese beautiful feather, Sinocalliopteryx (2007)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Saurischia
Suborder : Theropoda
Family : Compsognathidae
Genus : Sinocalliopteryx
Species : S. gigas

  • Early Cretaceous (124,6 Ma)
  • 2,4 m long and 20 kg (size)
  • Yixian formation, China (map)

As an example of how big Sinocalliopteryx was, compared to other dino-birds of the early Cretaceous period, a fossilized specimen has been found with the remains of a raptor in its gut—proving that some feathered dinosaurs hunted and ate other feathered dinosaurs. While 7 feet long and 75 pounds may not sound very impressive, in terms of later dinosaurs, these measurements were apparently enough to put Sinocalliopteryx near the top of the Eurasian food chain. (The closest competitor of this dinosaur appears to have been another large dino-bird, Huaxiagnathus.)

Not only was Sinocalliopteryx big, but it sported big feathers, too. The remains of this theropod bear the imprints of tufts as long as four inches, as well as shorter feathers around its feet. And a new study shows that Sinocalliopteryx put its size to good use: an individual has been identified harboring the remains of no less than three fossilized specimens of Confuciusornis, a much smaller dino-bird that may actually have been capable of powered flight.

The North China lizard, Huabeisaurus (2000)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : SaurischiaSuborder : SauropodomorphaFamily : EuhelopodidaeGenus : HuabeisaurusSpecies : H. allocotus
Late Cretaceous (95 - 72 Ma)
20 m long and 15 000 kg (size)
Province of Shanxi, China (map)
Paleontologists are still trying to figure out the evolutionary relationships of the numerous sauropods and titanosaurs of the later Mesozoic Era. Discovered in northern China in 2000, Huabeisaurus won’t allay any of the confusion: the paleontologists who described this dinosaur maintain that it belongs to an entirely new family of titanosaurs, while other experts note its similarity to controversial sauropods like Opisthocoelicaudia. However it winds up being classified, Huabeisaurus was clearly one of the bigger dinosaurs of late Cretaceous Asia, which probably used its extra-long neck to nibble the high leaves of trees.

The North China lizard, Huabeisaurus (2000)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Saurischia
Suborder : Sauropodomorpha
Family : Euhelopodidae
Genus : Huabeisaurus
Species : H. allocotus

  • Late Cretaceous (95 - 72 Ma)
  • 20 m long and 15 000 kg (size)
  • Province of Shanxi, China (map)

Paleontologists are still trying to figure out the evolutionary relationships of the numerous sauropods and titanosaurs of the later Mesozoic Era. Discovered in northern China in 2000, Huabeisaurus won’t allay any of the confusion: the paleontologists who described this dinosaur maintain that it belongs to an entirely new family of titanosaurs, while other experts note its similarity to controversial sauropods like Opisthocoelicaudia. However it winds up being classified, Huabeisaurus was clearly one of the bigger dinosaurs of late Cretaceous Asia, which probably used its extra-long neck to nibble the high leaves of trees.

The Fossa, Cryptoprocta ferox (1833)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : CarnivoraFamily : EupleridaeGenus : CryptoproctaSpecies : C. ferox
Vulnerable
80 cm long and 8 kg (size)
Madagascar (map)
The fossa is active during both the day and the night and is considered cathemeral; activity peaks may occur early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and late in the night. The animal generally does not reuse sleeping sites, but females with young do return to the same den. The home ranges of male fossas in Kirindy Forest are up to 26 km2 large, compared to 13 km2 for females. These ranges overlap—by about 30% according to data from the eastern forests—but females usually have separated ranges. Home ranges grow during the dry season, perhaps because less food and water is available. In general, radio-collared fossas travel between 2 and 5 kilometres per day, although in one reported case a fossa was observed moving a straight-line distance of 7 km in 16 hours. The animal’s population density appears to be low: in Kirindy Forest, where it is thought to be common, its density has been estimated at one animal per 4 km2 in 1998. Another study in the same forest between 1994 and 1996 using the mark and recapture method indicated a population density of one animal per 3.8 km2 and one adult per 5.6 km2.

Except for mothers with young and occasional observations of pairs of males, animals are usually found alone, so that the species is considered solitary. A 2009 publication, however, reported a detailed observation of cooperative hunting, wherein three male fossas hunted a 3 kg (6.6 lb) sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) for 45 minutes, and subsequently shared the prey. This behavior may be a vestige of cooperative hunting that would have been required to take down larger recently extinct lemurs.
Fossas communicate using sounds, scents, and visual signals. Vocalizations include purring, a threatening call, and a call of fear, consisting of “repeated loud, coarse inhalations and gasps of breath”. A long, high yelp may function to attract other fossas. Females mew during mating and males produce a sigh when they have found a female. Throughout the year, animals produce long-lasting scent marks on rocks, trees, and the ground using glands in the anal region and on the chest.They also communicate using face and body expression, but the significance of these signals is uncertain. The animal is aggressive only during mating, and males in particular fight boldly. After a short fight, the loser flees and is followed by the winner for a short distance. In captivity, fossas are usually not aggressive and sometimes even allow themselves to be stroked by a zookeeper, but adult males in particular may try to bite.

The Fossa, Cryptoprocta ferox (1833)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Carnivora
Family : Eupleridae
Genus : Cryptoprocta
Species : C. ferox

  • Vulnerable
  • 80 cm long and 8 kg (size)
  • Madagascar (map)

The fossa is active during both the day and the night and is considered cathemeral; activity peaks may occur early in the morning, late in the afternoon, and late in the night. The animal generally does not reuse sleeping sites, but females with young do return to the same den. The home ranges of male fossas in Kirindy Forest are up to 26 km2 large, compared to 13 km2 for females. These ranges overlap—by about 30% according to data from the eastern forests—but females usually have separated ranges. Home ranges grow during the dry season, perhaps because less food and water is available. In general, radio-collared fossas travel between 2 and 5 kilometres per day, although in one reported case a fossa was observed moving a straight-line distance of 7 km in 16 hours. The animal’s population density appears to be low: in Kirindy Forest, where it is thought to be common, its density has been estimated at one animal per 4 km2 in 1998. Another study in the same forest between 1994 and 1996 using the mark and recapture method indicated a population density of one animal per 3.8 km2 and one adult per 5.6 km2.

Except for mothers with young and occasional observations of pairs of males, animals are usually found alone, so that the species is considered solitary. A 2009 publication, however, reported a detailed observation of cooperative hunting, wherein three male fossas hunted a 3 kg (6.6 lb) sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi) for 45 minutes, and subsequently shared the prey. This behavior may be a vestige of cooperative hunting that would have been required to take down larger recently extinct lemurs.

Fossas communicate using sounds, scents, and visual signals. Vocalizations include purring, a threatening call, and a call of fear, consisting of “repeated loud, coarse inhalations and gasps of breath”. A long, high yelp may function to attract other fossas. Females mew during mating and males produce a sigh when they have found a female. Throughout the year, animals produce long-lasting scent marks on rocks, trees, and the ground using glands in the anal region and on the chest.They also communicate using face and body expression, but the significance of these signals is uncertain. The animal is aggressive only during mating, and males in particular fight boldly. After a short fight, the loser flees and is followed by the winner for a short distance. In captivity, fossas are usually not aggressive and sometimes even allow themselves to be stroked by a zookeeper, but adult males in particular may try to bite.

The wounding tooth, Troödon (1856)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : SaurischiaSuborder : TheropodaFamily : TroodontidaeGenus : TroödonSpecies : T. formosus, T. inequalis, T. asiamericanus?
Late Cretaceous (75 - 65 Ma)
2,4 m long and 50 kg (size)
Judith river formation, USA (map)
One of the last theropods to evolve and prosper before the K/T Extinction 65 million years ago, Troodon was unusually brainy by dinosaur standards: paleontologists think it may even have been as smart as small, primitive mammals like opossums (that may not sound like much of a compliment, but you have to remember that most dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era, especially the plant-eaters, were about as bright as tree stumps). Troodon doubtless owed its advanced brain to its equally advanced predatory arsenal, which included a fast, bipedal gait, stereo vision, and probably a sharp sense of smell.
A relatively slender theropod closely related to the small, feathered dino-birds of the late Cretaceous period (most notably Saurornithoides), the human-sized Troodon lacked the brawn to match its brain—which may explain why it occasionally resorted to feeding on the eggs of other dinosaurs. As to its own reproductive habits, there’s voluminous evidence that Troodon cared for its own hatchlings after birth, a behavior shared by a few known species of hadrosaurs, or duck-billed dinosaurs (the most prominent examples being Maiasaura and Hypacrosaurus).
Troodon has been the subject of an amusing bit of speculation by paleontologist Dale Russell, who wondered if this dinosaur might have evolved advanced intelligence if it had managed to survive the K/T Extinction. Russell even created a model of an eerily human-looking “reptoid” derived from the Troodon lineage—sort of a snapshot of what Troodon might have evolved into if it had managed to live to the present day.

More about Troödon

The wounding tooth, Troödon (1856)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Saurischia
Suborder : Theropoda
Family : Troodontidae
Genus : Troödon
Species : T. formosus, T. inequalis, T. asiamericanus?

  • Late Cretaceous (75 - 65 Ma)
  • 2,4 m long and 50 kg (size)
  • Judith river formation, USA (map)

One of the last theropods to evolve and prosper before the K/T Extinction 65 million years ago, Troodon was unusually brainy by dinosaur standards: paleontologists think it may even have been as smart as small, primitive mammals like opossums (that may not sound like much of a compliment, but you have to remember that most dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era, especially the plant-eaters, were about as bright as tree stumps). Troodon doubtless owed its advanced brain to its equally advanced predatory arsenal, which included a fast, bipedal gait, stereo vision, and probably a sharp sense of smell.

A relatively slender theropod closely related to the small, feathered dino-birds of the late Cretaceous period (most notably Saurornithoides), the human-sized Troodon lacked the brawn to match its brain—which may explain why it occasionally resorted to feeding on the eggs of other dinosaurs. As to its own reproductive habits, there’s voluminous evidence that Troodon cared for its own hatchlings after birth, a behavior shared by a few known species of hadrosaurs, or duck-billed dinosaurs (the most prominent examples being Maiasaura and Hypacrosaurus).

Troodon has been the subject of an amusing bit of speculation by paleontologist Dale Russell, who wondered if this dinosaur might have evolved advanced intelligence if it had managed to survive the K/T Extinction. Russell even created a model of an eerily human-looking “reptoid” derived from the Troodon lineage—sort of a snapshot of what Troodon might have evolved into if it had managed to live to the present day.

More about Troödon

The woolly Mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius (1799)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : ProboscideaFamily : ElephantidaeGenus : MammuthusSpecies : M. primigenius
Pleistocene/Early Holocene (15 000 - 4 000 years ago)
5,4 m long and 6 000 kg (size)
Eurasia (map)
The earliest known proboscideans, the clade which contains elephants, existed about 55 million years ago around the Tethys Sea. The closest known relatives of the Proboscidea are the sirenians and the hyraxes. The family Elephantidae existed six million years ago in Africa and includes the modern elephants and the mammoths. Among many now extinct clades, the mastodon is only a distant relative of the mammoths, and part of the separate Mammutidae family, which diverged 25 million years before the mammoths evolved.
Adult woolly mammoths could effectively defend themselves from predators with their tusks, trunks and size, but juveniles and weakened adults were vulnerable to pack hunters such as wolves, cave hyenas and large felines. The tusks may also have been used in intra-species fighting, such as territorial fights or fights over mates. Because of their curvature, the tusks were not suitable for stabbing, but may have been used for hitting, as indicated by injuries to some fossil shoulder blades. As in modern elephants, the sensitive and muscular trunk worked as a limb-like organ with many functions. It was used for manipulating objects, and in social interactions. The very long hairs on the tail probably compensated for the shortness of the tail, enabling its use as a flyswatter, similar to the tail on modern elephants. As in reindeer and musk oxen, the haemoglobin of the woolly mammoth was adapted to the cold, with three mutations to improve oxygen delivery around the body and prevent freezing. This feature may have helped the mammoths to live in high latitudes.


Like modern elephants, woolly mammoths were likely very social and lived in matriarchal family groups. This is supported by fossil assemblages and cave paintings showing groups. It is therefore probable that most of their other social behaviour was similar to those of modern elephants. Accumulations of modern elephant remains have been termed “elephants’ graveyards”, as these sites were erroneously thought to be where old elephants went to die. Similar accumulations of woolly mammoth bones have been found; it is thought these are the result of individuals dying near or in the rivers over thousands of years, and their bones eventually being brought together by the streams, or due to animals being mired in mud. Some accumulations are also thought to be the remains of herds that died together at the same time, perhaps due to flooding.
Trackways made by a woolly mammoth herd 11,300–11,000 years ago, have been found in the St. Mary Reservoir in Canada, showing that there were in this case almost equal numbers of adults, sub-adults and juveniles. The adults had a stride of 2 m, and the juveniles ran to keep up. The well-preserved foot of the adult male “Yukagir mammoth” shows that the soles of the feet contained many cracks that would have helped in gripping surfaces during locomotion. Like modern elephants, woolly mammoths walked on their toes and had large, fleshy pads behind the toes.
Evidence of several different bone diseases has been found in woolly mammoths. The most common of these diseases was osteoarthritis, found in 2% of specimens. One specimen from Switzerland had several fused vertebrae as a result of this condition. The “Yukagir mammoth” had suffered from spondylitis in two vertebrae, and osteomyelitis is also known from some specimens. Several specimens have healed bone fractures, showing that the animals had survived these injuries. Parasitic flies and protozoa were identified in the gut of the calf “Dima”.

The woolly Mammoth, Mammuthus primigenius (1799)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Proboscidea
Family : Elephantidae
Genus : Mammuthus
Species : M. primigenius

  • Pleistocene/Early Holocene (15 000 - 4 000 years ago)
  • 5,4 m long and 6 000 kg (size)
  • Eurasia (map)

The earliest known proboscideans, the clade which contains elephants, existed about 55 million years ago around the Tethys Sea. The closest known relatives of the Proboscidea are the sirenians and the hyraxes. The family Elephantidae existed six million years ago in Africa and includes the modern elephants and the mammoths. Among many now extinct clades, the mastodon is only a distant relative of the mammoths, and part of the separate Mammutidae family, which diverged 25 million years before the mammoths evolved.

Adult woolly mammoths could effectively defend themselves from predators with their tusks, trunks and size, but juveniles and weakened adults were vulnerable to pack hunters such as wolves, cave hyenas and large felines. The tusks may also have been used in intra-species fighting, such as territorial fights or fights over mates. Because of their curvature, the tusks were not suitable for stabbing, but may have been used for hitting, as indicated by injuries to some fossil shoulder blades. As in modern elephants, the sensitive and muscular trunk worked as a limb-like organ with many functions. It was used for manipulating objects, and in social interactions. The very long hairs on the tail probably compensated for the shortness of the tail, enabling its use as a flyswatter, similar to the tail on modern elephants. As in reindeer and musk oxen, the haemoglobin of the woolly mammoth was adapted to the cold, with three mutations to improve oxygen delivery around the body and prevent freezing. This feature may have helped the mammoths to live in high latitudes.

Like modern elephants, woolly mammoths were likely very social and lived in matriarchal family groups. This is supported by fossil assemblages and cave paintings showing groups. It is therefore probable that most of their other social behaviour was similar to those of modern elephants. Accumulations of modern elephant remains have been termed “elephants’ graveyards”, as these sites were erroneously thought to be where old elephants went to die. Similar accumulations of woolly mammoth bones have been found; it is thought these are the result of individuals dying near or in the rivers over thousands of years, and their bones eventually being brought together by the streams, or due to animals being mired in mud. Some accumulations are also thought to be the remains of herds that died together at the same time, perhaps due to flooding.

Trackways made by a woolly mammoth herd 11,300–11,000 years ago, have been found in the St. Mary Reservoir in Canada, showing that there were in this case almost equal numbers of adults, sub-adults and juveniles. The adults had a stride of 2 m, and the juveniles ran to keep up. The well-preserved foot of the adult male “Yukagir mammoth” shows that the soles of the feet contained many cracks that would have helped in gripping surfaces during locomotion. Like modern elephants, woolly mammoths walked on their toes and had large, fleshy pads behind the toes.

Evidence of several different bone diseases has been found in woolly mammoths. The most common of these diseases was osteoarthritis, found in 2% of specimens. One specimen from Switzerland had several fused vertebrae as a result of this condition. The “Yukagir mammoth” had suffered from spondylitis in two vertebrae, and osteomyelitis is also known from some specimens. Several specimens have healed bone fractures, showing that the animals had survived these injuries. Parasitic flies and protozoa were identified in the gut of the calf “Dima”.

The Excalibur lizard, Excalibosaurus (1986)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : IchthyosaurusSuborder : EurhinosauriaFamily : LeptopterygidaeGenus : ExcalibosaurusSpecies : E. costini
Early Jurassic (196,5 - 189,6 Ma)
7 m long and 1 000 kg (size)
England (map)
Like another early ichthyosaur (“fish lizard”), Eurhinosaurus, Excalibosaurus possessed an asymmetrical jaw: the upper part projected about a foot beyond the lower part, and was studded with outward-pointing teeth. Extrapolating from the modern animal which it most resembles—the swordfish—it’s likely that Excalibosaurus used its “sword” to stir up food on the ocean bottom, or to spear fish or (possibly) rival marine reptiles. By the way, the name Excalibosaurus derives from King Arthur’s mythical sword, Excalibur, which he supposedly pulled from a rock to claim his rightful place as ruler of the British Isles. Not only does the snout of this Jurassic ichthyosaur resemble a sword, but its fossils have (so far) been discovered only in England.

The Excalibur lizard, Excalibosaurus (1986)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Ichthyosaurus
Suborder : Eurhinosauria
Family : Leptopterygidae
Genus : Excalibosaurus
Species : E. costini

  • Early Jurassic (196,5 - 189,6 Ma)
  • 7 m long and 1 000 kg (size)
  • England (map)

Like another early ichthyosaur (“fish lizard”), Eurhinosaurus, Excalibosaurus possessed an asymmetrical jaw: the upper part projected about a foot beyond the lower part, and was studded with outward-pointing teeth. Extrapolating from the modern animal which it most resembles—the swordfish—it’s likely that Excalibosaurus used its “sword” to stir up food on the ocean bottom, or to spear fish or (possibly) rival marine reptiles. By the way, the name Excalibosaurus derives from King Arthur’s mythical sword, Excalibur, which he supposedly pulled from a rock to claim his rightful place as ruler of the British Isles. Not only does the snout of this Jurassic ichthyosaur resemble a sword, but its fossils have (so far) been discovered only in England.

The american Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber (1758)
Phylum : ChordataClass : AvesOrder : PhoenicopteriformesFamily : PhoenicopteridaeGenus : PhoenicopterusSpecies : P. ruber
Least concern
1,45 m high and 2,8 kg (size)
Southern North America and nothern South America (map)
The American flamingo is a homeothermic endotherm, which is an animal that basically keeps a consistent temperature that is regulated within its body. Like all flamingos, it lays a single chalky white egg on a mud mound, between May and August; incubation until hatching takes from 28 to 32 days; both parents brood the young for a period of up to 6 years when they reach sexual maturity. Their life expectancy of 40 years is one of the longest in birds.

Adult American flamingos are smaller on average than greater flamingos but are the largest flamingos in the Americas. They measure from 120 to 145 cm tall. The males weigh an average of 2.8 kg, while females average 2.2 kg. Most of its plumage is pink, giving rise to its earlier name of rosy flamingo and differentiating adults from the much paler greater flamingo. The wing coverts are red, and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink and white with the legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking.
For the most part flamingos are not all that different from other salt water wading birds. They will fast when migrating to a new habitat or the chicks may not receive food daily depending on food availability.

The american Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber (1758)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Phoenicopteriformes
Family : Phoenicopteridae
Genus : Phoenicopterus
Species : P. ruber

  • Least concern
  • 1,45 m high and 2,8 kg (size)
  • Southern North America and nothern South America (map)

The American flamingo is a homeothermic endotherm, which is an animal that basically keeps a consistent temperature that is regulated within its body. Like all flamingos, it lays a single chalky white egg on a mud mound, between May and August; incubation until hatching takes from 28 to 32 days; both parents brood the young for a period of up to 6 years when they reach sexual maturity. Their life expectancy of 40 years is one of the longest in birds.

Adult American flamingos are smaller on average than greater flamingos but are the largest flamingos in the Americas. They measure from 120 to 145 cm tall. The males weigh an average of 2.8 kg, while females average 2.2 kg. Most of its plumage is pink, giving rise to its earlier name of rosy flamingo and differentiating adults from the much paler greater flamingo. The wing coverts are red, and the primary and secondary flight feathers are black. The bill is pink and white with the legs are entirely pink. The call is a goose-like honking.

For the most part flamingos are not all that different from other salt water wading birds. They will fast when migrating to a new habitat or the chicks may not receive food daily depending on food availability.

Le long-tailed Chinchilla, Chinchilla lanigera (1829)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : RodentiaFamily : ChinchillidaeGenus : ChinchillaSpecies : C. lanigera
Critically endangered
26 cm long and 450 g (size)
Chile (map)
The long-tailed chinchilla, is one of two species of rodents from the genus Chinchilla, the other species being Chinchilla chinchilla. Wild populations of C. lanigera occur in Aucó, near Illapel, IV Región, Chile , in Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas and in La Higuera, about 100 km  north of Coquimbo Chilean chinchillas were reported from Talca , Chile, reaching north to Peru and eastward from Chilean coastal hills throughout low mountains. By the mid-19th century, Chilean chinchillas were not found south of the Choapa River.
The Chilean chinchilla is endangered, with the second-highest conservation priority among Chilean mammals.

Le long-tailed Chinchilla, Chinchilla lanigera (1829)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Rodentia
Family : Chinchillidae
Genus : Chinchilla
Species : C. lanigera

  • Critically endangered
  • 26 cm long and 450 g (size)
  • Chile (map)

The long-tailed chinchilla, is one of two species of rodents from the genus Chinchilla, the other species being Chinchilla chinchilla. Wild populations of C. lanigera occur in Aucó, near Illapel, IV Región, Chile , in Reserva Nacional Las Chinchillas and in La Higuera, about 100 km  north of Coquimbo Chilean chinchillas were reported from Talca , Chile, reaching north to Peru and eastward from Chilean coastal hills throughout low mountains. By the mid-19th century, Chilean chinchillas were not found south of the Choapa River.

The Chilean chinchilla is endangered, with the second-highest conservation priority among Chilean mammals.

The hidden dragon, Yinlong (2005)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : OrnithischiaSuborder : CeratopsiaGenus : YinlongSpecies : Y. downsi
Late Jurassic (161,2 - 155,7 Ma)
3 m long and 5 kg (size)
Province of Xinjiang, China (map)
The name Yinlong is something of an inside joke: the fossils of this dinosaur were found in the part of China where the epic movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. Yinlong’s claim to fame is that it’s the oldest ceratopsian dinosaur yet identified, a tiny, late Jurassic precursor of much bigger horned dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period like Triceratops and Centrosaurus. Tantalizingly, the fossils of Yinlong bear some resemblance to those of Heterodontosaurus, a clue that the first ceratopsians evolved from equally small ornithopods about 160 million years ago. (By the way, Yinlong was portrayed in a National Geographic special as prey for the tiny tyrannosaur Guanlong, though direct evidence for this is lacking.)

The hidden dragon, Yinlong (2005)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Ornithischia
Suborder : Ceratopsia
Genus : Yinlong
Species : Y. downsi

  • Late Jurassic (161,2 - 155,7 Ma)
  • 3 m long and 5 kg (size)
  • Province of Xinjiang, China (map)

The name Yinlong is something of an inside joke: the fossils of this dinosaur were found in the part of China where the epic movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. Yinlong’s claim to fame is that it’s the oldest ceratopsian dinosaur yet identified, a tiny, late Jurassic precursor of much bigger horned dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period like Triceratops and Centrosaurus. Tantalizingly, the fossils of Yinlong bear some resemblance to those of Heterodontosaurus, a clue that the first ceratopsians evolved from equally small ornithopods about 160 million years ago. (By the way, Yinlong was portrayed in a National Geographic special as prey for the tiny tyrannosaur Guanlong, though direct evidence for this is lacking.)

The Teilhardina (1940)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : PrimatesSuborder : HaplorhiniFamily : OmomyidaeGenus : TeilhardinaSpecies : T. crassidens, T. belgica, T. americana, T. brandti, T. demisa, T. tenuicula, T. asiatica, T. magnoliana
Early Eocene (56 - 47 Ma)
China, North America and Europe (map)
Teilhardina was an early marmoset-like primate that lived in Europe, North America and Asia during in the Early Eocene epoch, about 56-47 million years ago. The paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson is credited with naming it after the French paleontologist, Jesuit and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin.
The placement of this genus is uncertain and it is likely to be polyphyletic. Two species (T. belgica and T. asiatica) appear to be haplorrhine. The others appear to be anaptomorphine omomyids (and thus more closely related to the tarsiers than to simians) and should have a new genus erected.

The Teilhardina (1940)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Primates
Suborder : Haplorhini
Family : Omomyidae
Genus : Teilhardina
Species : T. crassidens, T. belgica, T. americana, T. brandti, T. demisa, T. tenuicula, T. asiatica, T. magnoliana

  • Early Eocene (56 - 47 Ma)
  • China, North America and Europe (map)

Teilhardina was an early marmoset-like primate that lived in Europe, North America and Asia during in the Early Eocene epoch, about 56-47 million years ago. The paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson is credited with naming it after the French paleontologist, Jesuit and philosopher Teilhard de Chardin.

The placement of this genus is uncertain and it is likely to be polyphyletic. Two species (T. belgica and T. asiatica) appear to be haplorrhine. The others appear to be anaptomorphine omomyids (and thus more closely related to the tarsiers than to simians) and should have a new genus erected.

The stone Nippon, Nipponites (1904)
Phylum : MolluscaClass : CephalopodaSubclass : AmmmonoideaOrder : AmmonitidaSuborder : AncyloceratinaSuperfamily : TurrilitaceaeFamily : NostoceratidaeGenus : NipponitesSpecies : N. mirablilis, N. bacchus, N. occidentais, N. sachaliensis
Late Cretaceous (70 Ma)
6 cm long (size)
Indo-Pacific ocean (map)
Nipponites is an extinct genus of heteromorph ammonites. The species of Nipponites (primarily N. mirabilis) are famous for the way their shells form “ox-bow” bends, resulting in some of the most bizarre shapes ever seen among ammonites.
The ecology of Nipponites, as with many other nostoceratids, is subject to much speculation.

The stone Nippon, Nipponites (1904)

Phylum : Mollusca
Class : Cephalopoda
Subclass : Ammmonoidea
Order : Ammonitida
Suborder : Ancyloceratina
Superfamily : Turrilitaceae
Family : Nostoceratidae
Genus : Nipponites
Species : N. mirablilis, N. bacchus, N. occidentais, N. sachaliensis

  • Late Cretaceous (70 Ma)
  • 6 cm long (size)
  • Indo-Pacific ocean (map)

Nipponites is an extinct genus of heteromorph ammonites. The species of Nipponites (primarily N. mirabilis) are famous for the way their shells form “ox-bow” bends, resulting in some of the most bizarre shapes ever seen among ammonites.

The ecology of Nipponites, as with many other nostoceratids, is subject to much speculation.

The small Roamer, Meiolania (1886)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : TestudinesFamily : MeiolaniidaeGenus : MeiolaniaSpecies : M. brevicollis, M. damelipi, M. platyceps, M. mackayi
Pleistocene/Recent (2 Ma - 2 000 years)
2,5 m long and 500 kg (size)
Lord Howe Island/Queensland, Australia (map)
Meiolania was one of the largest, and one of the most bizarre, prehistoric turtles in earth’s history: this slow-moving denizen of Pleistocene Australia not only sported a huge, hard shell, but its strangely armored head and spiked tail seem to have been borrowed from the ankylosaur dinosaurs that predated it by tens of millions of years. In turtle terms, Meiolania has proven difficult to classify, because as far as experts can tell it neither retracted its head into its shell (like one major type of turtle) nor swung it back and forth (like the other major type).
By the way, when its remains were first discovered, Meiolania was mistaken for a prehistoric species of monitor lizard. That’s why its Greek name, which means “little wanderer,” echoes Megalania, the giant monitor lizard that lived in Australia around the same time. Perhaps Meiolania evolved its impressive armor to avoid being eaten by its larger reptile cousin!

The small Roamer, Meiolania (1886)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Testudines
Family : Meiolaniidae
Genus : Meiolania
Species : M. brevicollis, M. damelipi, M. platyceps, M. mackayi

  • Pleistocene/Recent (2 Ma - 2 000 years)
  • 2,5 m long and 500 kg (size)
  • Lord Howe Island/Queensland, Australia (map)

Meiolania was one of the largest, and one of the most bizarre, prehistoric turtles in earth’s history: this slow-moving denizen of Pleistocene Australia not only sported a huge, hard shell, but its strangely armored head and spiked tail seem to have been borrowed from the ankylosaur dinosaurs that predated it by tens of millions of years. In turtle terms, Meiolania has proven difficult to classify, because as far as experts can tell it neither retracted its head into its shell (like one major type of turtle) nor swung it back and forth (like the other major type).

By the way, when its remains were first discovered, Meiolania was mistaken for a prehistoric species of monitor lizard. That’s why its Greek name, which means “little wanderer,” echoes Megalania, the giant monitor lizard that lived in Australia around the same time. Perhaps Meiolania evolved its impressive armor to avoid being eaten by its larger reptile cousin!


The long snouted lizard, Dolichosaurus (1850)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : SquamataSuborder : ScleroglossaFamily : DolichosauridaeGenus : DolichosaurusSpecies : D. longicollis
Late Cretaceous (90 Ma)
1,50 m long (size)
England (map)
Related to the mosasaurs,‭ ‬the exact classification of Dolichosaurus is a little uncertain with‭ ‬its exact closeness to the Mosasauridae a little uncertain.‭ ‬Dolichosaurus is noted for having‭ ‬a long thin build and is speculated to have been a weak swimmer.‭ ‬This in turn has led to past speculation that it may have been semi aquatic,‭ ‬occasionally returning to the land like the much earlier nothosaurs of the Triassic.

The long snouted lizard, Dolichosaurus (1850)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Squamata
Suborder : Scleroglossa
Family : Dolichosauridae
Genus : Dolichosaurus
Species : D. longicollis

  • Late Cretaceous (90 Ma)
  • 1,50 m long (size)
  • England (map)

Related to the mosasaurs,‭ ‬the exact classification of Dolichosaurus is a little uncertain with‭ ‬its exact closeness to the Mosasauridae a little uncertain.‭ ‬Dolichosaurus is noted for having‭ ‬a long thin build and is speculated to have been a weak swimmer.‭ ‬This in turn has led to past speculation that it may have been semi aquatic,‭ ‬occasionally returning to the land like the much earlier nothosaurs of the Triassic.


The terrible claw, Deinonychus (1969)
Phylum : ChordataClass : ReptiliaOrder : SaurischiaSuborder : TheropodaFamily : DromaeosauridaeSubfamily : VelociraptorinaeGenus : DeinonychusSpecies : D. antirrhopus
Early Cretaceous (123 - 110,2 Ma)
3,4 m long and 70 kg (size)
Cloverly and Antlers formations, North America (map)
If Deinonychus looks familiar, that’s because it was popularized in the blockbuster movie Jurassic Park under the catchier name Velociraptor (real Velociraptors were actually much smaller than the fast, sleek, man-sized predators depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie).

See 10 Facts About Deinonychus

Although it was far from the biggest dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period, Deinonychus was especially fearsome because of its speed, its presumed ability to hunt in packs (tangled Deinonychus bones have been found in close proximity to the remains of Tenontosaurus, a tasty and slow-witted ornithopod), and the enormous, sickle-shaped claws on its hind feet that it used to rip apart larger prey. We can thank the famous paleontologist John H. Ostrom, who discovered the type specimen, for much of what we currently know about Deinonychus—as well as for the idea that raptors like Deinonychus eventually evolved into modern birds.
As is the case with other raptors, the actual appearance of Deinonychus is a matter of debate: today, it’s often depicted as sporting primitive feathers, though its skin may well have been more reptilian in appearance, at least on portions of its body (as it was portrayed in Jurassic Park). As for the presumed intelligence of this dinosaur, that has been way overstated by Hollywood: there’s no way Deinonychus could have turned a doorknob, as depicted in Jurassic Park, and in fact it could easily have been outwitted by a six-year-old child.

The terrible claw, Deinonychus (1969)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Reptilia
Order : Saurischia
Suborder : Theropoda
Family : Dromaeosauridae
Subfamily : Velociraptorinae
Genus : Deinonychus
Species : D. antirrhopus

  • Early Cretaceous (123 - 110,2 Ma)
  • 3,4 m long and 70 kg (size)
  • Cloverly and Antlers formations, North America (map)

If Deinonychus looks familiar, that’s because it was popularized in the blockbuster movie Jurassic Park under the catchier name Velociraptor (real Velociraptors were actually much smaller than the fast, sleek, man-sized predators depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie).

See 10 Facts About Deinonychus

Although it was far from the biggest dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period, Deinonychus was especially fearsome because of its speed, its presumed ability to hunt in packs (tangled Deinonychus bones have been found in close proximity to the remains of Tenontosaurus, a tasty and slow-witted ornithopod), and the enormous, sickle-shaped claws on its hind feet that it used to rip apart larger prey. We can thank the famous paleontologist John H. Ostrom, who discovered the type specimen, for much of what we currently know about Deinonychus—as well as for the idea that raptors like Deinonychus eventually evolved into modern birds.

As is the case with other raptors, the actual appearance of Deinonychus is a matter of debate: today, it’s often depicted as sporting primitive feathers, though its skin may well have been more reptilian in appearance, at least on portions of its body (as it was portrayed in Jurassic Park). As for the presumed intelligence of this dinosaur, that has been way overstated by Hollywood: there’s no way Deinonychus could have turned a doorknob, as depicted in Jurassic Park, and in fact it could easily have been outwitted by a six-year-old child.

The pseudo Cat, Pseudaelurus (1850)
Phylum : ChordataClass : MammaliaOrder : CarnivoraFamily : FelidaeGenus : PseudaelurusSpecies : P. aeluroides, P. cupsidatus, P. guanghensis, P. intrepidus, P. lorteti, P. marshi, P. quadridentatus, P. romieviensis, P. skinneri, P. stouti, P. turnauensis, P. validus
Miocene (20 - 8 Ma)
1,7 m long and 16 kg (size)
Eurasia and North America (map)
Pseudaelurus, the “pseudo-cat,” occupies an important place in feline evolution: this Miocene predator is believed to have evolved from Proailurus, often considered to be the first true cat, and its descendants include both the “true” saber-toothed cats (like Smilodon) and modern cats. Pseudaelurus was also the first cat to migrate to North America from Eurasia, an event that occurred about 20 million years ago, give or take a few hundred thousand years.
Somewhat confusingly, Pseudaelurus is represented in the fossil record by no less than a dozen named species, spanning the expanse of North America and Eurasia and encompassing a wide range of sizes, from small, lynx-like cats to larger, puma-like varieties. What all these species shared in common was a long, slender body combined with relatively short, stubby legs, an indication that Pseudaelurus was good at climbing trees (either to pursue of smaller prey or to avoid being eaten itself).

The pseudo Cat, Pseudaelurus (1850)

Phylum : Chordata
Class : Mammalia
Order : Carnivora
Family : Felidae
Genus : Pseudaelurus
Species : P. aeluroides, P. cupsidatus, P. guanghensis, P. intrepidus, P. lorteti, P. marshi, P. quadridentatus, P. romieviensis, P. skinneri, P. stouti, P. turnauensis, P. validus

  • Miocene (20 - 8 Ma)
  • 1,7 m long and 16 kg (size)
  • Eurasia and North America (map)

Pseudaelurus, the “pseudo-cat,” occupies an important place in feline evolution: this Miocene predator is believed to have evolved from Proailurus, often considered to be the first true cat, and its descendants include both the “true” saber-toothed cats (like Smilodon) and modern cats. Pseudaelurus was also the first cat to migrate to North America from Eurasia, an event that occurred about 20 million years ago, give or take a few hundred thousand years.

Somewhat confusingly, Pseudaelurus is represented in the fossil record by no less than a dozen named species, spanning the expanse of North America and Eurasia and encompassing a wide range of sizes, from small, lynx-like cats to larger, puma-like varieties. What all these species shared in common was a long, slender body combined with relatively short, stubby legs, an indication that Pseudaelurus was good at climbing trees (either to pursue of smaller prey or to avoid being eaten itself).