Author Archives: Guypaquin

How Baleen Evolved in Whales

A new study (that included Nicholas Pyenson from the Smithsonian and an Affiliate Curator Burke Museum) looked at the origin of baleen and how modern toothless baleen whales evolved from early toothed forms without baleen.  Baleen filter plates in whale jaws are unique among mammals, but are made of keratin similar to horns and hoofs.  The researchers reviewed the fossil evidence and looked at four possible evolutionary scenarios in which whales had both teeth and baleen at the same time or lost their teeth before they evolved baleen.  Other studies have suggested that suction feeding by toothed ancestors may have led to the development of baleen. The new study proposes that a toothless suction feeding stage may have come before baleen developed. Unfortunately, the embryonic development of tooth buds and baleen in modern whales is still not well understood.

Carlos Mauricio Peredo, Nicholas D. Pyenson and Alexandra T. Boersma (2017) Decoupling Tooth Loss from the Evolution of Baleen in Whales. Frontiers of Marine Science  4: Article 67

Major Reclassification of Dinosaurs Proposed

A team of researchers in Britain did a new analysis of hundreds of dinosaur skeletons and  have concluded that the current classification of dinosaurs into two major groups called the Saurischia (“lizard-hipped”) and Ornithischia (“bird-hipped”), first proposed in 1888, is not correct.  Read More →

Huge Skull from Alaska Supports Legends of Ancient Giant Polar Bear

An extremely large bear skull (dated to about 1,300 years ago) found in 2014 on a beach in Alaska could belong to a giant type of polar bear described in legends by Arctic people as distinct from and bigger than modern polar bears.

New Early Jurassic Marine Fossil Lagerstätte Found in Alberta

Paleontologists use the German term Lagerstätte [storage place] for fossil sites with exceptional preservation and abundant fossils. Such deposits are rare worldwide. Stonerose in Washington state is considered an example of a Lagerstätte for plant fossils.  Now a new Lagerstätte for marine animals (invertebrates and vertebrates) has been found at Ya Ha Tinda in Alberta, Canada, and dates from the same time period as similar marine fossil sites in Italy, Germany, and  Great Britain. The special preservation (including soft tissues) may be the result of low oxygen levels in the water at the time, preventing decay before the animals were buried in sediment.

Rowan C. Martindale, Theodore R. Them II, Benjamin C. Gill, Selva M. Marroquín, and Andrew H. Knoll (2017) A new Early Jurassic (ca. 183 Ma) fossil Lagerstätte from Ya Ha Tinda, Alberta, Canada. Geology 45:. 255-258, doi:10.1130/G38808.1

New Fossil Crabs From British Columbia and Oregon

Homolid crabs (known as “porter crabs” or “carrier crabs” ) are long-legged, deep water crabs that get their common name from carrying sponges, corals, and even urchins on the back of their carapace using a special pair of legs, a behavior thought to be a defense or camouflage against predators.  Their fossils have been rare from the West Coast.  A new paper names describes  a new genus of homolid crab (Cretalamoha) from the Pender Formation on Vancouver Island in British Columbia and a new species (Paromola roseburgensis) from the early Eocene Roseburg Formation in Oregon.  Another fossil homolid crab named Homola vancouverensis was found in the Eocene Hoko River Formation of Washington State and described in 2001.


Torrey Nyborg and Alessandro Garassino (2017) New Occurrences of Fossil Homolidae from the Eastern Pacific. Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana 69(1): 135 ‒ 148

Evidence Claimed of Humans in Yukon in Canada as Early as 24,000 Years Ago

The DNA evidence from Kennewick Man and from other even more ancient human remains adds support to a theory that a genetically distinct human population developed in the Bering Strait region on an exposed land area called Beringia that connected Siberia and Alaska when sea levels where lower during the Ice Ages. Read More →

Kennewick Man Reburied by Local Northwest Tribes

On February 17, 2017, members of Northwest tribes came to the Burke Museum and took the remains of Kennewick Man, which had been stored at the museum since 1998. The next day (February 18), the tribal members reburied the “Ancient One,” as he was called, in a ceremony at an undisclosed spot on the Columbia Plateau.  This brings a formal end to a long legal and cultural dispute that brought scientists, the federal government, and tribal peoples into conflict over the 9,000-year-old human remains found along the Columbia River in 1996. Read More →

Paleontological Articles from Washington Geology Magazine

Listed below are links to articles covering topics of paleontological interest regarding the Pacific Northwest.  These articles have been reproduced for your convenience with permission from Washington Geology magazine.

Eocene Flora and Fauna Unearthed at
Joseph, Nancy L.
The Blue lake Rhinoceros

vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 4-8
Kaler, Keith L.
Current Research on Eocene Conifers at
Republic, Washington

vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 20-23
Wehr, Wesley C. and Schorn, Howard

Insects of the Klondike Mountain
Formation, Republic, Washington

vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 15-19
Lewis, Standley E.
Fossil Mayflies from Republic,

vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 35-37
Lewis, Standley E. and  Wehr,
Wesley C.
The Eocene Orchards and Gardens of
Republic, Washington

vol. 22, no. 3, September 1994, pp. 27-34
Wehr, Wesley C. and  Hopkins,
Donald Q.
Palm Fossils from Northwest Washington

vol. 23, no. 2, June 1995, pp. 21-26
Mustoe, George E. and
Gannaway, Wes L.

Early Tertiary Flowers, Fruits
and Seeds of Washington and Adjacent Areas

vol. 23, no. 3, September 1995, pp. 3-16
Wehr, Wesley C.

Implications of Middle Eocene
Feathers and Crayfish from Republic, Washington

vol. 23, no. 4, December 1995, pp. 6-10
Wehr, Wesley C. and
Barksdale, Lisa L.
Republic Leaf Deposits and Eocene

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, p. 19
Burnham, Robyn J.

The Presence of Fagaceae (Oak Family)
in Sediments of the Klondike Mountain Formation (Middle Eocene), Republic

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, pp. 20-21
Gandolfo, Maria

The Conifer Flora from the Eocene
Uplands at Republic, Washington

vol. 24, no. 2, December 1996, pp. 22-24
Schorn, Howard E.  and Wehr,
Wesley C.

Paleobotanical Significance of
Eocene Flowers, Fruits, and Seeds from Republic, Washington

vol. 24, no. 2, December 1996, pp. 25-27
Wehr, Wesley C.  and
Manchester, Steven R.

Pollen and Spores Characteristics
of Eocene Sediments of Republic, Washington

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, p. 28
Leopold, Estella B., Updegrave,
Cindy A.  and  Maier, Katie

A Checklist of Fossil Insects from
Republic, Washington

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, p. 29
Wehr, Wesley C.  and
Barksdale, Lisa L.

The Eocene Fishes of Republic,

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, pp. 30-31
Wilson, Mark V. H.

The Significance of the Princeton
Chert Permineralized Flora to the Middle Eocene Upland Biota of the Okanogan

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, pp. 32-36
Pigg, Kathleen B.  and
Stockey, Ruth A

Volcanic Arcs and Vegetation

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, pp. 37-39
Myers, Jeffery A.

The Republic Highlands

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, p. 40
Wing, Scott L.  and
DiMichele, William A.

The Role of Republic Flora in
Documenting the Floristic Evolution of the Northern Hemisphere

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, pp. 41-42
Johnson, Kirk R.

A Brief history of the
Stonerose Interpretive Center

vol. 24, no. 2, June 1996, pp. 43-44
Perry, Madilane  and  Barksdale,

Marine Vertebrate Paleontology
on the Olympic Peninsula

vol. 24, no. 3, September 1996, pp. 17-25
Barnes, Lawrence G.  and
Goedert, James L.
Paleogeography and
Paleontology of the Early Tertiary Chuckanut Formation, Northwest Washington

vol. 25, no. 3, September 1997, pp. 3-18
Mustoe, George E. and
Gannaway, Wesley L.

Museum Specialists Visit Republic’s
Fossil Site

vol. 25, no. 4, December 1997, pp. 22-24

Eocene Megafossils From the
Needles-Gray Wolf Lithic Assemblage of the Eastern “Core Rocks”, Olympic
Peninsula, Washington

vol. 25, no. 4, December 1997, pp. 25-29
Squires, Richard L.  and
Goedert, James L.

First Record of Cycad Leaves from
the Eocene Republic Flora

vol. 25, no. 4, December 1997, p. 37
Hopkins, Dennis J. , Jr.  and
Johnson, Kirk R.
Marine Fauna of the Middle
Eocene Tukwila Formation, King County

vol. 26, no. 1, April 1998, pp. 13-19
Nesbitt, Elizabeth A.

The Sloth, the President, and the Airport
vol. 26, no. 1, April 1998, pp. 40-42
McDonald, H. Gregory

Early Miocene Trace Fossils
from Southwest Washington

vol. 26, no. 2/3, September 1998, pp. 48-58
Kaler, Keith L.

Notes on the new Washington State
Mammuthus columbi

vol. 26, no. 2/3, September 1998, pp. 68-69
Barton, Bax R.
Some Notable Finds of
Columbian Mammoths from Washington State

vol. 27, no. 2/3/4, December 1999, pp. 23-27
Barton, Bax R.
Washington’s Fossil Forests

vol. 29, no. 1/2, September 2001, pp. 10-20
Mustoe, George E.

On the Trail of Washington

vol. 29, no. 1/2, September 2001, pp. 21-27
Girouard, Samuel P.

Another Whale of a Tale

vol. 29, no. 1/2, September 2001, pp. 28-29
Robles, Bryan

A New Look at an Old Landslide

vol. 29, no. 1/2, September 2001, pp. 35-38
Hill. Richard L.