We used to think of fossils as being composed of nothing but rock and minerals, but we were wrong. Today, scientists and the science of ancient biomolecules—pigments, proteins, and DNA that once functioned in living, but now extinct, organisms—are opening a new window onto the evolution of life on Earth. Dale E. Greenwalt, a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History, is your guide to these astonishing breakthroughs.
The pterosaurs are the flying reptiles so often mistakenly called pterodactyls. Although pterosaurs’ fossils are rarer than those of their dinosaur cousins, we still have a remarkable range of them, from sparrow-sized babies to giants with wingspans of nearly 33 feet. Paleontologist David Hone dives into what we know about these fascinating flying reptiles.