dinosaurs Archives - State of the Planet

Paul olsen

You Asked: Dinosaurs Survived When CO2 Was Extremely High. Why Can’t Humans?

Our expert says: Although carbon dioxide levels have been much higher in the past, they generally increased slowly, giving plants and animals time to adapt. When the rate of climate change was staggeringly fast, like today, there were big problems.

by |September 20, 2022

Dinosaurs Took Over Amid Ice, Not Warmth, Says a New Study of Ancient Mass Extinction

There is new evidence that ancient high latitudes, to which early dinosaurs were largely relegated, regularly froze over, and that the creatures adapted—an apparent key to their later dominance.

by |July 1, 2022

CO2 Dip May Have Helped Dinosaurs Walk From South America to Greenland

A new study identifies a climate phenomenon that may have helped sauropodomorphs spread northward across the Pangea supercontinent.

by |February 15, 2021
dinosaur footprints and sailing stone track

Sailing Stone Track Discovered ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ in Dinosaur Fossil

The “walking rock” track suggests that a massive volcanic winter may have frozen the tropics during the dawn of the dinosaur age.

by |December 9, 2019


If you, like me, are something of a paleo-romantic,
Swooning over dinosaurs both fearsome and gigantic,
Come feast your eyes on new reports the bone-hunters have brought us:
“Fearing nothing” means its name – the mighty beast Dreadnoughtus!

by |September 5, 2014

Amid a Fossil Bonanza, Drilling Deep into Pre-Dinosaurian Rocks

On a high ridge in Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, paleontologist Paul Olsen sits on the fallen trunk of a 215-million-year-old tree, now turned to stone. The tree once loomed 70 or 80 feet above a riverine landscape teeming with fish, turtles, giant crocodilians and tiny, early species of dinosaurs.

by |April 29, 2014

Photo Essay: Unearthing the Lost World Below a Petrified Forest

In Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park, researchers are scouring the fossil-rich surface and drilling deep into ancient rocks to learn what happened during the late Triassic, some 201 million to 235 million years ago.

by |April 29, 2014
The dinosaur Anzu wyliei. Illustration: Mark Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Hell’s Chicken

From our great, wild west, those rusty, dusty hills,
Bones of a beast who would give a cowboy chills.
A fierce-looking crest – a mohawk made of bone!
Claws, beak, bony tail, locked within hard stone.

by |April 25, 2014

Seeking the Deadly Roots of the Dinosaurs’ Ascent

Over the past 450 million years, life on earth has undergone at least five great extinctions, when biological activity nosedived and dominant groups of creatures disappeared. The final one (so far) was 65 million years ago, when it appears that a giant meteorite brought fires, shock waves and tsunamis, then drastically altered the climate. That killed off… read more

by |August 17, 2012

Along an Ancient Coast, Clues to a Global Extinction

Wave-washed sea cliffs along the coasts of western England and Wales are home to spectacular assemblages of rocks and fossils that may hold keys to understanding a sudden global extinction 201.4 million years ago that cleared the way for the rapid evolution of dinosaurs. Paleontologist Paul Olsen and geologist Dennis Kent of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty… read more

by |August 17, 2012