The Turducken of Maastricht

When I gave a talk on fossils last year at the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden, my Dutch friends told me to be sure to include a mention of the Maastricht mosasaur, the most famous fossil Maastricht mosasaurus. Wikimedia in the Netherlands, even though I was actually talking about much more recent fossils such as mammoths.  …

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The Teeth of Theutobochus

In January 1613, workers at an estate in the Dauphiné, in southeastern France, unearthed a number of large bones.  They included two mandibles with some teeth, a couple of vertebrae, what seemed to be a sternum, a shoulder blade, the heel and instep of a foot, the top of a humerus, and (the prize) a …

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The Possibility of Giants

Various large bones, discovered across Europe from around 1500 onward, raised the possibility among Renaissance naturalists and intellectuals that very large humans – some five or even ten meters tall – once existed in the past.  The idea of giant ancestors already was prominent among scholars: the hugely popular works of Annius of Viterbo, particularly …

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