Palaeo After Dark
The gang discusses two papers that show examples of exceptional preservation. The first paper looks at melanosome patterns in pterosaur barbules, and the second paper looks at a pathway for exceptional preservation in fossil spiders. Meanwhile, Curt (and his audio apparently) recover from COVID, James shares a story about renting, and Amanda tries to pronounce French.
Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):
Our friends talk about two papers that look at animal parts that have held up really well for a long time. The first paper looks at soft things on the skin of angry flying animals that are not the same as flying animals that often can make happy sounds but are old brothers and sisters. The soft things on the skin of this animal have small things that make the soft things either light or dark. These small things look different from the other small things on the skin. We find this in big angry animals which are more close to the flying animals that make happy sounds. This might mean that the way these small things are put together on the animal might have appeared a lot more in the past than we thought.
The second paper looks at small things with many legs that are usually really hard to find in rocks. However, we start seeing a lot more of them at a point. The ones that we do find look weird, and so this paper looked into how these small things that usually don't hold up in rocks managed to stay together in the rocks. They find that these small things with many legs fell into water that had a lot of other even smaller things made up of one part. These really small animals push out stuff that makes it easier for these really small animals to live there. This stuff changed the bodies of the small animals with many legs into something that wouldn't break down so easily. This is the first time this has been found in rocks, and it might be something that has happened more often than we know.
Olcott, Alison N., et al. "The exceptional preservation of Aix-en-Provence spider fossils could have been facilitated by diatoms." Communications Earth & Environment 3.1 (2022): 1-10.
Cincotta, Aude, et al. "Pterosaur melanosomes support signalling functions for early feathers." Nature (2022): 1-5.
Direct download: Podcast_236_-_Paint_By_Melanosome.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

The gang discusses two papers that look at the function of the ceratopsian frill. One paper looks at forensic evidence to understand the cause of an injury, and the other paper looks for clues to the adaptive origins of the Protoceratops frill. Meanwhile, Curt ruins the Muppets, James counts our cancellations, and Amanda is being silenced… by Discord.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To head off any discussions about food science crimes committed by this podcast, we have been made aware by reviewers of an early draft of this podcast (i.e. patreon members) that a discussion on rice may have implied that glutinous rice had “gluten” in it. This is completely incorrect. Glutinous rice is just named that way because it is sticky. As an eater of many types of glutinous rice who is married to a registered dietician, your humble editor was deeply ashamed that such horrible misinformation had made it into a draft of this podcast. The ethical decision would be to remove this discussion to prevent the spread of misinformation. However, that would take work... so instead he decided not to bother. What is the context of the conversation? When in the podcast does this conversation happen? Who implied this food crime? Did this conversation actually happen at all or is the person on the patreon just pulling the editor’s leg? All of these questions would require just a modest amount of work to investigate and so they will remain forever unanswered. Was this important enough to warrant such a long note? Probably not, but your humble editor is recovering from COVID and so is filling the boredom by extending this rather minor correction into an overblown bit. If you would like to see early drafts of this podcast, go to


Up-Goer Five (Curt Edition):

Our friends talk about a group of big angry animals that everyone likes with a fun thing on their heads. Both of these papers look at different types of these animals but at the end of the day, the papers are all trying to figure out how these animals used that fun thing on their heads. The first paper looks at an animal that had a small part missing in the fun thing on its head. The paper tries to find out why this animals is missing this small part. Some people have said that the small parts could go away when the animal gets bigger, but we have already shown in another one of these shows that this does not happen. So it seems that instead this animal probably got hurt. It seems that the animal was hit with something long from the back. This is different from a lot of the ways people have said this animal would usually get hurt with the fun thing on its head.

The second paper looks at another animal from this group that is far older and tries to see if they can figure out what the animals could have used their fun things on their head. They have an idea that it could be used to get other animals to love them. In order to see if that is the case, they come up with other things they should see if this was true. They look at a lot of these animals and find that some of these things are true but other things are not. So it seems that they really could have used these fun things on their head for finding love, but they also say that it might be for other things. The point is, it seems like a pretty good case could be made that they used it for love.



Knapp, A., R. J. Knell, and D. W. E.  Hone. "Three-dimensional geometric morphometric analysis of the skull of  Protoceratops andrewsi supports a socio-sexual signalling role for the  ceratopsian frill." Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288.1944 (2021): 20202938.

D’Anastasio, Ruggero, et al. "Histological and chemical diagnosis of a combat lesion in Triceratops." Scientific reports 12.1 (2022): 1-8.

Direct download: Podcast_235_-_Not_Easy_Being_Ceratopsian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EDT