Thursday, July 18, 2019

Austroraptor PaleoGuy's avatar By PaleoGuy

Austroraptor is a genus of dromaeosaurid dinosaur that lived about 70 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period in what is now modern Argentina. Austroraptor was a medium sized, moderately-built, ground-dwelling, bipedal carnivore, that could grow up to 5–6 m (16.4–19.7 ft) long. Its length makes Austroraptor one of the largest dromaeosaurids known, with only Achillobator, Dakotaraptor, and Utahraptor approaching or surpassing it in length. It is the largest dromaeosaur to be discovered in the Southern Hemisphere. Particularly notable about the taxon were its relatively short forearms, much shorter in proportion when compared to the majority of the members of its group.

Reconstructed Austroraptor skeleton displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.

The type specimen of Austroraptor cabazai, holotype MML-195, was recovered in the Bajo de Santa Rosa locality of the Allen Formation, in Río Negro, Argentina. The specimen was collected in 2002 by the team of Fernando Emilio Novas of the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales. It consists of a partial skeleton with skull. The fossil was prepared by Marcelo Pablo Isasi and Santiago Reuil.

In 2008, the type species Austroraptor cabazai was named and described by Fernando Emilio Novas, Diego Pol, Juan Canale, Juan Porfiri and Jorge Calvo. The genus name Austroraptor means "Southern thief", and is derived from the Latin word Auster meaning "the south wind", and the Latin word raptor meaning "thief". The specific name cabazai, was named in honor of Héctor "Tito" Cabaza, who founded the Museo Municipal de Lamarque where the specimen was partially studied.

Phil Currie and Ariana Paulina-Carabajal in 2012 referred a second specimen to Austroraptor cabazai, MML-220, found in 2008. This specimen, a partial skeleton with skull of an adult individual slightly smaller than the holotype, is also housed in the collection of the Museo Municipal de Lamarque in Argentina. It complements the holotype in several elements, mainly the lower arm, hand and foot.

Skeletal restoration showing the preserved bones of the holotype

Considered large for a dromaeosaur, Austroraptor cabazai measured about 5 metres (16.4 ft) in length from head to tail. In 2010, Gregory S. Paul estimated its length at 6 metres, its weight at 661.387 pounds or 300 kilograms. It is the largest dromaeosaur to be discovered in the Southern Hemisphere. The type specimen, labeled MML-195, consisted of a fragmentary skeleton including parts of the dinosaur's skull, the lower jaws, a few neck and torso vertebrae, some ribs, a humerus, and assorted bones from both legs. However little of the entire skeleton was found, what bones were available for analysis expressed some distinct characteristics that differentiate Austroraptor from other dromaeosaurs. A. cabazai's 80 centimeter-long skull was low and elongated, much more so than that of other dromaeosaurs. Several of its skull bones bore some resemblance to that of the smaller troodontid deinonychosaurs. The front limbs of this taxon were short for a dromaeosaur, with its humerus less than half the length of its femur. Among the Dromaeodauridae, only this genus, Tianyuraptor, Zhenyuanlong and Mahakala have similarly reduced forelimbs. The relative length of its arms has caused Austroraptor to be compared to another, more famous short-armed dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus.

Life restoration (3) to scale with other dromaeosaurs

A cladistic analysis of the specimen's anatomical features by the describers placed Austroraptor within the subfamily Unenlagiinae of the Dromaeosauridae. This assignment was based on characteristics observed in the bones of the skull, the teeth, and the geometry and formation of the specimen's vertebral elements. It was determined that Austroraptor was a close relative of the unenlagiine dromaeosaur Buitreraptor, with which it shares certain derived characteristics of the neck vertebrae.

The specimen was found in terrestrial sediments that were deposited during the Maastrichtian stage of the Cretaceous period, approximately 70 million years ago.

Austroraptor shared its paleoenvironment with early mammals, pterosaurs and the titanosaurids Saltasaurus and Rocasaurus, which may have served as prey for this dromaeosaur.

Source: /

Aquilarhinus palimentus: ‘Shovel-Billed’ Dinosaur Roamed Texas 80 Million Years Ago

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Aquilarhinus palimentus lived approximately 80 million years ago in what is now Texas. Image credit: ICRA Art.

A new genus and species of primitive hadrosaurid dinosaur — named Aquilarhinus palimentus — has been identified from fossils found in Big Bend National Park, Texas, the United States.

Aquilarhinus palimentus belongs to the Hadrosauridae (duck-billed dinosaurs), a group of plant-eating ornithopod dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period.

The fossilized remains of the dinosaur were collected in the 1980-90s from the Aguja Formation in south-western Texas.

They were analyzed by paleontologists from Texas Tech University and the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, Barcelona, Spain.

“Hadrosaurids were the most common herbivorous dinosaurs at the end of the Mesozoic Era, and all had a similar-looking snout,” the researchers said.

“The front of the jaws meet in a U-shape to support a cupped beak used for cropping plants.”

“The beak of some species is broader than in others, but there was no evidence of a significantly different shape and therefore likely also different feeding style in duckbills until Aquilarhinus palimentus was discovered.”

The lower jaws of Aquilarhinus palimentus meet in a peculiar W-shape, creating a wide, flattened scoop.

Aquilarhinus palimentus. Image credit: ICRA Art.

“This new animal is one of the more primitive hadrosaurids known and can therefore help us to understand how and why the ornamentation on their heads evolved, as well as where the group initially evolved and migrated from,” said Dr. Albert Prieto-Márquez, a paleontologist in the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont.

“Its existence adds another piece of evidence to the growing hypothesis, still up in the air, that the group began in the southeastern area of the United States.”

The study was published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.


Albert Prieto-Márquez et al. An unusual ‘shovel-billed’ dinosaur with trophic specializations from the early Campanian of Trans-Pecos Texas, and the ancestral hadrosaurian crest. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, published online July 12, 2019; doi: 10.1080/14772019.2019.1625078


Did The Velociraptors Have Feathers?

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Was velociraptor a feathered friend? Here’s one artist’s impression. Shutterstock

Have you seen the movies Jurassic Park and Jurassic World? The first one came out in 1993, when your parents were probably kids. The second one came out much later in 2015, when they were already grownups.

But in the time between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World coming out, scientists made a lot of new discoveries about dinosaurs. Our ideas about what they might have looked like changed a lot.

Back in 1993, we didn’t know which dinosaurs had feathers. But in 2007, quite a few years after the Jurassic Park movies were made, some people found a fossil Velociraptor arm bone with little bumps along its edge.

These bumps were where feathers would have grown from. This made palaeontologists (meaning dinosaur experts) think that Velociraptor had fluffy, feathery arms.

Palaeontologists then wondered if Velociraptor had feathers covering the rest of its body.

It seems most likely that Velociraptor had feathers on its whole body and not just its arms. This is an artist’s impression of Velociraptor mongoliensis.  Fred Wierum/Wikimedia, CC BY

It’s hard to find dinosaur fossils with feathers. Dinosaur bone is hard and can become fossilised, and that’s why most dinosaur fossils are bony skeletons. Skin and feathers are soft and often rot before they can turn into fossils.

But sometimes palaeontologists are lucky and can find a “feathery” fossil. Since the 1990s, we have known about fossils of dinosaurs that were “cousins” to Velociraptor that had feathers on their arms, legs, and tails. But they didn’t fly like birds do.

They might have used their feathers to keep warm, or to “talk” with other dinosaurs by waving their tails and wings to make friends or to scare their enemies away!

It seems most likely that Velociraptor had feathers on its whole body and not just its arms.

So why don’t the velociraptors in Jurassic World have feathers?

If you have seen this movies, you will know that Velociraptors in Jurassic World (the more recent movies) don’t seem to have feathers. Even though we knew by then that they had feathers, the Velociraptors in the Jurrasic World movies look smooth and leathery, like in this clip (just ask your parents’ permission before you watch it, because it is a bit scary).

So some palaeontologists were pretty annoyed when the movie Jurassic World came out in 2015 and the Velociraptors didn’t have feathers at all. A character in the film actually gives an excuse, saying that (in the story) theme park customers wouldn’t want dinosaurs with feathers.

Movies don’t have to show dinosaurs like they were in the real world, but I think it would be really good if they did.

There is a lot of wonderful information we can see from dinosaur fossils, so why shouldn’t the movies share it and show off these fluffy, feathery beasts?


Phuwiangvenator yaemniyomi: New Dinosaur Species Discovered in Northeastern Thailand

Monday, July 15, 2019

Phuwiangvenator by cisiopurple

The New Dinosaur Species is the 10th found in Thailand's Phu Wiang National Park in Khon Kaen, set to be nominated as a World Geo-park by UNESCO.

Thailand’s Department of Mineral Resources has announced the discovery of a new dinosaur species at Phu Wiang National Park, Khon Kaen province.

The discovery is the 10th dinosaur found in Thailand, at Phu Wiang National Park in Khon Kaen, set to be nominated as a World Geo-park by UNESCO.

The dinosaur called Phuwiangvenator yaemniyomi, the so called hunter of Phu Wiang mountain.

The medium-sized theropods dinosaur is the latest discovery of a new dinosaur type, and is the largest dinosaur fossil ever found in Thailand.

The fossil was found at 9B excavation site at Phu Wiang National Park, Khon Kaen province.


The Department of Mineral Resources Director General, Sommai Techawan said today the dinosaur has a 5-6 meter body length, and belongs in the Megaraptora period.

It is expected to share characteristics with dinosaurs found in Japan, such as long front and rear legs indicating fast running, along with big claws, and a narrower skeleton compared to other carnivore dinosaurs.

The fossil found was the 5th ever located in Khon Kaen, and the 10th in Thailand.

The department and Khon Kaen province is planning to nominate Phu Wiang National Park for endorsement by UNESCO as a world geo-park over the next four years.

This would add another world-class tourism and ancient-knowledge attraction to the country.


Fossil of Bone-Crushing Mammal a First in the US Northwest

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Harpagolestes immanis by Rom-u

A fossil jaw bone misidentified for 50 years turns out to belong to a bone-crushing mammal and is the first to be found in the Northwest, scientists said.

Scientists tell the Bend Bulletin in a story that the 40-million-year-old fossil discovered at the John Day Fossil Beds in eastern Oregon is from a Harpagolestes. That’s a hoofed mammal that’s a cross between a pig and a hyena.

“Imagine a pig that specializes in eating only bones,” said John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Chief Paleontologist Nicholas Famoso.

He said scientists previously thought the fossil was from a polar bear-like creature.

University of Oregon paleontology student, Selina Robson, started investigating after becoming convinced the fossil was misidentified.

“We weren’t expecting her to say: ‘This isn’t what you think it is,’” Famoso said.

Fossils from the mammal have also been found in the Rocky Mountains and Southern California.

“They behaved like hyenas,” Famoso said. “They were running around Oregon being the first animals chewing on bones.”

The fossil sat for five decades in the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The school and national monument are considering putting it on display at the museum and making a replica to display at the national monument.

Famoso said he wants to examine other fossils in the University of Oregon collection to see if they’re also misidentified.

“It definitely warrants reviewing some of the specimens we already have,” he said. “We need to double check.”


Auroraceratops rugosus: Small Horned Dinosaur From China, A Triceratops Relative, Walked On Two Feet

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Credit: Robert Walters

With fossils from more than 80 individual dinosaurs, Auroraceratops rugosus, an early horned dinosaur, is one of the best represented dinosaur species ever found.

Many dinosaur species are known from scant remains, with some estimates suggesting 75% are known from five or fewer individuals. Auroraceratops rugosus was typical in this regard when it was named in 2005 based upon a single skull from the Gobi Desert in northwestern China. But that is no longer the case.

In the intervening years, scientists have recovered fossils from more than 80 individual Auroraceratops, bringing this small-bodied plant-eater into the ranks of the most completely known dinosaurs. It is now one of the few very early horned dinosaurs known from complete skeletons. In a collection of articles appearing as Memoir 18 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Gansu Agricultural University, and other institutions describe the anatomy, age, preservation, and evolution of this large collection of Auroraceratops.

Their analysis places Auroraceratops, which lived roughly 115 million years ago, as an early member of the group Ceratopsia, or horned dinosaurs, the same group to which Triceratops belongs. In contrast to Triceratops, Auroraceratops is small, approximately 49 inches (1.25 meters) in length and 17 inches (44 cm) tall, weighing on average 34 pounds (15.5 kilograms). While Auroraceratops has a short frill and beak that characterize it as a horned dinosaur, it lacks the “true” horns and extensive cranial ornamentation of Triceratops.

“When I first saw this animal back in 2004, I knew instantly it was a new kind that had never been seen before and was very excited about it,” says paleontologist Peter Dodson, senior author on the work and a professor with appointments in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences. “This monograph on Auroraceratops is long-awaited.”

In 2005, Dodson and his former students Hai-Lu You and Matthew Lamanna named Auroraceratops (in Latin, “dawn’s horned face”) in honor of Dodson’s wife, Dawn Dodson. You, along with fellow Chinese scientist Da-Qing Li–both authors on the current work–and collaborators followed up on the discovery, identifying more than 80 additional examples of the species, from near-hatchlings to adults.

Eric Morschhauser, lead author who is now on the faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, completed his Ph.D. under Dodson at Penn, focused on characterizing Auroraceratops using this robust dataset.

Auroraceratops represents the only horned dinosaur in the group Neoceratopsia (the lineage leading to and including the large bodied ceratopsians such as Triceratops) from the Early Cretaceous with a complete skeleton. This exclusiveness is significant, the researchers say, because horned dinosaurs transitioned from being bipedal, like their ancestors, to being the large rhinoceros-like quadrupedal animals most people think of as horned dinosaurs during the later parts of the Cretaceous.

“Before this study,” says Morschhauser, “we had to rely on Psittacosaurus, a more distantly related and unusual ceratopsian, for our picture of what the last bipedal ceratopsian looked like.”

Auroraceratops preserves multiple features of the skeleton, like a curved femur and long, thin claws, that are unambiguously associated with walking bipedally in some dinosaurs.

“It can now provide us with a better picture of the starting point for the changes between bipedal and quadrupedal ceratopsians,” adds Morschhauser.

Peter Dodson is a professor of anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and a professor of paleontology in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Earth and Environmental Science.


Eric Morschhauser is an assistant professor of biology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a research associate of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. He earned his doctorate studying with Peter Dodson at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Earth and Environmental Science in 2012.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant NSF EAR 1024671), the National Geographic Society (Grant 8930-11), University of Pennsylvania, Jurassic Foundation, 2009 National Science Foundation /Ministry of Science and Technology East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes program (Grant OISE-0913833), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 41072019), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Gansu Geological Museum.

Original Source:

Related Journal Article:

Notatesseraeraptor frickensis: Scientists in Switzerland Discover a New Dinosaur Species

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Scientists in Switzerland have discovered a new species of dinosaur after unearthing a well-preserved skeleton from the late triassic period.

According to new research from the University of Zurich, the dinosaur -- a carnivorous predator about 8.5 feet long -- belongs to a genus and species never before seen.

Paleontologists named the new dinosaur Notatesseraeraptor frickensis, a reference to the town of Frick, Switzerland, where the skeleton was unearthed in 2006. But it wasn't until this week that the results of a phylogenetic analysis (like a map of the dino's evolutionary tree) were published, revealing its traits were unlike any other.

"We realized that it was something important," the study's author Marion Zahner told CNN, adding that the skull first tipped her off to the dinosaur's unique characteristics. "The skull is very interesting from an evolutionary standpoint."

The species is also the first theropod, a group of flesh-eating dinosaurs that walk on two supportive hind legs (think of a T. Rex with strong legs and stubby arms), found in Switzerland.

"Frick is very famous for dinosaur bones," said Zahner, who is a PhD candidate at the University of Zurich. "For about 30 years they have been digging there, but most of the time they only find the bones of the Plateosaurus."

According to the research paper, the unearthed skeleton "includes a nearly complete skull, two articulated forelimbs and stomach contents."

Researchers were even able to determine that the dinosaur's last meal was a small lizard called a Clevosaurus through an analysis of the leftovers in its stomach.

The skull is still sitting in Zahner's office, only measuring about 9 inches. But a full replica and model skeleton can be found at the dinosaur museum in Frick.

Zahner hopes the dinosaur model will teach visitors, students and future paleontologists about how species' traits evolve over thousands of years. For example, she explains that dinosaurs are ancestors of birds we see today.

"I just think every fossil is very special and it's important the whole tree of life to understand past present and future," said Zahner.


8 Places to Track Dinosaurs

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Tuba City Dinosaur Tracks

It's mind-boggling to consider that modern humans (Homo sapiens) have been around for only a teensy fraction of time—200,000 of Earth’s 4.5 billion years of existence. And prior to our arrival, the planet looked a lot different: Most of Earth’s land mass was connected, and it was swampy, hot, and covered with lush tropical vegetation. During the Mesozoic Era (from about 252 to 66 million years ago), the Rocky Mountains were not even at half their present size, an ocean stretched from the coastal plains of the American West to the Eastern Seaboard, and massive creatures roamed and reigned on the planet. Thanks to discoveries from paleontologists and citizen-science enthusiasts, there are loads of ways to explore the otherworldly “Age of the Dinosaurs.”

In the American West, opportunities to participate in dinosaur digs and to tour sites where dinos once roamed have become a hit with families, as they offer fun, hands-on ways to teach children about ancient Earth and its previous occupants. Some sites, such as Morrison, Colorado’s Dinosaur Ridge —a national natural landmark where the world’s first stegosaurus (spike-tailed) and apatosaurus (long-necked) specimens were found—even offer dinosaur-themed summer camps.

“Kids are all about dinosaurs,” says Jeff Lamontagne, executive director of Friends of Dinosaur Ridge. “We have one family that sends their kids from the Atlanta area every year—they say the kids really want to be paleontologists and that the wealth of treasures at Dinosaur Ridge never gets old.”

At the tri-point joining New Mexico, Texas, and Chihuahua, Mexico, paleontology enthusiasts can discover dinosaur tracks within a unique, border-crossing ecosystem. Insights El Paso Science Center owns 211 acres of Chihuahuan Desert spanning the United States and Mexico. Millions of years ago, this desert was a damp and wet region; over the course of time, geological activity brought about its present dry, arid climate. Here, docents lead two- to three-hour tours on trails that showcase various footprints from the Cretaceous period. Says Insights El Paso administrative assistant Gabriela Franco, “We find many invertebrate fossils in the area such as ammonites, oysters, and scallops. This is further evidence of the ‘dinosaur beach’ that existed here so long ago—it’s amazing to find marine remnants in the  middle of the dry, hot desert.” Indeed, Insights patrons can visit a fossil bed and take in massive trackways where dinosaur herds appear to have romped. “We love that a UTEP [University of Texas at El Paso] student discovered these tracks,” Franco adds. “It inspires children to dream big and pursue science.”

Courtesy of Insights El Paso

Yet another dynamic and diverse place to revel at dinosaur fossils is Dinosaurland, located in Vernal, Utah. Within this huge swath of canyonland and winding rivers sits Dinosaur National Monument. The nearby Quarry Visitor’s Center Exhibit Hall boasts a 200-foot-long cliff “Wall of Bones” that reveals approximately 2,000 fossilized dinosaur bones, presented as they were found in a nearby sandbar dating from many millennia ago. Not only can you glimpse numerous dinosaur species here, but visitors are also allowed to touch these bones. Dinosaur enthusiasts flock here to view one of the few baby stegosaurus fossils ever found.

“A visit to the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum, with its lifelike models of dinosaurs, is always a hit with my kids,” says Bridget Lake, travel and tourism coordinator with Uintah County, Utah. Lake especially recommends the museum’s hands-on fossil digs, numerous fossil exhibits, and observation window overlooking the fossil preparatory lab, where kids can see how dinosaur fossils are being preserved. Outdoor options are plentiful here too. “Hike the three-mile round-trip to the Dino Tracks Trail,” Lake suggests, “It ends on the backside of Red Fleet State Park, to a shoreline of dinosaur tracks. My kids love looking for the tracks and seeing how many they can find.”

Indeed, the Southwestern and Western mountain states claim the most dinosaur fossil discovery sites in the United States—especially Colorado, Utah, and Montana. Each of these states offers some form of dinosaur tourism, whether in the form of opportunities to participate in digs, dino treks to locate tracks, or museum laboratories where one can witness scientists examining fossil bones. Ready to plan your own dinosaur discovery tour of the West? Here are a few suggestions.


*Did you know that Colorado’s state fossil is the stegosaurus?


Hike or bike Dinosaur Ridge Trail at your own pace for free, or purchase tickets for a guided bus tour or the hop-on/hop-off shuttle.

Special Events and Programs:

•    Walk With a Geologist

These exclusive tours offer private access to scientists who provide insider secrets about the sites at Dinosaur Ridge.

•    Dinosaur Ridge After Dark: Molding and Casting With Chocolate

This adults-only program offers a chance to learn about the molding and casting process, but with chocolate!

Field Trips:

•    Dinosaur Ridge hosts day trips and longer weekend excursions to dig sites, unique fossil and geologic areas, and even to other museums and organizations.

•    “Everything Dinosaur” Talks

This 12-part free public lecture series introduces visitors to the amazing world of dinosaurs, one type at a time.

•    TriceraTOTs Program

This 30- to 45-minute preschool craft and storytime program is fun for budding junior paleontologists.

•    Dinosaur summer camps for children ages six to 13

These week-long day camps are designed to nurture excitement and wonder for science, art, and the outdoors.


One family’s fascination with dinosaurs over several generations has culminated in one of the most unique dinosaur attractions in the Rockies. Travelers will enjoy the location in Canon City, which offers views of nearby Royal Gorge Bridge and the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The Reynolds family has a mission to offer educational outdoors experiences for families while they discover more about Colorado’s paleontological heritage. This experience has two parts: an indoor museum where visitors can enjoy a world-class collection of interactive displays, full-scale dinosaur fossil casts, real dinosaur fossils, and guided tours; and an outdoor adventure park where visitors can go wild in the following ways:

•    Traverse the T-Rex Terror Ropes Course, where you’ll come face-to-face with both a 80-foot-long diplodocus and a mighty roaring T-Rex, which stands more than 20 feet tall

•    Stroll along the Dinosaur Wild Walk to see 16 different life-size, skinned, animatronic dinosaurs, some of which track guests’ movements

•    Shovel for fossils at the Kid’s Dig, where tots and their parents can unearth faux T-Rex bones from gravel sandboxes


*Did you know that Utah’s state fossil is the allosaurus?


•    Raft the river that runs through Dinosaur National Monument’s canyons with Holiday River Expeditions guides, who are schooled in geology and dino lore.

•    Hike the many trails and camp within DNM on either the Colorado or Utah side.

• Visit the Quarry Exhibit Hall within the visitor’s center to see the Wall of Bones.

•    Take a moonlight hike with a ranger along the Fossil Discovery Trail.


Head to northern Utah to visit one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur displays. There are 60 complete dinosaur skeletons in these galleries, along with more than 50 hands-on exhibits.


*Did you know Montana’s state fossil is the the duck-billed dinosaur (Maiasaura peeblesorum)?


T. Rex fans rejoice! Located in Bozeman, this museum features 13 T. Rex skeletons and the largest T. Rex skull ever found. There’s much to learn about the age of dinosaurs and see at the vast complex, including a jaw-dropping view of Big Al, one of the most complete allosauruses ever discovered.


Some of the most significant dinosaur discoveries in the world have occurred in Montana, and loads of dinosaur fossils remain. The statewide Montana Dinosaur Trail has 14 locations that offer exhibits, special programs, and field digs. Visitors can uncover a wealth of fossils and skeleton remains of prolific species such as the T. Rex, triceratops, and apatosaurus. The Prehistoric Passport is a fun tool to help locate dinosaur displays, exhibits, and activities—each offers “fossil facts,” a field notes section, and space that can be stamped with the official “dino icon,” as evidence of a visit.


This two-day festival is held at the end of July each year at this Ekalaka-based museum, where visitors attend special paleontologist-led programs and events. There’s dancing and digging at sites too.


The PlayStation Classics: Dino Crisis

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The PlayStation Classics: Dino Crisis

When you think about survival horror games, the predators chasing their prey (you) tend to be more traditional sorts of villains. Silent Hill had grotesque monsters and otherworldly abominations. Resident Evil had zombies. You don’t really picture, well, dinosaurs, even though Jurassic Park has always used them so effectively. Yet, that’s exactly what Dino Crisis does. It actually makes you very concerned that dinosaurs, extinct creatures that could not hurt you in any way anymore, are huge threats. Plus, it does it in a clever way and with an enjoyable story. It’s truly a PlayStation Classic.


Comparing Dino Crisis to Jurassic Park is actually rather apt. Both series tend to involve scientists who manage to resurrect dinosaurs, though they have different intentions when they do. Each one involves an island that is dedicated to this cause. In both cases, things go wrong for the people we follow that visit the island, as the dinosaurs are incredibly hostile. (Though, I suppose you could argue that’s what a velociraptor or T. rex is going to do.)

In this case, players follow Secret Operation Raid Team member Regina, a U.S. army weapon specialist who is sent with a team of four agents to Ibis Island to capture a man who is basically a mad scientist and stop his mysterious weapon project. As you can probably guess by now, the secret weapons seem like they might be the dinosaurs. (You’ll have to play to find out what’s really going on and why Regina and her team were really sent in.) Once she realizes what’s going on, it’s about hopefully still finding the wayward Dr. Kirk, while also finding a way to get yourself out.


Given what we know from seeing movies like Jurassic Park, you might think that Dino Crisis is a game that would just be thrilling. It definitely is that, but actually does manage the whole “horror” part of the survival horror thing too. This is because the Ibis Island dinosaurs are both determined and smart. They know they want you dead, they’re agile enough to even knock weapons out of your hands, it doesn’t shy away from showing you when Regina is near death with blood and on-screen cues, and sometimes the game will just shout “DANGER!” at you and expect you to react.

 Dino Crisis by Capcom

Some of the fear might also come from knowing you have to live with your consequences. While this is a Resident Evil-like game, meaning being smart and keeping your wits about you should get you through it, Dino Crisis also has you making lots of different decisions. You can choose to pair up with certain team members as you go. You also can choose how to handle certain situations. Depending on what you do, you can learn more about the situation. But also, people can die if you make certain choices. A lot of weight is placed on your shoulders! Especially since you get to know the truth about the situation only if you get a certain ending.


Dino Crisis is that it kicked off what is a great series. There were three main installments, a mobile game, and a Gun Survivor entry with its characters. It just ended up, well, kind of dying off. (Just like the dinosaurs!) Except, there was no giant meteor here. While there have been rumors, 2003’s Dino Crisis 3 was the last one we ever saw. Fortunately, it is a bonafide PlayStation Classic, and you can pick it up for $5.99 for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation Portable.


Scientists Find New Bird Fossil with an Unusually Long Toe in Myanmar

Friday, July 12, 2019

Photo shows the fossil of a newly discovered bird species embedded in amber. Photo: Courtesy of Xing Lida, from the China University of Geosciences.

Paleontologists from China and other countries have discovered the fossil of a new species of tiny bird in Northern Myanmar that has one unusually long talon, providing valuable information on the evolution and behavior of ancient birds.

The fossil was found by paleontologists embedded in amber that was only 3.5 centimeters long and weighs just 5.5 grams, in Hukawng Valley of North Myanmar's Kachin state. Geologists conclude the amber was formed 99 million years ago during the early stage of the late Cretaceous period.

The Cretaceous period was very important in the evolution of birds, said scientists.

The discovery will greatly aid the research and add to the knowledge of birds during that time, said Luis M. Chiappe of Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, also one of the research team.

The discovery was announced by Xing Lida, an expert from the China University of Geosciences, who also leads the research team. Their discovery has been published in Cell journal.

The bird's skeleton has been well-preserved. Researchers found the bird has an unusual toe that is 41 percent longer than its second toe and 20 percent longer than its tarsometatarsus, Xing told the Global Times.

The bird's longest toe measures 9.8 millimeters.

Reconstructed picture of the bird with one unusually long toes. Photo: Courtesy of Xing Lida, from the China University of Geosciences.

The unusually long toes of the elektoronis has not been observed in other birds, along with its large and curve claws, combined to indicate that it is arboreal, said Jingmai K. O'Connor, a researcher in the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In addition, the amber also preserved some soft tissues on the bird's foot, including few scutellae scale filaments (SSFs). SSFs are feathers seen on some ancient bird's foot. Although no living birds present this feature, the team suggested SSFs might have the same function as bristles around some modern birds' mouths, which help them sense the environment.

"This is the best guess we have," O'Connor says. "There is no bird with a similar morphology that could be considered a modern analog for this fossil bird. A lot of ancient birds were probably doing completely different things than living birds. This fossil exposes a different ecological niche that these early birds were experimenting as they evolved."

Xing also said its long talon may have served as moth detector.

Paleontologists named the bird as Elektorornis chenguangi, in honor of the first discoverer of the fossil Chen Guang. This is the first time science world names new bird species imbedded in amber.

Xing and his team also found a few cubic centimeters of amber from northeastern Myanmar that contained the partial remains of two bird wings in 2016. Those specimens were locked in amber 99 million years ago when dinosaurs still walked the planet and bird feathers looked much like they do today.