nandi's blog

North Dakota to Expand Popular Fossil Dig Program Next Year

Saturday, December 1, 2018

High school students help at a fossil dig site overseen by the North Dakota Geological Survey near Medora, N.D. The North Dakota Geological Survey is expanding its well-received fossil dig program in 2019.  MIKE MCCLEARY, The Bismarck Tribune via AP

The North Dakota Geological Survey is expanding its well-received fossil dig program.

After attracting people from 31 states last year, the program doubled in size this year. North Dakota fossil scientists now plan to spend 46 days in the field next year to help people find prehistoric fossils, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

North Dakota now has one of the top public fossil dig programs in the country, according to senior state paleontologist Clint Boyd. This year, the program attracted 326 people who spent approximately two days in the field.

"What's happening on these digs is not just a tourism opportunity for people, but these people are helping us make real significant discoveries about the history of North Dakota at the same time," Boyd said.

The expansion of public fossil digs has also become a chief source for providing new fossils to the state fossil collection. Participants at a public dig south of Bismarck set Geological Survey records after discovering outsized Tyrannosaurus rex teeth.

"They've really done a fantastic job," said Ed Murphy, a state geologist. "What started off as a very sleepy program, now we've got interest from throughout the nation for people to attend this."

A new Geological Survey donor program called NDGS Paleo Pals has been launched to help fund program expansions.


Jurassic World Evolution Troodon – How to Get the Troodon

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The first expansion for Jurassic Park management sim JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTIONSecrets of Dr Wu, is now here. As the biggest piece of Jurassic World Evolution DLC to date, the expansion adds new missions, new island locations, and especially new dinosaurs. The most significant of these is perhaps the JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION TROODON, a venomous carnivore. But how do you get the Troodon, and has it been in the Jurassic Park franchise before now? We’ve got the answers.

How to Get the Jurassic World Evolution Troodon

After buying Secrets of Dr. Wu, to get the Troodon you’ll first need to travel to the new island location, Muerta East. You’ll need to get four stars on Isla Muerta, the game’s second island, to unlock it. After that’s done, you’ll get a call from Dr. Wu inviting you to the new location.

Once on Muerta East, start building your park and completing Contract missions. To get the Troodon, you’ll especially need to concentrate on Security Contracts. Complete these and get your Security reputation score to around 40%, at which point you’ll receive the special Security mission, which begins with incubating and releasing a Troodon. You’ll now have access to the Troodon, but you’ll have to get its genome to 50% by sending teams to gather fossils first. You’ll find Troodon fossils at three digsites in the US, including one in Alaska.

Has the Troodon Been in the Jurassic Park Movies or Games Before?

Jurassic Park Troodon

The Troodon is mentioned briefly in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park sequel novel The Lost World, but they have not appeared in the movies as of yet (and probably never will after the apocalyptic events of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom). They have had sporadic appearances in games such as LEGO Jurassic World, but they did play a starring role in Telltale’s Jurassic Park: The Game for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3, where they were introduced as the big new threat hunting down the characters.


Great White Sharks Were Eaten by Megalodon: ‘EVERYTHING Was Prey’ for the 18m Monster

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

APEX PREDATOR: Nothing was off-limits for the 18m megalodon (Pic: DS)

GREAT White Sharks were probably eaten by the monstrously-sized Megalodon which hunted “just about everything”, a shark expert has exclusively told Daily Star Online.

Richard Peirce, a conservationist who has written five books about sharks, said the extinct 18m Megalodon was unrivalled as a killing-machine — as shown in this year's blockbuster movie The Meg.

Megadalons shared Earth’s oceans with Great Whites more than three million years ago.

But Great Whites were pipsqueaks in relation to their terrifying cousins, at just 6m in length.

In fact, in terms of size The Meg knocks poor Jaws out of the water.

Great Whites could even have been on the menu, with fossil records showing megalodon bite marks on much bigger 9m whales.

Mr Peirce added: “Given megalodon's sheer size and power about everything would have been prey for it.

”He added: “All sharks are prehistoric - they go back 400 million years. Humans have only been around 200,000 years.

“That's one of the amazing things about sharks. We're wiping out one of the oldest creatures in the oceans.”

COLOSSAL: Humans are tiny in comparison, as shown in The Meg (Pic: THE MEG)

The researcher, who has been giving educational talks in schools, added: “Someone asked me in a school in Surrey if the megalodon still exists.

“So I asked 'Who has seen The Meg?' and almost all of them — there must have been about 200 of them — put their hands up.

“They all thought it was great fun and none of them really took it seriously,” he said.

“I think of The Meg in the same way as Jurassic Park - great fun and tongue-in-cheek.”

He said: “I think the basis of the reason is they hit three basic human fear buttons: the fear of being eaten alive, the fear of being out of your element — you're in the water not on land — and the fear of the unknown.

“If you think about swimming on the surface of the water with 50ft or something of water below you… the idea there might be some hidden dangerous monster down there that you can't see, that's absolutely terrifying.

“The other thing is history has always painted sharks as monsters,” he added.

“Sharks get a worse reputation and a worse judgement than lions, tigers… any other predator.”

And, in good news for shark fans, it turns out British waters are swimming with sharks, including the odd report of Great Whites. 

Mr Peirce said: “I’ve talked to over a thousand children over the last few days, most of then don't know we've got sharks in our waters.

“They're a bit surprised we've got 35 species of sharks in our waters — including some of the really exciting guys — and maybe that's part of the obsession, they seem so far away.”

The Meg is available to own on digital download from December 3 and available on DVD and blu-ray from December 10, available to pre-order now.


Dinosaur Teeth Uncover Evolutionary Secrets

Monday, November 26, 2018

Teeth from Changchunsaurus parvus hint at the evolution of dinosaur dentition. PHOTO COURTESY OF ROBERT REISZ

UTM paleontologists search the past to learn how mammalian teeth evolved.

UTM paleontologists, professor Robert Reisz and former PhD student Aaron LeBlanc, published studies in PLOS One and the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that shed light on the complex evolution of teeth.

In PLOS One, Reisz and co-authors published an article that discusses Changchunsaurus parvus from the ornithopod family of dinosaurs. Ornithopods are herbivorous dinosaurs. Based on fossil records, ornithopods used their beaks to rip plants from the ground and had muscles to chew through coarse vegetation.

Reisz and LeBlanc explored the importance of this species in understanding the evolution of dentition in dinosaurs and a newfound form of teeth replacement.

LeBlanc’s study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B located points of evolutionary change in mammalian dentition and delved into how mammalian dentition has evolved over the last 300 million years.

Both studies examined the fossil record by sawing off thin slices of tissue from the desired region. These slices were then polished to create transparent samples. The resulting slice was then subjected to three-dimensional analysis and subsequent computer configuration.

Herbivorous ornithopods are often studied due to the myriad of dental innovations they developed to cope with their diet. C. parvus was specifically studied, as it precedes major innovations in dinosaur dentistry and was thought to possess an ancestral version of previously investigated structures.

The thin sections examined confirmed the function of some components of the dental network. However, they also exhibited a novel form of tooth replacement, which was essential in herbivores due to the extensive pressures of a plant-based diet.

Reisz’s study also solidified that C. parvus had the earliest known occurrence of wavy enamel. This type of enamel was previously disassociated with the ornithopod family and its discovery in C. parvus opens their phylogenetic relationships for discussion.

The results are significant. C. parvus appears at a pivotal point in the evolutionary history of the tooth and understanding its dentition better will lead to a more complete understanding of teeth in general.

LeBlanc’s study examined tooth complexity.

Researchers previously believed that mammals had the most complex form of teeth, while reptiles possessed a simpler version. This was a result of mammals having a ligamentous attachment mechanism for teeth compared to the reptilian teeth being fused directly to the jaw.

But through observing thin sections of therapsid — early reptiles — teeth, Reisz and LeBlanc observed ligamentous structures similar to mammals.

Further study of thin sections from a variety of organisms implied that teeth ligaments developed before the divergence of mammals from reptiles, and that the reptilian fused teeth arrangement is in fact due to calcification — the accumulation of solid calcium deposits — of teeth over time.

Insight into dental history allows for a more comprehensive understanding of our teeth, and the resulting development of new theories, techniques, and explanations in dentition.


Gordodon kraineri: Fossil of Reptile -Dating Back 300 Million Years- Rewrites 'Known Evolutionary Timeline'

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Gordodon had a large sail on its back. (Supplied: New Mexico Museum of Natural History, Matt Celeskey)

The "exquisitely preserved" remains of a 300-million-year-old reptile have been found in the United States, rewriting "the known evolutionary timeline", the New Mexico Museum of Natural history says.

The museum made the announcement this week, saying the unique structure of the skull, jaws and teeth of the reptile indicate it was an herbivore, and such specialised plant-eating was not previously known in reptiles older than about 200 million years.

The bones were part of an "exquisitely preserved but incomplete skeleton", the museum said in a statement.

"The skeleton is that of a sail-backed eupelycosaur, a group of animals that were very successful during the Permian Period," the museum said.

The new dinosaur's name honours an Austrian geologist. (Supplied: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

Paleontology curator Spencer Lucas and his team from the museum determined the bones were about 300 million years old, meaning the reptile lived during the early part of the Permian Period, or more than 50 million years before the origin of dinosaurs.

Dr Lucas and research associate Matt Celeskey identified the skeleton as belonging to a new genus and species that they named Gordodon kraineri.

Gordodon is derived from the Spanish word gordo, (fat), and the Greek word odon (tooth), as the species had large pointed teeth at the tips of its jaws.

The species name kraineri honors Karl Krainer, an Austrian geologist who contributed to knowledge about the Permian Period in New Mexico.

Gordodon was about 1.5 metres long and weighed an estimated 34 kilograms.

The Gordodon shares some traits with modern goats and deer. (Supplied: New Mexico Museum of Natural history and Science)

It was believed to have been a selective feeder on high-nutrient plants due to the advanced structure of its skull, jaws and teeth.

Experts at the museum said other early herbivorous reptiles were not selective, chomping on any plants they came across.

They said Gordodon had some of the same specialisations found in modern animals like goats and deer.

The fossil bones were discovered near Alamogordo in southern New Mexico, by Ethan Schuth while on a University of Oklahoma geology class field trip in 2013.

Field crews spent about a year collecting the bones from the site and more time was spent removing the hard sandstone surrounding the fossils so research could ensue.

Details of the find were published in the November edition of Palaeontologia Electronica.


Dinosaur Fossils: Portal to the Past

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The views at Dinosaur National Monument, which straddles the Utah-Colorado border, are easily described as majestic. Here, the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers is hidden by Steamboat Rock. Photo courtesy of Anastasia Stepankowsky

Dinosaur fossils a portal to the past.

I ran my hand over the face of the gray cliff that rose above me. The rock was rough, with fissures and divots and an abrasive texture that tears skin.

My fingers found a smooth spot infused with stains that looked like rust. It felt like rock, and in one sense it was rock.

But for me, it was a portal to a period 150 million years ago. It was a yard-long dinosaur bone, embedded in rock, and so perfectly fossilized that the bone was easily distinguished from the finely veined marrow.

It was the femur of a sauropod, a giant, long-necked dinosaur that shook the ground as it walked through earth’s Jurassic Period.

The chance to run your hands over real dinosaur bones and connect with ancient life is just one of the treats that make Dinosaur National Monument unique, even if its remote location on the Utah-Colorado border make it among the least-visited sites in the National Park system

A three-hour drive from Salt Lake City, the monument is a hidden jewel visited by about 250,000 people annually. It harbors treasures for everyone, whether they be trained paleontologists or Barney lovers, nature photographers or philosophers struck by a landscape that is a 23-layer cake of rock formations documenting a billion years of earth’s history.

Spartan landscape

This is a colorful but spartan landscape that stimulates reflection and reminder that the world is old, and that our time here is short. Here, it’s easy to see that even rocks and rivers have a life span, as proven by an impressive peak known as Split Mountain, which got its name because the Green River cut the peak in two, leaving an imposing cliff behind that plunges straight down into the river.

The Green is one of two rivers flowing through the 211,000-acre area and cut its broad canyons, which range from 1,000 to 3,000 feet deep. The other is the Yampa, the latter the only major undammed tributary of the Colorado River.

Flowing green and brown, the two rivers converge near the center of the park at an oxbow bend called Steamboat Rock. The gorge here, as seen from the Harper’s Corner overlook, elevation 7,500 feet, features geological strata that are muted and less vibrant than those of the Grand Canyon, which is several hundred miles downstream. But the gorges that slink through the layers of rock that used to be seas and river bottoms have a majesty that has evoked superlatives for nearly 200 years.

“The scenery was on a grand scale, and never before did I live in such ecstasy for an entire month,” wrote John Welsey Powell, the famous explorer of the American Southwest, after he rafted down the Green River in 1869.

Even though it looks like a forsaken landscape, Dinosaur National Monument harbors plenty of life. Osprey soar through the canyons. Dinosaur is home to black bears, mountain lions, big horn sheep and unique species of lizards, fish and other species. The fall air has a pungent, tasteful aroma of pinyon pine and Utah juniper, which dapple the canyon walls and wedge their roots into rock fissures to survive the arid and cold climate of the a high desert.

But, the place is known best for life that thrived 150 million years ago, when the area was flat, warm and drained by an extinct river.

Paleontologist’s find

Dinosaur’s name comes from the discovery, in 1909, of eight dinosaur bones by Earl Douglas, a Carnegie Museum paleontologist. Further excavations revealed a virtual dinosaur graveyard located about 15 miles east of Vernal, Utah, at 5,000 feet above sea level.

Thousands of dinosaur fossils lay embedded in a steeply tilted layer of rock called the Morrison Formation. The find included entire skeletons, including whole skulls, both rarities.

Scientists have a straightforward explanation for the origins of this find. A drought caused a mass die-off. When the rains returned, the river washed the bones and carcasses downstream. They were deposited together and covered with silt and sand that hardened into rock over millions of years. Later, tectonic forces lifted and tilted the layer, and erosion exposed the old bones.

Douglas mined what he called “the quarry” and sent fossils to museums around the nation. But he insisted that the quarry later be preserved for the public to see and touch. The quarry, which is slightly narrower and slightly longer than a basketball court, has been protected from the elements since the 1950s by a building known as the Quarry Exhibit Hall.

The quarry wall is pitched due to the tectonic uplift that tilted it. That makes it more like viewing a giant canvas. About 1,500 bones lay on the quarry surface. One of them is a full specimen of a stegosaurus, a plant-eater with a small head, a row of bony plates down the back and a lethal cluster of spikes on its tail. Climbing up the quarry wall is prohibited, but the fossils at the top are visible from a mezzanine.

In all, the remains of 10 dinosaur species have been found in the monument. Some are on the trail outside the quarry where I found that big femur.

Dinosaur has other attractions, too. White water rafting, hiking through its canyons, examining (but not touching) petroglyphs or, if your have a suitable vehicle, visiting the old homestead of the colorful character Josie Morris. Most of the monument is designated wilderness and is a dark-sky preserve, great for skygazing.

The monument is accessed through five different paved roads, none of which connect, though rugged vehicles can get down into the Yampa River canyon, weather permitting. Most campgrounds are along the rivers, and thus accessible by raft and by foot but not by vehicle.

Cars seem out of place here, which is a place for your mind to connect to life eons ago to a time when dinosaurs, not humans, were masters of the earth.


Sauriermuseum Aathal

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Dinosauromuzeo en Aathal-Seegräben

Europe's largest dinosaur museum was founded by a passionate autodidact.

Switzerland’s “Jurassic Park,” as locals use to call it, was not founded by scientists, but rather a self-educated businessman named Hans-Jakob “Kirby” Sieber. The autodidact never studied paleontology or any other related field, but his sensational findings during excavations, and his long years of painstaking study and preparation of dinosaur fossils, made him one of the most renowned dinosaur researchers in Europe.

His discoveries—such as the famous Allosaurus “Big Al Two,” the unlucky group of sauropods that died from being stuck in a swamp, or “Toni,” the incredibly well-preserved remains of a dinosaur baby—have inspired the storylines of a whole genre of documentary films and paleoart.

Sieber started his early career as a (not very successful) filmmaker, but later joined his father’s company selling minerals and fossils mostly excavated from the Swiss Alps. Since the fossils of marine species were not very sensational, Sieber traveled to the U.S. to join dinosaur excavations in Wyoming. Soon he surprised his hometown with giant bones and skeletons he brought back home to Switzerland.

In 1992, the Sauriermuseum Aathal was opened, and strongly profited from the global dinosaur mania that broke out one year later when Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was released. Since then, Siber and his team spend several months on their “Howe ranch” in Wyoming every year. The fresh findings are preserved in a transparent glass-cube laboratory in the center of the spacious exhibition and visitors can watch the dinosaur researchers live at work.

One of the first exhibits at the museum was the reconstruction of the world’s largest tortoise, which is still on display and as large as a school bus. The exhibition is displayed across 5,000 square meters and hosts a vast range of objects both inside and outside. The largest ones are almost fully preserved fossilized skeletons of Allosaurus, a 17-meter diplodocus next to two other giant sauropods, the gate-sized dentation of a megalodon-shark, and everything else the curious fossil lover is looking for: fossilized eggs, footprints, bones, and even coproliths of all kinds of prehistoric reptiles. In addition to the archaeological finds, you can also see large-scale prehistoric dioramas and a dinosaur garden. 

Know Before You Go

Aathal can be easily reached by the S-Bahn (S14) from Zurich main station. From the Aathal train station, just keep left and follow the signs (and giant dinosaur figures). The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and closed Mondays. Compared to other paleontological museums, this one has a rather familial and relaxed spirit. If you join a guided tour, it is usually carried out by one of the enthusiast excavators.


Giant Mammal Cousin Rivaled Early Dinosaurs

Friday, November 23, 2018

HEFTY HERBIVORE  A new plant-eating creature that lived during the Late Triassic was about the size of a modern-day elephant — far larger than its relatives at the time.  TOMASZ SULEJ AND GRZEGORZ NIEDZWIEDZKI

The dicynodont from the Late Triassic was surprisingly hefty, rivaling a modern-day elephant in size.

A new species of hulking ancient herbivore would have overshadowed its relatives.

Fossils found in Poland belong to a new species that roamed during the Late Triassic, a period some 237 million to 201 million years ago, researchers report November 22 in Science. But unlike most of the enormous animals who lived during that time period, this new creature isn’t a dinosaur — it’s a dicynodont.

Dicynodonts are a group of ancient four-legged animals that are related to mammals’ ancestors. They’re a diverse group, but the new species is far larger than any other dicynodont found to date. The elephant-sized creature was more than 4.5 meters long and probably weighed about 9 tons, the researchers estimate. Related animals didn’t become that big again until the Eocene, 150 million years later.

DIG IT Field researchers excavated the skeleton of the new species in Silesia, Poland.  TOMASZ SULEJ

“We think it’s one of the most unexpected fossil discoveries from the Triassic of Europe,” says study coauthor Grzegorz Niedzwiedzki, a paleontologist at Uppsala University in Sweden. “Who would have ever thought that there is a fossil record of such a giant, elephant-sized mammal cousin in this part of the world?” He and his team first described some of the bones in 2008; now they’ve made the new species — Lisowicia bojani — official.

The creature had upright forelimbs like today’s rhinoceroses and hippos, instead of the splayed front limbs seen on other Triassic dicynodonts, which were similar to the forelimbs of present-day lizards. That posture would have helped it support its massive bodyweight.


The Secrets of Dr. Wu expands Jurassic World Evolution

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Secrets of Dr. Wu expands Jurassic World Evolution

Frontier Developments has unleashed their Jurassic World Evolution: Secrets of Dr. Wu DLC for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Based on Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s blockbuster franchise, and created in collaboration with Universal, the DLC expands the Jurassic World Evolution campaign with new missions and an all-new Jurassic World story.

This expansion to the Jurassic World park-building strategy game puts players in control of two hidden research facilities on Isla Muerta and Isla Tacaño where Dr. Henry Wu, voiced by BD Wong, is developing a new generation of hybrid dinosaurs.

Players will confront an elevated level of chaos and threat caused by Wu’s machinations as they work alongside the doctor and discover new dig sites, facility upgrades and research opportunities.

Jurassic World Evolution: Secrets of Dr. Wu also introduces the herbivore Olorotitan and the venomous Troodon to Jurassic World Evolution, alongside three new Wu-created hybrids: the Stegoceratops, Ankylodocus and Spinoraptor. Players can progress through missions to unlock new upgrades and research options that can be used throughout the Jurassic World Evolution campaign.

This includes the Indominus Rex’s unique camouflage gene as seen in 2015’s Jurassic World. New campaign missions unlock after players achieve a four-star rating on Isla Muerta. 

Also, as of today, all Jurassic World Evolution players will receive a free game update introducing an optional day/night cycle to the campaign, new dinosaur grouping and sleeping behaviours, new contracts and new large-capacity feeders.


Embryological Study of the Skull Reveals Dinosaur-Bird Connection

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Birds evolved from dinosaurs, radically transforming their skull as it became toothless and the brain grew bigger. The large dinosaur with a dark outline in the image is Erlikosaurus; below, the modern seabird Sula. During evolution, birds lost two of the skull bones once present in dinosaurs: The prefrontal, and the postorbital. However, during the embryonic development of birds, starting points for the formation of these bones are still present. The dark circles above illustrate the appearance of these embryonic bones under the microscope, as revealed by a purple stain that is bone-specific (alizarin red). The embryonic prefrontal and postorbital later fuse to other embryonic bones, becoming undetectable in the adult. Credit: Luis Pérez López [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Birds are the surviving descendants of predatory dinosaurs. However, since the likes of Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor, some parts of their anatomy have become radically transformed. The skull, for instance, is now toothless, and accommodates much larger eyes and brain. Skulls are like 3-D puzzles made of smaller bones: As the eye socket and brain case expanded along evolution, birds lost two bones of the skull that were once present in dinosaurs -the prefrontal, at the upper front corner of the eye, and the postorbital, behind the eye.

Or rather, this seemed to be the case. A new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution has uncovered how during embryonic development of the bird skull, both of these dinosaur bones are still present as starting points of bone formation (ossification centers). Rather than becoming independent bones of the adult skull (as in ancient predatory dinosaurs), they fuse quickly to other embryonic bones, becoming undetectable in the adult bird. The study is the master's thesis of evolutionary biologist Daniel Smith.

During the evolution of toothed, dinosar-like birds in the Cretaceous period, the disappearance of the adult postorbital coincided with an increase in size of the brain, as well as the frontal bone above the brain. The new study shows how the embryonic postorbital of birds fuses to the frontal, becoming part of that bone. By adding itself to the frontal, the postorbital could have allowed it to expand and accommodate a larger brain in evolution. This discovery has also unraveled a long-standing mystery of embryology: In most animals, the frontal bone is formed from cells coming from the outer layer of the early embryo, called the ectoderm. Birds are very unusual because their frontal bone develops from two sources of embryonic cells: The front portion is formed from the ectoderm, but the back portion is formed from an inner layer of the embryo, called the mesoderm. The reason for this was enigmatic, but some scientists had suggested that the back portion of the frontal was different because it evolved from a different bone, that became assimilated into the frontal. The new study has confirmed this hypothesis, by showing that the back portion of the frontal actually starts out as a separate embryonic bone, the same that once developed into the postorbital of dinosaurs (see the image of duck embryos below).

These images of duck embryos show how the postorbital is at a first a separate embryonic bone (above), the same that in dinosaurs became a separate bone of the adult skull. At a later stage, the embryonic postorbital fuses to the frontal, becoming part of this bone (below). Credit: Daniel Nuñez León [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Professor Bhart-Anjan Bhullar at Yale University (who was not part of the study) summarizes the work of his colleagues: "Smith-Paredes et al. have discovered dinosaurian vestiges hidden in the embryonic skull of birds, and in so doing have presented an elegant solution to the question of why the avian frontal bone is a composite structure: it incorporates other bones thought lost during the dinosaur-bird transition. Therefore, evolution has worked in a graceful, elegant way —by subtly removing seams and fusing existing building blocks —to build something remarkably divergent and unique."

The Vargas lab has previously studied how parts of the embryonic wrist, shank and foot also show a general dinosaur pattern, before developing an anatomy that is specific to birds. The new study provides further evidence for the "inner dinosaur" of birds, in the sense that much of their embryology is still the same as in their ancient ancestors.

More information: Daniel Smith-Paredes et al. Dinosaur ossification centres in embryonic birds uncover developmental evolution of the skull, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-018-0713-1

Provided by: Universidad de Chile