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All The Places Where ‘Jurassic World’ Was Filmed

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Jurassic World: Gyrosphere (Behind the Scenes)

When Steven Spielberg released the first ‘Jurassic Park’ film way back in 1993, even he must have dared not predict the impact the film would have on the average moviegoer’s psyche. ‘Jurassic Park’ was not just a film; it was an experience. Right from the epic opening musical score by legendary Hollywood composer John Williams, to the ridiculously lifelike animatronics based special effects, the film remains a marvel of cinema to this day. This is part of the reason why the gap of nearly fourteen years between the third and the fourth movie in the franchise is a bit of a surprise. What is not a surprise, however, is the enormous hype and success garnered by the 2015 release of ‘Jurassic World’.

Despite featuring an entirely new cast boasting the likes of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio and Jake Johnson, ‘Jurassic World’ is actually a direct sequel to the original ‘Jurassic Park’ trilogy, taking place over two decades after the events of the original ‘Jurassic Park’.

The story line borrows heavily from its predecessors, with the source of carnage and mayhem this time around being a vicious new hybrid dinosaur named Indominus Rex which escapes its enclosure in the Jurassic World luxury resort. Now, it is up to ex military badass and dinosaur training expert Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt) to save as many people as he can with the assistance of Claire Dearing (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), the Jurassic World operations manager with whom he shares a romantic past.

If you were wondering where was ‘Jurassic World’ filmed, read on to find out everything we know.

Jurassic World Filming Locations

Like the original ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Jurassic World’ is set in the fictional Central American island of Isla Nublar, which is now home to the Jurassic World theme park. In ‘Jurassic Park’, the scenes depicting Isla Nublar were filmed in multiple locations across Hawaii, and this is the case with ‘Jurassic World’ as well. Most of the exterior shots depicting the lush overgrowth of Isla Nublar were filmed on location in various parts of Hawaii including Oahu, Kauai, and Honolulu.

Some of the exterior scenes, as well as most of the interior scenes in ‘Jurassic World’, were shot on set in a studio in New Orleans, as well as in a number of other locations across Louisiana. Principal photography for the film began in April of 2014, concluding roughly four months later in August.

Kauai, Hawaii

Principal filming for ‘Jurassic World’ took place across two major islands in Hawaii including “the Garden Isle” of Kauai. This is in keeping with franchise traditions, as the first ‘Jurassic Park’ was also filmed on this island. Most of the outdoor filming took place at the Jurassic Kahili Ranch in Kilauea, Kauai. The ranch is a massively diverse natural property covering 2,800 acres and a number of breathtaking waterfalls, lush forests, mountains, ponds, and more.

The famous Kualoa Ranch also makes a brief appearance in the movie as the Dinosaur Island, as do the enchanting Manawaiopuna Falls, Hanapepe Valley. Both are prominent locations where filming for the original ‘Jurassic Park’ was also done.

Other locations in Kauai where ‘Jurassic World’ was filmed include the Na Pali Coast State Park, Olokele Valley, and the Blue Hole.

Oahu, Hawaii

Once again, ‘Jurassic World’ also revisits “The Gathering Place” island of Oahu, in Hawaii. The scene in the movie where the two boys jump off the top of a waterfall was filmed on location in Oahu, at the massive 150 foot tall Manoa Falls.

Limited filming also took place in Hawaii’s capital city of Honolulu in locations that include the Honolulu Zoo and the Hawaii Convention Center. 

New Orleans, Louisiana

While the bulk of the exterior filming took place in Hawaii, filming also continued on set in the culinary city of New Orleans. Production was based out of the Big Easy Studios in Gentilly Road, New Orleans, which is also the site for the filming of Tom Cruise’s ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’.

The abandoned Six Flags New Orleans park parking lot and NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans together were used to depict the Jurassic World theme park, which massive set constructions on both locations.


The Return To Jurassic Park is where Jurassic World: Evolution Truly Finds its Way

Saturday, February 8, 2020

(Image credit: Frontier)

Going back to the island with Jurassic World Evolution: Return To Jurassic Park.

Playing I like to think of myself as someone who is pretty much immune to nostalgia. I live in the now, because that's where all the best games are. But there's something about hearing that soaring John Williams theme that immediately transports me back to doodling stegosauri in the margins of my homework. So seeing that Jurassic World Evolution, the dinosaur zoo management game based on the more recent, more rubbish movies, was getting DLC that took you back to Isla Nublar? Yup, pretty much irresistible.

The Return To Jurassic Park campaign is meant for people already familiar with the game, I suspect. Mainly because a warning message pops up telling me exactly that. Naturally, I ignore it. What could possibly go wrong? Before I find out the answer to that question, I'm introduced to the premise of the campaign. Return describes itself as a 'what if' story. Namely, 'What if we'd managed to get Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern back for a sequel?'

(Image credit: Frontier)

And it is unmistakably them – no one does halting, stresses-never-quite-falling-where-you- expect-them line delivery like Goldblum. Honestly, though, I'm more impressed by everything else. It's the Jurassic Park font! The Jeeps! Those huge gates! And, oh, the dinosaurs! Frontier has done an excellent job of extracting their DNA from amber and bringing them to virtual life. But, to paraphrase Goldblum: that's how it always starts, the oohs and ahhs. And then... 

Literally 30 seconds into the game, I spot a velociraptor doing laps of the park. While the main cast calmly discuss chaos theory, the staff on the ground find themselves in rather more clear and present danger. And lo, as the man himself prophesied, there is running and screaming. Time to mobilise my rangers. It turns out I can steer the Jeep myself, which goes surprisingly well. I quickly track the raptor down, and go to ready the tranq rifle... except I don't do that. I hit the wrong button, and rename the Jeep instead. The game doesn't pause while I'm doing this, and the raptor gets away. Clever girl. Or, more accurately, stupid me.

(Image credit: Frontier)

I give in, read a few tooltips, and learn that I don't have to do this stuff manually. I can just cue up the task and let my (far more competent) staff handle it. Which is how I am taken by surprise by a Jeep bursting out of the nearby lake and starting to fire off tranq darts. It's not just the dinos who've been spliced with amphibian DNA, it seems. The raptor runs headlong at her attacker, ready for an aquatic showdown... at which point, she passes out and sinks to the bottom of the lake. Can dinosaurs drown? A menu tab informs me she has a 100 per cent comfort rating. So that's something, at least. 

This is just one of the dozens of misadventures I encounter over a couple of hours playing Return To Jurassic Park. There are storms, there are escapes, there's a triceratops who comes down with the common cold. I even manage to get in a few wins here and there, like scooping our tranquilised friend up from the lake bed and airlifting her back to dino-jail. And let's be honest, I reckon that alone is enough to make me a better administrator than John Hammond ever was. At least in my park you can enjoy a nice cup of water without getting it spilled all over the place.


Scientists ‘Resurrect’ Mutated Genes of Wrangel Island Mammoths

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) were among the most abundant cold adapted species during the Pleistocene. Their once large populations went extinct in two waves, an end-Pleistocene extinction of continental populations followed by the mid-Holocene extinction of relict populations on St. Paul Island, a small island in the middle of the Bering Sea, 5,600 years ago, and on Wrangel Island, a remote Arctic refuge off the coast of Siberia, 4,000 years ago. To learn about the plight of these giant creatures and the forces that contributed to their extinction, a team of researchers has ‘resurrected’ Wrangel Island mammoths’ mutated genes. The goal was to study whether the genes functioned normally. They did not.

“The key innovation of our paper is that we actually resurrect Wrangel Island mammoth genes to test whether their mutations actually were damaging (most mutations don’t actually do anything),” said Dr. Vincent Lynch, an evolutionary biologist at the University at Buffalo.

“Beyond suggesting that the last mammoths were probably an unhealthy population, it’s a cautionary tale for living species threatened with extinction: if their populations stay small, they too may accumulate deleterious mutations that can contribute to their extinction.”

To conduct the study, Dr. Lynch and his colleagues first compared DNA of a Wrangel Island mammoth to that of three Asian elephants and two more ancient mammoths that lived when mammoth populations were much larger.

The scientists identified a number of genetic mutations unique to the Wrangel Island mammoth.

Then, they synthesized the altered genes, inserted that DNA into cells in Petri dishes, and tested whether proteins expressed by the genes interacted normally with other genes or molecules.

The researchers did this for genes that are thought or known to be involved in a range of important functions, including neurological development, male fertility, insulin signaling and sense of smell.

“In the case of detecting odors, for example, we know how the genes responsible for our ability to detect scents work,” Dr. Lynch said.

“So we can resurrect the mammoth version, make cells in culture produce the mammoth gene, and then test whether the protein functions normally in cells.”

“If it doesn’t — and it didn’t — we can infer that it probably means that Wrangel Island mammoths were unable to smell the flowers that they ate.”

This study builds on prior work by other scientists, such as a 2017 paper in which authors identified potentially detrimental genetic mutations in the Wrangel Island mammoth, estimated to be a part of a population containing only a few hundred members of the species.

“The results are very complementary,” Dr. Lynch said.

“The 2017 study predicts that Wrangel Island mammoths were accumulating damaging mutations.”

“We found something similar and tested those predictions by resurrecting mutated genes in the lab.”

“The take-home message is that the last mammoths may have been pretty sick and unable to smell flowers, so that’s just sad.”

The results were published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution.


Erin Fry et al. Functional architecture of deleterious genetic variants in the genome of a Wrangel Island mammoth. Genome Biology and Evolution, published online February 7, 2020; doi: 10.1093/gbe/evz279


Early Jurassic Dinosaur Footprints Discovered in SW China

Saturday, February 8, 2020


A group of international scientists led by a Chinese dinosaur expert on Friday announced the discovery of early Jurassic dinosaur footprint fossils in Hezhang county, Southwest China's Guizhou Province, which is significant for understanding the behavior, range of activity and biota composition of small and medium-sized dinosaurs in the early Jurassic period.

The footprint fossils belonged to 31 small and medium-sized theropods, nine sauropods and one anomoepus, according to a statement Xing Lida, a dinosaur expert at the Beijing-based China University of Geosciences and leader of the international team, sent to the Global Times.

A research paper on the footprints written by Xing's team was published in international scientific journal Historical Biology.

The footprint fossils were preserved in the sandstone of the Longtou Mountains in Hezhang county. 

The 31 theropod footprints, each between 14 and 19 centimeters long, formed four tracks which revealed how the four dinosaurs moved. One dinosaur was trotting at a speed of 10 kilometers per hour and the other three were walking at speeds of 3.6, 4 and 6 kilometers per hour.  

The majority of the 31 footprints were well preserved, with the toe pads and toes visible, and were quite similar with footprints of eubrontes in the early Cretaceous period found in Qianjiadian in Beijing, showing that the shape of the theropod footprints did not change much from the Jurassic to the early Cretaceous periods, according to the statement. 

The nine sauropods footprints, with an average length of 26.8 centimeters, formed two tracks.

The discovery in Guizhou supplemented the fossil records of the early Jurassic biota in southwestern China, and is an important part of the census of the composition of the dinosaurian fauna in the region.


Guernsey Dad Accidentally Orders Six-Metre-Long Dinosaur For Son

Friday, February 7, 2020

Andre Bisson/Facebook

Guernsey is turning into Isla Nublar after one dad’s purchase: a full-size dinosaur, dropped into his garden by crane. 

Andre Bisson’s four-year-old son, Theo, is obsessed with dinosaurs. After watching Disney’s animated classic, Dinosaur, he was particularly found of the Carnotaurus species (Carnotaur for short).

For months, he’d been saying: ‘Daddy, I want the biggest Carnotaur you’ve ever seen.’ Well, Andre delivered, unwittingly shipping in a six-metre, full-size dino – and it’s amazing.

Andre Bisson/Facebook

Meet Chaz, Guernsey’s newest prehistoric resident, ‘nestled nicely into palm trees and enjoying west coast salt air living’, Andre told UNILAD.

His initial attempts at finding a large Carnotaur for his son weren’t particularly fruitful. In a BBC Sounds interview, the dino dad explained that Theo’s mum led the way, sending him a link to Jersey’s Tamba Park on the neighbouring island, which just so happened to be selling off its dinosaurs. ‘No way, I have to have this,’ he said.

Andre added:

I phoned them straight away and I was lucky enough because they were inundated, and managed to secure him. I thought: ‘This’ll be the biggest dinosaur you’ll ever see.’ So he’s a full size, teenage dinosaur in age.

When I looked on the website, I thought it was about three metres long and it’d fit nicely next to the hot tub and it’d be quite fun. It wasn’t until the boys from Channel Seaways – who did an epic job trying to get him from Jersey – told me it wouldn’t fit in their truck that I thought, ‘Wow, it must be about six metres.’ Then I knew he wouldn’t fit anywhere apart from my very small garden.

Chaz wasn’t a cheap addition to the household, costing £1,000. While there aren’t any plans to build his own back-garden Jurassic Park, Andre is a big fan. As for the neighbours, ‘whilst they think I am bonkers, they think it’s great, although I haven’t seen all of them,’ he said.

Andre hoped he’d be able to get Chaz home for Christmas, but logistically it just wasn’t possible (the park’s director even messaged him personally to apologise).

In fact, because of the delay, Tamba Park even sent out Dave, a smaller, no-less-fierce dino.

Andre Bisson

After a downpour in Jersey, Chaz’s skin got wet, causing him to balloon in weight up to two tons. When he eventually arrived, ‘seven guys couldn’t lift or move him… so they had to organise a JCB to get him out’.

His long-awaited arrival has gone down a storm with Theo, with Andre saying:

Theo didn’t want to go to school as he didn’t want to leave him, he thought he’d be home alone – he wanted to take him on the yellow crane. He said he was hungry, so we cooked fish fingers and fed him. Theo and Chaz are best buds – he’s got a pet dinosaur!

Chaz would not be contained, Chaz expanded to a new territory… Chaz found a way.


Jurassic Park: 10 Most Iconic Moments, Ranked

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Who could ever forget Steven Speilberg's epic 1993 film Jurassic Park? Here are 10 iconic moments from the movie which still hold up today.

Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Michael Crichton’s bestselling novel, broke a ton of box office records when it hit theaters in 1993. It shot past Spielberg’s own E.T. to become the highest-grossing movie ever made. Moviegoers were captivated by the sense of wonder that came along with watching dinosaurs walk the Earth again.

And, all these years later, that sense of wonder remains. Jurassic Park is a timeless classic, filled with unforgettable scenes that, no matter how many times you’ve seen the movie, never fail to elicit an emotional response. So, here are Jurassic Park’s 10 Most Iconic Moments, Ranked.

10 Sattler Treats The Sick Triceratops

There’s a general rule in the Jurassic Park franchise that if you respect dinosaurs, you’ll survive. The government suits trying to weaponize them are doomed,  but a character like Dr. Ellie Sattler, who rushes to the side of a sick Triceratops to treat them, earns her survival.

The practical effects in this scene are incredible. There’s also some great comic relief, as Malcolm approaches the Triceratops’ dung and bluntly says, “That is one big pile of sh*t.”

9 Nedry Gets Outsmarted

Wayne Knight was looking forward to his character, Dennis Nedry, getting a really gruesome death scene, as he does in the source material, and was a little disappointed that all the bloodshed happened off-screen. But the death scene as it stands is still pretty gruesome.

His car gets stuck in some wet mud in the pouring rain, and then he encounters a Dilophosaurus. He underestimates the dinosaur’s intelligence, and this becomes his downfall. After he’s attacked in the car, his blood seeps out into the rushing water and dilutes it with red.

8 “Dinosaurs Eat Man. Woman Inherits The Earth.”

John Hammond is miffed that the paleontologists he invited to his park don’t immediately endorse it and question his dangerous decision-making. Ian Malcolm runs through the course of history that led to Hammond cloning dinosaurs and creating Jurassic Park: “God creates dinosaurs, God destroys dinosaurs. God creates Man, Man destroys God, Man creates dinosaurs.”

And then, Ellie Sattler proves herself to be a match for Malcolm when she continues his line of thinking: “Dinosaurs eat Man. Woman inherits the Earth.”

7 Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Like all great directors, Steven Spielberg is a master of telling audiences multiple things with one image. During the scene in Jurassic Park in which a jeep is being chased by a T. rex, he includes a closeup of one of the jeep’s side-view mirrors, bearing the phrase, “objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” with the mirror’s frame filled by the roaring T. rex closing in.

In this one image, we get a sense of the impending danger, because the T. rex looks extremely close, and we’re being told by a sign that we recognize from actual side-view mirrors that it’s even closer than we think.

6 “Life, Uh... Finds A Way.”

In four words (not including Jeff Goldblum’s signature fillers), Ian Malcolm perfectly summed up chaos theory, his specialist subject: “Life, uh, uh, uh...finds a way.”

This quote has become so iconic that Goldblum—and the franchise—will forever be associated with it. Life finding a way is the M.O. of these stories; humans screw with nature, then nature fights back.

5 “When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go.”

The first time the T. rex kills a character in Jurassic Park is unforgettable. Donald Gennaro, John Hammond’s slimy lawyer trying to justify his reckless endangerment of human lives, flees the T. rex in terror and locks himself in a bathroom stall. Malcolm quips, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”

Then, the T. rex pursues Gennaro and promptly removes the roof from the bathroom he’s hiding in. The low-angle shot of Gennaro sitting on the toilet, looking up at the T. rex, before being mercilessly eaten, is beautifully shocking.

4 “Clever Girl!”

Talk about famous last words. As Muldoon hunts down one of the escaped raptors, he realizes he’s been outmatched as it emerges from some shrubbery to his left. He simply says, “Clever girl!,” before the raptor pounces on him. It’s a really effective jump scare, and the takedown is framed from a low angle to make the raptor feel truly menacing.

This subverts the rule that characters who respect the dinosaurs get to live because Muldoon has a great respect for the dinosaurs, but, then again, he also wants to hunt them.

3 When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth

The original script for Jurassic Park didn’t contain a big finale. Some crew members approached Steven Spielberg and suggested adding one, and they got to work figuring it out. The final showdown between the T. rex and the velociraptors is more than just sheer spectacle (although it’s got that in spades).

There’s a lot of thematic resonance in the film’s two antagonists—the T. rex and raptors that have been separately terrorizing the characters—taking care of each other. The flailing “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” banner hammers home the point that nature will always win out when people like John Hammond play God.

2 Grant And Sattler’s First Dinosaur Encounter

Jurassic Park’s CGI has aged surprisingly well, considering how early in the technology’s development it was. The scene in which Dr. Alan Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler first arrive on Isla Nublar and witness a living dinosaur for the first time is just as breathtaking today as it was in 1993.

Sam Neill and Laura Dern play the scene spectacularly, looking up in astonishment at a grazing Brachiosaurus that wasn’t actually there. John Hammond boldly says, “Welcome to Jurassic Park,” as John Williams’ beautifully composed theme booms onto the soundtrack.

1 Velociraptors In The Kitchen

Jurassic Park’s raptors-in-the-kitchen set piece, in which Lex and Tim are hunted through a kitchen by some hungry velociraptors, is a masterclass in suspenseful filmmaking. Martin Scorsese once said that directing movies is all a matter of what is in the frame and what isn’t in the frame.

Steven Spielberg makes fantastic use of the frame in this scene. He inventively uses imagery like the reflective surfaces of the cabinets to create tension, and symbolically, the kitchen setting works brilliantly, positioning Lex and Tim as raptor food.


Dynamosuchus collisensis: 'Bonecrushing' Crocodile that Hunted Dinosaurs 230MYA Discovered in Brazil

Friday, February 7, 2020

This newly discovered species of prehistoric reptile, called Dynamosuchus collisensi, lived 230 million years ago during the Triassic period. Its back was protected by two rows of dermal bones. ILLUSTRATION BY MÁRCIO L. CASTRO

The fossils of a "bonecrushing" ancestor of the modern-day crocodile that hunted dinosaurs 230 million years ago have been discovered in Brazil, stunning researchers.

Known as Dynamosuchus collisensis, the fossil was discovered in the dinosaur fossil hotbed of Agudo, in southern Brazil. It has been nicknamed the "T. rex of its time," according to researchers. The study has been published in the scientific journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

"The extremely rare reptile would have been a real bonecrusher from the 'dawn of the dinosaur era,'" the study's lead author, Rodrigo Müller, told British news outlet SWNS.

Dynamosuchus collisensis. A "bonecrushing" reptile that hunted dinosaurs 230 million years ago has been unearthed in the Brazilian rainforest. The terrifying creature, an ancestor of the crocodile, lived on land and was the 'T Rex of its time,' according to researchers. (Credit: SWNS)

Like modern-day crocodiles, D. collisensis walked on four legs, but it used its two hind legs to run, similar to the Tyrannosaurus rex. The creature was approximately seven feet long and had a long snout, massive jaws with blade-like teeth and claws that were used to rip apart its prey.

D. collisensis also had two rows of bony plates that ran down its back and a skull similar to that of T. rex. A study published in September 2019 stated the terrifying dinosaur had a stiff skull that allowed it to not shatter its own bones with its bite force, while simultaneously devouring its kill.

It's also believed that D. collisensis was a scavenger, a theory many paleontologists also have about the T. rex, looking for carcasses or smaller, easier-to-catch prey.

"Their large and blade-like teeth were adapted to eat meat. But the bite speed was low, suggesting it was also a scavenger," Müller explained.

SOM Fig. S2. Selected skull parts of Dynamosuchus collisensis (CAPPA/UFSM 0248). A. Partial skull roof in dorsal view. B. Partial skull roof in ventral view. C. Partial left maxilla in lateral view. D. Parabasisphenoid in anterior view. Abbreviations: bpt, basipterygoid process; bt, basal tubera; ea, empty alveolus; f, frontal; fo, foramen; fob, fossa for the olfactory bulb; ltf, laterotemporal fenestra; orb, orbit; p, parietal; pof, postfontral; rdg, ridge; stf, supratemporal fenestra; tt, tooth. Scale bar = 30 mm. Author: Rodrigo T. Müller, M. Belén Von Baczko, Julia B. Desojo, and Sterling J. Nesbitt

"Therefore, this animal probably caught slow animals and searched for dead animals — like today's vultures and hyenas," Müller continued.

This is the fourth D. collisensis, which is a member of reptiles known as ornithosuchids, to be discovered. The first was discovered in Scotland in the 19th century and the other two were unearthed in Argentina, 50 years ago, Müller added.

The skull was similar to T Rex's - and a double row of bony plates ran down its back. It belonged to a group called the ornithosuchids. It is the fourth different species to be discovered. (Credit: SWNS)

That an ornithosuchid was discovered from the Late Triassic period in Brazil "suggests that ornithosuchids were more widespread than previously thought in the southern hemisphere," the researchers wrote in the study's abstract.

In November, researchers discovered the world's oldest carnivorous dinosaur, which also lived 230 million years ago, in southern Brazil.


Photos: Velafrons Dinosaur on Display Outside of Children’s Discovery Museum

Thursday, February 6, 2020

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 4: Joseph Trillo, faculty maintenance operations supervisor at Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, works on the base of "Ichiro," a Velafrons dinosaur by artist Marianela Fuentes, outside of the museum in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

Artist Marianela Fuentes’ art installation “Sacred Beings: Ichiro The Dino.”

Artist Marianela Fuentes’ art installation called “Sacred Beings: Ichiro The Dino” is “an exact replica skeleton of the Velafrons Coahuilensis, a dinosaur from the Cretaceous period, 72 million years ago,” according to her website. The dinosaur is currently on display outside of the Children’s Discovery Museum.

“The dinosaur is decorated in the art of the Huichol, an indigenous tribe of Mexico who now live in the same lands that once were populated by the Velafron,” also according to her website.

The display was previously at the Burning Man Festival. It is about 36 feet long and weighs about 330 pounds.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 4: The head of "Ichiro" a Velafrons dinosaur by artist Marianela Fuentes outside of the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 4: The head of "Ichiro" a Velafrons dinosaur by artist Marianela Fuentes outside of the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 4: A foot on "Ichiro" a Velafrons dinosaur by artist Marianela Fuentes outside of the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 4: Joseph Trillo, faculty maintenance operations supervisor at Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, works on the base of "Ichiro," a Velafrons dinosaur by artist Marianela Fuentes, outside of the museum in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 4: A man takes a picture of "Ichiro" a Velafrons dinosaur by artist Marianela Fuentes outside of the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)


Gunakadeit joseeae: New Thalattosaur Species Discovered in Southeast Alaska

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

This is an artist’s depiction of Gunakadeit joseeae. Credit: Artwork by Ray Troll ©2020

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have identified a new species of thalattosaur, a marine reptile that lived more than 200 million years ago.

The new species, Gunakadeit joseeae, is the most complete thalattosaur ever found in North America and has given paleontologists new insights about the thalattosaurs' family tree, according to a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. Scientists found the fossil in Southeast Alaska in 2011.

Thalattosaurs were marine reptiles that lived more than 200 million years ago, during the mid to late Triassic Period, when their distant relatives -- dinosaurs -- were first emerging. They grew to lengths of up to 3-4 meters and lived in equatorial oceans worldwide until they died out near the end of the Triassic.

"When you find a new species, one of the things you want to do is tell people where you think it fits in the family tree," said Patrick Druckenmiller, the paper's lead author and director and earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. "We decided to start from scratch on the family tree."

Prior to the discovery of Gunakadeit joseeae, it had been two decades since scientists had thoroughly updated thalattosaur interrelationships, Druckenmiller said. The process of re-examining a prehistoric animal's family tree involves analyzing dozens and dozens of detailed anatomical features from fossil specimens worldwide, then using computers to analyze the information to see how the different species could be related.

Druckenmiller said he and collaborator Neil Kelley from Vanderbilt University were surprised when they identified where Gunakadeit joseeae landed.

"It was so specialized and weird, we thought it might be out at the furthest branches of the tree," he said. Instead it's a relatively primitive type of thalattosaur that survived late into the existence of the group.

"Thalattosaurs were among the first groups of land-dwelling reptiles to readapt to life in the ocean," Kelley said. "They thrived for tens of millions of years, but their fossils are relatively rare so this new specimen helps fill an important gap in the story of their evolution and eventual extinction."

That the fossil was found at all is a remarkable. It was located in rocks in the intertidal zone. The site is normally underwater all but a few days a year. In Southeast Alaska, when extreme low tides hit, people head to the beaches to explore. That's exactly what Jim Baichtal, a geologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Tongass National Forest, was doing on May 18, 2011, when low tides of -3.7 feet were predicted.

He and a few colleagues, including Gene Primaky, the office's information technology professional, headed out to the Keku Islands near the village of Kake to look for fossils. Primaky saw something odd on a rocky outcrop and called over Baichtal, "Hey Jim! What is this?" Baichtal immediately recognized it as a fossilized intact skeleton. He snapped a photo with his phone and sent it to Druckenmiller.

A month later, the tides were forecasted to be almost that low, -3.1 feet, for two days. It was the last chance they would have to remove the fossil during daylight hours for nearly a year, so they had to move fast. The team had just four hours each day to work before the tide came in and submerged the fossil.

"We rock-sawed like crazy and managed to pull it out, but just barely," Druckenmiller said. "The water was lapping at the edge of the site."

Once the sample was back at the UA Museum of the North, a fossil preparation specialist worked in two-week stints over the course of several years to get the fossil cleaned up and ready for study.

When they saw the fossil's skull, they could tell right away that it was something new because of its extremely pointed snout, which was likely an adaptation for the shallow marine environment where it lived.

"It was probably poking its pointy schnoz into cracks and crevices in coral reefs and feeding on soft-bodied critters," Druckenmiller said. Its specialization may have been what ultimately led to its extinction. "We think these animals were highly specialized to feed in the shallow water environments, but when the sea levels dropped and food sources changed, they had nowhere to go."

Once the fossil was identified as a new species, it needed a name. To honor the local culture and history, elders in Kake and representatives of Sealaska Corp. agreed the Tlingit name "Gunakadeit" would be appropriate. Gunakadeit is a sea monster of Tlingit legend that brings good fortune to those who see it. The second part of the new animal's name, joseeae, recognizes Primaky's mother, Joseé Michelle DeWaelheyns.

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Alaska FairbanksNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Patrick S. Druckenmiller, Neil P. Kelley, Eric T. Metz, James Baichtal. An articulated Late Triassic (Norian) thalattosauroid from Alaska and ecomorphology and extinction of ThalattosauriaScientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-57939-2


Laurasichersis relicta: Primitive Turtle Species Survived The Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Credit: José Antonio Peñas

When the dinosaur-killing asteroid hit the Earth about 66 million years ago, it wiped out 70 percent of all life on the planet, including many groups of primitive tortoises that were living with the dinosaurs. In fact, nearly all of the primitive turtle groups were wiped out.

However, a paleontologist discovered the only primitive turtle species that managed to survive the wipe-out in the northern hemisphere.

Primitive Turtle

Today, all the turtle species we are aware of descended from two lineages that separated during the Jurassic era, about 160 million years ago. Apart from the two turtle lineages that persist until today, there were also many primitive turtle species in an earlier evolutionary position that lived with the dinosaurs as well. However, virtually all of the were wiped out by the asteroid impact. 

Based on fossil records in South America and Oceania, horned turtles were the only primitive turtles that survived the asteroid impact in Gondwana, now known as the southern hemisphere. Unfortunately, their descendants were eventually hunted by humans into extinction. Apart from the horned turtles, no other primitive turtle species from the last 66 million years have been recorded.

That is, until recently, when paleontologist Adán Pérez García of the National University of Distance Education in Spain confirmed another primitive turtle species, the Laurasichersis relicta, that survived the mass extinction in the ancient continent Laurasia, now known as the northern hemisphere.

This now-extinct species had separated from Gondwana tortoises a hundred million years prior and, for reasons that still remain unknown, they survived the mass extinction when none of the other primitive turtles did.

This is Laurasichersis relicta, an extinct turtle genus and species that corresponds to a new form. (José Antonio Peñas (SINC))


The turtle is just about 60 centimeters long in adulthood and was not capable of retracting its head inside its shell, just like other primitive reptiles. Because of this disadvantage, it had defense mechanisms such as spikes on its legs, neck and tail.

Somehow, this species ended up surviving the asteroid impact and continued to live with the new predators in the new environment. 

“The fauna of European turtles underwent a radical change: most of the forms that inhabited this continent before the extinction disappeared, and their role in many ecosystems was left vacant until the relatively rapid arrival of new groups from various places in North America, Africa and Asia,” Pérez García explained.

These surviving turtles all belong to the two turtle lineages that persist until today. With the discovery of the Laurasichersis, we now know that another primitive species survived the mass extinction event in Laurasia.

The study is published in Scientific Reports.