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New Species of Allosaurus Discovered in Utah

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Allosaurus jimmadseni attack juvenile sauropod.  CREDIT: Todd Marshall

A remarkable new species of meat-eating dinosaur has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Paleontologists unearthed the first specimen in early 1990s in Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah. The huge carnivore inhabited the flood plains of western North America during the Late Jurassic Period, between 157-152 million years ago, making it the geologically oldest species of Allosaurus, predating the more well-known state fossil of Utah, Allosaurus fragilis. The newly named dinosaur Allosaurus jimmadseni, was announced today in the open-access scientific journal PeerJ.

The species belongs to the allosauroids, a group of small to large-bodied, two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Allosaurus jimmadseni, possesses several unique features, among them a short narrow skull with low facial crests extending from the horns in front of the eyes forward to the nose and a relatively narrow back of the skull with a flat surface to the bottom of the skull under the eyes. The skull was weaker with less of an overlapping field of vision than its younger cousin Allosaurus fragilisAllosaurus jimmadseni evolved at least 5 million years earlier than fragilis, and was the most common and the top predator in its ecosystem. It had relatively long legs and tail, and long arms with three sharp claws. The name Allosaurus translates as "different reptile," and the second part, jimmadseni, honors Utah State Paleontologist James H. Madsen Jr.

Following an initial description by Othniel C. Marsh in 1877, Allosaurus quickly became the best known--indeed the quintessential--Jurassic theropod. The taxonomic composition of the genus has long been a debate over the past 130 years. Paleontologists argue that there are anywhere between one and 12 species of Allosaurus in the Morrison Formation of North America. This study recognizes only two species--A. fragilis and A. jimmadseni.

"Previously, paleontologists thought there was only one species of Allosaurus in Jurassic North America, but this study shows there were two species--the newly described Allosaurus jimmadseni evolved at least 5 million years earlier than its younger cousin, Allosaurus fragilis," said co-lead author Mark Loewen, research associate at the Natural History Museum of Utah, and associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah led the study. "The skull of Allosaurus jimmadseni is more lightly built than its later relative Allosaurus fragilis, suggesting a different feeding behavior between the two."

"Recognizing a new species of dinosaur in rocks that have been intensely investigated for over 150 years is an outstanding experience of discovery. Allosaurus jimmadseni is a great example of just how much more we have to learn about the world of dinosaurs. Many more exciting fossils await discovery in the Jurassic rocks of the American West," said Daniel Chure, retired paleontologist at Dinosaur National Monument and co-lead author of the study.

George Engelmann of the University of Nebraska, Omaha initially discovered the initial skeleton of the new species within Dinosaur National Monument in 1990. In 1996, several years after the headless skeleton was collected, the radioactive skull belonging to the skeleton using a radiation detector by Ramal Jones of the University of Utah. Both skeleton and skull were excavated by teams from Dinosaur National Monument.

"Big Al," another specimen belonging to the new species, was discovered in Wyoming on United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in 1991 and is housed in the collections of the Museum of The Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. Previously thought to belong to Allosaurus fragilis, "Big Al" was featured in the BBC's 2001 "Walking with Dinosaurs: Ballad of Big Al" video. Over the last 30 years, crews from various museums have collected and prepared materials of this new species. Other specimens include "Big Al Two" at the Saurier Museum Aathal in Switzerland and Allosaurus material from the Dry Mesa Quarry of Colorado at Brigham Young University.

"This exciting new study illustrates the importance of continued paleontological investigations on public lands in the West. Discovery of this new taxon of dinosaur will provide important information about the life and times of Jurassic dinosaurs and represents another unique component of America's Heritage," said Brent Breithaupt, BLM regional paleontologist.

Early Morrison Formation dinosaurs were replaced by some of the most iconic dinosaurs of the Late Jurassic

Allosaurus jimmadseni lived on the semi-arid Morrison Formation floodplains of the interior of western North America. The older rocks of the Morrison Formation preserve a fauna of dinosaurs distinct from the iconic younger Morrison Formation faunas that include Allosaurus fragilis, Diplodocus and Stegosaurus. Paleontologists have recently determined that specimens of this new species of dinosaur lived in several places throughout the western interior of North America (Utah, Colorado and Wyoming).

Study summary

Dinosaurs were the dominant members of terrestrial ecosystems during the Mesozoic. However, the pattern of evolution and turnover of ecosystems during the middle Mesozoic remains poorly understood. The authors report the discovery of the earliest member of the group of large-bodied allosauroids in the Morrison Formation ecosystem that was replaced by Allosaurus fragilis and illustrate changes acquired in the genus over time. The study includes an in-depth description of every bone of the skull and comparisons with the cranial materials of other carnivorous dinosaurs. Finally, the study recognizes just two species of Allosaurus in North America with Allosaurus fragilis replacing its earlier relative Allosaurus jimmadseni.

Fact sheet: Major points of the paper

  • A remarkable new species of meat-eating dinosaur, Allosaurus jimmadseni, is described based on two spectacularly complete skeletons. The first specimen was unearthed in Dinosaur National Monument, in northeastern Utah.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni is distinguished by a number of unique features, including low crests running from above the eyes to the snout and a relatively narrow back of the skull with a flat surface to the bottom of the upper skull under the eyes. The skull was weaker with less of an overlapping field of vision than its younger cousin Allosaurus fragilis.
  • At 155 million years old, Allosaurus jimmadseni is the geologically-oldest species of Allosaurus predating the more well-known State Fossil of Utah Allosaurus fragilis.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni was the most common and the top predator in its ecosystem. It had relatively long legs and tail, and long arms with three sharp claws.

Study design

  • Comparison of the bones with all other known allosauroid dinosaurs indicate that the species possessed unique features of the upper jaw and cheeks (maxilla and jugal) and a decorative crest stretching from just in front of the eyes to the nose.
  • Many of the comparisons were made with the thousands of bones of Allosaurus fragilis collected from the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry administered by the Bureau of Land Management that are housed in the collections of the Natural History Museum of Utah.
  • On the basis of these features, the scientific team named it a new genus and species of dinosaur, Allosaurus jimmadseni (translating to "Jim Madsen's different reptile").
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni is particularly notable for its slender, narrow skull with short sharp nasal crests compared to its close relative and successor Allosaurus fragilis.
  • The study was funded in part by the University of Utah, the National Park Service and the National Science Foundation.

New dinosaur name: Allosaurus jimmadseni

  • The first part of the name, Allosaurus, (a·luh·SAW·ruhs) can be translated from Greek as the "other", "strange" or "different" and "lizard" or "reptile" literally to "different reptile". The second part of the name jimmadseni (gym-MAD-sehn-eye) honors the late Utah State Paleontologist James Madsen Jr. who excavated and studied tens of thousands of Allosaurus bones from the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry in central Utah and contributed greatly to the knowledge of Allosaurus.


  • Allosaurus jimmadseni was approximately 26 to 29 feet (8-9 meters) long.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni weighed around 4000 lbs. (1.8 metric tonnes).


  • Allosaurus jimmadseni belongs to a group of carnivorous dinosaurs called "allosauroids," the same group as the famous Allosaurus fragilis.
  • Other dinosaurs found in rocks containing Allosaurus jimmadseni include the carnivorous theropods Torvosaurus and Ceratosaurus; the long-necked sauropods Haplocanthosaurus and Supersaurus; and the plate-backed stegosaur Hesperosaurus.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni is closely related to the State Fossil of Utah, Allosaurus fragilis.


  • Allosaurus jimmadseni was a two-legged carnivore, with long forelimbs and sharp, recurved claws that were likely used for grasping prey.
  • Like other allosauroid dinosaurs, Allosaurus jimmadseni had a large head full of 80 sharp teeth. It was also the most common carnivore in its ecosystem.

Age and geography

  • Allosaurus jimmadseni lived during the Kimmeridgian stage of the Late Jurassic period, which spanned from approximately 157 million to 152 million years ago.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni lived in a semi-arid inland basin filled with floodplains, braided stream systems, lakes, and seasonal mudflats along the western interior of North America.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni represents the earliest species of Allosaurus in the world.


  • Allosaurus jimmadseni can be found in a geologic unit known as the Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation and its equivalents exposed in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah.
  • The first specimen of Allosaurus jimmadseni was discovered in the National Park Service administered by Dinosaur National Monument in Uintah County, near Vernal, Utah.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni was first discovered by George Engelmann of the University of Nebraska, Omaha on July 15, 1990 during a contracted paleontological inventory of the Morrison Formation of Dinosaur National Monument.
  • Another specimen of Allosaurus jimmadseni known as "Big Al," was found on land administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming.
  • Further specimens of Allosaurus jimmadseni have been subsequently recognized in the collections of various museums.
  • Allosaurus jimmadseni specimens are permanently housed in the collections of Dinosaur National Monument, Utah; the Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Montana; the Saurier Museum of Aathal, Switzerland; the South Dakota School of Mines, Rapid City, South Dakota; Brigham Young University's Museum of Paleontology, Provo, Utah; and the United States National Museum (Smithsonian) Washington D.C.
  • These discoveries are the result of a continuing collaboration between the Natural History Museum of Utah, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management.


  • The first skeleton of Allosaurus jimmadseni was excavated during the summers of 1990 to 1994 by staff of the National Park Service's Dinosaur National Monument. The skeleton block was so heavy it required the use of explosives to remove surrounding rock and a helicopter to fly out the 2700 kg block. The head of the skeleton was missing
  • The first bones of Allosaurus jimmadseni discovered included toes and some tail vertebrae. Later excavation revealed most of an articulated skeleton missing the head and part of the tail.
  • The radioactive skull of the first specimen of Allosaurus jimmadseni, which had previously eluded discovery, was found in 1996 by Ramal Jones of the University of Utah using a radiation detector.


  • It required seven years to fully prepare all of the bones of Allosaurus jimmadseni.
  • Much of the preparation was done by then Dinosaur National Monument employees Scott Madsen and Ann Elder, with some assistance from Dinosaur National Monument volunteers and students at Brigham Young University.


  • The Natural History Museum of Utah houses the world's largest collection of Allosaurus fossils, which are frequently studied by researchers from around the world.
  • More than 270 National Park Service (NPS) areas preserve fossils even though only 16 of those were established wholly or in part for their fossils. Fossils in NPS areas can be found in the rocks or sediments of a park, in museum collections, and in cultural contexts (building stones, artifacts, historical legends, and documents).
  • The United States Bureau of Land Management manages more land--247 million acres--than any other federal agency, and manages paleontological resources using scientific principles and expertise.


715-Million-Year-Old Fungi Microfossils Found

Saturday, January 25, 2020

High-resolution SEM micrograph of the mycelium-like structures from the Mbuji-Mayi Supergroup, Democratic Republic of Congo. Image credit: Bonneville et al, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax7599.

An international team of researchers has found the microscopic fungal filaments and mycelium-like structures in 715-million-year-old (Neoproterozoic Era) dolomitic shale from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“These ancient rocks formed in a lagoon or coastal lake environment,” said Professor Steeve Bonneville, a scientist at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

“The presence of fungi in this transitional area between water and land leads us to believe that these microscopic mushrooms were important partners of the first plants that colonized the Earth’s surface around 500 million years ago.”

Using multiple molecular analysis techniques, such as synchrotron radiation spectroscopy, μ-Raman confocal microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and electron microscopy, Professor Bonneville and colleagues demonstrated the presence of chitin — a very tough compound found in the cell walls of fungi — in the Neoproterozoic fungal microfossils.

The researchers also demonstrated that the organisms were eukaryotes, i.e. their cells had a nucleus.

High-resolution SEM micrograph of the mycelial networks from the Mbuji-Mayi Supergroup, Democratic Republic of Congo. Image credit: Bonneville et al, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax7599.

“We document dark, nontranslucide, cylindrical filaments typically between 3.5 and 11.5 μm in width, extending over several hundreds of micrometers in length,” they said.

“These filaments sometimes evolve into dense interconnected networks of 500 μm in diameter.”

“In these mycelium-like structures, filaments have multiple-order, high-angle branching and, possibly, anastomosing filaments, common features of fungal networks yet rare for prokaryotes.”

The filaments for living and fossil fungi range from 2 to over 20 μm in width.

The size of the Neoproterozoic fossil filaments observed by the team fits well with fungal dimensions.

“This is a major discovery, and one that prompts us to reconsider our timeline of the evolution of organisms on Earth,” Professor Bonneville said.

“The next step will be to look further back in time, in even more ancient rocks, for evidence of those microorganisms that are truly at the origins of the animal kingdom.”

The findings were published in a paper in the journal Science Advances.


S. Bonneville et al. 2020. Molecular identification of fungi microfossils in a Neoproterozoic shale rock. Science Advances 6 (4): eaax7599; doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax7599


3,000-Year-Old Teeth Solve Pacific Banana Mystery

Friday, January 24, 2020

The findings were made from 3,000-year-old skeletons at Teouma, the oldest archaeological cemetery in Remote Oceania, a region that includes Vanuatu and all of the Pacific Islands east and South, including Hawaii, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa. Credit: University of Otago

Humans began transporting and growing banana in Vanuatu 3000 years ago, a University of Otago scientist has discovered.

The discovery is the earliest evidence of humans taking and cultivating banana into what was the last area of the planet to be colonised.

In an article published this week in Nature Human Behaviour, Dr. Monica Tromp, Senior Laboratory Analyst at the University of Otago's Southern Pacific Archaeological Research (SPAR), found microscopic particles of banana and other plants trapped in calcified dental plaque of the first settlers of Vanuatu.

The finds came from 3000-year-old skeletons at the Teouma site on Vanuatu's Efate Island.

Dr. Tromp used microscopy to look for 'microparticles' in the plaque, also known as dental calculus, scraped from the teeth of the skeletons. That allowed her to discover some of the plants people were eating and using to make materials like fabric and rope in the area when it was first colonised.

Teouma is the oldest archaeological cemetery in Remote Oceania, a region that includes Vanuatu and all of the Pacific islands east and south, including Hawaii, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa. The Teouma cemetery is unique because it is uncommon to find such well-preserved archaeological burials in the Pacific. Bone generally does not preserve in hot and humid climates and the same is true for things made of plant materials and also food.

The first inhabitants of Vanuatu were people associated with the Lapita cultural complex who originated in Island South East Asia and sailed into the Pacific on canoes, reaching the previously uninhabited islands of Vanuatu around 3000 years ago.

There has been debate about how the earliest Lapita people survived when they first arrived to settle Vanuatu and other previously untouched islands in the Pacific. It is thought Lapita people brought domesticated plants and animals with them on canoes—a transported landscape. But direct evidence for these plants had not been found at Teouma until Dr. Tromp's study.

"One of the big advantages of studying calcified plaque or dental calculus is that you can find out a lot about otherwise invisible parts of people's lives," Dr. Tromp says. Plaque calcifies very quickly and can trap just about anything you put inside of your mouth—much like the infamous Jurassic Park mosquito in amber—but they are incredibly small things that you can only see with a microscope."

The study began as part of Dr. Tromp's Ph.D. research in the Department of Anatomy and involved collaboration with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Vanuatu National Herbarium and the community of Eratap village—the traditional landowners of the Teouma site.

Dr. Tromp spent hundreds of hours in front of a microscope finding and identifying microparticles extracted from thirty-two of the Teouma individuals. The positive identification of banana (Musa sp.) is direct proof it was brought with the earliest Lapita populations to Vanuatu.

Palm species (Arecaceae) and non-diagnostic tree and shrub microparticles were also identified, indicating these plants were also important to the lives of this early population, possibly for use as food or food wrapping, fabric and rope making, or for medicinal purposes, Dr. Tromp says.

"The wide, and often unexpected range of things you can find in calcified plaque makes what I do both incredibly exciting and frustrating at the same time."

The article was co-authored by Elizabeth Matisoo-Smith, Rebecca Kinaston and Hallie Buckley of the University of Otago, and Stuart Bedford and Matthew Spriggs of the Australian National University.

More information: Monica Tromp et al. Exploitation and utilization of tropical rainforests indicated in dental calculus of ancient Oceanic Lapita culture colonists, Nature Human Behaviour (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-019-0808-y

Provided by University of Otago Source:

New Research Tracks Evolution of Extinct Straight-Tusked Elephants

Friday, January 24, 2020

Reconstructed life appearance of the straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon antiquus in (top) side and (bottom) frontal view, based on remains uncovered from the Neumark-Nord 1 site in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Image credit: Hsu Shu-yu.

Palaeoloxodon is an extinct genus of straight-tusked elephants that lived throughout Europe and Asia during the Pleistocene and Holocene. It migrated out of Africa about 800,000 years ago and divided into many species, with distinct species in Japan, Central Asia and Europe, and even dwarf species on some Mediterranean islands. A new study, published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, enhances our understanding of all these Palaeoloxodon species.

The most intriguing feature of the straight-tusked elephant, apart from its absolutely enormous size, is the massive, headband-like crest on the skull roof — the so-called parieto-occipital crest — which projects down the forehead.

When the celebrated Victorian Scottish geologist Hugh Falconer studied the first fossil skull of Palaeoloxodon found in India, he remarked that the head seemed ‘so grotesquely constructed that it looks the caricature of an elephant’s head in a periwig.’

For a long time, palaeontologists thought that Palaeoloxodon antiquus from Europe had a rather slenderly built skull roof crest; whereas the Indian species Palaeoloxodon namadicus is characterised by an extremely robust skull crest that extends near to the base of the trunk from the top of the skull.

But some Palaeoloxodon skulls, found in Italy and Germany, with almost the same exaggerated skull crest as the Indian form, led a few scientists into suspecting these might all be single species.

“Just like modern elephants, Palaeoloxodon went through six sets of teeth in their lifetimes. This means we can tell the age of any individual with confidence by looking at its fossilised teeth,” said Dr. Hanwen Zhang, a paleontologist in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol and the Department of Earth Sciences at UK’s Natural History Museum.

“When we looked at a series of skulls from Italy, Germany and India, we found a consistent pattern: the skull crest developed from being very small, not protruding beyond the forehead in juveniles to being larger and more protruding in young adults, eventually becoming very stout in aged adults.”

“As I plotted various skull and limb bone measurements for these incredible prehistoric elephants, it became clear that the Indian Palaeoloxodon form a distinct group from the European ones; even in European skulls with quite pronounced crests, the skull roof never becomes as thickened as in the Indian specimens,” said Dr. Asier Larramendi, an independent researcher from Spain.

“This tells us we once had two separate species of these enormous elephants in Europe and India.”

“Besides the funky skull roof crest, the head of the straight-tusked elephant is also remarkable for being huge, the largest of any elephant ever — some 1.4 m (4.5 feet) from the top of the skull roof to the base of the tusk sheaths.”

“Therefore, the skull crest probably evolved to provide additional attachment areas for extra neck muscles, so the animal did not fall on its head.”

“Having gotten to the bottom of the antiquus/namadicus problem, it then became apparent that other fossil skull materials found in Asia and East Africa represent distinct, possibly more evolutionarily conservative species of Palaeoloxodon,” Dr. Zhang said.

“Even in fully mature adults with the last set of teeth in place, the skull roof crest remains comparatively unpronounced. This is the case with the earliest Palaeoloxodon from Africa, some Asian species retained this condition.”


Asier Larramendi et al. 2020. The evolution of Palaeoloxodon skull structure: Disentangling phylogenetic, sexually dimorphic, ontogenetic, and allometric morphological signals. Quaternary Science Reviews 229: 106090; doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.106090


U of C Paleontologist Explores How an Ancient Fish Came to Walk on Land

Friday, January 24, 2020

An illustration of Tiktaalik by Flick Ford. (Courtesy of the University of Chicago)

Around 375 million years ago, some fish began an extraordinary transformation that would change the history of life on Earth: their fins evolved into something like limbs that enabled them to walk on land.

Key to understanding that transition was the discovery in the Canadian Arctic of the fossilized remains of a now extinct species of fish that came to be called Tiktaalik.

Tiktaalik has a flattened head that resembles that of a crocodile and fins that appear to have been sturdy enough to allow it to support its body weight on land.

University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin was one three scientists who discovered the fossil in 2004 on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, in northern Canada.

“My team and I were looking for places in the world to find an intermediate between fish that live in water and creatures that walk on land. And we decided for a variety of reasons to go to the Canadian Arctic because the rocks were perfect to discover this kind of creature,” said Shubin.

And 16 years later, research by Shubin and his team continues to add to our understanding of this key transitional species – with the help of some advanced technology.

Using CT scans to examine the delicate structure of fossilized fins still encased in rock, Shubin and his colleagues were able to construct 3D models of the entire fin of Tiktaalik and some of its close relatives. They then were able to use those models to infer how those fins worked and changed over time as they evolved into limbs.

“This technology wasn’t available to us in 2004 when we originally discovered Tiktaalik,” said Shubin. “What it showed us, remarkably, is that this is a fin that’s built to support the animal … And we saw all that with a CT scanner. Such that when we put this thing together we could envision how this thing actually walked.”

Shubin was the senior author of the study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Thomas Stewart, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago, led the study.

“If you want to understand how animals were evolving to use their fins in this part of history, this is an important data set,” said Stewart.

Stewart, Shubin and his colleagues studied three fish from the late Devonian period: Tiktaalik, Sauripterus and Eusthenopteron.

While Tiktaalik is believed to have been able to support most of its weight with its fins and make short trips on land, Sauripterus and Eusthenopteron are thought to have been fully aquatic but with fins that may have enabled them to prop themselves up on the bottom of lakes and streams.

“This provides further information that allows us to understand how an animal like Tiktaalik was using its fins in this transition,” said Stewart. “Animals went from swimming freely and using their fins to control the flow of water around them, to becoming adapted to pushing off against the surface at the bottom of the water.”

But what was the evolutionary driver that led Tiktaalik to first leave the water?

Shubin says that while on land there was only insect and plant life at that time, the water was full of predators and prey.

“It was a predator-rich world,” said Shubin. “What we see is that the world at this time about 375 million years ago, in water, was a fish-eat-fish world. So what Tiktaalik was doing was avoiding the fight by going on to land where there are no real predators and no real competitors and it had a whole world to explore.”


Jurassic World 3 to be Filmed in Malta

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Malta will be one of the locations where Jurassic World 3 will be filmed

The Hollywood blockbuster Jurassic World will be partly shot in Malta in May.

Hollywood blockbuster film, Jurassic World 3 will be partly filmed in Malta in May, industry sources have confirmed.

The filmmakers will use various locations around the island, including the capital Valletta. 

The film is expected to be released in cinemas in June 2021 and will be filmed in Malta, Vancouver, Hawaii and London’s Pinewood studios.

Jurassic World will signal a return of large budget movies to the island. In 2016, Assassin’s Creed and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi were also partially filmed in Malta.

Colin Trevorrow will return as director for the third instalment of Jurassic World. The cast of the original 1993 Jurassic Park film, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, and Sam Neill, will also return to start in this latest film.

Film Commissioner Johann Grech would neither confirm nor deny the news, when contacted on Wednesday.

“Malta’s new strategy in the sector has been attracting a lot of productions. Last year, there were 21 productions filmed in Malta. We had back-to-back productions between May and December, which left €40 million in the economy,” Grech said.

He noted that the package of incentives introduced last year has ensured Malta will continue to play an important role in the film industry.

It is unclear whether dinosaurs will be seen roaming the streets of Valletta but the return of a blockbuster movie is expected to generate business that will have a spill over effect on the communities where filming will take place.


Part Of “Jurassic World 3” Will Be Filmed In Vancouver Next Month

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Jurassic World | IMDb

The movie will be released next year!

The west coast of Canada is quickly heating up as a hot spot for movie and TV productions. Some of the most popular series are filmed there, bringing famous faces to the BC area. That will soon include the cast of Jurassic World 3 filming in Vancouver that begins in February 2020. 

According to What's Filming, the movie is under production with the name Arcadia. The website reported that filming will begin on February 24 and go until March 6. 

Only a portion of the movie will be recorded in BC and according to IMDb, in addition to Vancouver, "The Bridge Studios, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada" will also be used.

IMDb reported that the other two filming locations are "Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, UK" and "O'ahu, Hawaii, USA". 

The first Jurassic World movie was filmed around Hawaii and the second one was in areas in England and Hawaii. 

The sixth film in the Jurassic Park franchise will merge the original cast members in the first 1993 movie with the new characters from the mid-2010 sequels. 

Jurassic Park saw Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum as the stars, with only Goldblum returning for the second movie. The third film brought back Neill and Dern and didn't see a Goldblum appearance. 

Jurassic World premiered in 2015 with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard as lead characters. Goldblum had a small appearance in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018 as his original character.

According to IMDb, the upcoming film will merge all five actors in the franchise. The order they're listed in starts with Dern playing Ellie Sattler, Howard playing Claire Dearing, Pratt as Owen Grady, Neill as Alan Grant, and Goldblum as Ian Malcolm.

According to Digital Spy, they wrote that "Chris Pratt has promised fans that they 'will not be disappointed' and teased that the movie could start after a time jump."

Digital Spy also reported that the trailers for the threequel will likely come in December 2020 and then in April 2021. 

Jurassic World 3 is set to hit theatres on June 11, 2021.


Parioscorpio venator: Fossils of Earliest Known Scorpion Discovered

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Reconstruction of Parioscorpio venator. Structures outlined in gray are inferred based on Proscorpius osborni. Structures highlighted with gray infilling are the preserved elements of the pulmonary-cardiovascular system. Image credit: Wendruff et al, doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56010-z.

The exceptionally preserved fossils of the oldest species of scorpion ever found have been unearthed in Wisconsin, the United States.

The newly-discovered ancient scorpion lived around 437 million years ago during the early Silurian period.

Dubbed Parioscorpio venator, the animal was about 2.5 cm (one inch) long — about the same size as many extant scorpions.

The creature is the earliest scorpion yet reported, and it provides new information about how animals transitioned from living in the sea to living entirely on land.

Its respiratory and circulatory systems are almost identical to those of extant scorpions and operate similarly to those of a horseshoe crab.

Parioscorpio venator shows a crucial evolutionary link between the way ancient ancestors of scorpions respired under water, and the way modern-day scorpions breathe on land,” said Professor Loren Babcock, a paleontologist in the School of Earth Sciences at the Ohio State University.

“The inner workings of the respiratory-circulatory system in this animal are, shape-wise, identical to those of the arachnids and scorpions that breathe air exclusively,” he explained.

“But it also is incredibly similar to what we recognize in marine arthropods like horseshoe crabs.”

“So, it looks like this scorpion, this lineage, must have been pre-adapted to life on land, meaning they had the morphologic capability to make that transition, even before they first stepped onto land.”

Parioscorpio venator from the Brandon Bridge Formation, Wisconsin, the United States. Scale bars – 5 mm. Image credit: Wendruff et al, doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56010-z.

The fossilized remains of Parioscorpio venator were unearthed in 1985 from the Brandon Bridge Formation, a site in Wisconsin that was once a small pool at the base of an island cliff face.

The specimens belong to the so-called Waukesha Biota, and were recovered from layers older than those from Scotland yielding Dolichophonus loudonensis, which was previously accepted as the oldest known scorpion.

Professor Babcock, Otterbein University’s Dr. Andrew Wendruff and their colleagues examined the fossils under a microscope, and took detailed, high-resolution photographs of the fossils from different angles.

They were able to identify the appendages, a chamber where the animal would have stored its venom, and the remains of its respiratory and circulatory systems.

“We’re looking at the oldest known scorpion — the oldest known member of the arachnid lineage, which has been one of the most successful land-going creatures in all of Earth history,” Professor Babcock said.

“And beyond that, what is of even greater significance is that we’ve identified a mechanism by which animals made that critical transition from a marine habitat to a terrestrial habitat.”

“It provides a model for other kinds of animals that have made that transition including, potentially, vertebrate animals. It’s a groundbreaking discovery.”

The discovery is reported in a paper in the journal Scientific Reports.


A.J. Wendruff et al. A Silurian ancestral scorpion with fossilised internal anatomy illustrating a pathway to arachnid terrestrialisation. Sci Rep 10, 14; doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56010-z


Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction is Caused by Asteroids, Not Volcanic Activity

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Cretaceous-tertiary Extinction Event by Richard Bizley

The extinction of the dinosaur is maybe one of the most exciting topics in paleontology wherein scientists offer various possible explanations as to why these apex predators disappeared. Two of the most popular theories on dinosaur extinction was one, an asteroid hit the Earth and two, volcanic activity. However, in a recent study conducted by researchers from Yale University, it is shown that volcanic activity did not play a direct role in the mass extinction of these apex predators. However, the asteroid did.

According to Pincelli Hull, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics and her colleagues at Yale University, the environmental impacts brought by the massive volcanic eruptions that have transpired in the Deccan Traps region happened before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, also known as K-Pg, 66 million years ago, hence, not the primary reason (or even contributed) to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Hull explains that volcanic activity may contribute to mass extinctions because they release a lot of gases including sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. These gases alter the climate and may acidify the atmosphere. But the recent work of Hull and her colleagues, which is published in Science, focused on the timing of lava eruption more than the release of the gases.

To be able to pinpoint the timing of the emission of volcanic gas, the researchers compared the global temperature changes and the carbon isotopes from marine fossils to the models of the climatic effects of carbon dioxide. The researchers figured out that most of the gases were released well before the asteroid impact which strengthens their claim of the asteroid being the main reason for the extinction of the creatures of this period. Former Yale researcher (and compiler of the temperature records which they used for analysis) Michael Henehan said that volcanic activity in the late Cretaceous caused a gradual global warming event but only for about two degrees. It is not enough to cause a mass extinction. "A number of species moved toward the North and South poles and these species eventually moved back before the asteroid impact." He said. Hull adds that a lot of scientists speculated that volcanic activities mattered greatly during the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction. "And we're saying 'no they didn't.'" She said.

It is also important to note that recent studies on the Deccan Traps located in modern-day India show evidence pointing to massive eruptions happening in the immediate aftermath of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction. Understandably, these results puzzled scientists since there is no warming event to match those massive eruptions. Luckily, the recent study done by Hull and her colleagues provided an answer to this mystery. According to the study's modeler and postdoctoral associate Donald Penman, since the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction is a mass extinction, this already altered the global carbon cycle. The results of the study show that the changes allow the ocean to absorb enormous amounts of carbon dioxide for a very long time and this my have hidden the warming effects of the volcanic activities in the aftermath of the extinction.


‘Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies’ Exhibit Opens at Virginia Living Museum

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Photo provided by the Virginia Living Museum

For almost 30 years, the Virginia Living Museum has been the dinosaur destination for dinosaur lovers everywhere, and 2020 promises to be the biggest year yet!

The Museum will begin its dinosaur year with the travelling exhibit, Tiny Titans: Dinosaur Eggs and Babies – January 18 until May 3. Then, May 23 through September 7, the Museum will debut the largest dinosaur to ever be displayed at the VLM. Jurassic Giants will feature the Giganotosaurus, and will bring animatronic creatures of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods for summer 2020.

Developed by Charlie and Florence Magovern of The Stone Company in Boulder, Colorado in association with the Harvard Museum of Natural History, this remarkable hands-on exhibit offers an astounding array of authentic dinosaur eggs and nests collected from all over the globe – including those of each of the major plant and meat-eating dinosaur groups.

A central feature of the exhibit is a presentation about the discovery of “Baby Louie,” – the nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur embryo. Charlie Magovern made this exceptional and rare discovery in 1993 when he was carefully cleaning a large block of eggs from China. He nicknamed the embryo after National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos. It was not until 2017 that this remarkable find was officially published.

Photo provided by the Virginia Living Museum

Each science-rich section of the exhibit is enhanced with exciting life-like models of embryos and hatchlings, colorful illustrations of dinosaur family life and stunning photographs of some of the world’s most renowned dinosaur hunters and their discoveries. Children can dig for eggs, dress up like a parent dinosaur to brood their nest, and feel the texture of dinosaur eggs. Cute babies and fun dinosaur facts will keep everyone entertained and educated. Babies grow fast, so make sure you catch them while they are here from January 18 through May 3, 2020.

But the dinosaur year continues this summer! After Tiny Titans closes May 3, the Museum will go from smallest – to tallest!  Coming summer 2020, roaring, stomping, animatronic dinosaurs are back with Jurassic Giants. Journey back millions of years to the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods and experience life-like dinosaurs around every turn. This exhibit will feature the Giganotosarus, the largest animatronic dinosaur the museum has ever displayed! He is so huge he will be featured outdoors in the Museum’s conservation garden.