Dinosaurs – Species Encycolpedia

SUE to be Dethroned by ‘Titan’ of Evolution

Friday, September 22, 2017

SUE to be Dethroned by ‘Titan’ of Evolution

To some fans’ dismay and others’ excitement, the Field Museum of Natural History announced Aug. 30 that it will relocate iconic Tyrannosaurus rex fossil SUE from Stanley Field Hall to her own 5,800-square-foot room in “The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet” exhibit.

That will leave room for a fossil cast of Patagotitan mayorum, aka the Titanosaur, a hulking, 122-foot-long herbivore, to assume SUE’s throne at the museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive.

“Our decision to move SUE out of Stanley Field Hall isn’t one that we made lightly,” said Kate Golembiewski, public relations and science communications specialist at the Field Museum. “We gave it a lot of thought and did a lot of research into how that would affect our visitors’ experience.”

SUE has towered above visitors since coming to the hall in 2000. She is dwarfed by the Titanosaur—the largest dinosaur ever discovered. Visitors will be able to walk under and touch the cast.

The Titanosaur’s installation is nothing short of huge—literally and figuratively—said paleontologist Paul Sereno.

“Change can be invigorating,” Sereno said. “This should be a spot for new things to happen, not just the icons of the past.”

The Titanosaur’s placement was made possible by a donation from Illinois’ richest man, Kenneth Griffin, who previously made major donations to the museum, including to the popular “Evolving Planet” exhibit.

“Visiting the Field Museum has brought tremendous joy and wonder to my children and me over the years,” Griffin said in a Sept. 5 emailed statement. “I am proud to support [the museum].”

SUE will be removed in February 2018, and the Titanosaur will be unveiled later that spring. SUE’s reintroduction at her new home is slated for spring 2019.

SUE has her own Twitter account operated anonymously by Field Museum employees; it notes that SUE prefers they/them pronouns, but the museum still uses she/her. She has since amassed more than 30,000 followers.

SUE’s persona is sarcastic and excitable; she changed her account’s name to “Private Suite Haver” as she gushed over her new digs in between penning insulting tweets about Velociraptors.

In an Aug. 30 press release, SUE said she is excited for the move and should be able to better defend herself against Velociraptor attacks in the new room.

“[SUE] has always kind of had that personality,” Golembiewski said. “She’s funny. I like when she leads [Dungeons & Dragons] campaigns.”

Sarah Marren, Field Museum member and South Loop resident, said she is excited to see the Titanosaur up close with her 5-year-old son.

“[The Titanosaur] is so much bigger [than SUE],” Marren said. “Knowing that we’re going to be able to walk under it and touch it, my son is thrilled about that.”

However, Marren said she will miss SUE’s sharp smile greeting her in Stanley Field Hall. She made sure she told her son about the move in advance, so he will not be taken by surprise when there is a new dino in SUE’s place.

SUE could not be reached for comment as of press time. She is subject to a “strict no-interviews policy,” Golembiewski said in an Aug. 31 email.

Source: columbiachronicle.com

Soriatitan golmayensis: New 14-Metre Long Dinosaur Species Discovered in Spain

Friday, September 22, 2017

A new species of dinosaur which lived between 130 to 138 million years ago has been identified by a team of palaeontologists in Spain.

Soriatitan golmayensis was a large, herbivorous animal estimated to be around 14 metres in length – larger than a double-decker bus. It belongs to a family of dinosaurs called brachiosauridae which were notable for their great size, elongated necks and tails, and relatively small heads.

The specimen was named after Soria, the region in north-central Spain where the bones were discovered.

It takes its place as the first species in an entirely new genus – a group of species within a taxonomic family – and is the first dinosaur from this family to be discovered in Europe.

“Until now it was believed that brachiosaurids had become extinct in Europe around 130 million years ago”, Rafael Royo, a palaeontologist at the Teruel-Dinopolis Joint Paleontological Foundation told Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Brachiosaurids lived around 150 million years ago in what is now Africa, the United States and Europe at a time when the continents were mostly joined together.

Then, in the early Cretaceous period – which began around 146 million-years-ago – they separated. Until the latest discovery, no confirmed brachiosaurid fossils had been found in Europe from after this time period, leading researchers to think that they had become extinct in the region.

When excavating the bones, the palaeontologists found teeth, spinal vertebrae, hip bones and leg bones, among other remains. Although some fossils which could possibly have belonged to brachiosaurids have been found in Europe before, researchers in those cases could not find enough of the skeleton to confirm the discovery.

“When you find a pair of bones it is difficult to know if it is a new species, but in this case, we have a general idea of ​​all the parts of the skeleton,” Royo told El Pais.

Soriatitan golmayensis.
Palaeontologist Rafael Royo examines a Soriatitan golmayensis femur. (Photo: Rafael Royo/Dinopolis)

Despite its size, its teeth measure just 18mm which suggests it fed mostly on leaves and other plant materials like other brachiosauridae. During the period that Soriatitan lived, the Iberian Peninsula is thought to have had a subtropical climate, with flowing rivers and plentiful vegetation, allowing the species to flourish.

The fossils were found at a site near the municipality of Golmayo where bones from three other types of dinosaur had been found before. Spain is known for being one of the richest areas in the world for dinosaur fossil hunters.

Source: ibtimes.co.uk

Lumbering Giants Had Agile Ancestors

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lumbering Giants Had Agile Ancestors

The best known sauropod dinosaurs were huge herbivorous creatures, whose brain structures were markedly different from those of their evolutionary predecessors, for the earliest representatives of the group were small, lithe carnivores.

The sauropod group of dinosaurs included the largest animals that have ever walked the Earth – up to 40 meters long and weighing as much as 90 tons. Evolutionarily speaking, they were obviously very successful, giving rise to a diverse and widely distributed array of plant-eating species. These forms were characterized by a small head, a long and highly flexible neck that allowed them – like modern giraffes – to graze the tops of the tallest trees, and a massive body that made mature specimens invulnerable to predators. The sauropods survived for well over 100 million years before succumbing to the meteorite that snuffed out the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Era.

Lumbering giants had agile ancestors

However, the early representatives of the lineage that led to these lumbering giants were strikingly different in form and habits. For a start, they were carnivores – like Saturnalia tupiniquim, an early sauropod dinosaur that was about the same size as a modern wolf. Recent work carried out by LMU researchers in collaboration with colleagues in Brazil now confirms this scenario and adds new details to the story. Most of the evidence for the early members of the Sauropodomorpha comes from their type of dentition. Now paleontologists Mario Bronzati and Oliver Rauhut, who are based at LMU and the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology in Munich, have used computer tomography (CT) to analyze fossil skull bones assigned to S. tupiniquim. The high-resolution images of the cranial bones provided by this technique enabled them to deduce the overall surface morphology of the brain. The results suggest that despite being capable of consuming both meat and plants, S. tupiniquim could have followed a purely predatory lifestyle. The new findings appear in Scientific Reports.

The fossil material used in the study was discovered in Brazil over 20 years ago. It comes from a geological formation that dates back to the Triassic Era, and is about 230 million years old. According to the authors of the study, these are the oldest dinosaur bones that have been successfully reassembled with the aid of computer tomography at sufficiently high resolution to permit the reconstruction of the gross anatomy of the brain.

The evolution of the so-called Sauropodomorpha, of which Saturnalia tupiniquim is an early representative, and the Sauropoda sensu stricto, is marked by a clear tendency towards extension of the neck region, which is accompanied by reduction of the size of the skull – with a corresponding decrease in the volume of the brain – relative to the skeleton as a whole. Saturnalia tupiniquim stands at the beginning of this process. But the new study reveals that, unlike the case in the true sauropods, a specific area in the cerebellum, which encompasses the two lobes known as the flocculus and paraflocculus, is particularly prominent in the brain of S. tupiniquim. These structures are known to play an important role in controlling voluntary movements of the head and neck, and are involved in regulating the oculomotor system, which stabilizes the animal’s field of view.

Bronzati, Rauhut and their co-authors therefore argue that these features enabled S. tupiniquim to adopt a predatory lifestyle. Their findings strongly suggest that, in contrast to the true sauropods, it had a bipedal gait. Moreover, it was nimble enough to hunt, seize and kill its prey – thanks to its inferred ability to track moving objects with its eyes and to execute rapid movements of its head and neck in a coordinated and precise fashion. With the aid of CT-based reconstruction of the surface anatomy of the brain, the researchers now hope to retrace other stages in the evolution of the sauropodomorphs.

More information: Mario Bronzati et al. Endocast of the Late Triassic (Carnian) dinosaur Saturnalia tupiniquim: implications for the evolution of brain tissue in Sauropodomorpha, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11737-5


Source: phys.org

Surprise: Dinosaurs Laid Blue Eggs!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Surprise: Dinosaurs Laid Blue Eggs!

In a twist for paleontologists, a fossil nest found in China shows that coloured eggshells were not just for the birds.

Robins may be famous for their beautiful blue eggs, but ancient feathered dinosaurs beat them to the punch.

Looking at fossil eggshells from China, researchers have found evidence that an omnivorous, ostrich-like dinosaur laid clutches of blue-green eggs, potentially helping to camouflage them in open nests dug into the ground.

The discovery overturns a common assumption: “Everyone thought dinosaur eggs were white,” says study co-author Jasmina Wiemann at Yale University.

Many birds lay white, unpigmented eggs—as do all lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and the only known egg-laying mammals, the platypus and the echidna. For this reason, ornithologists had long assumed that coloured eggshells evolved solely in some groups of birds after nonavian dinosaurs had died out.

“Once the idea that coloured eggs evolved in birds and were a trait of modern birds had been suggested, no one thought about it again or dared to ask if dinosaur eggs had been coloured,” Wiemann says.

Fossil research has shown that birds and dinosaurs shared behaviours such as brooding and nest building. According to paleontologist and National Geographic grantee Jack Horner, it also stands to reason that dinosaurs had similar courting behaviors as today’s birds.

Now, a study by Wiemann and her colleagues in Germany and California pushes back the origins of coloured eggs at least as far as the Late Cretaceous.

As they report in the journal PeerJ, a species of oviraptor called Heyuannia huangi had eggs that were coloured deep blue-green. Commonly found in the fossil beds of eastern China, Heyuannia was a parrot-beaked, feathered species that walked on its hind legs and would have been about five feet long.

While many fossil dinosaur eggs are black or brown due to the fossilisation process, the eggs of Heyuannia have an unusual blueish tint to them. This made the scientists wonder if the eggs could harbor any of their original colour.

Using chemical analyses, they were able to detect traces of two pigments, biliverdin and protoporphyrin, commonly found in modern bird eggs. Millions of years ago, the eggs would likely have been a greener colour, Wiemann says, perhaps similar to eggs laid by Australia’s ground-nesting emus and cassowaries today, which blend in well with the surrounding vegetation.

“I was originally taught that all the weird colours you can get in fossils, like the blueish-green hue, may be due to mineral precipitation,” Wiemann says.

“We screened through lots of eggshells, and one day had a positive result for these oviraptor eggs. It was a huge surprise. I couldn’t believe it.”

Chemical analyses of the fossil eggs detected traces of the pigments biliverdin and protoporphyrin, commonly found in modern bird eggs. PHOTOGRAPH BY TZU-RUEI YANG, THE PALEOWONDERS MUSEUM OF FOSSILS AND MINERALS, TAIWAN.


The discovery highlights how much our thinking has changed about dinosaur preservation and how much more we can learn about the original animal, says David Varricchio, an expert on dinosaur reproduction at Montana State University who was not involved in the research.

The discovery of pigment traces “exemplifies the growing field and potential of molecular paleontology,” Varricchio says. “With new machines and new techniques, it’s very exciting what can potentially be found in fossils.”

Some paleontologists have argued that theropod dinosaurs, which included the ancestors of modern birds, had open nests with partially exposed clutches, Varricchio says. This new discovery helps confirm that idea, as pigmented shells today are only found in bird species that have exposed eggs.

Coloured eggs in birds is just one example in a whole series of traits formerly thought to be unique to birds—such as feathers and wishbones—that were in fact inherited from the dinosaurs, says Mark Norell, a palaeontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

“Dinosaurs evolved coloured eggs before birds evolved—and the reason birds have coloured eggs is because they were present in their ancestors, the nonavian dinosaurs,” he says.

Wiemann is now looking for other examples of egg color among the carnivorous species closely related to birds that had open nests. She is also looking to see if any dinosaurs laid eggs with streaks or speckles on them.

“Lots of ground birds have patterned eggs with spots all over them,” says Norell. “It would be really neat if we could show that some of these dinosaur eggs were kind of camouflaged as well.”

Lead Image: A fossil nest found in China belonged to the oviraptor Heyuannia huangi, a parrot-beaked, feathered species that lived in the Late Cretaceous. PHOTOGRAPH BY TZU-RUEI YANG, THE PALEOWONDERS MUSEUM OF FOSSILS AND MINERALS, TAIWAN

Source: nationalgeographic.com.au

10 Most Important Dinosaurs of Australia and Antarctica

Thursday, September 14, 2017

An illustration of ancient Australia. The Australovenator attacks a young Diamantinasaurus. (Image: Xing Lida)

               From Cryolophosaurus to Ozraptor, These Dinosaurs Ruled the Lands Down Under


Although Australia and Antarctica were far from the mainstream of dinosaur evolution during the Mesozoic Era, these remote continents hosted their fair share of theropods, sauropods and ornithopods. Here’s a list of the 10 most important dinosaurs of Australia and Antarctica, ranging from Cryolophosaurus to Ozraptor.



Cryolophosaurus ellioti mounted at the Ultimate Dinosaur exhibit in Vancouver, BC. This mount shows the updated skull. The snout is modeled after Dilophosaurus whereas previous skull casts were based off of Allosaurus.

Informally known as “Elvisaurus,” after the single, ear-to-ear crest across its forehead, Cryolophosaurus is the largest meat-eating dinosaur yet identified from Jurassic Antarctica (which isn’t saying much, since it was only the second dinosaur ever to be discovered on the southern continent, after Antarctopelta). Insight into the lifestyle of this “cold-crested lizard” will have to await future fossil discoveries, though it’s a sure bet that its colorful crest was a sexually selected characteristic, meant to attract females during mating season.



Leaellynasaura. BBC Nature

The difficult-to-pronounce Leaellynasaura is notable for two reasons. First, this is one of the few dinosaurs to be named after a little girl (the daughter of Australian paleontologists Thomas Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich); and second, this tiny, big-eyed ornithopod subsisted in a brisk polar climate during the middle Cretaceous period, raising the possibility that it possessed something approaching a warm-blooded metabolism to help protect it from the cold.



Rhoetosaurus. Wikimedia Commons

The largest sauropod ever discovered in Australia, Rhoetosaurus is especially important because it dates from the middle, rather than the late, Jurassic period (and thus appeared on the scene much earlier than two Australian titanosaurs, Diamintinasaurus and Wintonotitan, described in slide #8). As far as paleontologists can tell, Rhoetosaurus’ closest non-Australian relative was the Asian Shunosaurus, which sheds valuable light on the arrangement of the earth’s continents during the early Mesozoic Era.



Antarctopelta by Tuomas Koivurinne and Sergio Perez

The first dinosaur ever to be discovered in Antarctica–in 1986, on James Ross Island– Antarctopelta was a classic ankylosaur, or armored dinosaur, with a small head and squat, low-slung body covered by tough, knobby “scutes.” The armor of Antarctopelta had a strictly defensive, rather than metabolic, function: 100 million years ago, Antarctica was a lush, temperate continent, not the frozen icebox it is today, and a naked Antarctopelta would have made a quick snack for the larger meat-eating dinosaurs of its habitat.



Muttaburrasaurus - The Dino Directory

If asked, the citizens of Australia would probably cite Muttaburrasaurus as their favorite dinosaur: the fossils of this middle Cretaceous ornithopod are some of the most complete ever to be discovered Down Under, and its sheer size (about 30 feet long and three tons) made it a true giant of Australia’s sparse dinosaur ecosystem. To show small the world used to be, Muttaburrassaurus was closely related to another famous ornithopod from halfway around the world, the North American and European Iguanodon.



A reconstruction of Australovenator wintonensis grasping a small theropod with its arms in a flexed posture. Author: Matt A. White, Phil R. Bell, Alex G. Cook, David G. Barnes, Travis R. Tischler,Brant J. Bassam,David A. Elliott

Closely related to the South American Megaraptor,  the meat-eating Australovenator had a much sleeker build, so much so that one paleontologist has described this 300-pound dinosaur as the “cheetah” of Cretaceous Australia. Because the evidence for Australian dinosaurs is so scarce, it’s unknown exactly what exactly the middle Cretaceous Australovenator preyed on, but multi-ton titanosaurs like Diamantinasaurus (the fossils of which have been discovered in close proximity) were almost certainly out of the question.



Diamantinasaurus by Herschel-Hoffmeyer

Titanosaurs, the huge, lightly armored descendants of the sauropods, had attained a global distribution by the end of the Cretaceous period, as witness the recent discovery of the 10-ton Diamantinasaurus in Australia’s Queensland province (in association with the bones of Australovenator, described in the previous slide). Still, Diamantinasaurus was no more (nor less) important than another contemporary titanosaur of middle Cretaceous Australia, the comparably sized Wintonotitan.



An artist’s illustration of Ozraptor subotaii

The name Ozraptor is only partially accurate: although this small dinosaur did live in Australia, it wasn’t technically a raptor, like the North American Deinonychus or the Asian Velociraptor, but a type of theropod known as an abelisaur (after the South American Abelisaurus). Known by only a single tibia, Ozraptor is slightly more respectable in the paleontology community than the putative, still unnamed Australian tyrannosaur that was announced a couple of years ago, and is presumably undergoing further study.



Minmi by Sergey Krasovskiy

Minmi wasn’t the only ankylosaur of Cretaceous Australia, but it was almost certainly the dumbest: this armored dinosaur had an unusually small “encephalization quotient” (the ratio of its brain mass to its body mass), and it wasn’t too impressive to look at either, with only minimal plating on its back and stomach and a modest weight of half a ton. This dinosaur wasn’t named after “Mini-Me” from the Austin Powers movies, but rather Minmi Crossing in Queensland, Australia, where it was discovered in 1980.




The only sauropodomorph, or prosauropod, ever discovered in Antarctica, Glacialisaurus was distantly related to the sauropods and titanosaurs of the later Mesozoic Era (including the two Australian giants described in slide #8, Diamantinasaurus and Wintonotitan). Announced to the world in 2007, the early Jurassic Glacialisaurus was closely related to the African plant-eater Massospondylus; unfortunately, all we have so far of its remains consist of a partial foot and femur, or leg bone.

Source: NatGeo.com, Wikipedia.org

20 m. Long, 125 Million Years Old: Scientists Unearth Fossils of Enormous Dinosaur (PHOTOS)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

© Ruptly

Researchers have uncovered the fossils of one of the largest dinosaurs to ever walk on the Earth – remains which they believe could belong to a previously undiscovered species.

Paleontologists digging near the city of Morella in eastern Spain discovered the remains of a gigantic dinosaur which would have measured a staggering 20-meters (65 ft) from head to tail.

The team unearthed over 80 bones belonging to the same dinosaur, Spanish newspaper El Pais reports. Included in this haul were two femurs, a humerus, other parts of limbs and vertebrae from the tail of a sauropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period.

An image of the bones found next to paleontologist Fernando Escaso. Ángel Sánchez

Sauropods were giant plant-eaters and they are an infraorder of saurischian dinosaurs. They had very long necks, long tails, small heads, and four thick, pillar-like legs.

From studying the prehistoric remains, researchers were able to determine that the giant plant eater survived on the tender shoots of trees and also ate stones to aid digestion.

One of the directors of the excavation, Jose Miguel Gasulla, revealed that one of the femurs measures 1.60 meters (5ft 3ins). From this measurement, the team could work out that the total length of the giant beast was more than a 10-storey building.

Gasulla says the remains are important given their excellent condition and, crucially, because they could be those of a previously unknown species of sauropod.

Part of the dinosaur remains found in Morella. Ángel Sánchez

READ MORE: Pregnant T. rex may contain dinosaur DNA, an impossible find

Further investigative work needs to be carried out to fully confirm this hypothesis but, if it is confirmed, it would be the second previously unknown species of dinosaur found in Morella.

In 2015, the partial remains of 20ft-long herbivore were discovered there. The dinosaur, which also dated back to about 125 million years ago, was given the name ‘Morelladon beltrani’.

Despite its enormous size, the new dinosaur bones are still not even the largest to have ever been found in the region – that honor goes to a femur measuring 1.80 meters (5ft 11ins).

The research was funded by the city of Morella and the remains will be taken to a museum in the town after they have been studied by paleontologists.

Gasulla said that the discovery confirms that the region is a key location in palaeontological investigation: “It supposes a definitive accolade to the palaeontological heritage that we have, it does nothing more than confirm it.”

Source: RT.com

Pregnant T. rex May Contain Dinosaur DNA, an Impossible Find

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Scientists believe there may be fragments of dinosaur DNA preserved in a pregnant T. rex found in Montana. The 68 million-year-old find may also shed light on the evolution of egg-laying and dinosaur gender differences.

“We have some evidence that fragments of DNA may be preserved in dinosaur fossils, but this remains to be tested further.” assistant research professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University, Lindsay Zanno, told Discovery News.

The T. rex in question has retained its medullary bone, proving it was pregnant. The medullary bone is only present during egg laying and it could possibly retain preserved DNA.

Zanno explained how the medullary bone functions during egg laying:

“It’s a special tissue that is built up as easily mobilized calcium storage just before egg laying,” she said. “The outcome is that birds do not have to pull calcium from the main part of their bones in order to shell eggs, weakening their bones the way crocodiles do.”

It’s a tricky bone to find. “You’d have to cut up a lot of dinosaur bones to have a good chance of finding this,” Sarah Werning of the University of California, Berkeley explained. One would have to cut open fossils, potentially demineralizing them – not something researchers would normally voluntarily do.

Pregnant T. rex

However this pregnant T. rex’s femur was already broken when the team that discovered the medullary bone received it.

Scientists were able to identify the medullary bone because of a material, found to be consistent with known medullary tissues from ostriches and chickens – keratan sulfate.

The research, published in Nature Scientific Reports, states the dinosaur was 16-20 years old at the time of its death from an unknown cause.

Aepyornithomimus tugrikinensis: New Ostrich-Like Dinosaur Discovered in Mongolia

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Aepyornithomimus tugrikinensis. Image credit: Masato Hattori.

Called Aepyornithomimus tugrikinensis, the new dinosaur is a type of ornithomimosaur (Ornithomimidae), a group of theropods that evolved a toothless beak and were likely omnivorous or herbivorous, superficially resembling extant ostriches.

The ancient creature lived in what is now Mongolia during the Campanian, the fifth of six ages of the Late Cretaceous epoch.

The fossil remains of the beast were found in the eolian deposits of the Djadokhta Formation at the Tögrögiin Shiree locality.

They were analyzed by Dr. Chinzorig Tsogtbaatar, a paleontologist from Hokkaido University and the Institute of Paleontology and Geology at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and his colleagues from Japan, Mongolia and Canada.

“This is only the third ornithomimosaur specimen reported from the Djadokhta Formation and is the first ornithomimid record from eolian Tögrögiin Shiree locality,” the researchers said.

“It is also the best preserved specimen of all of aforementioned three specimens known to date, and it provides new insight into ornithomimid dinosaur evolution and paleoenvironment.”

“It is possible that Aepyornithomimus tugrikinensis is a transitional form between the basal and derived ornithomimosaurs,” they added.

“The dinosaur could be stratigraphically the oldest known ornithomimid occurrence in the Upper Cretaceous of Asia, and the easternmost occurrence of ornithomimid dinosaurs from the Campanian in the northern hemisphere.”

According to Dr. Tsogtbaatar and co-authors, the discovery of Aepyornithomimus tugrikinensis sheds light on the evolutionary adaptation of ornithomimosaurs to arid environments.

Aepyornithomimus tugrikinensis is possibly the first evidence of an ornithomimosaur species that could have tolerated more diverse climatic conditions that were shifting from humid to more arid conditions,” they said.

Research describing the new species is published in the journal Scientific Reports.


Chinzorig Tsogtbaatar et al. 2017. First Ornithomimid (Theropoda, Ornithomimosauria) from the Upper Cretaceous Djadokhta Formation of Tögrögiin Shiree, Mongolia. Scientific Reports 7, article number: 5835; doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05272-6

Source: sci-news.com


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Altirhinus by Dinoraul

Altirhinus was an ornithischian dinosaur that existed on the earth in the early Cretaceous Period. Order Ornithischia includes dinosaurs with pelvic bones similar to present day birds. The most prominent feature of the Altirhinus was the shape of its nasal bone. Such cranial and facial adaptations were very common in ornithischians belonging to infraorder Iguanodontia; the Altirhinus is a part of this taxon.

The fossils of this reptile were found in Mongolia. Mongolia lies on the border of Europe and Asia, being flanked by Russia anteriorly and China posteriorly. Thus, the Altirhinus could inhabited both these continents. The time period of its existence was between 120 and 105 million years ago. This lies in the Aptian and Albian ages of the Cretaceous.

Altirhinus kurzanovi skeletal reconstruction by ornithischophilia

Altirhinus was herbivorous and bipedal when walking or running, but probably became quadrupedal when feeding from the ground. According to the original description, the entire body probably extended 8 m from snout to tail tip. In 2010 Gregory S. Paul estimated the length at 6.5 metres (21 ft), the weight at 1.1 tonnes. The skull alone is about 760 mm long, with a wide mouth and a distinctive tall arch on top of its snout, from which this dinosaur derives its name.

Altirhinus is definitely an advanced iguanodontian, just basal to the family Hadrosauridae, but there is little agreement on the arrangement of genera and species in this area of the ornithopod family tree.

In the original description, it was included with Iguanodon and Ouranosaurus in a family Iguanodontidae (Horman, 1998). More recent analyses all find Altirhinus more derived than either of those two genera, but less than ProtohadrosProbactrosaurus, and hadrosaurids (Head, 2001; Kobayashi & Azuma, 2003; Norman, 2004). The former two studies also place Eolambia between Altirhinus and hadrosaurids, while Norman’s analysis finds that the two genera share a clade.

Fukuisaurus is just basal to Altirhinus according to the only analysis in which the former has been included (Kobayashi & Azuma, 2003).

Nasal Arch

The characteristic arched snout of Altirhinus was formed primarily by the nasal bones, and a similar structure is seen on the snout of the Australian Muttaburrasaurus. Many different functions have been proposed for the nasal arch. It may have housed tissues to cool the blood, conserve water, or enhance the sense of smell. Alternatively, it may have facilitated communication through vocalization or visual display. As only two skulls have been located, it is entirely possible that the arched snout is only found in one gender, in which case it may have been used for sexual display, like in modern-day elephant seals.

Fossil of Altirhinus, an extinct reptile – Took the picture at Dinosaurium, Prague



Sunday, August 27, 2017


Yingshanosaurus (meaning “Yingshan or Golden Hills reptile”) is a genus of stegosaurian dinosaur from the Late Jurassic, around 155 million years ago. It was a herbivore that lived in what is now China. The type species is Yingshanosaurus jichuanensis.

Like all stegosaurians, Yingshanosaurus was an herbivorous dinosaur. It was about four to five metres long. The thighbone has a length of 675 millimetres, the shinbone of forty-six centimetres. The humerus is forty centimetres long. Four vertebrae of the sacrum (S2-S5) were solidly fused to the ilia of the pelvis, the spaces between the sacral ribs being almost closed, reduced to oval depressions pierced from below by small openings, no more than a centimetre in cross-section. The neural arches are of medium height. The neural spines of the dorsal vertebrae are plate-like in side view and have a transversely expanded top.

Yingshanosaurus had a pair of about eighty centimetres long wing-like spines on its shoulders, similar in shape and relative size to those of Gigantspinosaurus. The shoulder spine has a large flat trapezoidal base; after a sudden kink, a more narrow straight shaft, flat but with a protruding ridge on the outer side, projects to behind from the lower base edge. The bony plates on its back were rather small and relatively low, triangular or fin-shaped. The largest plates, about fifteen centimetres high and with a base length of twenty centimetres, are similar in profile to those of Hesperosaurus, though of a more reduced relative size. They were not “splates”, i.e. featuring a thickened middle section, but almost uniformly flat, with a rough and veined surface.

Zhu placed Yingshanosaurus, within the Stegosauridae, in the Stegosaurinae.

Source: Wikipedia.org