Dinosaurs – Species Encycolpedia

New Titanosaur Discovered: Shingopana songwensis

Friday, August 25, 2017

Wide shot of the southwestern Tanzania locality from which the new dinosaur was excavated. Credit: Eric Roberts

A new species of long-necked titanosaurian dinosaur has been unearthed in southwestern Tanzania.

The newly-discovered titanosaur is called Shingopana songwensis and lived between 100 and 70 million years ago (Cretaceous period).

A partial skeleton of the prehistoric creature was first excavated in 2002 and represents the first significant discovery by the Rukwa Rift Basin Project, an international collaborative effort led by Ohio University paleontologists.

Over the next few years of excavation, additional portions of the skeleton, including neck vertebrae, ribs, a humerus, and part of the lower jaw, were recovered.

“There are a couple of key anatomical features only present in Shingopana songwensis and several South American titanosaurs but that are absent in other African titanosaurs,” said team member Dr. Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Shingopana songwensis had siblings in South America, whereas the other African titanosaurs were only distant cousins.”

Detailed comparison of the new titanosaur with other known sauropod dinosaurs suggests that the species found in southern Africa are certainly more diverse than previously thought.

Dr. Gorscak and colleagues conducted phylogenetic analyses in order to understand the evolutionary relationships of these and other known titanosaurs.

What they discovered is that Shingopana songwensis was more closely related to South American titanosaurs than to any of the other species currently known from Africa or elsewhere.

“This discovery suggests that the fauna of northern and southern Africa were different in the Cretaceous period,” said Dr. Judy Skog, program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences.

“At that time, Southern African dinosaurs were more closely related to those in South America, and were more widespread than we knew.”

During the Cretaceous period, Shingopana songwensis roamed the landscape alongside Rukwatitan bisepultus, another species of titanosaur the same team described in 2014.

The research on the new species appears today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


Eric Gorscak et al. A basal titanosaurian sauropod from Rukwa Rift Basin, southwestern Tanzania. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, published online August 24, 2017; doi: 10.1080/02724634.2017.1343250

This article is based on text provided by Ohio University.

Source: sci-news.com

Tyrannosaurs Were Violent Cannibals

Friday, August 18, 2017

Artists reconstruction of one Daspletosaurus feeding on another. (Tuomas Koivurinne )

Combat and cannibalism were no strangers to tyrannosaurs, suggest the remains of a tortured dino victim. 

Remains of a mutilated dino victim provide strong evidence for what has long been suspected: T. rex and his kin were violent animals that also practiced cannibalism.

The remains, described in the latest issue of the journal PeerJ, are of the large carnivorous tyrannosaur Daspletosaurus, which suffered numerous injuries during its lifetime and was partially eaten after it died.

The clincher is that paleontologists believe that members of Daspletosaurus’ own species inflicted all of the damage.

“This animal clearly had a tough life suffering numerous injuries across the head including some that must have been quite nasty,” lead author David Hone from Queen Mary, University of London, said in a press release.

He added, “The most likely candidate to have done this is another member of the same species, suggesting some serious fights between these animals during their lives.”

Daspletosaurus lived around 77 million years ago in North America. The victim studied by the researchers hailed from what is now Alberta, Canada. It was an older teenager when it bit the dust, so it hadn’t grown to full size yet. Still, this was a large animal. At death it measured about 20 feet long and weighed approximately 1,102 pounds.

The skull and mandible of Daspletosaurus shows facial injuries.

Analysis of this dinosaur’s skull uncovered numerous injuries that had previously healed.

Hone explained that, although not all of the injuries can be attributed to bites, several are close in shape to the teeth of tyrannosaurs. One bite to the back of the head had broken off part of the skull and left a circular tooth-shaped puncture though the bone.

According to the researchers, the fact that alterations to the bone’s surface indicate healing means that the injuries were not fatal and the animal lived for some time after they were inflicted.

The poor dinosaur’s life took a turn for the worse later, though. The preservation of the skull and other bones, as well as damage to the jaw bones show that the dinosaur died young and began to decay. Shortly thereafter, a large tyrannosaur – probably from the same species – chomped into the dead teen dino and presumably ate at least part of it.

The remains are unique in that they provide evidence for both combat between dinosaurs of the same species and cannibalism.

T. rex was closely related to Daspletosaurus. They essentially were cousins and grew to nearly the same sizes as adults. It’s therefore likely that T. rex and other large carnivorous tyrannosaurs engaged in similar behavior.

Source: seeker.com

Chilesaurus: The ‘Missing Link’ Between Plant and Meat Eaters?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Chilesaurus: The ‘Missing Link’ Between Plant and Meat Eaters?

A BIZARRE dinosaur which looked like a raptor but was in fact a vegetarian may be the ‘missing link’ between plant eaters and meat eaters such as Tyrannosaurus rex.


Researchers from Cambridge University and the Natural History Museum analyzed more than 450 anatomical characteristics of early dinosaurs and correctly place the creature, known as Chilesaurus, in the dinosaur family tree.

Their findings, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggest that Chilesaurus effectively fills a “large gap” between two of the major dinosaur groups, and shows how the divide between them may have happened.

Chilesaurus, which was discovered in southern Chile, was first described in 2015.

A report suggest the dinosaur effectively fills a ‘large gap’ between the two dinosaur groups

It lived during the Late Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago, and has an odd collection of physical characteristics, which made it difficult to classify.

Its head resembles that of a carnivore, but it has flat teeth for grinding up plant matter.

Study joint first author Matthew Baron, a PhD student in Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, said: “Chilesaurus almost looks like it was stitched together from different animals, which is why it baffled everybody.”

Earlier research suggested that Chilesaurus belonged to the group Theropoda, the ‘lizard-hipped’ group of dinosaurs that includes Tyrannosaurus.

But the new study suggests that it was probably a very early member of a completely different group, called Ornithischia.


The researchers say that the shuffling of the dinosaur family tree has “major implications” for understanding the origins of Ornithischia – the ‘bird-hipped’ group of dinosaurs that includes StegosaurusTriceratops and Iguanodon.

The bird-hipped dinosaurs have several common physical traits: the two most notable being an inverted, bird-like hip structure and a beak-like structure for eating.

The inverted hips allowed for bigger, more complex digestive systems, which in turn allowed larger plant-eaters to evolve.

While Chilesaurus has a bird-like hip structure, and has flat teeth for grinding up plants, it doesn’t possess the distinctive ‘beak’ of many other bird-hipped dinosaurs, which is what makes it such an important find.

Mr Baron said: “Before this, there were no transitional specimens – we didn’t know what order these characteristics evolved in.

The Chilesaurus, which was discovered in southern Chile, was first described in 2015

“This shows that in bird-hipped dinosaurs, the gut evolved first, and the jaws evolved later – it fills the gap quite nicely.”

Co-author Professor Paul Barrett, of the Natural History Museum, said: “Chilesaurus is one of the most puzzling and intriguing dinosaurs ever discovered.

“Its weird mix of features places it in a key position in dinosaur evolution and helps to show how some of the really big splits between the major groups might have come about.”

Mr Baron added: “There was a split in the dinosaur family tree, and the two branches took different evolutionary directions.

“This seems to have happened because of change in diet for Chilesaurus. It seems it became more advantageous for some of the meat eating dinosaurs to start eating plants, possibly even out of necessity.”


Earlier this year, the same group of researchers argued that dinosaur family groupings need to be rearranged, re-defined and re-named.

In a study published in the journal Nature, the researchers suggested that bird-hipped dinosaurs and lizard-hipped dinosaurs such as T.rex evolved from a common ancestor, potentially overturning more than a century of theory about the evolutionary history of dinosaurs.

The research team believe there are probably “many more surprises” about dinosaur evolution to be found, once characteristics of later dinosaurs are added to their database.

Nuclear Lab Helps Scientists Peer Into Life of T. Rex Relative

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The skull of a tyrannosaur nicknamed the "Bisti Beast" is on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, N.M., Aug. 15, 2017.

Researchers at a top U.S. laboratory announced Tuesday that they have produced the highest resolution scan ever done of the inner workings of a fossilized tyrannosaur skull using neutron beams and high-energy X-rays, resulting in new clues that could help paleontologists piece together the evolutionary puzzle of the monstrous T. rex.

Officials with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science said they were able to peer deep into the skull of a “Bisti Beast,” a T. rex relative that lived millions of years ago in what is now northwestern New Mexico.

The images detail the dinosaur’s brain and sinus cavities, the pathways of some nerves and blood vessels and teeth that formed but never emerged.

Never-seen-before views

Thomas Williamson, the museum’s curator of paleontology and part of the team that originally collected the specimen in the 1990s, said the scans are helping paleontologists figure out how the different species within the T. rex family relate to each other and how they evolved.

“We’re unveiling the internal anatomy of the skull so we’re going to see things that nobody has ever seen before,” he said during a news conference Tuesday.

T. rex and other tyrannosaurs were huge, dominant predators, but they evolved from much smaller ancestors.

The fossilized remnants of the Bisti Beast, or Bistahieversor sealeyi, were found in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area near Farmington, New Mexico. Dry, dusty badlands today, the area in the time of the tyrannosaur would have been a warmer, swampy environment with more trees.

T. rex family member

The species lived about 10 million years before T. rex. Scientists have said it represents one of the early tyrannosaurs that had many of the advanced features, including big-headed, bone-crushing characteristics and small forelimbs, that were integral for the survival of T. rex.

Officials said the dinosaur’s skull is the largest object to date for which full, high-resolution neutron and X-ray CT scans have been done at Los Alamos. The technology is typically used for the lab’s work on defense and national security.

The thickness of the skull, which spans 40 inches (102 centimeters), required stronger X-rays than those typically available to penetrate the fossil. That’s where the lab’s electron and proton accelerators came in.

Sven Vogel, who works at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, said the three-dimensional scanning capabilities at the lab have produced images that allow paleontologists to see the dinosaur much as it would have been at the time of its death, rather than just the dense mineral outline of the fossil that was left behind after tens of millions of years.

The team, which included staff from the University of New Mexico and the University of Edinburgh, is scheduled to present its work at an international paleontology conference in Canada next week.

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science paleontology curator Thomas Williamson talks about the results of neutron and X-ray scans of a fossilized tyrannosaur skull at the museum in Albuquerque, N.M., Aug. 15, 2017. Williamson discovered the fossil remains of the “Bisti Beast” in 1996 and worked with researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory last fall to scan the skull in hopes of gleaning new information about the evolution of the massive, bone-crushing dinosaurs.

More detail in new scans

Kat Schroeder, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Mexico who has been working on the project for about a year, said the scanning technology has the ability to uncover detail absent in traditional X-rays and the resulting three-dimensional images can be shared with fellow researchers around the world without compromising the integrity the original fossil.

Schroeder’s work centers on understanding the behavior of dinosaurs, so seeing the un-erupted teeth in the Bisti Beast’s upper jaw was exciting.

“Looking at how fast they’re replacing teeth tells us something about how fast they’re growing, which tells me something about how much energy they need and how active they were,” she said. “It’s those little things that enable us to understand more and more about prehistoric environments.”

Source: voanews.com

Aquilops americanus: Oldest Horned Dinosaur From North America

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Reconstruction of Aquilops americanus in its environment. Image credit: Brian Engh / Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.

Scientists have discovered the fossil skull of a tiny horned dinosaur. The cat-sized dinosaur is the oldest known horned dinosaur from North America. It is named Aquilops americanus.

The artist’s reconstruction shows Aquilops in its environment in ancient Montana. The dinosaur skull, which was found in Montana, measures 84 mm long (about 3.3 inches). It features a beak-like structure and an elongated and pointed cavity over the creature’s cheek region. The Washington Post reports that researchers say Aquilops was about two feet long.

Aquilops americanus skull

Andrew Farke from Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology says in a statement, “Aquilops lived nearly 20 million years before the next oldest horned dinosaur named from North America. Even so, we were surprised that it was more closely related to Asian animals than those from North America.”

Aquilops americanus restoration

Because Aquilops resembles some Asian dinosaurs the researchers say the finding supports a “complex set of migratory events for organisms between North America and Asia later in the Cretaceous.”

A research paper on Aquilops can be found here in PLoS One.

Photo: Andrew A. Farke

Artwork: Brian Engh, courtesy of Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology. /2014


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sinraptor by Cheung Chung Tat

Sinraptor is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the Late Jurassic.

Sinraptor is a dinosaur which lived approximately 150 million years ago. It was first discovered by a joint Chinese and Canadian expedition in the Shishugou Formation of China in 1987. In 1994, it was named by Philip J. Currie and Xian Zhao, who gave it the name Sinraptor because it means “Chinese raptor”. The specific name dongi honours Dong Zhiming. Despite its name, Sinraptor is not related to dromaeosaurids (often nicknamed “raptors”) like Velociraptor.

This dinosaur was around 25 feet long, 10 feet tall and weighed approximately 2000 pounds or 1 ton. It was probably a fierce—albeit small—carnivore that probably hunted very well. Since many of the herbivores in this part of the world were giant, they probably hunted the juvenile members of them. Perhaps separating these young sauropods from their parents to hunt them. However, it probably also had to contend with other larger predators who may have given it some grief during the
course of its life.

Sinraptor dongi, Royal Tyrrell Museum

An interesting fact about Sinraptor is that it isn’t a true raptor. Sure, it was bipedal like a raptor but that is where the similarities end. It would be millions of years after the death of this dinosaur before raptors would come on the scene.

Paleontologists actually think that the Sinraptor was an Allosaur.

The skeleton of Sinraptor hepingensis (formerly referred to Yangchuanosaurus) is on display at the Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China.

Source: Wikipedia.org, scifi.com


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rajasaurus by atrox1

Rajasaurus (‘Raja’ meaning “king” (derived from Sanskrit) here,”king of lizards”) is a genus of carnivorous abelisaurian theropod dinosaur with an unusual head crest. Between 1982 and 1984, its fossilized bones were discovered by Suresh Srivastava of the Geological Survey of India (GSI). Excavated from the Narmada River valley in Rahioli in the Mahisagar district of Gujarat, India, the find was announced as a new genus of dinosaur by American and Indian scientists on August 13, 2003.

Paleontologists Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago, Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan, and Srivastava worked together as an Indo–American group to study the Narmada River fossils. The fossils represented the partial skeleton of the new species Rajasaurus narmadensis, which means “princely lizard from the Narmada Valley.” The fossilized bones of Rajasaurus have also been found in the upriver region of the Narmada, at Jabalpur, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Brontomerus mcintoshi v Rajasaurus narmadensis (Wikimedia Commons)

Rajasaurus was an abelisaurid, a member of a group of theropod predators known to have lived only on landmasses that were part of the supercontinent Gondwana, such as Africa, India, Madagascar, and South America. Rajasaurus closely resembles Majungasaurus, a contemporary abelisaur from Madagascar, an island that had separated from the Indian landmass about 20 million years earlier. It was found to be an abelisaurid through a phylogenetic analysis of anatomical characteristics, and was described as a carnotaurine abelisaurid (the subfamily including Carnotaurus) because of the configuration of its nasal bones and its possession of a growth (“excrescence”) on its frontal bone. Rajasaurus is distinguished from other genera by its single nasal-frontal horn, the elongated proportions of its supratemporal fenestrae (holes in the upper rear of the skull), and the form of the ilia (principle bones of the hip) which feature a transverse ridge separating the brevis shelf from the hip joint.

Cast of Rajasaurus skull (Wikimedia Commons)

Rajasaurus was identified from a partial skeleton including a part of the skull (braincase), backbone, hip bones, parts of the hind legs and tail. This specimen, GSI 21141/1–33, serves as the type specimen of the genus and species. In 2010, Gregory S. Paul estimated its body length at eleven metres, its weight at four tonnes. In 2016, its length was estimated to be 6.6 metres (21.7 ft) in a comprehensive analysis of abelisaur size. What is preserved of the skull shows it bore a distinctive low rounded horn, made up of outgrowths from the nasal and frontal bones.

The discovery of Rajasaurus could lead to additional information on the evolutionary relationships of abelisaurs, since previously described specimens from India were mainly isolated bones. At a press conference held in 2003 on the discovery of Rajasaurus, Sereno stated:

The discovery, which will be put for examination before global experts, was important since it would help in adding to the current knowledge of dinosaur belonging to the family of Abelisaur predators and adding a new angle to dinosaurs in the Indian subcontinent.

Rajasaurus miscellaneous

Rajasaurus is known only from the Indian Peninsula. At the time it was alive, the Indian landmass had recently separated from the rest of Gondwana and was moving north. While Rajasaurus had evolved along its own direction, it was still similar to other abelisaurids such as Majungasaurus from Madagascar and Carnotaurus from South America; these animals descended from a common lineage.

Rajasaurus has been found in the Lameta Formation. This rock unit represents a forested setting of rivers and lakes that formed between episodes of volcanism. The volcanic rocks are now known as the Deccan Traps. Rajasaur and sauropod fossils are known from river and lake deposits that were quickly buried by Deccan volcanic flows. Other dinosaurs from the Lameta Formation include the noasaurid Laevisuchus, abelisaurids Indosaurus and Indosuchus, and the titanosaurian sauropods JainosaurusTitanosaurus, and Isisaurus.

Coprolites have been recorded in the Lameta Formation, and the presence of fungi in coprolites indicates that leaves were eaten by the dinosaurs which lived in a tropical or subtropical climate. Another scientific study of similarities in egg taxa suggested close phyletic relationships that supports the existence of a terrestrial connection between dinosaurian fauna in India and Europe during the Cretaceous, and between two Gondwanan areas, Patagonia and India.

Source: Wikipedia.org, scifi.com


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Skorpiovenator by Dinoraul

Skorpiovenator is a genus of abelisaurid theropod dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period of Argentina.

Skorpiovenator was estimated to have grown up to 6 m (19.7 ft) in length. In 2010, Gregory S. Paul gave larger estimations of 7.5 m (24.6 ft) and 1.67 tonnes (1.84 short tons). In 2016, a similar size to the original estimate at 6.2 m (20.3 ft) was estimated. It had short, stubby, near-useless arms, but strong legs with powerful thighs and sturdy shins over which its large body was balanced.

Skorpiovenator bustingorryi by Paleocolour

Skorpiovenator’s skull was short, stout and covered in the ridges, furrows, tubercles and bumpy nodules that are scattered over the heads of most abelisaurid theropods. Its slender jaws housed rows of razor-sharp teeth. Skorpiovenator may not have had a large bite force, as has been suggested for some other abelisaurids. Skorpiovenator may have used its deep skull as a club, arching its head back and swinging it down onto its prey to drive the teeth home with enough force to do some serious damage to its prey.

Cast of the holotype specimen Skorpiovenator

The type species, Skorpiovenator bustingorryi, is known from a single, nearly complete skeleton (MMCH-PV 48K) missing only sections of the tail and the majority of the forelimbs. The specimen was recovered from the lower part of the Huincul Formation in Patagonia, dating to the late Cenomanian stage, about 95 million years ago. It would have lived alongside other carnivorous dinosaurs such as the carcharodontosaurid Mapusaurus and another abelisaurid, Ilokelesia.

In 2008, Canale et al. published a phylogenetic analysis focusing on the South American carnotaurines. In their results, they found that all South American forms (including Skorpiovenator) grouped together as a sub-clade of Carnotaurinae, which they named Brachyrostra, meaning “short snouts”. They defined the clade Brachyrostra as “all the abelisaurids more closely related to Carnotaurus sastrei than to Majungasaurus crenatissimus.”


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ekrixinatosaurus by Sergey Krasovskiy

Ekrixinatosaurus (‘explosion-born reptile’) is a genus of theropod dinosaur which lived during the Late Cretaceous. Its fossils have been found in Argentina. The type species, Ekrixinatosaurus novasi, was first described in 2004 by Argentinian paleontologist Jorge Calvo, and Chilean paleontologists David Rubilar-Rogers and Karen Moreno. It was discovered in the Candeleros Formation, a geologic formation that outcrops in Río Negro, Neuquén, and Mendoza provinces of Argentina. The formation dates from 100-97 mya.

Ekrixinatosaurus novasi is a large ceratosaur with a relatively large head and robust limbs, the only known specimen being between 7–8 m (23–26 ft) in length, some suggested that this specimen actually represented the largest ceratosaur yet described at 10–11 m (33–36 ft) in length, surpassing the type of Carnotaurus. However, it was later noted by other researchers that this estimate was based only on the absolute size of the skull, ignoring that limb bone comparisons clearly show Carnotaurus was larger, thus Carnotaurus was larger than Ekrixinatosaurus but with a proportionally smaller head. Most recently, a 2016 study again found it to be smaller (7.4 m) than Carnotaurus (7.8 m).

Explosion-born reptile (Ekrixinatosaurus novasi) by bLAZZE92

Ekrixinatosaurus shared its environment with the titanosaurian sauropod Andesaurus and the rebbachisaurid sauropods Limaysaurus and Nopcsaspondylus. Iguanodont ornithischian remains have reportedly also been found. The carcharodontosaurid Giganotosaurus was possibly the apex predator. Smaller predators also inhabited the area. These included the dromaeosaurid Buitreraptor, the alvarezsaurid Alnashetri, and the basal coelurosaurian Bicentenaria. The primitive snake Najash lived here as well, along with turtles, fish, frogs, and cladotherian mammals. Pterosaurs also lived in the area.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Afrovenator abakensis by atrox1 on DeviantArt

Afrovenator (“African hunter”) is a genus of megalosaurid theropod dinosaur from the middle Jurassic Period of northern Africa. It was a bipedal predator, with three claws on each hand.

There is one named species, Afrovenator abakensis. The generic name refers to its predatory nature, and its provenance from Africa. The specific name refers to Abaka, the Tuareg name for the region of Niger where the fossil was found. The original short description of both genus and species is found in a 1994 paper which appeared in the prestigious journal Science. The primary author was well-known American paleontologist Paul Sereno, with Jeffrey Wilson, Hans Larsson, Didier Dutheil, and Hans-Dieter Sues as coauthors.

“African Killer” and P. Sereno

The remains of Afrovenator were discovered in 1993 in the Tiourarén Formation of the department of Agadez in Niger. The Tiourarén was originally thought to represent the Hauterivian to Barremian stages of the early Cretaceous Period, or approximately 132 to 125 million years ago (Sereno et al. 1994). However, re-interpretation of the sediments showed that they are probably mid-Jurassic in age, dating Afrovenator to the Bathonian to Oxfordian stages, between 167 and 161 mya. The sauropod Jobaria, whose remains were first mentioned in the same paper which named Afrovenator, is also known from this formation.

Afrovenator is known from a single relatively complete skeleton, holotype UC OBA 1, featuring most of the skull minus its top (likewise the mandible, or lower jaws, are lacking apart from the prearticular bone), parts of the spinal column, partial forelimbs, a partial pelvis, and parts of the hind limbs. This skeleton is housed at the University of Chicago.

Afrovenator skull model

Most analyses place Afrovenator within the Megalosauridae, which was formerly a “wastebasket family” which contained many large and hard-to-classify theropods, but has since been redefined in a meaningful way, as a sister taxon to the family Spinosauridae within the Megalosauroidea.

Source: Wikipedia.org, NatGeo.com