Vadodara: Dinosaur Eggs Found in Mahisagar, India

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The egg was found on Saturday evening during a digging exercise at a local site in the village and caused much excitement among the locals (Express)

The fossil park in Balasinor had revealed fossils of Rajasaurus Narmadensis, a carnivorous species of the Cretaceous period which exists in the Narmada region about 65 million years ago.

Balasinor in Mahisagar district is already home one of the world’s largest dinosaur hatcheries in Raiyoli. Now, locals have discovered another possible egg of a dinosaur in Muwada village, about 10 kms away. The egg was found on Saturday evening during a digging exercise at a local site in the village and caused much excitement among the locals. The one dinosaur egg found in Mahisagar District is however broken and not an intact piece.

The villagers handed over the egg to the local Mamlatdar, who will now send it across to the Geological Survey of India department, where a laboratory test will finalize if the egg indeed belongs to the extinct species of the world’s largest living being.

On Sunday, Aaliya Sultana Babi, who is the scion of the Balasinor royal family and has been an advocate in the conservation of the Raiyoli fossil park, visited the site to take stock of the new discovery.

Babi, who has been closely working with the GSI, state tourism department and palaeontologists of the world to promote and preserve the dinosaur park in her backyard, said, “It was just one egg that was discovered by some labourers on Saturday evening while they were digging rocks probably for the foundation of a house. It’s probably a sauropod egg (herbivore).”

The fossil park in Balasinor had revealed fossils of Rajasaurus Narmadensis, a carnivorous species of the Cretaceous period which exists in the Narmada region about 65 million years ago.

When contacted, an official of the local district of administration said that the egg is in the possession of the district administration and will be handed over to the GSI for further study in the subject.


Fossil Bone Tissues Shed Light on Australia’s Polar Dinosaurs

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The fossil bone tissue reveals new information about how the Australian “hypsilophodontid” dinosaurs lived.| Image: Peter Trusler

Dinosaurs that lived in what is now known as Victoria more than 120 million years ago would have dealt with prolonged periods of darkness and below freezing temperatures, a new study reveals.

The study, published in the Scientific Reports journal, examines the bone tissue microstructure of plant-eating “hypsilophodontid” dinosaurs known to have lived in the Antarctic Circle - now Victoria, Australia. 

“These little dinosaurs would have dealt with prolonged periods of darkness and mean annual temperatures near freezing, and certainly below freezing in the winter,” says one of the study authors, Dr Patricia Vickers-Rich, a professor of paleobiology at Swinburne.

In studying fossils from seventeen individuals, the International research team from Swinburne University of Technology, Oklahoma State University, Museums Victoria, and Monash University produced the first life history reconstructions for these small Australian polar dinosaurs.


Examining bone microstructure
An examination of the bone microstructure, or histology, of the hypsilophodontid fossils revealed many characteristics of their growth.

Rings in the bone, similar in appearance to tree rings, helped determine individual age. Bone fibre orientation, blood vessel density, and the amount of bone between growth rings, was used to determine annual growth rates.

Bone histology revealed that, in general, growth was most rapid during the first three years of life, and the dinosaurs were fully grown – the size of a medium wallaby or average turkey - in five to seven years.


Uncovering Australia’s past

The hypsilophodontid samples were recovered from two Australian localities along the south Victorian coast stretching from west of Cape Otway to Inverloch, geologically separated by about 12 million years.

However, the trend of rapid growth for three years followed by adult body size between five and seven years, was conserved across the two samples.

“Given the geologic time involved, we may be looking at several polar dinosaur species in this sample, but their growth trajectories are so similar that we cannot differentiate them from one another based on their growth patterns and rates alone,” says Holly Woodward (Oklahoma State University).

“Instead, our life history assessment demonstrates to us that this generalised growth trajectory was a successful lifestyle for surviving in a region experiencing unique conditions.”


Histologic examinations

The tibia (shin-bone) of one hypsilophodontid individual in the sample had clearly suffered from a pathologic condition known as osteomyelitis or bone infection.

Microscopic examination revealed the cause of this pathology was most likely a broken bone, which then became infected. Counting the growth rings preserved in this tibia prior to the formation of the pathologic bone, the team was able to place the timing of the injury as having occurred when this individual was approximately four years old. 

The team was also able to tease out how long this little dinosaur lived and how it dealt with the injury: histologic examination of the unaffected femur (thigh bone) of this individual shows that it survived with the injury and pathology for three more years.

”Further investigations of this unique sample will continue to shed light on how these little dinosaurs thrived in high latitudes and under the most stressful of environments during a time when dinosaurs flourished on planet Earth,” Dr Vickers-Rich says.


Oldest Fossil Ever Found in Utah Belonged to Coyote-like Dinosaur

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The biggest discoveries can be made by the unlikeliest of scientists, like a volunteer sifting through desert rocks.

Paleontologists at Dinosaur Journey say that's exactly how the oldest known fossil found in Utah was unearthed.

We got a sneak peek at the hip bone of the dinosaur.

Rob Gay says a little more than 10 years ago, a group outing turned up the fossil that's more than 200 million years old. To put that into perspective, that means the fossil is from the very beginning of dinosaur time.

"And then we looked at this fossil, specifically and compared it to known dinosaurs from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and of course across the American West at this same time period. And we found it shares a lot of characteristics with a group of early predatory dinosaurs called Neotherapods," said Rob Gay, Paleontologist, Colorado Canyons Association.

When it was alive the dinosaur would have been about nine to 12 feet long and stood waist high at its head and had pointy teeth. Gay says it would have been like a prehistoric coyote.

The fossil isn't on display right now.


New Fossil Shows When Worms Developed Heads

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A fossil dating from the Cambrian, more than 500 million years ago. Note the bristles partially covering the head. Image credits: Jean-Bernard Caron/Royal Ontario Museum.

A new study based on recent findings might shed a new light on annelids (ringed worms). Researchers now have solid evidence that these animals developed heads more than 500 million years ago. An extremely well-preserved fossil also suggests how the head evolved in the first place.

We take some of our biological features — such as the head — for granted. But five hundred million years ago, things were much more unfamiliar. Not only was the planet a completely different place, with different landscapes and atmospheric conditions, but heads were a scarce commodity. It’s not clear exactly when creatures started to evolve heads — areas of the body with concentrated sensorial functions — but some of the earliest evidence we have comes from 500 million years ago, during a period called the Cambrian.

Now, paleontologists working in Canada have found an intriguing Cambrian fossil which sheds new light on how annelids developed heads.

The fossil was found in the 508-million-year-old Marble Canyon site in the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. Burgess Shale is one of the best places for Cambrian fossils, with a long list of intriguing finds that enables us to better understand how life evolved. Now, we can add a new entry to that list: Kootenayscolex.

“508 million years ago, the Marble Canyon would have been teeming with annelids,” said Karma Nanglu, a University of Toronto PhD candidate, and a researcher at the Royal Ontario Museum, as well as the study’s lead author. “The fine anatomical details preserved in Kootenayscolex allow us to infer not only its evolutionary position, but also its lifestyle. Sediment preserved inside their guts suggest that, much as their relatives do in modern ecosystems, these worms served an important role in the food chain by recycling organic material from the sediment back to other animals that preyed on them.”

Kootenayscolex barbarensis, as its full name goes, had paired bundles of hair-sized bristles spread along the body, which allows paleontologists to positively identify it as an annelid. But unlike any other discovered fossil, these bristles were partially covering the head — specifically, the mouth. This seems to support the theory that the head evolved from posterior body segments, something which was also suggested by research on modern species.

However, fossil evidence is extremely scarce. Since annelids are invertebrates (Kootenayscolex actually emerged as one of the first annelids), preservation of their soft bodies is extremely rare. The very process of fossilization favors the preservation of bones and other hard body parts, which makes this finding even more valuable: not only is it a rare occurrence of a preserved soft body, but it’s also caught in an important moment of its evolutionary history.

With over 17,000 extant species including ragworms, earthworms, and leeches, annelids are one of the most diverse groups on Earth. They can thrive in a variety of environments, from marine environments as distinct as tidal zones and hydrothermal vents to freshwater lakes and moist terrestrial environments. Wherever there’s some form of humidity, there’s a good chance to find an annelid. This diversity makes them an extremely interesting and important group to study, but it also makes it extremely difficult to look at the broad picture.

“Annelids are a hugely diverse group of animals in both their anatomies and lifestyles,” added Nanglu. “While this diversity makes them ecologically important and an evolutionarily interesting group to study, it also makes it difficult to piece together what the ancestral annelid may have looked like.”

The team’s research is due to be published in the journal Current Biology.


Crepidosoma doyleii: This New Species of Brittle Star Lived 435 Million Years Ago

Monday, January 22, 2018

Scientists say the fossilized remains of a brittle star that lived 435 million years ago belong to a new species. 

The fossil was named Crepidosoma doyleii, after the paleontologist who discovered it. Eamon Doyle was a Ph.D. student when he discovered the remains of the thumbnail-sized creature in the late 1980s, embedded in a layer of fossils on a hillside in the Maam Valley in Ireland. 

Though this species of brittle star (which are closely related to starfish) first developed nearly half a billion years ago, its modern day descendants are remarkably similar.

This particular species was a marine scavenger and lived through continental shifts, oceans rising and draining, and the extinction of the dinosaurs. The brittle star that Doyle found most likely lived in the ocean over what's now Ireland, which disappeared after tectonic plate shifts. 

Researchers published their findings on Crepidosoma doyleii this month in the Irish Journal of Earth Sciences

According to Doyle, this brittle star is incredibly resilient — it was around during the Silurian period, when the first land plants evolved. 

The discovery is significant because it's a "key piece of evidence in the hunt for past life in the ocean that covered Ireland," David Harper, a paleontologist at Durham University and co-author of the study, told the Irish Times

The fossil will be put on display at the National Museum of Ireland.



Creationists' Claim That Humans Lived with Dinosaurs Debunked by Science

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

An image of a "dinosaur" from Kachina Bridge that scientists nicknamed Sinclair, as depicted by a young-Earth creationist (left) and as illustrated by scientists (right). The dark shading on the line drawing represents human engravings, while the light shading represents natural mud stains. Credit: P. Senter and S. Cole

Ancient images that creationists claim are evidence of humans living alongside dinosaurs are at best just smeared pictures, scientists find.

At the site of Kachina Bridge in Utah — an immense sandstone formation resembling an arch more than 200 feet (60 meters) high and wide that was formed by the undercutting of a rock wall by flowing water  — prehistoric cultures decorated the  walls with paintings and engravings known as petroglyphs. Among them are what young-earth Earth creationists, who believe all life was created on the same day about 6,000 years ago, have said are depictions of dinosaurs, claiming these images as proof of their beliefs.

Now, closer investigation reveals these ideas are just wishful thinking.

"The most important implication of these findings is that one of the creationist camp's favorite piece of 'evidence' for the coexistence of dinosaurs and humans — a dinosaur petroglyph — doesn't even exist," researcher Phil Senter, a paleontologist at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina, told LiveScience.

The researchers analyzed the four alleged dinosaur images with the naked eye and with binoculars and telephoto lenses while the pictures were illuminated by direct and indirect sunlight and when they were in shadow.

"Dinosaur 1, which I've nicknamed Sinclair because it looks like the Sinclair Gas logo, really does look like a dino when seen with the naked eye," Senter said. "But the archaeologists who did the subsequent fieldwork knew exactly what they were looking at when they came out to examine the figure. This just goes to show that a trained eye can often see what an untrained eye cannot."

The researchers found the "neck" and "head" of Dinosaur 1 are a composite of two separate petroglyphs, while the "legs" appear to just be stains.

"I wonder if, during the process of weathering, chemicals from the man-made, [etched] part dripped down to form the 'legs,'" Senter said. "Lots of mineral stains are all over the canyon that contains Kachina Bridge."

"Until our study, this was the best dinosaur petroglyph — that is, the hardest to argue about, because it looked so much like a dinosaur that there was no way to interpret it as anything else," Senter said. "The 'best' dinosaur is now extinct."

"The 'dinos' other than Sinclair do not look like dinos at all, even with the naked eye," Senter added. "It is difficult for me to understand how anyone saw dinosaurs in those figures." In fact, the researchers say the four Kachina "dinosaurs" are "illusions produced by pareidolia," the psychological phenomenon responsible for people seeing faces or animals in clouds and the man in the moon. 

Senter and archaeologist Sally Cole detailed their findings in the March issue of the journal Palaentologia Electronica.

Source: (2011)

U of A Digitally Preserves Important Dinosaur Tracks Found in Arkansas

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Scientists using laser-imaging technology have documented and digitally preserved the first known set of theropod dinosaur tracks in the state of Arkansas.

The tracks, discovered in 2011 in a working gypsum quarry near Nashville, have since been destroyed. But high-resolution digital scans taken over a period of two weeks in 2011 allowed a team of researchers to study the tracks and determine that they were made by Acrocanthosaurus, a large, carnivorous dinosaur. The findings extended the known range of Acrocanthosaurus 56 miles east, to the western shore of an ancient inland sea.

“It actually confirms that the main genus of large theropods in North America was Acrocanthosaurus,” said Celina Suarez, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences who was part of the team that documented and studied the tracks. “It now has been found in Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Maryland, a huge range.”

Results of the study were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. Researchers also created a detailed, publicly accessible online map of the site and the tracks. Brian Platt, an assistant professor of geology from the University of Mississippi, led the study. Researchers from the University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technology (CAST) provided the scanning equipment and expertise.


After the tracks were discovered, researchers received a $10,000 Rapid Grant from the National Science Foundation to quickly document the site. The U of A’s vice provost for research and economic development and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences provided matching grants, for a total of $30,000.

The mining company moved its operations to allow researchers a short window of time to document the find. Researchers used LiDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, because traditional methods would have taken too long, said Suarez. “From a technical standpoint, it’s important that the ability to rapidly scan such a large area is available to paleontologists. It was invaluable for this project since we had such little time to work.”

The site had two different sized Acrocanthosaurus tracks, suggesting both adult and younger animals walked the ancient tidal flat about 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period. It also contained tracks made by sauropods, long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs.

LiDAR uses a pulsed laser to measure distances to the earth in tiny increments, generating a data “point cloud” that is used to digitally recreate a physical space. In this case, the equipment was mounted on a lift over the site. By analyzing carbon and oxygen isotopes of the rock at the track surface, researchers determined that the track surface was indeed the surface that the animals stepped on, rather than an underlying layer that remained when the original surface eroded.

The digital reconstruction of the trackway site can be viewed at the CAST website.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Caihong juji: This Chinese 'Rainbow Dinosaur' had Iridescent Feathers like Hummingbirds

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An illustration of a reconstruction of the iridescent dinosaur which had rainbow feathers, named Caihong juji, unearthed in China, is shown in this October 31, 2016 photo released on January 15, 2018. Courtesy Velizar Simeonovski/The Field Museum for the University of Texas at Austin

Newly discovered Caihong juji, a winged dinosaur that roamed what is now China around 161 million years ago, was likely bursting with color—a shock of blue and green around its face, and streaks of orange highlighting its wings and tail. The duck-sized theropod has already been christened with the Mandarin word for “rainbow.”

Microscopic structures in the exquisitely preserved, nearly complete fossil unearthed in Hebei Province indicated that it boasted iridescent feathers, particularly on its head, neck and chest, with colors that shimmered and shifted in the light, like those of hummingbirds.

The discovery “suggests a more colorful Jurassic World than we previously imagined,” said evolutionary biologist Chad Eliason of the Field Museum in Chicago, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Photos and drawings of the incredibly detailed C. juji fossil. Credit: Yu et al., 2018

Using powerful microscopes, the scientists detected within the feathers the remnants of organelles called melanosomes responsible for pigmentation. Their shape determines the color. Caihong’s feathers had pancake-shaped melanosomes similar to those of hummingbirds with iridescent feathers.

Much of its body had dark feathers, but ribbon-like iridescent feathers covered its head and neck. While it possessed many bird-like characteristics, the researchers doubted it could actually get airborne. Its plumage could have attracted mates while also providing insulation.

By examining the fossilized feathers under a microscope, researchers detected structures that hint at possible colors. COURTESY YU ET AL., 2018

Caihong was a two-legged predator with a Velociraptor-like skull and sharp teeth, probably hunting small mammals and lizards. It had crests above its eyes that looked like bony eyebrows. 

Many dinosaurs possessed feathers. Birds evolved from small feathered dinosaurs near the end of the Jurassic Period. Caihong had fuzzy feathers and pennaceous ones, those that look like writing quills. It is the earliest-known creature with asymmetrical feathers, a trait used by birds to steer when flying. Caihong’s were on its tail, suggesting tail feathers, not arm feathers, were first utilized for aerodynamic locomotion.

“It is extremely similar to some early birds such as Archaeopteryx,” said paleontologist Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, referring to the earliest-known bird, which lived 150 million years ago. “Its forelimbs were configured like wings. To be honest, I am not sure what function the feathers have, and I don’t think that you can completely exclude the possibility that the feathers helped the animal to get in the air.”

The shapes of melanosomes can help researchers infer coloration. COURTESY YU ET AL. 2018

Asked what someone might say upon seeing Caihong, University of Texas paleontologist Julia Clarke said, “‘Wow!’ And if they are anything like me, they might want one as a pet. Not suitable for children.”

The dinosaur’s full scientific name, Caihong juji, means “rainbow with a big crest.”


‘SIBERIAN TITAN’: Russian Scientists Discover New Dinosaur Species (PHOTOS)

Monday, January 15, 2018


Russian scientists have described a new dinosaur species that roamed Siberia 120 million years ago, naming it the Siberian Titan. The giant with its long neck & tail is only the second of its type discovered on Russia’s territory.

Paleontologists from the Tomsk State University together with their counterparts from the University of St. Petersburg have identified a previously unknown type of giant dinosaur after uncovering its fossils in a cliff in the Kemerovo region. Fragments of teeth, vertebra and sacrum helped researchers towards realizing that their findings belonged to a new dinosaur species.


The creature had a long neck and a powerful tail, could reach up to 12 meters in length and weigh nearly ten tons. Despite its remarkable size, the scientists noted the beast wasn’t the largest in the group of giant plant-eating sauropods. Yet the creature was formally named as “Sibirotitan astrosacralis” due to the area it inhabited and ribs arranged in a ‘star’ shape, according to press releases by the two universities. 


First recovered in 2008, the remains required some effort to be extracted from sandstone in a cliff near the village of Shestakovo. Equipped with climbing gear, the researchers had to carefully dig out the bones from the rock at a height of four meters.

The Siberian Titan is the second sauropod unearthed and described in Russia after the discovery of Tengrisaurus in 2017.



It's Time to Print a 200-mln-year-old Dinosaur Skull at Home!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

 Researchers used CT scans to peer inside the skull of the dinosaur Massospondylus. (Photo: Pixabay)

The bones of the skull are not fully fused, which means that this particular fossil is that of an individual that is not fully grown yet.

Scientists have created a digital reconstruction of the skull of a 200-million-year-old South African dinosaur, which will allow enthusiasts all over the world to make 3D prints of the fossil at home.

The researchers from University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa hope that this will facilitate research on the dinosaur called Massospondylus, as well as others.

Researchers used CT scans to peer inside the skull of the dinosaur Massospondylus.

They were able to rebuild every bone of Massospondylus's cranium, and to even look at tiny features like nerves exiting the brain and the balance organs of the inner ear.

Along with the study published in the journal PeerJ, a 3D surface file of the skull can be downloaded.

"This means any researcher or member of the public can print their own Massospondylus skull at home," said Kimi Chapelle, a PhD student at University of the Witwatersrand.

Massospondylus is one of the most famous dinosaurs from South Africa and was named in 1854 by the celebrated anatomist Sir Richard Owen.

Fossils of Massospondylus have been found in many places in South Africa, including Golden Gate National Park, where James Kitching discovered fossil eggs and embryos in 1976.

However, the skull of Massospondylus has never been the focus of an in-depth anatomical investigation.

"I was amazed when I started digitally reconstructing Massospondylus' skull, and found all these features that had never been described," said Chapelle.

"It just goes to show that researchers still have a lot to learn about South Africa's dinosaurs," she said.

"By comparing the inner ear to that of other dinosaurs, we can try and interpret things like how they held their heads and how they moved," said Chapelle.

"You can actually see tiny replacement teeth in the bones of the jaws, showing us that Massospondylus continuously replaced its teeth, like crocodiles do, but unlike humans that can only do it once," she added.

The bones of the braincase are not fully fused, which means that this particular fossil is that of an individual that is not fully grown yet.

"This allows us to understand how Massospondylus grew, how fast it grew and how big it could grow," Chapelle added.

Hundreds of Massospondylus fossils have been found in South Africa, ranging in size from hatchlings to adult.

Chapelle is using CT technology to study these additional fossils.