‘Pinocchio’ dinosaur discovery in China


The image shows the skull of Qianzhousaurus (upper jaw in left lateral view and lower jaw in reversed right lateral view). Credit: Junchang Lu

From the University of Edinburgh in Scotland:

Long-nosed dinosaur is cousin of T. rex

Scientists have discovered a species of long-snouted dinosaur which stalked the Earth more than 66 million years ago.

The animal, nicknamed Pinocchio rex, belonged to the same family as Tyrannosaurus rex.

It was a fearsome carnivore that lived in Asia during the late Cretaceous period.

New specimen

The ancient predator had an elongated skull and long, narrow teeth compared with the deeper, more powerful jaws and thick teeth of a conventional T. rex.

Palaeontologists were uncertain of the existence of long-snouted tyrannosaurs until the remains of the dinosaur – named Qianzhousaurus sinensis – were unearthed in China.

Until now, only two fossilised tyrannosaurs with elongated heads had been found, both of which were juveniles. The new specimen is of an animal nearing adulthood.

New group

Experts say Qianzhousaurus sinensis lived alongside deep-snouted tyrannosaurs but would probably have hunted different prey.

Researchers have created a new branch of the tyrannosaur family for specimens with long snouts, and they expect more new dinosaurs to be added to the group.

Qianzhousaurus sinensis lived until around 66 million years ago when all of the dinosaurs became extinct, likely as the result of a deadly asteroid impact.

This is a different breed of tyrannosaur: It has the familiar toothy grin of T. rex, but its snout was much longer and it had a row of horns on its nose. It might have looked a little comical, but it would have been as deadly as any other tyrannosaur, and maybe even a little faster and stealthier.

Dr Steve Brusatte, Chancellor’s Fellow in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Edinburgh

Findings from the study are published in the journal Nature Communications.

See also here. And here.

Qianzhousaurus sinensis, in spite of its Pinocchio like nose, probably did not lie as often as Pinocchio; or as another life form often compared to Pinocchio, Tony Blair.

This video from the USA is called George W. Bush Pinocchio: Weapons in Iraq.

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New Mexico dinosaurs, new study


This video is called Theropod cladogram.

From PLOS ONE:

Small Theropod Teeth from the Late Cretaceous of the San Juan Basin, Northwestern New Mexico and Their Implications for Understanding Latest Cretaceous Dinosaur Evolution

Thomas E. Williamson, Stephen L. Brusatte

Published: April 07, 2014

Abstract

Studying the evolution and biogeographic distribution of dinosaurs during the latest Cretaceous is critical for better understanding the end-Cretaceous extinction event that killed off all non-avian dinosaurs. Western North America contains among the best records of Late Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrates in the world, but is biased against small-bodied dinosaurs.

Isolated teeth are the primary evidence for understanding the diversity and evolution of small-bodied theropod dinosaurs during the Late Cretaceous, but few such specimens have been well documented from outside of the northern Rockies, making it difficult to assess Late Cretaceous dinosaur diversity and biogeographic patterns.

We describe small theropod teeth from the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico. These specimens were collected from strata spanning Santonian – Maastrichtian. We grouped isolated theropod teeth into several morphotypes, which we assigned to higher-level theropod clades based on possession of phylogenetic synapomorphies. We then used principal components analysis and discriminant function analyses to gauge whether the San Juan Basin teeth overlap with, or are quantitatively distinct from, similar tooth morphotypes from other geographic areas.

The San Juan Basin contains a diverse record of small theropods. Late Campanian assemblages differ from approximately co-eval assemblages of the northern Rockies in being less diverse with only rare representatives of troodontids and a Dromaeosaurus-like taxon. We also provide evidence that erect and recurved morphs of a Richardoestesia-like taxon represent a single heterodont species.

A late Maastrichtian assemblage is dominated by a distinct troodontid. The differences between northern and southern faunas based on isolated theropod teeth provide evidence for provinciality in the late Campanian and the late Maastrichtian of North America. However, there is no indication that major components of small-bodied theropod diversity were lost during the Maastrichtian in New Mexico. The same pattern [is] seen in northern faunas, which may provide evidence for an abrupt dinosaur extinction.

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First dinosaur discovery in Malaysia


This video is called First Malaysian dinosaur fossil found in Pahang: Researchers.

From The Star in Malaysia:

Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 11:00:34 AM

Fish-eating dinosaur fossil discovered in Pahang

By Isabelle Lai

PETALING JAYA: Fossil remains of a carnivorous “fish-eating” dinosaur has been discovered in Malaysia, with Universiti Malaya set to unveil the evidence today.

Discovered in the rural interiors of Pahang, the fossil remains of the spinosauridae dinosaur are believed to be from the late Mesozoic era, most likely from the Cretaceous period between 65 million and 145.5 million years ago.

This is believed to be the first time that fossil remains of a dinosaur have been found in Malaysia.

The dinosaur remains had been identified by a team led by Associate Professor Dr Masatoshi Sone of the university’s geology department in collaboration with reptile paleontology specialist Professor Ren Hirayama from Tokyo’s Waseda University.

Spinosauridae is a particular family of carnivorous dinosaurs characterised by its elongated, crocodile-like skulls with conical teeth that had either very tiny or with no serrations.

Another spinosauridae fossil had also been discovered in Australia in 2011, before which the species was believed to have existed only in the northern hemisphere.

Scientists had discovered a 125-million-year-old neck vertebrae identical to that of a Baryonx

sic; Baryonyx

in Victoria, Australia.

Dr Masatoshi will be attending today’s press conference, along with Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, UM vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin and the Science Faculty dean Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Sofian Azirun.

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Plesiosaur discovery in Chile


This video says about itself:

This animation shows how the juvenile plesiosaur, discovered in Antarctica by an American-Argentine research team, might have appeared.

From I Love Chile News:

Chile’s Loch Ness Monster: New Marine Reptile Fossil Found

February 10 15:28 2014

by Josh King

Paleontologists working in Chile’s Bío Bío region have discovered the fossilized remains of a previously unknown species of marine reptile.

Bío Bío — The fossilized remains of a species of plesiosaur has been discovered by a group of Chilean paleontologists working in the country’s Bío Bío region. The Aristonectes quiriquinensis specimen is over 60 million years old and lived in the seas of the Southern hemisphere as long ago as 251 million years.

That is a confusing sentence. 60 million and 251 million is quite a difference. Aristonectes is said to be from the Late Cretaceous, 100-66 million years ago. So, this species did not exist yet 251 million years ago. And 60 million years ago, all plesiosaurs, like all dinosaurs, had become extinct.

The plesiosaur was a large marine reptile that inhabited all of the world’s oceans. They appeared during the late Cretaceous period,

No, the origin of plesiosaurs is earlier. During the Triassic.

and since being found and named in 1821, over a hundred species have been found. They are probably most well-known in modern popular culture as the template for the Loch Ness Monster, which has the benefit of making this species quite famous and generating interest for the study of ancient creatures, but also often makes people mistake the plesiosaur for a made-up fantasy creature. Much to the dismay of any paleontologist.

This new species was first found in 2001, when only its skull was discovered. In 2009, however, parts of its neck were found and it was seen to have a slightly shorter neck than those found in the Northern Hemisphere. This meant that there was a notable difference between Northern and Southern species.

Having published their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the paleontologists are now studying the remains to find out why these differences have occurred.

With evidence of new extinct creatures being discovered all the time, such as the large meat-eating dinosaur found last year in Utah, it’s just as exciting as ever to hear about new findings of these ancient giants and beginning to sort out the fantasy from the reality.

The scientific description of the species newly discovered in Chile is here.

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Prehistoric frog’s anti-dinosaur armour?


This video is called The Evolution of Amphibians.

From LiveScience:

Primeval ‘Devil Frog’ May Have Sported Anti-Dinosaur Armor

By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer

January 29, 2014 10:00am ET

An ancient, predatory creature known as the devil frog may have looked even scarier than previously thought.

The monster frog, Beelzebufo ampinga, lived during the Cretaceous Period in what is now Africa, and sported spiky flanges protruding from the back of its skull and platelike armor down its back, almost like a turtle shell.

“We knew it was big; we knew it was almost certainly predatory,” said study co-author Susan Evans, a paleontologist at the University College London. “What the new material has shown us is that it was even more heavily armored than we imagined.”

The massive frog’s spiked body armor may have helped it fend off the dinosaurs and crocodiles that prowled during that time. [See Photos of the Devil Frog and Other Freaky Frogs]

Elusive lineage

The researchers first discovered a few bone fragments from a mystery frog in Madagascar in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2008 that they had enough pieces to identify the species, which they dubbed the devil frog, or Beelzebufo ampinga. The massive frog lived between 70 million and 65 million years ago.

When the team analyzed the frog’s morphology, they found that physically, it fit in with a family of horned frogs called the Ceratophryidae, which are now found only in South America.

But to reach Madagascar from South America, the frogs would have needed to hop along a passageway, possibly through Antarctica, that linked the two landmasses. But that route was submerged underwater by 112 million years ago, Evans said.

That would mean that devil frogs must have diverged from their South American cousins prior to that submergence, pushing back the origin of Ceratophryidae by more than 40 million years, Evans said.

More specimens

Over the course of the next five years, the team found several more bone fragments of Beelzebufo ampinga. In the new study, they combined all of the fragments to do a much more complete reconstruction of the devil frog.

The new analysis confirms the frog’s lineage in the Ceratophryidae family. It also downgrades the amphibian’s size — instead of being the biggest frog that ever lived, it may be closer to the size of an African bullfrog, which grows to about 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) across.

Even so, the analysis reveals that the devil frog was even fiercer-looking than previously thought. Past studies had suggested it had a huge, globular head; sharp teeth; and short back legs, but the spiky flanges and the plates embedded in its skin were a surprising discovery.

The frogs may have hunted like African bullfrogs, hiding before pouncing on a small mammal.

It’s not clear what the frogs used the body armor for, but one possibility is that the sculptured bones may have been an adaptation to a dry environment that allowed the frogs to burrow underground, where they were less likely to bake in the hot sun, Evans said.

But the armor may also have been protection.

“There were an awful lot of things roaming around that would have liked a bite out of a big, juicy frog,” such as dinosaurs, crocodiles and even strange mammals that once lived on the Gondwana supercontinent, Evans told LiveScience.

The findings were published Jan. 28 in the journal PLOS ONE.

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New dinosaur discovery in China


This video says about itself:

New Dinosaur Discovered in China

17 Jan 2012

Archaeologists are trading high-fives this week. A new species of dinosaur has been named, 13 years after its fossilized remains were dug up in Eastern China. Named for the county where the bones were found during construction of a new highway, the skeleton puzzled researchers, who concluded it was a previously unknown species after three years of intensive study. It’s believed to be an ornithischian, or “bird-hipped” dinosaur, and would have roamed ancient China during the Cretaceous period some 100 million years ago.

The dinosaur, which was 1.5 meters long and stood less than 1 meter high, had a beak, ran on two legs, and was believed to be a herbivore. Expect thousands of little dinosaur aficionados to be playing with new toys in the next few years…as long as someone can figure out how to pronounce this dino’s name.

From the University of Pennsylvania in the USA today:

Dinosaur fossils from China help researchers describe new ‘Titan’

16 hours ago

A team led by University of Pennsylvania paleontologists has characterized a new dinosaur based on fossil remains found in northwestern China. The species, a plant-eating sauropod named Yongjinglong datangi, roamed during the Early Cretaceous period, more than 100 million years ago. This sauropod belonged to a group known as Titanosauria, members of which were among the largest living creatures to ever walk the earth.

At roughly 50-60 feet long, the Yongjinglong individual discovered was a medium-sized Titanosaur. Anatomical evidence, however, points to it being a juvenile; adults may have been larger.

The find, reported in the journal PLOS ONE, helps clarify relationships among several sauropod species that have been found in the last few decades in China and elsewhere. Its features suggest that Yongjinglong is among the most derived, or evolutionarily advanced, of the Titanosaurs yet discovered from Asia.

Doctoral student Liguo Li and professor Peter Dodson, who have affiliations in both the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Animal Biology and the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Earth and Environmental Science, led the work. They partnered with Hailu You, a former student of Dodson’s, who now works at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, and Daqing Li of the Gansu Geological Museum in Lanzhou, China.

Until very recently, the United States was the epicenter for dinosaur diversity, but China surpassed the U.S. in 2007 in terms of species found. This latest discovery was made in the southeastern Lanzhou-Minhe Basin of China’s Gansu Province, about an hour’s drive from the province’s capital, Lanzhou. Two other Titanosaurs from the same period, Huanghetitan liujiaxiaensis and Daxiatitan binglingi, were discovered within the last decade in a valley one kilometer from the Yongjinglong fossils.

“As recently as 1997 only a handful of dinosaurs were known from Gansu,” Dodson said. “Now it’s one of the leading areas of China. This dinosaur is one more of the treasures of Gansu.”

During a trip to Gansu, Liguo Li was invited to study the remains, which had been in storage since being unearthed in 2008. They consisted of three teeth, eight vertebrae, the left shoulder blade, and the right radius and ulna.

The anatomical features of the bones bear some resemblance to another Titanosaur that had been discovered by paleontologists in China in 1929, named Euhelopus zdanskyi. But the team was able to identify a number of unique characteristics.

“The shoulder blade was very long, nearly 2 meters, with sides that were nearly parallel, unlike many other Titanosaurs whose scapulae bow outward,” Li said.

The scapula was so long, indeed, that it did not appear to fit in the animal’s body cavity if placed in a horizontal or vertical orientation, as is the case with other dinosaurs. Instead, Li and colleagues suggest the bone must have been oriented at an angle of 50 degrees from the horizontal.

In addition, an unfused portion of the shoulder blade indicated to the researchers that the animal under investigation was a juvenile or subadult.

“The scapula and coracoid aren’t fused here,” Li said. “It is open, leaving potential for growth.”

Thus, a full-grown adult might be larger than this 50-60 foot long individual. Future finds may help elucidate just how much larger, the researchers noted.

The ulna and radius were well preserved, enough so that the researchers could identify grooves and ridges they believe correspond with the locations of muscle attachments in the dinosaur’s leg.

The researchers were also able to draw evidence about the dinosaur’s relationship to other species from the vertebrae, one of which was from the neck and the other seven from the trunk. Notably, the vertebrae had large cavities in the interior that the team believes provided space for air sacs in the dinosaur’s body.

“These spaces are unusually large in this species,” Dodson said. “It’s believed that dinosaurs, like birds, had air sacs in their trunk, abdominal cavity and neck as a way of lightening the body.”

In addition, the longest tooth they found was nearly 15 centimeters long. Another shorter tooth contained unique characteristics, including two “buttresses,” or bony ridges, on the internal side, while Euhelopus had only one buttress on its teeth.

To gain a sense of where Yongjinglong sits on the family tree of sauropods, the researchers were able to compare its characteristics with specimens from elsewhere in China, as well as from Africa, South America and the U.S.

“We used standard paleontological techniques to compare it with phylogenies based on other specimens,” Dodson said. “It is definitely much more derived than Euhelopus and shows close similarities to derived species from South America.”

Not only does the discovery point to the fact that Titanosaurs encompass a diverse group of dinosaurs, but it also supports the growing consensus that sauropods were a dominant group in the Early Cretaceous—a view that U.S. specimens alone could not confirm.

“Based on U.S. fossils, it was once thought that sauropods dominated herbivorous dinosaur fauna during the Jurassic but became almost extinct during the Cretaceous,” Dodson said. “We now realize that, in other parts of the world, particularly in South America and Asia, sauropod dinosaurs continued to flourish in the Cretaceous, so the thought that they were minor components is no longer a tenable view.”

See also here.

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Saudi Arabian dinosaur discovery


This abelisaur tooth is evidence of the first carnivorous theropod dinosaur from Saudi Arabia. Credit: Maxim Leonov (Palaeontological Institute, Moscow)

From LiveScience:

First Dinosaur Fossils from Saudi Arabia Discovered

By Becky Oskin, Staff Writer

January 07, 2014 03:04pm ET

A plant-eating titanosaur and a sharp-toothed theropod are the first confirmed dinosaur fossils ever found in Saudi Arabia, scientists reported Dec. 26 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Dinosaur fossils are rare in the Arabian Peninsula; previous finds mainly include teeth and bone fragments of similar species from Jordan, Oman and Lebanon, the researchers report.

“This discovery is important not only because of where the remains were found, but also because of the fact that we can actually identify them,” Benjamin Kear, lead study author, said in a statement. “These are the first taxonomically recognizable dinosaurs reported from the Arabian Peninsula,” said Kear, a paleobiologist at Uppsala University in Sweden. [Photos: Amazing Dinosaur Fossils]

The 72-million-year-old fossils were discovered in the Adaffa formation, a pile of sandstone and conglomerates (pebble-rich rocks) deposited by streams and rivers during the Late Cretaceous Period. During this time, Arabia had not yet separated from Africa and was bounded on the east by the Tethys Ocean. Parts of Arabia were underwater when the bones were buried in the sand. (On earlier fossil hunts, Kear found Cretaceous marine fossils in Saudi Arabia, such as plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, sharks and turtles.)

Kear and his colleagues carefully excavated a sandstone outcrop of the Adaffa formation about 7 miles (11 kilometers) northeast of Al Khuraybah in Saudi Arabia. There, they discovered two theropod teeth and several vertebrae.

Distinctive patterns on the teeth helped the team link the chompers to carnivorous abelisaurs, a dinosaur family common in northern Africa at the time. Abelisaurs were bipedal, like T. rex, and grew to about 20 feet (6 meters) tall.

The vertebrae looked similar to those from titanosaurs, massive sauropods that lived on many continents, including Africa and South America. The species grew up to 65 feet (20 m) long.

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New dinosaur species discovery in Spain


This video says about itself:

19 July 2013

Fossil evidence found in a Montana (USA) bonebed suggests that meat eating dinosaurs could die of poisoning from bacteria such as botulism, something theropod dinosaurs have evolved to avoid.

Narrated by John Hurt Planet Dinosaur tells the stories of the biggest, deadliest and weirdest creatures ever to walk the Earth, using the latest fossil evidence and immersive computer graphics.

From the Latin American Herald Tribune:

Researcher in Spain Discovers New Dinosaur Species

LOGROÑO, Spain – Spanish researcher Ignacio Diaz Martinez says fossilized footprints found in northern Spain’s La Rioja region point to the existence of a previously unknown species of dinosaur.

Study of the footprints indicates that large number of a tall, bipedal, carnivorous dinosaur inhabited La Rioja 120 million years ago, Diaz told Efe.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the newly discovered species is the presence of claws on its feet, the 32-year-old PhD said.

La Rioja is especially rich in fossilized dinosaur footprints.

Diaz, who plans to hold off on naming the new species until his findings are endorsed in peer-reviewed scientific journals, said he would prefer a moniker related to La Rioja.

In his doctoral dissertation at the University of La Rioja, Diaz suggested the designation Riojadopus amei.

See also here.

Argentinosaurus, biggest dinosaur ever, new research


This video is called Biggest Dinosaur Ever! Argentinosaurus – Planet Dinosaur – BBC.

From Scientific American:

Giant Dinosaur Walks Again in Supercomputer Simulation

A giant dinosaur probably had to plod along to keep its body from breaking down

By Lucas Laursen

The South American dinosaur Argentinosaurus huinculensis would have had a hard time getting around. In fact, just standing up might have been difficult for the roughly 90-ton beast. When the gigantic dinosaur went extinct it left behind huge footprints and a big question: How did it move all that mass?

“This is an animal that’s pushing the limits,” says biologist Bill Sellers of the University of Manchester in England. Argentinosaurus may have been the heftiest dinosaur that ever lived. As animals get larger, the increase in body mass tends to outpace the corresponding growth of muscles and bones. In the case of Argentinosaurus, a full swing of its giant thighs might have broken its bones.

Sellers and his colleagues are investigating how Argentinosaurus got around by using a supercomputer simulation of the sauropod‘s locomotion. The team used a laser scan of the Argentinosaurus skeleton to build a three-dimensional model of the dinosaur, which left the researchers 57 different parameters to tinker with, such as how far each joint swung and the order in which the feet took steps. The researchers then programmed a supercomputer to vary those parameters until it found gaits that demanded the least amount of energy from the animal. The simulations indicated that the dinosaur strode best when it took dainty steps at four or five miles per hour, according to a report last October in PLOS One. By staying well within the range of motion of its joints, Argentinosaurus may have avoided the pitfalls of its gigantism.

The new study’s predictions agree with other lines of evidence. The simulated animal’s tracks, for instance, resemble real-life fossilized footprints. And the simulations “gel with what other people have concluded based on studies looking at the shapes of bones,” says paleontologist Matt Bonnan of Stockton College. Future simulations, he adds, should also incorporate cartilage, which is lacking in fossils but which scientists can study in modern dinosaur relatives such as birds and lizards.