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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Dinosaur age fossils colour discovery


This video is called DINOSAUR FOSSILS – THE ONE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (Documentary).

From AFP news agency:

Traces of pigment on dinosaur fossils a first clue to their skin colour

Traces of pigment in reptile fossils may lead to recreations of how extinct beasts looked

Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 3:36am

What did Tyrannosaurus rex really look like?

Depending on which artist’s impression you look at, the carnivorous king of the Cretaceous was a dull grey, an earthy brown, or maybe a dark green.

But now, new insights into prehistoric fossils, published last week, may one day help determine what the great dinosaurs looked like in real life.

Scientists have uncovered the first traces of pigment in reptile fossils – a dark hue found in three extinct deep-sea beasts distantly related to today’s leatherback turtle.

“This is the first time that… remains of original pigments have been detected in any (extinct) reptile, including dinosaurs,” Johan Lindgren of Sweden’s Lund University said.

The next challenge will be to identify more pigments, helping palaeontologists to reconstruct the colouring of extinct animals.

“This finding potentially allows us to reconstruct the colours of T. rex in future,” said Lindgren, though for now experts are limited to distinguishing dark areas from light ones.

Lindgren and colleagues studied molecular remains found on the skin of three marine monsters. The samples came from a forerunner 55 million years ago of the leatherback turtle; a giant, finned lizard known as a mosasaur dated to 86 million years ago; and a toothy dolphin-like reptile called an ichthyosaur, around 190 million years old.

The remains took the form of structures a micrometre (a millionth of a metre) in size that, according to previous studies, were either pigment traces or the vestiges of bacteria.

The new investigation claims to have settled that debate with in-depth microscopic analysis – revealing the remains to be traces of the most common skin pigment, melanin.

Colouration in animals serves multiple purposes – from camouflage or sexual display to UV protection and heat retention. Little is known about the colouring of long-extinct animals, given that pigmentation is carried in quickly decaying skin. But sometimes, as in this case, scientists are lucky to find soft tissue preserved as an “organic film”.

The team pointed out there was a close correlation between the amount of melanin in skin and how dark the skin’s colour is.

The fossil tissue of all three extinct sea beasts contained very tightly packed pigment granules. This led the scientists to conclude the creatures had “an overall dark colouration” similar to that of the modern leatherback turtle, whose top is almost entirely black, said Lindgren.

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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.

Five-year-old wins Tyrannosaurus rex imitation contest


Thijmen van den Eshof imitates a Tyrannosaurus rex (photo: pr/Dutch Photo Agency)

After a nine-year-old won the Dutch open red deer sound imitation championship, beating mostly much older contestants, now a still younger participant has won at imitating an even bigger and much older animal.

Translated from the Dutch site NieuwsVanHier:

Best T.rex roar imitator of the Netherlands

Last update: December 23, 2013 at 9:35

Leiden – Ten finalists were Saturday at Naturalis museum, for a battle about who was best at imitating a roaring T.rex.

Between the dinosaur skeletons the five-year-old Thijmen van den Eshof with his ferocious roar became the winner of this contest.

From the hands of biologist Freek Vonk he got a PlayStation 3 and a Wonder Book: Walking With Dinosaurs‘ prize packet.

Thijmen receives his prizes

This is a promotion video for the contest.

Most dinosaurs did not have feathers, new research


This video says about itself:

Prehistoric Predators of the Past – Episode 3: Rise of the Feathered Dragon (Documentary)

Perhaps the most significant paleontological discovery of the last 25 years hails from the famed “feathered dinosaur” quarries of Liaoning, China. This site has produced and abundance of specimens that link the evolution of dinosaurs and birds.

From Nature journal:

Feathers were the exception rather than the rule for dinosaurs

Survey of dinosaur family tree finds that most had scaly skin like reptiles.

Matt Kaplan

27 December 2013

Birds evolved from dinosaurs, and dinosaur fossils are often covered with impressions of feathers, which made some palaeontologists speculate whether feathers were a common trait that appeared early in their history. Now a team analysing feathers on the overall dinosaur family tree argues this is taking things too far.

Palaeontologists have known for about two decades that theropods, the dinosaur group that contained the likes of Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor and from which modern birds evolved, were covered in feathery structures from early on in their history.

By contrast, the ornithischian lineage — which contained animals such as Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus — and the huge, long-necked dinosaurs in the sauropod lineage were considered to be scaly, similar to modern reptiles.

Indeed, all evidence pointed in this direction until the discovery, beginning in 20021, 2, of a few ornithischians with filament-like structures in their skin. This led to speculation that feather-like structures were an ancestral trait for all dinosaur groups.

Keen to know more, palaeontologists Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London and David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto created a database of all known impressions of dinosaur skin tissues. They then identified those that had feathers or feather-like structures, and considered relationships in the dinosaurian family tree.

The results, which Barrett revealed at the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology’s annual meeting in Los Angeles in late October, indicate that although some ornithischians, such as Psittacosaurus and Tianyulong, had quills or filaments in their skin, the overwhelming majority had scales or armour. Among sauropods, scales were also the norm.

“I’d go so far as to say that all dinosaurs had some sort of genetic trait that made it easy for their skin to sprout filaments, quills and even feathers,” says Barrett. ”But with scales so common throughout the family tree, they still look like they are the ancestral condition.”

The findings provide “a valuable reality check for all of us who have been enthusiastic about suggesting dinosaurs were primitively feathered”, says Richard Butler, a palaeontologist at the University of Birmingham, UK, who was not associated with the study.

Even so, Butler points out that the findings are not set in stone. “We don’t have primitive dinosaurs from the late Triassic and early Jurassic periods preserved in the right conditions for us to find skin or feather impressions,” he says. “This picture could quickly change if we start finding early dinosaurs with feathers on them.”

Nature
doi:10.1038/nature.2013.14379

References

  1. Mayr, G., Peters, D. S., Plodowski, G. & Vogel, O. Naturwissenschaften 89, 361–365 (2002).

    Show context

  2. Zheng, X.-T., You, H.-L., Xu, X. & Dong, Z.-M. Nature 458, 333–336 (2009).

    Show context

Dinosaurs Were Mostly Scaly, Study Finds: 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.

Walking With Dinosaurs, new film


This video is called Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie – London Gala Screening.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Film: Walking With Dinosaurs (U)

Friday 20th December 2013

Walking With Dinosaurs (U)

Directed by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale

5 Stars

This film captures the world of dinosaurs in a way never experienced before on screen.

Set 70 million years ago in Alaska, it follows the life of Patchi, an energetic young Patchyrhinosaurus

sic: Pachyrhinosaurus

who has to learn fast to survive in a prehistoric habitat of fascinating creatures and majestic nature.

There is a continual presence of danger, mostly in the form of Gorgon, a cunning and relentless Gorgosaurus. Always on the lookout of his next meal, Gorgon is a turbo-charged T Rex. While leading his family on their annual migration Patchi’s father dies and he’s left with with his older brother Scowler, who is big, strong, single-minded and who takes on any challenge to lead the herd. He loves Patchi, though sometimes there is a sibling rivalry.

Patchi must summon a different kind of courage to approach Juniper, a pretty Patchyrinosaurus female. He triumphs against all odds to become a hero for his herd and for the age.

This is a fascinating film, totally successful in creating a unique world. The dinosaurs are really believable as is the intense action is intense and you’ll be transported to the time of the dinosaurs, sharing their adventures. Utterly enjoyable.

Rita Di Santo

New Edmontosaurus dinosaur discovery


This video is called Scientists Discover Duck Billed Dinosaur And An Unusual ‘Fleshy Comb’.

By Emily Chung, CBC News in Canada:

Alberta dinosaur’s head adorned with fleshy comb

Other dinosaurs may have looked quite different from what bones alone show

Dec 12, 2013 11:02 AM ET

An unusually well-preserved fossil of a duck-billed dinosaur has revealed a body part never seen before on any dinosaur.

The Edmontosaurus regalis specimen found west of Grand Prairie, Alta., last year had a soft, fleshy comb on its head, similar to those found on roosters.

“It’s a structure that was completely unexpected,” said Victoria Arbour, a University of Alberta paleontologist who co-authored the scientific paper published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, describing the new fossil.

“It kind of makes us wonder what other dinosaurs might have had.”

Edmontosaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur with a duck-like bill that grew to be 12 metres long — about the length of a bus. It was thought to have roamed North America in herds during the late Cretaceous, about 75 and 65 million years ago, and belonged to a group of dinosaurs known as hadrosaurs, which were the most common dinosaurs on the continent at the time.

Fossils typically only preserve the bones of an animal, not fleshy structures such as a rooster’s comb or an elephant‘s trunk.

Phil Bell, lead author of the paper, said the new findings are “equivalent to discovering for the first time that elephants had trunks.”

Bell, a paleontologist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, added in a statement, “These findings dramatically alter our perception of the appearance and behaviour of this well-known dinosaur.”

In particular, the existence of the comb adds to evidence that Edmontosaurus was a social animal, as ornaments like combs and crests are typically used for communication among animals such as roosters, especially in relation to competition for females.

“We might imagine a pair of male Edmontosaurus sizing each other up, bellowing, and showing off their head gear to see who was the dominant male and who is in charge of the herd,” Bell said.

Bell was a paleontologist with the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum currently under construction in Grand Prairie, Alta., when he uncovered the fossil last summer with geologist Federico Fanti of the University of Bologna. The museum is named after a renowned University of Alberta dinosaur expert who also co-authored the new paper.

Not a true mummy

It was a rare fossil type of fossil that paleontologists describe as “mummified.” Arbour said such fossils aren’t true mummies, in which flesh is preserved under very dry conditions.

Rather, they are simply well-preserved fossils in which the bones are in the same positions relative to each other that they would have been in life, with impressions of the skin preserved on top.

At the time Edmontosaurus roamed Alberta, its habitat was actually a subtropical, swampy coastal area, Arbour said.

It’s not clear what conditions lead the preservation of skin impressions, she added, but it likely involves the animals dying in a flood and being quickly buried by sand or mud.

She added that even when skin impressions are preserved, they are often only visible in certain lighting or when the rock breaks a certain way, which may be why combs hadn’t been noticed on earlier “mummified” Edmontosaurus fossils.

“It’s something that’s kind of easy to miss.”

Such impressions would have been lost from the fossils when paleontologists later cleaned the rock away from the bone.

While earlier hadrosaurs had bony crests, researchers thought the crest had been completely lost in Edmontosaurus. The new discovery suggests that, in fact, the dinosaurs’ crests had changed, but remained an important feature.

Bell said it also suggests that similar structures may have been missed in other dinosaurs.

“There’s no reason that other strange fleshy structures couldn’t have been present on a whole range of other dinosaurs, including T. rex or Triceratops.”

See also here.

Alberta dinosaur brought to life by NAIT students. Digital media students give flesh and feathers to bare bones of Drumheller fossil find: here.

Tyrannosaurus rex sound contest for children


This video is called Walking With Dinosaurs 3D Official Trailer #1 (2013) – CGI Movie HD.

In the Netherlands, there are not only contests in imitating red deer sounds.

There are also contests in imitating sounds of animals which became extinct long ago, and about which we can only guess how they sounded.

Another difference with the red deer contest is that this dinosaur sound contest is for young people only.

Translated from Witte Weekblad weekly in the Netherlands:

Looking for best T. rex roar

December 5, 2013

LeidenNaturalis museum and the most popular Dutch biologist Freek Vonk along with Sony PlayStation are trying to find the person with the most terrifying T. rex roar. On the site tientjevoortrex.nl children until 16 December can submit their version of a T. rex roar and have a chance to participate in the finals on Saturday, December 21 at Naturalis museum in Leiden. In this way, Naturalis calls attention to the T. Rex unearthed in Montana which they want to bring to the Netherlands.

Led by Freek Vonk, the ten best players will roar against each other between the real dinosaur skeletons during the finals on December 21, 2013 at Naturalis museum. The jury, including dinosaur expert Anne Ripper, will judge the roaring. The winner will take home a gigantic PlayStation 3 prize with of course the game Wonder Book: Walking With Dinosaurs. There will be on that day a PlayStation Game Lounge as well, where visitors will be able to try out this game.

France: Not only just any dinosaur. As you quietly walk without bothering anyone on one of your morning ballades in the city magique, suddenly it appears — not out of the corner of your eye, but smack flat across your entire vision field — a life-size replica of the scarily famous Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Certainly more frightening when it was full of fleas (fleas?), teeth and fur, but now just lying in state in the most beautiful of locations, on the bank of the river Seine, in Paris: here.