Biggest ever apatosaurus discovery in Colorado


This video is called Origami Dinosaur: APATOSAURUS.

From the Grand Junction Free Press in the USA:

Record dinosaur bone found in Colorado quarry

By Brittany Markert

07/21/2014 12:01:00 AM MDT

Rabbit Valley’s Mygatt-Moore quarry is home to hundreds of fossils left behind by dinosaurs and extinct sea creatures. Its most notable recent find was a 6-foot-7-inch-long, 2,800-pound apatosaurus femur.

That is the largest apatosaurus ever found anywhere, said Dinosaur Journey curator of paleontology Julia McHugh.

It is a groundbreaking discovery because it belonged to a beast likely 80 to 90 feet long, which is 15 to 25 feet longer than average, she said.

After five summers of work excavating the dinosaur leg bone, it was lifted Thursday morning from the quarry outside Grand Junction near the Utah border. A crew of experts led by the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey Museum oversaw the excavation.

“It’s funny that it was discovered from a small piece exposed about the size of a pancake,” volunteer Dorthy Stewart said.

The creature ordinarily grew up to 69 feet long and ate plants.

According to the National Park Service, “You may have heard it referred to by its scientifically incorrect name, Brontosaurus. This sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) was discovered and named Apatosaurus, or ‘false lizard,’ because of its unbelievably large size. After Apatosaurus was named, other sauropod specimens were named Brontosaurus. It was later determined that both names actually referred to the same animal, Apatosaurus.”

‘Birds descended not from dinosaurs, but from more ancient reptiles’


This video is called Wing evolution 1 of 4.

And these three videos are the sequels.

From Wildlife Extra:

Forensic examination reveals that birds did not descend from dinosaurs

The re-examination of a sparrow-sized fossil from China challenges the commonly held belief that birds evolved from ground-dwelling theropod dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly.

The birdlike fossil is not actually a dinosaur, as previously thought, but rather the remains of a tiny tree-climbing animal that could glide, say American researchers Stephen Czerkas of the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah, and Alan Feduccia of the University of North Carolina.

The study appears in Springer’s Journal of Ornithology.

Their findings validate predictions first made in the early 1900s that the ancestors of birds were small, tree-dwelling archosaurs which enhanced their incipient ability to fly with feathers that enabled them to at least glide.

This “trees down” view is in contrast with the “ground up” view embraced by many palaeontologists in recent decades that birds derived from terrestrial theropod dinosaurs.

The fossil of the Scansoriopteryx (which means “climbing wing”) was found in Inner Mongolia, and is part of an ongoing cooperative study with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

It was previously classified as a coelurosaurian theropod dinosaur, from which many experts believe flying dinosaurs and later birds evolved.

The research duo used advanced 3D microscopy, high resolution photography and low angle lighting to reveal structures not clearly visible before.

These techniques made it possible to interpret the natural contours of the bones.

Many ambiguous aspects of the fossil’s pelvis, forelimbs, hind limbs, and tail were confirmed, while it was discovered that it had elongated tendons along its tail vertebrae similar to Velociraptor.

Czerkas and Feduccia say that Scansoriopteryx unequivocally lacks the fundamental structural skeletal features to classify it as a dinosaur.

They also believe that dinosaurs are not the primitive ancestors of birds.

The Scansoriopteryx should rather be seen as an early bird whose ancestors are to be found among tree-climbing archosaurs that lived in a time well before dinosaurs.

Through their investigations, the researchers found a combination of plesiomorphic or ancestral non-dinosaurian traits along with highly derived features.

It has numerous unambiguous birdlike features such as elongated forelimbs, wing and hind limb feathers, wing membranes in front of its elbow, half-moon shaped wrist-like bones, bird-like perching feet, a tail with short anterior vertebrae, and claws that make tree climbing possible.

The researchers specifically note the primitive elongated feathers on the forelimbs and hind limbs.

This suggests that Scansoriopteryx is a basal or ancestral form of early birds that had mastered the basic aerodynamic maneouvers of parachuting or gliding from trees.

“The identification of Scansoriopteryx as a non-dinosaurian bird enables a re-evaluation in the understanding of the relationship between dinosaurs and birds,” explained Czerkas.

“Scientists finally have the key to unlock the doors that separate dinosaurs from birds.”

Feduccia added: “Instead of regarding birds as deriving from dinosaurs, Scansoriopteryx reinstates the validity of regarding them as a separate class uniquely avian and non-dinosaurian.”

Criticism of this: here.

Jurassic fly larva, parasite on salamanders, discovered


This video says about itself:

The fossil of two froghopper insects in the act of mating has been uncovered by archaeologists in northeastern China after being buried for around 165 million years.

From World Science:

Bizarre parasite from Jurassic found

June 25, 2014

Courtesy of the University of Bonn and World Science staff

Re­search­ers from the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn and from Chi­na have dis­cov­ered a fos­sil fly lar­va with such a spec­tac­u­lar suck­ing ap­pa­rat­us, they have named it by the Chin­ese word for “bizarre.”

Around 165 mil­lion years ago, a spec­tac­u­lar par­a­site was at home in the fresh­wa­ter lakes of pre­s­ent-day In­ner Mon­go­lia in Chi­na, re­search­ers say. It was a ju­ve­nile fly with a thor­ax, or “ch­est,” formed en­tirely like a suck­ing plate.

With it, the an­i­mal could stick to sala­man­ders and suck their blood with its mouth­parts formed like a sting, ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tists. To date no in­sect is known with a si­m­i­lar de­sign. The in­terna­t­ional sci­en­tif­ic team is now pre­sent­ing its find­ings in the jour­nal eLIFE.

The par­a­site, a long fly lar­va around two cen­time­ters (a bit un­der an inch) long, had un­der­gone ex­treme changes over the course of ev­o­lu­tion, the re­search­ers said. The head is ti­ny in com­par­i­son to the body, tube-shaped with piercer-like mouth­parts at the front. The mid-body, or thor­ax, has been com­pletely trans­formed un­derneath in­to a gi­gantic suck­ing plate; the hind-body, or ab­do­men, has caterpillar-like legs.

The re­search team be­lieves that this un­usu­al an­i­mal lived in a land­scape with vol­ca­noes and lakes what is now north­east­ern Chi­na around 165 mil­lion years ago. In this fresh wa­ter hab­i­tat, they say, the par­a­site crawled on­to pass­ing sala­man­ders, at­tached it­self with its suck­ing plate, and pen­e­trated the thin skin of the am­phib­ians in or­der to suck blood from them.

“The par­a­site lived the life of Reil­ly,” said paleon­tologist Jes Rust from the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn. This is be­cause there were many sala­man­ders in the lakes, as fos­sil finds at the same loca­t­ion near Ningcheng in In­ner Mon­go­lia (Chi­na) have shown. “There sci­en­tists had al­so found around 300,000 di­verse and ex­cep­tion­ally pre­served fos­sil in­sects,” said the Chin­ese sci­ent­ist Bo Wang, a post­doc­tor­al re­searcher in paleon­tology at the Uni­vers­ity of Bonn.

The lar­va, which has re­ceived the sci­en­tif­ic name of Qiyia juras­si­ca, how­ev­er, was a quite un­ex­pected find. “Qiyia” in Chin­ese means “bizarre”; “jur­as­si­ca” refers to the Ju­ras­sic pe­ri­od to which the fos­sils be­long. A fine-grained mud­stone en­sured the good state of pre­serva­t­ion of the fos­sil.

Biggest European carnivorous dinosaur discovery in Portugal


Torvosaurus tanneri in Madrid museum

From PLOS ONE:

Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp., the Largest Terrestrial Predator from Europe, and a Proposed Terminology of the Maxilla Anatomy in Nonavian Theropods

Christophe Hendrickx, Octávio Mateus

Published: March 05, 2014

Abstract

The Lourinhã Formation (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) of Central West Portugal is well known for its diversified dinosaur fauna similar to that of the Morrison Formation of North America; both areas share dinosaur taxa including the top predator Torvosaurus, reported in Portugal.

The material assigned to the Portuguese T. tanneri, consisting of a right maxilla and an incomplete caudal centrum, was briefly described in the literature and a thorough description of these bones is here given for the first time. A comparison with material referred to Torvosaurus tanneri allows us to highlight some important differences justifying the creation of a distinct Eastern species.

Torvosaurus gurneyi n. sp. displays two autapomorphies among Megalosauroidea, a maxilla possessing fewer than eleven teeth and an interdental wall nearly coincidental with the lateral wall of the maxillary body. In addition, it differs from T. tanneri by a reduced number of maxillary teeth, the absence of interdental plates terminating ventrally by broad V-shaped points and falling short relative to the lateral maxillary wall, and the absence of a protuberant ridge on the anterior part of the medial shelf, posterior to the anteromedial process.

T. gurneyi is the largest theropod from the Lourinhã Formation of Portugal and the largest land predator discovered in Europe hitherto. This taxon supports the mechanism of vicariance that occurred in the Iberian Meseta during the Late Jurassic when the proto-Atlantic was already well formed. A fragment of maxilla from the Lourinhã Formation referred to Torvosaurus sp. is ascribed to this new species, and several other bones, including a femur, a tibia and embryonic material all from the Kimmeridgian-Tithonian of Portugal, are tentatively assigned to T. gurneyi. A standard terminology and notation of the theropod maxilla is also proposed and a record of the Torvosaurus material from Portugal is given.

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Fossils of England’s Jurassic Coast


This video from England says about itself:

24 Aug 2012

I was lucky to be able to video UK fossil expert Steve Etches when he discovered and excavated this fossil Ichthyosaur skull on Dorset’s famous Jurassic Coast, ‘somewhere near Weymouth’ in August 2012.

From Science News:

Hunting fossils in England

Discoveries have been made at Monmouth Beach for more than two centuries

by Sarah Zielinski

10:00am, January 21, 2014

As rain plopped onto our jackets, my tour group huddled against the side of the Lyme Regis Museum on the southwest coast of England, struggling to hear our fossil-hunting guide over the sound of wind and waves.

“This is really the weather you want for fossil collecting,” said marine biologist Chris Andrew, the museum’s education director. “It lets the fossils wash down from the cliffs.” And, he explained, “a bit of rain keeps everyone else at home.”

A friend and I spent a week hunting fossils along the Jurassic Coast, a 150-kilometer stretch of English coastline just a few hours by train from London. In the 18th and 19th centuries, geologists came to the region to study the neatly stacked layers of rock, which date to 250 million to 65 million years ago and provided evidence that the Earth was much older than the 6,000 years many thought at the time. But it’s the fossils that have proved the long-term draw. Now, science tourists find not only some of the easiest fossil hunting for beginners, but one of few places where they will be encouraged to take fossils home.

On Monmouth Beach, just west of the center of Lyme Regis, amateur and professional collectors have been making discoveries for more than two centuries. The rocks are some 200 million years old and hold the remains of an ancient deep sea. Ammonites are the most common finds, their coiled, nautilus-like shells easy to spot on the rocky shore. There’s even an ammonite graveyard, where hundreds of large coils are still buried in the rock. These invertebrates were once at the base of the marine food web, providing meals for large vertebrates such as plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs, Andrew explains to our group.

Famed fossil hunter Mary Anning discovered the world’s first complete plesiosaur along this coast in 1823, a dozen years after her family uncovered the first ichthyosaur. The region holds the remains of more than just sea life, though. Among Anning’s other discoveries were an early Jurassic pterosaur, called Dimorphodon. And the bones of an armored dinosaur called Scelidosaurus were discovered washing out of the cliffs near Charmouth in the 1850s. The cliffs are still releasing important finds, such as a new 130-million-year-old crocodile species named for Rudyard Kipling in 2012.

Andrew and his co-leader, geologist Ben Brooks, show examples of what to look for: the pointed tips of belemnites, semicircles or bathtub shapes that indicate bivalve shells and the starfish-shaped stems of sea lilies. Round or hexagonal black rocks, indented on both sides, are ichthyosaur vertebrae.

But before we could look for fossils, Brooks gave a lesson on safety and the fossil code. There are dangers, such as cliff falls and tides. Most collecting from the beach is legal because whatever isn’t picked up just washes into the sea. Yet it’s not quite a free-for-all, and digging directly into the cliffs requires permission. “We don’t want scientifically important specimens disappearing,” Brooks said.

Only the children were guaranteed fossils on this guided trip, courtesy of Brooks and Andrew. But that afternoon and the following ones, my friend and I tested Andrew’s best piece of advice: “You’re looking for regular patterns in the rock,” he told us. We quickly met success along the beaches at Lyme Regis and nearby Charmouth, finding dozens of ammonites, pieces of belemnites, bits of ichthyosaur rib and sea lilies, and even a globelike sea urchin. The prize find went to my friend, now the proud owner of a coprolite: a piece of fossilized excrement.

Dinosaur footprints discovery in India


This video is called Jurassic Park of India.

It says about itself:

15 Jan 2013

Raiyoli Dinosaur fossil park is the 3rd largest dinosaur park in the world, visitors can see the real fossils of the dinosaurs embedded in the rock as well as real dinosaurs eggs.

From the Press Trust of India:

Dinosaur footprints found near Jaisalmer

January 13, 2014 16:42 IST

Jaisalmer, Rajasthan: A team of foreign and Indian scientists have spotted the footprints of dinosaurs at Thaiat village in Jaisalmer district, sources said today.

A team of 34 foreign scientists from a number of countries including France and Germany are camping in Jaisalmer to study fossils of dinosaurs found in sandy desert areas near the city recently.

Dinosaurs‘ evolution, extinction, and paleo-bio-genography is the centre of their research related to fossils, they added.

Yesterday, the team led by Dr Jan Schlogl of Slovakia observed the footprints in one of the basal rocks of Thaiat scarp section and Professor Gregory Pienkowski of Poland identified the footprints as those of Pterosaurs or the flying dinosaur.

Pterosaurs lived in the age of dinosaurs, but were not dinosaurs themselves.

“The first footprint was small, only 5 cm long, but perfectly imprinted on the upper surface of a sandstone bed. Its shape and name is clear – it is called Grallator, a specific name given to the footprint, left by a small predatory dinosaur. The footprint maker was not bigger than an hen”, according to the sources.

However, the second foot print was much bigger – about 30 cms long. Such tridactyl footprint (three toes) is named Eurontes giganteus and it must have been left by a much bigger creature, the sources added.

Dr P K Pandey of the Geology Department at University of Rajasthan had already recorded petrosaur bore fragments during the previous years.

Near the Thaiat village on the Jaisalmer-Jodhpur highway there is an outcrop of Jurassic rocks.

Careful geological observation by the team allowed them to interpret ancient environments in which these rocks (once soft sediments) were deposited, according to Dr Pandey.

It could be imagined that a vast coastal zone of which the Jurassic sea would be encroached some 180 million years ago, he added.

These scientists have come to Rajasthan on the sidelines of the 9th International Congress on The Jurassic System, held between January 6-9th, organised by Department of Geology, University of Rajasthan in Jaipur.

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Biggest fossil spider, new discoveries


The largest known fossil spiders (left: male, right: female) belong to a newly described species of extinct arachnids, Mongolarachne jurassica. Credit: Paul Selden

From LiveScience:

Biggest Spider Fossil Now Has a Mate — But It’s Complicated

By Megan Gannon, News Editor

December 16, 2013 02:44pm ET

A few years ago, scientists uncovered the largest-ever fossil of [a] spider: a female representative of a never-before-seen species that was buried in volcanic ash during the age of the dinosaurs.

Now the researchers say they have found an adult male spider to match, but the discovery complicates the original interpretation of the species. The scientists have proposed a new genus — Mongolarachne — to describe the extinct creature.

When researchers first found the female spider in northern China, they named it Nephila jurassica, putting it in the Nephila genus of golden silk orb-weavers, which still exist today and have been known to ensnare birds and bats in their huge wheel-shaped webs. [Ewww! See Photos of Bat-Eating Spiders in Action]

“It was so much like the modern golden orb weaver,” said Paul Selden, a paleontologist with the University of Kansas. “We couldn’t find any reason not to put it in the same genus of the modern ones.”

With soft, squishy bodies, spiders don’t typically turn up in the fossil record, but several hundred have been found in the volcanic deposits at the Daohugou fossil beds in Inner Mongolia, Selden said.

Volcanic ash is famous for preserving more ephemeral pieces of the past, from bodies buried in their death poses at Pompeii to 2.7-billion-year-old raindrop impressions found in South Africa. Researchers think these spiders were likely swept to the bottom of a sub-tropical lake and covered in fine ash after a volcano blew its lid.

Unlike insects, spiders are typically pretty good at staying away from water, Selden explained.

“It would take something like a volcanic eruption to blow them into the bottom of the lake and bury them,” Selden told LiveScience. “That’s the sort of scenario we imagine.”

And in that volcanic rock layer at Daohugou, the researchers found another spider that looked remarkably similar to Nephila jurassica, except it was male. There were several clues in the newfound fossil, however, that suggest this ancient arachnid just doesn’t fit the bill for Nephila.

First of all, the male was remarkably quite similar in size to the female, with a body that measures 0.65 inches (1.65 centimeters) long and a first leg stretching 2.29 inches (5.82 cm).

“This is rather strange,” Selden said. “In the modern orb weavers, there is quite a lot of sexual dimorphism,” with a huge female and a tiny male.

Compared with Nephila male spiders, this newfound fossilized male had more primitive-looking pedipalps — the sex appendages between a spider’s jaws and first legs that it uses to transfer sperm to the female. And it had a more feathery hairstyle: The fossil was preserved so well that Selden could look at imprints of the spider’s hair under an electron microscope. Instead of one or two scales along each bristle, Selsen said he saw evidence that this spider had “spirals of hairlets” along the strands covering its body.

The researchers think the fossilized spiders may actually be more closely related to spiders in the Deinopoidea genus, also called ogre-faced spiders. Arachnids in this group are considered orbicularians. They also make orb-shaped webs, but their silk is more “woolly,” Selden said, with a stickiness that’s more like Velcro than glue.

Revising their original labeling of the giant fossilized female spider, the researchers created a new genus and species name for the pair: Mongolarachne jurassica. Selden and colleagues also created a branch for Mongolarachne on a phylogenic tree, placing it quite close to the stem where orbicularians originate.

The study was published online Dec. 7 in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

Editor’s Recommendations

Could ancient bird Archaeopteryx fly?


This video says about itself:

The evolution of birds is thought to have begun in the Jurassic Period, with the earliest birds derived from theropod dinosaurs. Birds are categorized as a biological class, Aves. The earliest known species of class Aves is Archaeopteryx lithographica, from the Late Jurassic period, though Archaeopteryx is not commonly considered to have been a true bird. Modern phylogenies place birds in the dinosaur clade Theropoda. According to the current consensus, Aves and a sister group, the order Crocodilia, together are the sole living members of an unranked “reptile” clade, the Archosauria.

From Nature:

Theory suggests iconic early bird lost its flight

Archaeopteryx anatomy matches that of modern flightless birds.

Matt Kaplan

12 November 2013

Although it has long been debated whether the proto-bird Archaeopteryx was able to actually fly or merely evolving toward that ability, to date nobody had yet seriously suggested that it could have been instead in the midst of losing its ability to fly. But that is precisely what Michael Habib, a biologist at the University of Southern California proposed last week to a packed hall at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Los Angeles.

With the skeleton of a dinosaur and the feathers of a bird, Archaeopteryx has long been hailed as marking the transition from dinosaurs to birds.

The idea that it was instead evolving to lose its flight and becoming flightless again, or ‘secondarily flightless’, occurred to Habib while he was calculating limb ratios and degrees of feather symmetry in Archaeopteryx, and comparing the values to those of living birds, to better understand its flying ability. In doing so, he found that the creature’s traits were surprisingly similar to those of modern flightless birds such as rails and grebes that frequently dwell on islands.

“We know Archaeopteryx was living on an archipelago during the Jurassic. And with its feathers and bones looking so much like modern flightless island birds, it just makes me wonder,” says Habib.

When Archaeopteryx was first discovered, it was the earliest known feathered dinosaur, and the argument that it was evolving towards flightlessness might have been considered madness. But with the discovery in recent years of many earlier feathered dinosaurs with anatomies tailored for flight, the idea is being seriously considered.

Before the first birds could take flight, they needed a lift from a surprise source: pigments in their feathers: here.

The bladed, quill-like feathers of modern birds are essential for flight, and over millions of years they have become highly specialized for this purpose. But this may not be the reason they first evolved, say researchers studying an unusually complete fossil of the world’s first bird, Archaeopteryx. Instead, the team believes birds first grew these feathers for other purposes, such as insulation or mating display. The discovery raises the intriguing prospect that flight may have developed multiple times in the ancestors of birds: here.

Oldest mating insect fossils discovered


This image shows a holotype male, on the right, and allotype female, on the left. Credit: PLoS ONE 8(11): e78188. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078188

From Phys.org today:

Earliest record of copulating insects discovered

1 hour ago

Scientists have found the oldest fossil depicting copulating insects in northeastern China, published November 6th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Dong Ren and colleagues at the Capital Normal University in China.

Fossil records of mating insects are fairly sparse, and therefore our current knowledge of mating position and genitalia orientation in the early stages of evolution is rather limited.

In this study, the authors present a fossil of a pair of copulating froghoppers, a type of small insect that hops from plant to plant much like tiny frogs. The well-preserved fossil of these two froghoppers showed belly-to-belly mating position and depicts the male reproductive organ inserting into the female copulatory structure.

This is the earliest record of copulating insects to date, and suggests that froghoppers’ genital symmetry and mating position have remained static for over 165 million years. Ren adds, “We found these two very rare copulating froghoppers which provide a glimpse of interesting insect behavior and important data to understand their mating position and genitalia orientation during the Middle Jurassic.”