Purgatorius, world’s oldest primate?


This video says about itself:

PurgatoriusExtinction of the Dinosaurs

29 November 2014

Purgatorius and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Scenes from Animal Planet‘s Animal Armageddon.

From Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:

Oldest known euarchontan tarsals and affinities of Paleocene Purgatorius to Primates

Significance

Purgatorius has been considered a plausible ancestor for primates since it was discovered, but this fossil mammal has been known only from teeth and jaw fragments. We attribute to Purgatorius the first (to our knowledge) nondental remains (ankle bones) which were discovered in the same ∼65-million-year-old deposits as dentitions of this putative primate. This attribution is based mainly on size and unique anatomical specializations known among living euarchontan mammals (primates, treeshrews, colugos) and fossil plesiadapiforms.

Results of phylogenetic analyses that incorporate new data from these fossils support Purgatorius as the geologically oldest known primate. These recently discovered tarsals have specialized features for mobility and provide the oldest fossil evidence that suggests arboreality played a key role in earliest primate evolution.

Abstract

Earliest Paleocene Purgatorius often is regarded as the geologically oldest primate, but it has been known only from fossilized dentitions since it was first described half a century ago. The dentition of Purgatorius is more primitive than those of all known living and fossil primates, leading some researchers to suggest that it lies near the ancestry of all other primates; however, others have questioned its affinities to primates or even to placental mammals.

Here we report the first (to our knowledge) nondental remains (tarsal bones) attributed to Purgatorius from the same earliest Paleocene deposits that have yielded numerous fossil dentitions of this poorly known mammal. Three independent phylogenetic analyses that incorporate new data from these fossils support primate affinities of Purgatorius among euarchontan mammals (primates, treeshrews, and colugos).

Astragali and calcanei attributed to Purgatorius indicate a mobile ankle typical of arboreal euarchontan mammals generally and of Paleocene and Eocene plesiadapiforms specifically and provide the earliest fossil evidence of arboreality in primates and other euarchontan mammals. Postcranial specializations for arboreality in the earliest primates likely played a key role in the evolutionary success of this mammalian radiation in the Paleocene.

Utahraptor dinosaur mass grave discovery


This video from the USA says about itself:

Gastonia vs Utahraptor- Epic!

This fight was a real fight that was recorded in bones! The Utahraptor was attacking such an armed dinosaur cause it was about to die by lack of food during a drought. And in the end both animals died, the Gastonia died by its wounds which the Utahraptor inflicted on its belly and legs. And the Gastonia died only 10 feet away after walking from the dead Utahraptor.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

Fossil treasure trove in quicksand reveals ancient dinosaur death trap

By Rachel Feltman

January 7 at 9:35 AM

Reports of what looked like a human arm brought Utah state paleontologist James Kirkland to a particular sandstone hill in 2001. But it turned out that his graduate student had actually found something entirely different — a veritable mass grave of Utahraptor dinosaurs. Now they’ve found the remains of six individual dinosaurs, and there may still be more inside of the 9-ton sandstone block they’re excavating.

That “arm” was actually a foot, and the fossil bits just kept coming. The site is now the largest find ever for this particular species, which was a large, feathered cousin to the more familiar Velociraptor. It seems that these unfortunate raptors were trapped in quicksand — sand so heavy with water that it loses much of the friction between its grains. Quicksand isn’t actually the deathtrap for humans that cinema would have us believe, but for a frightened animal who couldn’t gain purchase, it might have meant suffocation or slow starvation — or simply getting stuck until a bigger predator arrived to finish the job.

Brian Switek for National Geographic reports that a plant-eating dinosaur was found at the site, too, which could mean that the raptors all died at the same time while hunting the trapped creature. That would be exciting, because despite their depiction as pack hunters in the “Jurassic Park” films, we don’t have much evidence about whether dinosaurs like these came in droves or hunted solo.

If the researchers can show that the raptors grew tangled up together as they struggled to get free, or find evidence that the same weather patterns affected their bones when they died, it would add weight to the notion that raptors liked to rumble in gangs.

You can see clips of the excavation in progress over at National Geographic.

Tyrannosaurs video


This video is called Top 10 Largest Tyrannosaurs.

Sweden’s first carnivorous dinosaur discovery


This video says about itself:

5 August 2013

Dinosaurs that has been found in Sweden, Greenland, Denmark and the islands of Svalbard.

I also include amphibians, marine reptiles, birds, crocodiles & pterosaurs that lived during the same time as the dinosaurs.

Fortunately, not all news from Sweden is about racist criminals.

From The Local in Sweden:

Jurassic Park fan finds rare dinosaur remains

Published: 02 Jan 2015 06:42 GMT+01:00

A high school student from southern Sweden who discovered the remains of Sweden’s first known carnivorous dinosaur has been speaking about his discovery.

Clarence Lagerstam, who lives in Kristianstad in Skåne found a small piece of bone when he was searching in an area popular with fish and reptile fossil hunters.

“I did not think there would be more, but then I found more smaller fragments and I became more and more excited,” he told Swedish news network SVT.

Experts believe the bones are the remains of a large carnivorous dinosaur that lived on what is now Swedish soil around 80 million years ago when the region had a warm climate, similar to that in the Mediterranean today.

Lagerstam has kept his finding in a black cardboard box, wrapped in paper towels, but has opened it several times this week to show off what he calls his “dream” finding to the Swedish media.

Johan Lindgren, a paleontologist and researcher at nearby Lund University says it is “fantastic” that the schoolboy made the finding in an area where experts have been searching for fossils for 150 years.

“You can never stop being fascinated by what is actually out there in the Swedish soil,” he told SVT.

Lagerstram says he first became interested in fossils and dinosaurs when he watched the movie Jurassic Park and plans to continue with his interest.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to read about ancient ecosystems and to learn what prehistoric animals looked like, how they lived and how they interacted with their environment”.

First Tyrannosaurus rex going to European museum


This video says about itself:

Why we bring the first T-Rex to Europe: Anne Schulp at TEDxLeiden

25 January 2014

We are increasingly confronted with the consequences of global warming and the loss of bio-diversity. The more we understand and appreciate the wonder of nature, the better we are able to sustain our life on this planet. This is where the T-Rex comes in. Can you imagine another creature that has been able to better capture the imagination of kids? This is why we decided to go on an epic journey to find a real T-Rex and bring it to Europe. We believe that through telling the story of this T-Rex and its excavation we can get more kids to experience the wonder of life on this planet.

Paleontologist Anne Schulp is a researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden. The natural history collection of Naturalis is extensive, but one kind of dinosaur was conspicuously absent: a large carnivore. This changed recently, when Anne helped excavating a Tyrannosaurus fossil in Montana, USA.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

About one and a half years from now, for the first time ever a skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex will move to outside the United States, namely to the Netherlands. Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden has received 5 million to buy a skeleton of the dinosaur. It was excavated in 2013 in the US state Montana.

Last year, scientists at the research institute and natural history museum excavated large parts of the Tyrannosaurus rex in Montana. It is a well-preserved skeleton of a then probably 30 years old female. …

Naturalis has received a part of the money through crowdfunding.

See also here. And here.

New dinosaur species discovery in Canadian museum


This video from Canada is called New dinosaur species found in museum collection.

Haaretz daily in Israel writes about this:

New dinosaur discovered – in Ottowa museum

Pentaceratops aquilonius, five-horned cousin to Triceratops, was rather small and may have been endemic to the Alberta region in Canada.

By Ruth Schuster and Jim Drury

Nov. 30, 2014 | 12:09 PM

A new dinosaur species has been discovered – in Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Nature, where the fossil remains had been moldering for three quarters of a century. Pentaceratops aquilonius is a rather small species of Pentaceratops, a cousin of the better known Triceratops.

The difference between the two is that triceratops had three horns on its bony face while Pentaceratops has five.

The discovery of Pentaceratops aquilonius was made by University of Bath palaentologist Dr Nick Longrich. While studying fossils in the museum storage, he noticed that a certain one resembled other Pentaceratops remains found from the American Southwest – but was different.

In a paper published in Science Direct this month, Longrich postulates that the newly-recognized titchy Pentaceratops may have been endemic to the region now known as Alberta. Since there are other dinosaur species that were widespread in North America, he writes, dinosaur distribution was evidently not constrained by geographic barriers, climate, or flora: therefore, dinosaur endemism may have been due to competitive exclusion of immigrants by established populations, that had adapted to local environmental conditions.

Longrich expects his findings to be the tip of the palaeontological iceberg.

“In recent years the pace of dinosaur discoveries has actually increased and the implication there is that we’re not even close to the total number of dinosaur species that we could potentially discover,” Longrich told Reuters. “My guess is that as we go back into the museum collection and revise things, and go out into the field, we’re going to find hundreds of new dinosaur species in coming years.”

There could be thousands of unknown species of dinosaurs to be found, he postulates – many lurking in dusty museum storage rooms.

Pentaceratops aquilonius was around the size of a buffalo and like its triceratops cousin, was a herbivore. It lived 75 million years ago close to an area now known as the Canadian province of Alberta. The first to be found was Pentaceratops sternbergii, found in 1921.

Some pentaceratopses were a lot bigger than the presently-found one (or perhaps it just wasn’t fully-grown).

One massive skeleton in particular led paleontologists to squabble over whether it was a distinct species or just a particularly beefy individual. In any case, in 2011 it was classified as a different species, named Titanoceratops: just its skull was buffalo-sized, at 2.65 meters, which warranted it an entry for “longest skull” in the Guinness Book of World Records The whole Titanoceratops measured some 9 meters in length, roughly as long as a city bus.

Weird dinosaur discovery in Mongolia


This video says about itself:

22 October 2014

This computer animation shows Deinocheirus mirificus walking. Deinocheirus had unusually large forearms and several features that seem cobbled together from a variety of other dinosaurs.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Fossils reveal very awkward dinosaur once roamed the Earth

Christopher Hooton

Thursday 23 October 2014

Palaeontologists in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert have discovered new fossils that allow them to create a picture of what one of the most unusually-shaped dinosaurs looked like.

Deinocheirus mirificus, which means “unusual horrible hand” in Latin, was a bipedal dinosaur with a hump-back and a big belly that stood almost as tall as the Tyrannosaurus rex.

The fossils were described in a study in the journal Nature, with vertebrate palaeontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr commenting: “This is definitely an unusual animal.

“It had more of a ‘beer belly’ than your typical ornithomimosaur.”

Palaeontologists recovered fossils from three individuals from the species in the Gobi Desert, and were able to combine them with some previously stolen by poachers to create a 95% complete skeleton of the dinosaur.

Its unusual combination of features has scientists puzzled.

“This creature wasn’t built for speed,” said Stephen Brusatte a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh. “That’s pretty obvious.”

Deinocheirus had wide hips and large toes, which made for an awkward gait as seen in the animation above.