‘Prehistoric frog ate dinosaurs’


This 2014 video about Beelzebufo ampinga is called Prehistoric News : Devil Frog had Spikes and Armor.

From Sci-News.com:

Giant Prehistoric Frogs Ate Small Dinosaurs, Claim Scientists

Sep 20, 2017

Exceptionally large individuals of Beelzebufo ampinga, an extinct species of frog that lived in Madagascar during the Late Cretaceous epoch, about 68 million years ago, were capable of eating small dinosaurs, according to an international research team led by California State Polytechnic University scientists.

This conclusion comes from a study of the bite force of extant South American horned frogs (genus Ceratophrys).

“Unlike the vast majority of frogs which have weak jaws and typically consume small prey, horned frogs ambush animals as large as themselves — including other frogs, snakes, and rodents,” explained co-author Dr. Marc Jones, from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Museum.

“And their powerful jaws play a critical role in grabbing and subduing the prey.”

Dr. Jones and co-authors from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia found that small horned frogs, with head width of about 1.8 inches (4.5 cm), can bite with a force of 30 newtons (N), or about 3 kg/6.6 lbs.

A scaling experiment, comparing bite force with head and body size, calculated that large horned frogs that are found in the tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests of South America, with a head width of up to 4 inches (10 cm), would have a bite force of almost 500 N. This is comparable to reptiles and mammals with a similar head size.

“This would feel like having 50 liters of water balanced on your fingertip,” explained lead author Professor Kristopher Lappin, of California State Polytechnic University.

“Many people find horned frogs hilarious because of their big heads and fat, round bodies,” said co-author Sean Wilcox, a PhD candidate at the University of California, Riverside.

“Yet, these predators have given us a rare opportunity to learn something more about the biology of a huge extinct frog.”

The team estimated the bite force of the extinct frog Beelzebufo ampinga may have had a bite up to 2,200 N, comparable to formidable mammalian predators such as wolves and female tigers.

“At this bite force, Beelzebufo ampinga would have been capable of subduing the small and juvenile dinosaurs that shared its environment,” Dr. Jones said.

“This is the first time bite force has been measured in a frog,” Professor Lappin said.

“And, speaking from experience, horned frogs have quite an impressive bite, and they tend not to let go.”

“The bite of a large Beelzebufo ampinga would have been remarkable, definitely not something I would want to experience firsthand.”

The study appears today in the journal Scientific Reports.

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New plesiosaur species discovery in Germany


Skull reconstruction of Lagenanectes richterae. Credit: Jahn Hornung

From Uppsala University in Sweden:

New ancient sea reptile found in Germany, the earliest of its kind

August 28, 2017

A previously unrecognized 132 million-year-old fossilized sea monster from northern Germany has been identified by an international team of researchers. Findings published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The bizarre sea creature was a plesiosaur, an extinct long-necked aquatic reptile resembling the popular image of the Loch Ness monster, which dominated the seas during the Age of Dinosaurs.

The remains of the eight-meter-long skeleton were collected in 1964 by private fossil collectors. The perfectly preserved bones were rescued from heavy machinery excavating a clay-pit at Sarstedt near Hannover.

Despite being discovered nearly half a century ago, a group of international scientists was only recently invited to study the specimen by the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hannover. “It was an honor to be asked to research the mysterious Sarstedt plesiosaur skeleton” says Sven Sachs from the Natural History Museum in Bielefeld, Germany, and lead author on the study. “It has been one of the hidden jewels of the museum, and even more importantly, has turned out to be new to science.”

The new plesiosaur was named Lagenanectes richterae, literally meaning ‘Lagena swimmer’, after the medieval German name for the Leine River near Sarstedt. The species was named for Dr Annette Richter, Chief Curator of Natural Sciences at the Lower Saxony State Museum, who facilitated documentation of the fossil.

The skeleton of Lagenanectes includes most of the skull, which had a meshwork of long fang-like teeth, together with vertebrae, ribs and bones from the four flipper-like limbs.

“The jaws had some especially unusual features.” says Dr Jahn Hornung a palaeontologist based in Hamburg and co-author on the paper. “Its broad chin was expanded into a massive jutting crest, and its lower teeth stuck out sideways. These probably served to trap small fish and squid that were then swallowed whole.”

Internal channels in the upper jaws might have housed nerves linked to pressure receptors or electroreceptors on the outside of the snout that would have helped Lagenanectes to locate its prey.

The bones also showed evidence of chronic bacterial infection suggesting that the animal had suffered from a long-term disease that perhaps eventually claimed its life.

“The most important aspect of this new plesiosaur is that it is amongst the oldest of its kind” says Dr Benjamin Kear from the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala University in Sweden and senior author on the study. “It is one of the earliest elasmosaurs, an extremely successful group of globally distributed plesiosaurs that seem to have had their evolutionary origins in the seas that once inundated Western Europe.”

Elasmosaurs had spectacularly long necks — the longest of any vertebrate — including up to 75 individual vertebrae. Not all of the neck vertebrae of Lagenanectes were recovered but it is estimated that around 40 or 50 must have originally been present.

Elasmosaurs flourished during the Cretaceous period but went extinct with the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Lagenanectes lived in a shallow sea that covered northern Germany around 132 million years ago. It thus predates the last elasmosaurs by nearly 70 million years.

The skull of Lagenanectes will be displayed as a centerpiece in the ‘Water Worlds’ exhibition at the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hannover.

A new study has shed light on the swimming style of plesiosaurs by creating a robot to mimic its movements: here.

New sauropod dinosaur discovery in Tanzania


This video says about itself:

24 August 2017

A titanosaur the size of a killer whale once stomped across Africa

A humongous “wide-necked” dinosaur — one that weighed as much as two cars — stomped across the landscape of prehistoric Africa during the Cretaceous period, a new study finds.

The 5-ton beast, a titanosaur (an herbivorous long-necked and long-tailed dinosaur) was tall; its head reached 13 feet (4 meters) in the air when its neck was extended. The dinosaur’s remains were found in rock in southwestern Tanzania dating between 100 million and 70 million years ago, the researchers said.

It’s not uncommon to unearth titanosaurs in South America, but it’s rare to find the giant dinosaurs in Africa, making the newly identified creature a remarkable find, the researchers said.

Researchers named the titanosaur Shingopana songwensis, which they said was 26 feet (8 meters) long, or about the size of an orca whale. Its genus name means “wide neck” in Swahili, whereas “shingo” and “pana” are the Swahili words for “neck” and “wide,” respectively, in reference to the giant’s “bulbous” neck vertebra, the researchers wrote in the study. The species name honors the Songwe region of the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania, where the dinosaur was first discovered in 2002, and excavated in the following years.

From the National Science Foundation in the USA:

New species of sauropod dinosaur discovered in Tanzania

Fossil remains recovered from 70 to 100 million-year-old rocks in southwestern Tanzania

August 25, 2017

Paleontologists have identified a new species of titanosaurian dinosaur. The research is reported in a paper published this week in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The new species is a member of the gigantic, long-necked sauropods. Its fossil remains were recovered from Cretaceous Period (70-100 million years ago) rocks in southwestern Tanzania.

Titanosaur skeletons have been found worldwide, but are best known from South America. Fossils in this group are rare in Africa.

The new dinosaur is called Shingopana songwensis, derived from the Swahili term “shingopana” for “wide neck”; the fossils were discovered in the Songwe region of the Great Rift Valley in southwestern Tanzania.

Part of the Shingopana skeleton was excavated in 2002 by scientists affiliated with the Rukwa Rift Basin Project, an international effort led by Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine researchers Patrick O’Connor and Nancy Stevens.

Additional portions of the skeleton — including neck vertebrae, ribs, a humerus and part of the lower jaw — were later recovered.

“There are anatomical features present only in Shingopana and in several South American titanosaurs, but not in other African titanosaurs,” said lead paper author Eric Gorscak, a paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. “Shingopana had siblings in South America, whereas other African titanosaurs were only distant cousins.”

The team conducted phylogenetic analyses to understand the evolutionary relationships of these and other titanosaurs.

They found that Shingopana was more closely related to titanosaurs of South America than to any of the other species currently known from Africa or elsewhere.

“This discovery suggests that the fauna of northern and southern Africa were very different in the Cretaceous Period,” said Judy Skog, a program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, which supported the research. “At that time, southern Africa dinosaurs were more closely related to those in South America, and were more widespread than we knew.”

Shingopana roamed the Cretaceous landscape alongside Rukwatitan bisepultus, another titanosaur the team described and named in 2014.

“We’re still only scratching the surface of understanding the diversity of organisms, and the environments in which they lived, on the African continent during the Late Cretaceous,” said O’Connor.

During the tectonically active Cretaceous Period, southern Africa lost Madagascar and Antarctica as they split off to the east and south, followed by the gradual northward “unzipping” of South America.

Northern Africa maintained a land connection with South America, but southern Africa slowly became more isolated until the continents completely separated 95-105 million years ago. Other factors such as terrain and climate may have further isolated southern Africa.

Paper co-author Eric Roberts of James Cook University in Australia studied the paleo-environmental context of the new discovery.

The bones of Shingopana, he found, were damaged by the borings of ancient insects shortly after death.

Roberts said that “the presence of bone-borings provides a CSI-like opportunity to study the skeleton and reconstruct the timing of death and burial, and offers rare evidence of ancient insects and complex food webs during the age of the dinosaurs.”

The study was also funded by the National Geographic Society, Jurassic Foundation, Paleontological Society, Ohio University Student Enhancement Award, Ohio University Original Work Grant, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, and James Cook University.

See also here.

Did oviraptor dinosaurs behave like birds?


This 24 August 2017 video is called New discovery of dinosaurs suggests: new species [roosting] together like modern birds.

From the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology:

New dinosaur discovery suggests new species roosted together like modern birds

August 24, 2017

The Mongolian Desert has been known for decades for its amazing array of dinosaurs, immaculately preserved in incredible detail and in associations that give exceedingly rare glimpses at behavior in the fossil record. New remains from this region suggest an entirely unknown behavior for bird-like dinosaurs about 70 million years ago. At least some dinosaurs likely roosted together to sleep, quite possibly as a family, much like many modern birds do today. Gregory Funston, Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Alberta, will present the team’s research findings at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, held this year in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) on Friday, Aug. 25th.

This new evidence for dinosaur roosting stems from a confiscated fossil block that was illegally exported from Mongolia, which preserved the amazing remains of three juvenile dinosaurs known as oviraptorids (part of the bird line of dinosaur evolution). These three dinosaurs represent the same species that were roughly the same age, preserved in a sleeping posture, so close to each other that they would have been touching in life. Known as “communal roosting,” this behavior is seen in many birds today including chickens and pigeons. The specimen luckily made its way into the hands of researchers currently led by Gregory Funston of the University of Alberta, along with his advisor Dr. Philip Currie (also of the University of Alberta) and the Institute of Paleontology and Geology of Mongolia (based in Ulaanbaatar). Regarding the finding, Funston said, “It’s a fantastic specimen. It’s rare to find a skeleton preserved in life position, so having two complete individuals and parts of a third is really incredible.”

The three juvenile oviraptors had several features that indicated they belonged to a whole new species. Other fossils found in Mongolia also seem to belong to this new species, and further flesh out the life history of these animals. The notable head crest is present even at a young age, but the dinosaurs would have had gradually shorter tails as they aged, and some of their bones fused across their lifetime. Their head crests and tails have been argued to represent sexual display features used in mating, somewhat similar to modern peacocks or turkeys. Funston added “The origins of communal roosting in birds are still debated, so this specimen will provide valuable information on roosting habits in bird-line theropods.”

Dinosaur age damselfly named after David Attenborough


This video says about itself:

15 August 2017

Damselfly thought to be 100 MILLION years old named after Sir David Attenborough

TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough was last night said to be delighted after a prehistoric insect was named in his honour. Prof. Jarzembowski said: “Dragonflies in amber are extremely rare and the recent discoveries by my Chinese colleagues are a new window on the past. “It is tradition in taxonomy – the naming of a new species – to contact the person concerned. “Sir David was delighted because he is not only interested in the story of amber, but also a president of the British Dragonfly Society.”

Lead author Daran Zheng from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, commented: “Mesosticta davidattenboroughi is quite unique because we have uncovered a new species.” The naming of the species was revealed in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi is just the latest species to be named after Sir David whose wildlife documentaries have enchanted the world. Others include a carnivorous plant, a butterfly, a tiny spider, a Peruvian frog and a Namibian lizard. Among the prehistoric species named after him are a Mesozoic reptile, a fossilised armoured fish and a 430 million-year-old crustacean.

From ScienceDaily:

David Attenborough gains new species namesake

August 16, 2017

A new species of damselfly from the Cretaceous period has been named after the iconic naturalist and TV presenter Sir David Attenborough.

The new discovery, described in detail in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, was made in the Hukawng Valley of Kachin Province in Myanmar. The fossil was found in a piece of mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber. The full scientific name for the new species, belonging to a group more commonly known as shadowdamsels, is Mesosticta davidattenboroughi. Researchers decided to name the new species after David Attenborough because of his long-standing appreciation of dragonflies, and to celebrate his recent 90th birthday.

The fossil itself is extremely well preserved as it is encased in yellow transparent amber and includes a complete set of wings. With the aid of photo technology, researchers were able to digitally enhance and build a clear three-dimensional picture of the new species, showing that it differed from previously described fossils, notably in the shorter wing length.

Lead author Daran Zheng from the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, commented, “Mesosticta davidattenboroughi is quite unique because we have uncovered a new species and it confirms the previous attribution of Mesosticta to the Platystictidae. It is the first fossil group of modern platystictid damselflies and documents the appearance of Platystictidae as early as mid-Cretaceous.”

The discovery of insect remains in amber is not uncommon, however this particular family of damselflies are much less frequently found and their fossil record is poor compared to many other families making the discovery especially unusual.

Mesosticta davidattenboroughi joins a long list of animals which have been named after Sir David Attenborough, including a weevil and fossil species of a plesiosaur and a fish.

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the HKU Seed Funding Program for Basic Research.

See also here. And here.

Dinosaur age flowering trees discovered


Tropidogyne pentaptera. 100-million-year-old fossilized flower identified and named by OSU researchers George Poinar Jr. and Kenton Chambers. Credit: Image courtesy of George Poinar Jr., Oregon State University

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Seven complete specimens of new flower, all 100 million years old

August 15, 2017

A Triceratops or Tyrannosaurus rex bulling its way through a pine forest likely dislodged flowers that 100 million years later have been identified in their fossilized form as a new species of tree.

George Poinar Jr., professor emeritus in Oregon State University’s College of Science, said it’s the first time seven complete flowers of this age have been reported in a single study. The flowers range from 3.4 to 5 millimeters in diameter, necessitating study under a microscope.

Poinar and collaborator Kenton Chambers, professor emeritus in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, named the discovery Tropidogyne pentaptera based on the flowers’ five firm, spreading sepals; the Greek word for five is “penta,” and “pteron” means wing.

“The amber preserved the floral parts so well that they look like they were just picked from the garden,” Poinar said. “Dinosaurs may have knocked the branches that dropped the flowers into resin deposits on the bark of an araucaria tree, which is thought to have produced the resin that fossilized into the amber. Araucaria trees are related to kauri pines found today in New Zealand and Australia, and kauri pines produce a special resin that resists weathering.”

This study builds on earlier research also involving Burmese amber in which Poinar and Chambers described another species in the same angiosperm genus, Tropidogyne pikei; that species was named for its flower’s discoverer, Ted Pike. Findings were recently published in Paleodiversity.

“The new species has spreading, veiny sepals, a nectar disc, and a ribbed inferior ovary like T. pikei,” Poinar said. “But it’s different in that it’s bicarpellate, with two elongated and slender styles, and the ribs of its inferior ovary don’t have darkly pigmented terminal glands like T. pikei.”

Both species have been placed in the extant family Cunoniaceae, a widespread Southern Hemisphere family of 27 genera.

Poinar said T. pentaptera was probably a rainforest tree.

“In their general shape and venation pattern, the fossil flowers closely resemble those of the genus Ceratopetalum that occur in Australia and Papua-New Guinea,” he said. “One extant species is C. gummiferum, which is known as the New South Wales Christmas bush because its five sepals turn bright reddish pink close to Christmas.”

Another extant species in Australia is the coach wood tree, C. apetalum, which like the new species has no petals, only sepals. The towering coach wood tree grows to heights of greater than 120 feet, can live for centuries and produces lumber for flooring, furniture and cabinetwork.

So what explains the relationship between a mid-Cretaceous Tropidogyne from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, and an extant Ceratopetalum from Australia, more than 4,000 miles and an ocean away to the southeast?

That’s easy, Poinar said, if you consider the geological history of the regions.

“Probably the amber site in Myanmar was part of Greater India that separated from the southern hemisphere, the supercontinent Gondwanaland, and drifted to southern Asia,” he said. “Malaysia, including Burma, was formed during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras by subduction of terranes that successfully separated and then moved northward by continental drift.”

Biggest dinosaur ever discovered


This video from the American Museum of Natural History in the USA says about itself:

14 January 2016

Measuring 122 feet, the Museum’s new exhibit, The Titanosaur, is big–so big that its head extends outside of the Museum’s fourth-floor gallery where it is now on permanent display.

This species of dinosaur, a giant herbivore that belongs to a group known as titanosaurs, is so new that it has not yet been formally named by the paleontologists who discovered it. The Titanosaur lived in the forests of today’s Patagonia about 100 to 95 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period, and weighed 70 tons. It is one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered.

The fossils on which this cast is based were excavated in the Patagonian desert region of Argentina by a team from the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio led by José Luis Carballido and Diego Pol, who received his Ph.D. at the American Museum of Natural History.

In this video, Dr. Mark Norell, chair and Macaulay Curator in the Division of Paleontology, describes how such a massive animal could have supported its own weight and why the Titanosaur is one of the more spectacular finds during what he describes as “the golden age of paleontology.”

Learn more about the Titanosaur here.

Then, this dinosaur had no official name yet. Now, it has: Patagotitan mayorum.

It was about 40 meter long, making it the biggest land animal ever.

The discovery was by scientists of the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (MEF) in Argentina.

From Proceedings of the Royal Society B:

A new giant titanosaur sheds light on body mass evolution among sauropod dinosaurs

José L. Carballido, Diego Pol, Alejandro Otero, Ignacio A. Cerda, Leonardo Salgado, Alberto C. Garrido, Jahandar Ramezani, Néstor R. Cúneo, Javier M. Krause

Published 9 August 2017

Abstract

Titanosauria was the most diverse and successful lineage of sauropod dinosaurs. This clade had its major radiation during the middle Early Cretaceous and survived up to the end of that period. Among sauropods, this lineage has the most disparate values of body mass, including the smallest and largest sauropods known.

Although recent findings have improved our knowledge on giant titanosaur anatomy, there are still many unknown aspects about their evolution, especially for the most gigantic forms and the evolution of body mass in this clade.

Here we describe a new giant titanosaur, which represents the largest species described so far and one of the most complete titanosaurs. Its inclusion in an extended phylogenetic analysis and the optimization of body mass reveals the presence of an endemic clade of giant titanosaurs inhabited Patagonia between the Albian and the Santonian. This clade includes most of the giant species of titanosaurs and represents the major increase in body mass in the history of Titanosauria.