Beewolf wasps’ health, from dinosaur age till now


This video says about itself:

Lifecycle of the European Beewolf wasp – short story with narration

22 August 2017

A short story on the European Beewolf Wasp (Philanthus triangulum) showing how it preys on others and what it does to improve the success of its offspring.

From the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany:

Beewolves have been successfully using the same antibiotics for 68 million years

The antibiotic cocktail produced by symbiotic bacteria changed very little in the course of evolution and its antipathogenic effect remained unaltered

February 14, 2018

Summary: Scientists have now found that beewolves, unlike humans, do not face the problem of antibiotic resistant pathogens. These insects team up with symbiotic bacteria which produce up to 45 different antibiotic substances to protect their offspring against mold fungi. This antibiotic cocktail has remained surprisingly stable since the symbiosis emerged, about 68 million years ago.

The discovery of penicillin about 90 years ago and the widespread introduction of antibiotics to combat infectious diseases have revolutionized human medicine. However, in recent decades, the increase in multidrug-resistant pathogens has confronted modern medicine with massive problems. Insects have their own antibiotics, which provide natural protection against germs. A team of scientists from the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena have now found that beewolves, unlike humans, do not face the problem of antibiotic resistant pathogens. These insects team up with symbiotic bacteria which produce an antibiotic cocktail of up to 45 different substances within a single species to protect their offspring against mold fungi. The researchers not only discovered that the number of antibiotic substances is much higher than previously thought, they also proved that the cocktail has remained surprisingly stable since the symbiosis emerged, about 68 million years ago.

Beewolves are solitary digger wasps that carry paralyzed bees into their underground brood cells; these serve as a food supply for their offspring. After the larvae hatch from the eggs, they feed on the bees and then hibernate in a cocoon in the ground. While hibernating, they are constantly endangered by fast-growing mold fungi whose spores are omnipresent in the soil. To protect their young, beewolves have not only developed their own defense mechanisms, they also rely on the chemical arsenal of microorganisms. Adult females breed bacteria of the genus Streptomyces in their antennae and deposit these bacteria to the walls of the brood cells in which their larvae develop. When a larva spins its cocoon, it weaves the Streptomyces into the cocoon silk. Because the bacteria produce a cocktail of different antibiotic substances, a protective layer is formed which prevents mold fungi from entering the cocoon and infecting the larva.

In the present study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists from Mainz and Jena showed that the protective symbiosis between beewolves and their bacterial partners has not only existed since the Cretaceous (see also our press release, moreover, the antibiotic protection offered by the bacteria against pathogens has changed very little since it evolved about 68 million years ago. All of the studied beewolf species use very similar mixtures of antibiotics — basically, modifications of only two structures: streptochlorine and piericidin. “We had expected that some beewolf symbionts evolved new antibiotics to complement their arsenal over the course of evolution in order to help their hosts combat new or resistant mold fungi”, Tobias Engl from Mainz University, the first author of the study, said. However, the original antibiotic cocktail must have been so effective that it did not need to change. An especially important property from the start was possibly that the mixture was effective against a wide variety of fungi, as no specialized pathogens in beewolves are known to have evolved resistance to these antibiotics.

The broad protection offered by the antibiotic cocktail against a variety of mold fungi is probably related to the large number of substances produced by the bacterial symbionts. Because most of these substances can be traced back to a single gene cluster, the scientists also studied the molecular reasons for the diversity of products. They identified several key biosynthetic steps and discovered that the enzymes of the symbiotic Streptomyces worked less selectively than those of free-living bacteria. This lack of specificity allows the enzymes to bind to different chemical precursors, which is the reason for a larger number of products. In addition, the direct end-product of the piericidin biosynthesis is modified in multiple ways. The result is a multitude of antibiotic substances which are found in varying amounts in the different beewolf species. The geographical pattern of the relative amounts of single substances suggests that the antibiotics allow beewolves to adapt to a certain degree to local mold communities.

Beewolves and their symbiont-produced antibiotics are likely exposed to different selective pressures than humans. Human pathogens gain enormous advantage by becoming resistant to common antibiotics. They can use this advantage effectively, because they are transmitted from person to person and, in our globalized world, even from country to country. They spread easily in hospitals, where many people, often with compromised immune systems, live together in close proximity. “Beewolves, in contrast, are usually found in small populations and frequently relocate, because they rely on open sandy grounds to build their burrows”, Martin Kaltenpoth, who headed a Max Planck Research Group in Jena until he became Professor of Evolutionary Ecology in Mainz in 2015, explained. “Hence resistant pathogens have little opportunity to spread within or between populations.” Perhaps this is the reason why no resistant microorganisms are known to have specialized on beewolves. It seems most important for beewolves to have a defense which is efficient against a broad and constantly changing spectrum of mold fungi. The selective process that favored broad-spectrum activity over adaptation to specialized pathogens likely influenced the development of the antibiotic cocktail and led to it remaining mostly unchanged for millions of years.

Advertisements

Boy discovers dinosaur age fish


This video says about itself:

6 February 2018

90 million-year-old ‘lizard fish’ found by 10-year-old boy – News Techcology

A young tourist visiting a 17th century monastery in Colombia has stumbled across a pristine 90-million-year-old fossil. Rio Santiago Dolmetsch, 10, was on a tour of the Monastery of La Candelaria when he noticed the shape of a fish in the friary’s stone floor.

After showing the find to experts at a local museum, scientists were shocked to discover the remains were a first for the continent. The fossil belongs to a rare species of ‘lizard fish‘, an ancient group that had never before been seen in South America.

The marine animal is extinct and has no living relatives, resembling a barracuda with a long jaw and slender body. The fossil, named Candelarhynchus padillai after the monastery it was found in, was analysed by experts at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

From the University of Alberta in Canada:

Child aids paleontologists in discovery of new ancient fish species

Paleontologists find new fossil species in Colombia with the help of young tourist

February 6, 2018

Paleontologists from the University of Alberta have discovered a never-before-seen species of fish in South America, with the help of a curious tourist.

The fossil, called Candelarhynchus padillai, is approximately 90 million years old, and has no modern relatives, explained Oksana Vernygora, PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences and lead author on the study.

The discovery was made with the unlikely assistance of a young tourist, visiting the Monastery of La Candelaria, near the town of Ráquira Boyacá, Colombia. “A kid was walking into the monastery during a tour when he noticed the shape of a fish in flagstones on the ground”, explained Javier Luque, PhD candidate and co-author on the study. “He took a photo and, a few days later, showed it to staff at the Centro de Investigaciones Paleontologicas, a local museum with whom we collaborate to protect and study fossil findings from the region.”

Staff at the centre recognized the image as a fossil fish right away and shared the finding with their colleagues at the University of Alberta. Alison Murray, professor of biological sciences and Vernygora’s supervisor joined their colleagues in Colombia to retrace the steps of the young tourist. The team found a nearly perfect, intact fossil of an ancient fish. In fact, it was the very first fossil ‘lizard fish’ from the Cretaceous period ever found in Colombia and tropical South America.

Rare discovery

“It is rare to find such a complete fossil of a fish from this moment in the Cretaceous period. Deepwater fish are difficult to recover, as well as those from environments with fast flowing waters”, said Vernygora. “But what surprises me the most is that, after two years of being on a walkway, it was still intact. It’s amazing.”

Aside from an incredible origin story, this discovery contributes to the growing and important body of literature on the fossil record in the tropics.

“The tropics worldwide are hotspots of diversity”, explains Luque. “Interestingly, we know a great deal about modern biodiversity in these areas, but the fossil record is poorly understood in comparison. This adds another piece to that puzzle.”

And the importance of understanding fossil fish, Vernygora explains, is often underestimated.

“Often we think, we have fish now, we had fish then, and we’ll likely have fish in the future. But the importance of fish is just that”, she said. “We can see how fish have changed as their environments have changed throughout history. Studying fish diversity gives us amazing predicting power for the future — especially as we start to see the effects of climate change.”

The scientific description of this new species is here.

Dinosaur age snakes, video


This video says about itself:

5 February 2018

90 million years ago, an ancient snake known as Najash had…legs. It is by no means the only snake to have limbs either. But what’s even stranger: we’re not at all sure where it came from.

Cretaceous dinosaur, mammal discovery in Maryland, USA


This video from ther USA says about itself:

Dinosaur Age Meets the Space Age at NASA Goddard

31 January 2018

In 2012, local dinosaur track expert Ray Stanford discovered a nodosaur track from the Cretaceous era on the campus of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland. After the slab on which Stanford found the track was excavated, Stanford, paleontologist Martin Lockley, of University of Colorado at Denver, and others documented more than 70 dinosaur and mammal tracks imprinted in the sandstone. Their paper documenting the discovery was published Jan. 31, 2018, in the journal Scientific Reports. The 8-foot by 3-foot slab contains at least 26 mammal tracks.

From NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in the USA:

Dinosaur age meets the space age

January 31, 2018

Summary: A slab of sandstone found on the campus of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland may help scientists rewrite the history of mammal and dinosaur co-existence during the Cretaceous era.

A slab of sandstone discovered at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center contains at least 70 mammal and dinosaur tracks from more than 100 million years ago, according to a new paper published Jan. 31 in the journal Scientific Reports. The find provides a rare glimpse of mammals and dinosaurs interacting.

The tracks were discovered by Ray Stanford — a local dinosaur track expert whose wife, Sheila, works at Goddard. After dropping off Sheila at work one day in 2012, Stanford spotted an intriguing rock outcropping behind Sheila’s building on a hillside. Stanford parked his car, investigated, and found a 12-inch-wide dinosaur track on the exposed rock. Excavation revealed that the slab was the size of a dining room table and examination in the ensuing years found that it was covered in preserved tracks.

The remarkable Goddard specimen, about 8 feet by 3 feet in size, is imprinted with nearly 70 tracks from eight species, including squirrel-sized mammals and tank-sized dinosaurs. Analysis suggests that all of the tracks were likely made within a few days of each other at a location that might have been the edge of a wetland, and could even capture the footprints of predator and prey.

“The concentration of mammal tracks on this site is orders of magnitude higher than any other site in the world,” said Martin Lockley, paleontologist with the University of Colorado, Denver, a co-author on the new paper. Lockley began studying footprints in the 1980s, and was one of the first to do so. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a slab this size, which is a couple of square meters, where you have over 70 footprints of so many different types. This is the mother lode of Cretaceous mammal tracks.”

After Stanford’s initial find, Stephen J. Godfrey, curator of paleontology at the Calvert Marine Museum, coordinated the excavation of the slab and produced the mold and cast that formed the basis of the scientific work.

The first track Stanford found was of a nodosaur — “think of them as a four-footed tank,” Stanford said. Subsequent examination revealed a baby nodosaur print beside and within the adult print, likely indicating that they were traveling together. The other dinosaur tracks include: a sauropod, or long-necked plant-eater; small theropods, crow-sized carnivorous dinosaurs closely related to the Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex; and pterosaurs, a group of flying reptiles that included pterodactyls.

“It’s a time machine,” Stanford said. “We can look across a few days of activity of these animals and we can picture it. We see the interaction of how they pass in relation to each other. This enables us to look deeply into ancient times on Earth. It’s just tremendously exciting.”

The dinosaur tracks are impressive, but it is the collection of mammal tracks that make the slab significant. At least 26 mammal tracks have been identified on the slab since the 2012 discovery — making it one of two known sites in the world with such a concentration of prints. Furthermore, the slab also contains the largest mammal track ever discovered from the Cretaceous. It is about four inches square, or the size of a raccoon‘s prints.

Lockley and Stanford said most of these ancient footprints belong to what we would consider small mammals — animals the size of squirrels or prairie dogs. Most Cretaceous mammals discovered to date have been the size of rodents, their size usually determined only from their teeth. “When you have only teeth, you have no idea what the animals looked like or how they behaved,” Lockley said.

Lockley and Stanford believe the wide diversity and number of tracks show many of the animals were in the area actively feeding at the same time. Perhaps the mammals were feeding on worms and grubs, the small carnivorous dinosaurs were after the mammals, and the pterosaurs could have been hunting both the mammals and the small dinosaurs.

The parallel trackway patterns made by four crow-sized carnivorous dinosaurs suggests they were hunting or foraging as a group. “It looks as if they were making a sweep across the area,” Lockley said.

Several of the mammal tracks occur in pairs, representing hind feet. “It looks as if these squirrel-sized animals paused to sit on their haunches,” Lockley said. The team gave the new formal scientific name of Sederipes goddardensis, meaning sitting traces from Goddard Space Flight Center, to this unusual configuration of tracks.

“We do not see overlapping tracks — overlapping tracks would occur if multiple tracks were made over a longer period while the sand was wet,” said Compton Tucker, a Goddard Earth scientist who helped with the excavation, coordinated bringing in multiple scientists to study the tracks, and has worked to create a display of the cast in Goddard’s Earth science building. “People ask me, ‘Why were all these tracks in Maryland?’ I reply that Maryland has always been a desirable place to live.”

What is now Maryland would have been a much hotter, swampier place in the Cretaceous, when sea levels would have been hundreds of feet higher than today. As scientists continue to study the slab and compare the tracks to others found in the area and around the world, they will continue to discover more about prehistoric life that existed here.

“This could be the key to understanding some of the smaller finds from the area, so it brings everything together,” Lockley said. “This is the Cretaceous equivalent of the Rosetta stone.”

Dinosaur discovery in Egypt


This video says about itself:

29 January 2018

Bus-sized veggie dinosaur travelled across the Sahara

The ‘holy grail’ of dinosaur fossils has been found in the Sahara desert. Researchers have unearthed the remains of a long-necked, four-legged, school bus-sized titanosaur that lived roughly 80 million years ago.

The plant-eating Cretaceous Period dinosaur, named Mansourasaurus shahinae, was nearly 33 feet (10 metres) long and weighed 5.5 tons (5,000 kg). Very few fossils have been unearthed from the last days of the dinosaurs in Africa, and the latest discovery sheds light on this missing history. The find also reveals that at least some dinosaurs could move between Africa and Europe during the final days of the dinosaurs. Scientists say the dinosaur is an ‘incredible discovery’.

From Ohio University in the USA:

New Egyptian dinosaur reveals ancient link between Africa and Europe

Mansourasaurus shahinae helps fill in gaps of African dinosaurs of Late Cretaceous

January 29, 2018

When it comes to the final days of the dinosaurs, Africa is something of a blank page. Fossils found in Africa from the Late Cretaceous, the time period from 100 to 66 million years ago, are few and far between. That means that the course of dinosaur evolution in Africa has largely remained a mystery. But in the Sahara Desert of Egypt, scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that helps fill in those gaps: Mansourasaurus shahinae, a school-bus-length, long-necked plant-eater with bony plates embedded in its skin.

The fossilized remains of Mansourasaurus were unearthed by an expedition undertaken by the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology (MUVP) initiative, an effort led by Dr. Hesham Sallam of the Department of Geology at Mansoura University in Mansoura, Egypt. Sallam is the lead author of the paper published today in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution that names the new species. The field team included several of his students, many of whom — Ms. Iman El-Dawoudi, Ms. Sanaa El-Sayed, and Mrs. Sara Saber — also participated in the study of the new dinosaur. The creature’s name honors both Mansoura University and Ms. Mona Shahin for her integral role in developing the MUVP. According to Sallam, “The discovery and extraction of Mansourasaurus was such an amazing experience for the MUVP team. It was thrilling for my students to uncover bone after bone, as each new element we recovered helped to reveal who this giant dinosaur was.”

“Mansourasaurus shahinae is a key new dinosaur species, and a critical discovery for Egyptian and African paleontology”, says Dr. Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral research scientist at The Field Museum and a contributing author on the study. Gorscak, who began work on the project as a doctoral student at Ohio University, where his research focused on African dinosaurs, adds, “Africa remains a giant question mark in terms of land-dwelling animals at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. Mansourasaurus helps us address longstanding questions about Africa’s fossil record and paleobiology — what animals were living there, and to what other species were these animals most closely related?”

Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils in Africa are hard to come by — much of the land where their fossils might be found is covered in lush vegetation, rather than the exposed rock of dinosaur treasure troves such as those in the Rocky Mountain region, the Gobi Desert, or Patagonia. The lack of a Late Cretaceous fossil record in Africa is frustrating for paleontologists since, at that time, the continents were undergoing massive geological and geographic changes.

During the earlier years of the dinosaurs, throughout much of the Triassic and Jurassic periods, all the continents were joined together as the supercontinent of Pangaea. During the Cretaceous Period, however, the continents began splitting apart and shifting towards the configuration we see today. Historically, it hasn’t been clear how well-connected Africa was to other Southern Hemisphere landmasses and Europe during this time — to what degree Africa’s animals may have been cut off from their neighbors and evolving on their own separate tracks. Mansourasaurus, as one of the few African dinosaurs known from this time period, helps to answer that question. By analyzing features of its bones, Sallam and his team determined that Mansourasaurus is more closely related to dinosaurs from Europe and Asia than it is to those found farther south in Africa or in South America. This, in turn, shows that at least some dinosaurs could move between Africa and Europe near the end of these animals’ reign. “Africa’s last dinosaurs weren’t completely isolated, contrary to what some have proposed in the past,” says Gorscak. “There were still connections to Europe.”

Mansourasaurus belongs to the Titanosauria, a group of sauropods (long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs) that were common throughout much of the world during the Cretaceous. Titanosaurs are famous for including the largest land animals known to science, such as Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus, and Patagotitan. Mansourasaurus, however, was moderate-sized for a titanosaur, roughly the weight of an African bull elephant. Its skeleton is important in being the most complete dinosaur specimen so far discovered from the end of the Cretaceous in Africa, preserving parts of the skull, the lower jaw, neck and back vertebrae, ribs, most of the shoulder and forelimb, part of the hind foot, and pieces of dermal plates. Says study coauthor and dinosaur paleontologist Dr. Matt Lamanna of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, “When I first saw pics of the fossils, my jaw hit the floor. This was the Holy Grail — a well-preserved dinosaur from the end of the Age of Dinosaurs in Africa — that we paleontologists had been searching for for a long, long time.”

Also contributing to the Mansourasaurus research were experts on African paleontology from other institutions in Egypt and the US. MUVP student Iman El-Dawoudi played a particularly important role in the analysis of the new titanosaur, making numerous observations on its skeleton. “The combined effort of multiple institutions across the globe, not to mention the absolutely key role played by students on the project from the field, to the laboratory, to the final analysis and writeup of the results, exemplifies the collaborative nature of expeditionary sciences today,” notes Dr. Patrick O’Connor, study coauthor and professor of anatomy at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Funding for the Mansourasaurus study was provided by grants from Mansoura University, the Jurassic Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the National Geographic Society/Waitt Foundation, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The discovery of rare fossils like this sauropod dinosaur helps us understand how creatures moved across continents, and gives us a greater understanding of the evolutionary history of organisms in this region,” says Dena Smith, a program director in NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences, which partially funded the laboratory portion of the research.

Scientific discoveries are often compared to finding the last missing puzzle piece to complete a picture; Gorscak says that since so little is known about African dinosaurs, Mansourasaurus is better likened to an earlier step in the puzzle-solving process. “It’s like finding an edge piece that you use to help figure out what the picture is, that you can build from. Maybe even a corner piece.”

“What’s exciting is that our team is just getting started. Now that we have a group of well-trained vertebrate paleontologists here in Egypt, with easy access to important fossil sites, we expect the pace of discovery to accelerate in the years to come,” says Sallam.

Arkansas dinosaur tracks in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Acrocanthosaurus atokensis was the largest meat eating dinosaur in North America of the early to mid Cretaceous period. The most complete specimen was discovered just 10 miles from the Museum of the Red River in Idabel and it is now the State Dinosaur of Oklahoma.

This video from 2011 includes interviews with one of the principal excavators, Cephis Hall and Dr. Kenneth Carpenter of the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum, who with Dr. Phillip J. Currie in 2000 described the find. Also interviewed are: Henry Moy of the Museum of the Red River, Neil Larson of the Black Hills Institute, Kyle Davies of the Sam Noble Museum, and Michael Bergland of mnfx.com.

From the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in the USA:

Digitally preserving important Arkansas dinosaur tracks

January 16, 2018

Scientists using laser-imaging technology have documented and digitally preserved the first known set of theropod dinosaur tracks in the state of Arkansas.

The tracks, discovered in 2011 in a working gypsum quarry near Nashville, Ark., have since been destroyed. But high-resolution digital scans taken over a period of two weeks in 2011 allowed a team of researchers to study the tracks and determine that they were made by Acrocanthosaurus, a large carnivorous dinosaur. The findings extended the known range of Acrocanthosaurus 56 miles east, to the western shore of an ancient inland sea.

“It actually confirms that the main genus of large theropods in North America was Acrocanthosaurus”, said Celina Suarez, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences who was part of the team that documented and studied the tracks. “It now has been found in Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Maryland, a huge range.”

Results of the study were recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. Researchers also created a detailed, publicly accessible online map of the site and the tracks. Brian Platt, an assistant professor of geology from the University of Mississippi, led the study. Researchers from the University of Arkansas Center for Advanced Spatial Technology (CAST) provided the scanning equipment and expertise.

The Rush to Preserve the Site

After the tracks were discovered, researchers received a $10,000 Rapid Grant from the National Science Foundation to quickly document the site. The U of A’s vice provost for research and economic development and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences provided matching grants, for a total of $30,000.

The mining company moved its operations to allow researchers a short window of time to document the find. Researchers used LiDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, because traditional methods would have taken too long, said Suarez. “From a technical standpoint, it’s important that the ability to rapidly scan such a large area is available to paleontologists. It was invaluable for this project since we had such little time to work.”

The site had two different sized Acrocanthosaurus tracks, suggesting both adult and younger animals walked the ancient tidal flat about 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period. It also contained tracks made by sauropods, long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs.

LiDAR uses a pulsed laser to measure distances to the earth in tiny increments, generating a data “point cloud” that is used to digitally recreate a physical space. In this case, the equipment was mounted on a lift over the site. By analyzing carbon and oxygen isotopes of the rock at the track surface, researchers determined that the track surface was indeed the surface that the animals stepped on, rather than an underlying layer that remained when the original surface eroded.

The digital reconstruction of the trackway site: http://trackways.cast.uark.edu/index.html

Small dinosaur discovered in Australia


This 2016 video is called Dinosaurs from Cretaceous Australia.

From PeerJ:

Turkey-sized dinosaur from Australia preserved in an ancient log-jam

New fossil gives fresh insight into the evolution and diversity of the dinosaurs that once inhabited the Australian-Antarctic rift valley 113 million years ago

January 11, 2018

The partial skeleton of a new species of turkey-sized herbivorous dinosaur has been discovered in 113 million year old rocks in southeastern Australia. As reported in open access journal PeerJ, the fossilized tail and foot bones give new insight into the diversity of the small, bipedal herbivorous dinosaurs called ornithopods that roamed the great rift valley that once existed between Australia and Antarctica. The new dinosaur has been named Diluvicursor pickeringi, which means Pickering’s Flood-Running dinosaur.

Lower Cretaceous rocks of the deep sedimentary basins that formed within the Australian-Antarctic rift are now exposed as wave-cut rock platforms and sea-cliffs along the south coast of Victoria. The skeleton of Diluvicursor pickeringi was discovered in 2005 by volunteer prospector George Caspar, eroding from such a rock platform at a locality called Eric the Red West, near Cape Otway.

“Diluvicursor shows for the first time that there were at least two distinct body-types among closely related ornithopods in this part of Australia”, Dr Matt Herne, lead author of the new study said.

“One was lightly built with an extraordinarily long tail, while the other, Diluvicursor, was more solidly built, with a far shorter tail. Our preliminary reconstruction of the tail musculature of Diluvicursor suggests this dinosaur was a good runner, with powerful leg retracting muscles,” Dr Herne said.

“Understanding the ecology of these dinosaurs — what they ate, how they moved, where they roamed — based on the interplay between anatomy and the environment presents exciting challenges for future research.”

The species name honors the late David Pickering, who was Museums Victoria’s Collection Manager, Vertebrate Palaeontology. David contributed significantly to Australian paleontology in the lab and field, and tirelessly assisted countless students of paleontology and researchers to achieve their goals. Sadly, David passed away just over a year ago on Christmas Eve 2016.

The site of Eric the Red West has additional importance as it helps build a picture the ancient rift valley ecosystem. Fossil vertebrate remains at this site were buried in deep scours at the base of a powerful river, along with flood-transported tree stumps, logs and branches.

“The carcass of the Diluvicursor pickeringi holotype appears to have become entangled in a log-jam at the bottom of this river,” explained Dr Herne. “The sizes of some of the logs in the deposit and the abundance of wood suggest the river traversed a well-forested floodplain. The logs preserved at the site are likely to represent conifer forests of trees within families still seen in Australia today.”

“Much of the fossil vertebrate material from Eric the Red West has yet to be described, so further dinosaurs and other exciting animals from this site are now anticipated.”