Reconstructing dinosaur skeletons in Dutch museum, video


This Dutch video shows how the first Triceratops bones were shown to the media in Naturalis museum in Leiden, on 9 December 2015. During the next months, the Triceratops skeletons will be reassembled there.

Triceratops dinosaur skeleton put together again


Unpacking the Triceratops skeleton parts in Naturalis museum, photo by Pauline Broekema/NOS

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Triceratops dinosaur skeletons will be together again

Today, 10:52

It was a unique excavation, in September in the United States. An expedition team of the Leiden Museum Naturalis then excavated in the state of Wyoming a whopping five skeletons of the 66 million year old dinosaur species Triceratops. Today, these bones are for the first time shown at Naturalis in Leiden. This happens when unpacking and cleaning the bones.

The researchers remove the plaster in which the bones are packed. Then the bones are cleaned one by one. Each grain of sand is removed with a dentist’s tools. The bones are prepared and reinforced to end up as complete skeletons in the museum. This precision work will probably take years. The missing parts will eventually be made with a 3D printer.

Little meat

The Triceratops with its two big horns and comb on its head is one of the most famous dinosaurs. “People find the skulls of this species quite often,” said expedition leader and paleontologist Anne Schulp in the NOS Radio 1 news show. “There was little meat on them, and therefore Tyrannosaurus rex left them alone. The rest of the skeleton was eaten by T. rex. So far, there were therefore only two skeletons of Triceratops known which were complete for more than half.”

Bones from this discovery are together five skeletons of both young and older animals. The discovery means very much for research about Triceratops, one of the last dinosaur species.

Chances are that many more bones of Triceratops will be found. In summer, the expedition team will return to dig further into the area in Wyoming.

“Already at school I was called Martijn Dinosaur”

Martijn Guliker of Naturalis can not wait until he will be allowed to work with the dinosaur bones. “It’s a beautiful big dinosaur with three of those beautiful big horns. Two above his eyebrows and one on his nose.”

As of December 19, anyone who will visit the Leiden museum may come and look at the work of the researchers. The museum has furnished a Dinolab, where from the end of 2016 on people will also be able to see the Tyrannosaurus rex. It was found in 2013 by the expedition team. The researchers hope that in 2018 at least one skeleton will be ready. Then T. rex and his main prey will be together again.

Dinosaur age fossil snake discovery


This video says about itself:

Lizards, Snakes and Legs (Evolution)

27 September 2008

David Attenborough explaining how lizards lost their legs.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ancient snake skull found in Argentina could reveal why the reptiles have no legs

The research challenges the theory that snakes originally became limbless as they began to live in the sea

John von Radowitz

27 November 2015

A fossilised snake skull found in Argentina may have solved the mystery of how the animals lost their legs.

Rather than shed them to become better swimmers as they began to inhabit aquatic environments, the skull, from 90 million years ago, suggests legs became an evolutionary disadvantage as the ancestors of modern snakes wriggled into increasingly narrow burrows in pursuit of prey.

The research challenges the theory that snakes originally became limbless as they began to live in the sea. The secret of the lost limbs was revealed by an examination of the inner ear of Dinilysia patagonica, a two-metre long relative of the modern snake.

Using Computed Tomography (CT), scientists found a distinctive structure in its bony canals and cavities that was also turned out to be present in modern burrowing snakes and lizards.

But the structure, which may assist with the detection of prey and predators, was missing from snakes that live in water or above ground. Lead scientist Dr Hongyu Yi, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, said: “How snakes lost their legs has been a mystery to scientists but it seems this happened when their ancestors became adept at burrowing.

“The inner ears of fossils can reveal a remarkable amount of information and are very useful when the exterior of fossils are too damaged or too fragile to examine.”

The findings, published in the journal Science Advances, confirm Dinilysia patagonica as the largest burrowing snake ever known.

Co-author Dr Mark Norell, from the American Museum of Natural History, said: “This discovery would not have been possible a decade ago. CT scanning has revolutionised how we can study ancient animals.

“We hope similar studies can shed light on the evolution of more species, including lizards, crocodiles and turtles.”

A CT scan is an advanced form of X-ray that generates detailed 3D images of organs and skeletal structures.

See also here.

New hadrosaur dinosaur discovery


This 13 November 2015 video is called New Duck-Billed Dinosaur found, Probrachylophosaurus – Should it be used in Jurassic World 2?

From Gizmodo.com in the USA:

This New Hadrosaur Species Is A Classic Missing Link

Kiona Smith-Strickland

11/15/15 7:06pm

A new dinosaur species sheds some light on how duck-billed dinosaurs got their crests. Paleontologists say Probrachylophosaurus bergei is a missing link between two other species, and it fills in vital pieces of the story of how crests evolved.

Probrachylophosaurus bergei is a hadrosaur, one of the large crested herbivores that roamed the Earth – mostly on their hind legs – during the late Cretaceous period. Hadrosaurs are best known for their duck-like bills and their frilled, crested skulls, and now scientists know a little more about how those distinctive crests evolved.

The fossils’ age put Probrachylophosaurus right in the middle of two hadrosaur species: the older Acristavus, which had no crest on its skull, and the more recent Brachylophosaurus, which had a large, well-developed crest. “So we would predict that its crest would be intermediate between these species. And it is,” said Elizabeth Freedman Fowler, the Montana State University paleontologist who unearthed the first Probrachylophosaurus fossils in 2007 and has studied them ever since.

81 million years ago, a hadrosaur called Acristavus roamed the Late Cretaceous coastal plain that is now Montana. Unlike its descendants, Acristavus had a flat skull with no sign of a crest – but by 79 million years ago, its descendants had evolved small, triangular crests that stuck up from their skulls just slightly, right above their eyes. Otherwise, their skulls weren’t very different from their ancestor, Acristavus. This small-crested species is now called Probrachylophosaurus.

By 77.5 million years ago, those small triangular crests had evolved further, into large, flat, paddle-shaped crests covering the back portion of the top of their skulls. Paleontologists now call these hadrosaurs Brachylophosaurus, and aside from the crests, their skulls are very similar to Acristavus and Probrachylophosaurus.

It’s a classic example of a “missing link” in a field where things seldom fall into place so neatly. “It is a perfect example of evolution within a single lineage of dinosaurs over millions of years,” said Freedman Fowler. She published her findings in the journal PLOS One.

Extinct dinosaurs’ and birds’ long names


This video says about itself:

8 September 2015

“Micropachycephalosaurus”­ is a monotypic genus of ornithischian dinosaur. It lived in Shandong Province, China during the Late Cretaceous period . The incomplete skeleton of the single specimen was found on a cliff southwest of Laiyang. It was bipedal and herbivorous, and currently has the longest generic name of any dinosaur. Ironically, it was also among the smallest of the dinosaurs, at a little over 1 meter long.

The genus contains only the type species, “Micropachycephalosaurus hongtuyanensis“. Paleontologist Dong Zhiming originally described it as a member of the Pachycephalosauria, a group of bipedal dome-headed herbivores. However, re-evaluation of the family Pachycephalosauridae by Sullivan in 2006 cast doubt on this assignment. Further study of the original specimens by Butler and Zhao in 2008 also failed to find any characteristics linking “Micropachycephalosaurus” with the pachycephalosaurs. The one piece of evidence that could provide this link, the supposedly thickened skull roof, was missing from the fossil collection the scientists examined, and so could not be used to support or refute its original classification. Butler and Zhao therefore classified it as an indeterminate member of the Cerapoda. In 2011, cladistic analysis performed by Butler “et al.” showed that “Micropachycephalosaurus” is a basal member of the Ceratopsia.

British vertebrate palaeontologist Darren Naish writes on Twitter today:

Yes, Micropachycephalosaurus still longest generic name, with the stork Palaeoephippiorhynchus as a close second.

Palaeoephippiorhynchus

This reconstruction drawing shows Palaeoephippiorhynchus, compared in size to a human. Palaeoephippiorhynchus is an extinct genus of large storks. There are two recorded species, P. dietrichi from the early Oligocene of Egypt and P. edwardsi from the Miocene of Libya.

Western Australia dinosaur tracks, new study


This video says about itself:

Dinosaur Footprints in Broome, Western Australia

At Gantheaume Point and 30 m (98 ft) out to sea are dinosaur footprints dated as Early Cretaceous in age (approximately 130 million years ago). The tracks can be seen only during very low tide.

From the Science Network of Western Australia site:

Friday, 16 October 2015

Dinosaur tracks offer window to ancient landscapes

Written by Kandy Curran

RESEARCHERS are working to reconstruct scenes from 130 million years ago, when Australia was still connected to Antarctica and covered in towering conifer forests, via dinosaur tracks.

When the sun, moon and earth align to produce the biggest tidal range, Dr Salisbury from The University of Queensland and his team of palaeontologists, geologists and roboticists are on the exposed intertidal zone to study the coast where some 16 species of dinosaur once roamed.

The ambitious project aims to digitally catalogue remnant dinosaur tracks over an 80 km stretch of coastline and then use that imaging to reconstruct the ancient landscape that was inhabited by some of the planet’s biggest dinosaurs.

These tracks are the only known evidence of dinosaurs along the Broome coast thus far, as the muddy sediment that the dinosaurs walked over has hardened to eventually form sedimentary rock.

“We also want to figure out just how many different types of dinosaur tracks there are in this area to get a handle on the significance of the footprint fauna, because to this point very little detailed work has been done,” Dr Salisbury says.

With many only exposed for a few hours each day, and only a few days each year, the team have had to adopt innovative remote sensing technologies to speed up the process.

In addition to making moulds of various tracks with a quick setting silicon rubber, thousands of photographs are being taken using a conventional camera and a low-flying drone.

These images are used to create virtual 3D models that are combined with laser scans from a hand-held LiDAR unit developed by CSIRO.

Geological analysis of various rocks in the area has revealed that many of the tracks seem to occur in the same layer of sandstone, created as seasonal floods inundated low-lying sandbars and floodplains. It was over this muddy environment that the dinosaurs walked and left their tracks.

Dr Salisbury says his team is now beginning to contextualise the tracks over large geographic areas, and can better understand which direction the dinosaurs were travelling, whether they were walking or running, and if they were interacting or crossing the landscape in groups, searching for food, or trying to escape predators.

“One of the really special things about the tracks is that they’re part of the creation mythology associated with indigenous law and culture in this area; they’re integrated into a song cycle that extends along the coast, with the knowledge of the tracks probably extending back thousands of years”.

In an effort to protect, promote and educate the public about the dinosaur tracks of the Dampier Peninsula, Dr Salisbury and members of the Broome community formed a Dinosaur Coast Management Group in 2014.

Dr Salisbury and his team have provided outstanding presentations on their research in the Science on the Broome Coast series, drawing large audiences on both occasions.

The science series, which aims to showcase the exciting research that is underway on Broome’s coast, is an initiative of the Roebuck Bay Working Group and Yawuru Land and Sea Unit, and sponsored by Inspiring Australia, Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Broome Shire Council.

Fossilized hadrosaur dinosaur babies discovery in Mongolia


Perinatal specimens of Saurolophus angustirostris: bones on the right side of the block show a certain degree of articulation, whereas bones on the left are disarticulated. Image credit: Dewaele L et al.

By Sci-News.com:

Paleontologists Find Fossilized Hadrosaur Nest in Mongolia

Oct 15, 2015

An international team of paleontologists from Belgium, France and Mongolia, has unearthed an exceptional block of perinatal specimens (babies) of the giant hadrosaurid dinosaur Saurolophus angustirostris, with associated eggshell fragments, in an area called the Dragon’s Tomb.

The Dragon’s Tomb dinosaur locality was discovered in 1947 in the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.

The bone bed at this site has yielded numerous articulated skeletons of Saurolophus angustirostris. This dinosaur is particularly abundant in the whole Nemegt Formation, comprising approximately 20 percent of all vertebrate fossils found.

In a new report published in the journal PLoS ONE, paleontologists describe three or four perinatal specimens of Saurolophus angustirostris and two associated eggshell fragments.

The young dinosaurs were likely part of a nest originally located on a river sandbank. The skull length of these Saurolophus angustirostris was around 5 percent that of the largest known S. angustirostris specimens, indicating that these specimens were in the earliest development stages.

“The perinatal bones already resembled Saurolophus angustirostris characteristics, including the upwardly directed snout,” the paleontologists explained.

“The specimens did not yet have the characteristic cranial crest at the top of the head and areas of the skull-the cervical neural arches-were not yet fused, which suggest they may be in the earliest stages of the development of S. angustirostris.”

“The poorly developed crest in Saurolophus angustirostris babies provides evidence of ontogenetic crest growth within the Saurolophini tribe,” said lead author Dr Leonard Dewaele, of Ghent University and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

“The Saurolophini are the only Saurolophinae to bear supra cranial crests as adults.”

The paleontologists can’t tell whether Saurolophus angustirostris babies were still in the eggs or had just hatched when they died, but they were apparently already dead and partly decomposed when they were buried by river sediment during the wet summer season.

The fossilized eggshell fragments associated with the perinatal individuals closely resemble those found from Saurolophus angustirostris relatives in Mongolia.

The team suggests these specimens may bridge a gap in our knowledge of the development of Saurolophus angustirostris.