Small horned dinosaur discovery in China


This 8 September 2015 video says about itself:

Auroraceratops“, meaning “dawn horned face”, is a genus of basal neoceratopsian dinosaur, from the Early Cretaceous of north central China and South Korea. The etymology of the generic name refers to its status as an early ceratopsian and also to Dawn Dodson, wife of Peter Dodson, one of the palaeontologists who described it.

From the University of Pennsylvania in the USA:

Small horned dinosaur from China, a Triceratops relative, walked on two feet

July 12, 2019

Summary: Auroraceratops, a bipedal dinosaur that lived roughly 115 million years ago, has been newly described by paleontologists. More than 80 individuals of this species have been found in China’s Gansu Province.

Many dinosaur species are known from scant remains, with some estimates suggesting 75% are known from five or fewer individuals. Auroraceratops rugosus was typical in this regard when it was named in 2005 based upon a single skull from the Gobi Desert in northwestern China. But that is no longer the case.

In the intervening years, scientists have recovered fossils from more than 80 individual Auroraceratops, bringing this small-bodied plant-eater into the ranks of the most completely known dinosaurs. It is now one of the few very early horned dinosaurs known from complete skeletons. In a collection of articles appearing as Memoir 18 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology this week, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Gansu Agricultural University, and other institutions describe the anatomy, age, preservation, and evolution of this large collection of Auroraceratops.

Their analysis places Auroraceratops, which lived roughly 115 million years ago, as an early member of the group Ceratopsia, or horned dinosaurs, the same group to which Triceratops belongs. In contrast to Triceratops, Auroraceratops is small, approximately 49 inches (1.25 meters) in length and 17 inches (44 cm) tall, weighing on average 34 pounds (15.5 kilograms). While Auroraceratops has a short frill and beak that characterize it as a horned dinosaur, it lacks the “true” horns and extensive cranial ornamentation of Triceratops.

“When I first saw this animal back in 2004, I knew instantly it was a new kind that had never been seen before and was very excited about it,” says paleontologist Peter Dodson, senior author on the work and a professor with appointments in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences. “This monograph on Auroraceratops is long-awaited.”

In 2005, Dodson and his former students Hai-Lu You and Matthew Lamanna named Auroraceratops (in Latin, “dawn’s horned face”) in honor of Dodson’s wife, Dawn Dodson. You, along with fellow Chinese scientist Da-Qing Li — both authors on the current work — and collaborators followed up on the discovery, identifying more than 80 additional examples of the species, from near-hatchlings to adults.

Eric Morschhauser, lead author who is now on the faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, completed his Ph.D. under Dodson at Penn, focused on characterizing Auroraceratops using this robust dataset.

Auroraceratops represents the only horned dinosaur in the group Neoceratopsia (the lineage leading to and including the large bodied ceratopsians such as Triceratops) from the Early Cretaceous with a complete skeleton. This exclusiveness is significant, the researchers say, because horned dinosaurs transitioned from being bipedal, like their ancestors, to being the large rhinoceros-like quadrupedal animals most people think of as horned dinosaurs during the later parts of the Cretaceous.

“Before this study,” says Morschhauser, “we had to rely on Psittacosaurus, a more distantly related and unusual ceratopsian, for our picture of what the last bipedal ceratopsian looked like.”

Auroraceratops preserves multiple features of the skeleton, like a curved femur and long, thin claws, that are unambiguously associated with walking bipedally in some dinosaurs.

“It can now provide us with a better picture of the starting point for the changes between bipedal and quadrupedal ceratopsians,” adds Morschhauser.

Peter Dodson is a professor of anatomy in the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences and a professor of paleontology in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Earth and Environmental Science.

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New dinosaur species discovery in Brazil


This 10 July 2019 video says about itself:

Dinosaur Foot is Best-Preserved Theropod Fossil in Brazil | National Geographic

Groundbreaking fossil discovery in the southern state of Paraná, Brazil, reveals new dinosaur species that could balance on single toes.

From National Geographic:

Named Vespersaurus paranaensis for the city and state where it was found, the dinosaur is also the first found in Brazil’s Paraná region and the most complete and best-preserved theropod dinosaur found in Brazil so far. Martins and colleagues described the dinosaur and its environment June 26 in the journal Scientific Reports.

How to draw a Tyrannosaurus rex


This 30 May 2019 video from London, England says about itself:

How to draw a T. rex | Natural History Museum

Learn to draw a cartoon T. rex by following our simple instructions.

Get more dinosaur drawing tips here.

Enjoy dinosaur facts, quizzes and crafts here.

Washington, USA Smithsonian dinosaur hall re-opened


This 30 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

The new David H. Koch Hall of Fossils at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., will reopen this month after a five-year, $110 million renovation. NBC’s Tom Costello takes a peek inside to show off the bigger and better exhibits.

What a shame that a hall about this interesting scientific subject is called after one of the notorious billionaire Koch brothers. Who promote anti-scientific right-wing causes. Eg, by having a Koch-imposed anti-climate science exhibition at the Smithsonian’s premises.

Scientists to Smithsonian: Cut ties with Koch brothers: here.

The Smithsonian’s new dinosaur hall is a marvel. But its ties to David Koch…: here.

By Carolyn Gramling in the USA, 12:17pm, June 4, 2019:

The Smithsonian’s ‘Deep Time’ exhibit gives dinosaurs new life

Renovated fossil hall showcases ancient animals in their environments

After five years, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., is finally reopening its dinosaur hall on June 8. Visitors may come for fan favorites like Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus — and these fossils are gorgeously presented. But the new, permanent exhibition, the “David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time”, has a much grander story to tell about the history of life on Earth, how organisms have interacted with each other for eons and how they’ve interacted with Earth and its climate.

Counterintuitively, the exhibition starts with humans.

Many exhibitions about the evolution of life tend to open with abstract concepts: the chemical formula for life or primordial microbes that lived in shallow seas. But the “Deep Time” designers wanted visitors to immediately feel their own part in the story, says exhibition project manager Siobhan Starrs. So the exhibition starts in the present and moves backward through time.

“The big, big starting point is that life is all connected, through billions of years of time”, she says. Scientists refer to that vastness of time on a geologic scale as deep time, a term suggesting a long, durable thread connecting the past to the present.

That sense of connectedness leads to another central theme: Putting life in context and moving beyond typical predator-prey scenes to give a better sense of the world in which creatures lived. Mixing fossils with other media, such as murals and statues, the exhibition depicts snapshots of life in the past. A woman gathers hickory nuts near a giant mastodon, while a saber-toothed tiger lurks nearby. A giant sloth with sheathed claws stretches up to snatch fruit from an orange tree. An Allosaurus curls its tail around a clutch of eggs.

Not all of the scenes are so peaceful: A T. rex chomping on a Triceratops, placing one foot firmly on the prey’s back to hold it in place, is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. But even that scene, Starrs notes, is meant to convey a more subtle story. Nearby, a shallow pond contains turtles, clams and mussels. “Even the T. rex had a context; it didn’t live in isolation.”

Deeper in time, visitors come to the story of plant evolution and the great swamp forests of the Carboniferous Period, about 359 million to 299 million years ago. One stunning section simulates discoveries made within a coal mine, with fossils of giant trees embedded in the ceiling and walls.

Using deep time as a framing concept “allows us to tell a story about changing ecosystems and changing environments through time, and how they interact with one another,” says Scott Wing, the museum’s curator of paleobotany. Compared with previous ways of presenting the history of life, he says, “it’s a profound shift in how we think about ourselves, and how we think about the natural world around us.”

The new exhibition is a big step forward from the previous fossil hall in other ways. For example, “Deep Time” includes a tribute of sorts to its predecessor, with a vertically mounted fossil of a Stegosaurus that had been embedded for decades in the museum’s floor. Scientists excavated the Stegosaurus and disassembled other long-displayed fossils and were once again able to examine the bones closely.

That led to some surprises, says dinosaur curator Matthew Carrano. Two different species of Camptosaurus once on display turned out to be the same species, he says. A Triceratops skeleton turned out to be a “Frankenfossil”, a mix of bits that weren’t all from Triceratops.

The exhibition’s final area returns to the present and looks toward the future, exploring interactions between Earth’s changing climate and the planet’s life-forms, as well as how human actions might further alter climate. That casting forward is another thing that sets the new exhibition apart, Starrs says. The hope is that after experiencing the fossil hall, “the visitor is now thinking on a deep time scale”, she says: Not just how humans might currently be altering Earth’s climate but also what legacy people will leave behind thousands or even millions of years into the future.

“David H. Koch Hall of Fossils — Deep Time”

Opens June 8

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History | Washington, D.C.

‘Feathers, 100 million years older than birds’


This September 2014 video says about itself:

Meet Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, meaning “Kulinda runner”! It’s classified as basal neornithischian! It lived in Russia during the Middle-Late Jurassic about 169 – 144 mya. It’s about 1.5 meters in length! It had a short head, short forelimbs, long hindlimbs and a long tail! And it had feathers!

From the University of Bristol in England:

Feathers came first, then birds

June 3, 2019

New research, led by the University of Bristol, suggests that feathers arose 100 million years before birds — changing how we look at dinosaurs, birds, and pterosaurs, the flying reptiles.

It also changes our understanding of feathers themselves, their functions and their role in some of the largest events in evolution.

The new work, published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution combines new information from palaeontology and molecular developmental biology.

The key discovery came earlier in 2019, when feathers were reported in pterosaurs — if the pterosaurs really carried feathers, then it means these structures arose deep in the evolutionary tree, much deeper than at the point when birds originated.

Lead author, Professor Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, said: “The oldest bird is still Archaeopteryx first found in the Late Jurassic of southern Germany in 1861, although some species from China are a little older.

“Those fossils all show a diversity of feathers — down feathers over the body and long, vaned feathers on the wings. But, since 1994, palaeontologists have been contending with the perturbing discovery, based on hundreds of amazing specimens from China, that many dinosaurs also had feathers.”

Co-author, Baoyu Jiang from the University of Nanjing, added: “At first, the dinosaurs with feathers were close to the origin of birds in the evolutionary tree.

“This was not so hard to believe. So, the origin of feathers was pushed back at least to the origin of those bird-like dinosaurs, maybe 200 million years ago.”

Dr Maria McNamara, co-author from University College Cork, said: “Then, we had the good fortune to work on a new dinosaur from Russia, Kulindadromeus.

“This dinosaur showed amazingly well-preserved skin covered with scales on the legs and tail, and strange whiskery feathers all over its body.

“What surprised people was that this was a dinosaur that was as far from birds in the evolutionary tree as could be imagined. Perhaps feathers were present in the very first dinosaurs.”

Danielle Dhouailly from the University of Grenoble, also a co-author, works on the development of feathers in baby birds, especially their genomic control. She said: “Modern birds like chickens often have scales on their legs or necks, and we showed these were reversals: what had once been feathers had reversed to be scales.

“In fact, we have shown that the same genome regulatory network drives the development of reptile scales, bird feathers, and mammal hairs. Feathers could have evolved very early.”

Baoyu Jiang continued: “The breakthrough came when we were studying two new pterosaurs from China.

“We saw that many of their whiskers were branched. We expected single strands — monofilaments — but what we saw were tufts and down feathers. Pterosaurs had feathers.”

Professor Benton added: “This drives the origin of feathers back to 250 million years ago at least.

“The point of origin of pterosaurs, dinosaurs and their relatives. The Early Triassic world then was recovering from the most devastating mass extinction ever, and life on land had come back from near-total wipe-out.

“Palaeontologists had already noted that the new reptiles walked upright instead of sprawling, that their bone structure suggested fast growth and maybe even warm-bloodedness, and the mammal ancestors probably had hair by then.

“So, the dinosaurs, pterosaurs and their ancestors had feathers too. Feathers then probably arose to aid this speeding up of physiology and ecology, purely for insulation. The other functions of feathers, for display and of course for flight, came much later.”

New dinosaur species from Thailand


This video is about dinosaurs at the 1st Geological Adventure Tour Festival 2017 which was held in Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand.

From the University of Bonn in Germany:

Thai dinosaur is a cousin of T. rex

Researchers identify fossils found 30 years ago

May 28, 2019

Scientists from the University of Bonn and the Sirindhorn Museum in Thailand have identified two new dinosaur species. They analyzed fossil finds that were already discovered 30 years ago in Thailand. Both species are distant relatives of T. rex, but with a somewhat more primitive structure. They were efficient predators. The results have now been published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

Three decades ago a Thai museum employee discovered some fossilized bones during excavations. He handed them over to the Sirindhorn Museum, where they were never examined in detail. “Five years ago I came across these finds during my research,” explains Adun Samathi. The Thai paleontologist is currently doing his doctorate at the Steinmann Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn. He brought some casts of the fossils here to analyze them together with his doctoral supervisor Prof. Dr. Martin Sander using state-of-the-art methods.

The results take a new look at the history of the megaraptors (“giant thieves”). The relatives of this group of carnivorous predatory dinosaurs include the Tyrannosaurus rex. Like the T. rex, they ran on their hind legs. Unlike the tyrant lizard, however, their arms were strong and armed with long claws. They also had more delicate heads that ended in a long snout. “We were able to assign the bones to a novel megaraptor, which we baptized Phuwiangvenator yaemniyomi,” explains Samathi. The name is reminiscent on the one hand of the location, the Phuwiang district, and on the other hand of the discoverer of the first Thai dinosaur fossil, Sudham Yaemniyom.

Phuwiangvenator and Vayuraptor were fast and dangerous predators. Although only half as long as its relative, the T. rex, Phuwiangvenator almost reached the size of an Asian elephant. © Adun Samathi/Uni of Bonn

Phuwiangvenator was probably a fast runner. With a length of about six meters, it was considerably smaller than the T. rex, who measured about twelve meters. Megaraptors have so far been discovered mainly in South America and Australia. “We have compared the Thai fossils with the finds there,” says Samathi. “Various characteristics of Phuwiangvenator indicate that it is an early representative of this group. We take this as an indication that the megaraptors originated in Southeast Asia and then spread to other regions.”

During his research in Thailand, the doctoral student discovered further unidentified fossils. They also belong to a predatory dinosaur, which was a bit smaller with a length of about 4.5 meters. The material was not sufficient to clarify the exact ancestry. However, scientists assume that smaller dinosaur, named Vayuraptor nongbualamphuenisis, is also related to Phuwiangvenator and T. rex. “Perhaps the situation can be compared with that of African big cats,” explains Samathi. “If Phuwiangvenator were a lion, Vayuraptor would be a cheetah.”

The two new predatory dinosaurs will be presented to the public today on the tenth anniversary of the Sirindhorn Museum. With blue-blooded support: The event will be opened by the Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.