Oviraptor © Esther Van Hulsen. Shared here with the artist's permission.

This Mesozoic Month: January 2018

This Mesozoic Month

Here’s a nice, big slab of paleontological goodness to start 2018. We’ve had a host of new discoveries and research, insightful blog posts and more. Belly up and dig in!

In the News

The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, CA is hosting a “Women of Paleontology” event coming up on February 10, 2018. The event is only $5 and has a great lineup of guests to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The weaponization of the tail is a trait that’s popped up a bunch of times over the evolutionary history of amniotes, and new research from Victoria Arbour and Lindsay Zanno aims to determine the anatomical prerequisites for various forms of tail weaponry – as well as why it’s so rare among extant animals. Read more from Victoria at Pseudoplocephalus.

The late Cretaceous dinosaur fossil record of Africa is spotty to say the least. So even one species can add considerably to our knowledge. Such is the case with Mansourasaurus shahinae, a new titanosaur hailing from the Campanian-age Quseir Formation of Egypt. Co-author Eric Gorscak compares the discovery to finding the “corner piece” of a puzzle, which I think is a terrific analogy. Phylogenetic analysis of Mansourasaurus reveals a close relationship to Northern Hemisphere titanosaurs, meaning that Africa wasn’t quite as isolated as assumed in the Late Cretaceous. Read more from Andrew Masterson at Cosmos, Laura Geggel at Live Science, and Helen Briggs at the Beeb.

Diluvicursor is a new ornithopod on the block, discovered in the Dinosaur Cove-adjacent Eumeralla Formation. You’re probably familiar with the popular Antarctic ornithopod Leaellynasaura; Diluvicursor wasn’t so gracile and possessed a shorter tailRead more from Michael McGowan at the Guardian and Justin Tweet at Equatorial Minnesota.

Our latest theropod treasure from China is Caihong juji, the oldest-known incidence of both asymmetrical feathers and iridescent feathers. It even may have sported a lacrimal crest, though this bit has been disputed (see Gabriel Ugueto’s beautiful rendition to see an alternate hypothesis). Read more from Fernanda Castano at Letters from Gondwana, Michael Greshko at NatGeo, Gemma Tarlach at Discover’s Dead Things, and Neel Patel at Inverse.

I once had a goofy idea to depict a butterfly which had evolved to mimic the crest of Dilophosaurus. Well, it just became a touch less goofy: we have fossilized wing scales from lepidopterans in the Triassic! Read more from Nicholas St. Fleur for the NYT and Richard Conniff for WaPo.

The oldest ceratopsid fossil material has been described, coming from long-horned centrosaurines. Read more at the Royal Tyrrell Museum blog. Check out those highly attractive skull illustrations by Csotonyi, too.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Francois Gould has some advice for you conference-goers. Head over to Anything Goes for some tips on how to survive and thrive.

Along the same lines, Liz Martin-Silverstone has collected her thoughts after completing her PhD, including advice for students, staff, and faculty.

Lisa Buckley takes us on an ichnological field trip to Bito Island, South Korea.

At Laelaps, Brian Switek writes about Utah’s paucity of Triassic dinosaurs.

Because we’re always up for more Crystal Palace, read about the famous park’s perception over the years at Messy Nessy Chic.

Ben Miller was in my stomping grounds in December, and he did the logical thing and paid a visit to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Read about his visit, including a great review of the DinoSphere, at Extinct Monsters.

There’s a new blog on the block focusing on dinosaur books for children: Dino Dad Reviews. In his first post, he takes a look at Dinosaur Roar.

Looking back/ looking ahead: Albertonykus reveals the results of the “Favorite Maniraptor of 2016” poll and posts the list of 2017 nominees at Raptormaniacs. Justin Tweet shares his thoughts on what 2018 may have in store at Equatorial Minnesota. Brian Engh sums up a pretty titanic year of paleoartistry.

Over at TetZoo, Darren Naish has begun a series on those most awesomebro living dinosaurs, the actual raptors what are properly called raptors. First he tackles new world vultures and teratornithids, then secretary birds, ospreys, and general systematics.

At SV-POW, Mike Taylor muses on the factors that determined just how large sauropods could grow, and the post is just the beginning. He invites discussion in the comments, and it’s still going.

Also at SV-POW, Matt Wedel heaps praise upon Donald F. Glut’s New Dinosaur Dictionary and how formative it was for him as a child, and shares his best Christmas present ever – it’s a doozy. This post perfectly captures what I love about paleontology and paleoart.

The LITC AV Club

Brittney Stoneburg of the Western Science Center (as well as a member of Cosplay for Science) talks about her career path with Prasha Sarwate on the Her STEM Story podcast.

Earth Touch News presents their choices for the top fossil discoveries of 2017.

Hey, here’s an old “Definitely Dinosaurs” commercial. You can play with ’em real rough!

Crowdfunding Spotlight

Our own Natee has a new Ko-Fi page, enabling you to support them with small donations. It’s easy and much appreciated!

The Empty Wallets Club

Estrella Vega's "The Cambrian" book.
Estrella Vega’s “The Cambrian” book, courtesy her on-line shop.

Estrella Vega has completed her “Paleozoic” project, consisting of five individual illustrated books. Each book contains a single accordion-folded illustration of a particular period of the Paleozoic Era. When you line up all five of the books, you get a combined 42 foot (12.8 m) illustration! Buy the individual books or the whole set at Vega’s online shop.

And it looks like Estrella has begun working on a new paleoart series, beginning with the Triassic. Follow along with her work at Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.

A panel from Mike Keesey's "Paleocene" comic, issue 1. Glowing eyes peer from the darkness of a hollowed log.
A panel from Mike Keesey’s “Paleocene” comic, issue 1.

Mike Keesey’s Paleocene #1 is in print, and now available for purchase. Head to the Paleocene Store to buy singles or packs of five. I’ve plugged the title in the past at LITC 1.0, and I love the print copies I received as perks for supporting the project’s crowdfunding campaign. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of the story will be.

The cover of "I am Not a Dinosaur" by Will Lach and Jonny Lambert. Two illustrated pteranodons are featured in profile.
The cover of “I am Not a Dinosaur” by Will Lach and Jonny Lambert.

Natural History educator Ashley Hall and longtime reader Andrew Stuck have both been singing the praises of a recent children’s title from AMNH on Facebook: I am Not a Dinosaur! The illustrations are completely adorable, and it delivers a message that will always be worth teaching.

Your Moment of Paleoart Zen

I love the action and the textural detail in this Oviraptor by Esther Van Hulsen. Just look at all that exquisitely rendered integument! It originally appeared in the book Utrolige Dinosaurer by prof. Jørn Hurum and Torstein Helleve.

<i>Oviraptor </i>© Esther Van Hulsen. Shared here with the artist's permission.
Oviraptor © Esther Van Hulsen. Shared here with the artist’s permission.

You may remember that Esther made the news a few years ago with her awesome, Mary Anning-inspired rendering of a prehistoric octopus, using its own fossilized ink. You can also find her on Twitter, Behance, and her own site.

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