Scaphognathus crassirostris © Gabriel Ugueto. Shared here with the artist's permission.

This Mesozoic Month: March 2018

This Mesozoic Month

What a fine paleontological month March turned out to be. I’d like to send massive thanks out to all of the paleontologists, preparators, museum workers, and other dauntless explorers and communicators of deep time who deliver us such amazing research and insight. Good job, everyone! Now let’s check out this Mesozoic month.

In the News

  • The US state of Arkansas’ state dinosaur has been officially published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology by ReBecca Hunt-Foster. Read an interview with Hunt-Foster from PLOS Paleo Community, Andrea Cau’s post at Theropoda, and don’t miss the great summary from Brian Engh, who provided artwork for the publication, including an awesome fully illustrated timeline of ornithomimosaurs.
  • Mandasuchus has had a long and rocky road to get to taxonomic validity, first collected in Tanzania in 1933, then appearing in Alan Charig’s unpublished thesis in the late ’50s. Now, it’s been described as an early pseudosuchian. Check out the description, which is part of a new issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology dedicated to Triassic Tanzania. The same team published another of Charig’s taxa, Teleocrater, about a year ago. After such a long wait, it’s only fitting that like Teleocrater before, Mandasuchus should receive a Mark Witton restoration as a prize.
  • The Bajo de la Carpa Formation of Patagonia has produced a new megaraptoran, Tratayenia rosalesi. It’s the largest predator in the formation, and the geologically youngest megaraptoran yet. Read more from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Science Direct and Andrea Cau at Theropoda.
  • New research finds that the fabulous headgear of ceratopsians was probably not meant for species recognition, more likely being a way for the beasts to advertise how “big, strong, and sexy” they were (to paraphrase study co-author Dave Hone). Read more from the man himself at Archosaur Musings and check out the Queen Mary University London press release at Science Daily. Be sure to click both links, so you can compare good image choice (Dave’s) with not-so-good image choice.
  • Enantornithines were sweet critters already, but the newly published enantornithine chick hailing from the Las Hoyas formation is just the sweetest. Read more from the BBC and Everything Dinosaur.
  • The Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre and Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, where friend-of-LITC Dr. Lisa Buckley works and conducts research, has been closed due to the district council which presides over it denying its funding request. This is a distressing turn of events; as reported by the CBC, the centre’s research subjects include “the northernmost prints of brontosaurus; the only Tyrannosaur trackway in the world; the only known footprints of the carnivorous [sic] Therizinosaur; and the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in the province.”
  • The longest sauropod trackway ever discovered, from Plagne in eastern France, has now been published. This includes the designation of a new ichnospecies, Brontopodus plagnensis. Read more at Geobios and Earth Magazine.
  • Speaking of ichnology, Triassic dicynodont trackways discovered in the 1950’s have a likely maker: Pentasaurus goggai, now the latest-surviving dicynodont known. Turns out they’ve been sitting in a collection for 140 years or so! Read the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences release here.
  • The Cretaceous bird Iteravis has been found to have possessed salt glands, the earliest yet found in the fossil record. And there’s plenty more in the paper concerning the Jehol ornithuromorph’s biology. Read more at Nature and at Raptormaniacs.
  • A Maastrichtian assemblage of pterosaur fossils discovered in Morocco – including the latest nyctosaurids and pteranodontids yet found in the fossil record – has been described in PLOS One. Read more about it from Pete Bucholz at Earth Archives, Mike Walley at Everything Dinosaur, and Brian Switek at the Smithsonian.
  • An impressive skeletal mount of a giant pterosaur – putatively the largest and most complete every found – was unveiled this month. The problem? There’s no published material on it. It’s basically a piece of paleoart – with questionable credibility. As Liz Martin-Silverstone writes, “As scientists, how are we able to say anything at all about this so-called amazing find when we cannot read how the palaeontologists have come to these claims? Or how the material compares to other animals?”

Around the Dinoblogosphere

The LITC AV Club

  • In case you missed it – I did 😳 – the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s Youtube Channel moved to a new URL. Subscribe here, and enjoy this recent talk from Dr. Corwin Sullivan on the origin of birds.
  • Brittney Stoneburg from the Western Science Center was a guest on the I Know Dino Podcast recently, discussing the Hemet, California museum’s new exhibition on ceratopsians.

Crowdfunding Spotlight

The Empty Wallets Club

Your Moment of Paleoart Zen

Scaphognathus crassirostris isn’t the most popular pterosaur, but it’s been a favorite of mine for several years, since I spent some time with it writing a two-part post on its creationist-cryptozoological history for LITC 1.0. So I was thrilled to find that Gabriel Ugueto produced a gorgeous illustration of the little flapper last year, commissioned by a client with excellent taste. I’m really fond of the color scheme Gabriel employed here, with earth tones contrasted with flashes of tealy-blue.

Scaphognathus crassirostris © Gabriel Ugueto. Shared here with the artist's permission.
Scaphognathus crassirostris illustration © Gabriel Ugueto. Shared here with the artist’s permission.

And that’s not all! NPR’s Science Friday interviewed Gabriel a couple weeks back, and produced a beautiful video featuring his art and his thoughts on paleoart.

If you’re not following Gabriel already, you’re missing out on a lot of tantalizing glimpses into his upcoming Journey to the Mesozoic book, among other projects. Check out his website, DeviantArt, Instagram, and Twitter, and purchase his work via Studio 252mya and Redbubble.

1 thought on “This Mesozoic Month: March 2018”

Leave a Reply