Caihong juji illustrated by Afton Kern

This Mesozoic Month: August 2018

This Mesozoic Month

August has slipped through our fingers, but it brought us an insane amount of treasures wrenched from the unforgiving Earth by hard-working paleontologists, exalted by paleoartists, and eulogized by science journalists and paleobloggers. Hats off, my fossil-smitten friends! There was so much stuff this month (or maybe more of it found its way to me, idk), I split the usual news section up and gave new taxa their own section.

In the News

  • The next Jurassic Foundation grant deadline is approaching! Get your research grant proposals in by September 15; details here.
  • National Fossil Day in the US is approaching, and PLoS Paleo Network has again compiled a big list of events across the country.
  • It’s been a long road from discovery to prep to publication, but this Kayentatherium was worth the wait: it’s preserved with a clutch of 28 newborns! Read more from UT Austin and the Independent.
  • Vectidraco, an azhdarchoid pterosaur described in 2013, was the subject of new research by Liz Martin-Silverstone aiming to study the neural canal to make some inferences about its lifestyle. Read more from Darren at TetZoo.
  • Parasitoid wasps in fly larvae! Some beautiful fossils have been published showing just that. Check out George Dvorsky’s story at Gizmodo.
  • A new trackway found in Alaska shows evidence of hadrosaurs and therizinosaurs coexisting. Read more at Everything Dinosaur.
  • Farewell, sweet Drinker. New research from Carpenter and Galton finds that Drinker, Othnielosaurus, and Nanosaurus rex (aka “Othnelia”) are all various ontogenetic stages of Nanosaurus agilis. Read more from Justin Tweet at Equatorial Minnesota.
  • Spinosaurus: Competent Terrestrial Animal. Doesn’t that sound like a fun television series? Don Henderson’s new research, published in PeerJ, finds that ol’ sailback wouldn’t have fared very well hunting in deep water. There’s still a lot of debate to be had; there’s been significant pushback from paleontologists in conversation on Facebook, who bring up the possibility that Henderson’s model discounts how barrel-like spino’s ribcage may have been. Read more from the Calgary Herald, the Royal Tyrrell Museum Blog, Brian Switek at Laelaps, and Michael Greshko’s piece for NatGeo.

Fresh New Taxa

  • Caelestiventus hanseni is a new dimorphodontid wrenched from the sandstone of the Saints & Sinners quarry in Utah. It’s the earliest pterosaur discovered in North America yet, and well-preserved, especially as pterosaurs go. Read more at Sci-News, Letters from Gondwana, and SV-POW.
  • We have a new Mongolian iguanodontian, Choyrodon barsboldi, based on remains of several subadults. Hailing from the Khuren Dukh formation, it would have lived alongside Altirhinus, but the authors do not believe it to be a young specimen of that species. Read the paper here.
  • Also in PeerJ, also ornithischian: Invictarx zephyri, which adds to the fossil record of Laramidian nodosaurids. Check out the paper here.
  • Fans of weirdo marine reptiles, rejoice. A new one has been described, a simosaurid nothosaur hailing from Triassic rocks in central Spain. With its pachyostotic (as in, highly thickened) bones, Paludidraco multidentatus is described as something like a filter-feeding, reptilian manatee. Cool! Check out the paper here.
  • The twists and turns the turtle fossil record continue with the publication of Eorynchochelys sinensis, a late-Triassic animal from China bearing an intriguing mix of primitive and derived characteristics. Read more from Stephen Fleischfresser for Cosmos Magazine.
  • Two, count ’em, two new early Cretaceous alvarezsaurs have been described by a Chinese and South African team. Bannykus and Xiyunykus nicely demonstrate the mosaic evolution of the iconic single-digit forelimb of the late Cretaceous alvarezsaurs. Read more from Mike Walley at Everything Dinosaur.
  • Last month we got Lingwulong shengqi, this month it’s Pilmatueia faundezi, another new dicraeosaurid for 2018. The sister taxon to the later-occurring Amargasaurus, Pilmatueia adds to the spotty global fossil record of the Valanginian stage of the early Cretaceous.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Dispatches from Himmapaanland

Our Natee continues to be a bright spot on the TL. Here are a few of their saurian (and saurian-esque) highlights from this month.

The LITC AV Club

Here’s a video from BYU about the discovery of Caelestiventus hanseni.

Dave Marshall of Palaeocast talks to Chris Manias about the history of paleontology outreach.

Crowdfunding Spotlight

science through multimedia stories gofundme promo image

The Science Through Multimedia Stories gofundme campaign has a ways to go to meet its goal! Help Sara ElShafie, Ashley Hall, and Gabriel Santos offset the costs of running their workshop. Pledge here.

Rebecca Groom's heraldic microraptor tee shirt

A new tee from Rebecca Groom! If you loved her heraldic Archaeopteryx, you’ll lover her new Microraptor design. The goal has been thoroughly pulverized, so the shirts are definitely happening; preorder your very own at Kickstarter.

The Empty Wallets Club

  • Vladimir Nikolov's 2019 paleoart calendarCheck out Vladimir Nikolov’s 2019 calendar – his first published work! 12 months of paleoart, plus as he points out, you can always save pages for framing… Buy it at Lulu.
  • Image from Greer Stother's paleoart zine featuring allosaurus and stegosaurusGreer Stothers has created a delightful risograph zine on the history of paleoart. Pick it up in her shop.

Your Moment of Paleoart Zen

This month, I’m featuring a lovely piece by artist Afton Kern, who was inspired to paint Caihong juji in its iridescent glory.

Illustration of Caihong juji by Afton Kern.

Caihong juji by Afton Kern, shared here with the artist’s permission.

Beautiful work. Follow Afton on DeviantArt, Tumblr, and her WordPress blog! Lots of awesome stuff to see, and prints are available, too.

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  • Reply
    Thomas Diehl
    August 31, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    I’d like to add a link to my new Youtube channel. It does not focus on dinosaurs entirely, but they are a large part in it with the original inspiration of the series coming from Jurassic World. So far I focused on extinct plants in the park, the Stygimoloch/Pachycephalosaurus situation, and the rise of Giraffatitan and Brontosaurus. I now have a stretch of more modern critters going but I will eventually return to mesozoic life. After all, I still have to ruin the extinction scene in JW2, and to tackle what happened to Spinosaurus.

    • Reply
      David Orr
      August 31, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      Oh, cool! Thanks for letting me know – I’ll subscribe.

    • Reply
      David Orr
      August 31, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      Cool, thanks for letting me know – I’ll subscribe.

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