Time to close the door on August of 2019 with a look back at what this month brought us in Mesozoic paleontology, from the journals and news pages to the scattered paleontology community around the web. As is our custom. Before we begin a quick reminder that I am looking for a few good paleo-tattoos for an upcoming gallery post. Read my recent post about Glendon Mellow’s tattoo designs for more details!
In the News
- Just missed this one last month: Seazzadactylus venieri is our newest Italian pterosaur, from the Upper Triassic Dolomia di Forni formation.
- A skull previously thought to belong to Massospondylus has been properly described, and it turns out that it belongs in its own genus. Ngwevu intloko further increases the sauropodomorph diversity of South Africa in the early Jurassic. Read more from Josh Davis at the NHM blog and Justin Tweet at Equatorial Minnesota.
- Coprolites discovered in Poland are put forth as evidence of filter-feeding in pterosaurs. The site is late Jurassic, and trackways at the site indicate that the likely culprit was a ctenochasmid. While previously described pterosaurs like Pterodaustro certainly possess the morphological equipment for this feeding style, the bits of polychaete worms, foraminifera, and other marine life found in these fossil droppings are the first feeding trace evidence. Read more at PhysOrg.
- The function of the famous dromaeosaur “sickle claw” has been of great interest for decades. New biomechanical researched published in PeerJ uses a model of the foot of Deinonychus to test how that second toe would have been used. It lends more support to a grasping function, as in the “raptor prey restraint” model.
- Spinosaurus, Paralititan, and the rest of the motley crew of the late Cretaceous Bahariya formation lived in a world of frequent wildfires. New research examines charcoal deposits in the formation, finding them to be dominated by ferns.
- There’s a new stegosaur in town, and it looks like the oldest yet found. Adratiklit boulahfa was discovered in the El Mers I formation in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and hints at a greater unseen diversity of stegosaurs and kin in Laurasia. Phylogenetic analysis found that Adratiklit is more closely related to Eurasian forms like Dacentrurus than to African forms like Kentrosaurus. Read more from NHM London, the Guardian, Riley Black at Laelaps, and check out Chris DiPiazza’s awesome post and illustration at Prehistoric Beast of the Week.
- Vallibonavenatrix cani is a new spinosaurid from Early Cretaceous Spain, more closely related to Gondwanan taxa than to fellow European Baryonyx—a neat inverse to Adratiklit‘s affinities.
- New research into the evolution of feathers asserts that while insulation may have been the initial adaptive advantage, development of more complex feathers was likely spurred on by sexual selection.
- A couple of cool ichnology papers this month. First, feeding traces on turtle, crocodyliform and dinosaur bones, left by a number of different tracemakers, including termites, archosaurs, and plants. The way these traces overlap has allowed the research team to put together a taphonomic timeline from death to eventual burial. And in the Karoo basin of South Africa, researchers describe tunnels bearing scratch marks that were likely left by cynodonts.
- We don’t have a ton of preserved braincases from the Triassic, but a new study of the enigmatic theropod Zupaysaurus from Argentina adds to that body of knowledge.
- Another month, another astounding post-Mesozoic dinosaur described. Well, make that a pair. First was Heracles inexpectatus, a rather large Miocene parrot from New Zealand which stood about a meter tall. Read more from Vanessa Romo at NPR and Aristos Georgiou at Newsweek. Then came a big ol’ Paleocene penguin, Crossvallia waiparensis, also from New Zealand. Read about it from Brigit Katz at the Smithsonian and David Bressan at Forbes.
- Caiuajara has been joined by another pterosaur taxon in the Goio-Eré formation of southern Brazil: Keresdrakon vilsoni. These two pterosaurs also shared their environment with this summer’s weird theropod, Vespersaurus. Check out the full paper here (PDF link).
- We have another Jurassic alvaerzsaurian: meet Shishugounykus inexpectus. As is often the case when we’re talking about the early roots of distinctive lineages, it seems that the ancestors of the oddball derived alvarezsaurs exhibited a mosaic of adaptations, mixing unique characteristics with those familiar from related clades.
Around the Dinoblogosphere
- An unexpected amber inclusion has a special power to stop the breath, and I am always excited to share research describing amber-trapped Mesozoic fossils in these round-ups. More often than not, the amber comes from Myanmar. At the Atlantic, Katherine Gammon explores the deeply troubling ethical issues and steep human cost surrounding amber mines.
- Time to start planning for National Fossil Day in the US! This year, it takes place on October 16. As usual, PLOS Paleo Community is your source for event information across the states.
- The sixth TetZooCon is also coming up, taking place on October 19 and 20 this year. As you might expect from its new two-day format, it is packed with fascinating talks and workshops. Get the details from Darren Naish at Tetzoo.
- Writing for Knowable, Laura Poppick has a great article profiling Dr. Susie Maidment, and getting into the geological nitty-gritty of resolving the 10 million year span of the Morrison formation.
- Have you checked out the PalaeoPoems website? If not, here’s a great place to start: Jonathan Kane’s Anchiornis poem, accompanied by a stunning new illustration by Emily Willoughby.
- There are more than mighty saurians at the Crystal Palace, and in his fourth post on these iconic Waterhouse Hawkins sculptures, Mark Witton talks about the mammals and his new artistic interpretations of them.
- The Dinosaur Toy Blog has nice things to say about the Beasts of the Mesozoic Velociraptor. Are you ready for the launch of the BOTM ceratopsian Kickstarter campaign on September 19?
- The pterosaur Caiuajara, recently the subject of an awesome Brian Engh sculpture at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, also has a new figure by CollectA, reviewed at the Dinosaur Toy Blog.
- We all love temnospondyls, and we all really love sail-backed Platyhystrix, and Bryan Gee has the hook-up.
- Go hunting for Triassic paper clams with the fossil huntress at Archaea.
- Justin Tweet takes a trip down memory lane at Equatorial Minnesota, sharing photos from the Mongolian Natural History Museum taken in 2002.
- At Dino Dad Reviews, Andrew shares his thoughts on The Adventures of Padma and a Blue Dinosaur, a cool children’s book focusing on the dinosaurs of India.
- Why should Padma have all the fun? Tucked amidst all the recent Disney+ news of the last week was the reveal that a young lady with a differently-hued dinosaur companion would be getting an animated series. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur will premiere on the new streaming service at some undisclosed time in the future.
Dispatches from Himmapaanland
If you’re on Twitter and you’re not following Natee, you’re doing it wrong. Here’s a selection of their Mesozoically-inclined tweets from this month. Including – sigh – a clear case of a company plagiarizing their popular “Tricycling Triceratops,” sniffed out by Andrew of Dino Dad Reviews.
Contrapposto meets Apollyon. Well, an azhdarchid, which is much the same thing. pic.twitter.com/tQOvUrJGk3
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) August 1, 2019
Look at this good boy, Archimedes, patiently taking shape as I repeatedly muck him up. pic.twitter.com/1JkoEOs9p0
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) August 7, 2019
Archimedes the Archaeopteryx underwent another transformation and is become a thrush-pigeony dinobird.
A few touches to add here and there, but more or less 'finished' now, I think. I much prefer this, which feels less as though I'd lost my way than the previous version. pic.twitter.com/NAgZZGSvPs
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) August 17, 2019
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) August 28, 2019
The LITC AV Club
Laura Dern is Delightful
The Discovery of Dry Mesa Quarry
Investigating a living Megatheriid
The great MonsterTalk podcast recently had some fun paleontologically-themed content, looking at stories of the Mapinguari and picking apart the assertion that the cryptid may be… (dun dun DUUUUNN) a giant ground sloth!
Annalisa Berta on I Know Dino
Garrett and Sabrina of I Know Dino recently interviewed Dr. Annalisa Berta, co-author of Women in Vertebrate Paleontology, in an episode that also covers the news of Elektorornis and talks about Patagonykus. Listen here.
Utahraptor Layer Cake!
Hey! Let’s give the Utahraptor Project another bump! The total raised is just over $45,000, but in order to prepare these beasts properly, they could use double that amount.
The Empty Wallets Club
To coincide with the unveiling of “The Nation’s T. rex” at the Smithsonian, the US Postal service has issued a new set of four Tyrannosaurus rex stamps featuring the work of Julius Csotonyi. Buy them here.
The Little Picture Company has released a line of merchandise inspired by the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, and a portion of the profits go to support the ongoing efforts to protect the iconic sculptures. Check the collection out here.
Your Moment of Paleoart Zen
Lucas Attwell has been on a tear this year, so he’s certainly due for a spotlight here at LITC. In my ongoing effort to mitigate the dinosaur bias of the blog, I wanted to pick a pterosaur, and I love his recent Tupuxara illustration. So here it is!