Tupuxuara illustration by Lucas Attwell

This Mesozoic Month: August 2019

This Mesozoic Month

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

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.

The LITC AV Club

Meet Dixi

Laura Dern is Delightful

The Discovery of Dry Mesa Quarry

None other than Gregory S. Paul himself found this vintage video about the discovery of Dry Mesa Quarry, and shared it on the Dinosaur Mailing List this month.

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.

Crowdfunding Spotlight

Utahraptor Layer Cake!

A group of Utahraptor illustrated by Julius Csotonyi for the Utahraptor Project

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

  • T. rex stamps from the US postal service, featuring the art of Julius Csotonyi

    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.

  • Tote bag featuring black, minimal renderings of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs

    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!

Tupuxuara illustration by Lucas Attwell
Tupuxuara illustration, © Lucas Attwell. Shared here with the artist’s permission.

Be sure to keep up with Lucas at his DeviantArt page and at Twitter. And please go check out his psychedelic take on Chasmosaurus!.

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