Andrey Belov's Utahceratops battle

This Mesozoic Month: February 2020

This Mesozoic Month

Every month, I round up some of the coolest discoveries, blogging, videos, and other bits of mesozoic-themed fun that recently hit the web. And I always pick an interesting piece of paleoart that crossed my path, no matter when it was created. And that’s how This Mesozoic Month is made. Let’s shut the door on February and prepare ourselves for what March has in store!

In the News

  • Stagodontidae is a clade of late Cretaceous metatherians, of which Didelphodon is arguably the most prominent member. New research digs deep into the feeding strategies of the clade, testing the hypothesis that Eodelphis cutleri is possibly the ancestor of Didelphodon.
  • A splendid new thallatosaur, the first most complete from North America (thank you Nathan Parker in the comments), was described this month. Discovered in Alaska and weighing in on the smaller end of the thallatosaur size spectrum, Gunakadeit joseeae was a near-shore dweller like its kin. Its long, pointed snout and needle-like teeth would have been perfect for plucking soft-bodied prey from the water and from small crevices. Read more from Mindy Weisberger at LiveScience, Zach Miller at Waxing Paleontological, and Riley Black at Laelaps.
  • A newly published paper puts forth that Scleromochlus wasn’t an ornithodire at all, and rather than using those lovely long legs for running, the author, Christopher Bennet, suggests it was a quadrupedal hopper. If that sort of rings a bell, you may remember Mark Witton’s blog post suggesting just that.
  • Do we have room in our hearts for another tanystropheid? I think we’ll allow it. This month we welcomed the publication of Raibliania calligarisi, discovered in the Late Triassic Calcare del Predil formation of Italy. Similarly to the famous Tanystropheus, Raibliania had an impressively long neck, but some distinct features of the cervical vertebrae and teeth. Those chompers are described as “button-like”, indicating a different feeding strategy than the “living fishing rod” we know and love.
  • More amber papers! We’ve got a variety of feathers of different types, a sizeable enantornithe wing, and Magnusantenna wuae, a Cretaceous leaf-footed bug with wild antennae. They’re beautiful fossils, but every time I post about new research using amber from Myanmar, I also encourage you to read this article about the moral and ethical issues with the amber mining industry.
  • We’ve got a new noasaurid: Huinculsaurus montesi. It’s erected on the basis of a handful of vertebrae unique enough to warrant the new taxon, and phylogenetic analysis suggests close kinship with the Late Jurassic Elaphrosaurus, indicating survival of that lineage into the late Cretaceous.
  • Thanatotheristes degrootorum is a new tyrannosaurine from Canada’s Foremost Formation. A close relative of Daspletosaurus, its earlier age – 79 million years old – indicates that it is a unique taxon, and it’s 2.5 million years older than any other tyrannosaurid to boot. Read more from Riley Black at the Smithsonian, the Royal Tyrrell Museum blog, and PhysOrg.
  • You like big turtles? Well, here’s a big turtle. The biggest shell ever found, marine or terrestrial, belonged to a big specimen of the Miocene Stupendemys. It looks like these turtles were sexually dimorphic, with the authors of the new paper suggesting that the form with large horn-like protuberances at the front of the shell is the male of the species.
  • Apatorhamphus gyrostegais is a new African chaoyangopterid pterosaur, a denizen of the famed Cretaceous Kem Kem beds of Morocco.
  • A cool ichnological paper was published this month, detailing a Triassic trackway in the Swiss alps. The trackway consists of two sites separated by about 6 kilometers, yet is inferred to have been made by a single animal: “a 240-million-years-old fleeting animal behavior has been preserved on a large scale even through a major orogenic event.” The authors suspect that this long trackway may represent a migration route through a corridor in the landscape.
  • The latest argument in the Halzskaraptor debate has been published: Andrea Cau’s rebuttal to Chase Brownstein’s 2019 paper arguing that the little theropod was not actually partially aquatic.
  • Two new sauropods: the Gobi Desert’s Late Cretaceous Alagteeg Formation has bestowed upon us the mighty Abdarainurus barsboldi, a possible basal titanosaur. And in Switzerland, the remains of “Cetiosauriscus greppini” (FKA “Ornithopsis greppini”) have been redescribed. The authors have erected a new genus altogether for them, citing their significant differences from Cetiosauriscus stewarti. Thus, we now have Amanzia greppini, a possible turiasaur.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Dispatches from Himmapaanland

Natee spoiled us this month with numerous peeks at their works-in-progress for a book project we all anticipate with barely-contained fervor. Follow Natee on Twitter and Instagram for much more, and buy your own piece of Himmapaanland at Redbubble.

The LITC AV Club

The Natural History Museum of Utah’s DinoFest happened in January, and the talks hit YouTube this month, themed around the K-Pg extinction event. We’ll start with a few of those but be sure to hop over to the museum’s YouTube channel to watch ’em all.

Paige Wilson on the Plants of the K-Pg Extinction

Keegan Melstrom on Croc Diversity

Thomas Williamson on Latest Cretaceous fauna of New Mexico

Engh and Wedel on I Know Dino

Garret of the great I Know Dino podcast interviewed Brian Engh and Matt Wedel about their big new Brachiosaurus femur.

The Story of Long Necks

Psst… if you liked that t-shirt Kallie was wearing, I’ve got good news for you!

The Story of Deinocheirus

The Empty Wallets Club

  • Wooden triceratops skull magnets by Sharon Wegner Larsen

    I absolutely needed some more dinosaur decor for my new workplace so I grabbed this very practical laser-cut Triceratops magnet from Sharon Wegner-Larsen’s Etsy shop. It looks brilliant, and I’m getting loads of compliments about it.

  • Risograph printed illustration of an albino Velociraptor perched in a small tree

    Love the color palettes of Greer Stothers’ risograph paleoart prints, and this albino Velociraptor is particularly fetching. Pick one up in her shop!

Your Moment of Paleoart Zen

This month, I was in the mood for some juicy ceratopsian action, and Andrey Belov’s Battle of Two Kinds fit the bill. I really enjoy Andrey’s style. His pastels lend a satisfying tactility to his scenes, and I particularly enjoy his ornithischians.

Andrey Belov's Utahceratops battle

“Battle of Two Kinds” by Andrey Belov, shared here under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Seems like Andrey’s only on-line presence is DeviantArt, where you can buy one of his prints – maybe he’ll make some more available if you give a nudge!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    February 29, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Thanks for gathering this stuff together for the lazier/less web-savvy of us! Minor pedantry: thallatosaurs were originally described from California (by John C. Merriam, more famous for his work on La Brea mammals). The Alaskan beastie is the most complete North American thallatosaur, not the first-described.

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