Yer boy David here, returning with another look back at the current month in Mesozoic paleontology. Pandemic or no, each month I look for a selection of interesting research and news stories, posts from the shrinking-but-still-kicking blogosphere, videos, and a piece of paleoart that grabbed my attention. And, of course, I gleefully shine a spotlight on our own Natee’s current palaeoartistic efforts. Thanks so much for reading each month!
In the News
- Let’s just get this depressing news out of the way: someone vandalized the Crystal Palace Megalosaurus statue. Don’t know what to say, other than that people continually try to thwart my efforts avoid sliding into total misanthropy. You can donate to the ongoing efforts to preserve these world treasures here.
- A new specimen of Triassurus sixtelae, a triassic tetrapod from Kyrgyzstan, has been discovered and published. Hailing from the Madygen formation —— also home to the famous Longisquama —— Triassurus had been a frustrating animal to pin down. The better specimen we have now makes it clearer that it is an early member of the salamander clade, sharing traits with branchiosaurid and amphibamiform temnospondyls.
- Research looking at thousands of Edmontosaurus remains, specifically evidence of healed injuries, finds that the middle of the tail was highly prone to injury. The authors hypothesize that repeated stress injuries as a result of gregarious behavior were to blame. In addition to accidental impacts sustained during herd activities, it could be that use of the tail for defense explains the trend. Read more from Mike Walley at Everything Dinosaur.
- Speaking of Edmontosaurus, a new publication in PLOS One has reassigned “Ugrunaaluk,” the hadrosaurine from the Prince Creek Formation of Alaska, to Edmontosaurus based on “a short dorsolateral process of the laterosphenoid”. While it shares “a horizontal shelf of the jugal” with E. regalis, the authors suggest waiting for more specimens from the locale to be discovered before making a species determination.
- Sorry to report that theropods probably didn’t play nice all the time. New research examining 2,368 fossil vertebrates from the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Colorado, dating to the late Jurassic, records a high number of bones that bear theropod tooth marks. These include the first evidence of cannibalism in Allosaurus. Ceratosaurus and Torvosaurus are also identified as diners at this ancient smorgasbord. Follow the #DinosEatingDinos hashtag for more fun.
- Did mosasaurs migrate? The authors of a new description of tylosaurine remains from the Arctic of Russia suggest as much, writing that while it’s unlikely the beasts would have spent the darkest parts of the year there, migrating north during the sunnier months could make for good hunting.
- A new study of 100 gharial skulls carries implications for sexual selection in ancient archosaurs, as well. Read more from lead author Dave Hone at Archosaur Musings.
- Tyrannosaurus rex may not have been built for speed, but for long-distance trekking. A new study looks at a broad sampling of theropods’ leg anatomy, of all sizes, focusing on the implications of lenghtening limb bones. “For small and medium sized theropods increased leg length seems to correlate with a desire to increase top speed while amongst larger taxa it corresponds more closely to energetic efficiency and reducing foraging costs.” Read more from Mindy Weisberger at Live Science and Katherine Kornei at the NYT.
- Were those long diplodocid tails used as tactile communication tools during migration or other herd movements? Matthew Baron’s new paper proposes exactly that.
- A single cervical vertebrae from Victoria reveals the existence of an elaphrosaur in early Cretaceous, near-polar Australia. Read more from John Pickrell in the Guardian.
- Another weird theropod from Gondwana, you say? There’s a new basal paravian from late Cretaceous Argentina, Overoraptor chimentoi, adapted for cursoriality but also exhibiting “flight-related adaptations of the forelimbs.”
- Earlier than our Mesozoic focus, but still cool: the fossil tetrapod Asaphestera platyris from Nova Scotia has been reassessed and found to be our earliest synapsid yet discovered. Read more from study authors Arjan Mann, Bryan Gee, and Jason Pardo at the Conversation.
Around the Dinoblogosphere
- Mark Witton offers a thorough look at Spinosaurus, including discussion of the new Kem Kem supergroup description, which fleshes out the great finned one’s environment.
- With all the hubbub about Spinosaurus and the Kem Kem, Tyler Greenfield takes a closer look at one of the great beast’s contemporaries: the oft-misrepresented Onchopristus.
- At Raptormaniacs, Albert writes about the wonderful alvarezsaurids and what we know of their biology.
- Luis Rey discusses recent discoveries from the Mesozoic of Mexico.
- At the Dallas Observer, Eva Raggio writes a nice profile of fossil preparator Myria Perez.
- Meet Florentino Ameghino in this post from Fernanda at Letters from Gondwana.
- Amy Henrici writes about the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s work at the Bromacker quarry in Germany as part of an international coalition of institutions. In subsequent posts in the series, Henrici discusses the practicalities of extracting fossils from the site and fossil preparation. Joschua Knüppe has done a lot to promote the current paleoart contest being held to increase the quarry’s public image, and you have until September 25 to complete your own submissions.
Dispatches from Himmapaanland
Portrait of Marien van Diloff, c. 1638.
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) May 9, 2020
Flabbergasted to find myself among the latest batch of Joschua's #BattlePaleoartists! 😲😱💙 I haven't been following the polls, etc and was so complacent that I wouldn't even be voted for! I feel like such a pariah. 😅 https://t.co/W5bhz3UfZo
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) May 11, 2020
'Dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this? 😍' pic.twitter.com/p9W6OPvAnH
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) May 27, 2020
It's the 221st birthday of Mary Anning, born on this day (21 May) in 1799. Another opportunity for this evergreen image. pic.twitter.com/40H6osKZQO
— Natee ~A drift of dust~ (@Himmapaan) May 21, 2020
The LITC AV Club
Centrum: A Paleo Roundtable
Trey on the Dino-Chicken Controversy
Draw Struthiomimus with Brian Engh
The Empty Wallets Club
- Marni Walker, who works as Paper and Dust, draws some really wonderful naturalist notebook style fossils, like this piece focused on marine life. Buy it at her shop.
- There’s no shortage of new places to buy customized face masks these days, and I really like the set of paleo-themed masks by Kory Bing. Head to her shop to order.
Your Moment of Paleoart Zen
This month, our feature is a lovely trio of Rhomaleosaurus illustrated by Anthony James Hutchings, who was a new artist to me. I love images of marine reptiles congregating, and this one puts the early Jurassic pliosaur in a well-deserved spotlight.