Month: February 2015

Terrific Tetanurae! #2 Erectopus superbus

Hi everyone! I have been informed by WordPress this is my 20th post! Time to celebrate! Enjoy the post!

Welcome to Terrific Tetanurae!, a series where I showcase some of the elusive, weird, and wonderful members of the clade tetanurae! This week we have Erectopus superbus, an obscure allosauroid dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous (Albian) of France with a name you can easily make a joke out of. Erectopus is classified as the most basal of the group allosauroidea, which contains the metriacanthosaurids, allosaurids, and other families of large predatory theropods. Erectopus was smaller then many of its relatives, at an estimated 440 pounds (Allain, 2005). Erectopus was probably one of the main predators of its ecosystem, preying on the myriad of ornithopods, sauropods, and other prey animals that it most likely co-existed with.  Erectopus is only known presently from plaster casts of the original specimen, the plastotype, and a partial maxilla, which has been designated as the lectotype.

The original specimen of E. superbus was described by Charles Barrois, a French geologist turned paleontologist, in 1875. The original specimen was stored in the private collection of Louis Pierson. Then, in 1882, Henri Sauvage re-described the animal as a species of MegalosaurusM. superbus, and the animal went without restudy for almost half a century until Friedrich von Huene saw the differences between E. superbus and Megalosaurus and re-described the animal, calling it Erectopus superbus. Then, in 1932, he concluded that the original specimen of E. superbus and the one described by Sauvage were not the same animal and gave Sauvage’s maxilla a new species name: E. sauvagi. Soon after, Pierson died and his collection was scattered among various people. Because of this, the holotype of Erectopus was thought to be lost to science. Then, in 2005, Ronan Allain published a (re)re-description of Erectopus based on casts found in the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle and on the partial maxilla described by Sauvage, which was collected from a Paris fossil dealer. Allain looked over the nomenclature of Erectopus and concluded the proper name to be Erectopus superbus. It’s quite a story, really. The history of Erectopus emphasizes how, especially in paleontology, opinions change drastically over time.

Erectopus superbus by the author. Pencils and copic markers on paper, 2015.

Erectopus superbus by the author. Pencils and copic markers on paper, 2015.

References

1. Barrois, C.1875. “Les reptiles du terrain Cretace du nord-est du Bassin de Paris”. Bulletin scientifique, historique et littéraire du Nord. 6:1-11.

2. Sauvage, H. E. 1882. “Recherches sur les reptiles trouves dans le Gault de l’est du bassin de Paris”. Memoires de la Societe Geologique de France, série 3. 2(4): 1-42.

3. Huene, F. von. 1923. “Carnivorous Saurischia in Europe since the Triassic”. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America. 34: 449-458.

4. Huene, F. von. 1932. ” Die fossile Reptil-Ordnung Saurischia, ihre Entwicklung und Geschichte”. Monographien zur Geologie und Palaeontologie. ser. 1: 1-361.

5. Allian, R. 2005. “The enigmatic theropod dinosaur Erectopus superbus (Sauvage, 1882) from the Lower Albian of Louppy-le-Chateau (Meuse, France)”. in Carpenter, K. 2005. The Carnivorous Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press: 72-86.

Advertisements

PaleoNews #6

Hey guys, sorry it’s been a while! I have been busy with the exhibit, and I hope you understand. But without further ado….

NEW FINDINGS

The oldest fur seal has been described! Eotaria crypta was a small fur seal, around the size of a sea otter, and was minuscule compared to the other seals of it’s day, such as Allodesmus. The holotype consists of a partial jaw found in the 80’s which, until now, was thought to be that of a prehistoric walrus. This small jaw was found in California and is thought to be around 16-17 million years old.

The earliest South American monkeys known to science have been described! Perupithecus ucayaliensis was the size of a tamarin, jumping from tree to tree around 36 million years ago! Because monkeys are not endemic to South America in the fossil record 36 million years ago, it took the team of researchers who described Perupithecus 2 years to realize that it was a monkey. Talk about monkey business!

Dippy is leaving! The iconic Diplodocus in the main hall of the London Museum of Natural History is being replaced by a Blue whale skeleton, and many people are not happy about it. Personally, I cannot say much as I have never been to the museum and seen the actual mount, but when I think London Museum, I think Carnegie Diplodocus. I agree with SV-POW! that the museum should put Dippy and Blue (my new nickname for the whale)  side by side in the main hall.

THE INTERNET AND PALEONTOLOGY

LITC talks about the replacement of Dippy the Diplodocus and shows off some awesome artwork on their blog, which you can check out here. At DINOSOURS! Ben searches for the lost Missourium, a mastodon skeleton originally made by a showman. You can find that blogpost here.

FEATURED ARTWORK/ PHOTOGRAPH

This week we have my photograph of the Gorgosaurus libratus skull which is on display at the Yale Museum.

IMG_2133

Remember, if you would like to feature some of your artwork on this blog, comment below and we will she what we can do :D.

Thanks for reading guys!

Dinotopia: The Fantastical art of James Gurney opens, continued

Today was the official opening of the new exhibit I helped to create. I showed some people around, giving tours and information, and I hope some of the kids which I gave a tour to got something out of the experience of seeing real life dinosaur bones! Here are some more pictures of the exhibit:

A footprint of Eubrontes giganteus, which was probably made by Dilophosaurus wetherelli

A footprint of Eubrontes giganteus , which was probably made by Dilophosaurus wetherelli

The footprint above is a cast of a footprint from Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. It belongs to the ichnogenus Eubrontes giganteus, which is probably the track of a Dilophosaurus wetherelli. These predators grew up to 23 feet long and weighed up to 1.3 tons. That’s one huge dilophosaurid!

Footprints from the Connecticut Dinosaur trackways. In Green: Podokesaurus In Purple: Anomoepus In tan: Batrachopus

Footprints from the Connecticut Dinosaur trackways. In Green: Podokesaurus
In Purple: Anomoepus
In tan: Batrachopus

The tracks above belong to Podokesaurus (outlined in green), Anomoepus (outlined in purple), and Batrachopus (outlined in tan). Podokesaurus (ichnogenus is Grallator) was a small Coelophysid dinosaur that roamed the northeast around 175 million years ago, the same time as Dilophosaurus. It was a small, slender theropod dinosaur which could probably reach a maximum size of 6 feet in length and 90 pounds in weight. Anomoepus was a small ornithopod dinosaur (probably heterodontosaurid) which may have fallen prey to both Dilophosaurus and Podokesaurus. Batrachopus was a small crocodyliomorph (either a protosuchian or an aetosaur, as I depicted it) which scurried around the Connecticut river valley at the same time as the dinosaurs I mentioned above.

A view of the first room: Pictured are from left to right: A femur and tibia of a juvenile Corythosaurus, A Placenticeras meeki, and a partial Tylosaurus proriger mandible

A view of the first room:
Pictured are from left to right: A femur and tibia of a juvenile Corythosaurus, A Placenticeras meeki, and a partial Tylosaurus proriger dentary

The Corythosaurus casuarius partial leg exhibited is that of a juvenile, which was previously known as “Prochenisaurus“.The Placenticeras meeki exhibited lived in the Western Interior Seaway alongside Tylosaurus proriger.

Some fish from the green river formation. The large fish(Miloplosus labracoides) had not been examined since Leidy first described it! The other two fish are Priscacara liops and Knightia alta.

Some fish from the green river formation. The large fish(Mioplosus labracoides) had not been examined since Leidy first described it! The other two fish are Priscacara liops and Knightia alta.

Some animals which I prepared for the exhibit, such as the Mioplosus pictured above, had not been seen by human eyes since they were gifted to the museum by Joseph Leidy! In fact, when me and the curator of collections pulled the crate the fish was stored in off the collection shelf, we saw Leidy’s signature. The Knightia, as well as some other fish, had the signature of Othiel Charles Marsh written on the item description on the back of the fossil! These are some real cool specimens if you are intrested in the history of paleontology as a science.

Anomoepus and Batrachopus tracks

Anomoepus and Batrachopus tracks

These fossil footprints were made by an Anomoepus who decided to take a rest. If you enlarge the image, you can clearly see the mark made by the back of the pelvis as well as the tail imprint, which is represented by a small patch of discolored mudstone. Batrachopus also makes an appearance in the upper right corner of the slab.

Overall, it was so much fun prepping the fossils and creating the illustrations which would accompany them in the actual exhibit. Remember, If you are in the Stamford CT area, consider checking out the exhibit at the Stamford Museum. And thanks for reading!!

Dinotopia: The Fantastical art of James Gurney opens!

Last night, the exhibition I have worked on for 6 months finally opened. Here are a few pictures:

An assortment of teeth and jawbones. From bottom to top: Mastodon(Left) Megacerops (Right) Tyrannosaurus Megalodon(Left)  Merycoidodon(Right)

An assortment of teeth and
jawbones. From bottom to top: Mastodon(Left) Megacerops (Right)
Tyrannosaurus
Megalodon(Left)
Merycoidodon(Right)

Here is a view of the main hall:

In foreground: Dinosaur Tracks from the Jurassic of Connecticut In background: Tyrannosaurus skull cast, AMNH 5027

In foreground: Dinosaur Tracks from the Jurassic of Connecticut
In background: Tyrannosaurus skull cast, AMNH 5027

Close up of AMNH Tyrannosaurus rex skull cast

Close up of AMNH Tyrannosaurus rex skull cast

We decided to name our skull cast Mr T! The curator of collections came up with that one, so if you don’t like the name, don’t take out your anger on me (I’m just kidding)! If you are in the Stamford CT area, please come over and view the exhibit! The pictures here were taken before the hall was opened as I want to respect people’s privacy. Thank you for your understanding (I also wanted to get good pictures for you guys).

Darwin Day!

So today, February 12, is Darwin Day, a day in which we honor the man behind Evolution: Charles Darwin. Charles contributed so much to modern Morphology, Paleontology, Environmental Science, Biology,  Taxonomy, and Genetics, as well as many other disciplines. Today, people from all around the world will be (and have been) celebrating the accomplishments of the genius that was Darwin. So why is Darwin so important? Well, I hope I can clear that up for you…

WHO VAS ZIS DARVIN ANYVAY? you might ask. Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 to a primarily religious family. From a young age, he was interested in Biology, and rejected his father’s wishes for him to attend medical school. At age 29, he was invited on an expedition around the world on the HMS Beagle. Throughout the expedition, Darwin developed his theory of natural selection,  most famously through the Darwin’s finches (named after Darwin) of the Galapagos, as well as the countless other flora and fauna he observed. Darwin also described some extinct species, such as the giant ground-sloth Megatherium or  Toxodon, an obscure notoungulate animal. Perhaps his most famous feat is the book, On the Origin of Species, which went on sale on November 22, 1859.

Darwin was a pioneer. A pioneer of not only Biology, but of independent thinking, And that is why we celebrate him this day.

Thanks for reading!

Terrific Tetanurae! #1 Kelmayisaurus petrolicus

Time for a new series!

Many of you dinosaur-devotees out there may have heard of the elusive Kelmayisaurus, a large carcharodontosaurid dinosaur from Xinjiang province of western China. You’ve also probably heard that it’s the LARGEST THEROPOD OF ALL FREAKING TIME! Well, I’m going to try to disprove that in this post. Kelmayisaurus is only known from very scant remains, and because of this Kelmayisaurus is thought to be a nomen dubium. The species I will review  in this post is Kelmayisaurus petrolicus, as K.gigantus” is so poorly documented. Kelmayisaurus petrolicus is known from a complete left dentary  and a poorly-preserved piece of the left maxilla. The dentary of K. petrolicus is 523 millimeters in length. By comparing the dentary of the more well documented carcharodontosaurid Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (821 mm for NCSM 14345) to the dentary of Kelmayisaurus, we can make an educated guess about the size of K. petrolicus. From these dentary measurements, we can conclude that the dentary length of K. petrolicus is 63.7% of  the dentary length of A. atokensis. We then find what 63.7%  of 11500mm (estimated length for NCSM 14345) is. We get 7325.5 mm, or 7.3255 meters. For those of you unfamiliar with the metric system, that’s around 24 feet. Of course, this method is flawed in many ways, one of which being that the dentary of A. atokensis is not by any means a perfect scaled-up model of the Kelmayisaurus dentary. This method only gives us a (very) rough estimate of  the size of K. petrolicus. What it does show is that, based on it’s relatives, K. petrolicus was no giant. Rather, it was a medium-sized carcharodontosaurid, and nothing much out of the ordinary.

photo

Kelmayisaurus petrolicus by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

Kelmayisaurus petrolicus by the author.

References 

1. Stephen L. Brusatte, Roger B.J. Benson and Xing Xu.2012. “A Reassessment of Kelmayisaurus petrolicus, a Large Theropod Dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of China”. Bioone.org. Accessed February 10, 2015. http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.4202/app.2010.0125

2. Currie, P. J. & Carpenter, K. 2000. “A new specimen of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis (Theropoda, Dinosauria) from the Lower Cretaceous Antlers Formation (Lower Cretaceous, Aptian) of Oklahoma, USA”. Accessed February 10,2015. Geodiversitas 22(2): 207-246.

3. Eddy DR, Clarke JA (2011) New Information on the Cranial Anatomy of Acrocanthosaurus atokensis and Its Implications for the Phylogeny of Allosauroidea (Dinosauria: Theropoda). PLoS ONE 6(3):e17932. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017932

PaleoNews #5

Hey guys! Welcome to PaleoNews #5!

NEW FINDINGS

Cox et. al. discovers that the giant rodent Josephoartigasia used its four giant incisors like an elephant uses its tusks. They speculate the giant rodent used these teeth to dig for nutrient-rich roots. They also speculate Josephoartigasia used its large teeth and strong bite force to defend itself from the myriad of predators it would have shared its environment with.

Zurriaguz and Cowell describe both the morphology and pneumatic features of the presacral column of Saltasaurus. SV-POW!, of course, had some fun with it (more on that later).

THE INTERNET AND PALEONTOLOGY

SV-POW! continues their series on epipophyses. I found the series very informative as the guys at SV-POW! explain that those crazy finger-like epipophyses found on Qijianglong’s vertebrae aren’t that weird at all. You can view the series at svpow.com. At DINOSOURS!, Ben talks about the artistic side of fossil mounts. You can view the article here.

FEATURED ARTWORK/PHOTOGRAPH

This week we have a Panguraptor lufengensis by Eloy Manzanero. Eloy is an amazing artist who’s talent I can only dream to have one day. His take on this well-preserved Asian coelophysoid is absolutely stunning: panguraptor_lufengensis_head_by_eloymanzanero-d832663

You can find more of his artwork on his deviant-art page and on his youtube channel. If you would like to feature your artwork on Paleo-news, please inform me in the comments below and put a link to the artwork. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed Paleonews #5, and thanks for reading!