Stunning Strata #1 Candeleros Formation

Stunning Strata #1 Candeleros Formation

Time for a new series! Let’s get started!! In this series, I will talk about  various formations, continents, geological structures and the prehistoric ecosystems they help us to reconstruct. I hope you enjoy!

Hello everyone, welcome to Stunning Strata #1. This time around we have the Candeleros Formation, a formation I have actually been studying for a while now (I’m really interested in its fauna):

The Candeleros Formation is part of the Neuquen group and outcrops in the Rio Negro, Mendoza, and Neuquen provinces of Argentina. It dates to around 99-92 million years ago. This formation was made famous (among the paleontological community, at least) through the discovery of Giganotosaurus carolinni. 

The Candeleros Formation dates to the Cenomanian stage of the Cretaceous, a time when the carcharodontosaurids were the top predators on land and titanosaurids were the most diverse sauropod group. The Candeleros Formation played host to many of these animals. From the formation we have the sauropod Andesaurus, a medium sized basal titanosaurid which probably fell prey to the menagerie of predatory animals also found in the formation.  Predatory dinosaurs found in the Candeleros Formation include the giganotosaurine carcharodontosaurid Giganotosaurus carolinni, the medium-sized abelisaurid Ekrixinatosaurus novasi, the small unenlagiine Buitreraptor gonzalezorum, and the large basal coelurosaurian (and possible tyrannosaurid) Bicentenaria argentina. The alvarezsaurid theropod Alnashetri cerropoliciensis is also known from the formation and was a possible omnivore.

Buitreraptor gonzalezorum by the author.  Pencils on paper, 2015.
Buitreraptor gonzalezorum by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

Based on the remains of theropod lineages found in other areas of South America (i.e. Oxalaia quiliombensis from the Cenomanian of Brazil) and by comparing the Candeleros Formation to other formations of the same time period which contain similar flora and fauna, we can infer that these theropod lineages probably co-existed with the animals found in the Candeleros Formation. Therefore, the Candeleros Formation represents an ecosystem with fauna similar to the Bahariya Formation of Egypt and/or the Kem Kem Beds of Morocco. This claim is also supported by the fact that the Candeleros Formation’s habitat is similar to that of the Bahariya Formation and the Kem Kem Beds. The habitat which the Candeleros Formation represents was a braided river system which a menagerie of fish, turtle, amphibian, mammal, arthropod, and dinosaur species called home. Some dinosaur forms like Buitreraptor had adaptations specially suited for living in a river ecosystem.

B. gonzalezorum had an elongated skull similar to herons which it may have used to catch fish. The primitive snake Najash rionegrina also may have been a predator of the wetlands, slithering through the water as it searched for prey. I should also note that there is ample evidence that suggests N. rionegrina assumed a subterranean lifestyle. Other animals, it seems, were more at home surviving off the land then off the wetlands…

Piney Lake in Vail, Colorado. The Candeleros Ecosystem was probably similar to that of Piney Lake's.  Photo by the author, 2014.
Piney Lake in Vail, Colorado. The Candeleros Ecosystem was probably similar to that of Piney Lake’s.
Photo by the author, 2014.

The Candeleros Formation played host to a number of terrestrial animals, namely dinosaurs. The first I want to mention is Bicentenaria argentina, a possible basal tyrannosaurid. I hypothesize this animal was a predator of small game, taking up a niche which would allow little (if not no) competition with the large macro-predators of the area such as Giganotosaurus. B. argentina was probably the leopard to G. carolinni’s African lion. Giganotosaurus itself is a pretty interesting animal. This highly derived carcharodontosaurid was the largest predatory animal found in the Candeleros ecosystem. Well for right now G. carolinni is, anyway. It is preposed that large carcharodontosaurid theropods (and large allosauroids in general, for that matter) were specialist hunters of sauropods. If so, G. carolinni lived in paradise. So far, 3 medium-sized sauropods have been formally described from the Candeleros Formation. These are the basal titanosaurid Andesaurus delgadoi, and the rebbechisaurids Limaysaurus tessonei and Nopcsaspondylus alarconensis. These sauropods took up a variety of herbivorous niches. The rebbechisaurids are famous for their rake-like jaws, which may have been adaptations for a grazing lifestyle. Titanosaurs had needle-like teeth, which were probably used to rip leaves off trees. All of these animals  may have fallen prey to G. carolinni. Indeterminate Iguanodont tracks have also been found from the formation. I’ve heard of partial, undescribed Iguanodont skeletons gaining dust in collections which are from the Candeleros Formation, but I haven’t been able to find any articles on the subject, so if you know of any please inform me in the comment section below. Nevertheless, the Iguanodont tracks tell us that the animals were there, and I am sure they also fell prey to G. carolinni. G. carolinni wasn’t always killing. It must have co-existed peacefully with sauropods at times, just like lion prides and zebra herds do in the modern African Savannah.

Giganotosaurus (foreground) rests in the antediluvian plains of the Candeleros Formation while Andesaurus browses in the background.  Illustration by the author.  Colored pencils on paper, 2015.
Giganotosaurus (foreground) rests in the antediluvian plains of the Candeleros Formation while Andesaurus browses in the background.
Illustration by the author.
Colored pencils on paper, 2015.

The abelisaurid Ekrixinatosaurus novasi was also a resident of the Candeleros Formation ecosystem. E. novasi may have competed with Giganotosaurus for prey, but was way smaller compared to the giant carcharodontosaurid.  At an estimated 26 feet long, a fully-grown Ekrixinatosaurus would be easily overpowered by a full grown 45 foot long, 8 ton Giganotosaurus carolinni. 

We should also look at the smaller animals which make up the prehistoric fauna of the Candeleros Formation. These include reptiles, turtles, fish, and amphibians (specifically frogs). Two species of the turtle Prochelidella have been found within the Candeleros Formation, as well as a variety of frogs, fish and mammals. The running crocodylomorph Araripesuchus patagonicus is known from the formation. It may have been a small predator of the wetlands, preying on the various animals which called the wetlands home. Alnashetri was a small alvarezsaurid that most liekly led an omnivorous lifestyle.  It is only known from its hind limbs, making it very hard to classify it among other coelurosaurs. The presence of the possible alvarezsaurid Alnashetri greatly increases the diversity of coelurosaurs in the Candeleros Formation.

Overall, the Candeleros Formation represents a very bio-diverse braided river ecosystem, and I hope more studies will be conducted on this formation. Thanks for reading!

References

   1. F. Ortega, Z. Gasparini, A.D Buscaloni and J. O. Calvo. 2000. “A new species of Araripesuchus (Crocodylomorpha, Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Lower Cretaceous of Patagonia (Argentina).” Journal of Vertabrate Paleontology 20(1): 57-76.

2. Baez, Ana M. , Muzzopappa, Paula, and Nicoli, Laura. 2007. “Anurans from the Candeleros Formation (?Cenomanian-Turonian) of west-central Argentina: new evidence for pipoid evolution.” Cretaceous Research 28 (2007): 1005-1016.

3. Sánchez, Maria Lidia; Heredia, Susana & Calvo, Jorge O. 2006. “Paleoambientes sedimentarios del Cretácico Superior de la Formación Plottier (Grupo Neuquén), Departamento Confluencia, Neuquén.” Revista de la Asociación Geológica Argentina 61(1): 3-18.

4. Wichmann, R. 1929. “Los Estratos con Dinosaurios y su techo en el este del Territorio del Neuquén.” Dirección General de Geología, Minería e Hidrogeología Publicación 32: 1-9.

5. Apesteguía, Sebastián; Hussam Zaher. 2006. “A Cretaceous terrestrial snake with robust hindlimbs and a sacrum”. Nature 440 (7087): 1037–1040.

6. Calvo, J. O. and Salgado, L. 1995. “Rebbachisaurus tessonei sp. nov. A new sauropod from the Albian-Cenomanian of Argentina; new evidence on the origin of the Diplodocidae.” Gaia, 11: 13-33.

7. Salgado, L., Garrido, A., Cocca, S. E., and Cocca, J. R. 2004. “Lower Cretaceous rebbachisaurid sauropods from Cerro Aguada Del León, Neuquén Province, northwestern Patagonia, Argentina.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 24(4): 903-912.

8. Apesteguía, Sebastián. 2007. “The sauropod diversity of the La Amarga Formation (Barremian), Neuquén (Argentina)”.Gondwana Research 12 (4): 533–546.

10. Calvo, J.O. & Bonaparte, J.F. 1991. “Andesaurus delgadoi n. g. n. sp. (Saurischia, Sauropoda) a titanosaurid dinosaur from the Río Limay Formation (Albian-Cenomanian), Neuquén, Argentina.” Ameghiniana. 28: 303-310.

11. Mannion, P. D. and Calvo, J. O. ” Anatomy of the basal titanosaur (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) Andesaurus delgadoi from the mid-Cretaceous (Albian–early Cenomanian) Río Limay Formation, Neuquén Province, Argentina: implications for titanosaur systematics.” Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 163 (2011): 155-181.

12. Novas, F.E., Salgado, L., Calvo, J.O., & Agnolin, F. 2005. “Giant titanosaur (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia. ” Revista del Museum Argentino de Ciencias Naturales 7(1): 37-41.

13. Jorge Calvo, David Rubilar-Rogers and Karen Moreno .2004. “A new Abelisauridae (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from northwest Patagonia”. Ameghiniana 41 (4): 555–563.

14. Leanza, H.A.; Apesteguia, S.; Novas, F.E. & de la Fuente, M.S. 2004. “Cretaceous terrestrial beds from the Neuquén Basin (Argentina) and their tetrapod assemblages.” Cretaceous Research 25(1): 61-87.

15. J.O. Calvo .1990. “Un gigantesco theropodo del Miembro Candeleros (Albiano–Cenomaniano) del la Formación Río Limay, Patagonia, Argentina”, VII Jornadas Argentinas de Paleontología de Vertebrados. Ameghiniana 26(3-4): 241

16. Calvo, J.O. and Coria, R.A. 1998. “New specimen of Giganotosaurus carolinii (Coria & Salgado, 1995), supports it as the largest theropod ever found.” Gaia, 15: 117–122.

17.  Coria, R.A. & Salgado, L. 1995. “A new giant carnivorous dinosaur from the Cretaceous of Patagonia.” Nature 377: 225-226.

18. Coria, R. & Salgado, L. .1996. “Dinosaurios carnívoros de Sudamérica”, Investigación Sciencia, 237: 39-40.

19. Matthew T. Carrano, Roger B. J. Benson & Scott D. Sampson .2012. “The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda)”, Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 10(2): 233.

20. J.O. Calvo .1999. “Dinosaurs and other vertebrates of the Lake Ezequiel Ramos Mexía area, Neuquén-Patagonia, Argentina”. In Y. Tomida, T. H. Rich, and P. Vickers-Rich, Proceedings of the Second Gondwanan Dinosaur Symposium, National Science Museum Monographs 15: 13-45.

21. Seebacher, F. 2001. “A new method to calculate allometric length-mass relationships of dinosaurs”. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21 (1): 51–60.

22. Therrien, F.; Henderson, D.M. 2007. “My theropod is bigger than yours…or not: estimating body size from skull length in theropods”. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (1): 108–115.

23. Gianechini, F.A.; Apesteguía, S.; Makovicky, P.J .2009. “The unusual dentiton of Buitreraptor gonzalezorum (Theropoda: Dromaeosauridae), from Patagonia, Argentina: new insights on the unenlagine teeth”. Ameghiniana 46 (4): 29R.

24. Makovicky, Peter J.; Apesteguía, Sebastián; Agnolín, Federico L. 2005. “The earliest dromaeosaurid theropod from South America”. Nature 437: 1007–1011.

25. Makovicky, P. J.; Apesteguía, S. N.; Gianechini, F. A. .2012. “A New Coelurosaurian Theropod from the La Buitrera Fossil Locality of Río Negro, Argentina”. Fieldiana Life and Earth Sciences 5: 90.

26. Novas, F.E., Ezcurra, M.D., Agnolín, F.L., Pol, D. and Ortíz, R. .2012. “New Patagonian Cretaceous theropod sheds light about the early radiation of Coelurosauria.” Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales, nueva serie, 14: 57–81.

27. Kellner, Alexander W.A.; Sergio A.K. Azevedeo, Elaine B. Machado, Luciana B. Carvalho and Deise D.R. Henriques. 2011.”A new dinosaur (Theropoda, Spinosauridae) from the Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Alcântara Formation, Cajual Island, Brazil”.Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências 83 (1): 99–108.

28. Medeiros, M.A. .2006. “Large theropod teeth from the Eocenomanian of northeastern Brazil and the occurrence of Spinosauridae”. Revista Brasileira de Paleontologia 9: 333–338.

29. Catuneanu O., Khalifa M.A. & Wanas H.A. .2006. “Sequence stratigraphy of the Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation, Bahariya Oasis, Western Desert, Egypt”. Sedimentary Geology 190 (1-4): 121–137. 29.

30.  Weishampel, David B; et al .2004. “Dinosaur distribution (Late Cretaceous, Africa).” In: Weishampel, David B.; Dodson, Peter; and Osmólska, Halszka (eds.): The Dinosauria, 2nd, Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 604.

31. Khalifa M.A. & Catuneanu O. .2008. “Sedimentology of the fluvial and fluvio-marine facies of the Bahariya Formation (Early Cenomanian), Bahariya Oasis, Western Desert, Egypt”. Journal of African Earth Sciences 51 (2): 89–103.

32. Tanner L.H. & Khalifa M.A. .2010.”Origin of ferricretes in fluvial-marine deposits of the Lower Cenomanian Bahariya Formation, Bahariya Oasis, Western Desert, Egypt”. Journal of African Earth Sciences 56 (4-5): 179–189.32.

33. Weishampel, David B; et al. .2004. “Dinosaur distribution (Late Cretaceous, Africa).” In: Weishampel, David B.; Dodson, Peter; and Osmólska, Halszka (eds.): The Dinosauria, 2nd, Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 604-605.

Terrific Tetanurae! #4 Mapusaurus roseae

Terrific Tetanurae! #4 Mapusaurus roseae

Hello all! Time for Terrific Tetanurae! #4! This is part 1 in a series about Giganotosaurines. So without further adieu…

Welcome to Terrific Tetanurae!, a series where I highlight some of the weird and wondrous animals within the clade Tetanurae. This week we have Mapusaurus,a medium-sized Giganotosaurine carcharodontosaurid which lived during the Cenomanian stage of the Cretaceous in what is now Argentina. It was slightly smaller then its relative Giganotosaurus, with size estimates placing it around 33-40 feet long and around 3.3 tons. Mapusaurus is actually fairly well known (in terms of remains) for a carcharodontosaurid due to the fact that Mapusaurus is represented by several individuals from different growth stages which were found in a bone bed. The rocks in which M. roseae were discovered in are from the Huincul Formation. This same formation has also yielded the bones of the supermassive titanosaur Argentinosaurus huinculensis, leading some to speculate that M. roseae preyed on large sauropods like A. huinculensis. The fact that many individuals of M. roseae were discovered in the same place also leads some to speculate these massive theropods hunted in packs. Mapusaurus was most likely the (if not one of) the top predators in it’s ecosystem and may have competed with other, smaller predators of the Huincul Formation, such as Skorpiovenator and Ilokelesia (both abelisaurids), for food. Many other animals made up the environment in which M. roseae lived in, including various ornithopod and rebbachisaurids. As the top predator of the Huincul Formation, M. roseae most likely preyed on many of these animals. Because of the well-preserved remains of Mapusaurus, we can better piece together the appearance, ontogeny, and paleobiology of other, lesser known carcharodontosaurids.

Mapusaurus roseae hunting Argentinosaurus huinculensis by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2015.
Mapusaurus roseae hunting Argentinosaurus huinculensis by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2015.

References

1.  Coria, R. A.; Currie, P.J. (2006). “A new carcharodontosaurid (Dinosauria, Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of Argentina”. Geodiversitas 28 (1): 71-118. ISSN 1280-9659.

2. Novas, Fernando E. (2013). “Evolution of the carnivorous dinosaurs during the Cretaceous: The evidence from Patagonia”. Cretaceous Research 45: 174-215. doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2013.04.001.

3. Sánchez, Maria Lidia; Heredia, Susana & Calvo, Jorge O. (2006): Paleoambientes sedimentarios del Cretácico Superior de la Formación Plottier (Grupo Neuquén), Departamento Confluencia, Neuquén [Sedimentary paleoenvironments in the Upper Cretaceous Plottier Formation (Neuquen Group), Confluencia, Neuquén]. Revista de la Asociación Geológica Argentina 61(1): 3-18. PDF fulltext

PaleoNews #8

PaleoNews #8

Hey guys, welcome to PaleoNews #8! We have got a lot to cover!

NEW FINDINGS

A new Anomalocaridid has been described! Aegirocrassis benmoulae propelled itself through the waters of Ordovician Morocco around 480 million years ago. This animal was among the largest Radiodonts, the holotype itself an estimated 7 feet long or more.  It is one of the first examples of a filter feeding animal displaying gigantism, a trend which continues to appear today in whales. This new arthropod also gives insight into arthropod limb evolution. Unlike other members of Anomalocrarididae, A. benmoulae exhibits two sets of propulsion flaps. In modern arthropods, limbs are divided into 2 segments, which seem to parallel the two sets of flaps found in this new arthropod. It seems as though A. benmoulae was on the evolutionary route to modern arthropod limb division. A. benmoulae also exhibits a massive carapace which juts out of its head, which I speculate might have been used for disputes or courtship displays, similar to the way modern Hercules and Rhinoceros beetles. I also speculate that it may have been used to protect its vunerable mouthparts, which were used for filterfeeding. Here is a sketch of my idea of the carapace being used for disputes:

Cue Game of Thrones music
Aegirocassis by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2015.

A new crocodylomorph was described yesterday! Carnufex carolinensis dominated the late Triassic ecosystem of North Carolina. A partial skull and skeletal elements of C. carolinensis were retrieved from the Pekin Formation by paleontologists from North Carolina State University. Because the specimen was so fragmentary, the scientists used 3D imaging technology to recreate the animal’s skull, using more complete skulls from relatives of C. carolinensis to fill in the missing sections. The Pekin Formation dates to around 231 million years ago (Carnian stage of the Triassic), a time when dinosaurs had just came into being and were still outcompeted by large crocodylomorphs, i.e. poposaurids, rauisuchians, etc. C. carolinensis is important as it reveals crocodylomorphs still filled the niche of apex predator in the north. This find is also relevant to my work on the fossils of CT, as the Pekin Formation contains flora and fauna similar to those which inhabited Connecticut in the early Triassic. Here is a bust of C. carolinensis:

Finally! An awesome, original name assigned to a dino- oh wait... Illustration by the author. Pencils on Paper, 2015.
Finally! An awesome, original name assigned to a dino- oh wait…
Carnufex by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

A new online paleontology journal has been created, and it’s open-access! Its called VAMP, and it was launched by the University of Alberta. Its pretty cool, and I suggest that you guys check it out.

THE INTERNET AND PALEONTOLOGY

On DINOSOURS!, Ben continues his series Framing Fossil Exhibits: Phylogeny. You can find the new entry here. Ben also made a very helpful post about dinosaur specimens discovered at Carnegie Quarry. You can find that here. SV-POW! estimates the size of Huanghetitan ruyangensis hereTheropod Thursday returns at dinosaurpalaeo! The awesome Heinrich Mallison wrote up the fifty-second installment, which you can check out here. At The Bite Stuff, Jaime Headden talks about how people, both scientists and the media, frequently use artwork without crediting the artist or even asking for permission to use the work. I suggest those of you who aren’t aware of the negative affect of art theft read this post to have a better understanding of how it affects the artist.

FEATURED ARTWORK/PHOTOGRAPH

This week we have my illustration of Nanuqsaurus hoglundi:

photo 3
Nanuqsaurus by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

I hope you guys enjoyed PaleoNews #8. I am going to leave you with a little sneak-peak of Terrific Tetanurae #4:

photo
Hint: The-thing-you-use-to-find-your-way-u-saurus

Pi DAY!

Pi DAY!

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post. I would like to wish everyone a happy pi day. For those who don’t know, today is March 14, 2015, or 3/14/15. These correspond to the first five digits of pi: 3.1415, and this date only happens once every hundred years. I like to think about how paleontology was 100 years ago. We have advanced so much since then. Anyways, enjoy pi day and thanks for reading!

photo 2
Happy Pi day from my sketchbook!

Terrific Tetanurae! #3 Tanycolagreus

Terrific Tetanurae! #3 Tanycolagreus

Hi everyone! I would like to welcome you to Terrific Tetanurae! #3, a series in which I will explore the weird and wonderful dinosaurs which make up the clade tetanurae! Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the article!

Hi everyone, welcome to Terrific Tetanurae! This week the dinosaur in question is Tanycolagreus topwilsoni, an obscure coelurid  from the Morrison Formation. It all began it 1995 when WPL (Western Paleontology Laboratories Inc.) uncovered a partial dinosaur skeleton from Bone Cabin Quarry in Wyoming. The site is part of the Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation, and the site dates to the Kimmeridgian epoch of the Jurassic period, around 153 million years ago. Originally considered a species of Coelurus, Tanycolagreus was only described as a separate genus by Kenneth Carpenter et. al. in 2005. The taxonomy of the animal is dubious, as with the rest of coeluridae, which has been considered a group within compsognathidae, tyrannosauroidae, and everything in-between. During the late Jurassic period, the Bone Cabin Quarry was a wet environment and many different aquatic animals lived there. Tanycolagreus may have preyed upon this animals, but as of now, we have no fossil evidence of this behavior. It was most likely a primarily terrestrial carnivore, preying on small to medium sized animals. Tanycolagreus was actually fairly large for a coelurid, the holotype an estimated 11 feet long. A partial pre maxilla from the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry also assigned to Tanycolagreus is estimated to have come from an individual around 13 feet long. Tanycolagreus was most likely a secondary predator, surviving in the shadows of the macro-predatory allosaurids and megalosaurids. Eventually, relatives of Tanycolagreus would come out of the shadows and evolve into one of the most diverse groups of vertebrates ever, the birds.

Tanycolagreus by the author
Tanycolagreus by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

References

1. Miles, C.A., Carpenter, K. and Cloward, K.C.,1998, “A new skeleton of Coelurus fragilis from the Morrison Formation of Wyoming”, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 18(3): 64A

2.  Carpenter, K., Miles, C.A., and Cloward, K.C. 2005. “New small theropod from the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Wyoming.” The Carnivorous Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press, Bloomington:  23-48 3. Senter, P. 2007. “Appendix.” Jurassic West: The Dinosaurs of the Morrison Formation and Their World. Indiana University Press. pp. 327-329

PaleoNews #7

PaleoNews #7

Hey guys! Welcome to PaleoNews #7! Just to let you know, PaleoNews and Terrific Tetanurae! will alternate each week, with non-series related posts posted anytime!

NEW FINDINGS

This year has been great for ichthyosaurs! We have 2 ichthyosaurs for 2 months! The new ichthyosaur, Ichthyosaurus anningae, is named after notorious fossil collector and scientist Mary Anning, who first discovered ichthyosaurs in the cliffs of  Lyme Regis, England. The type specimen had been sitting in the collections of the Doncaster Museum for 30+ years unnoticed until Dean Lomax, the first author of the description of I. anningae, which was published in the Journal of Vertabrate Paleontology, restudied the specimen. Dean explained that he noticed a few features present in the Doncaster specimen that were not present in any other Ichthyosaurus species, and so he began to suspect he was looking at a new species of animal. Dean added that out of the thousands of specimens he and his colleagues examined, only 4 others had distinct features matching those of the Doncaster specimen. In fact, one of the 5 I. anningae specimens known to science was discovered by Mary Anning! The scientists also explained that they were able to find possible sexual dimorphism between the specimens of this new ichthyosaur!

Geez, talk about a year for marine animals. Along with the new Fur seal Eotaria, two new species of ichthyosaur, the 4 species of possibly aquatic snakes, the fish Janusiscus, a new fossil of the semiaquatic reptile Philydrosaurus, and now 3 new Caiman species from the Miocene of the Amazon! Gnatusuchus pebasensis, Caiman wannlangstoni, and Kuttanacaiman iquitosensis hail from the Miocene of Amazonian Peru. At this time, the Amazon river had not formed and the area now known as the Amazon rainforest was a vast expanse of wetlands, where many different animals co-existed. It is especially hard to find and extract fossils from this area because, well, you know, it’s a JUNGLE for Pete’s sake! Because of this unfortunate obstacle, the fossil record from the Amazon rainforest area is relatively poor, and so these new fossils are key to reconstructing the biota and environment of Miocene Amazonia. Of these new Caimans, Gnatusuchus was particularly strange, sporting a flat, rounded head  armed with stubby teeth, which were most likely used by Gnatusuchus to dig up and crush the shells of unlucky mollusks. The other two animals were similar in shape to modern Caimans.

Sophie the Stegosaurus gets a mass estimate! The worlds most complete Stegosaurus specimen, which is displayed at the London Museum of Natural History is estimated to have weighed around 1,560 kg, around the size of an adult Hippopotamus.

THE INTERNET AND PALEONTOLOGY 

On DINOSOURS!, Ben talks about museum exhibits who’s layout is based on the phylogenic relationships between animals and casts of bones being displayed in museum exhibits. You can find those posts here and here. At ArchosaurMusings, Dave Hone interviews the artist behind the animals featured in the Walking With series. You can find that post here. At dinosaurpalaeo, Heinrich takes us through the step-by-step process of making a hyper-detailed computer model of a fossil specimen (which he has given me permission to showcase along with the original specimen)! You can find that post here!

FEATURED ARTWORK/PHOTOGRAPH

… or both?!?

This week we have Heinrich Mallison’s awesome computer model of a Khaan specimen along with the original photograph!

scaling_02 oviporn_01

You can find him at his blog dinosaurpalaeo.wordpress.com ! A big thanks goes out to Heinrich for allowing me to showcase his model!!! Remember, if you would like to showcase your artwork or photograph here, leave a message in the comment section below and we will see what I can do!

Thanks for reading PaleoNews #7 and I will see you all next time!