PaleoNews #13

PaleoNews #13

Welcome to this addition of PaleoNews! 

NEW FINDINGS

A new large, predatory lizard has been described which lived in South Korea during the Late Cretaceous. Asprosaurus bibongriensis is the name of this new taxa. This animal is especially interesting as it is South Korea’s first Mesozoic lizard. Asprosaurus belongs to the (possibly polyphyletic) clade of varanoid lizards known as the monstersauria. The famous Late Cretaceous Djadochta lizard that took over Citipati and Oviraptor’s egg stealing habits, Estesia, was also a member of this group, however, Asprosaurus was larger, and, at around 7 feet in length, may have gone after more then just dinosaur eggs. There is speculation, that, like other large Mesozoic non-dinosaurian animalsAsprosaurus may have fed on dinosaurs. The dinosaur Koreanosaurus boseongensis and fossil dinosaur eggs have also been found alongside Asprosaurus in the Seonso Conglomerate Formation. The beauty of out-of-the-ordinary fossils like Asprosaurus is that they draw attention to and cause research to be done on fossil sites and locations which would otherwise be overlooked by paleontologist-kind. 

Asprosaurus bibongriensis by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.
Asprosaurus bibongriensis by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

10 new rodents from the Oligocene of Oregon have been described. The Oligocene deposits of Oregon are already known for their large(r) mammals, so these new rodents are especially important as they help us piece together the entirety of this ancient ecosystem.

THE INTERNET AND PALEONTOLOGY 

At his blog, Mark Witton shares with us his wonderful artworks of the Wealden Supergroup’s biota. His work is absolutely breathtaking and I suggest you hop over there and check his illustrations out!

At LITC, another installment of Vintage Dinosaur Art is out, and this time the book Prehistoric Life is reviewed. It’s always a blast to read the LITC guys’ book reviews, so I definitely recommend reading this new edition! 

At SVPOW!, Mike talks about “mega-journals” and their limits, and of possible brachiosaurid skull remains. The first post mentioned is very interesting and I suggest you go read it here! The second post is just as interesting and can be found here.

At dinosaurpalaeo, Heinrich tells us all about his new, crazy cool mass digitization project, and also of food snatching among avian dinosaurs. You can find those posts here and here.

Anyone else excited for T. rex Autopsy ? ‘Cus I sure am! This new National Geographic special will show the dissection of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and, with the scientific advisory of some awesome people, like the great John of the Freezers, we can be sure that the show will be absolutely fantastic! Check out John’s post here for more information.

Twilight Beasts has a fascinating post on prehistoric canids, which you can check out here. They do a really great job over there with prehistoric mammals and are very worth following if you have a WordPress account.

FEATURED ARTWORK/PHOTOGRAPH 

This week we have my photo of the large Allosaurus fragilis on display at the AMNH:

IMG_2967As always, if you would like to feature your artwork on here, please contact me in the comments below.

Thanks for reading PaleoNews #13, and I hope you enjoyed! 

T. rex Autopsy (Sorta)

T. rex Autopsy (Sorta)

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post, but I thought I might share an interesting experience I had today…

As some of you may know, the Dinotopia exhibition which had been shown for the past few months ended on May 25th. Our awesome museum volunteers and staff handled the paintings, leaving the fossils. Getting the fossils down to the collections room safely was my job, as well as the job of a few other very helpful and kind people.

However, there was one item we didn’t quite know how to fit into our geology and fossil collection room, and that was Mr. T the Tyrannosaurus rex. Mr T. is a cast of the skull of AMNH 5027, and although he isn’t as heavy as the real fossil, it’s still a task to carry Mr. T’s disassembled skull down a flight of steep, short stairs and through a doorway. The reason we had little space for Mr. T was due to the fact that we had lent him to another museum where people presently working had basically no idea on where Mr. T came from or whom he belonged to. Thanks to them for being such good sports about the whole thing and really helping us out! During the time Mr. T was away, the museum’s collections grew, and shelf space shrank. Oh well, when life give you lemons, am I right?

Mr. T's upper half.
Mr. T’s upper half. Photo by the author, 2015.

Two of our amazing volunteers brought the skull proper, and the rest of us were left with the lower jaw, which can easily be disassembled into two pieces. Mr. T. is a terrific cast of AMNH 5027 and really shows the skeletal anatomy of Tyrannosaurus’s skull in detail.

Mr. T's lower jaw disassembled. His head is in the distance. Photo by the author, 2015.
Mr. T’s lower jaw disassembled. His head is in the distance. Photo by the author, 2015.

After we arrived in the collections room, our space issue became even more apparent. After a long debate on where the skull should go, a shelf top was chosen. We still have to tie it to the wall (which we’re planning to do tomorrow), but it’s in a safe place and will be completely A-OK, so never fear!

Thar He Lies! Don't worry, there's foam under the skull. Photo by the author, 2015.
Thar He Lies! Don’t worry, there’s foam under the skull. Photo by the author, 2015.

We also got this really nice cast of one of Mr. T’s teeth. Check this out!

What big teeth you have! Photo by the author, 2015.
What big teeth you have! Photo by the author, 2015.

Mr. T was the last to go back into the collections room, but don’t worry, as we have a whole lot planned for our fossil collection in the near future.

Antediluvian Beasts of the East : Scapanorhynchus texanus

Antediluvian Beasts of the East : Scapanorhynchus texanus

It’s evening, and a number of pycnodont fish called Anomaeodus phaseolus swim above a coral reef in the cold, murky coastal waters of the newly formed Atlantic Ocean. They gracefully zip through the salty water, feasting on any morsel of edible material they can find. But there are bigger, stranger fish in this sea.

Behind a cluster of corals, a silent predator patrols the water, scanning for any signs of movement. Enter Scapanorhynchus texanus. The shark darts from the coral, and snares one of the Anomaeodus in its jaws. For the fish, death is certain , and for the shark, it’s just another successful hunt.

Scapanorhychus was a prehistoric goblin shark, and an extremely successful one at that. The largest species, S. texanus, was a common sight in the Atlantic Ocean during the Late Cretaceous. Fossil teeth and other possible remains of this shark species are found along Eastern US Seaboard, being found within the states of New Jersey (Phillips et. al., 2001) and North Carolina (Case, 1979). The teeth of S. texanus are the largest among all Scapanorhynchus species. When we scale S. texanus by comparing known S. texanus remains with those of the modern goblin shark, we find that S. texanus was around 11 feet in length.

Scapanorhynchus texanus teeth collected Ramanessin Brook, NJ.  Photo by the author, 2015.
Scapanorhynchus texanus teeth collected Ramanessin Brook, NJ. Photo by the author, 2015.

The fossilized anterior teeth of this shark have an elongated main cusp with bilateral roots, perfect for snagging slippery prey. The lateral teeth of the shark are more triangular in shape then the anterior teeth, and are far broader. 

The fossilized remains of this Mitsukurinid shark are  found in coastal deposits (Phillips et. al., 2001), suggesting that this animal occupied the niche of a coastal predator. This is a far different niche from modern goblin sharks, who prefer the ocean depths as their hunting ground. Well-preserved body fossils of some species of Scapanorhynchus show that this shark species also possessed the long, pointed snout and long tail of modern goblin sharks.

Scapanorhynchus texanus lateral tooth. Photo by the author, 2015.
Scapanorhynchus texanus lateral tooth collected at Ramanessin Brook, NJ. Photo by the author, 2015.

The teeth shown above came from “Scaps” which called the coastal plain of New Jersey home. This coastline was home to a variety of other large predators, including mosasaurs such as Halisaurus platyspondylus (Wright, 1988).

The teeth of other sharks which Scapanorhynchus texanus coexisted with at Ramanessin Brook. Photo by the author, 2015.
The teeth of other sharks which Scapanorhynchus texanus coexisted with at Ramanessin Brook. From left to right: Paranomotodon angustidens, Squalicorax kaupi, Archaeolamna kopingensis kopingensis. Photo by the author, 2015.

Teeth from other Scapanorhynchus species are also found in the Middle East (Retzler et. al., 2013), showing that this shark was present on both sizes of the Atlantic Ocean.

Scapanorhynchus texanus and an marine turtle by the author. Colored pencils and Copic markers on paper, 2015.
Scapanorhynchus texanus and an marine turtle by the author. Colored pencils and Copic markers on paper, 2015.

S. texanus was thriving during the Campanian and Maastrichtian stages of the Cretaceous, but this shark’s success was short-lived. Many species of Scapanorhynchus, as indicated by the fossil record, greatly declined in number following the KT extinction. However, this shark wasn’t at the end of its line. The modern goblin shark, Mitsukurina owstoni, is a surviving member of Scapanorhynchus’s lineage and continues to haunt the depths of the ocean today.

 References 

1. Phillips D., Rose E., Pedersen J. 2001. Big Brook Upper Cretaceous Geology and Paleontology. 127 W 83rd Street, New York, NY: The New York Paleontological Society.

2. Case, G. R. . 1979.”Cretaceous selachians from the Peedee Formation (Late Maestrichtian) of Duplin County, North Carolina.” Brimleyana (2): 77-89 [J. Kriwet/W. Glaeser/M. Carrano]

3. Wright KR. 1988. “A new specimen of Halisaurus platyspondylus (Squamata: Mosasauridae) from the Navesink Formation (Maastrichtian) of New Jersey.” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 8 (Supplement 3): 29A-30A.

4. Retzler A., Wilson M.A., Avni Y. .2013. “Chondrichthyans from the Menuha Formation (Late Cretaceous: Santonian–Early Campanian) of the Makhtesh Ramon region, southern Israel”. Cretaceous Research 40: 81–89.

Terrific Tetanurae! #9 The Washington State Tyrannosaurid

Terrific Tetanurae! #9    The Washington State Tyrannosaurid

Hello all. Sorry this edition is a little late and short. I forgot my computer charger at home and I am in Illionois for the weekend. I still haven’t been able to find time to get the charger, so I may not be able to fulfill my promise of Antediluvian Beasts #1 happening this weekend. I hope you understand, and thanks for reading!

Welcome to Terrific Tetanurae!, a series where I highlight the wonders of the most diverse theropod clade. This week’s subject is very new to science, having only been announced several days ago. Meet Washington State’s first dinosaur!

The specimen, being highly fragmentary, is part of the femur of a theropod dinosaur. The specimen was collected from a marine deposit in the state dating to around 80 million years ago. The whole femur of the animal is estimated to be slightly smaller then the femur of the Tyrant Lizard King, and is the first dinosaur bone collected in Washington to be described.

Tyrannosaurus, a possible relative of this new theropod dinosaur. Photo by the author, 2015.
Tyrannosaurus, a possible relative of this new theropod dinosaur. Photo by the author, 2015.

The femur portion itself compares rather nicely with that of Tyrannosaurus and its relatives, suggesting to me that this animal is a tyrannosaurid of some sort. We don’t really find many specimens of dinosaurs in the Northwestern US, so this find is definitely key in our understanding of the ecosystems on the far left side of Laramidia. For me, the fossil struck a more personal feeling as on the East Coast we too have a bad fossil record which we are only beginning to understand. The fossil also makes me think of the isolation of animal populations in the Cretaceous where North America is today. It’s not really a subject that comes up often when there is talk of Cretaceous North America, and this fossils serves as a great reminder of that concept.

The (Possible) Washington State Tyrannosaurid by the author. Colored pencils and  Copic markers on paper, 2015.
The (Possible) Washington State Tyrannosaurid by the author. Colored pencils and Copic markers on paper, 2015.

The fossil itself belonged to a large theropod dinosaur which probably took up a predatory niche in its ecosystem, and was most likely transported to the marine deposit it was discovered in post-mortem. Overall, this fossil serves as a reminder of our ever-growing knowledge on the fauna of Late Cretaceous North America.

References 

1. Peecook BR, Sidor CA .2015. “The First Dinosaur from Washington State and a Review of Pacific Coast Dinosaurs from North America.” PLoS ONE 10(5): e0127792.

Update On Summer 2015: Ahead of Schedule

Hi everyone! Just a quick update. I have been able to update the blog title and theme ahead of schedule. We will most likely have Antediluvian Beasts of The East #1 sometime this weekend. If you are wondering, this will be the replacement to Stunning Strata, which didn’t fare very well as a series. I hope you enjoy the new look and stay tuned for Terrific Tetanurae! #9 on Friday and for more updates. Have a suggestion for the style of this blog? Leave a comment down below telling me what you think! As always, thanks for reading!

Something New is Coming: Summer 2015 at The Tetanurae Guy

Something New is Coming: Summer 2015 at The Tetanurae Guy

Oh summer! A time when paleontologists can focus on nothing but their muses, digging, researching, discovering, etc., under the warm sun. And a time of opportunity for me. This summer, I am pleased to announce that TetGuy will be going through a few changes. For starters, I am planning to have a new blog design up soon, and I may even create an official logo for this blog. I might also change the title and catchphrase of the blog. A bunch of new bits and series will be up on this blog as well.

The Whole Denver Museum gang is smiling and ready for the occasion!
The Whole Denver Museum gang is ready for the occasion!

Get ready for trip reports!  This series will show how fossils are collected, recorded, and placed in a museum collection. Hopefully, it will give the non-paleontologist/fossil collector readers of this blog a chance to see what it’s like to hunt for fossils. Right now the first episode might be on Ramanessin Brook, but I don’t want to spoil anything and/or make promises I can’t keep. This series is definitely something to look forward to reading, and I am looking forward to sharing my job experiences with you guys!

I also may be able to get interviews with some paleontologists, paleoartists, geologists, etc., which will definitely be awesome and a fun addition to this blog.

Terrific Tetanurae will continue, and I am in the process of planning several new articles which I think you guys are going to love. This summer the theme is weird and wonderful, so we will be looking at the truly weird animals of the Tetanuran family yee (see what I did there?). This is definitely a series bursting with potential and will continue to have segments published weekly.

Sebecus is showing a smile!
Sebecus is showing a smile at the AMNH!

I am a little worried, however, about PaleoNews. My highest viewed series is hard to maintain, and I end up talking so little about animals which are so amazing. This summer, I think I am going to stop making this series weekly so that I can really focus on the importance of the animals I am speaking about. PaleoNews won’t go away, but it will become better and more informative.

The new series I am most excited about relates to my job. At the museum, we are very interested in the natural history of New England and the East Coast as a whole, and I really want to incorporate that into this blog. So I am pleased to announce the new star attraction for TheTetanuraeGuy Summer 2015: Antediluvian Beasts of the East: New Looks at the Fossils of the Eastern United States. This series will highlight 1 animal per week, the fossils of which having been/being found in the Eastern US. Ranging from the gigantic Miocene shark Carcharocles chubutensis to the tiny Late Cretaceous mammal Cimolodon, the Eastern US has a fascinating, if not underrated, fossil record which deserves more attention, and I intend to give it some. I will also talk about the ancient ecosystems of the Eastern United States as well as a whole lot more!

I am very excited to share these changes and new additions to this blog with you. These new series will start to show up right around June 6-7. However, the Spring-Summer transition is a work-filled time for one who works at a museum devoted to children and families, as not only do many children get out of school and into my museum’s camp at this time, but we have a new exhibit in the works that uses some fossils, which I need to help with. Some other things that need my full attention have happened in the past few weeks (don’t worry, some really good stuff has happened,as well as unfortunately some bad stuff, but I just don’t want to get into the details), which I must be aware of. These things may affect my schedule, which, in turn, affects my blogging. I hope you understand. Anyways, have a great week, and I will (hopefully) converse with you all again on Friday with Terrific Tetanurae #9. Thanks for reading!

Giganotosaurus looks to the future!
Giganotosaurus looks to the future!

PaleoNews #12

PaleoNews #12

Gosh. I planned on doing the Dinosaur themed article last week, and then another 2 dinosaurs (1 is avian) were announced. 2015 hates me I tell you! 

NEW FINDINGS

A new Early Cretaceous bird has been described. Archaeornithura meemannae is an early member of ornithuromorpha, the clade which all modern birds stem from. 2 partial specimens of this animal have been collected from the Huajiying Formation in northeastern China. These animals are the first ornithuromorphs from the formation, and also predate the earliest known ornithuromorphs (from the famous Jehol Biota) by 6 million years, making them 131 million years old. The fossil specimens suggest that skilled flight and rapid developmental growth arose rapidly in the early stage of bird evolution. The bird itself also had an awesome crest of feathers on its head.  Overall, these new finds suggest that the ornithuromorphs have an older origin then previously thought.I agree with Stephen Brusatte in that this bird is one of the most important fossil birds discoveries of the decade, as it not only extends the range of the ornithuromophs, but is one of the earliest steps on the stairwell to modern birds.

Archaeornithura meemannae by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.
Archaeornithura meemannae by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

Meet Saurornitholestes sullivani. This new dromaeosaurid has been making headlines due to the large size of  surface of its skull where the olfactory bulbs would have been in life, suggesting that S. sullivani could smell pretty well. It was a relatively small dinosaur, being around 6 feet in length. The animal was excavated from New Mexico in 1999. This animal adds to the growing list of North American dromaeosaurids.

Sauronitholestes sullivani by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2015.
Sauronitholestes sullivani by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2015.

THE INTERNET AND PALEONTOLOGY

At The Bite Stuff , Jaime Headden talks about the much forgotten Chilesaurus. You can find that post here.  Thank Gorgosaurus for his post, as lately it’s been Yi qi mania!At dinosaurpalaeo, Mr. Mallison has reached the 10th installment in his Photogrammetry series. Go check that out here.

At his blog, Mark Witton embraces European wukongopterid pterosaurs. You can find that here. LITC reviews a new Vintage Dinosaur Book here, and Darren Naish writes on Domesticated African Horses. Go check those posts out!!

PBOTW showcases that weirdly-crested hadrosaur Parasaurolophus here. This post is filled to the brim with facts and is very well-written, and I suggest you check it out!

FEATURED ARTWORK/PHOTOGRAPH

This week we have my illustration of a lone Merycoidodon for one of my museum’s exhibitions. It wasn’t used in the final exhibit but it was a blast to illustrate the animal!

Merycoidodon by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2014.
Merycoidodon by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2014.

Remember, if you’d like to feature your artwork, leave a comment saying so below. If you have paleoart and want to feature it, this is the place to do so!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed PaleoNews #12, and thanks for reading!!