PaleoNews #16

This is truly the week of the worms… 


A couple of new discoveries have been published in these past two weeks, including the description of two new dinosaurs. One of the most significant finds, however, relates to a small animal known for many years: Hallucigenia. This small, spiky invertebrate existed during the Cambrian, and is famous for being part of the fauna found in the Burgess Shale. This animal had posed quite a mystery for some type regarding where its head was. A new study (Smith and Caron, 2015) solved the mystery. It turns out Hallucigenia sported an elongated head with simple eyes and a mouth which housed a ring of teeth. Tentacle-like appendages sprung from the front of the animal as well.

In other wormy news, a close relative of Hallucigenia has also been described.         Collinsium ciliosum, the new species in question, took spiky to a whole new level. The different sized spikes found on Collinsium ciliosum were such robust structures that they partially retained their 3D-shape even when the rest of the animal had been crushed during fossilization. Both Collinsium ciliosum and Hallucigenia are lobopodians, an extinct group of superficially worm-like invertebrates which lived from the Cambrian to the Carboniferous. Yang et. al. (2015) highlighted the diversity of this new species’ appendages. Collinsium was equipped with 6 pairs of fringed limbs likely used for filter-feeding, followed by 9 pairs of legs which sported claws. Collinsium was one of the first in a long line of extreme armor-bearers, and joins Hallucigenia as one of the weirdest organisms that time forgot.

In dinosaur news, a new oviraptorid has been described. The partial skeleton of Huanansaurus ganzhouensis includes a well preserved skull, which is nearly complete. This oviraptorid was closely related to the more well-known Citipati. The partial skeleton of this new dinosaur will help us further understand oviraptorid anatomy, as well as add to the known Chinese oviraptorid taxa.

The ceratopsian dinosaur recently put on display at the Royal Ontario Museum has been described. Wendiceratops pinhornensis is one of only 8 known ceratopsids from the time interval between the Turonian and late Campanian stages of the Cretaceous. As such, the nasal horncore of the early ceratopsid Wendiceratops suggests that prominent nasal horncores evolved multiple times among ceratopsids (Evans & Ryan, 2015). The presence of this new form as adds to our growing understanding of the early radiation of ceratopsid dinosaurs, which would evolved into a menagerie of forms during the very end of the Cretaceous.

Wendiceratops pinhornensis by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.

Wendiceratops pinhornensis by the author. Pencils on paper, 2015.


Sarah of the Geological Society of London discusses the invertebrate fauna of Ordovician Morocco. You can find that post here. If you enjoy learning about the beginnings of modern animals, this is the post for you.

At Extinct Monsters, Ben concludes his “Framing Fossil Exhibits” series. If you’re interested in the art of fossil mounting, you should go read the post here.

Mark Witton talks dromaeosaurids, specifically depicting them engaging in behavior not often illustrated. You can find the artwork-filled post here.


This week we highlight one of the Merycoidodon skulls in the Stamford Museum’s collections.


That’s all for now! Thanks for reading!

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