Hello everyone! The new year is approaching, and it is time to look back on the fossil finds of 2015 as well as discuss some new discoveries! 

NEW FINDINGS

Dimetrodon borealis 

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Dimetrodon (not D. borealis here) attacks an Eryops at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Photo by the author, 2015.

This new discovery is especially exciting for those who work on the prehistory of eastern North America. A new species of DimetrodonD. borealis, has been described on the basis of a partial snout  from Prince Edward Island (Brink et. al., 2015). The snout was the second fossil specimen collected from Canada (Brink et. al., 2015), and has long been the subject of taxonomic confusion. It was previously classified as a dinosaur before being classified as a sphenacodont (Brink et. al., 2015). The placement of this specimen Dimetrodon not only provides further information on the evolution of the Permian fauna of the east coast of North America but also widens the range of Dimetrodon to include the northern US.

Xenokeryx amidalae

A new species of palaeomerycid has been described from the Miocene of Spain. The new species, named Xenokeryx amidalae, bore some oddly-shaped crests unique from other members of the group. The description paper also brought with it a new phylogenetic analysis which found that palaeomerycids are not in fact related to dromomerycids (Sánchez et. al., 2015a theory previously supported by many. The name of the new palaeomerycid alludes to the Star Wars character Padme Amidala, as the headgear of Xenokeryx amidalae bear a resemblance to one of the character’s hairstyles in the (awful) movie “The Phantom Menace” (Sánchez et. al., 2015).

Phosphorosaurus ponpetelegans

A new species of Phosphorosaurus has been described from fossils found in northern Japan which likely had binocular vision, allowing for depth perception (Konishi et. al., 2015). Incredibly, this mosasaur might have hunted at night, using its large eyes to better detect prey in the darkness.

A YEAR IN PALEONTOLOGY

2015 proved to be quite a fantastic year in paleontology. A maniraptoran with membraneous wings, a basal theropod with two-clawed hands and adaptations for a herbivorous lifestyle, an extremely ancient seal, a new species of gigantic elephant-relative, and an relative of the ancestor of crocodilians which stalked the deltas of Triassic North America on two legs were some of the most surprising discoveries. As is annual tradition on this blog (last year there were only dinosaurs), here is the 2015 “Prehistory Parade”, showcasing some of the most amazing discoveries of this past year. Happy 2016 everyone!

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  1. Brink, K. S.; Maddin, H. C.; Evans, D. C.;  Reisz, R.; Sues. H.2015. “Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the Early Permian of Prince Edward Island.” Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 52 (12): 1109-1120.
  2. Sánchez, I. M.; Cantalapiedra, J. L.; Ríos, M.; Quiralte, V.; Morales, J. 2015. “Systematics and Evolution of the Miocene Three-Horned Palaeomerycid Ruminants (Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla).” PLoS ONE 10(12): e0143034.
  3. Konishi, T.; Caldwell, M. W.; Nishimura, T.; Sakurai, K.; Tanoue, K. 2015. “A new halisaurine mosasaur (Squamata: Halisaurinae) from Japan: the first record in the western Pacific realm and the first documented insights into binocular vision in mosasaurs.” Journal of Systematic Palaeontology: 1–31.
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