PaleoNews #22: Appalachian ceratopsians and more!

Hello and welcome to this shorter edition of PaleoNews. This spring, a few finds related to the landmass of Appalachia have been published on, and so here’s a look back at those.


Though the find was published on by the media this past summer (e.g., here), the first-ever record of a ceratopsid dinosaur from Appalachia has been published on in the journal PeerJ. In the paper “The first reported ceratopsid dinosaur from eastern North America (Owl Creek Formation, Upper Cretaceous, Mississippi, USA)” (Farke and Phillips, 2017), the discovery of a single tooth from the Maastrichtian Owl Creek Formation is discussed in the context of the biogeography of horned dinosaurs in North America during the Cretaceous. The paper also discusses the Maastrichtian-age deposit that is the Owl Creek Formation and its fauna in some detail, as well as giving a brief overview of the dinosaur clades which inhabited the landmass of Appalachia (Farke and Phillips, 2017).

In the paper, the authors conclude that a dispersal event of ceratopsid dinosaurs occurred in North America as the Western Interior Seaway retreated during the Maastrichtian, the last stage of the Cretaceous period (Farke and Phillips, 2017). Thus, the tooth is both significant for being the first report of a ceratopsid dinosaur from eastern North America as well as for suggesting a possible dispersal event during the Maastrichtian.


The MS find belonged to the ceratopsidae, as did Triceratops horridus (skull pictured above). 

I also had an article published on ornithomimosaur remains from the Arundel Clay of Maryland (Brownstein, 2017). The finds I describe are important for representing two distinct morphotypes (and thus possibly two distinct species) of ornithomimosaur that existed in the Arundel ecosystem. These dinosaurs would have coexisted with the titanosauriform sauropod Astrodon, the dromaeosaur Deinonychus, the carcharodontosaur Acrocanthosaurus, possibly the ornithopod Tenontosaurus, an indeterminate neoceratopsian, and the obscure nodosaurid Priconodon (e.g. Weishampel, 2006). There is certainly much more material to be published on from the Arundel Clay, so it should be exciting to see how the Arundel’s dinosaurs come to light.


Two of the pedal unguals representing one of the morphotypes of ornithomimosaur present in the Arundel. 


Today, I feature the skull of the Aurochs (Bos primigenius), an extinct species of large bovine that inhabited the wilds of Europe, northern Africa, and Asia during the Pleistocene and into the Holocene. Julius Caesar, in book 6 of his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, writes on the fantastic size and power of these animals (Commentarii de Bello Gallico 6.28). I highly recommend you read his description, either in translation or the original latin, if you haven’t already, as it gives a seldom-attained glimpse of an extinct animal of a great awe-inspiring nature.


Overall, this has been a productive spring for Appalachian discoveries. Let’s hope for an even better summer! Thanks for reading.


Farke, A.A., and Phillips, G.E. 2017. The first reported ceratopsid dinosaur from eastern North America (Owl Creek Formation, Upper Cretaceous, Mississippi, USA. PeerJ, 5:e3342. 

Brownstein, C.D. 2017. Description of Arundel Clay ornithomimosaur material and a reinterpretation of Nedcolbertia justinhofmanni as an “Ostrich Dinosaur”: biogeographic implicationsPeerJ, 5:e3110. 

Weishampel, D.B. 2006. Another look at the dinosaurs of the East Coast of North America, p. 129-168. In ‘Coletivo Arqueológico-Paleontológico Salense, (eds.), Actas III Jornadas Dinosaurios Entorno. Salas de los Infantes, Burgos, Spain.


PaleoNews #22: New Years 2016

Happy new year! It’s been an interesting year this time around, full of new discoveries pertaining to the landmass of Appalachia.


Perhaps the most covered story of a discovery from Appalachia was of the landmass’s newest hadrosaur. Eotrachodon orientalis, known from the likely juvenile holotype specimen MSC 7949, is the only named pre-Campanian non-lambeosaurine hadrosaurid and helps to fill in some of the gaps regarding the evolution of the hadrosaurid dinosaurs (Prieto-Márquez, Erickson & Ebersole, 2016a; 2016b). Eotrachodon is known from the Mooreville Chalk Formation, which has also preserved the remains of the hadrosauroid dinosaur Lophorhothon, the dromaeosaurid Saurornitholestes, and the alligatoroid crocodyliform Deinosuchus (e. g. Schwimmer, 2002; Kiernan & Schwimmer, 2004;Prieto-Márquez, Erickson & Ebersole, 2016a; 2016b). The holotype specimen of this dinosaur is surprisingly complete for an Appalachian dinosaur specimen, consisting of a mostly complete skull and partial skeleton (Prieto-Márquez, Erickson & Ebersole, 2016a; 2016b).

Eotrachodon is especially important because it represents an extremely close outgroup to the clade containing Lambeosaurinae and Saurolophinae (Prieto-Márquez, Erickson & Ebersole,2016a). Alongside the New Jersey taxon Hadrosaurus foulkiiEotrachodon orientalis is one of the most basal hadrosaurids, suggesting that the group may have originated on Appalachia (Prieto-Márquez, Erickson & Ebersole, 2016a; 2016b).


Along with HadrosaurusEotrachodon is one of the most basal hadrosaurids. Hadrosaurus foulkii fossils displayed at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University. Photo from Wikipedia.

Anné, Hedrick & Schein (2016) described the radius and ulna of a hadrosaurid dinosaur from the Navesink Formation of New Jersey. The elements in question were diagnosed with septic arthritis, the first known case of the ailment to be reported from the Dinosauria (Anné, Hedrick & Schein, 2016).

The forelimb elements provide new information on ailments which affected the dinosaurs, and are also significant for being an example of paleopathology from Appalachia (Anné, Hedrick & Schein, 2016).

Paulina-Carabajal, Lee & Jacobs (2016) examined the skull of the Texan nodosaur Pawpawsaurus campbelli. The endocast of Pawpawsaurus is one of the most well-known of a nodosaurid, thus allowing Paulina-Carabajal, Lee & Jacobs (2016) to examine the morphology of the dinosaur’s inner ear in detail.

 Scans of the internal structure of the skull and brain suggest that the nodosaurid had a poor sense of hearing (Paulina-Carabajal, Lee & Jacobs, 2016). However, Pawpawsaurus was also found to have a good sense of smell, albeit less so than more derived ankylosaurian genera (Paulina-Carabajal, Lee & Jacobs, 2016).


Pawpawsaurus campbelli walks along an Albian Texas shore alongside Protohadros-like hadrosauroids and a crocodyliform. 

Another nodosaurid from Appalachia was remarked on this year in the literature. Burns & Ebersole (2o16) published an abstract in the program & abstracts book of the 76th SVP annual meeting. The abstract dealt with some exciting new material of a juvenile nodosaurid from the same formation that produced Eotrachodon. The nodosaurid specimen is also one of the smallest known (Burns & Ebersole, 2016).


This time around, we have the skull of the sebecid crocodyliform Sebecus. This large crocodyliform occupied a predatory niche in Argentina during the Eocene. IMG_3008.jpg

All in all, it has been an exciting year of discoveries regarding the landmass of Appalachia. Here’s hoping for more in the new year. Happy holidays everyone!



  1. Prieto-Marquez A, Erickson GM, Ebersole JA. 2016. A primitive hadrosaurid from southeastern North America and the origin and early evolution of ‘duck-billed’ dinosaurs. J. Vert. Paleo. 2016; e1054495. doi: 10.1080/02724634.2015.1054495.
  2. Prieto-Márquez A, Erickson GM, Ebersole JA. Anatomy and osteohistology of the basal hadrosaurid dinosaur Eotrachodon from the uppermost Santonian (Cretaceous) of southern Appalachia. PeerJ 2016; 4:e1872. doi:

  3. Schwimmer DR. King of the Crocodylians: The Paleobiology of Deinosuchus. Bloomington: Indiana University Press; 2002.

  4. Kiernan K, Schwimmer DR. First record of a Velociraptorine theropod (Tetanurae, Dromaeosauridae) from the eastern Gulf Coastal United States. Mosasaur 2004; 7:89-93.

  5. Anné J, Hedrick BP, Schein JP. 2016. First diagnosis of septic arthritis in a dinosaur. R. Soc. Op. Sci. 3: 160222. doi: 10.1098/rsos.160222.
  6. Paulina-Carabajal A, Lee YN, Jacobs LL. 2016. Endocranial Morphology of the Primitive Nodosaurid Dinosaur Pawpawsaurus campbelli from the Early Cretaceous of North America. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150845. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150845.
  7. Burns ME, Ebersole J. 2016. Juvenile Appalachian Nodosaur Material (Nodosauridae, Ankylosauria) from the Lower Campanian Lower Mooreville Chalk of Alabama. J. Vert. Paleo. 2016; 76: 73B.

PaleoNews #21: Duck-Billed Dinosaurs & The Mammals Which Mimicked Them

Hi All! Welcome to this week’s PaleoNews. Over the past few days, a new hadrosaur from the continent of Appalachia has been discovered (Which I’m very excited about) as well as an antelope who’s nasal anatomy seems to mimic that of hadrosaurian dinosaurs.


One of the most interesting findings in the past few days has come out of the examination of the skull of an extinct antelope taxon called Rusingoryx atopocranion. This large, herbivorous mammal hails from the Late Pleistocene of Kenya and bears a nasal dome which may have been able to produce sounds like a trumpet. Incredibly, the ontogeny of Rusingoryx atopocranion bears similarities with that of lambeosaurine dinosaurs. O’Brien et. al. (2016) conclude that because of the similarities between the extinct antelope and lambeosaurs, osseous nasal crests develop only within specific enivronmental, ontogenic, and evolutionary circumstances.


Rusingoryx atopocranion by the author. Pencils on paper, 2016. 

The past couple of months have been extremely successful for Appalachian paleontology. In the fall of 2015, the presence of leptoceratopsids on Appalachia was announced. Now, a new species of hadrosaurid dinosaur named Eotrachodon sheds light on the probable Appalachian origins for hadrosaurids. Eotrachodon orientalis is known from a partially complete skeleton with an extremely well preserved skull from the Mooreville Chalk Formation of Alabama. During the Cretaceous, Eotrachodon would have roamed around the coast of southwestern Appalachia, likely drinking from the rivers and deltas which ran directly into the Western Interior Seaway. A phylogenetic analysis by Prieto-Marquez et. al. (2016) has found Eotrachodon to be a sister taxon to lambeosaurinae and saurolophinae. The non-saurolophine non-lambeosaurine Hadrosaurus as well as Lophorhothon, a hadrosauroid extremely closely related to the ancestor of hadrosaurids, have been found on Appalachia, it seems likely that the birthplace of hadrosauridae was on the aforementioned landmass.



Appalachian hadrosaurids, like this Hadrosaurus,  suggest that that Appalachia was the birthplace of the hadrosauridae. Artwork by the author. Colored pencils on paper, 2015. 


Dodos were incredible animals, but often they are thought of as evolutionary failures or simply just dumb animals. Check out this post at Twilight Beasts detailing these wonderful birds.

At The Bite Stuff, 

At Mark Witton’s Blog, he discusses the giant Deinosuchus and showcases his fantastic  artwork of the giant marine predator. You can find the post here.

At Extinct Monsters, Ben has written two fantastic articles comparing and contrasting the fossil exhibitions of the Perot Museum and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. These post will be especially interesting to those interested in in the aesthetics and scientific impact of museums. You can find the post on the Perot Museum here and the one on the HMNS here.

At SVPOW, you’ll find a couple posts on the evaluation of researchers and the introduction of LWM (Less Wrong Metrics) by Mike Taylor. You can find the posts here, here, here, and here.

At the Royal Tyrell Museum’s blog, they spotlight the newest lecture of their speaker series. Within it, Don Henderson discusses pterosaurs. You can find the post here.


This week we have a C. megalodon tooth housed within the Stamford Museum’s collections. C. megalodon were massive sharks which preyed on a variety of marine animals, including whales, from the Miocene to the Pliocene epochs of the Neogene period.



1. O’Brien H. D.; Faith, J. T.; Jenkins, K. E.; Peppe, D. J.; Plummer, T. W.; Jacobs, Z. L.; Li, B.; Joannes-Boyau, R.; Price, G.; Feng, Y.; Tryon, C. A. 2016.”Unexpected Convergent Evolution of Nasal Domes between Pleistocene Bovids and Cretaceous Hadrosaur Dinosaurs.” Current Biology. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2015.12.050

2. Prieto-Marquez, A.; Erickson, G. M.; Ebersole, J. A. 2016. “A primitive hadrosaurid from southeastern North America and the origin and early evolution of ‘duck-billed’ dinosaurs. “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology: e1054495. DOI:10.1080/02724634.2015.1054495.



PaleoNews #20: First Animals of 2016

Hi everyone, & welcome to this week’s edition of PaleoNews. With the beginning of 2016 a bunch of new species have been described, many of which gigantic in size. There’s Machimosaurus rex, one of the largest crocodyliforms yet discovered. Notocolossus, a new giant species of titanosaur from Argentina has also been described, tying in with the opening of the American Museum of Natural History’s titanosaur exhibit. The AMNH titanosaur mount measures 122 feet long, and this as-yet-unnamed species could be the largest dinosaur known to science.


Crocodilians have a way to terrify yet fascinate us humans. Their scaly skin, piercing eyes, and wrinkly jaws remind us of their ancient beginnings. The Salt Water Crocodile is the largest known modern species, measuring around 18 feet on average. Even this giant would be dwarfed, however, by Machimosaurus rex, a 30 foot long teleosaurid crocodyliform from the Cretaceous of Tunisia (Fanti et. al., 2016). Machimosaurus rex is the largest Machimosaurus species and one of the largest known crocodyliforms. It is is also the youngest known teleosaurid, hailing from the Early Cretaceous (Fanti et. al., 2016). This shows that the teleosaurids did not go extinct at the end of the Jurassic, as was presupposed (Fanti et. al., 2016). M. rex also seems to have been a generalist predator, hunting the lagoons and waterways it swam within (Fanti et. al., 2016).

Machimosaurus rex is small fry itself compared to other animals which have been described this year. Notocolossus is a newly-described genus of giant titanosaur which roamed Argentina during the Cretaceous. The holotype of Notocolossus gonzalezparejasi is especially notable for its well-preserved hind foot, which allows researchers to better understand the evolution of sauropod feet. The animal was described by Riga et. al. in the journal Scientific Reports.

The American Museum of Natural History’s titanosaur mount was recently revealed. The discovery of this titanic animal (larger than even the gigantic Notocolossus) was announced in May 2014, and a description is pending.


These guys have got company! Big company.


Remember my post on the “Welsh Theropod”. The Animal has been described and was given the truly awesome name Dracoraptor, meaning dragon thief. The 2 meter long animal roamed Wales during the Early Jurassic period, leaving behind a partial specimen (Martill et. al., 2016).




At Archosaur Musings, Dave Hone has guest artist Rebecca Gelernter us a peek into the process behind restoring a dinosaur. She talks specifically about the Protoceratops illustration she did for a recent paper. The post is filled with fantastic artwork and I definitely recommend checking it out here.

At Twilight Beasts, its all about moas! You can go find the detailed post on this group of extinct birds here!

At SVPOW, Matt Wedel covers the new giant titanosaur Notocolossus. He covers some pretty interesting stuff about the morphology of the giant’s bones, including the fact that the known vertebrae of Notocolossus are remarkably similar to those known of Puertasaurus. You can find this post here.

At Inside the Royal Tyrrell Museum, they talk about Museum Hack, a company that develops non-traditional museum tours. This post should be especially interesting to those actively working at museums and wondering how to further improve the education and the experience of guests.

At Mark Witton’s Blog, Mark discusses the integument of dinosaurs, showing just how interesting the known skin, scales, and feathers of dinosaurs were. You can find that post here.

At Letters from Gondwana, ferwen discusses Robert Hooke and his influence on the sciences of geology and paleontology. It is a fascinating post and can be found here.


This week we have CM 31374, the skull of a Coelophysis bauri. Coelophysis was a genus of lightweight theropod dinosaur which lived during the Late Triassic and possibly the Early Jurassic. Closely related to the northeastern Podokesaurus and likely was a hunter of small game. CM 31374 itself hails from Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.



  1. Fanti, F.; Miyashita, T.; Cantelli, L.; Mnasri, F.; Dridi, J.; Contessi, M.; Cau, A. “The largest thalattosuchian (Crocodylomorpha) supports teleosaurid survival across the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary”. Cretaceous Research.doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2015.11.011.
  2.  Riga, B. J. G.; .2016. “A gigantic new dinosaur from Argentina and the evolution of the sauropod hind foot.” Scientific Reports. doi: 10.1038/srep19165.
  3. Martill, D.M.; Vidovic S.U.; Howells C.; Nudds J.R. 2016. “The Oldest Jurassic Dinosaur: A Basal Neotheropod from the Hettangian of Great Britain.” PLoS ONE 11(1): e0145713. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145713.

PaleoNews #19: A Look Back On Paleontology in 2015

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! 


Dimetrodon borealis 


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.


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 a 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!




  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.

PaleoNews #18 (National Fossil Day 2015 Special Edition)

Hello All! Welcome back to PaleoNews, a series in which I highlight the most recent discoveries in the world of paleontology. Today, it is a special occasion, National Fossil Day. In light of this, I wanted to take a look at the recent discoveries which contribute to our understanding of Appalachian dinosaurs.


The Tar Heel Leptoceratopsid

One of the most important Appalachian fossil discoveries will be formally released in 2016 (the abstract can be viewed here), and with it, an entirely new group of dinosaurs will have a member on the landmass. The discovery, a partial maxilla, shows a combination of a couple features that is unique to the ceratopsian family leptoceratopsidae (Longrich, 2016). This is extremely important, as the maxilla fragment, hailing from the Tar Heel Formation of North Carolina, is the first record of ceratopsians on Appalachia (Longrich, 2016). Furthermore, the presence of a leptoceratopsid furthers our understanding of the development of the distinct dinosaur fauna found on Appalachia.

This new discovery also fills in another gap in Appalachian paleontology. Leptoceratopsids were fairly small dinosaurs, and, as very few small-sized dinosaurs are known from Appalachia, the presence of leptoceratopsids on the continent furthers our knowledge on the small animals which roamed the landmass. A better understanding of the small animals of Appalachia is key to understanding how the ecosystems of the landmass functioned.

Skull of a Triceratops. Photo by the author, 2015.

Skull of a Triceratops. Photo by the author, 2015.

Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis

Interestingly, a dinosaur from the polar regions of Laramidia can very much help with Appalachian dinosaur research. The presence of a distinct genus of edmontosaurine, named Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, found only in the polar regions of Laramidia (specifically from the Liscomb bone bed of Alaska)(Mori et. al., 2015) has implications for how dinosaurs evolved in extreme climates. Dinosaur specimens have been reported from Northern Appalachia, a landmass that was at times separate from the more southern Appalachian landmass. This means that the dinosaurs of this northern region may have been unable to retreat to southern oases during periods of hardship, and would have had to brave the polar weather. Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis provides key information on how polar dinosaur communities functioned and how certain variables within a dinosaur’s environment affected the evolution of the animal.

Edmontosaurus, an edmontosaurine dinosaur and the dinosaur that Ugrunaaluk specimens were first thought to be the remains of.

Edmontosaurus, an edmontosaurine dinosaur. Photo by the author, 2015.


At dinosaurpalaeo, Heinrich continues his series on Photogrammetry. You can go find the links to the two new articles here and here.

At Jason Brougham’s blog, he discusses the changing appearance of the Bennettites, and couples the post with a vignette of one of the plants in question. You can go find the article here.

At paleoaerie, National Fossil Day is not taken lightly. Go check out their two posts highlighting famous and common Arkansas fossils in honor of the day here and here.

At Mark Witton’s blog, he discusses sauropods and pterosaurs, specifically pterosaur swimming capabilities, how apatosaurs fought and stoic brachiosaurs, the pterosaur-dinosaur fuzz connection, and fat dinosaurs. You can check out these posts here, here, here, and here.


This week, we have a cast of the skull of AMNH 5027. This Tyrannosaurus rex specimen was discovered in Montana in 1908 by Barnum Brown and company. In fact, the skull of which the cast below was casted from was the first complete T. rex skull to be discovered.



  1. Longrich, N. R. 2016.” A ceratopsian dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of eastern North America, and implications for dinosaur biogeography.”Cretaceous Research 57: 199-207. 
  2. Mori, H.; Druckenmiller, P. S.; & Erickson, G. M. 2015. “A new Arctic hadrosaurid from the Prince Creek Formation (lower Maastrichtian) of northern Alaska.”. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (Published online on September 22, 2015). 

PaleoNews #17


A new dromaeosaurid has been discovered, and it is the largest dinosaur so far to have been preserved with wings. This new animal, named Zhenyuanlong suni, hails from the Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China. At around 5.5 feet in length, Zhenyuanlong suni was a medium-sized dromaeosaurid. It size, however, is not Zhenyuanlong‘s most interesting feature. This dinosaur had large wings, which it may have used for sexual and territorial displays. The presence of a mid-sized dromaeosaurid preserved with long feathers furthers our understanding of the plumage sported by the dromaeosaurid dinosaurs.

Deinonychus, like its relative Zhenyuanlong, was probably heavily feathered from beak to tail tip. Photo by the author, 2015.

Deinonychus, like its relative Zhenyuanlong, was probably heavily feathered from beak to tail tip. Photo by the author, 2015.

A new four-legged snake-like-reptile has been discovered, and has raised questions about the ethics of fossil collecting. Tetrapodophis amplectus provides further insight as to how snakes lost their limbs. The fossil itself has been the subject of controversy, as researchers discovered it in a private collection, assuming it to be from Brazil based on aspects of the rock the “proto-snake” was entombed in. It is unknown if this fossil was illegally poached from Brazil (or another country, for that matter) and placed in the private collection scientific workers found it in.


At his blog, Mark Witton goes over his past year of artworks featuring everyone’s favorite tyrant lizard king. He also discusses the future of the Jurassic Park series. You can find those posts here and here.

At TwilightBeasts, it is all about leopards and kauri trees. You can go check out their post highlighting this beautiful cat here, and the post about the “living-fossil” trees here.

Meet Tristan the Tyrannosaurus rex. Heinrich Mallison shares the story of his trip to the dig site of Earth’s newest king dinosaur. You can find that post here.

The Royal Tyrell Museum shares how artwork inspires research. You can find that post here. They also showcase their exhibition “Fossils in Focus” here.

At LITC, Mark Vincent takes a look at the book Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals in another installment of LITC’s classic series “Vintage Dinosaur Art”. You can go check out that post here.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!!

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!

PaleoNews #15

New Findings 

Meet Mystacina miocenalis, the earliest known species of Mystacina, and also the largest. At 40 grams, this bat was 3 times as heavy as its modern relatives. The fossil material of this animal was collected from Lake Manuherikia, which was once surrounded by rainforest around 17 million years ago. The size of this animal suggests that it was doing less in the air and more on the ground, preying on larger animals and eating larger fruits and seeds then its modern relatives. Flightless bats (albeit ones way larger then M. miocenalis) have been the subject of much speculation (i. e. Dixon’s “Night Stalker”, Primeaval’s “Future Predator” , etc.), so the presence of a possible ground-based bat in the fossil record seems to be less of a surprise.

Turtles (or at least their ancestors) are in the news too! The newly-described Pappochelys sheds light on how the turtle shell evolved. In this animal’s case, rod-like bones, some of which fused to each other, coated the underbelly. In life, the animal was around 8 inches long. The animal lived in a tropical lacustrine environment.

 Archelon, a giant protostegid turtle from the Late Cretaceous of North America,  evolved from  a small, lizard-like animal similar to Pappochelys

Archelon, a giant protostegid turtle from the Late Cretaceous of North America, evolved from a small, lizard-like animal similar to Pappochelys. Photo by the author, 2014.

There’s a new prosauropodomorph in town, and its name is Sefapanosaurus. At one point this dinosaur was mistaken for Aardonyx , but Otero et. al. (2015) has concluded that the holotype of Sefapanosaurus is a new species. The animal was collected from the Elliot Formation of Southern Africa many years ago, and, although the specimen is far from complete, the presence of this dinosaur furthers our understanding of Upper Triassic and Lower Jurassic ecosystems.

Prosauropodomorphs, like this Plateosaurus at the AMNH, were very successful during the Late Triassic but started to decline by the earliest Jurassic. Photo by the author, 2015.

Prosauropodomorphs, like this Plateosaurus at the AMNH, were very successful during the Late Triassic but started to decline by the earliest Jurassic. Photo by the author, 2015.


Jaime Headden discusses the new classification  of Balaur blondoc as a basal avalian. Jaime has also created a skeletal of the animal based on this new placement, which he has included in his new article on Balaur. You can find that article here.

Heinrich Mallison brings us an update on his digiS project. Photogrammetry is pretty cool, indeed! Check out his post here.

At Letters from Gondwana, the life and times of part-time paleobotanist and dedicated feminist Marie Stopes. She challenged the societal norms of her time, and her story is one that should be remembered. You can go check out that post here.

Mark Witton discusses speculative behaviors and events pertaining to dromaeosaurs. He also showcases some of his beautiful artwork. You can find that post here.


This week we have my photo of the Connecticut’s Petrified Forest display at the Yale Peabody Museum. These fossils come from the middle of the state, usually somewhere in the vicinity of South Britain. It’s quite surprising to see how well-preserved these fossil plants are!

IMG_2128Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed!

PaleoNews #14

Hello everyone! This is PaleoNews, where I showcase the latest in paleontological discoveries! 


A new horned dinosaur showing signs of convergent evolution has been described! Regaliceratops was a large ceratopsian, up to 6 meters long, which was closely related to Triceratops, and shows features found in chasmosaurines as well as centrosaurines. This is strikingly odd, as the animal itself was a chasmosaurine. The centrosaurine features found present in Regaliceratops might be convergent evolution among the ornaments of horned dinosaurs. Regaliceratops itself is known from a mostly complete skull, which bears an impressive nose horn, two minuscule orbital horns, and large, stegosaur-plate-shaped epoccipitals. The genus name Regaliceratops pays homage to these large epoccipitals, translating to “Royal horned face”. The animal was excavated from the St. Mary River Formation, a Maastrichtian deposit. Other ceratopsids also are found in this formation, as well as the large tyrannosaurid Albertosaurus. 

New vertebral centra reveal that giant Cretaceous sharks might have been more common then expected. Leptostyrax macrorhiza is the Cretaceous shark these remains are thought to represent, and if so, Leptostyrax might have attained a length of up to 20 feet. This finding is important as it adds to our understanding of Early Cretaceous marine environments.

A new species of reptile has been described. Clevosaurus sectumsemper is an extinct sphenodont from the Triassic period. As always, animals like this new taxon show the ancient diversity of a now unspeciose group of animals.

A new enantiornithine bird from Gondwana has been discovered. This small avian dinosaur lived around 115 million years ago and is a rare discovery in a land filled with the bones of giant saurischians. The bird is as of yet not described, but, as always, I’d rather the authors do a good job with the description then put out a rushed paper.

Soft tissue from dinosaur bones has been discovered. An examination of fragmentary dinosaur remains resulted in the identification of structures interpreted as preserved tissues.


On his blog, Mark Witton discusses Dimorphodon’s awesomeness. It’s quite an interesting post, which you can view here.

At SV-POW!, Mike discusses the reasons we might never find the largest dinosaurs. He brings up some very good points, and I definitely recommend you check it out here. Also check out this great post on Haestasaurus. 

At Extinct Monsters, Ben discusses the history of three very iconic tyrannosaurs, some of which are now hidden behind the Tyrannosaurus rex on display at the American Museum. The post can be viewed here.

Twilight Beasts discusses camels, camels, and more camels. You can go over here to read the post.


This week we have my photo of the famous AMNH Deinocheirus arms:

Photo by the author, 2015.

Photo by the author, 2015.

I hope you enjoyed PaleoNews #14. Thanks as always for reading!