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It's that time again for another reporting on the happenings in Vertebrate Paleontology. I would like to start out with an apology, last Saturday we missed some important articles on two new Iguanodonts, Juravenator, an inflatable personality for a new Troodontid, and Leptoptilos robusts. Without further adieu we'll get onto today's news.
Two New Iguanodonts From Utah: Hippodraco and Iguanacolossus
The one thing about the Early to Middle Cretaceous is the biodiversity of Iguanodon. Saying the name Iguanodon itself invokes the remembrance of it being one of the first few dinosaurs discovered in the 1825 alongside the first theropod discovered, Megalosaurus. Out of Utah come two new Iguanodontids, Hippdraco and Iguanacolossus.
When compared with other Iguanodonts, Iguanacolossus and Hippodraco fall in different parts of the group’s evolutionary tree. Whereas Hippodraco was most closely related to the 112-million-year-old Theiophytalia from Colorado, Iguanacolossus was placed near Dakotadon from South Dakota and Cedrorestes from Utah. Frustratingly, though, many of the North American iguanodonts are known only from partial remains which do not overlap with one another, and as excavations continue it is likely that some species will be lumped together and some unique specimens will be taken to represent new species.
Respected PaleoBlog DinoGoss brings us a word on an ongoing study involving Juravenator, a dinosaur related to Compsognathus. It seems feathers and scales stayed around for quite some time during the initial transition from dinosaur to bird.
It’s possible that at this early stage of evolution, feathers and scales co-existed across the body of dinosaurs like Juravenator, and possibly even Sinosauropteryx and Dilong, where no scales are preserved but feathers are still found only in certain parts of the body. So far, this kind of co-existence of widespread scaly skin with fringes of feathers has only been known in the ornithischian Psittacosaurus but, they point out, it's not inconsistent with theoretical models of feather development and evolution.
BBC News reports that a Giant Stork, Leptoptilos robustus, was recently unearthed on the same island as the "human hobbits" were found. What's interesting is how this giant stork may have fed upon our ancestors.
Fossils of the bird were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores, a place previously famed for the discovery of Homo floresiensis, a small hominin species closely related to modern humans. The stork may have been capable of hunting and eating juvenile members of this hominin species, say researchers who made the discovery, though there is no direct evidence the birds did so.
New Troodontid Found in Utah, has an inflatable personality!
Another one from PLoS One, this one is in regards of a new Troodontid from the Early Cretaceous period. Given the name of Geminiraptor suarezarum, this new dinosaur actually surprising discovery in regards to the inflatable air sac in the upper jaw that it possessed. According to The Salt Lake Tribune's article.
"But Geminiraptor suarezarum’s large brain case is not its only unique feature. It had an inflatable upper jaw bone and feathers on its arms and legs and, as Utah’s eighth new dinosaur species of the year; it’s a record breaker, too."
Also, recommended is that you download the free paper here from PLoS One and give it a read through.
This concludes Paleo-Saturday here at Jurassic Park Legacy, if have a story you would like to see featured please be sure to e-mail us here so we can include it! Happy huntings!
Trike Encounter Re-Opens!
Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 - 15:48 PM (Eastern Time)
Breaking news essentially for us Jurassic Parkers. Behind The Thrills has reported that the Triceratops Encounter at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando, FL has re-opened its paddock to the public!
Year of the Ceratopsian Continues! It's that time again folks where we do an update on the latest happenings in Paleontology. We'll start with some local news for me about a Ceratopsian find, yes - another one! Koreaceratops hwaseongensis comes to our attention from research done by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History identified by Dr. Michael Ryan
The Koreaceratops hwaseongensis is named for Korea and Hwaseong City, which yielded the fossil. It was discovered in 2008 in a block of rock along the Tando Basin reservoir. It is one of the first articulated dinosaurs known from Korea.
At approximately 5 to 6 feet long and weighing about 60 to 100 pounds, the animal was relatively small compared to the geologically younger, giant relatives like Triceratops found in North America. Koreaceratops had a parrot-like face with a beak at the front of its jaws, indicating it was an herbivore. The claws on its hind feet suggest that it was bipedal and moved at a fairly rapid speed. Koreaceratops had a unique fan-shaped tail formed by long neural spines, which suggests it may have been a good swimmer, and spent part of its time hunting for aquatic food.
Robert Bakker, curator of paleontology at the HMNS, and his team found the new specimen at Craddock Brothers Ranch in Seymour, Texas. "Wet Willi" came to mind as a nickname because the fossils were discovered during the excavation of a drainage trench and because a dino expert named Samuel Williston conducted work in the area 100 years ago. Well-preserved fossils like this of Dimetrodon are rare, according to the researchers.
In life, "Willi" was the dominant predator of his world. He would have been 11 feet long with a four-foot vertical fin running the length of his body. The purpose of the prominent fin that defines this species has been debated since it was first discovered by paleontologist Edward Cope in Texas in 1878.
Always a personal favorite of mine for a non-dinosaur. Dimetrodon is a few huge staple point in paleontology and is extraordinarily popular. Be sure to check out the article here.
Fly long, fly slow....
At least that's the thought of what Pternaodons flew at the very least according to new research.
The new research, published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, has found that pterosaurs did best in gentle tropical breezes rather than the stormy winds typical of today's southern oceans.
Study author Colin Palmer, an engineering and paleontology expert from the University of Bristol, made models of pterosaur wings using resin, carbon fiber and latex rubber and tested them in a wind tunnel.
Palmer was inspired to do the tests after discovering that previous research on pterosaur flight was only based on pre-1950s data on aircraft wing behavior. He says that research had overestimated the efficiency -- that is, the ratio of lift to drag -- of pterosaurs in flight.
If anything the research helps point of a better portrait of the world the dinosaurs and their archosaur relatives, the Pterosaurs lived in. Be sure to read the full article here.
How did we get to diversify abd become the dominant animals of this planet? I will tell you how, luck! No. Not really, but the dinosaurs becoming extinct did in fact help us according to a new study.
"Mammals evolved around 210 million years ago and stayed small for their first 140 million years," lead author Felisa Smith told Discovery News. "This is probably because of competition from reptiles and dinosaurs, who dominated the ecosystem."
"Although mammals were also severely influenced by the K/T extinction (65.5 million years ago), they had a number of adaptations that helped after the devastation that followed the impact," explained Smith, an associate professor of biology at the University of New Mexico. "Many of the survivors were small, burrowers, and ate just about anything."
To read more about the article be sure to check it out here.
I'm on the Radio!
I'll be on the WAUG Radio Show, Cretaceous Chaos today discussing JPL among other things of varying dinosaur (and avian/non-avian interest) subject matter. Be sure to listen in today, 4:00 P.M CST for my appearance and the show dedicated to all things dinosauria every Saturday!
Terry "Tyrannosaur" Davis on Cretaceous Chaos
Date: Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 17:53 PM (Eastern Time)
Well everyone, I hope you're as excited as we are! This Saturday at 4:00 P.M CST Terry "Tyrannosaur" Davis, Jr. (who is the owner/founder of Jurassic Park Legacy) will be interviewed on Augustana's WAUG radio show Cretaceous Chaos. Be sure to tune into WAUG.from 4:00-6:00 P.M CST for the whole show.
Version 6.0 Banner Contest Winners Announced
Date: Saturday, December 4, 2010 - 22:25 PM (Eastern Time)
I would like to apologize for the long delay in announcing our winners for this contest, but after some careful judging we have finally announced our winners. First off every one of the runner up banners were great and were included as part of the headers on our site. Our winners were given a link to a special avatar and a special rank image on our boards. The grand prize winner of the contest, meaning the banner we were really impressed by was Tyranoraptor
Jerry Rex Carcharodontosaurus moegonzo Tomek evolution_rex keeperxiii
You've all done so good myself and the two judges I spoke with were very impressed with your work, myself included! A job well done!