Struthiomimus altus, S. sedens

Source: http://green-mamba.deviantart.com/art/018-STRUTHIOMIMUS-ALTUS-287776180

Name: Struthiomimus altus, S. sedens

Name Meaning: Ostrich Mimic

First Described: 1917

Described By: Osborn

ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Eusaurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Averostra, Tetanurae, Orionides, Avetheropoda, Coelurosauria, Tyrannoraptora, Maniraptoriformes, Ornithomimosauria, Ornithomimidae, Ornithomiminae

Struthiomimus is, arguably, the best known ornithomimosaur, and the most famous. It is known from many individuals and lived primarily in the USA and Canada. S. altus is known mainly from the Dinosaur Park Formation in Alberta, Canada, dating back to the Campanian age of the Late Cretaceous, about 75 million years ago. S. sedens is known from the Lance and Hell Creek Formations in the United States, dating to the Maastrichtian age of the Late Cretaceous, about 66 million years ago. Finally, a third species which has not yet been named was found in the Horseshoe Canyon Formation in Canada, dating to 70 million years ago in the early Maastrichtian age of the Late Cretaceous. This third species differed from the other two in having more slender hands. S. sedens was the largest of the three, similar in size to Gallimimus, about 5 meters long. S. altus was about 4.3 meters long. 

Source: http://haghani.deviantart.com/art/Tyrannosaurus-rex-VS-Struthiomimus-353106129

Struthiomimus was actually one of the first theropods imagined with a horizontal posture that we think of them in today, rather than the vertical one common to many early examples of palaeoart. It had a keratinous, toothless beak that could have been used for a variety of feeding strategies. It could have been used to selectively browse in trees, or to pick out grubs and insects, or to better grab small reptiles and animals. It also could have been a filter feeder. The modern consensus seems to be that it was an omnivore. Its hands could have functioned at hooks or clamps, sort of like the hands of sloths, to bring branches and ferns within reach. It had powerful, well structured legs, allowing it to run away from predators at speeds between 50 and 80 km/h (31 and 50 mph). And it needed this speed - it lived alongside large tyrannosaurs such as Albertosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, and dromaeosaurs like Dromaeosaurus, as well as many herbivores such as Chasmosaurus, Euoplocephalus, and Edmontosaurus. 

Sources: 

http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/s/struthiomimus.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Struthiomimus

Shout out goes to kam336!

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Trilobite Fossil Inspired, Oxidized Silver Armour Knuckle Ring, hand carved by Moon & Serpent

Instagram: moonandserpent

Sinornithomimus dongi

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinornithomimus

Name: Sinornithomimus dongi

Name Meaning: Dong’s Chinese Bird Mimic

First Described: 2003

Described By: Kobayashi & Lü

ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Eusaurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Averostra, Tetanurae, Orionides, Avetheropoda, Coelurosauria, Tyrannoraptora, Maniraptoriformes, Ornithomimosauria, Ornithomimidae

Sinornithomimus is an interesting genus as it represents a transitionary from from earlier ornithomimosaurs to the more advanced later ones such as Struthiomimus. What was especially interesting about it was its relatively short neck compared to other forms, indicating that as ornithomimosaurs evolved, their necks got steadily longer. It is a very well known ornithomimosaur as it is known from many individuals, including juvenile specimens. It was two meters long, making it a fairly small member of the group as well. It was found in the Ulansuhai Formation in Mongolia, dating back to approximately the Turonian age of the Late Cretaceous, about 92 million years ago. It was a gregarious species, given that it was found in a bonebed of a family group. 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinornithomimus

http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/s/sinornithomimus.html

Shout out goes to k-logg!

A fossil skeleton of a primitive, Eocene aged whale at “Whales Valley”, 150 km southwest of Cairo, Egypt.  This spectacular site helps to provide an explanation to one of the biggest mysteries of the evolution of whales, the emergence of the whale as an ocean going mammal from a land-based animal. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils making it at particularly scientifically important location.

The whales found in Whale Valley possess small hind limbs, a feature that is not seen in modern whales.  They also have a powerful skull with teeth like those found in carnivorous land mammals. Several other types of mammals are present including three species of sea cows. These were fully marine like the whales, and likewise show primitive features not seen in modern species and possess teeth that suggest that they grazed on seagrasses and other marine plants.

Be sure to follow the Fossil Porn Tumblr blog for more amazing fossil photos and news stories.

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A beautifully articulated, rear paddle of a 183 million year old Ichthyosaur. The paddle is approximately 8 inches long. It comes from the Posidonia Shale Formation formation in Southern Germany.

Ichthyosaurs (“Fish Lizard”) was a giant marine reptile which thrived from much of the Mesozoic era. They evolved in the mid Triassic from a group of unidentified land reptiles which transition back into the water. This line evolved in parallel to the ancestors of todays dolphins and whales, something known as convergent evolution.

A new premium fossil list at Fossil Era.

The first of its kind- Baby Woolly Rhino Discovered In Siberia

Sasha, the baby wooly rhino, in all her glory; (inset) the specimen was discovered at the Abyysky District of Siberia’s Sakha Republic. Pictures: Academy of Sciences.

The pristine specimen of the tiny extinct rhino—the only one of its type ever found—was discovered in permafrost along the bank of a stream in Siberia’s Sakha Republic, The Siberian Times reported.

"At first we thought it was a reindeer’s carcass, but after it thawed and fell down we saw a horn on its upper jaw and realized it must be a rhino," Alexander ‘Sasha’ Banderov, the hunter who made the discovery, told the Times. "The part of the carcass that stuck out of the ice was eaten by wild animals, but the rest of it was inside the permafrost and preserved well." Experts hope to be able to extract DNA from remains of the extinct creature which was today being handed over to scientists from the  Academy of Sciences in Yakutsk, capital of the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia.

Replica of a woolly rhino created by Remie Bakker, 2010

The age of the cub when it died has yet to be established, but scientists estimate it to be about 18 months old. Precise tests will be conducted to ascertain when Sasha died, with the results likely in six months. The creature’s wool is well preserved, and an ear, one eye, its nostrils, and mouth are clearly visible.

Albert Protopopov, Head of the Mammoth Fauna Department of Sakha Republic Academy of Sciences, said: “The find is absolutely unique. We can count a number of adult woolly rhinos found around the world on fingers of one hand. A baby rhino was never found before. We know nothing about baby rhinos, while the morphology of adults is better known. So far we didn’t have a chance to work even with a tooth of a baby rhino, and now we have the whole skull, the head, soft tissues, and well preserved teeth.”

Sources:

[Image: A flock of Hatzegopteryx. One paces along on all fours, another rockets into flight by pushing off with its strong forelimbs, and the rest soar above them.]

Pterosaur Myths Busted (V3)

Pterosaurs are a staple of movies featuring prehistoric animals—yet most media depictions of the poor beasts remain woefully stuck in the 19th century. Real pterosaurs were just about nothing like the sluggish, flimsy-winged gliders that populated our childhood picture books and movies. Here we take a look at how some common misconceptions about them stack up against the facts. 

Misconception: “Pterodactyl” and “pterosaur” mean the same thing.

Fact: “Pterosaur” applies to the entire group, but “pterodactyl” is only correct when you’re referring to, well, pterodactyloids.

In general, pterodactyls had proportionally shorter tails, longer necks, bigger heads, and longer hand bones than non-pterodactyls. Compare these skeletal drawings of Rhamphorhynchus (a non-pterodactyl) and Pteranodon (the ’dactyl of Jurassic Park fame).

M: Pterosaurs were dinosaurs.

F: Dinosaurs fall under the orders Ornithischia and Saurischia. Pterosaurs do not belong to either group, though current evidence places them as close relatives of the dinosaurs within Ornithodira

M: Pterosaurs were the ancestors of birds.

F: Like their cousins Velociraptor and T. rex, birds are a type of theropod dinosaur. Pterosaurs left no living descendants.

M: Pterosaurs had scaly / leathery / bald skin.

F: Though the pads of their feet were scaly, most of a pterosaur’s body was covered in hairlike filaments called pycnofibers. Pterosaurs of the primitive family Anurognathidae, such as the one shown below, seem to have been fluffed up from snout to tail with pycnofibers.

M: Pterosaurs were “cold-blooded.”

F: Nope. With no body heat to insulate there wouldn’t be much point to pycnofibers.

M: Pterosaurs could pick things up with their feet.

F: Their feet were much better suited to walking than grasping. Like humans, they had plantigrade feet—in other words, the entire sole of the foot contacted the ground as they walked.

M: Grounded pterosaurs walked on their hind legs / could only crawl around on their bellies.

F: Pterosaurs usually walked on all fours, and many were quite adept at ground locomotion to boot, especially the pterodactyls. Some, such as the dsungaripteroids, may even have been capable of galloping. The three in the illustration below are shown badgering an azhdarchid for its kill.

M: All pterosaurs had teeth / were toothless.

F: Pterosaurs had all kinds of dental arrangements, from completely toothless to jaws positively bristling with the things—just look at Pterodaustro below. (Pteranodon was toothless, by the way; its name even means “toothless wing.”)

 

M: Females of crested species had large head crests like the males.

F: Head crests were probably sexually dimorphic, with males usually having much larger, more elaborate head decoration, as demonstrated by these two Darwinopterus

M: Pterosaur wing membranes were leathery, flimsy and prone to tearing.

F: Pterosaur wings were supple, complex, multilayered structures. They were reinforced with closely-packed fibers called aktinofibrils. 

M: Each wing was supported by several fingers like a bat’s.

F: Only the hugely elongated fourth finger supported the wing; the other three fingers were much smaller. See here for a diagram of the pterosaur wing. 

M: Pterosaurs had sharply-pointed wing tips.

F: Such a wing shape would have made flight difficult. Here’s our anurognathid friend again, showing off its nice rounded wing tips for you.

 

M: Some pterosaurs were too big / heavy to fly.

F: Even the largest pterosaurs were probably capable of powered flight. 

M: Pterosaurs could only take off by falling from a cliff / tree / [insert high starting point here].

F: They could launch into flight under their own power using all four limbs, a strategy also known in some modern bats. This is called “quadrupedal launch” (or just “quad launch”). See this video for a pterosaur quad launch demonstration.

M: All pterosaurs were ocean-going fish hunters.

F: They occupied a variety of niches, and many lived inland.

M: Pterosaurs cared for their hatchlings in much the same way as modern birds.

F: Other than protecting them during the hatching process, pterosaur parents might not have had much to do with their offspring (called “flaplings”) since they could probably fly almost immediately after birth.

Recent findings reveal that at least some pterosaurs, such as Hamipterus, were social and may have built their nests together in huge colonies.

M: Pterosaurs went extinct because they were outcompeted by birds.

F: The evidence for this idea is weak at best.

M: Live pterosaur sightings prove that pterosaurs never really went extinct. 

F: This idea relies on scant evidence as well. 

—————

If you have anything more than a passing interest in pterosaurs, you really should pick up a copy of paleontologist Mark Witton’s book on themPterosaur.net is another useful resource of information about these fascinating, ridiculous creatures.

Sources to avoid include David Peters’ Pterosaur Heresies and ReptileEvolution.com. While these sites seem professional on the surface and feature loads of attractive artwork, scientists have been unable to replicate the results of Peters’ research, and repeatable results are a hallmark of good science. Read more about Peters here (PDF), here and here

(Credit: Skeletal drawings by Scott Hartman; all other illustrations by Mark Witton.) ( #long post )

Archaeopteryx 

A bird that lived during the Late Jurassic period that is a transitional species between feathered dinosaurs such as Velociraptor and Anchiornus, and modern birds. The feather impressions found on archaeopteryx are advanced flight feathers, and suggest feathers began evolving well before the Late Jurassic. Also, this fossilized version is super creepy and super cool.

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Winner of the 2014 Vertebrate Find Of The Year over at the Fossil Forum. An upper jaw of Pelagornis, a giant (think 15-20 foot wingspan), false-toothed bird.  From the Calvert Formation of Maryland, early Miocene in age.  Found and prepared by forum member BusyEagle.

Pelagornis  probably was closely related to todays pelicans and storks.  The earliest birds in the fossil record had teeth.  These “false teeth” are one of the transitional features between non-avian dinosaurs and the birds of today.   You can read more about this early pseudo toothed bird over at National Geographic.

Be sure to follow the Fossil Porn Tumblr blog for more amazing fossil photos and news stories.

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Today is so exciting for a ton of fellow palaeontologists, students, researchers, and myself… Dreadnoughtus has finally been published!

The video above gives you guys a bit of history to where this titanosaur was discovered back in 2005. Almost ten years later and it’s finally gone public! With a name like Dreadnoughtus, it’s hard not to want to run around saying its awesome name.

These fossils spent a lot of time being excavated out of the matrix they were found in; around 4 years with multiple labs working tirelessly to clean and repair them. We had to get it done at least in some sort of quick time, right? With such a huge specimen, a lot of man power is required!

I’m so proud and happy for everyone involved that we can now share this gorgeous dinosaur to the public! It’s MASSIVE. The fossils are just mind blowing to look at, and now we continue to move forward with its preservation, education, and further research. It’ll be going back to Argentina next year.

You can read the article about Dreadnoughtus here on Drexel University’s website, and the scientific paper on Nature.com (which some super awesome people I know worked on).

The preparation on this specimen of the trilobite Metacanthina issoumourensis is simply spectacular. All of the surrounding matrix and much of the matrix underneath the trilobite has been removed so that it “flies” on a pedestal of rock. Only the most skilled preparitors can do this type of work, and it requires dozens of hours of work under microscope where even the most minute mistake can spell disaster.  Just added for sale at FossilEra.com

Details & More Photos: https://www.fossilera.com/fossils/amzing-flying-metacanthina-trilobite

Fossilization is an extremely rare event.

To appreciate this point, consider that there are 10 specimens of the first bird to appear in the fossil record, Archaeopteryx.

All were found in the same site in Germany where limestone is quarried for printmaking (the bird species name is lithographica). If you accept an estimate that crow-sized birds native to wetland habitats in northern Europe would have a population of around 10,000 and a life span of 10 years, and if you accept the current estimate that the species existed for about two million years, then you can calculate that about two billion Archaeopteryx lived.

But as far as researchers currently know, only 1 out of every 200,000,000 individuals fossilized. For this species, the odds of becoming a fossil were almost 40 times worse than your odds are of winning the grand prize in a provincial lottery.

—  Biological Science, Second Canadian Edition (Textbook); Freeman, Harrington, Sharp