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Carnegie Museum - Part 1

The first thing that greets visitors on the way to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History is an Apatosaurus statue—life-size, I believe. It certainly whets the appetite for all the nice dinosaur mounts in the exhibition hall. Just inside, there’s a fossil prep lab open for the public to see, including this little line of lambeosaurine skulls. Just ahead of that, a Herrerasaurus mount marks the entrance to the Hall of Dinosaurs. My inner ten-year-old may have taken over at about this juncture.

The phytosaur is a Redondasaurus, and it seems much bigger in person. I’d hate to find myself caught in a Triassic swamp with something like that. A few steps down is a Camarasaurus cast, mirroring in situ skeletons out west in Dinosaur National Monument. Lastly, on the cusp of the next, largest part of the hall, a dryosaur fleeing desperately from a Ceratosaurus because this is all dryosaurs ever did.

Next post, the Jurassic hall, including the Carnegie Diplodocus.

Happy #FossilFriday! Meet the phytosaur Machaeroprosopus gregorii, or “knife-face.”

Some phytosaurs reached gigantic size, and this specimen was probably over 40 feet long! Phytosaurs were clearly carnivorous: in a few specimens, bones of other reptiles have been found as stomach contents. Machaeroprosopus lived 210 million years ago, and was collected near Cameron, Arizona in 1936. 

This specimen is located in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins

Weird and exclusive news from northern Arizona this morning, where scientists have discovered a trove of remarkable Triassic animal fossils, including croc-like ancestors of dinosaurs, carnivorous amphibians that grew as big as people, and — perhaps most unexpectedly — about a ton of fossilized poop.

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As a paleontology lab volunteer at the Natural History Museum of Utah, this was my task today: unjacketing, “excavating,” cleaning, and consolidationg what turned out to be the rib of a phytosaur (a kind of crocodile relative).  A great day!

This morning I spied the pile of jackets on the cart.  They’re from the Triassic formation at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico (what I mentally think of as “that Coelophysis place”). The rib jumped out at me first thing, and I desired it so.  Lo and behold, my supervisor gives it to me as my task for the day. What luck!

As I opened the jacket, I realized that everything inside was crumbled to bits.  As I probed further, I had the horrifying thought that the so-called rib was no longer identifiable (at least by me, anyway) and was somehow summarily crushed in transportation.  After some calming from my supervisor (and his reminder that I was working bottom-in, so it would take a while before I would see anything), I hit pay dirt.  (I feel as if I’ve been waiting a life time to say that!)

The pictures show me removing the matrix and the thin, black rib becoming exposed.  Sorry for the not-so-good pictures, my fingers were covered in plaster, glue, or both, and honestly at the time I was far more interested in uncovering my specimen. 

It’s looking good so far, but I’ve got plenty of work to go, especially since the rib is broken in probably 30 or more places so I’ll need to do some serious gluing. 

Stay tuned next week!

The Curious Case of Crurotarsi

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Redondasaurus at the Carnegie Museum, by the author

Text ahoy.

As I settle into university life for the first time, I take it upon myself in my free time to become better acquainted with the base of the archosaur tree. If you haven’t noticed the blog’s tag by now, it calls out Archosauria (Cope, 1869) by name, establishing the crown-archosaurs as its focus, and although I make obvious digressions to post about other animals now and again (I am a flighty, easily-distracted individual), this is treated as, more or less, gospel. Unfortunately, this maxim implicitly excludes the more basal archosauriforms and archosauromorphs, who reside along the stem of this tree, and which may well have a fair claim to “archosaurishness” themselves.

But I find myself worrying. This limitation omits a variety of fascinating critters from the Permian, the Triassic, and… otherwise. And on top of this, the boundaries of the “true” archosaurs occasionally blur and shift subtly. Case in point…

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Prehistoric Animals of the Day: Eucoelophysis attacked by Redondasaurus by Apsaravis

Eucoelophysis
Clade: Silesauridae
Time: Late Triassic
Location: New Mexico
Size (length): ?
Note: Possibly not a dinosaur, but a dinosauriform instead

Redondasaurus
Family: Phytosauridae
Time: Late Triassic
Location: New Mexico
Size (length): 12m (39ft)
Note: Not a dinosaur, nor a crocodile.

Happy Machaeroprosopus gregorii, or “knife-face.”

Some phytosaurs reached gigantic size, and this specimen was probably over 40 feet long! Phytosaurs were clearly carnivorous: in a few specimens, bones of other reptiles have been found as stomach contents. Machaeroprosopus lived 210 million years ago, and was collected near Cameron, Arizona in 1936. 

This specimen is located in the Hall of Vertebrate Origins. 

Triassic-Age 'Swamp Monster': Rare Female Phytosaur Skull Found In West Texas More Than 200 Million Years Old

Triassic-Age ‘Swamp Monster’: Rare Female Phytosaur Skull Found In West Texas More Than 200 Million Years Old

https://earthchangesmedia.com/triassic-age-swamp-monster-rare-female-phytosaur-skull-found-in-west-texas-more-than-200-million-years-old

In the dangerous waters of an ancient oxbow lake created by a flooded and unnamed meandering river, the female phytosaur died and sank to the bottom 205 million years ago. About 40 yards away the remains of a larger male also came to rest, and both disappeared…

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Leaving the field is always bittersweet. After a week scrambling over rocks in search of fossils, a warm shower and cozy bed are the ultimate luxuries. But no matter what an expedition was like, I always feel like I’m leaving too soon. If I went prospecting and failed, I wonder what I would have found if I had spent one more day among the outcrops. If I found a new site or uncovered new bones in a quarry, I want to stay and dig in further. There’s always an excuse to spend more time in the past.

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