A restored skeleton of Quetzalcoatlus a massive Pterosaur and the largest known flying animal.  It’s total wingspan is estimated to reach up to 40 feet.  Quetzalcoatlus had an unusually long neck, and when it stood on the ground it was as tall as a giraffe.  

It’s fossils have been found in Texas (yes everything is bigger in Texas)  During the Upper Cretaceous period (65-70 million years ago) this area was covered by the Western Interior Seaway.

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Let me introduce the new Balaur bondoc, which has just been reclassified as a perching, secondarily-flightless bird! I was out of town when this paper was finally released, so do excuse my lateness. 

These illustrations were produced for the new research on Balaur bondoc by Andrea Cau​, Darren Naish​, and Tom Brougham. Best known as the “double sickle-clawed dromaeosaur”, Balaur was in fact more likely to be a flightless bird placed more crownward than Archaeopteryx. The new paper, freely available at PeerJ, outlines ample rationale for this placement: perhaps most noteworthy, the enlarged hallux–previously thought to be a second sickle claw to enable a predatory Balaur to murder everything in sight–is more parsimonious as a highly mobile digit whose main function was to aid in climbing.

My life restoration of Balaur shows it as the pheasant-sized, omnivorous bird that it probably was in its Hateg island environment of Maastrichtian Romania (70 million years ago). The male, top, displays to a female who is much more interested in examining some berries.

The Hateg basin has provided great insight into its floral composition, which differed from most other known Cretaceous environments in a number of ways. Most of the plant life here is based on the Lindfors et al. 2009 paper, which described Eurya-like Ericales seeds in the Hateg basin, so I based the foreground plant in the upper left on Eurya japonica. There is also a lot of evidence for seeds and berry material in the Hateg, including a fruit described as having a distinctly pitted endocarp wall characteristic for some drupaceous fruits (e.g. in the Rosacae; comprising several fragments of rather large endocarp). This isn’t too dissimilar from a modern raspberry or blackberry fruit, so the berry plant is based on something along those lines.

They also found abundant evidence of the Normapolles pollen grain, which they associate with the modern order Fagales that includes Betulaceae (birches), Rhoipteleaceae, Juglandaceae (walnuts) and related families. As such, I based most of the trees, including the central fallen log, on birches, beeches, and hornbeams.

Read more at TetZoo!

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A new premium fossil listing at FossilEra.com  Nine articulated and fused vertebrae of a Mosasaur, Platycarpus tympaniticus.  This specimen was collected from the Late Cretaceous, Niobrara Chalk Formation of Kansas.  This 20 inch long section of the vertebral column to this monstrous prehistoric reptile has been mounted on a custom metal stand creating a very aesthetic display.  

The Niobrara Chalk was was laid down in the Late Cretaceous, when the middle to the United States was covered by the Western Interior Seaway. It underlies much of the Great Plains of the US and Canada. Evidence of vertebrate life is common throughout the formation and includes specimens of plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, and pterosaurs as well as several primitive aquatic birds. 

Oviraptor, Sammy Hill

He was eighteen years old. He had raised almost as many broods, watched them grow and become mothers and fathers themselves. He was clam-fisher and crab-catcher, nest-builder and egg-keeper. He’d faced skulking velociraptors, puffed and squawked at rummaging protoceratopses, and dodged the crushing feet of nemegtosaurs. He knew to follow the termite-loving, spade-handed Shuvuuia so he could plunder the lizards attracted to the digger’s insect nest destructions. He was Hermes via Quetzalcoatl. 

But now the old tom had lost some of his luster: his once-cerulean wattle was dusty gray, and his plumage had gone pale under the Mongolian sun. Regardless, he still clucked and strutted, watching his grandchildren gather by their mothers in the sand along the arroyos.

The Virtual Fossil Museum Fossil of the Month for December 2014, a Cretaceous Octopus from a Lebanese Lagerstatte

Image: Virtual Fossil Museum (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Styletoctopus annae

Phylum Mollusca, Class Cephalopoda, Superorder Octopodiformes, Order Octopoda, Octopodidae
Geological Time
: Middle Cretaceous, Cenomanian Stage (95 million years ago)
Size: Fossil is 40 mm across
Fossil Site: Lebanese Lagerstätte, Haqel (or Hâkel), Lebanon

Fossil octopi are rare in the fossil record in large part because they lack either an internal or external skeleton.Thus, the detail seen here requires preservation of soft tissue of the type only rarely seen and usually only found in fossil sites meeting the criteria for Lagerstätten.

Also see a Paleoctopus newboldi octopus fossil from the same site.

Predatory Cockroach From The Age Of The Dinosaurs Discovered Trapped In Amber

A miner in Myanmar recently stumbled across a 100 million year old predatory cockroach trapped in amber. It is a perfectly preserved specimen of an exotic insect, an ancient relative of the praying mantis. The predatory cockroach, called Manipulator modificaputis, has been described by Peter Vršanský from the Geological Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia, and Günter Bechly from the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, in the journal Geologica Carpathica.   Read more at IFLScience…

Jane Colwell-Danis was the first female vertebrate palaeontologist in Canada to be formally trained the subject, and she’s still going strong at the Royal Tyrell Museum! She had an eye for the smaller things in life - like the tiny fossils of small mammals - that are often overshadowed by attention-grabbing dinosaurs….
…that’s not to say she hasn’t also had her fair share of dinosaur digs & discoveries! Read more about Jane in our NEW POST:
http://trowelblazers.com/jane-colwell-danis/

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“There’s a bunch of squawk on the web coming from people who think that feathered dinosaurs aren’t scary. On behalf of anyone who’s had hands-on experience with or even basic working knowledge of bird biology, please, shut the fuck up. Birds are fucking creepy murderous motherfuckers. Don’t believe me?” Keep reading: Feathered Dinosaurs Are Scary as Hell 

(Illustrations and article by Brian Engh)

Blue Peacockidons, A. J. Trahan

This was the last afternoon the brothers would spend together. Their adult plumage was almost completely grown in: just a few gray-green plumes hung from frames becoming sleek and iridescent with vibrant blues that almost shone in the sunlight. 

The following day, the older one snapped at the younger. He whistled a territorial song—a tune that dipped low, then rose to end in three trill and angry notes—spread his arms and shook his great blue tail, fanning his feathers, trying to look as big and threatening as he could. 

The younger one was confused, not ready to be chased away. He cocked his head and chirped, then dodged his older brother’s kicks. He moved a few paces away, and the brother glared at him, sang “lu-ohn-a-ree-ee-ee” again. The younger one paced, keeping a few body-lengths between them, but edged too near, and his older brother was jumping again, lashing out with long, skinny, barb-tipped legs, mouth wide, feathers puffed. They croaked and chittered and rolled through the undergrowth, as if being tossed by the wind, one brother trying to climb on his sibling, the other spinning to stay out from under him. 

After this second attack, the younger one ran away—his brother scolding a few more territorial announcements behind him—and stopped only when he could no longer hear his brother. He inspected a scratch he’d received in the fight. Blood beaded between plumes. After nursing it, he looked around. The forest seemed larger than before.

Gastonia is a genus of plant-eating ankylosaurian dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period (~125 Million Years Ago) of North America.  It has a sacral shield and large shoulder spikes. This dinosaur was found in the same quarry as the Utahraptor.

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