Carnegie Museum - Part 3

The first thing to greet one’s arrival to the Cretaceous hall is one of the famous quilled specimens of Psittacosaurus. Across the way are some other Jehol Biota animals, complete with models (like this Sinornithosaurus). They look fairly well, so far as museum models of feathered dinosaurs go—that is to say, they don’t look quite like naked dinosaurs with feathers just glued on. Beside the models are a couple specimens, including this Caudipteryx with feathers and its last meal, preserved in its stomach.

A step ahead is Protoceratops, doing what it does best, whatever that may be, and across from that, Corythosaurus. Just ahead are the heavy-hitters of the Cretaceous exhibit, a pair of Tyrannosaurus rex feuding over a corpse. It’s that of Edmontosaurus, being snarled over by tyrannosaurs because this is all edmontosaurs ever did.

Just around the corner is a rare site in most dinosaur halls, a mounted Pachycephalosaurus at full charge. Next to him are a rogue’s gallery of his marginocephalian buddies, the ceratopsians. From the left clockwise, they're Pachyrhinosaurus, Zuniceratops, Diabloceratops, and Torosaurus. Their more famous cousin, Triceratops, stands a bit further down.

Last on the way out of the dinosaur hall is the recently-named caenagnathid Anzu wileyi. The fossil was discovered 15 years ago, and the holotype at this point was presumably sitting just under my feet. Spooky.

Past here, some Cenozoic skeletons and another photoset.


Alright this is our last round to finish out pride! 

Please Credit: 

Heteroflexible Styracosaurus by @quetzalcuetzpalin 
Homoflexible Sinornithosaurus by @saint-nevermore 

Demiboy Kunbarrasaurus by @palaeoshley
Omnigay Ornithopsis by @fezraptor 

Pangender Gobipteryx by @drawingwithdinosaurs 
Quoisexual Mongolosaurus by @artisticthingem 

Demigirl Scelidosaurus by @thewoodparable 
Trisexual Giganotosaurus by @quetzalcuetzpalin

Trigender Piscivoravis by @drawingwithdinosaurs
Genderflux Eocursor by @thewoodparable 



Sinornithosaurus milleni, AKA “Dave, the Fuzzy Raptor”

I took these photos several years back, when the “Dino-Birds” exhibit was at the Natural History Museum in London.  Not the sharpest images in the world; flash photography was prohibited, for fear it would damage the fossils.  And digital cameras back then weren’t nearly as good as they are now.  But the feather impressions were so delicate it would be tough for any camera to do justice to them, even in the best conditions.  It was really amazing to see in person.

Now I’ve heard of the possibility of adult rexes having bites that can cause deadly infection but not newborns, also as an anon pointed out, that’s not technically a venomous bite to begin with. As for his second point… I believe he’s thinking of Sinornithosaurus? It’s a theropod dinosaur that could glide to some degree (cause there’s no such thing as a “flying dinosaur”) that had been speculated to of had some kind of venomous bite due to grooves in its teeth. (Albeit this has been since proven false.)

This sounded way better in my head.

If you’d rather hear it as a joke, then:

A paleontologist is guiding a tour through early Cretaceous China, when they see a Sinocalliopteryx chase a pair of Sinornithosaurus up a tree. A guest asks “What are those dinosaurs doing?” and the paleontologist quickly responds with “WAIR.” The guest then points at the tree and says “Over there!”

(WAIR stands for wing-assisted incline running, in case you didn’t know.)

rooster-foot  asked:

Hi!! I was wondering if you have a list, or know of some interesting or unique raptors? I really REALLY love them, and I want to learn more about their genus and evolutionary branch!

I like raptors a lot, too! They’re some of my favorite dinosaurs.

A decent place to start for a list is the #raptor tag over at @a-dinosaur-a-day. There’s also Wikipedia – both the dromaeosaurid page and the timeline of research have some fairly up-to-date information.

But here’s a few I think are particularly interesting:

  • The unenlagiine subgroup had very long snouts and slender limbs, and may have been wading fish-eaters like modern herons. They include some of the smallest known raptors like Buitreraptor, and also one of the largest, Austroraptor.
  • The microraptorians include the “four-winged” gliders like Microraptor. We also know about the feather colors of some of them – Microraptor itself was a glossy iridescent black, while Sinornithosaurus was a mixture of reddish-brown, yellow, black and grey.
  • Mahakala, Tianyuraptor and Zhenyuanlong had unusually tiny arms, and the latter also preserves long wing and tail feathers.
  • The famous Velociraptor had quill knobs on its arm bones, evidence of large feathers. It was probably nocturnal, and while it occasionally got into fights with Protoceratops it also sometimes scavenged from carcasses. Despite how stiffly its tail is normally depicted, one specimen suggests that it might have actually had some degree of flexibility in life.
  • Fossilized eggshells have been found associated with a specimen of Deinonychus, in a position that suggests it may have been brooding on a nest when it died. It was also the main subject of a study on the uses of raptors’ distinctive sickle claws – they were probably used for holding down small prey while eating it alive.
  • Utahraptor was possibly the largest known raptor at over 6m long, and also had some weird body proportions compared to its close relatives – a bulky body, short tail, stocky limbs, and an oddly curved lower jaw. A big slab containing at least six skeletons is currently being excavated and studied (supported by crowdfunding!), so more discoveries are still waiting to be made.
  • Another large raptor, Dakotaraptor, had quill knobs similar to those seen in Velociraptor, showing that even the “giant” raptors still had well-developed feathers. Two different adult body shapes are seen in its fossils, which might be evidence of sexual dimorphism.
Q’s Dinoformers

I’m just gonna stuff all these right here. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (Part 1/?)

Brainstorm (Oviraptor)

Chromedome (Pachycephalosaurus)

Drift (Neovenator)

Megatron (Tyrannosaurus)

Nightbeat (Parasaurolophus)

Ratchet (Triceratops)

Rewind (Sinornithosaurus)

Rodimus 1 (Dilophosaurus)

Ultra Magnus (Stegosaurus)

Whirl (Carnotaurus)

( @stonemadegremlin I kind of made more than planned in one go whoops ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

Work in progress underpainting for Yi qi (meaning essentially “Strange Wing”). A pint sized dinosaur with a very strange adaptation. What is unusual is not the fact that it had wings, as many dinosaurs had them, such as microraptor, sinornithosaurus, archeopteryx, and most modern bird species, what is strange is the type of wings it appeared to possess. Most dinosaurian wings were made of feathers, a feature that Yi qi did possess as a body covering, but it’s wings look to have been made of a membrane of skin stretched between 2 of it’s fingers and an extra bony strut that appears to be attached at the back of it’s wrists.

While there are animals in the fossil record with wings similar to this, such as bats and pterosaurs. This is the first dinosaur that appears to evolved flight in a different way than most other members of that group.

Discovered in Qinglong County, Hebei, China, Yi qi was dated to have lived around the middle to late Jurassic, about 160 million years ago, it is known from only one current specimen.

Dinosaur color

            The main problem, historically, in reconstructing dinosaurs and other extinct animals has been determining their coloration. In some cases, educated guesswork can suffice—most mammals will have hair in some shade of black, brown or blonde, most oceanic fish will be some shade of silver-blue, etcetera. In other cases—such as dinosaurs in general and birds in particular—it’s nowhere near as easy. We can reconstruct musculature and ligaments with relative ease; skin, feathers, and scales can be reconstructed as well, provided detailed enough fossils in which we can find their impressions. But how are we supposed to tell what color they were?

            As it turns out, a way exists. In vertebrates, melanin pigments are carried within specialized organelles known as melanosomes, which are usually found in cells in the skin, hair, feathers, and eyes. Melanin comes in two different types: there is eumelanin, which in turn comes in black (grey in low concentrations) and brown (blonde in low concentrations) varieties; and there is red pheomelanin, pink when in low concentrations, that can mix with brown eumelanin to create ginger hair. Different types of melanin are stored in differently shaped melanosomes, whose shapes vary in a reasonably predictable manner across species—eumelanosomes are generally rod-shaped while pheomelanosomes are usually more rounded. Since at least eumelanin is resistant to both chemical and bacterial decay, melanosomes are known to survive the process of fossilization intact enough to tell what kind of melanin they bore. As such, if melanosomes are found in a fossilized animal, it is possible to tell what color that animal was in life.

            The first time a dinosaur’s color was determined, it was that of Sinosauropteryx, a small (about a meter long, counting its long tail) theropod dinosaur covered in hair-like fuzz like that that, in related dinosaur lineages, gave rise to true feathers. After comparing the melanosomes in its protofeathers to those of modern birds, it turned out that Sinosauropteryx had distinctive ginger-and-white banding all along its tail, possibly for camouflage. The possibility of a light belly and a darker back is also possible, if less certain.

            Anchiornis, an avian dinosaur maybe half a meter long and with a coating of true feathers, is another dinosaur whose coloring is well known. It was determined to have had a primarily grey and black body, with white feathers on its wings and legs and a red crest.

            Archaeopteryx, as it turns out, would have had black feathers at least on the tips of its wing feathers. This actually meshes well with our knowledge of birds, since the physical structure of black melanosomes is such that they strengthen feathers, making them better suited for bearing their owner in flight.

            Similarly, Confuciusornis, a true bird maybe the size of a crow, had a mix of grey, ginger, and black feathers, while Sinornithosaurus, a small dromeosaur that bore true feathers, was patterned in ginger, yellow, grey, and black.

            Feathers are not the only structures whose color can be determined this way: eumelanosomes have been found in the eyes of fossilized Eocene birds, and similar structures have been reported in fossils as varied as the eyes of fish and ichthyosaurs and mammalian fur.

            Aside from dinosaurs, there is one other extinct animal whose color we know—the wooly mammoth. Several mammoths have been found, exquisitely preserved in Siberian permafrost. The level of preservation is such that even their fur has endured, fur that is consistently reddish in color. However, the process of preservation that has allowed the frozen mammoths to endure until the present day would have resulted in chemical “bleaching” of their fur, lightening it. In life, mammoths would have had black coats.

            At the moment, the main problem with further color reconstruction for extinct animals is twofold: first, melanosomes are not always preserved, and thus reconstructing what color a fossil animal had in life depends of being lucky enough to find the right fossils. Second, melanosomes with distinct shapes do not occur evenly in all vertebrates. In fact, the only animals in which a clear distinction between rod-shaped eumelanosomes and round pheomelanosomes exists are mammals, birds, and the birds’ closest non-avian dinosaur relatives. In other vertebrates, they are uniformly rounded in shape, regardless of the type of melanin they contain. As such, even if fossils melanosomes were discovered in a non-mammalian or avian fossil, they wouldn’t tell us much about the animal’s color.

            We’ll almost certainly never know the true color of all, or even most, prehistoric animals. But it’s just as likely that our knowledge of prehistoric color will expand beyond the handful of examples we have now. All we need is a bit of luck and a few more fossils with preserved melanosomes or, failing that, the discovery of something other than a mammoth frozen in the Siberian permafrost.