duck billed dinosaur

A Kaiju-Sized Skull Island

So, King Kong is coming back with a new rebooted franchise, and word on the street is that they’re going to pit Kong against Godzilla again. Considering this would mean that Kong would have to be scaled-up in size in order to contend with the Big G, I’ve been wondering how that’s supposed to work, which led to this. 

As with the last map, there’s a long write-up under the cut.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Lady helix, I'd really like for you to talk to me about rampardos

Well, Rampardos and it’s pre-evolution Cranidos, are based on Pachycephalosaurid (Pachy = thick, cephalo = headed, = saurid = lizard) dinosaurs. These are of course the famous headbutting dinosaurs, but how well does the design and behaviour of these Pokémon match up to what we know about these dinosaurs?

First of all, lets talk about Pachycephalosaurs. This is a clade (taxonomic group) within the Ornithischian dinosaurs, which is one of the two major dinosaur groups, containing other well known clades including the Ceratopsians (e.g. Triceratops - and Bastiodon), the armoured dinosaurs, or Thyreophora (e.g. Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus) and the Ornithopods (e.g. Iguanodon and the Duck billed dinosaurs). Long necked dinosaurs (Sauropods) and the bipedal carnivores that would give rise to T.rex, velociraptors, and of course, birds, are placed in the other major dinosaur group, the Saurischians, but that is a story for another time. 

Back to Pachycephalosaurs. They include about 16 fossil species, and are united by a distinctively thick skull roof, often surrounded by bony spikes. In some species, in particular, the most famous species Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, the skull roof is domed and inches thick, and it is this characteristic skull and species that the skull fossil and thus our Pokémon in question are based upon. 

Pachycephalosaurs were relatively late on the Dinosaur scene, arising between 90 million years and 65 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous, with P. wyomingensis being one of the very last dinosaur species before the KT mass extinction, living between 70mya and 65mya ago. This is the first discrepancy with the description of our Poké Pals, as  many of Cranidos’ pokedex entries state that it lived 100 million years ago, placing it towards the early end of the Cretaceous. 

Now, both Cranidos and Rampardos are described as The Head Butt Pokemon, and indeed many of their pokedex entries describe head butting behaviour, either at obstacles, for hunting prey (even though pachycephalosaurs, as well as most Ornithischians were herbivores, so this is discrepancy #2), and of course, for head on collisions with each other, a nod to what P. wyomingensis is best known for, or at least what we thought we knew about them.

First of all, it may be that not all P. wyomingensis had domed skulls. Flatter headed Pachycephalosaur species, such as Dracorex hogwartsia (which is the coolest fucking name, it literally means dragon king of hogwarts, and the palaeontologist who discovered it says he visualised it as “a slightly less pyromaniac Hungarian Horntail”) have now been proposed to be juvenile and female P. wyomingensis, with the domed skull only developing in adult males, a sexual dimorphism, just as antlers would develop in male deer, to be used in intra-specific competition, i.e. male/male combat for females later in life as we see in many modern animals, such as deer. 

If this is true, then this could be discrepancy #3, as Cranidos and Female Rampardos shouldn’t have domed heads (though to be fair, DP was released in 2006, and this theory was proposed first in 2009) 

We do think that the domed skull was used for combat. The bone type is a special kind of bone, called fibromellar, which contain cells that specialise in wound healing and new bone deposition. Furthermore many skulls have been found with not only lesions, but evidence of healed osteomyelitis, a type of bone infection that results from trauma. The presence similar injuries in many specimens that in most cases heal is a pattern found in modern species that undertake such combat. 

However, could these guys have fought via head-on collisions, a behaviour most commonly shown in popular media, including our Pokédex entries? Unlike modern animals who fight in this way, such as mountain goats and musk oxen, domes are not the best structures for hitting against each other, as the rounded surface means a reduced surface area for hitting, and any impact would be deflected and glanced off the other dome. We also know that the structure of the neck vertebrae mean that these dinosaurs would have held their necks in an S or U shaped curve. Goats and musk oxen can lock their head, neck and body in a horizontally straight position in order to transmit stress to the head, concentrating the power of the blow to this point and avoiding neck injury etc., however no known dinosaur, including any Pachycephalosaur could straighten their neck in this manner. Furthermore it is argued that the skull still would not be thick enough to protect from head on impact with another skull. Thus, discrepancy number #4, head on collisions, plus ramming through objects such as trees and buildings as described in the Cranidos and Rampardos pokédex entries would have been unlikely. 

It is now thought that they may have used side on, flank butting swinging and ramming their spiked heads into the side of their competitor (supported by the relatively wide and sturdy build of the body which would have helped protect internal organs from such blows). 

A dex entry for Cranidos mentions that it uses it’s head to fight against Aerodactyl, and indeed it is suggested that Pachycephalosaurs would have used their spiked and thickened heads to defend against predators too, as well as male/male competition, as would many modern herbivores with such weaponry, such as horns. Also, many of the dex entries for Rampardos mention a small brain, and indeed, Pachycephalosaurs, along with many other Ornithischians would have had relatively tiny brains. 

TO SUM UP: 

Cranidos and Rampardos are described as Pokémon who lived 100 million years ago, and used rock hard domed skulls for head on collisions with others of their species, for ploughing through obstacles such as trees, for defending from predators, and for hunting prey. 

In reality, the dinosaur they are based on, Pachycephalosaurus wyomingensis, lived between 70 million and 65 million years ago, is unlikely to have been able to sustain head on head butts (with other P. wyomingensis, and as an extension, large objects such as trees) but would still have used their heads as weapons for fighting each other and predators, and they were herbivorous. Furthermore, we think only adult males would have had domed heads. Like Rampardos however, they did have tiny brains. 

Anatotitan was a duck-billed dinosaur, one of the most widespread dinosaur groups. About 70 million years ago, duck-billed dinosaurs lived in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Their habitats varied from forests in river valleys to swamps in coastal floodplains.

In addition to their ducklike beaks and webbed front feet, some of the fossil “mummy” duck-billed dinosaurs had powerful jaws with hundreds of blunt teeth that were ideal for grinding fibrous land plants.

See these fossils in the Museum’s Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs

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Newly discovered dinosaur reveals how T. rex became king of the Cretaceous

The fossilized remains of a new horse-sized dinosaur reveal how Tyrannosaurus rex and its close relatives became top predators, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.                  

Paleontologists have long known from the fossil record that the family of dinosaurs at the center of the study—tyrannosaurs—transitioned from small-bodied species to fearsome giants like the T. rex over the course of 70 million years. But now, newly discovered dinosaur fossils suggest that much of this transition and growth in size occurred suddenly, toward the end of this 70 million-year period. The study also shows that before the evolution of their massive size, tyrannosaurs had developed keen senses and cognitive abilities, including the ability to hear low-frequency sounds. This positioned them to take advantage of opportunities to reach the top of their food chain in the Late Cretaceous Period after other groups of large meat-eating dinosaurs had gone extinct about 80-90 million years ago.

Until now, little was known about how tyrannosaurs became the giant, intelligent predators that dominated the landscape about 70 to 80 million years ago. The newly discovered species, named Timurlengia euotica, lived about 90 million years ago and fills a 20 million-year gap in the fossil record of tyrannosaurs. The new species is a tyrannosaur but not the ancestor of the T. rex.

Timurlengia was a nimble pursuit hunter with slender, blade-like teeth suitable for slicing through meat,” said Hans Sues, chair of the Department of Paleobiology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. “It probably preyed on the various large plant-eaters, especially early duck-billed dinosaurs, which shared its world. Clues from the life of Timurlengia allow us to fill in gaps and better understand the life and evolution of other related dinosaurs, like T. rex.”

Sues and Alexander Averianov, a senior scientist at the Russian Academy of Sciences, collected the fossils at the center of the study between 1997 and 2006 while co-leading international expeditions to the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan.

“Central Asia was the place where many of the familiar groups of Cretaceous dinosaurs had their roots,” Sues said. “The discoveries from the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan are now helping us to trace the early history of these animals, many of which later flourished in our own backyard in North America.

Sues and a team of paleontologists led by Steve Brusatte at the University of Edinburgh studied tyrannosaur fossils collected from the international expedition and discovered the new species. The team later reconstructed the brain of the dinosaur using CT scans of its brain case to glean insights into the new species’ advanced senses.

"The ancestors of T. rex would have looked a whole lot like Timurlengia, a horse-sized hunter with a big brain and keen hearing that would put us to shame,” Brusatte said. “Only after these ancestral tyrannosaurs evolved their clever brains and sharp senses did they grow into the colossal sizes of T. rex. Tyrannosaurs had to get smart before they got big.”

The species’ skull was much smaller than that of T. rex. However, key features of Timurlengia’s skull reveal that its brain and senses were already highly developed, the team says.

Timurlengia was about the size of a horse and could weigh up to 600 pounds. It had long legs and was likely a fast runner.

The first tyrannosaurs lived during the Jurassic Period, around 170 million years ago, and were only slightly larger than a human. However, by the Late Cretaceous Period—around 100 million years later—tyrannosaurs had evolved into animals like T. rex, which could weigh up to 7 tons.

The new species’ small size some 80 million years after tyrannosaurs first appeared in the fossil record indicates that its huge size developed only toward the end of the group’s long evolutionary history.

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#WILDERNESS50 - #YOURWILDERNESS is a hotspot for avian and mammalian diversity

Many of BLM’s resources and ecosystems are truly remarkable and offer enrichment to the National Wilderness Preservation System.  For example, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness has produced a wealth of paleontological resources including the skull of the tyranasaurid dinosaur, also known as the Bisti Beast, that have given scientists insight into the evolution of these large predatory animals, and a duck-billed dinosaur in such a state of preservation that they were able to replicate it’s nasal chamber to reproduce dinosaur sounds.

In southwest New Mexico, the Gila Lower Box Wilderness Study Area is a hotspot for avian diversity with 265 bird species documented while Cowboy Springs WSA is home to over 60 species of mammals making it one of the most significant areas for mammalian diversity in the region. These are just a few examples of the wealth of public benefits BLM’s wilderness lands provide. These areas belong to you, the public, and I encourage everyone to get out and experience these special places. – Jesse Juen, BLM New Mexico State Director

BLM New Mexico employees, local residents and visitors enjoy diverse and rugged wilderness areas managed by the BLM, like the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, Gila Lower Box Wilderness Study Area and the Continental Divide WSA pictured here. Photos by Bob Wick and Mike Howard, BLM

DIGGING DINOSAUR BONES –  When Katherine Anderson stepped off a small plane outside the village of Ruby in the summer of 2013, she didn’t know what to expect. She was there to meet an earth sciences expedition from the University of Alaska Museum of the North. A week prior, the crew had launched a flotilla of inflatable rafts on a hunt for dinosaur tracks along the Yukon River.

PHOTO ABOVE: Collection Manager Katherine Anderson holds a dinosaur footprint discovered along the Yukon River in the summer of 2013 on an expedition by the UA Museum of the North earth sciences department. Photo by Meg O’Connor

Although experienced in scientific field work, this was the first time Anderson had ventured off the road system in Alaska. What she and the others would discover was unique to the entire field of paleontology.  “I didn’t have a solid idea of what we were going to find but I certainly wasn’t expecting the amount of success we had. The sheer number of fossil tracks blew me away.”

The team discovered thousands of dinosaur footprints from a wide variety of species. It was the kind of discovery you would have expected a hundred years ago, evidence of an entire ecosystem of animals. There were ankylosaur footprints from the tanks of the dinosaur world, along with the first sauropod footprints found in the state. These were the long-necked giants that moved in herds.

Retired museum staff member Steve Bouta found this fossil on a scouting trip along the Yukon River in the summer of 2012. The following year, UAF students Katherine Anderson and Meghan Shay relocated the theropod footprint much farther down the river. It is now on display in the “Expedition Alaska: Dinosaur” exhibit at the UA Museum of the North. Photo by Kevin May

Anderson was particularly proud of relocating a track from a large meat-eating dinosaur, possibly a tyrannosaur. The fossil was discovered on an earlier scouting mission. She and her colleague Meghan Shay searched along a stretch of beach, comparing more than a dozen boulders to a picture.
Finally, they scouted a rock half buried in sediment. When they turned it over they discovered the fossil they were looking for, a footprint so distinct it could have been cast a few weeks ago instead of many millions of years. “We were very lucky to relocate such an amazing fossil. It even preserves a claw mark on one of the toes.”

That fossil is now on display in the museum’s special exhibit “Expedition Alaska: Dinosaurs.” Visitors can see some of the tracks found along the Yukon River in the exhibit. And during the month of November, the museum is offering a series of hands-on programs exploring dinosaurs.

Educator Gabrielle Vance said kids will learn about recent discoveries, from pterosaur tracks in Denali National Park to marine reptile finds in Southeast Alaska, even a new species of duck-billed dinosaur that once lived on the North Slope.

“It’s amazing to me that when Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis was roaming around Arctic Alaska, that part of the state was even farther north than it is today,” she said. “It may have been warmer, but the seasonal darkness would have been even more extreme.”

Imagine traveling back in time 69 million years. This polar forest environment would have been teeming with dinosaurs and tiny mammals.
Telling the story of Alaska’s Age of Dinosaurs is more complex than ever, thanks to discoveries made in just the past few decades. There are even lots of options for picking a favorite.

“Troödon is my favorite North Slope resident of ancient Alaska,” Vance said. “This fast, solitary and sneaky carnivore walked on two legs and ate hadrosaur eggs and babies. Poor Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis!”

Called the “Coyote of the Cretaceous,” Troödon had a large brain relative to its body size and may have been as intelligent as modern birds.

The museum’s collections include fossil bones, teeth, tracks and even feces, or coprolites. These fossils help us understand what Alaska dinosaurs looked like, what they ate, where they went and how they moved.

For Anderson, her current position as the museum’s earth sciences collection manager is a dream come true. After pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology, she wanted to learn more about bones, including how they grow and what they look like under a microscope. “The only lab I could work on research about bones was a paleontology lab.”

That’s how she got hooked!

Now she studies the microstructure of bones to learn about the biology of extinct animals. Her research answers questions like “how did they grow?”

“I do this by studying very thin cross sections of bone using a microscope,” Anderson said. “I am interested in any animal that would have encountered immense physiological challenges and would have had biological strategies to deal with those challenges. This definitely includes Arctic dinosaurs.”

Anderson is also interested in marine reptiles that lived in the ocean at the same time dinosaurs lived on land. These animals lacked several key characteristics that make a true dinosaur, including special openings in the skull, an upright stance and hips and legs built for running.

A thalattosaur fossil discovered near Kake in Southeast Alaska was excavated and shipped to the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Photo by Pat Druckenmiller

Anderson said her favorite fossil in the exhibit is the thalattosaur, a rare find discovered in 2011 near the village of Kake in Southeast Alaska. It is one of the most complete thalattosaur skeletons in the world.

Visitors to the special exhibit “Expedition Alaska: Dinosaurs” can also connect with ancient Alaska through art. They can pore over Ray Troll’s map of Alaska fossils, try their hand at drawing a dinosaur and immerse themselves in the world of Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis via James Havens’ mural located in the lobby. Don’t forget to look for a mammal in the painting.

At the special dinosaur edition of this month’s family day, visitors can see specimens that aren’t usually on display and perhaps catch a glimpse of the museum’s elusive life-sized dinosaur puppet, Snaps.

In the meantime, Anderson recommends that kids do something that will help them pursue a career in paleontology or any science:  be curious and never stop asking questions.

thinking about dinosaurs is so weird….

like, most of the time they almost feel an abstract concept, a cool idea, like dragons or something. but then i actually think about dinosaurs and realize that they were actual living beings that lived forever-ago in the same place i live. we have the bones and the fossil records it to prove. some were as tall as buildings. some had ribs the length of an average floor to ceiling.

like, fuck, man. we make jokes about the t rex’s tiny arms, children wear shirts with dinosaurs on them, we grew up watching ‘the land before time’ and other dinosaur films… we’re all so casual about this giant lizard species that once walked the same earth we do. that’s so weird!!

dinosaurs were real and they died out and we’re still not exactly sure why. dinosaurs, with long spiky tails. dinosaurs, with duck bills. dinosaurs, with horns and shields on their faces. dinosaurs were real. THAT’S SO WEIRD.