"Beautiful" Squirrel-Tail Dinosaur Fossil Upends Feather Theory

A newfound squirrel-tailed specimen is the oldest known meat-eating dinosaur with feathers, according to a new study. The late-Jurassic discovery, study authors say, strikes down the image of dinosaurs as “overgrown lizards.”

Unearthed recently from a Bavarian limestone quarry, the “exquisitely preserved” 150-million-year-old fossil has been dubbed Sciurumimus albersdoerferi—"Scirius" being the scientific name for tree squirrels.

Sciurumimus was likely a young megalosaur, a group of large, two-legged meat-eating dinosaurs. The hatchling had a large skull, short hind limbs, and long, hairlike plumage on its midsection, back, and tail.

“I was overwhelmed when I first saw it. Even apart from the preservation of feathers, this is certainly one of the most beautiful dinosaur fossils ever found,” Read more.

Quite Possibly the Cutest (Accurate) Dinosaur Illustration Ever
Annalee Newitz

Science artist Emily Willoughby specializes in birds and their feathery ancestors among dinosaurs. And in this illustration, “The Rains of Rogling,” is possibly the cutest scientifically accurate rendition of a dinosaur I’ve ever seen. It probably helps that this is a picture of a baby, and (yes) it’s covered in down. It’s like the Cretaceous version of a kitten. Writes Willoughby:

Here is my rendition of the purported baby megalosauroid, Sciurumimus, perched on a rock by the Bavarian sea as it waits patiently for its mother to return to it. Two pterodactylid pterosaurs comb the beach in the background. From the late Jurassic Rögling Formation of Germany, ~150 mya.

You can see more of Willoughby’s incredible work on her site.

anonymous asked:

Why is there such little variation among big dinosaur predators in comparison to big mammal predators? Big sabre-tooth cats, omnivorous bears, pack hunting dogs; Fuzzy Yutyrranus and scaly Carnotaurus couldn't be further apart in the family tree, but there is relatively little difference between the two; two digitigrade legs, big head, long tail, reduced forelimbs, etc. Why is this?

This is an interesting question that I had to think about for a bit.  It’s certainly worth mentioning that the theropod bauplan is obviously very successful- Save for a long tail, it’s remained generally unchanged for some 240 MA. That said, there’s a lot more variety in large theropod predators than there appears to be at first glance: Megalosauroids such as  Baryonyx and Torvosaurus have long arms with hooked claws, as do megaraptorans (whatever they may be). Abelisaurs are adapted for sprinting and swallowing; they have long legs with huge muscle attachments. Tyrannosaurs have massive skulls with bone-crushing teeth and pinched metatarsal bones for shock-absorbing. Carnosaurs seem to have been sauropod specialists; their skulls are strong when striking like a hatchet, rather than twisting side-to-side like tyrannosaurs.

Digitigrade legs are good for running fast, a useful skill for predators. Therizinosaurs were least digitigrade theropds, and they were mainly herbivores (most plants don’t do too much running). Bigger heads are longer levers for applying more force. Long tails help keep balance and allow you to turn more quickly. And not all large predatory theropods had short arms. I would say that the similarities in the general body shapes of carnosaurs, megalosaurs, .abelisaurs and tyrannosaurs are due to evolving from similar Generic Small Theropods™  and evolving to fill a similar nice as big-game apex predators

Here we go with a personal take of the Brazilian spinosaurid Irritator. And yes, it is feathered. Please, leave me alone.

Irritator is a genus of spinosaurid dinosaur that lived in the early Cretaceous Period (Albian stage), around 110 million years ago. Current estimations indicate a length of 8 meters and a weight of 2-3 tons. It was found in Brazil. Irritator was a theropod with an unusually shaped crest at the rear of its head, and probably ate fish. So far the only fossil that has been found was an 80 centimeter long fossil skull in the Romualdo Member, a layer member of the Brazilian Santana formation. This skull strongly resembles the skulls of Suchomimus and Spinosaurus. The genus is often regarded today as identical (synonymous) with Angaturama, which lived in the same time and the same place as Irritator.

Irritable, 2012.

Coloured with Tria Markers and pencils. Based on grey headed and Campbell albatrosses

References: Felipe A. Elias


Here’s an epic LEGO build by MortalSwordsman. Apparently this LEGO Megalosaur is roughly 6 feet in length from nose to tail.

Not only do I love the lifelike posing here, but this thing even has tonsils! Check out all the pics.

Source: MOCPages – Another Megalosaur

LEGO Dinosaurs – Megalosaur Here’s an epic LEGO build by MortalSwordsman. Apparently this LEGO Megalosaur is roughly 6 feet in length from nose to tail.