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Fossil finds, new dinosaur discoveries, news and views from the world of palaeontology and other Earth sciences.

14 11, 2017

Evidence of Placental Mammals – Early Cretaceous Purbeck

By | November 14th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Durlstotherium newmani and Durlstodon ensomi

Finally got round to reading the paper on the discovery of evidence of Eutherian (placental) mammals in Early Cretaceous deposits on, ironically, “the Jurassic Coast”.  The two teeth found during sieving of material collected on the Dorset coast by University of Portsmouth undergraduate student Grant Smith, has led to the erection of two new mammal species.  These fossils represent the earliest, undisputed fossils of mammals that belong to that same group of mammals – the placentals, as we do.  It is wonderful to think that the Dorset coast can still provide amazing fossil discoveries and secondly, it is great that such an important discovery can be made by a relative newcomer to the science of palaeontology.  When done to all involved in the research and the writing of the academic paper, published in the journal “Acta Palaeontologica Polonica”.

It also gives us an excuse to include the amazing image created by Dr Mark Witton that illustrates the Purbeck palaeoenvironment around the beginning of the Cretaceous.

Dorset Around 145 Million Years Ago

Purbeck Lagoon 145 mya as darkness falls Durlstodon (top left) looks on whilst two Durlstotherium scurry through the undergrowth. In the centre a Durlstotherium has been caught by Nuthetes destructor.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

The two teeth, found at Durlston Bay near Swanage, represent two rat-like Eutherian mammals.  These creatures have been named Durlstotherium newmani and Durlstodon ensomi.  In Dr Witton’s remarkable illustration (above), a scene at dusk is depicted.  It is most likely that these early placentals were nocturnal, even so, as darkness fell there were still plenty of dangers lurking.  The Sauropods in the background might not pose much of a threat to our distant ancestors but in the centre of the image, a Durlstotherium has been caught by a two-metre-long Theropod dinosaur Nuthetes destructor.  This dinosaur is mainly known from isolated teeth and based on such fragmentary evidence it is difficult to place Nuthetes within the dinosaur family tree, however, it has been suggested that it was a dromaeosaurid.  Thus, the Purbeck area of southern England during the Early Cretaceous was not only home to placental mammals but, potentially, also the residence of the earliest known member of the Dromaeosauridae.

One of the authors of the paper on the two new mammals, Dr Steve Sweetman (Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth), concluded that the fossilised teeth and jaw fragment ascribed to N. destructor indicate a taxonomic affinity with the Velociraptor branch of the Dromaeosauridae family.

Various Views of the Two Fossil Teeth (Durlstotherium and Durlstodon)

Purbeck Mesozoic mammal teeth.

Two fossil teeth of the Purbeck Mesozoic mammals, Durlstotherium (A1-4) and Durlstodon (B1-4) , named after Durlston Bay in Dorset.

Picture Credit: Portsmouth University

Dr Sweetman, an expert in the dentition of small vertebrates explained how Grant Smith discovered the fossil teeth:

“Grant was sifting through small samples of earliest Cretaceous rocks collected on the coast of Dorset as part of his undergraduate dissertation project in the hope of finding some interesting remains.  Quite unexpectedly he found not one but two quite remarkable teeth of a type never before seen from rocks of this age.  I was asked to look at them and give an opinion and even at first glance my jaw dropped!”

With Mammal Fossils It’s All About the Teeth

While these Dorset fossils may seem a little underwhelming, comprising only two molar teeth with no roots, that measure just a few millimetres across, the unique specialisations of mammal teeth for processing food result in complex tooth shapes.  These shapes evolve in patterns that allow palaeontologists to identify what group a mammal belongs to, meaning that even a single tooth can permit palaeontologists to gather a great deal of information.

The wonderful thing about mammal teeth is that they are very distinctive.  Every type of mammal has a different set of teeth.  The teeth vary in shape from the back to the front of the jaw and you can tell from a single tooth fossil exactly where in the jaw it was located, whether it came from the upper or lower jaw, whether it was on the right side of the skull of the left side.  The pattern on the crowns of the teeth (molars and premolars) provides information on the type of diet the animal had.  These fossil teeth from the Early Cretaceous of Dorset, might be extremely small, but they can tell us a great deal about the animals which had the teeth and provide information on the evolutionary relationship between these animals and other members of the Mammalia.

Dr Sweetman added:

“The teeth are of a type so highly evolved that I realised straight away I was looking at remains of Early Cretaceous mammals that more closely resembled those that lived during the latest Cretaceous, some 60 million years later in geological history.  In the world of palaeontology, there has been a lot of debate around a specimen found in China*, which is approximately 160 million years old.  This was originally said to be of the same type as ours but recent studies have ruled this out.  That being the case, our 145 million year old teeth are undoubtedly the earliest yet known from the line of mammals that lead to our own species.”

* The fossil from China that Dr Sweetman is referring to Juramaia sinensis a tiny, shrew-like mammal, fossils of which come from 160 million-year-old deposits from the Tiaojishan Formation of Liaoning Province.  Juramaia was named in 2011, it has been controversially described as a basal Eutherian mammal and it suggests that the very earliest placentals were probably arboreal.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article about this fossil discovery: The “Mother” of all Placental Mammals

If Juramaia is proved to be an Eutherian, then this indicates that placental mammals had their origins in Asia in the Jurassic and that they had spread across Asia to Europe (Laurasia) by the Early Cretaceous.

Scanning Electron Microscope Images of the Tiny Purbeck Teeth

Early Cretaceous mammal teeth from Swanage (Dorset).

Purbeck Mesozoic mammal teeth under the electron microscope.

Picture Credit: Portsmouth University

Very Worn Molars

The crowns of the teeth are very worn, this suggests that despite the threat of being eaten by predatory dinosaurs, both mammals lived a long time.

Professor David Martill, who supervised the research project and is a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“What I’m most pleased about is that a student [David Grant] who is a complete beginner, was able to make a remarkable scientific discovery in palaeontology and see his discovery and his name published in a scientific paper.  The Jurassic Coast is always unveiling fresh secrets and I’d like to think that similar discoveries will continue to be made right on our doorstep.”

One of the new species has been named Durlstotherium newmani, honouring Charlie Newman, a keen, amateur fossil hunter and the landlord of the Square and Compass pub in the village of Worth Matravers, near to where the fossils were discovered.  The trivial name of the second species, Durlstodon ensomi honours Paul Ensom, a palaeontologist who did much to improve our understanding of the palaeoenvironments represented by the geology of Dorset.

13 11, 2017

“Thunderfoot” A Real “Ground Shaker”

By | November 13th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Brontopodus plagnensis – New Ichnospecies Named for Giant Sauropod Tracks

A series of dinosaur footprints, made by a giant, long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur have been assigned an ichnospecies name.  The tracks from the Jura plateau of France, located near the village of Plagne not too far from the Swiss border are, at around 155 metres in length, the longest Sauropod trackways known to science.  The ichnospecies has been named Brontopodus plagnensis, this translates as “thunderfoot of Plagne”.  The ichnogenus Brontopodus has had a number of ichnospecies assigned to it already, including tracks from the southern United States and dinosaur footprints found in Early Cretaceous rocks in China.

A View of Part of the Sauropod Trackway

Sauropod Tracks (Brontopodus plagnensis).

A picture of the Sauropod trackway (Plagne, France).

Picture Credit: P. Dumas/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

To read an article about Sauropod tracks found on the Isle of Skye: Isle of Skye Sauropods and their Water World

Enormous Stride Length = Enormous Dinosaur

The stride length of this huge Sauropod has been measured at 2.7 metres, the dinosaur was walking at around 4 kilometres/hour, which means that the average human would have had no trouble keeping up with it, however, you might have had to jog alongside, as its huge strides would have meant that it covered a great deal of ground with every pace.  From the footprints, the scientists, which included French palaeontologist Jean-Michel Mazin, have calculated that this dinosaur might have been around 35 metres in length and weighed perhaps as much as forty tonnes.

Early Tithonian Trackways

The research team, writing in the journal “Geobios” have precisely dated the tracks to the Early Tithonian faunal stage of the Late Jurassic, the prints are approximately 150 million years old.  The footprints show varying degrees of preservation along the trackway, the palaeoenvironment has been described as a littoral mudflat, a flat area close to a shoreline.  During the Late Jurassic, much of western Europe was covered by a warm tropical sea, the presence of large dinosaurs indicates that there must have been enough food resources on the archipelago of islands in the area to sustain megaherbivores.   Perhaps, these tracks represent a dinosaur crossing mudflats at low tide walking between islands.  Numerous dinosaur tracks are known from this region, including a series of tridactyl (three-toed prints), assigned to the ichnogenus Megalosauripus.  The prefix ichno- is added when a taxon is described based solely on trace fossils of an animal, rather than on anatomical remains such as its bones and teeth.

An Illustration of Brontopodus plagnensis and an Estimation of Its Size

A drawing of Brontopodus plagnensis.

An illustration of Brontopodus plagnensis.

Picture Credit: A. Bénéteau, photography Dinojura

To read Everything Dinosaur’s 2009 article about the original discovery of the trackways: On the Trail of Big Foot – Giant Sauropod Trackways Discovered in France

The scientific paper: “The Dinosaur Tracksite of Plagne (Early Tithonian, Late Jurassic; Jura Mountains, France): The Longest Known Sauropod Trackway” by Jean-Michel Mazin, Pierre Hantzpergue and Nicolas Olivier published in the journal Geobios.

12 11, 2017

Giant Otter with a Bite Like No Other Otter

By | November 12th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

The Very Powerful Bite of Siamogale melilutra

Back in January, Everything Dinosaur reported upon the scientific description of a new species of giant otter from the Late Miocene of south-west China.  At around fifty kilogrammes in weight, the new species Siamogale melilutra, is a much more heavy-set and robust animal compared to extant otter species.  At the time, the scientists responsible for studying the fossil material, which included an almost complete but crushed cranium, speculated on what this super-sized member of the weasel family would have fed on.  Writing in the journal “Scientific Reports”, some of the scientists involved in the original description have followed up this research by publishing a new paper on the feeding capabilities of such a powerful carnivore.

This wolf-sized, aquatic predator had a surprisingly strong bite that might have made S. melilutra an apex predator.

A Digitally Reconstructed View of the Skull and Jaws of Siamogale melilutra

Digitally restored cranium of S. melilutra right lateral view.

A digitally reconstructed cranium of S. melilutra .

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

Comparing Otter Skulls and Jaws

The researchers digitally recreated jaw models of extinct otters as well as ten extant species (living species of otters) and then subjected these models to engineering stress tests.  The researchers discovered that the jaw of Siamogale melilutra was six times stronger than expected.  Although, the teeth morphology and biting efficiency was found to be very similar to living otters, these very strong jaws open up the possibility that Siamogale melilutra fed on a range of animals that its modern-day contemporaries could not.  Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris) and the African Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis), specialise in feeding upon shellfish and have a durophagous diet.  Even accounting for the size difference between the Miocene giant Siamogale melilutra and these living otter species, the jaws of S. melilutra are much stronger.

Comparing the Stress on Jaws on Living and Extinct Species of Otter

Calculating the bite of Siamogale melilutra.

Stress during biting (otter jaw comparison).

Picture Credit: Scientific Reports

The picture above shows the results of computer modelling to indicate potential bite force stresses in a number of otter species.  Warmer colours depict high levels of bite stress, whilst cooler colours depict areas of lower stress.

(a) Pteronura brasiliensis (Giant South-American Otter)

(b) Lontra canadensis (North American River Otter)

(c) Lontra longicaudis (Neotropical Otter of Central America)

(d) Lontra felina (South American Marine Otter)

(e) Enhydra lutris (Sea or Marine Otter)

(f) Hydrictis maculicollis (Spotted-necked Otter)

(g) Siamogale melilutra – extinct Miocene species

(h) Lutra lutra (European Otter)

(I) Aonyx capensis (African Cape Clawless Otter)

(j) Aonyx cinerea (Asian Small-clawed Otter)

(k) Lutrogale perspicillata (Indian Smooth-coated Otter)

The research team conclude that S. melilutra has no living analog.  Its huge size and powerful jaws could have enabled this otter to exploit an environmental niche not found in living otter species.  It might even have been an apex predator.

To read Everything Dinosaur’s article on the scientific description of Siamogale melilutraSuper-sized Otter as Big as a Wolf

The scientific paper: “Feeding Capability in the Extinct Giant Siamogale melilutra and Comparative Mandibular Biomechanics of Living Lutrinae” by Z. Jack Tseng, Denise F. Su, Xiaoming Wang, Stuart C. White and Xueping Ji published in the journal “Scientific Reports”.

6 11, 2017

T. rex Tiny Arms Built for Slashing Prey

By | November 6th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Paper Challenges the Idea of T. rex and Tiny, Useless Arms

Evolution is a very efficient process, either adapt and survive or fail to adapt and face extinction.  That seems to be the general premise when it comes to “survival of the fittest”.  However, one anatomical feature of the enormous Theropod Tyrannosaurus rex seems to fly in the face of the theory of evolution, T. rex is famous for having tiny and puny arms.  Are the tyrannosaurids sticking two figures up when it comes to natural selection?  Not so, according to a new paper presented at the annual conference of the Geological Society of America (Seattle, Washington, USA).

Tyrannosaurus rex – Famous for its Disproportionately Small Arms

T. rex model with prey.

The “prey” is an unfortunate Struthiomimus, but look at those tiny arms.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Vestigial Limbs?

Ever since the first partial skeletons of T. rex were discovered and as more fossils of this Late Cretaceous carnivore came to light, palaeontologists have puzzled over those “puny” arms.  At the turn of the Century, during the period of the Barnum Brown fossil discoveries that led to the formal scientific description of the “tyrant lizard king”, no arm bones were found in association with the dinosaur, so it was assumed, that like Allosaurus more than 80 million years before, T. rex had three-fingered hands.  Our fascination with the forelimbs of Tyrannosaurus rex had begun.  It was as recently as 1989, when arm bones of Tyrannosaurus rex were finally found and the didactyl hands seen in other, closely related tyrannosaurids such as Albertosaurus and Gorgosaurus were confirmed.

An Early Reconstruction of the Skeleton of Tyrannosaurus rex

Osborn's second reconstruction of T. rex.

T. rex the second reconstruction by Osborn.

Picture Credit: Lindahall.org

Palaeontologist Steven Stanley (University of Hawaii at Manoa), challenges the perception that this dinosaur’s arms were almost useless.  He suggests that earlier tyrannosaurids gradually evolved smaller forelimbs as their skulls and jaws became more massive, a hypothesis with lots of consensus amongst palaeontologists, but those tiny arms were actually very effective slashing weapons, ideal for close quarter combat.

Debunking the Idea of “Tiny, Puny” Arms

The arms of the Tyrannosauridae were certainly disproportionately small when compared to their massive bodies, however, Professor Stanley contends that at around 1 metre in length, the arms may have been relatively small, but they were exceptionally strong and with their two-fingered claws, with talons measuring up to ten centimetres long, they would have been capable of inflicting deep wounds in any dinosaur that got close.  Whether the arms had a role in subduing prey or whether they were used in intraspecific combat, remains contentious.

Many palaeontologists believe that the reduced arms of tyrannosaurids were a consequence of natural selection favouring the evolution of giant skulls and super-strong jaws.  The heads of Tyrannosaurs, took over the role of grasping prey from the forelimbs and as the skulls and jaws became increasingly robust, the arms gradually got smaller and smaller as natural selection solved the issue of trying to counterbalance an increasingly heavy front end for the animal.

Six Traits Indicate That the Arms were Slashing Weapons

In the scientific paper, Professor Stanley identifies six derived traits that demonstrate that the arms of T. rex were not vestigial and that they could have served as slashing weapons.

  1. The short arms would have been ideal for close combat slashing, just as a small knife can be a very effective weapon in hand-to-hand combat.
  2. A large and broad coracoid bone suggests the arms were very powerful.  The arms of T. rex were slightly longer than the legs of a six-foot-tall man and of similar girth.
  3. The arm bones themselves, particularly the humeri in a number of specimens are very thick and robust and the bones in the arm would have easily withstood the forces involved in slashing attacks.
  4. Tyrannosaurs are famous for having just two-fingered hands, the loss of the third finger allowed 50% more pressure to be applied to each claw.
  5. The humoral head articulating with the shoulder provided considerable mobility in the joint, all helpful when it comes to performing a slashing action.
  6. The sharp, keratinous-tipped claws measured between 8-10 centimetres long in the largest specimens, these would have inflicted metre-long, parallel slashes into the hide of any dinosaur that got too close.

Scientists have proposed several theories as to how T. rex used its short hands.  They may have played a role in helping to grasp a mate during reproduction, or perhaps they helped this 7 Tonne dinosaur to stand upright after lying on the ground.  Those much-maligned appendages could have had other uses, as Professor Stanley contends.  The muddy waters surrounding the use to which T. rex put its hands have been made even murkier somewhat by more recent fossil discoveries.  In 2009, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of Raptorex kriegsteini, a 3-metre-long Tyrannosaur that had the same body proportions of its more massive (and later), relative.  Find the Raptorex article here: Raptorex Upsets the Tyrannosaur Apple Cart.

More recently, (2016), the discovery of the Late Cretaceous Theropod Gualicho (G. shinyae) from Argentina, added more confusion to this puzzle.  Although, Gualicho was not closely related to T. rex and its kin, it also had substantially reduced limbs and two-fingered hands.  Perhaps, if Steven Stanley is onto something, then Gualicho too, could have utilised its reduced limbs as slashing weapons.

To read an article about Gualicho shinyaeGualicho Sticks Two Fingers Up At T. rex

Those Claws and Fingers were Evolved for Slashing

CollectA Feathered T. rex model.

1:40 scale model of a feathered T. rex.

Professor Stanley states in the paper:

“Its short, strong forelimbs and large claws would have permitted T. rex, whether mounted on a victim’s back or grasping it with its jaws, to inflict four gashes a metre or more long and several centimetres deep within a few seconds and it could have repeated this multiple times in rapid succession.  Infliction of damage by slashing was widespread among other Theropod taxa, so in light of its formidable weaponry, why should T. rex not have engaged in this activity?”

“Stanley Knives” on a T. rex

In summary, Steven Stanley suggests that the most famous of all dinosaurs was an even more formidable and dangerous dinosaur than previously thought.  It possessed four, razor sharp claws (“Stanley knives” as a colleague referred to them as), these were perfectly adapted for helping this predator subdue prey.  Rather than being “puny” and “relatively useless”, these didactyl hands had evolved into effective close-quarter weapons, just as like the skull and jaws.  Several palaeontologists have commented on the paper, suggesting that in close proximity, the massive jaws of this hypercarnivore would have been much more deadly,  however, the slashing claws could have provided additional weapons for juveniles which had yet to mature and develop those immensely powerful skulls.

Tiny But Formidable Arms?

T. rex specimen (cast)

A Tyrannosaurus rex museum exhibit.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper: “Evidence that the Arms of Tyrannosaurus rex were not functionless but Adapted for Vicious Slashing” by Steven Stanley and published as a paper at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

5 11, 2017

Chicxulub Impact – A Really Bad Place to Hit

By | November 5th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page|0 Comments

Chicxulub Impact – The Big Freeze

For life on Earth, the impact event that marked the end of the Mesozoic Era was made many times worse as the extra-terrestrial object caused the release of climate-active gases.  As if the devastation was not bad enough, the high-velocity impact caused the release of huge quantities of sulphur and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere triggering a dramatic world-wide cooling and exacerbating the effect of this event.  No wonder then, that around 70% of all terrestrial life died out.  Two scientific papers report on the consequences of this catastrophe.  In the first, the effect of gases released into the atmosphere from the sedimentary rocks that were hit are modelled and in the second paper, scientists look at just how unfortunate the dinosaurs were.  If the extra-terrestrial object had hit virtually anywhere else on Earth, the consequences for Cretaceous life would not have been so severe.

In simple terms, the dinosaurs were very unlucky, there was only a 13% chance of a mass extinction event occurring 66 million years ago when the object from space hit.

An Extra-terrestrial Object Hurtles Towards Earth 66 Million Years Ago

Asteroid strikes the Earth.

An extra-terrestrial impact event.   The dinosaurs were very unlucky.

Picture Credit: Deposit photos/Paul Paladin

A Global Effect

Writing in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters”, the authors of the first scientific paper report that the impact in the shallow sea of the Gulf of Mexico may have resulted in the expulsion of more than 300 billion tonnes of sulphur into the atmosphere.  In addition, the rocks that the object hit also released vast quantities of carbon dioxide, somewhere around 400 billion tonnes of CO2.   Some of the sulphur may have combined with water vapour to form sulphuric acid, this would have fallen back to Earth in the form of acid rain, further damaging plant life and upsetting food chains.  However, much of the gas would have remained high up in the atmosphere and behaved like aerosols, changing the amount of solar irradiation reaching the ground which led to surface temperatures plummeting.

The global effect was freezing temperatures for several years, a nuclear winter.  The research team which includes scientists from the Imperial College London and Potsdam University, conclude that ocean temperatures could have been affected for hundreds of years.  The abrupt climate change may explain why so many species become extinct.  The end-Cretaceous mass extinction event saw entire groups of animals and plants die out including the non-avian dinosaurs, the Pterosauria, several types of marine reptiles, as well as cephalopods such as the ammonites.  In addition, there were major losses amongst brachiopods, bivalves, sea urchins and many different types of marine plankton also perished.  Although, in comparison, groups such as the flowering plants (Angiosperms), amphibians, mammals and fishes were less affected, there were still extinctions.

Hitting the Earth in a Very Bad Place

Plummeting temperatures and a sustained period of intense cold would have made survival for the likes of the Dinosauria, extremely difficult.  Such a dramatic climate downturn would have devastated ecosystems, leaving animals like the non-avian dinosaurs and flying reptiles doomed.  However, in a second paper published in the journal “Scientific Reports”, scientists from Tohoku University and the Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba (both in Japan), state that life on Earth 66 million years ago, was just unlucky.  According to the calculations of these scientists, there was only a thirteen percent chance of the mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs.  If the extra-terrestrial object had hit almost anywhere else, the consequences would not have been so severe and the Dinosauria et al might just have survived to the present day.

Examining the Consequences of the Yucatan Peninsula Impact

Unlucky dinosaurs - asteroid impact in the wrong place.

A devastating mass extinction could only occur if an asteroid struck a hydrocarbon-rich area (those marked in orange).

Picture Credit: Kunio Kaiho (Tohoku University)

The Japan-based researchers postulated that the severity of the climate change would vary depending on where the extra-terrestrial body hit.  Areas with higher levels of sedimentary organic material would throw more soot into the upper parts of the atmosphere.  More hydrocarbons present would result in greater releases of CO2.  Those areas with sulphur-rich rocks would have released more sulphur.  The team conclude that the effects of the impact were much more dramatic because the impact was in the Gulf of Mexico.  To test their hypothesis, a series of impact scenarios were run using global climate models to assess changes in temperature.

When the Yucatan Peninsula Cretaceous geology was examined, the team concluded that the hydro-carbon rich strata would have thrown debris into the upper atmosphere that resulted in a drop of global temperature by an average of 8 to 11 degrees Celsius.  On land, the temperature drop could have been as excessive as a fall of 17 degrees Celsius.  The oceans did not fare much better, with average temperature drops of between 5 and 7 degrees Celsius at depths of up to fifty metres.  Putting this into context, our world is faced with global climate warming.  The Paris Agreement, now ratified by 169 countries, has a central aim to keep the global temperature rise this century to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Very Unlucky Dinosaurs

The extinction of the dinosaurs.

Had the impact event taken place anywhere else on the planet, its consequences for life on Earth might not have been so severe.

Picture Credit:

The researchers looked at how widespread the sort of rocks found in the Yucatan Peninsula in the Cretaceous, were.  They found that these types of rocks were mostly associated with marine coastal margins.  The shallow seas permitted the concentration of algae which could deposit more organic matter into the sediments.  These areas covered just thirteen percent of the Earth’s surface.

Had the asteroid struck somewhere in the other eighty-seven percent of the planet, then, although the impact event would have been catastrophic, it might not have been as bad as it was.  The researchers even go as far as to state that some species of dinosaurs may have persisted beyond the Cretaceous.  The Mammalia would not have had the chance to radiate and therefore the primates, including humans, might not have evolved at all.

Changes in Fauna over the Phanerozoic Based on Extinction Events

The probability of dinosaur extinction.

Looking at the probability of a mass extinction event (Chicxulub impact).

The graph above shows Phanerozoic faunal changes with approximately 13% probability following the Chicxulub asteroid impact.  Changes in fauna are based on extinction rates.   A consequence of the end Cretaceous extinction event was the demise of the Dinosauria and the rise of mammals.

Sometimes it can come down to serendipity.

4 11, 2017

Everything Dinosaur Reaches 4,000 “Likes” on Facebook

By | November 4th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Press Releases|0 Comments

Everything Dinosaur Reaches 4,000 “Likes” on Facebook

Over the last few days, Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page has reached the landmark of 4,000 “likes”.  Team members would like to thank all our fans and followers by honouring us in this way.

Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook Page Reaches 4,000 “Likes”

4,000 "likes" on Everything Dinosaur's Facebook Page

Everything Dinosaur’s Facebook page has 4,000 “likes”.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

It was on June 22nd 2015, that our Facebook page reached 2,000 “likes”, twenty-eight months later or thereabouts, we have doubled this figure and we now have a total of 4,035.  Every single one of these “likes” are genuine and we are truly flattered to have received so many.

To read an article about reaching 2,000 Facebook “likes”: Everything Dinosaur Reaches 2,000 “Likes” on Facebook

Enabling Customers, Followers and Fans to Interact with Everything Dinosaur

The “like” button on Facebook enables users to easily interact with Everything Dinosaur and status updates, photos, links and comments.  Gaining legitimate likes on Facebook gives an organisation validity and provides reassurance to other Facebook visitors.  This helps to build up a community around the company or brand and helps to reinforce customer loyalty.

A spokesperson for the Cheshire-based dinosaur company stated:

“We are very pleased to have reached this landmark.  Getting 4,000 “likes” is real achievement and we would like to express our gratitude to everyone who has taken the trouble to “like” Everything Dinosaur.  We are all very humbled and flattered.”

We believe customer service is the key to getting "likes".

“Like” our Facebook page.

Everything Dinosaur looks forward to writing about 5,000 Facebook “likes”.

1 11, 2017

“Big Foot” from the Early Jurassic of Africa

By | November 1st, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Kayentapus ambrokholohali – Taking Giant Dinosaurs in our Stride

A team of international scientists, including researchers from Manchester University, have published a paper in the academic journal PLOS One that reports on the discovery of giant, three-toed dinosaur tracks in the Maseru district of Lesotho, southern Africa.  These tracks, some of which measure 57 centimetres long, are the first evidence of the existence of huge, apex Theropods in the Early Jurassic of southern Gondwana.  The prints have been assigned to the ichnogenus Kayentapus and a new species – Kayentapus ambrokholohali has been erected.

University of Manchester Senior Research Fellow Dr Fabien Knoll Reclines Next to the Giant Dinosaur Tracks

Dr Fabien Knoll provides a scale for the dinosaur footprints.

Dr Fabien Knoll (Manchester University) poses next to the dinosaur trace fossils.

Picture Credit: Manchester University

The Largest Known Theropod Tracks in Africa

The tracks were found in fine-grained sandstone, that was laid down some 200 million years ago, the surface (palaeosurface), shows current-ripple marks and desiccation marks indicating that the surface represents an environment close to a river or lake (fluvio-lacustrine environment).  The tracks indicate that a large, three-toed dinosaur with a pace length in excess of 1.3 metres walked across the wet sand, perhaps it had come to the area to get a drink or perhaps to find prey.  The scientists which include Dr Fabien Knoll (Manchester University) and Dr Lara Sciscio, (postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town), state that the trace fossils come from deposits representing the Upper Elliot Formation, a formation that is synonymous with abundant vertebrate trackways but very few body fossils.  The tracks are the largest Theropod dinosaur footprints to have been described from African rocks to date.

An Apex Predator

The tracks suggest an apex predator (Megatheropod), a dinosaur which would have been around 8-9 metres in length, much larger than many of the contemporary Theropods known from the Early Jurassic.  The prints don’t give any idea of the dinosaur’s age, unlike histological analysis of fossil bone, this giant, might not have been fully grown!  The dinosaur has been named Kayentapus ambrokholohali as the long-toed prints resemble those from the ichnogenus Kayentapus, a widely distributed ichnogenus with a substantial chronological and geological time span.

A Scale Drawing of the Theropod Dinosaur (Track Maker)

A scale drawing showing the estimated size of the Lesotho dinosaur.

A scale drawing based on the Lesotho tridactyl dinosaur prints.

Picture Credit: University of Manchester/Press Association

Dr Sciscio commented:

“This discovery marks the first occurrence of very large carnivorous dinosaurs in the Early Jurassic of Gondwana, the prehistoric continent which would later break up and become Africa and other landmasses.  This makes it a significant find.  Globally, these large tracks are very rare.  There is only one other known site similar in age and sized tracks, which is in Poland”.

Comparative Line Drawings of Lower Jurassic Track D1 from Lesotho and Other Large Theropod Tracks from the Jurassic and Cretaceous

Analysing Dinosaur Footprints.

Comparative dinosaur tracks (line drawings).

Picture Credit: PLOS One

A comparative analysis of three-toed dinosaur tracks from various locations (Jurassic and Cretaceous trackways).

The line drawings above show (A) Kayentapus hopii, Kayenta Formation (Early Jurassic), (B) a 35 cm long Eubrontes isp.  (C) a 39 cm long Kayentapus minor print, whilst (D–E) represent Megalosauripus and a large Polish Theropod track from the Sołtyków site, Poland.  Drawings (F–G) represent Eubrontes cf., from the Middle Jurassic of Australia and (H) has been tentatively assigned to the ichnogenus Eubrontes glenrosensis, from the Lower Cretaceous Glen Rose Formation (United States). (I) represents Irenesauripus whilst (J) is a line drawing of  Irenesauripus mclearni.  Drawing (K)  is Irenesauripus acutus, I, J and K are all from within the Albian Gething Formation of Canada.  Track (L) in red, is print reference D1 (Kayentapus ambrokholohali) from the newly described Lesotho tracks.  All images have been redrawn and scaled to 15 cm.

Dr Knoll added:

“In South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Namibia, there is good record of Theropod footprints from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic epochs.  In fact, there are numerous palaeosurfaces where footprints and even tail and body impressions of these, and other animals, can be found.  But now we have evidence this region of Africa was also home to a mega-carnivore.”

The scientific paper: “The First Megatheropod Tracks from the Lower Jurassic Upper Elliot Formation, Karoo Basin, Lesotho” by L. Sciscio , E. M. Bordy, M. Abrahams, F. Knoll, B. W. McPhee and published in the journal PLOS One.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of a press release from Manchester University in the compilation of this article.

31 10, 2017

Pterosaur Terrors for Halloween

By | October 31st, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Gigantic Pterosaur from the Nemegt Formation of Mongolia

An international team of scientists writing in the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology” have described the fragmentary neck bones of a gigantic Pterosaur which might turn out to be one of the largest flying reptiles known to science.  It seems apt on “All Hallows’ Eve” to write about a creature, that if it was still around today, would be the stuff of nightmares.  The researchers, which include scientists from Tokyo University, Ohio University, the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, estimate that the reptile could have had a wingspan in excess of 11 metres, perhaps even bigger.

An Azhdarchid Pterosaur – The Stuff of Nightmares

A group of azhdarchid Pterosaurs hunting.

Some azhdarchid Pterosaurs were as tall as a giraffe.

Picture Credit: Mark Witton

Fragmentary Fossil Evidence

The fragmentary fossils were found in 2006, during a field expedition to the western Gobi Desert to explore a fossil-rich series of sediments known as Gurilin Tsav.  Field team member and co-author of the scientific paper, Buuvei Mainbayar (Mongolian Academy of Sciences) found the first piece of a cervical vertebrae and showed it colleague Takanobu Tsuihiji (Tokyo University), who is the lead author of the paper.  More pieces of neck bone were found, but such was their fragmentary nature that it has taken more than a decade to complete an identification and publish data.

The bones have been assigned to an azhdarchid Pterosaur.  The deposits around Gurilin Tsav date from the Upper Campanian to the Maastrichtian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous.  These fossils represent the first azhdarchid fossils to have been found in the Nemegt Formation, in fact these are the first reported Pterosaur remains from this famous Formation.  A comparison between these fossilised neck bones and those of other, slightly better-known members of the Late Cretaceous Pterosaur family known as the Azhdarchidae, indicate that the fossil material represents a “giant amongst giants”.   One of the neck bones measures nearly 20 centimetres in diameter, this is nearly four times as wide as the equivalent bone found in the huge azhdarchid Pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Jordan (Arambourgiania).

It is not known whether this, as yet unnamed Pterosaur had an exceptionally, thick, strong neck or whether the rest of its skeleton was much bigger than the likes of Hatzegopteryx or Quetzalcoatlus, hopefully, more fossils will be found.  This discovery provides further evidence that the Azhdarchidae were widely distributed across North America, Europe and Asia around 70 million years ago – not surprising really as these aerial giants would have been capable of flying incredibly long distances.

A Scale Drawing of the Giant Azhdarchid Pterosaur from Transylvania Hatzetgopteryx thambema

Hatzegopteryx illustrated.

Hatzegopteryx – giant Pterosaur from southern Europe.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The scientific paper: “Gigantic Pterosaurian remains from the Upper Cretaceous of Mongolia” by Tsuihiji, T., B. Andres, P. M. O’Connor, M. Watabe, K. Tsogtbaatar, and B. Mainbayar published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

27 10, 2017

Sinosauropteryx Sported a “Bandit Mask”

By | October 27th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Dinosaur Had Bandit Mask-like Stripe Across Its Eyes

Researchers from Bristol University have revealed how a small, feathered, compsognathid dinosaur used its colour patterning, including a bandit mask-like stripe across its eyes, to avoid being detected by its predators and prey.  This research has also allowed the authors of the scientific paper, published this week in “Current Biology”, to infer the sort of habitat that this little dinosaur might have lived in.

Once thought of being part of the fauna of the forest, it seems that Sinosauropteryx (S. prima), might have favoured more open environments.

An Illustration of Sinosauropteryx (S. prima) Hunting in an Open Environment

An illustration of Sinosauropteryx prima.

An illustration of Sinosauropteryx with its countershading and “bandit mask”.

Picture Credit: Bob Nicholls

In the image created by Bob Nicholls (above), Sinosauropteryx is shown in an open habitat and it has just captured a lizard (Dalinghosaurus).

Multiple Types of Camouflage

Analysis of the preserved melanosomes enabled the team to reconstruct the likely colour patterning of this one-metre-long dinosaur.  The scientists conclude that Sinosauropteryx had multiple types of camouflage which helped it keep hidden from its prey as well as assisting in the avoidance of detection by much larger Theropods and other predators.  The authors of the paper include corresponding author Jakob Vinther, Innes C. Cuthill, Fiann Smithwick from Bristol University as well as palaeoartist Bob Nicholls.

Fiann (School of Earth Sciences) stated:

“Far from all being the lumbering prehistoric grey beasts of past children’s books, at least some dinosaurs showed sophisticated colour patterns to hide from and confuse predators, just like today’s animals.”

Sinosauropteryx Fossil Specimen and Accompanying Line Drawing Showing Shading

Sinosauropteryx fossil material.

Sinosauropteryx fossil material and line drawing (scale bar = 5 cm).

Picture Credit: Bristol University

He went onto add:

“Vision was likely very important in dinosaurs, just like today’s birds, and so it is not surprising that they evolved elaborate colour patterns.”

Mapping Melanosomes and Comparative Anatomy

The study involved plotting how the dark pigmented feathers were distributed across the dinosaur’s body and then this pattern was compared to the patterns seen in extant animals and from this the optimum habitat to best maximise the camouflage was inferred.  Similar countershading patterns are found in many living animals and birds today.  The “bandit mask”, the dark stripe around the eye, is found in badgers, raccoons, red pandas and in birds such as the shrike.

In animals such as raccoons and badgers, the “bandit mask” acts as a warning, it advertises the fact that these animals are aggressive with teeth and claws that could cause considerable damage if another animal attacked them.  The research team discount this reason for Sinosauropteryx’s “Lone Ranger mask”, as an Everything Dinosaur team member calls it, Sinosauropteryx probably relied on its speed to avoid predation, it did not have very big teeth or strong claws required to back up such a visual statement.  The more likely reason for the bandit mask might be that it helped reduce glare from light reflected on feathers around the eye, just like in some modern birds.

Many sports stars such as American footballers and cricketers apply black greasepaint underneath their eyes.  It is believed to lessen the effect of the glare from direct sunlight or from stadium lights.  It helps them to see better, the “bandit mask” of Sinosauropteryx may have helped it to see better in bright sunlight.   This idea supports the view that Sinosauropteryx was a creature of open, brightly lit habitats.

An Illustration of Sinosauropteryx Sporting its “Bandit Mask”

Sinosauropteryx countershading.

Schematic illustration based on the distribution of pigmented plumage in two specimens highlighting the level of the countershading transition from a dark back to light underbelly, scale bar represents 10 cm.

Picture Credit: Bristol University

Lead author, Dr Jakob Vinther, commented:

“Dinosaurs might be weird in our eyes, but their colour patterns very much resemble modern counterparts.  They had excellent vision, were fierce predators and would have evolved camouflage patterns like we see in living mammals and birds.”

A Dark Back and Light Underside – Countershading in the Dinosauria

The small dinosaur also showed a ‘counter-shaded’ pattern with a dark back and light belly; a pattern used by many modern animals to make the body look flatter and less three-dimensional.  This helps to prevent animals standing out from their background, making them harder to see, assisting in the avoidance of detection by would-be predators and potential prey.

Previous work on modern animals, carried out by one of the authors, Bristol’s Professor Innes Cuthill, has shown that the precise pattern of countershading relates to the specific environments in which animals live.  Animals living in open habitats, such as grasslands and plains, often have a countershaded pattern that goes from dark to light sharply and high on the side of the body, while those living in more closed habitats, arboreal habitats like forests, usually show a more gradual change in the colouration from a dark back to a lighter underside.

This idea was applied to Sinosauropteryx, and allowed for the reconstruction of its habitat 130 million years ago.  As part of the Jehol Biota, Sinosauropteryx was believed to have lived in a forested environment, but the countershading on Sinosauropteryx went from dark to light high on the body, suggesting that it would be more likely to live in open habitats with minimal vegetation.

Predicting the Countershading Pattern and Inferring the Habitat

Sinosauropteryx countershading study.

3-D models of the abdomen countershading predicted following an assessment of pigmentation from two fossil specimens. (NIGP 127586 and NIGP 127587).

Picture Credit: Bristol University

The Differing Pattern of Predicted Self-Shadowing in Sinosauropteryx

The picture above shows three-dimensional models of the abdomen of two fossil specimens of Sinosauropteryx involved in the study (NIGP 127586 and NIGP 127587).  These fossils were imaged under different lighting conditions. “Model” represents the original photographs taken of the models to show how the self-shadows are cast across each, with and without synthetic fur added to mimic the impact of a coat of feathers.  “Prediction” shows how a gradient of pigment dorsoventrally (from the back down the flank to the underbelly), would be expected to perfectly counterbalance the illumination gradient caused by self-shadowing.

(A and B) = direct sunlight at an altitude of around 30° on smooth and “feathered” models.

(C and D) = direct sunlight at an altitude of 90° on smooth and “feathered” models.

(E and F) = diffuse lighting under 100% cloud cover (which equates to a closed environment, such as a forest) on smooth and “feathered” models.

The ventral position and sharpness of the predicted countershading transition can be seen to be higher and sharper under overhead direct lighting, indicative of an open environment (C and D), whereas under diffuse lighting, representing a closed habitat, the transition is lower and more gradual (E and F).

In countershaded animals the top surface (back) is darker and the lower surface (underside) is lighter.  This helps to even out the effect of shadowing caused by sunlight, so countershaded animals appear less three-dimensional, helping the animal to avoid detection by predators and to assist it in sneaking up on its prey.  Crucially, lighting conditions vary depending on the environment. Animals living in open areas with lots of light, such as grasslands, tend to have a sharp dark to light transition high up on the body, whereas in contrast, animals living in areas with less direct sunlight, such as wooded areas, tend to have more gradual transitions positioned lower down.  This means that the research team could infer the likely habitat of Sinosauropteryx based on the pattern of its countershading.

Three-dimensional models of the dinosaur’s body were made in a bid to determine in which environment the countershading pattern seen on Sinosauropteryx would be most effective.  The models were photographed in varying light conditions and the shadowing observed, the team then compared these results to the actual countershading pattern detected in the fossils.  They determined that the countershading transition for Sinosauropteryx was abrupt and it occurred high up on the flank, the best position to minimise the effect of shadows cast by direct sunlight.  It could therefore be inferred that Sinosauropteryx was best suited to an open environment.

This study provides a new insight into the lives and behaviour of members of the Dinosauria helping to reconstruct the long-lost habitats in which they lived.

Co-author of the study, Professor Innes Cuthill, a behavioural ecologist commented:

“We’ve shown before that countershading can act as effective camouflage against living predators.  It’s exciting that we can now use the colours of extinct animals to predict the sort of environment they lived in.”

Fiann Smithwick added:

“By reconstructing the colour of these long-extinct dinosaurs, we have gained a better understanding of not only how they behaved and possible predator-prey dynamics, but also the environments in which they lived.  This highlights how palaeocolour reconstructions can tell us things not possible from looking at just the bones of these animals.”

The Diversity of Feathered Theropods in the Early Cretaceous of China – Sinosauropteryx in a Forest?

Feathered Theropod diversity (Early Cretaceous)

The diversity of feathered Theropods in northern China during the Early Cretaceous, but this research suggests Sinosauropteryx does not belong in a forested environment.

Picture Credit: Jan Slovak

The picture above depicts a scene from the Lower Cretaceous of northern China around 130 to 125 million years ago.  A pair of Sinosauropteryx (right) chase a small mammal, it had been thought that the Liaoning (Liaoning biota), habitat consisted of temperate forests and large lakes, however, this new study contends that parts of the habitat may have been more open.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the help of the University of Bristol in the compilation of this article.

26 10, 2017

What Big Teeth You Have! Matheronodon provincialis

By | October 26th, 2017|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

New Ornithopod Dinosaur Described with Scissor-like Teeth

French and Belgian scientists have described a new species of plant-eating dinosaur which had scissor-like teeth, just the sort of dentition required to help it tackle tough, woody plants.  The dinosaur has been named Matheronodon provincialis and assigned to the Rhabdodontidae family, Ornithopods and part of the substantial and diverse Iguanodontia clade, think of M. provincialis being distantly related to Iguanodon, Muttaburrasaurus and Mantellisaurus.

An Illustration of the Skull and Jaws of Matheronodon provincialis

Matheronodon provincialis skull and jaws.

Matheronodon provincialis illustrated.

Picture Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Sciences (Lukas Panzarin)

Fossil Jawbone and Teeth

Field teams have been exploring the Upper Cretaceous sediments of Velaux-La Bastide Neuve, which lies to the north-west of the French city of Marseille for more than twenty-five years.  This location has yielded numerous vertebrate fossils including dinosaurs, Pterosauria, crocodilians and turtles.  The rocks in this region are estimated to be around 70 million years old (Campanian faunal stage of the Late Cretaceous).  Field work carried out in 2009 and 2012 by the Royal Belgian Institute of Sciences found several scrappy and fragmentary Ornithopod fossils including a right maxilla (upper jawbone) from a herbivore, estimated to have grown to around five metres in length.  The teeth in the jaw are oversized and few in number, especially when compared to the dental batteries associated with Hadrosaurs.  In addition, the jaw is robust and indicates that Matheronodon had a powerful bite.

Writing in the academic journal “Scientific Reports”, the authors, which include Pascal Godefroit (Directorate Earth and History of Life, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences), state that Matheronodon is characterised by the large teeth found in the upper and lower jaws, as well as the drastic reduction in the number of maxillary teeth (just four per generation).

The Holotype Fossil Material for Matheronodon provincialis (Right Maxilla)

Matheronodon fossil material (holotype).

The right upper jawbone (maxilla) of Matheronodon.

Picture Credit: Royal Belgian Institute of Sciences (Scientific Reports)

The picture above shows various views of the holotype fossil material, the right maxilla (MMS/VBN-02-102), (a) dorsal view, (b) lateral view, (c) medial view and (d) ventral view, with accompanying line drawings.  Picture (e) is a close-up of the ventral view of the jaw showing the enlarged teeth.  The researchers estimate that some of the individual teeth in the front portion of the maxilla were up to 6 cm long and 5 cm wide.

Honouring Philippe Matheron

The genus name honours the French 19th Century palaeontologist Philippe Matheron, who named and described Rhabdodon (R. priscus), the dinosaur which lent its name to the Rhabdodontidae family.  Lead author of the paper Pascal Godefroit commented:

“The denture of this group [rhabdodontids] had evolved in a different direction than that of their contemporaries, the Hadrosaurs or duck-billed dinosaurs.  Hadrosaurs had sophisticated dental “batteries” formed by little teeth with which they could crush conifers.  Matheronodon and the other Rhabdodontidae probably ate leaves of palm trees, which were abundant in Europe at that time.  They had to cut rather than crush the fibre-rich leaves, before they could swallow them.”

Cutting Palm Leaves – Playing the Role of the Ceratopsians

Matheronodon might have specialised in eating tough plant matter, plants such as Sabalites and Pandanites sp. which were abundant in the area during the Late Cretaceous.  The teeth and jaws are described as “operating like self-sharpening serrated scissors”, the teeth have ridged surfaces but are covered with a thickened enamel layer on one side, as the jaw moves up and down, the side of the tooth with the thicker enamel resists wear more effectively than the dentine as it is exposed.  As a result, the movement of the jaws as the animal chews, keeps the teeth sharp.

A Fossilised Palm Frond (Sabalites sp.) Green River Formation

Sabalites fossil palm.

A fossilised palm frond (Sabalites sp.) from the Green River Formation, Wyoming.

Picture Credit: Bonhams

Horned dinosaurs (Ceratopsians) are relatively abundant in similarly aged deposits from North America, in contrast, rhabdodontids have not be found.  The researchers suggest that in Europe dinosaurs like Matheronodon filled the niche occupied by the horned dinosaurs, as, although there have been accounts of Ceratopsian fossil discoveries in Europe, these fossils are very rare, indicating that horned dinosaurs only made up a tiny proportion of the total dinosaur biota.  Ceratopsians and rhabdodontids probably competed for the same food resources, specialising in the consumption of tough, woody material such as palm leaves, an example of which from the Eocene Epoch (Sabalites sp.), is shown above.

The scientific paper: “Extreme Tooth Enlargement in a New Late Cretaceous rhabdodontid Dinosaur from Southern France” by Pascal Godefroit, Géraldine Garcia, Bernard Gomez, Koen Stein, Aude Cincotta, Ulysse Lefèvre and Xavier Valentin, published in the on-line, open access journal “Scientific Reports.”

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