All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
11 12, 2015

Lufengosaurus Fossils Hold Up Road

By | December 11th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page|0 Comments

Lower Jurassic Fossils Lead to Chinese Road Hold Ups

Chinese news agencies have released some remarkable photographs showing the preserved remains of two types of Early Jurassic herbivorous dinosaur, whose fossils have been found during a road building project in Yunnan Province (south-western China).  The dinosaurs have been identified as two different species within the Lufengosaurus genus, in fact, Lufengosaurus has only two recognised species within the genus, it is quite unusual to find examples of the same genera in such close proximity.  These fossils were found less than five hundred metres apart.

The Superbly Well-Preserved Lufengosaurus magus Specimen

The individual is estimated to be around nine metres in length.

The individual is estimated to be around nine metres in length.

Picture Credit: Chinese News Agencies

Once the construction workers had realised that they had stumbled across some dinosaur bones, palaeontologists from the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (Beijing) were called in and the fossils were carefully excavated.  The picture above shows the preserved rear end of Lufengosaurus magus.  The hind limbs, dorsal area and the anterior portion of the tail have been preserved in almost perfect articulation.  A spokesperson for the Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology explained that measurements of the hind limbs and tail bones suggest that this dinosaur would have been around nine metres in length.

A Close up of the Lower Leg Bones and Foot (Pes) of Lufengosaurus magus

The lower leg and foot (pes) of the dinosaur.

The lower leg and foot (pes) of the dinosaur.

Picture Credit: Chinese News Agencies

Early Jurassic Prosauropods

The Lufengosaurus magus material consists of three sacral vertebrae, rib bones, the pelvis, thirteen dorsal vertebrae, tail bones and the complete hind legs.   The other Lufengosaurus material, assigned to the smaller of the two species L. huenei consists of elements of the leg bones, dorsal vertebrae and two tail bones from the anterior end of the tail.

The Lufengosaurus huenei Fossil Material

Lufengosaurus huenei fossil material.

Lufengosaurus huenei fossil material.

Picture Credit: Chinese News Agencies

The Director of the Department for Geological Heritage Protection at the Lufeng Land Resources Bureau stated that a museum might be built over the site to preserve the fossils in situ.  This could mean that the road that was being built could end up being diverted.

Lufengosaurus Fossils Could be Left in the Ground as Part of a Museum Display

The beautiful fossils of this Early Jurassic herbivore.

The beautiful fossils of this Early Jurassic herbivore.

Picture Credit: Chinese News Agencies

Lufengosaurus – Profile

Although a number of media reports suggest that the fossils are about 180 million years old, team members at Everything Dinosaur suspect that the fossils are at least fifteen million years older.  Lufengosaurus was a long-necked, bipedal plant-eating dinosaur with a small head, a large, round body and the hind limbs were bigger, longer and more robust than the forelimbs.  Regarded as a Prosauropod, debate surrounds this dinosaur as to whether or not it is very closely related to the European Prosauropod Plateosaurus.  Other writers have suggested that this dinosaur may be more closely related to Massopondylus.  CollectA made a very good quality replica of this dinosaur.  This was introduced into the “Prehistoric World” range of not to scale models in 2012.

To see the Lufengosaurus model and other replicas in the “Prehistoric World” range: CollectA “Prehistoric World” Model Range

The CollectA Lufengosaurus Model

The CollectA Lufengosaurus model.

The CollectA Lufengosaurus model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

11 12, 2015

A Mosasaur From Japan

By | December 11th, 2015|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on A Mosasaur From Japan

Scientists Describe New Species of Marine Reptile

Scientists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the University of Alberta (Canada), the University of Cincinnati (USA), Hobetsu Museum, Fukuoka University (Japan) and the University of Cincinnati (USA) have published a scientific paper announcing the discovery of a new species of a type of marine reptile known as a mosasaur.  This new mosasaur has been named Phosphorosaurus ponpetelegans and the huge eye socket in the skull suggests that this animal, distantly related to  modern snakes and lizards, hunted in low light conditions.

An Illustration of the Newly Described Mosasaur

A new species of Japanese mosasaur is described.

A new species of Japanese mosasaur is described.

Picture Credit: Tatsuya Shinmura / Ashoro Museum of Palaeontology / Trustees of the Natural History Museum, (London).

Scientists have suggested that this three-metre long carnivore may have specialised in hunting in deep water or perhaps it evolved to fill a specific ecological niche, that of a night time hunter preying on bioluminescent fish and squid.  Fossils of such fish along with Cephalopods have been found in the same Upper Cretaceous strata on the island of Hokkaido (northern Japan), where the mosasaur fossils were found in 2009.

A Picture of the Prepared Fossil Skull of Phosphorosaurus Showing the Huge Eye Socket

Note the huge eye socket.

Note the huge eye socket.

Picture Credit: Takuya Konishi et al.

Teaching Ideas/Extension

  1. Note that the photograph above has a scale bar showing below the fossilised skull (line of black and white squares).  Why do palaeontologists put a scale bar on their photographs?
  2. Approximately, how long is the skull of this marine reptile (note each black and white square in the scale bar equals one centimetre)?
  3. How wide is the eye socket in centimetres?
  4. Why would a carnivorous marine reptile need big eyes (link to the environment/habitat)?
  5. What does it mean when scientists think an animal fitted a “specific ecological niche”?
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