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Articles, features and information which have slightly more scientific content with an emphasis on palaeontology, such as updates on academic papers, published papers etc.

29 04, 2019

Cretaceous Crabs Ruffle Feathers

By | April 29th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Callichimaera perplexa et al Challenging the Definition of a Crab

An international team of scientists reported the discovery of a variety of Late Cretaceous marine crustacea that have challenged the current definitions of what makes a crab.  Writing in the academic journal “Science Advances”, the researchers from the University of Alberta, Kent State University, the University of Montreal, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the University of Nevada, and the College of Communication and Design in Boca Raton, Florida, as well as Yale University , describe the discovery of hundreds of beautifully-preserved specimens from the USA and Colombia.

A Life Reconstruction of the Cretaceous Crab  Callichimaera perplexa

Callichimaera perplexa life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of Callichimaera perplexa.

Picture Credit: Elissa Martin, (Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History)

The preserved remains include hundreds of tiny shrimp fossils and an entirely new branch of the evolutionary tree for crabs (Order Decapoda).

A Very “Goofy-looking” Crab – Callichimaera perplexa

According to lead researcher, Yale University palaeontologist Javier Luque, the most significant fossil discovery is Callichimaera perplexa, which at around 95-million-years-old, is the earliest example of a swimming arthropod with paddle-like legs since the eurypterids (sea scorpions), that are believed to have died out in the Permian.  The genus name derives from the mythical creature called a chimera, which was formed from the body parts of a variety of different animals.  In a press release from Yale University, it is stated that the binomial scientific name translates as “perplexing beautiful chimera.”

Examining a Fossil Specimen (Callichimaera perplexa)

Callichimaera perplexa fossil specimen.

Examining a Callichimaera perplexa fossil.

Picture Credit: Yale University

A Unique and Very Strange Cretaceous Nektonic Crab

Measuring around 2-3 centimetres in diameter, Callichimaera is described as looking very strange with large, unprotected compound eyes with no sockets, bent claws, leg-like mouth parts, a long body and an exposed tail.  It was nektonic (an active swimmer), as an adult it resembled typical crab larval stages.  This suggests that some ancient crabs may have retained a few of their larval traits into adulthood, amplified them, and developed a new body architecture.  This is an evolutionary process called “heterochrony” – a change to the timing or rate of development relative to the ancestor.

The Diverse Body Plans of Swimming Crabs and other Nektonic Arthropods

The huge variations in the Arthropoda body plan.

The diverse body plans of selected arthropods.

Picture Credit: Yale University

Luque commented:

“Callichimaera perplexa is so unique and strange that it can be considered the platypus of the crab world.  It hints at how novel forms evolve and become so disparate through time.  Usually we think of crabs as big animals with broad carapaces, strong claws, small eyes in long eyestalks, and a small tail tucked under the body.  Well, Callichimaera defies all of these ‘crabby’ features and forces a re-think of our definition of what makes a crab a crab.”

A Computer-generated Image Showing the Underside of Callichimaera perplexa

Digital reconstruction of Callichimaera (ventral view),

A view of the ventral side (underside of the body) of Callichimaera.

Picture Credit: Yale University

The scientific paper: “Exceptional Preservation of mid-Cretaceous Marine Arthropods and the Evolution of Novel Forms via Heterochrony” by J. Luque1, R. M. Feldmann, O. Vernygora, C. E. Schweitzer, C. B. Cameron, K. A. Kerr, F. J. Vega, A. Duque, M. Strange, A. R. Palmer and C. Jaramillo published in the journal Science Advances.

Everything acknowledges the assistance of a press release from Yale University in the compilation of this article.

26 04, 2019

A New Abelisaurid from the Kem Kem Beds of Morocco

By | April 26th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Just How Successful were the Abelisaurs in Africa?

A partial ilium collected from the famous Kem Kem Beds of eastern Morocco hints that those enigmatic abelisaurids may have been widely distributed (both geographically and temporally) in Africa.  Writing in the on-line academic journal “PLOS One” scientists including researchers from the University of Southampton, Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Marrakech (Morocco), the University of Debrecen (Hungary) and the Natural History Museum (Paris), report on a fragmentary ilium bone, collected in 2007 and sourced via the fossil dealer network that indicates that abelisaurids were present in Morocco around 100 million years ago.  This fossil find adds to the growing evidence to suggest that abelisaurids were the dominant predators in Africa in the Late Cretaceous.

The Fragmentary Ilium – Abelisaurid Fossil Remains

Abelisaurid ilium (Kem Kem Beds - Morocco).

Views of the fragmentary right ilium bone, assigned to an indeterminate abelisaurid dinosaur.

Picture Credit: PLOS One

Fossil Specimen (MHNM KK 04)

The picture (above), shows various views of the ilium fossil.  The pieces have been prepared and assembled and now form part of the collection of the Natural History Museum of Marrakech.  The ilium is shown in (A) lateral view, (B) medial view, (C) anterior view, (D) dorsal view and posterior view (E).  In the photograph the scale bar is given as 50 mm, however, in the accompanying notes, the scale is reported as 10 cm, it is therefore difficult to estimate the size of the individual Theropod without confirmation of the size of the fossils.

An Illustration of a Typical Theropod Dinosaur (Abelisauridae)

A drawing of a dinosaur (Abelisaurus).

A typical member of the Abelisauridae.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The fossils are believed to come from the Aferdou region, near the locality of Gara Sbaâ (eastern Morocco), based on biostratigraphical analysis, the terrestrial sandstones in this region are thought to date from the Lower Cenomanian faunal stage of the Upper Cretaceous.  Dinosaur fossils from the Kem Kem Beds represent either Theropods (most numerous), or Sauropods.  In the research paper, the authors state that no Ornithischian body fossils are known from the Kem Kem Beds.  However, most of the material is fragmentary, represents deposits that have been reworked and the thriving fossil trade is now playing a significant role in the local economy.  Commercial fossil hunters are affecting the quality of the research that can be carried out on the fossil bearing strata.

The scientists conclude that the ilium is likely to represent an abelisaurid, but no genera has been specified and no new species named.  Based on the shape of the bone, the specimen (MHNM KK04), is assigned to the clade Abelisauria.

This adds to the growing evidence to indicate that abelisaurids may have been the dominant land predators in Late Cretaceous Africa.  In 2017, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a fragment of jaw bone found in a Moroccan phosphate mine that led to the naming of a new species of abelisaurid – Chenanisaurus barbaricusC. barbaricus may belong to an as-yet undescribed family of Abelisaurs unique to Africa and its fossils are around thirty million years younger than the ilium bone from the Aferdou region.

To read about Chenanisaurus barbaricusThe Last Dinosaur in Africa

For an article that looks at why the Late Cretaceous of Africa might have been home to such a large number of predators: Why So Many Large Predators in Cretaceous Africa?

The scientific paper: “An abelisaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda Ilium from the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) of the Kem Kem Beds, Morocco” by Slimane Zitouni, Christian Laurent , Gareth Dyke and Nour-Eddine Jalil published in PLOS One.

18 04, 2019

Early Miocene Giant Hyaenodont Bigger than a Polar Bear

By | April 18th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Simbakubwa kutokaafrika – Giant African Hyaenodont

Scientists writing in the “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology” have described a new species of giant Hyaenodont from sub-Saharan Africa that was bigger than a polar bear.  The giant carnivore, most likely the apex predator in its Early Miocene ecosystem, has been named Simbakubwa kutokaafrika and this fearsome beast with its huge teeth is the stuff of nightmares.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Giant Hyaenodont Simbakubwa kutokaafrika

Simbakubwa kutokaafrika life reconstruction.

A life reconstruction of the newly described giant hyaenodont Simbakubwa kutokaafrika.

Picture Credit: Mauricio Anton

A Chance Discovery

Co-author of the scientific paper Matthew Borths (Duke University, North Carolina), was visiting the Nairobi National Museum in Kenya in 2013  to view some specimens.  He asked to view the contents of a collection labelled as “hyaenas” and he discovered a gigantic lower jaw bone more than forty centimetres in length.   The bones and teeth had been placed in a drawer after a dig in western Kenya in the late 1970’s and had remained there ever since.

The genus name, Simbakubwa is from Swahili “simba” meaning “lion” and “kubwa” meaning “big”, big this animal certainly was, its body weight has been estimated at over 1,500 kilograms making S. kutokaafrika heavier than the largest land carnivore alive today, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus).  The species name kutokaafrika, is also from Swahili, it means “from Africa”.

The Lower Jaw of S. kutokaafrika Compared to the Jaw of a Modern Lion (Panthero leo)

Simbakubwa jaw compared to the jaw of a lion.

Simbakubwa kutokaafrika mandible, with Panthera leo mandible for comparison.

Picture Credit: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

The picture (above), shows the holotype left dentary (KNM-ME 20A), in (A) lingual, (B) buccal and (C) occlusal views.  It is compared in size to the lower jaw of a modern lion (Panthero leo), photograph (D).  Note the scale bar is 5 cm.

Classified as a Member of the Hyaenodonta (Hyainailourinae)

The carnivore has been classified as a member of the Hyaenodonta (Hyainailourinae), a large and diverse group of creodonts that may have evolved in Africa.  These animals dominated predatory niches in ecosystems until the emergence of the modern Carnivora.  As such, Simbakubwa is only very distantly related to today’s big cats the Felidae.

The Giant Teeth of a Giant Prehistoric Predator

Views of the teeth of Simbakubwa kutoaafrika.

What big teeth you have – Simbakubwa kutokaafrika.

Picture Credit: Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology

The photograph (above), shows isolated teeth associated with the lower jaw.  Pictures (A, B and C) show a right lower canine in lingual, buccal and occlusal views.  A right molar (m1), is shown in (D) occlusal, (E) lingual and (F) buccal views and the second right molar (m2), is shown in (G) occlusal, (H) lingual and (I) buccal views, whilst a left molar (m2), is show in (J) occlusal, (K) lingual and (L) buccal views.  Note the scale bar equals 5 cm.

A Widely Dispersed Clade of Super-sized Mammalian Predators

The hyainailourine hyaenodonts are among the biggest land mammalian carnivores known to science.  The group is temporally and geographically widely dispersed with fossil finds in Europe, Asia, North America, Arabia as well as Africa.  The fossil material assigned to the Simbakubwa genus represent the most complete hyainailourine known from sub-Saharan Africa.  The researchers conclude that the fossils represent a relatively young adult animal and the material was collected at the Meswa Bridge site (western Kenya).

Bayesian ancestral state reconstruction supports an Afro-Arabian origin for Hyainailourinae with subsequent dispersal to Europe and Asia.  A regression analysis conducted by the authors of the paper, based on carnassial size suggests that Simbakubwa could have weighed around 1,500 kilogrammes, more than four times the weight of a modern African lion.   The evolution and extinction of Hyainailourinae offers important insights for interpreting ecological transitions from Paleogene to Neogene faunas in Afro-Arabia and Eurasia.

The scientific paper: “Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, gen. et sp. nov. (Hyainailourinae, Hyaenodonta, ‘Creodonta,’ Mammalia), a gigantic carnivore from the earliest Miocene of Kenya” by Matthew R. Borths and Nancy J. Stevens published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

15 04, 2019

Scientists Identify Ancient “Monster” from the Deep

By | April 15th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Tentacled “Cthulhu” Fossil Reveals Relative of Modern Sea Cucumbers

The remarkable Silurian-aged deposits located at a secret site in Herefordshire (England), have provided scientists with a unique look at the early evolution of sea cucumbers and their relatives.  The rocks at this location are comprised of very fine grained volcanic ash that settled on the seafloor some 430 to 425 million years ago.  These deposits have preserved in fantastic detail the remains of the marine biota.  The latest new species to be named from this location is Sollasina cthulhu, a multi-tentacled, benthic animal that was a ferocious predator.  The prehistoric sea cucumber’s trivial name honours the “Cthulhu” universe, as it resembles some of the monsters created by the American, 20th Century science-fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft.  At only three centimetres across, it might not look very formidable to us, but its numerous tentacles, (actually tube feet), would have been used to terrorise and capture other animals as it roamed across the seafloor.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Sollasina cthulhu

Life reconstruction of the Silurian ancestral sea cucumber Sollasina cthulhu.

Sollasina cthulhu life reconstruction.

Picture Credit: Elissa Martin, (Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History)

Writing in the academic journal the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biology)”, palaeontologists from the USA and the UK were able to create an accurate, three-dimensional digital reconstruction of the 430 million-year-old fossil.  The exceptionally preserved fossil, once analysed using this three-dimensional computer modelling technique, revealed details of internal soft tissues previously not seen in a fossil like this.

Sollasina cthulhu

Like other fossils from the secret Herefordshire “Lagerstätte”, Sollasina cthulhu was examined using a method that involved grinding it away, layer-by-layer, with a photograph taken at each stage.  This led to hundreds of images being produced which were then combined in a special computer programme to create an exact 3-D image, a “virtual fossil”.  The scientists, which included researchers from the Oxford Museum of Natural History, Leicester University, Imperial College London, Yale University and the University of Southern California, were able to make out an internal ring, which is believed to be part of the organism’s water vascular system.  The water vascular system is the system of fluid-filled canals used for feeding and movement in living sea cucumbers and their relatives.

Dr Imran Rahman (Deputy Head of Research at Oxford University Museum of Natural History) and lead author of the paper stated:

“Sollasina belongs to an extinct group called the ophiocistioids, and this new material provides the first information on the group’s internal structures.  This includes an inner ring-like form that has never been described in the group before.  We interpret this as the first evidence of the soft parts of the water vascular system in ophiocistioids.”

Computer-based Analysis

This new fossil was subjected to a phylogenetic analysis to assess the evolutionary relationships between fossil sea cucumbers and sea urchins (members of the Echinodermata Phylum).  The results showed that Sollasina and its relatives are more closely related to sea cucumbers than they are to sea urchins.  This has provided a new insight into the evolution of this very important group of invertebrates.

A Computer-generated Three-dimensional Image of Sollasina cthulhu

3-D computer generated image of S. cthulhu (tube feet shown in different colours).

Three-dimensional reconstruction of Sollasina cthulhu using the computer programme.  Tube feet shown in different colours.

Picture Credit: Dr Imran Rahman (Oxford University Museum of Natural History)

Dr Jeffrey Thompson (University of Southern California) and a co-author of the paper commented:

“We carried out a number of analyses to work out whether Sollasina was more closely related to sea cucumbers or sea urchins.  To our surprise, the results suggest it was an
ancient sea cucumber.  This helps us understand the changes that occurred during the early evolution of the group, which ultimately gave rise to the slug-like forms we see today.”

The Herefordshire site has provided palaeontologists with some remarkable fossils to study:

An ancient Silurian ostracod: An Ancient Ostracod from Herefordshire

A rare Silurian marine worm: Rare Silurian Fossil Worm from a Herefordshire “Hotspot”

A Prehistoric Scene – Life in the Silurian Seas

Life in the Silurian seas.

A typical Silurian marine biota.  The ecosystem is dominated by arthropods, corals, brachiopods and molluscs.

Picture Credit: The Open University

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “A New Ophiocistioid with Soft-tissue Preservation from the Silurian Herefordshire Lagerstätte, and the Evolution of the Holothurian Body Plan” by Imran A. Rahman, Jeffrey R. Thompson, Derek E. G. Briggs, David J. Siveter, Derek J. Siveter and Mark D. Sutton published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

5 04, 2019

Four-Legged Whale Ancestor from the Eocene of Peru

By | April 5th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Peregocetus pacificus – The Travelling Whale that Reached the Pacific

A team of international researchers including scientists from Peru, France, Belgium, Italy and Holland have announced the discovery of an ancient four-legged whale from Peru.  The fossil discovery suggests that early whales crossed the South Atlantic more than 42.6 million years ago (Lutetian faunal stage of the Eocene).  The fossil material comes from the Playa Media Luna, in Peru’s desert-like Pisco Basin.  It is the oldest fossil of a whale found to date in the New World.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Early Cetacean – Peregocetus pacificus

Peregocetus pacificus life reconstruction.

Life reconstruction Peregocetus pacificus.  Note: the tail fluke is speculative.

Picture Credit: A Gennari/Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

In 2011, an international team of palaeontologists excavated a well-preserved skeleton of a four-legged whale ancestor.  Writing in the academic journal, “Current Biology”, the scientists conclude that P. pacificus illustrates a key phase in the evolution and dispersal of early whales.  It represents the first record of an amphibious whale for the whole Pacific Ocean and its discovery supports the hypothesis for an early dispersal of primitive cetaceans to the New World across the South Atlantic.

Field Team Members Working on a Block of Fossil Bones

Peregocetus pacificus fossil excavation.

Field team members working on a block of bones (Peregocetus pacificus).

Picture Credit: Christian de Muizon (Natural History Museum – Paris)

A Quadruped with a Powerful Tail to Assist with Swimming

The first whales are believed to have evolved around fifty million years ago, from terrestrial, hoofed, quadrupeds such as Indohyus from Kashmir.  To read an article about Indohyus: Deer-like Fossil Confuses Whale Evolution.  The discovery of  Peregocetus pacificus will help to fill in some of the gaps in the fossil record of early members of the Cetacea.  Dr Olivier Lambert of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and a co-author of the scientific paper stated:

“This is the most complete specimen ever found for a four-legged whale outside of India and Pakistan.”

A View of a Fossilised Rib of Peregocetus pacificus

Peregocetus pacificus rib bone (in situ).

Peregocetus pacificus rib bone partially excavated at the dig site.

Picture Credit: G. Bianucci (University of Pisa)

The Oldest Four-Legged Whale of the New World

Peregocetus combines terrestrial locomotion abilities and use of the tail for swimming, although the presence of a partial tail fluke as seen in the above illustration is speculative.  Measuring between 3.4 to 4 metres in length, it probably resembled a large otter and like extant otters, it most likely hunted in the water and preyed on fish.  The scientific name translates as “the travelling whale that reached the Pacific Ocean”, a reflection of this being the oldest New World whale fossil discovered to date.  Although, not a complete skeleton, the fossil material represents the most complete skeleton of a four-legged whale outside India and Pakistan.

Olivier Lambert added:

“The animal could carry its own weight and crawl about on land.  We can see this, among other things, because the pelvis is firmly attached to the sacrum and the front and hind legs are very similar to those of Peregocetus’s ancestors from India and Pakistan.  You can even see marks of small hooves on the toes and fingers.”

Line Drawings Illustrating the Known Skeletal Material of Peregocetus in Swimming and Terrestrial Positions

Peregocetus pacificus line drawings (swimming and on land).

Preserved parts of the skeleton showing proposed terrestrial and swimming positions.

Picture Credit: Olivier Lambert (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences)

The picture (above), shows schematic drawings of the skeleton of Peregocetus in a swimming (top) and a walking stance (bottom), showing the main preserved bones.  Stippled lines indicate reconstructed parts.

Like a Giant Otter

The researchers are confident that Peregocetus was an accomplished swimmer, perfectly at home in the water.  The last few tail bones (caudal vertebrae), have not been found, so it is not possible to state whether this early whale had a tail fluke, but Lambert observed:

“The anatomy of the first vertebrae of the tail resembles that of amphibious mammals such as otters and beavers.  So, we think the animal propelled itself through the water by wave-like movements of the posterior part of the body, including the tail, and by moving its large feet and long toes that were most likely webbed.”

Cranial and Postcranial Material (Peregocetus pacificus)

The lower jaw and postcranial fossil bones of Peregocetus pacificus.

Mandible and postcranial bones of Peregocetus pacificus.

Picture Credit: G. Bianucci (University of Pisa)

A Very Long Journey

The scientists suggest that the ancestors of Peregocetus crossed the Atlantic Ocean between North Africa and the northernmost portion of South America.  During the Eocene, the Atlantic Ocean was only half as wide as it is today and the prevailing surface currents from Africa to South America would have helped the ancestors of Peregocetus to reach the other side.  Once on the eastern coast of South America, the population gradually moved further northwards and populations were eventually established on the western (Peruvian) coast of South America.  Later, relatives of Peregocetus would spread further north, to the east coast of North America.

The Prepared Lower Jaw of P. pacificus

Peregocetus pacificus lower jaw.

The left mandible (lower jaw) of Peregocetus pacificus.

Picture Credit: Olivier Lambert (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences)

The Pisco Basin in Peru is proving to be hot-spot for whale fossils.  In 2017, the international team with Olivier Lambert found, 200 metres away from the spot where Peregocetus pacificus was excavated, a 36.4 million-year-old descendant of the basilosaurids, identified as the oldest known member of the mysticete group – Mystacodon selenensis.  Basilosaurids were fully aquatic and mainly used their tail fluke to propel themselves.  Their front limbs had evolved into paddles and the rear legs were much reduced and vestigial.

There are two main types of whale alive today.  Firstly, there is the Odontoceti (toothed whales), such as sperm whales, dolphins and porpoises.   Secondly, there is the Mysticeti, the baleen whales such as the blue, humpback and gray whale.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in the compilation of this article.

1 04, 2019

Amazing Fossils Depict End Cretaceous Mass Extinction Event

By | April 1st, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Geology, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Fossil Discovery Offers Detailed View Minutes After Chicxulub Impact

A paper published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – USA), provides a detailed snapshot of a terrible natural disaster linked to the Chicxulub bolide impact event.  A site (Tanis), in North Dakota’s Upper Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation, records the devastation caused by a massive surge of water which occurred as seismic shockwaves reverberated around the Earth as a result of the huge extra-terrestrial impact in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.

Examining Rock Layers Looking for Evidence

Exploring sediments, looking for fossils.

Identifying the K-T boundary at the margins of  Upper Cretaceous sediments.

Picture Credit: Robert DePalma (University of Kansas)

A team of palaeontologists, including researchers from the University of Kansas, the Black Hills Institute and Manchester University, in collaboration with a number of other academic institutions report on what has been described as a “motherlode of exquisitely-preserved plant, animal and fish fossils”, the remains of a river ecosystem which flowed into the Western Interior Seaway, which was wrecked within minutes of the extra-terrestrial impact event.

The site is described as a “rapidly emplaced high-energy onshore surge deposit” along the KT boundary that contains associated ejecta and iridium impactite associated with the End Cretaceous extinction event that resulted in the loss of many groups of terrestrial vertebrates including the pterosaurs and the dinosaurs as well as the extinction of a wide variety of marine organisms.

Lead author of the scientific paper, Robert DePalma (University of Kansas), described the site as:

“A tangle mass of freshwater fish, terrestrial vertebrates, trees, branches, logs, marine ammonites and other marine creatures was all packed into this layer by the inland-directed surge”.

One of the Plaster Jackets from the Site Reveals the Devastation

The Tanis Konservat-Lagerstätte

The Tanis Konservat-Lagerstätte.  Plaster field jacket  (A) with partially prepared (freshwater) Acipenseriform fish next to a fragment from an ammonite shell (inset).

Picture Credit: PNAS

The doctoral student went onto add:

“Timing of the incoming ejecta spherules matched the calculated arrival times of seismic waves from the impact, suggesting that the impact could very well have triggered the surge.”

Devastation Occurred Within Minutes of the Impact

The researchers conclude that the fossil site does not record a tsunami.  Tanis is more than 2,000 miles from the bolide impact site in the Gulf of Mexico, a tsunami would have taken at least seventeen hours to reach North Dakota, but seismic waves and a subsequent water surge would have occurred within minutes of the collision.

DePalma and his colleagues describe the rushing wave that shattered the Tanis site as a “seiche.”

What is a Seiche?

A seiche (pronounced “saysh”), relates to a standing wave in an enclosed or part-enclosed body of water.  This term was first used widely by the Swiss scientist François-Alphonse Forel (1841-1912), who pioneered the study of inland water ecosystems.  It is believed the etymology derives from the Swiss/French dialect meaning “swaying back and forth”, a reference to observations of water level changes in alpine lakes.  This phenomenon can have many causes, but seismic activity is known to lead to water surges.

DePalma explained:

“As the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan showed us, seismic shaking can cause surges far from the epicentre.  In the Tohoku example, surges were triggered nearly 5,000 miles away in Norway just 30 minutes after impact.  So, the KT impact could have caused similar surges in the right-sized bodies of water worldwide, giving the first rapid “bloody nose” to those areas before any other form of aftermath could have reached them.”

According to Kansas University researchers, even before the surge arrived, Acipenseriform fish (sturgeon) found at the site already had inhaled tiny spherules ejected from the Chicxulub impact.

Fish Fossils Show Evidence of Microtektites Embedded in Their Gills

Microtektites from the Chicxulub impact recorded in fossil fish.

Fish Fossils show evidence of microtektites embedded in their gills.

Picture Credit: PNAS

The picture above shows Acipenseriform fish with ejecta clustered in the gill region.  Image (A) an X-ray of a fossil sturgeon head (outlined, pointing left; FAU.DGS.ND.161.115.T).  Magnified image (B) of the X-ray in (A) showing numerous ejecta spherules clustered within the gill region (arrows).  Images C and D are micro-CT images of another fish specimen (paddlefish), with microtektites embedded between the gill rakers in the same fashion.

Co-author David Burnham (Kansas University) stated:

“The fish were buried quickly, but not so quickly they didn’t have time to breathe the ejecta that was raining down to the river.  These fish weren’t bottom feeders, they breathed these in while swimming in the water column.  We’re finding little pieces of ejecta in the gill rakers of these fish, the bony supports for the gills.  We don’t know if some were killed by breathing this ejecta, too.”

One of the co-authors of the paper is Californian geologist Walter Alvarez, who, along with is his father Luis, postulated the theory of an impact event playing a role in the End Cretaceous extinction (1980).  They identified a layer of sediment in the strata marking the Cretaceous/Palaeogene boundary (KPg), that was enriched with the rare Earth element iridium and they concluded that an extra-terrestrial object must have collided with the Earth.

The Approaching Bolide About to Strike Planet Earth

Asteroid strikes the Earth.

An extra-terrestrial impact event.  Moments before the impact event, now scientists have fossil evidence providing data on what happened minutes after the collision.

Picture Credit: Deposit Photos/Paul Paladin

Described as a Lagerstätte of the KT Event

The number and quality of preservation of the fossils at Tanis are such that Burnham dubs it the “lagerstätte” of the KT event.  A lagerstätte, comes from the German “storage place”, it describes a sedimentary deposit that contains a large number of very well preserved fossils.  For example, the Tanis site preserves numerous Acipenseriform fish, which are cartilaginous and not bony and therefore less likely to become fossils.

David Burnham added:

“The sedimentation happened so quickly everything is preserved in three dimensions, they’re not crushed.  It’s like an avalanche that collapses almost like a liquid, then sets like concrete.  They were killed pretty suddenly because of the violence of that water.  We have one fish that hit a tree and was broken in half.”

Indeed, the Tanis location contains many hundreds of articulated ancient fossil fish killed by the Chicxulub impact’s consequences and is remarkable for the biodiversity it reveals alone.

Mapping the Direction of the Surge and Examining the Fish Fossils

Carcasses orientated by flow and mass mortality deposit.

A site map (left) showing the flow of water indicated by the orientation of the material and a mass deposit of fish from the site.

Picture Credit: PNAS

Several New Species

The scientists conclude that there are likely to be several new species of fish named as a result of this discovery.  In addition, some specimens are the best known examples of their genus found to date.  It was quickly realised that the surrounding matrix was deposited by a sudden, violent rush of water, a surge that was directed inland away from the Western Interior Seaway.  Impact debris including shocked minerals and ejecta spherules were found in the sediment and a compact layer of KT boundary clay overlies the deposit.

Tanis provides a post impact “snapshot,” including ejecta accretion and faunal mass death, advancing our understanding of the immediate effects of the Chicxulub impact.

According to Burnham, this site will advance our understanding of the Chicxulub impact significantly, describing Tanis as “smoking-gun evidence” of the aftermath.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the University of Kansas in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “A Seismically Induced Onshore Surge Deposit at the KPg Boundary, North Dakota” by Robert A. DePalma, Jan Smit, David A. Burnham, Klaudia Kuiper, Phillip L. Manning, Anton Oleinik, Peter Larson, Florentin J. Maurrasse, Johan Vellekoop, Mark A. Richards, Loren Gurche, and Walter Alvarez published in the PNAS.

25 03, 2019

Scientists Collaborate to Explore the Morrison Formation

By | March 25th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Manchester University, the Morrison Formation and the “Jurassic Mile”

Scientists at Manchester University have joined forces with a major American Museum and European partners to map and explore an extraordinary Jurassic dinosaur site in the Badlands of Wyoming (USA).  The University of Manchester will act as the academic leaders on this newly announced £20 million ($27.5 USD) research project to examine and eventually exhibit fossils excavated from a recently discovered palaeontological site nicknamed the “Jurassic Mile”.

Working in Collaboration with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The University of Manchester’s Professor Phil Manning and Dr. Victoria Egerton will be collaborating with scientists from the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  Also involved are researchers from the Natural History Museum in London and the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in Leiden (Netherlands).  In total, more than a hundred scientists and academics from three countries will join forces to work at a dig site representing Upper Jurassic strata from the Morrison Formation of Wyoming.  They hope to uncover new data to help explain the extraordinary diversity of the dinosaur biota known from this part of Laurasia in the Late Jurassic.

Life in the Late Jurassic – An Illustration of Morrison Formation Biota

Morrison Formation biota.

Life in the Late Jurassic (Morrison Formation biota).  An illustration of life in the Late Jurassic (Morrison Formation) by Julius Csotonyi.  A mother Stegosaurus defends her family from a marauding Allosaurus whilst a pair of diplodocids browse in the background.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

The “Jurassic Mile”

Professor Manning, Dr. Egerton and the team are calling the fossil-rich, mile-square plot of land, “The Jurassic Mile.”  There are four main quarries within the multi-level, 640-acre site that offer a diverse assemblage of Morrison Formation articulated and semi-articulated dinosaurs that has also yielded associated animals and fossil plants.  In addition, trace fossils in the form of dinosaur trackways have been identified, such tracks are rare in this part of the world.

Commenting on the significance of this collaborative field work, Professor Manning stated:

“It is splendid that such an important site has been discovered at just the right time, as the science of palaeontology is adapting existing and new imaging techniques to unpick the fossil remains of extinct life.  The imaging work that we undertake at Manchester is already world-leading and this is a great opportunity to develop this research with other world-class institutions.”

A Remarkable Fossil Assemblage

Nearly six hundred specimens, weighing more than six tons, have already been collected from this site over the past two years, despite the fact that only a fraction of the area has been explored.  Fossil bones found to date include the remains of an 20-metre plus Brachiosaur and a 27-metre-long diplodocid.  Giant Sauropods had giant bones, one of the recent discoveries is a 2-metre-long Brachiosaur scapula (shoulder bone), numerous plaster-coated burlap jackets containing articulated bones are the reward for the researchers after a successful field season..

At a press conference, held today, the discovery of an extremely well-preserved 1.5-metre-long Sauropod femur (thigh bone), was announced.

Professor Phil Manning (The University of Manchester) with the Sauropod Femur

Professor Phil Manning and the diplodocid femur.

Professor Phil Manning (The University of Manchester), poses next to the diplodocid femur.

Picture Credit: The University of Manchester

Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, President and CEO of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis commented:

“We are bringing together an extraordinary international team for the first time that will critically analyse portions of the Morrison Formation in new ways.  This project reflects a natural synergy between three world-renowned museums, their research scientists and highly-respected research universities, each providing unique elements to complete one of the most interesting chapters in the evolution of Earth.”

Prehistoric Flora as well as Fauna

Dr. Egerton from the Department of Earth and Environmental Science (Manchester University), explained:

“The preservation quality and sheer amount of plants at the Jurassic Mile is extraordinary.  During this period, there were no flowering plants and this site provides significant insight to what these giant animals ate and how they may have grown to be so large.”

The Jurassic Mile project is already utilising cutting-edge science from the international team.  The University of Manchester scientists will employ the Stanford Synchrotron particle accelerator along with some of the most powerful computers on the planet, to help resurrect the Jurassic and unearth the lost world and forgotten lives of some of the most remarkable terrestrial animals that have ever lived.

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

24 03, 2019

Alligator Study Provides Insight into Dinosaur Hearing

By | March 24th, 2019|Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

Alligator Hearing Study Provides Insight into Dinosaur Hearing

New research published in the “Journal of Neuroscience” identifies that living Archosaurs – birds and crocodiles make a mental map of sounds in the same way.  This suggests that this auditory strategy existed in their common ancestor which has implications for dinosaur research.

Animal brains determine where a sound is coming from, by analysing the minute difference in time it takes audio waves to reach each ear—a cue known as interaural time difference.  What happens to the cue once the signals get to the brain depends on what kind of animal is doing the hearing.

An American Alligator – New Research Suggests that Birds and Crocodilians Hear in the Same Way

An American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis).

A photograph of an American alligator.

Picture Credit: Ruth Elsey Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Scientists have known that birds are exceptionally good at creating neural maps to chart the location of sounds, and that the strategy differs in mammals.  Little was known, however, about how alligators process interaural time difference.

A new study of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), found that the reptiles form neural maps of sound in the same way birds do.  The research by Catherine Carr, a Distinguished University Professor of Biology at the University of Maryland and her colleague Lutz Kettler from the Technische Universität München, was published this week in the “Journal of Neuroscience”.

Most research into how animals analyse interaural time difference has focused on physical features such as skull size and shape, but Carr and Kettler believed it was important to look at evolutionary relationships.

Birds have very small head sizes compared with alligators, but the two groups share a common ancestor, as both Aves (birds) and crocodilians are members of the Archosauria.   Archosaurs began to emerge around 246 million years ago and split into two lineages; one that led to alligators and one that led to dinosaurs (and birds).  Although most dinosaurs died out during the mass extinction event 66 million years ago, some types of dinosaur survived and we see their descendants all around us today, these are the modern birds.

Carr and Kettler’s findings indicate that the hearing strategy birds and alligators share may have less to do with head size and more to do with common ancestry.

Carr commented:

“Our research strongly suggests that this particular hearing strategy first evolved in their common ancestor.  The other option, that they independently evolved the same complex strategy, seems very unlikely.”

Sedated American Alligators were Fitted with Earphones

An American alligator.

A photograph of an American alligator.

Picture Credit:  Ruth Elsey Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

To study how alligators identify where sound comes from, the researchers anesthetised forty American Alligators and fitted them with earphones.  They played tones for the sleepy reptiles and measured the response of a structure in their brain stems called the nucleus laminaris.  This structure is the seat of auditory signal processing.  Their results showed that alligators create neural maps very similar to those previously measured in barn owls and chickens.  The same maps have not been recorded in the equivalent structure in mammal brains.

The Distinguished Professor added:

“We know so little about dinosaurs.  Comparative studies such as this one, which identify common traits extending back through evolutionary time add to our understanding of their biology.”

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the University of Maryland in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Neural Maps of Interaural Time Difference in the American Alligator: A Stable Feature in Modern Archosaurs” by Lutz Kettler and Catherine Carr and published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

17 03, 2019

New Study “Cracks” Dinosaur Egg Mystery

By | March 17th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Dinosaurs Innovated When it Came to Egg Production

Many museums include the fossilised remains of dinosaur eggs amongst their natural history collections and palaeontologists are aware that reptiles were laying eggs on land long before the dinosaurs evolved, but what we know about the evolution of reptile eggs (amniotic eggs in general), is largely based on inference and conjecture.  The problem is, for the first 100 million years or so of amniote evolution, there is very little fossil data related to reptile reproduction to study.  What we do know, is based on Middle Jurassic to Late Cretaceous fossils.  Although, dinosaur eggs are rare, the examples we do have, such as those associated with Asian oviraptorids demonstrate that dinosaur eggs had thick, hardened shells.  However, a new study suggests that it was not always like this and that the three main Sub-orders of the Dinosauria probably evolved thick, tough eggs independently.

Examples of Eggs from Different Archosaurs (Avian and Non-avian Dinosaurs)

Examples of fossil Archosaur eggs.

Examples of whole or partial fossilised eggs.

Picture Credit: Royal Society Open Science

Studying Some of the World’s Oldest Dinosaur Eggs Reveals New Information

Writing in the on-line, open access journal “Scientific Reports”, a team of scientists, including Robert Reisz (University of Toronto Mississauga) and Koen Stein (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels), have examined some of the oldest examples of dinosaur eggs known and revealed new information about the evolution of dinosaur reproduction.  The researchers examined the eggs and eggshells of three coeval, but geographically widely distributed Early Jurassic basal Sauropodomorph dinosaurs (Sinemurian faunal stage).  These fossils came from Argentina, China and South Africa and include the eggs of Massospondylus and Lufengosaurus.  Their analysis showed that the basal Sauropodomorph eggs all had the basic structure, they had a thin calcareous layer less than 100 microns thick.  This thin shell layer contrasts strongly with the much thicker calcareous shells associated with Late Jurassic and later dinosaur eggs.

At approximately 195 million years old, they are the earliest known eggs in the fossil record, and they were all laid by similar, herbivorous dinosaurs that ranged in size from four to eight metres in length and were the most common and widely spread dinosaurs of their time.  These types of plant-eating dinosaur were the forerunners of the giant Sauropods of the Jurassic, dinosaurs such as Brontosaurus, Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus.

A Massospondylus Nesting Site (Life Reconstruction)

Massospondylus nesting site - life reconstruction.

Massospondylus (basal Sauropodomorpha) nesting site. Massospondylus fossil eggs from South Africa were used in the study.

Picture Credit: Julius Csotonyi

Putting the research into context Professor Reisz explained:

“Reptile and mammal precursors appear as skeletons in the fossil record starting 316 million years ago, yet we know nothing of their eggs and eggshells until 120 million years later.  It’s a great mystery that eggs suddenly show up at this point, but not earlier.”

The researchers concluded that these Early Jurassic eggs represented a step in the evolution of dinosaur reproduction, their shells were paper-thin and brittle, proportionately much thinner than the eggs of extant birds.  However, thicker, tougher eggshells in the Dinosauria were to evolve across all three Sub-orders later.  The much thicker eggshells associated with Sauropods, Ornithischian dinosaurs and the Theropoda must have evolved independently.

Professor Reisz added:

“We know that these early eggs had hard shells because during fossilisation they cracked and broke, but the shell pieces retained their original curvature.”

Other authors of the scientific paper include Edina Prondvai and Jean-Marc Baele.  Shell thickness was analysed along with membrane thickness, mineral content and distribution of pores, looking for clues about why these early eggs might have developed hard shells.  The scientists concluded that hard-shelled eggs evolved early in dinosaur evolution, with thickening of the calcareous layer (greater than 150 microns), occurring independently in several groups, but a few million years later other reptiles also developed hard-shelled eggs.  One possibility is that hard and eventually thicker shells may have evolved to shield dinosaur embryos and other reptiles from predators.

Professor Reisz commented:

“The hard shells would protect the embryos from invertebrates that could burrow into the buried egg nests and destroy them.”

Linked to Increased Oxygen in the Atmosphere

Advanced mineralisation of amniote eggshell including those of dinosaurs (≥150 microns in thickness), in general occurred not earlier than the Middle Jurassic and may correspond with a global trend of an increase in atmospheric oxygen.  If there were higher levels of atmospheric oxygen, then this would facilitate more efficient gaseous exchange through the porous eggshell and across the egg membranes.  More efficient diffusion would permit the evolution of thicker eggshells, which in turn would offer greater resistance to damage and more protection from predators.

A Lufengosaurus Embryo

The embryo of a Lufengosaurus

New research into 195 million-year-old baby dinosaurs and their eggs.

Picture Credit: D. Mazierski

Raising Further Questions About Mesozoic Reproduction Strategies

The study raises some intriguing questions that may well lead to further research projects.  For example, palaeontologists are aware that many types of marine reptile evolved viviparity (live birth), whilst the fossil evidence for the terrestrial Dinosauria seems to indicate that they continued to rely on egg laying.  Why didn’t the highly diverse dinosaurs evolve different reproductive strategies over their 160 million years of existence?

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges the assistance of a press release from the University of Toronto in the compilation of this article.

The scientific paper: “Structure and Evolutionary Implications of the Earliest (Sinemurian, Early Jurassic) Dinosaur Eggs and Eggshells” by Koen Stein, Edina Prondvai, Timothy Huang, Jean-Marc Baele, P. Martin Sander and Robert Reisz published in Scientific Reports.

11 03, 2019

New Australian Ornithopod Described

By | March 11th, 2019|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Main Page, Palaeontological articles, Photos/Pictures of Fossils|0 Comments

Galleonosaurus dorisae – A New Aussie Dinosaur

A new type of Australian dinosaur has been described from the fossilised remains of five upper jaw bones (maxillae) found at the Flat Rocks locality in the Wonthaggi Formation in the famous Gippsland Basin of Victoria.  Five small-bodied Ornithopods are now known from the state of Victoria.  The new plant-eating dinosaur has been named Galleonosaurus dorisae.  The jaw bones are of different sizes and this has permitted palaeontologists to plot growth changes in these little dinosaurs as they matured.

Writing in the Journal of Palaeontology, the researchers which include Matthew Herne (University of New England, New South Wales) and Alistair Evans (Monash University, Melbourne), used detailed CT-scans of the fossil material to gain fresh insights into the structure and morphology of the cranial anatomy and dentition of small Australian Ornithopods.  The research leading to the establishment of this new genus has also helped to define more clearly other small Ornithopods known from the Gippsland Basin and the Otway Basin located on the opposite side of Port Phillip Bay.

A Life Reconstruction of the Newly Described Ornithopod Galleonosaurus dorisae

Galleonosaurus dorisae illustrated.

A life reconstruction of the newly described Australian Ornithopod Galleonosaurus dorisae.

Picture Credit: James Kuether

“Galleon Lizard”

When the scientists were examining the maxillae, their shape reminded them of the upturned hull of an old-fashioned sailing ship – a galleon.  It was the morphology of the jaw that inspired the genus name “Galleon Lizard”.  The species or trivial name honours Doris Seegets-Villiers for her geological, palynological, and taphonomic work on the Flat Rocks fossil vertebrate locality.

Jaw Fossils and a Tooth with a CT-scan of the Fossil Material

Galleonosaurus fossiils and a CT-scan of a jaw.

Fossil jaw bones, a single tooth and a CT-scan image of a jaw bone (Galleonosaurus dorisae).

Picture Credit: Herne et al

Niche Partitioning in Ornithopods

The plethora of vertebrate fossils at the Flat Rocks site, suggests that several more dinosaurs await discovery.  However, for the moment, the researchers are confident that Galleonosaurus shared its habitat with at least one other small, light, fast-running Ornithopod – Qantassaurus intrepidus.  The jaws of Qantassaurus are more robust and more powerful.  The researchers were able to confirm that Q. intrepidus is uniquely characterised by a deep, foreshortened dentary (lower jaw).  This suggests that the robust Q. intrepidus and the more gracile jawed G. dorisae fed on different vegetation, they did not compete directly for food, an example of niche partitioning.

Dr Herne described Galleonosaurus:

“We know it would have been a two-legged, quite agile plant-eating dinosaur.  It seems that Galleonosaurus was no doubt closely related to possibly as many as four or five other species that look a little bit similar and were similar sizes, but we can tell they’re different by the anatomy of the jaws and the teeth.”

A Lush Conifer Dominated Rift Valley with an Immense Volcanic Mountain Chain to the East

Extensive research on the Otway Formation material to the west of Port Phillip Bay in conjunction with research on the geology of the Gippsland Basin have permitted scientists to build up a picture of what life was like in this part of Australia during the Early Cretaceous.  The dinosaurs lived in an extensive rift valley that had formed as Australia began to separate from Antarctica. Conifer forests dominated and at such high latitudes, the lush environment would have been subjected to long periods of extensive daylight in the summer, but conversely the winters would have been cold with little daylight each day.  Although the Earth’s climate was much warmer than today during the Early Cretaceous, it is quite possible that these little dinosaurs would have had to endure winter temperatures close to freezing.

Gondwana in the Early Cretaceous (Barremian Faunal Stage)

Gondwana in the Early Cretaceous.

Around 125 million years ago, although Gondwana was breaking up, Australia was still linked to Antarctica with a large volcanic mountain range to the east.

Picture Credit: Herne et al

A Skeletal Reconstruction of the Skull of Galleonosaurus and the Anatomical Position of Jaw Material

Jaw fossils of Galleonosaurus dorisae.

An illustration of the skull of Galleonosaurus dorisae with fossil elements placed in the correct anatomical position.  The lower jaw shown in the image might pertain to G. dorisae based on a reassessment of other known lower jaw elements associated with Q. intrepidus and Atlascopcosaurus loadsi.

Picture Credit: Herne et al

A Phylogenetic Analysis

The scientists conclude that a highly diverse, small-bodied Ornithopod fauna flourished in the periodically disturbed, high-latitude, riverine floodplain environment of the Australian-Antarctic rift valley during the Early Cretaceous (Barremian to Early Albian faunal stage).  A phylogenetic analysis places Galleonosaurus as the earliest member of the Elasmaria, a clade of Gondwanan Ornithopods distantly related to the Hypsilophodonts.

The Five Victorian Ornithopods – Spanning 12 million years

The Lower Cretaceous rocks either side of Port Phillip Bay were laid down at different times during the Cretaceous.  The Gippsland Basin deposits close to the town of Inverloch, were laid down around 125 million years ago, however, the Otway Basin deposits (Eumeralla Formation), represent younger material laid down in the Early Albian (113 million years ago).

  1. Leaellynasaura amicagraphica – named in 1989 (Early Albian faunal stage), from the Eumeralla Formation (Otway Basin).
  2. Atlascopcosaurus loadsi – also named in 1989 from the Eumeralla Formation.
  3. Diluvicursor pickeringi – named in 2018 (Eumeralla Formation).  To read an article about the discovery of this dinosaur: Fast-running Ornithopod from Victoria.
  4. Qantassaurus intrepidus named in 1999 from the Wonthaggi Formation (Gippsland Basin) – older strata associated with the Barremian faunal stage of the Early Cretaceous.
  5. The newly described Galleonosaurus dorisae (2019), also from the Wonthaggi Formation.

Dr Herne stated:

“The interesting thing about that whole coast line is it gives us a decent age range over quite a long period.”

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“It is likely that many more small dinosaurs are going to be named and described in the future.  Fossil finds from Victoria will, most likely, lead to further revisions of Gondwanan Ornithopod taxonomy.”

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