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Dinosaurs (& other saurs): New Findings & Theories.
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ramonmercadoOnline
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PostPosted: 04-04-2012 23:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't try to Kentucky fry these.

Quote:
T. rex relative is biggest ever feathered animal
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17612354

Yutyrannus lived long before T. rex, in the early Cretaceous Period

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A newly described relative of Tyrannosaurus rex is the largest known feathered animal - living or extinct.

The feathered meat-eating dinosaur lived about 125 million years ago and is estimated to have weighed a whopping 1,400kg as an adult.

The new species, known as Yutyrannus, has been identified from three fossils found in north-eastern China.

The finds, detailed in Nature journal, challenge current theories about the evolution of T.rex and its relations.

This group of dinosaurs is known as the Tyrannosauroids.

Tyrannosaurus rex and its gigantic cousins lived until around 65 million years ago - when a huge asteroids wiped out the dinosaurs - but most of their earlier relatives are thought to have been much smaller.

Fine feathered fiend
However, Xing Xu and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have now described three specimens of Yutyrannus, which represents an early example of the Tyrannosauroid form.


Shake your tail feather: the Chinese fossils are exquisitely preserved
The fossils include the one-and-a-half-tonne adult and also two juvenile specimens that would have tipped the scales at about half a tonne.

The dinosaur, whose name translates as "beautiful feathered tyrant", shares some features with later tyrannosaurs like T.rex, but has three functional fingers (where T. rex had two) and a foot typical of other early tyrannosaur relatives.

Perhaps the most notable discovery, however, is the creature's extensive plumage, which provides direct evidence for the existence of giant feathered dinosaurs.

The scientists think the long, filament-like feathers would have acted as insulation, but they cannot rule out the possibility that they were also used for display in mating or fighting rituals.


Yutyrannus' feathers probably insulated the dinosaur
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PostPosted: 17-04-2012 10:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Duck-Billed Dinosaurs Endured Long, Dark Polar Winters
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120411131915.htm

An Edmontosaurus bone that was excavated in Alaska and tested at Temple University. (Credit: Preston M. Moretz/Temple University)

ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2012) — Duck-billed dinosaurs that lived within Arctic latitudes approximately 70 million years ago likely endured long, dark polar winters instead of migrating to more southern latitudes, a recent study by researchers from the University of Cape Town, Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas and Temple University has found.

The researchers published their findings, "Hadrosaurs Were Perennial Polar Residents," in the April issue of the journal The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology.

Anthony Fiorillo, a paleontologist at the Museum of Nature and Science, excavated Cretaceous Period fossils along Alaska's North Slope. Most of the bones belonged to Edmontosaurus, a duck-billed herbivore, but some others such as the horned dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus were also found.

Fiorillo hypothesized that the microscopic structures of the dinosaurs' bones could show how they lived in polar regions. He enlisted the help of Allison Tumarkin-Deratzian, an assistant professor of earth and environmental science, who had both expertise and the facilities to create and analyze thin layers of the dinosaurs' bone microstructure.

Another researcher, Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan, a professor of zoology at the University of Cape Town, was independently pursuing the same analysis of Alaskan Edmontosaurus fossils. When the research groups discovered the similarities of their studies, they decided to collaborate and combine their data sets to provide a larger sampling. Half of the samples were tested and analyzed at Temple; the rest were done in South Africa.

"The bone microstructure of these dinosaurs is actually a record of how these animals were growing throughout their lives," said Tumarkin-Deratzian. "It is almost similar to looking at tree rings."

What the researchers found was bands of fast growth and slower growth that seemed to indicate a pattern.

"What we found was that periodically, throughout their life, these dinosaurs were switching how fast they were growing," said Tumarkin-Deratzian. "We interpreted this as potentially a seasonal pattern because we know in modern animals these types of shifts can be induced by changes in nutrition. But that shift is often driven by changes in seasonality."

The researchers questioned what was causing the dinosaurs to be under stress at certain times during the year: staying up in the polar region and dealing with reduced nutrition during the winter or migrating to and from lower latitudes during the winter.

They did bone microstructure analysis on similar duck-billed dinosaur fossils found in southern Alberta, Canada, but didn't see similar stress patterns, implying that those dinosaurs did not experience regular periodic seasonal stresses. "We had two sets of animals that were growing differently," said Tumarkin-Deratzian.

Since the Alaska fossils had all been preserved in the same sedimentary horizon, Fiorillo examined the geology of the bonebeds in Alaska where the samples were excavated and discovered that these dinosaurs had been preserved in flood deposits.

"They are very similar to modern flood deposits that happen in Alaska in the spring when you get spring melt water coming off the Brooks Mountain Range," said Fiorillo. "The rivers flood down the Northern Slope and animals get caught in these floods, particularly younger animals, which appear to be what happened to these dinosaurs.

"So we know they were there at the end of the dark winter period, because if they were migrating up from the lower latitudes, they wouldn't have been there during these floods," he said.

"It is fascinating to realize how much of information is locked in the bone microstructure of fossil bones," said Chinsamy-Turan. "It's incredible to realize that we can also tell from these 70 million-year-old bones that the majority of the polar hadrosaurs died just after the winter season."

The study was funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Temple University, via Newswise. The original article was written by Preston Moretz.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

Anusuya Chinsamy, Daniel B. Thomas, Allison R. Tumarkin-Deratzian, Anthony R. Fiorillo. Hadrosaurs Were Perennial Polar Residents. The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology, 2012; 295 (4): 610 DOI: 10.1002/ar.22428
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PostPosted: 24-04-2012 11:23    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Dino-bird had oldest known case of osteoarthritis
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21428614.200-dinobird-had-oldest-known-case-of-osteoarthritis.html
22 April 2012
Magazine issue 2861.

NOT all dinosaurs roamed the world: one may have hobbled. Caudipteryx, a dino-bird that lived 130 million years ago, was prone to osteoarthritis - perhaps the oldest such diagnosis on record.

Some modern birds are prone to osteoarthritis, the degeneration of bone and cartilage in joints. Curious about when the condition first appeared, Bruce Rothschild at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and colleagues examined the fossilised ankle bones of ancient birds and feathered dinosaurs held in Chinese museums. Three of the 10 available fossils of Caudipteryx showed signs of osteoarthritis (Cretaceous Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.cretres.2011.12.008).

Why Caudipteryx, which was the size of a peacock, should have been prone to the condition is a mystery: osteoarthritis is most common in smaller birds today, says Rothschild.
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PostPosted: 07-05-2012 11:55    Post subject: Reply with quote

Worth stinking about.

Quote:
Dinosaur gases 'warmed the Earth'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/17953792

Apatosaurus, formerly known as Brontosaurus, produced a lot of wind

Related Stories

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Giant dinosaurs could have warmed the planet with their flatulence, say researchers.

British scientists have calculated the methane output of sauropods, including the species known as Brontosaurus.

By scaling up the digestive wind of cows, they estimate that the population of dinosaurs - as a whole - produced 520 million tonnes of gas annually.

They suggest the gas could have been a key factor in the warm climate 150 million years ago.

Continue reading the main story
Sauropod facts


Sauropods included some of the largest animals ever to live on land including the gargantuan Argentinosaurus
Fossil evidence suggests the herbivores lived in herds
Recognisable features include long necks, long tails and relatively small heads
David Attenborough explains how vegetarian dinosaurs grew to gigantic sizes
David Wilkinson from Liverpool John Moore's University, and colleagues from the University of London and the University of Glasgow published their results in the journal Current Biology.

Sauropods, such as Apatosaurus louise (formerly known as Brontosaurus), were super-sized land animals that grazed on vegetation during the Mesozoic Era.

For Dr Wilkinson, it was not the giants that were of interest but the microscopic organisms living inside them.

"The ecology of microbes and their role in the working of our planet are one of my key interests in science," he told BBC Nature.

"Although it's the dinosaur element that captures the popular imagination with this work, actually it is the microbes living in the dinosaurs guts that are making the methane."

Methane is known as a "greenhouse gas" that absorbs infrared radiation from the sun, trapping it in the Earth's atmosphere and leading to increased temperatures.

Previous studies have suggested that the Earth was up to 10C (18F) warmer in the Mesozoic Era.

With the knowledge that livestock emissions currently contribute a significant part to global methane levels, the researchers used existing data to estimate how sauropods could have affected the climate.

Their calculations considered the dinosaurs' estimated total population and used a scale that links biomass to methane output for cattle.

"Cows today produce something like 50-100 [million tonnes] per year. Our best estimate for Sauropods is around 520 [million tonnes]," said Dr Wilkinson.

Modern methane producers

Microbes in the stomachs of "ruminant" species produce methane gas as they break down vegetable matter which is released as flatulence

Modern "ruminant" animals that chew on plant materials include cows, goats and giraffes

Methane trapped in the Earth can also be released during drilling for natural gas

Current methane emissions amount to around 500 million tonnes a year from a combination of natural sources, such as wild animals, and human activities including dairy and meat production.

Expressing his surprise at the comparative figures, Dr Wilkinson added that dinosaurs were not the sole producers of methane at the time.

"There were other sources of methane in the Mesozoic so total methane level would probably have been much higher than now," he said.
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PostPosted: 21-05-2012 20:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Utah paleontologists discover new raptor dinosaur
http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre84i000-us-usa-raptors-utah/
By Jennifer DobnerPosted 2012/05/18 at 8:00 pm EDT

SALT LAKE CITY, May 18, 2012 (Reuters) — Scientists have discovered fossilized bones near Utah's iconic Arches National Park representing a new species of raptor dinosaur that was about the size of a coyote, the state's top paleontologist announced on Friday.

The raptor was among several discovered at or near Doelling's Bowl Bone Bed, about 230 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, which has yielded several new species in the last two decades and is thought to be the base of Utah's Cretaceous record. Fossils found at the bone bed are estimated at between 120 and 130 million years old.

The new creature, a predator, has been designated as a new dinosaur genus and species known as Yurgovuchia doellingi, said Jim Kirkland, state paleontologist for Utah's Geological Survey.

Yurgovuchia is the first new species unearthed in Doelling's Bowl to be named, although Kirkland said scientists believe as many as six new species may have been found at the site he described as "richer than any other place in the U.S."

"All we are finding are new species," he said. "I think there are places where what we are seeing (is) evolving populations."

The new raptor is believed to be an ancestral relative of the younger and much larger Utahraptor, based on similarities in pieces of fossilized vertebrae recovered. In both species, the bundles of rods that jut out from the vertebrae to form the raptor's tail are shortened, Kirkland said.

The new dinosaur's name was based on the Ute Indian word for coyote, "yurgovuch," and for the location where it was found, itself named after Utah paleontologist Helmut Doelling, whose geological mapping of the Arches region led to the bone bed's discovery.

Raptors, or dromaeosaurs, are a diverse family of predatory dinosaurs known for their stiff tails and a large, recurved claw that protruded from the second toe of their hind feet.

Raptors ranged in size from as small as a mockingbird to as big as a bear, Kirkland said. Some were covered in feathers, although scientists don't believe they could fly.

Utah paleontologists first came across the Yurgovuchia specimen in 2005 and excavation began the next year, over time recovering sections of the vertebrae and a portion of a pelvis.

A scientific paper describing the Yurgovuchia finding, which is a collaboration between Utah Geological Survey paleontologists and raptor expert Phil Senter of the University of North Carolina, was published this week in the journal of Public Library Science.

Two other sets of bones that also appear to be from new species were recovered.

One set was found within feet of the Yurgovuchia at Doelling's Bowl. The third was a broken, but distinctive skeleton of a long tail, found at a nearby site, Kirkland said.

Both need more study and the Utah Geological Survey plans additional excavation work. Paleontologists were also working on the excavation of bones from a long-necked dinosaur that may represent yet another previously unknown species, he said.

"It's real exciting," Kirkland said.

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham)
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PostPosted: 27-05-2012 18:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

Time to work some Dinosaur puns in with the bird ones in Puntastic.

Quote:
Change in developmental timing was crucial in the evolutionary shift from dinosaurs to birds: study
http://phys.org/news/2012-05-developmental-crucial-evolutionary-shift-dinosaurs.html
May 27th, 2012 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

Tyrannosaurus rex. Image: Nobu Tamura, via Wikipedia.

At first glance, it's hard to see how a common house sparrow and a Tyrannosaurus Rex might have anything in common. After all, one is a bird that weighs less than an ounce, and the other is a dinosaur that was the size of a school bus and tipped the scales at more than eight tons.

For all their differences, though, scientists now say that two are more closely related than many believed. A new study, led by Harvard scientists, has shown that modern birds are, essentially, living dinosaurs, with skulls that are remarkably similar to those of their juvenile ancestors.

As reported in a May 27 paper in Nature, Arkhat Abzhanov, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Bhart-Anjan Bhullar, a PhD student in Abzhanov laboratory and the first author of the study, found evidence that the evolution of birds is the result of a drastic change in how dinosaurs developed. Rather than take years to reach sexual maturity, as many dinosaurs did, birds sped up the clock – some species take as little as 12 weeks to mature – allowing them to retain the physical characteristics of baby dinosaurs.
"What is interesting about this research is the way it illustrates evolution as a developmental phenomenon," Abzhanov said. "By changing the developmental biology in early species, nature has produced the modern bird – an entirely new creature – and one that, with approximately 10,000 species, is today the most successful group of land vertebrates on the planet."

"The evolution of the many characteristics of birds – things like feathers, flight, and wishbones – has traditionally been a difficult problem for biologists," Mark Norell, chair of the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and one of the paper's co-authors,
said. "By analyzing fossil evidence from skeletons, eggs, and soft tissue of bird-like dinosaurs and primitive birds, we've learned that birds are living theropod dinosaurs, a group of carnivorous animals that include Velociraptor. This new work advances our knowledge by providing a powerful example of how developmental changes played a major role in the origin and evolution of birds."

While it's clear simply from looking at the skulls of dinosaurs and modern birds that the two creatures are vastly different – dinosaurs have distinctively long snouts and mouths bristling with teeth, while birds have proportionally larger eyes and brains – it was the realization that skulls of modern birds and juvenile dinosaurs show a surprising degree of similarity that sparked the study.

"No one had told the big story of the evolution of the bird head before," Bhullar said. "There had been a number of smaller studies that focused on particular points of the anatomy, but no one had looked at the entire picture. What's interesting is that when you do that, you see the origins of the features that make the bird head special lie deep in the history of the evolution of Archosaurs, a group of animals that were the dominant, meat-eating animals for millions of years."

To tackle the problem, the researchers turned to an unusual methodology. Using CT scanners, they scanned dozens of skulls, ranging from modern birds to theropods – the dinosaurs most closely related to birds – to early dinosaur species. By marking various "landmarks" – such as the orbits, cranial cavity and other bones in the skull – on each scan, researchers were able to track how the skull changed shape over millions of years.

"We examined skulls from the entire lineage that gave rise to modern birds," Abzhanov said. "We looked back approximately 250 million years, to the Archosaurs, the group which gave rise to crocodiles and alligators as well as modern birds. Our goal was to look at these skulls to see how they changed, and try to understand what actually happened during the evolution of the bird skull."

What Abzhanov and colleagues found was surprising – while early dinosaurs, even those closely related to modern birds, undergo vast morphological changes as they mature, the skulls of juvenile and adult birds remain remarkably similar.

"This phenomenon, where a change in the developmental timing of a creature produces morphological changes is called heterochrony, and paedomorphosis is one example of it," Abzhanov explained. "In the case of birds, we can see that the adults of a species look increasingly like the juveniles of their ancestors."

In the case of modern birds, he said, the change is the result of a process known as progenesis, which causes an animal to reach sexual maturity earlier. Unlike their dinosaurian ancestors, modern birds take dramatically less time – just 12 weeks in some species – to reach maturity, allowing birds to retain the characteristics of their juvenile ancestors into adulthood.
"This study is a prime example of the heuristic power in multidisciplinary, specimen-based, anatomical research," said Gabe Bever of NYIT's New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and a co-author of the paper. "That the mechanisms of evolutionary events millions of years old can be circumscribed with this combination of modern and fossil specimens is remarkable."

Ultimately, Abzhanov said, the way the bird skull evolved – through changes in the developmental timeline – highlights the diversity of evolutionary strategies that have been used over millions of years.

"That you can have such dramatic success simply by changing the relative timing of events in a creature's development is remarkable," he said. "We now understand the relationship between birds and dinosaurs that much better, and we can say that, when we look at birds, we are actually looking at juvenile dinosaurs."

"It shows that there's so much for evolution to act upon," Bhullar agreed. "When we think of an organism, especially a complex organism, we often think of it as a static entity, but to really study something you have to look at its whole existence, and understand that one portion of its life can be parceled out and made into the entire lifespan of a new, and in this case, radically successful organism."

Provided by Harvard University
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PostPosted: 06-06-2012 22:42    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Dinosaurs Lighter Than Previously Thought
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606075325.htm

Paleontological Museum in Berlin. (Credit: © Hunta / Fotolia)

ScienceDaily (June 6, 2012) — Scientists have developed a new technique to accurately measure the weight and size of dinosaurs and discovered they are not as heavy as previously thought.

University of Manchester biologists used lasers to measure the minimum amount of skin required to wrap around the skeletons of modern-day mammals, including reindeer, polar bears, giraffes and elephants.

They discovered that the animals had almost exactly 21% more body mass than the minimum skeletal 'skin and bone' wrap volume, and applied this to a giant Brachiosaur skeleton in Berlin's Museum für Naturkunde.

Previous estimates of this Brachiosaur's weight have varied, with estimates as high as 80 tonnes, but the Manchester team's calculations -- published in the journal Biology Letters -- reduced that figure to just 23 tonnes. The team says the new technique will apply to all dinosaur weight measurements.

Lead author Dr Bill Sellers said: "One of the most important things palaeobiologists need to know about fossilised animals is how much they weighed. This is surprisingly difficult, so we have been testing a new approach. We laser scanned various large mammal skeletons, including polar bear, giraffe and elephant, and calculated the minimum wrapping volume of the main skeletal sections.

"We showed that the actual volume is reliably 21% more than this value, so we then laser scanned the Berlin Brachiosaur, Giraffatitan brancai, calculating the skin and bone wrapping volume and added 21%. We found that the giant herbivore weighed 23 tonnes, supporting the view that these animals were much lighter than traditionally thought.

Dr Sellers, based in Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences, explained that body mass was a critical parameter used to constrain biomechanical and physiological traits of organisms.

He said: "Volumetric methods are becoming more common as techniques for estimating the body masses of fossil vertebrates but they are often accused of excessive subjective input when estimating the thickness of missing soft tissue.

"Here, we demonstrate an alternative approach where a minimum convex hull is derived mathematically from the point cloud generated by laser-scanning mounted skeletons. This has the advantage of requiring minimal user intervention and is therefore more objective and far quicker.

"We tested this method on 14 large-bodied mammalian skeletons and demonstrated that it consistently underestimated body mass by 21%. We suggest that this is a robust method of estimating body mass where a mounted skeletal reconstruction is available and demonstrate its usage to predict the body mass of one of the largest, relatively complete sauropod dinosaurs, Giraffatitan brancai, as 23,200 kg.

"The value we got for Giraffatitan is at the low range of previous estimates; although it is still huge, some of the enormous estimates of the past -- 80 tonnes in 1962 -- are exaggerated. Our method provides a much more accurate measure and shows dinosaurs, while still huge, are not as big as previously thought."

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Manchester University, via AlphaGalileo.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

W. I. Sellers, J. Hepworth-Bell, P. L. Falkingham, K. T. Bates, C. A. Brassey, V. M. Egerton, P. L. Manning. Minimum convex hull mass estimations of complete mounted skeletons. Biology Letters, 2012; DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0263
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PostPosted: 07-06-2012 06:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll bet that when they developed the laser, one of many uses for it they never imagined was weighing dinosaurs! Very Happy
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PostPosted: 12-06-2012 23:02    Post subject: Reply with quote

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A palaeontologist's Alaskan adventure
http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2012/06/a-palaeontologists-alaskan-adventure.html
11:00 11 June 2012

Jeff Hecht, consultant

Big digs in the Arctic reveal that it was inhabited by dinosaurs year-round and that the region was pleasantly temperate

VAST, stark, and largely frozen, Arctic Alaska is the most challenging place that veteran palaeontologist Roland Gangloff ever conducted field work. His Arctic explorations have yielded a rich collection of fossils and a vivid insight into life in the dinosaur-era land of the midnight sun.

Only a smattering of Alaskan dinosaur fossils were known in 1987, when Gangloff came to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. He flew north from there with a bush pilot and a load of gear and supplies to join other palaeontologists excavating an abundant deposit of 70-million-year-old bones in the wilderness along the Colville river.

Both palaeontologists and wildlife try to make the most of the fleeting warmth of the muddy Arctic summer. The brief field season is fraught with mosquitoes swarming so thickly, Gangloff writes, that they can inflict 9000 bites in a minute, send the native caribou running frantically and "test the sanity of humans". Arctic ground squirrels are everywhere, and their burrows make it dangerous to climb on or work below the riverside bluffs containing fossils.

Gangloff makes both modern and ancient Alaska come alive for the armchair palaeontologist far from the madding bugs. He praises the volunteers who visited the remote northern site to dig dinosaur bones from a layer of soft rock deposited by an ancient flood. By Arctic field standards, theirs was a luxury trip, in US army heavy-lift Chinook helicopters. This was thanks to a company commander who had her troops haul volunteers, scientists and equipment to the site as practice for battlefield operations. Documentary producers also visited the site, but Gangloff calls his experience with them "unpleasant, time consuming, and of questionable worth".

The scientific results, however, were first rate. The tangled bed of bones contained the remains of a herd of duck-billed dinosaurs drowned in a flood; the combination of juveniles and adults showed they inhabited the Arctic year-round. Dinosaur footprints help paint a surprising picture of northern Alaska 70 million years ago. Although the ground itself was about 10 degrees further north than today and had longer winter darkness, it was warmer and supported a broader range of flora and fauna. So the Arctic was not as different from the rest of the world as it is today.

It's a fascinating story, but far from complete. Now retired, Gangloff exhorts the new generation: "Go north young men and women, for the field is wide open and there is so much to be discovered."

Book Information
Dinosaurs Under the Aurora
by Roland A. Gangloff
Published by: Indiana University Press
£26.99/$40
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PostPosted: 28-06-2012 22:02    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded: study
http://phys.org/news/2012-06-dinosaurs-warm-blooded.html#ajTabs
June 27th, 2012 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils

A baby Tyrannosaurus Rex shows its teeth as it promotes a theatrical show in New York in 2010. Dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded, scientists said Wednesday, in a finding that could debunk one of the most commonly-held images of the extinct giants.

Dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded, scientists said Wednesday, in a finding that could debunk one of the most commonly-held images of the extinct giants.

Researchers in Spain and Norway reported in the journal Nature they had found tree-like growth rings on the bones of mammals, a feature that until now was thought to be limited to cold-blooded creatures ... and dinosaurs.
They also found evidence that dinosaurs probably had a high metabolic rate to allow fast growth -- another indicator of warm-bloodedness.

"Our results strongly suggest that dinosaurs were warm-blooded," lead author Meike Koehler of Spain's Institut Catala de Paleontologia told AFP.
If so, the findings should prompt a rethink about reptiles, she said.

Modern-day reptiles are cold-blooded, meaning they cannot control their body temperatures through their own metabolic system -- relying instead on external means such as basking in the sun.

While the dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded, their other characteristics kept them squarely in the reptile camp, said Koehler.

Palaeontologists have long noted the ring-like markings on the bones of cold-blooded creatures and dinosaurs, and taken them to indicate pauses in growth, perhaps due to cold periods or lack of food.

The bones of warm-blooded animals such as birds and mammals had never been properly assessed to see if they, too, exhibit the lines.
Koehler and her team found the rings in all 41 warm-blooded animal species they studied, including antelopes, deer and giraffes.

The finding "eliminates the strongest argument that does exist for cold-bloodedness" in dinosaurs, she said.

The team's analysis of bone tissue also showed that the fast growth rate of mammals is related to a high metabolism, which in turn is typical of warm-bloodedness.

"If you compare this tissue with dinosaur tissue you will see that they are indistinguishable," said Koehler.

"So this means that dinosaurs not only grew very fast but this growth was sustained by a very high metabolic rate, indicating warm-bloodedness."

A comment by University of California palaeontologist Kevin Padian that was published with the paper said the study was the latest to chip away at the long-held theory that dinosaurs were cold-blooded.

"It seems that these were anything but typical reptiles, and Koehler and colleagues' findings remove another false correlation from this picture."

More information: DOI: 10.1038/nature11260

Press release
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PostPosted: 03-07-2012 12:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Rise of the feathered dinosaurs
http://www.nature.com/news/rise-of-the-feathered-dinosaurs-1.10933
An exceptionally well-preserved fossil hints that feathers might have been a feature of all dinosaurs.

Brian Switek
02 July 2012

The fossil of an ancient theropod found in Germany indicates that feathers were widespread in dinosaurs.
HELMUT TISCHLINGER

Feathers didn’t start with birds. Plumage of various sorts — from simple fuzz to the complex structures used for flight — adorned dinosaurs first, and was only later inherited by birds. And if a beautifully preserved juvenile dinosaur unearthed in the Jurassic strata of Germany is any indication, it is possible that all dinosaurs bore patches of filamentous feathers.

Since the discovery of the fluffy theropod Sinosauropteryx in 1996, palaeontologists have recognized more than 30 types of feathered dinosaur. Most of these are coelurosaurs — a disparate group of theropods that includes not only the fearsome tyrannosaurs, sickle-clawed deinonychosaurs and bizarre therizinosaurs, but also birds.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Palaeontologists have also discovered simple, feather-like structures along the vertebral columns of the dinosaurs Psittacosaurus and Tianyulong. These ornithischians are about as distantly related to birds as dinosaurs can be, and the discoveries hinted that swaths of simplified protofeathers were a common feature among dinosaurs. The discovery of the most recent fossil indicates that feathery body coverings were widespread in these creatures.

Ancient adornment
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The 150-million-year-old theropod Sciurumimus albersdoerferi unearthed in Germany and described today1 was coated in a form of plumage. The filamentous structures have been seen before in other dinosaurs, but what makes Sciurumimus so noteworthy is that this dinosaur was a megalosauroid.

Megalosauroids were a group of archaic sharp-toothed dinosaurs near the base of the theropod family tree, and greatly removed from the various types of feathered dinosaur and early birds recognized so far. According to first author Oliver Rauhut, a palaeontologist at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, this means that simple feathers were a very ancient dinosaur trait. The filaments of Sciurumimus, Rauhut says, are very similar to the simple structures seen in Psittacosaurus, Tianyulong and even pterosaurs — extinct flying reptiles that were the closest cousins that dinosaurs had. The wide evolutionary spread of this characteristic means that protofeathers are probably as old as the Dinosauria itself.

Palaeontologist Paul Barrett of London’s Natural History Museum agrees that the structures on Sciurumimus are probably protofeathers. Although additional geochemical work is needed to study the features' details, Barrett says, the fossilized wisps are very similar to the fuzz seen on other dinosaurs. But he notes that the presence of these filaments among all dinosaurs is “speculation”. Feathery structures might be a common feature of dinosaurs, but it’s also possible that they evolved multiple times. “We need more examples in both non-coelurosaurian theropods, and particularly in the other big dinosaur groups, before we can really speculate that these features are a character of dinosaurs as a whole,” Barrett says.

Rauhut is sure there are many more feathery dinosaurs yet to be found. The trick will be finding specimens in the sorts of fine-grained sediments capable of preserving feather fossil. But on the basis of findings from Sciurumimus and other feathery dinosaurs, Rauhut notes, “all dinosaurs had at least this kind of simple, hair-like feathery integument”. Instead of being a novelty that evolved among particularly bird-like dinosaurs, “feathers seem to be an ancestral dinosaurian trait”, Rauhut says. If so, we will have to start thinking about what kind of feathery covering these creatures display when we depict them in art and film.

Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2012.10933

References
Rauhut, O. W. M., Foth, C., Tischlinger, H. & Norell, M. A. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1203238109 (2012).
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Earliest feathered dinosaur discovered
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Oliver Rauhut
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PostPosted: 16-07-2012 20:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Engineering technology reveals eating habits of giant dinosaurs
July 16th, 2012 in Other Sciences / Archaeology & Fossils


A model of the Diplodocus skull showing the distribution of stresses during biting

(Phys.org) -- High-tech technology, traditionally usually used to design racing cars and aeroplanes, has helped researchers to understand how plant-eating dinosaurs fed 150 million years ago.

A team of international researchers, led by the University of Bristol and the Natural History Museum, used CT scans and biomechanical modelling to show that Diplodocus - one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered – had a skull adapted to strip leaves from tree branches.

The research is published today in leading international natural sciences journal, Naturwissenschaften.

The Diplodocus is a sauropod from the Jurassic Period and one of the longest animals to have lived on Earth, measuring over 30 metres in length and weighing around 15 tonnes.

A reconstruction of Diplodocus feeding by artist Dmitry Bogdanov
While known to be massive herbivores, there has been great debate about exactly how they ate such large quantities of plants. The aberrant Diplodocus, with its long snout and protruding peg-like teeth restricted to the very front of its mouth, has been the centre of such controversy.
To solve the mystery, a 3D model of a complete Diplodocus skull was created using data from a CT scan. This model was then biomechanically analysed to test three feeding behaviours using finite element analysis (FEA).

FEA is widely used, from designing aeroplanes to orthopaedic implants. It revealed the various stresses and strains acting on the Diplodocus' skull during feeding to determine whether the skull or teeth would break under certain conditions.

The team that made this discovery was led by Dr Emily Rayfield of Bristol University's School of Earth Sciences and Dr Paul Barrett of The Natural History Museum in London. Dr Mark Young, a former student working at both institutions, ran the analyses during his PhD.

Dr Young said: "Sauropod dinosaurs, like Diplodocus, were so weird and different from living animals that there is no animal we can compare them with. This makes understanding their feeding ecology very difficult. That's why biomechanically modelling is so important to our understanding of long-extinct animals."

Dr Paul Barrett added: "Using these techniques, borrowed from the worlds of engineering and medicine, we can start to examine the feeding behaviour of this long-extinct animal in levels of detail which were simply impossible until recently."

Numerous hypotheses of feeding behaviour have been suggested for Diplodocus since its discovery over 130 years ago. These ranged from standard biting, combing leaves through peg-like teeth, ripping bark from trees similar to behaviour in some living deer, and even plucking shellfish from rocks.

The team found that whilst bark-stripping was perhaps unsurprisingly too stressful for the teeth, combing and raking of leaves from branches was overall no more stressful to the skull bones and teeth than standard biting.
More information: ‘Cranial biomechanics of Diplodocus (Dinosauria, Sauropoda): testing hypotheses of feeding behaviour in an extinct megaherbivore’ by Mark T. Young et al. in Naturwissenschaften.

Provided by University of Bristol

"Engineering technology reveals eating habits of giant dinosaurs." July 16th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-07-technology-reveals-habits-giant-dinosaurs.html
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PostPosted: 04-08-2012 23:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Case closed?

Quote:
Two separate extinctions brought end to dinosaur era
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22137-two-separate-extinctions-brought-end-to-dinosaur-era.html
17:04 03 August 2012 by Jeff Hecht

The mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was almost unprecedented in its size. There may be a simple reason why three-quarters of Earth's species disappeared during the event – there were actually two extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous, each devastating species in distinct environments.

Famously, the dinosaurs met their end when a massive meteorite crashed into Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula around 65 million years ago. The extinction paved the way for the rapid evolutionary diversification of mammals.

But sceptics have long questioned whether the meteorite was solely responsible for the extinction. They point out that there were massive volcanic eruptions in India more than 100,000 years earlier, which triggered global warming that might have contributed to the species fatalities. But convincing evidence for those claims has proved elusive, so the impact has taken most of the blame.

A key problem has been finding sedimentary rocks that were formed at exactly the right time to capture all of the events that might have contributed to the extinction. The rocks need to contain plenty of fossils too, to reveal exactly when the various species disappeared.

Thomas Tobin at the University of Washington in Seattle has just found rocks that fit the bill on Seymour Island, just off the Antarctic Peninsula. "It is really far south, so any climate changes are likely to be strongest there and have more biological effects," he says.

Tobin found two layers in the rocks, which formed in a shallow sea, where several species of shelled animals went extinct. One of the layers dates to the time of the impact, but the other layer is 40 metres below. Dating showed that the lower extinction occurred some 150,000 years before the meteorite hit – at the peak of the Indian eruptions. Tobin's team looked at isotopic ratios in the rock to work out the temperatures at the time: the first extinction followed a 7 °C rise in polar ocean temperatures – probably a result of global warming triggered by the Indian volcanism.

Comparable numbers of species in the region went extinct in each event. Surprisingly, though, the types of animals affected differed strikingly.

"The stuff living at the [ocean] bottom died out during the [volcanic extinction event]," says Peter Ward, Tobin's thesis advisor and collaborator. That might be because the global warming triggered by the volcanic eruptions initially increased levels of biological activity in the oceans, but ultimately used up the oxygen dissolved in the water to create lethal anoxic conditions in deep water.

The later extinction, which is linked to the meteorite impact, wiped out creatures that lived in the surface waters.

The new data suggesting two distinct extinctions ties in with results of another new study. Gerta Keller of Princeton University and her team studied microfossils from the Bay of Bengal that lived during the end of the Cretaceous. The sea floor sediments in which they are preserved is interleaved with basalt from the massive Indian lava flows. Around half of the species went extinct during the initial volcanic eruptions, long before the meteorite impact. Here, however, it was the surface-dwelling organisms that were affected by the volcanism.

The case for multiple factors contributing to the extinction is adding up, says David Archibald, a vertebrate palaeontologist recently retired from San Diego State University, California, who was not involved in either study. "I'm not suggesting the [meteorite] impact didn't have tremendous effects, and it probably was necessary for the extinctions, but there were other things leading up to it," he says.

Journal reference: Tobin study: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.06.029; Keller study: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2012.06.021
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PostPosted: 30-08-2012 23:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just think of what the Dino would drag in.

Quote:
Small dinosaur 'hunted like cat'
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19426885
By Jonathan Ball
BBC News

Sinocalliopteryx hunted flying dinosaurs and birds with cunning and guile
Continue reading the main story
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Some predatory dinosaurs used guile and agility to outwit their feathered prey according to research.

The work, by a Canadian-Chinese team, is published in PLoS One.

Researchers studied the fossil remains of two Sinocalliopteryx dinosaurs and found they had been feasting on primitive birds and flying dinosaurs.

The prey could have been scavenged, but they argue that the presence of several birds in the stomach of one fossil implied the prey was actively hunted.

The researchers suggested that to catch their prey, the dinosaurs used ambush hunting techniques similar to modern cats.

Determining how dinosaurs lived is difficult - much of what we know is conjecture; built from a smidgen of material evidence and prodigious amounts of informed opinion.

Fossils provide one of the few tangible links back to the Cretaceous and Jurassic eras - when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. They represent a petrified and rudimentary snapshot of prehistoric life.

Good quality fossils are littered with clues that help palaeontologists rebuild dinosaur life.

And fossils harbouring vestiges of a dinosaur's last meal tell us much about the diets and feeding habits of these prehistoric creatures.

As Prof Mike Benton of the University of Bristol points out: "Any fossil with stomach contents is valuable because it tells us definitively what the animal was eating on the day it died."

Dr Phil Bell of the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative in Canada was particularly interested in the feeding habits of a species of dinosaur calledSinocalliopteryx gigas.

The hunter and the hunted
Sinocalliopteryx is a member of the Compsognathidae family of dinosaurs.

Compsognathids were ground-dwelling dinosaurs that walked on powerful hind legs.

Previous fossil finds suggested they were swift hunters feeding freely on lizards, dinosaurs, and mammals.

At 2.5m in length, Sinocalliopteryx was much larger than other members of the Compsognathidae family.

Two high quality Sinocalliopteryx fossils were recovered from the Yixian Formation in the Jehol Provence of north east China.

This formation - dating back to the Cretaceous period and rich in fossils - has yielded a number of significant dinosaur finds.

It was the stomach contents of the two well-preserved Sinocalliopteryxfossils that Dr Bell was particularly interested in.


Inside the abdominal cavity of one of the fossils were remains of a Sinornithosaurus
Trapped within the first fossil were the remnants of a single Sinornithosaurus - a feathered flying dinosaur, measuring around one meter.

This was tantalising evidence that these ground dwelling dinosaurs ate flying creatures.

Findings from the second fossil were even more revealing - inside were the preserved remains of two primitive crow-sized birds, called Confuciusorni.

Commenting on the significance of his find Dr Bell told BBC News: "It's so rare to get a glimpse into how dinosaurs - animals that have been extinct for millions of years - behaved. We now know more about the diet of this species than any other dinosaur."

Slowly, slowly catchy monkey
Two specimens, both containing flying prey, suggested thatSinocalliopteryx had a penchant for aerial quarry and also had the tools to catch them - but how?

Dr Bell's view is that the dinosaurs were wily hunters: "Cats are a perfect example; they are incredibly stealthy, stalking their prey before pouncing.

"I can imagine a Sinocalliopteryx stalking a bird through the underbrush waiting for the right moment to leap into the air and catching a bird mid-flight.

"They were elegant animals with long muscular legs and sharp "chompers" - perfect killing machines."

Prof Jingmai O'Connor from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, agrees: "Yes, the presence of more than one Confuciusornis suggestsSinocalliopteryx was a stealthy and adept predator."

A view shared by Prof Benton, who thought they might hunt by "creeping up on these agile birds, perhaps when they were feeding on the ground".

However, this conclusion has not gained universal approval.

Prof Zhonghe Zhou, also from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: "I am not quite convinced by the conclusion that Sinocalliopteryx was necessarily an adept stealthy hunter.

"It was undoubtedly an adept hunter, and could have been stealthy, but there is not yet enough evidence to support this."

Dr Jakob Vinther, of the University of Bristol, agrees: "The fact they were having a diverse diet of both small and large dinosaurs and primitive birds could suggest that they were not specialist predators but more likely a scavenger - a sort of vulture".

Although, "The finding of two bird specimens in the same Sinocalliopteryx does bring the potential that it was actively hunting them.

"The only way to strongly argue for this hypothesis would be to have more evidence", he added.
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PostPosted: 08-09-2012 22:53    Post subject: Reply with quote

First the volcano's, then the asteroid strike.

Quote:
Dinosaur Die out Might Have Been Second of Two Closely Timed Extinctions
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905154314.htm

Thomas Tobin clears sand from around the fossil of a giant ammonite he found in 2009 on James Ross Island in Antarctica. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington)

ScienceDaily (Sep. 5, 2012) — The most-studied mass extinction in Earth history happened 65 million years ago and is widely thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs. New University of Washington research indicates that a separate extinction came shortly before that, triggered by volcanic eruptions that warmed the planet and killed life on the ocean floor.

The well-known second event is believed to have been triggered by an asteroid at least 6 miles in diameter slamming into Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. But new evidence shows that by the time of the asteroid impact, life on the seafloor -- mostly species of clams and snails -- was already perishing because of the effects of huge volcanic eruptions on the Deccan Plateau in what is now India.

"The eruptions started 300,000 to 200,000 years before the impact, and they may have lasted 100,000 years," said Thomas Tobin, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences.

The eruptions would have filled the atmosphere with fine particles, called aerosols, that initially cooled the planet but, more importantly, they also would have spewed carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to produce long-term warming that led to the first of the two mass extinctions.

"The aerosols are active on a year to 10-year time scale, while the carbon dioxide has effects on a scale of hundreds to tens of thousands of years," Tobin said.

During the earlier extinction it was primarily life on the ocean floor that died, in contrast to the later extinction triggered by the asteroid impact, which appeared to kill many more free-swimming species.

"The species in the first event are extinct but the groups are all recognizable things you could find around on a beach today," he said.

Tobin is the lead author of a paper in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology that documents results of research conducted in a fossil-rich area on Seymour Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula.

That particular area has very thick sediment deposits and, for a given interval of time, might contain 10 times more sediment as the well-known Hell Creek Formation in Montana. That means scientists have much greater detail as they try to determine what was happening at the time, Tobin said.

The researchers took small surface core samples from rocks and fossils in the Antarctic sediment and used a method called magnetostratigraphy, employing known changes over time in Earth's magnetic field to determine when the fossils were deposited. The thicker sediment allowed dating to be done more precisely.

"I think the evidence we have from this location is indicative of two separate events, and also indicates that warming took place," Tobin said.

There is no direct evidence yet that the first extinction event had any effect on the second, but Tobin believes it is possible that surviving species from the first event were compromised enough that they were unable to survive the long-term environmental effects of the asteroid impact.

"It seems improbable to me that they are completely independent events," he said.

The paper's coauthors are Peter Ward, Tobin's doctoral adviser, and Eric Steig, both UW professors of Earth and space sciences; Eduardo Olivero of the Southern Center for Scientific Research in Argentina; Isaac Hilburn, Matthew Diamond and Joseph Kirschvink of the California Institute of Technology; Ross Mitchell of Yale University; and Timothy Raub of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

The work was funded by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs and the National Scientific and Technological Promotion Agency in Argentina.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Vince Stricherz.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

Thomas S. Tobin, Peter D. Ward, Eric J. Steig, Eduardo B. Olivero, Isaac A. Hilburn, Ross N. Mitchell, Matthew R. Diamond, Timothy D. Raub, Joseph L. Kirschvink. Extinction patterns, ?18 O trends, and magnetostratigraphy from a southern high-latitude Cretaceous–Paleogene section: Links with Deccan volcanism. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2012; 350-352: 180 DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.06.029
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