Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A piece of bone discover in Victoria more than 20 years before has belatedly stunned scientists, who say the fossilised piece of pelvis once belonged to an ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex.
The news is important as the 30-centimetre-long fossil is the first evidence that Tyrannosaur Dinosaurs existed and evolved in the southern hemisphere.
Palaeontologist and Museum Victoria senior curator Tom Rich said the discovery of the Fossils, discover at Dinosaur Cove near the Otway coast in 1989, would shed new light on the evolutionary history of this group of Dinosaurs, regarded as highly successful predators characteristic of the northern hemisphere.
''You can't imagine [now] that this was a group that was restricted to the northern hemisphere,'' Dr Rich said. ''Their evolution took place roughly anywhere on dry land on earth.''
Dating back to the premature Cretaceous period, about 100 million years before, when Australia lay alongside Antarctica, the fossil is thought to have belonged to a 3-meter-long, 80-kilogram reptile with tyrannosauroid features including a small head, short arms and powerful jaws.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Jurassic Park has just taken a giant T-Rex-sized step toward becoming reality after ancient DNA from long-extinct creatures was effectively extracted.
The DNA was taken from creatures such as the 10ft, half tonne elephant bird and effectively extracted from pieces of eggshell, trapped in Fossils for thousands of years.
The innovative technique `has major implications in the fields of archaeology, palaeontology, conservation and forensics', said Australian biologists. 'We got DNA signatures from a variety of fossil eggshells, including the extinct moa, elephant birds and a 19,000-year-old emu,' said Murdoch University's Charlotte Oskam.
The researchers utilized lasers to highlight DNA `hotspots' under a microscope, marking them with fluorescent green dye. 'We demonstrated that genetic material is preserved in the eggshell matrix and have successfully imaged the DNA via microscopy,' they said.
Their study, to be published this week, is the first to determine the way to tease out genetic strands from eggshells.
Bird eggs are resilient and act as a barrier to oxygen and water - the key reason of DNA damage.
Modern shells have antimicrobial chemicals and it is possible these remain active in fossil shells, also helping to protect the significant genetic code.
`Biomolecules preserved in fossil eggshell are a formerly untapped source of DNA,' said Ms Oskam.
`But even inserting particular genes into living species does not bring an extinct species back to life. And personally I believe it is unethical to recreate a species that is extinct,' she concluded.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
A team of scientists has agreed that a giant asteroid killed off Dinosaurs and a majority of other species on Earth more than 65 million years before.
The researchers examined evidence and agreed it supports a single-impact theory first proposed 30 years ago on the cause of the mass extinction.
Since 1980, scientists have gathered an overwhelming amount of evidence that illustrates a single asteroid about 6 miles in diameter and traveling at thousands of miles an hour, slammed into the Gulf of Mexico, said Richard Norris, a paleoceanographer at the University of California San Diego.
The impact caused a crater 24 miles deep and 125 miles wide, according to Norris, who was part of the research group.
The crater was found out in 1991 in Chicxulub, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula, said scientists who called it the "smoking gun" that backed up the asteroid theory.
Norris compared the asteroid's impact with a blast from hundred million tons of TNT.
"It's mostly more powerful than all the atomic weapons on the planet going off all at once," he said.
The researchers wanted to settle disputes about what destroyed the dinosaurs. Some theories have argued that it would have taken many meteorites to cause such a cataclysmic incident. Another rival theory suggested that the mass Extinction was a consequence of a massive volcanic eruption in India that took place around the same time as the impact.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Paleontologists have found out a prehistoric "lost world" which was ruled by miniature Dinosaurs. Sort of a pigmy Jurassic Park, the island was the hometown of dinos who were up to 8 times smaller than some of their mainland cousins, reports the Telegraph.
Dwarf Dinosaur fossils were discovered in what is now modern day Romania, in an area known as Hateg, which, 65 million years before - when the creatures were living there - was an island, reports The Telegraph.
One of the fossils was of Magyarosaurus, which was slightly bigger than a horse, but was related to some of the biggest creatures to ever walk the Earth - gigantic titanosaurs such as Argentinosaurus, which reached up to 100 feet long and weighed around 80 tons.
Professor Michael Benton, from the University of Bristol, who carried out the research with scientists at the Universities of Bucharest of and Bonn, said: "Most of the famous dinosaurs that we know about were living on big landmasses at the last part of the Cretaceous period.
The curious thing about Europe at this time was that it was mostly covered by sea and much Eastern Europe was a sort of archipelago of islands.
If you are a gigantic dinosaur on a small island with limited food and space, then the evolutionary pressure is either to go extinct or to get smaller.
The discovering will be published in the scientific journal Palaeogreography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
Friday, February 26, 2010
At present, a large group of Dinosaur footprints were discovered at Zhucheng city, Shandong province.
Paleontologists from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences came to the location and verified the collection to be the largest ever discovered.
The group of footprints is located in an area of more than 2,600 square meters, and more than 3,000 footprints of different kinds of dinosaurs emerge in various shapes and sizes.
This is another significant discovery that follows the discovery of world's largest group of Dinosaur Fossils in the same city.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Scientists, such as Dan Chure, refer to sauropods, the gigantic, long-necked plant-eating Dinosaurs, as "headless wonders."
Not only are their noggins puny in relation to their colossal bodies, but very hardly do paleontologists ever recover entire sauropod skulls, said Chure, of Dinosaur National Monument. But a fresh species unearthed at the monument several years before was identified from four skulls - two fully intact - found within a few feet of each other.
Abydosaurus mcintoshi was recognized to the world Tuesday in the German science weekly Naturwissenshaften, where Chure published findings with Brigham Young University collaborators. The new sauropod is supposed to be a distant descendant of brachiosaurus, which roamed Utah 150 million years before.
Discovering just one skull would be impressive, but four is beyond what any Dinosaur hunter could hope for. The skulls revealed jaws crammed with dozens of minute teeth.
"It's a fortuitous thing. In numerous dinosaurs, the bones of the head do not fuse up, especially in sauropods. You have an array of components that are held collectively by soft tissue. The only thing that resides together is the brain case," said Brooks Britt, a BYU geology professor.
National Park Service employees initially discovered an interesting cache of bones near the monument's visitor's center in the late 1990s and enlisted Britt's help to prepare the specimens.
The monument is well-known for Dinosaur Discoveries made in late-Jurassic-era Morrison Formation. But these new bones were in the younger Cedar Mountain Formation, a 105-million-year-old sandstone that dates the bones to the middle of the Cretaceous, the 3rd and final chapter of dinosaurs' reign that ended 66 million years ago.
After the initial find, park staff delivered a 3-ton block to BYU's Museum of Paleontology.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Dinosaurs persist to fascinate old and young alike, Christine Catt, marketing specialist at science north said.
“Dinosaurs Alive! 3D featuring the most ancient dinosaurs of the Triassic Period to the monsters of the Cretaceous, reincarnated and life-sized for the giant IMAX screen, is now playing,” Catt said.
“From the exotic, trackless expanses and sand dunes of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert to the dramatic sandstone buttes of New Mexico, the film will pursue American Museum of Natural History paleontologists as they explore some of the greatest dinosaur finds in history.”
The film is presented in English and French, Catt added.
The movie is sponsored by a number of media companies, with Northern Life.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Nine Montana college students are programmed to be in China for six weeks this spring to learn Dinosaur eggs that have porous but thick shells.
Montana State University paleontologist Frankie Jackson states eight of the students are undergraduates and one is working on a master's degree. All the students are looking for careers in research.
Six of the undergraduates are from Montana State, one is from Rocky Mountain College and other from Dawson Community College.
An MSU graduate learner is already in China conducting research.
Jackson utters a $145,000 grant from the National Science Foundation is paying for the research.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The finding of Dinosaur bones in the Bisti Wilderness area in 1998 was a significant find for paleontologists who uncovered what became dubbed the "Bisti Beast."
But 12 year after, the scientific community isn't just looking at more dinosaur bones in a museum. Rather, a new species of Tyrannosaur.
The discovery requires more than a decade to validate, but paleontologists applaud the find and honor the discovery as another breakthrough in evolutionary science.
The Bisti Beast at present has an official name: Bistahieversor sealeyi (pronounced bistah-he-ee-versor see-lee-eye). The skull is more than 1 meter long and the entire dinosaur stood more than 30 meters tall.
"Anytime they discover a different species, it opens up a new realm for working with evolution," said Sherrie Landon, Paleontologist Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management Farmington Field Office.
The Bisti Wilderness is plush with other dinosaur, small mammal and reptile fossils, but federal regulations avoid most digs in the area.
"The only way anything's going to be exposed is if it's exposed naturally by wind and rain," said Bill Papich, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management.
Only walking and hiking are allowed in federally designated wilderness areas, Papich said. Bicycling and other outdoor activities are banned, including excavations.
But researchers obtained a special authorization to do the dig in the 1990s.
The Bisti Beast roamed the wilderness area 74 million years before, said Thomas Williamson, curator of paleontology at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, where the Tyrannosaur is on display.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Dinosaurs on an island in Transylvania existed small and never really grew up.
• Dwarf dinosaurs survived on a Late Cretaceous island, the latest analysis of bones confirms.
• Dwarf dinosaurs appear to have emerged from a process called progenesis, which reduces the developmental period.
• The dwarf dinosaurs existed fast, reaching sexual maturity at earlier ages than their mainland counterparts, and they likely died young.
When Hungarian baron Franz Nopcsa claimed that his sister in 1895 found out bones belonging to dwarf dinosaurs on his family's Transylvanian estate, many thought his claims were on par with Count Dracula fiction.
The latest study not only proves the existence of dwarf dinosaurs, but also explains how dinosaurs shrank during the Late Cretaceous at a Neverland-like place -- Hateg Island, Romania -- where dinos never really grew up.
According to the study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, the unusual phenomenon emerges to have only affected few of the island's dinosaur residents.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Deciphering microscopic clues buried within Fossils, scientists have uncovered the vibrant colours that adorned a Feathered Dinosaur extinct for 150 million years, a Yale University-led research team reports online Feb. 4 in the journal Science.
Unlike recently published work from China that inferred the existence of two types of melanin pigments in various species of feathered dinosaurs, the Science study analysed colour-imparting structures called melanosomes from an complete fossil of a single animal, a feat which facilitated researchers to disclose rich colour patterns of the entire animal.
In fact, the analysis of melanosomes conducted by Yale team was so precise that the team was able to allocate colours to individual feathers of Anchiornis huxleyi, a four-winged troodontid dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic period in China. This Dinosaur sported usually grey body, a reddish-brown, Mohawk-like crest and facial speckles, and white feathers on its wings and legs, with bold black-spangled tips.
'This was no sparrow or crow, but a creature with a very notable plumage,' said Richard O. Prum, chair and the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale and a co-author of the study. 'This would be a very striking animal if it was alive today.'
The colour patterns of the limbs, which strongly look like those sported by modern day Spangled Hamburg chickens, probably functioned in communication and may have helped the dinosaur to attract mates, suggested Prum.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Some Dinosaurs had russet-colored feathers, and one jazzy specimen had a Mohawk crest and stripes, researchers say in the former reports to confidently assign colors to dinosaurs.
Their colors have long been a subject of speculation among school children and researchers.
In the latest study, reported in Thursday's online edition of the journal Science, scientists focused on melanosomes, which impart color.
They were able to assign color to individual feathers and thus work out color patterns for the entire Fossil of Anchiornis huxleyi, a small, feathered, two-legged dinosaur that lived approximately 150 million years ago.
The animal would have weighed about four ounces (110 grams) and emerges to have had a dark gray or black body and wings with some white feathers that gave it a stripe pattern, plus a reddish-brown crest and speckles on the face.
"This was no crow or sparrow, but a creature with a very remarkable plumage," said Richard O. Prum, professor of ornithology at Yale University and a co-author of the study.
"This would be a very striking animal if it was alive at present," Prum said in a statement.
The specimen they studied was originated in China, which was also the home 125 million years ago of Sinosauropteryx, a creature that seems to have had russet-colored feathers, according to a paper published previous week in the journal Nature.
Prum speculated that the color pattern of A. huxleyi could have served as a signal to attract mates.
Co-author Julia Clarke, an associate professor of paleontology at the University of Texas at Austin, proposed that color patterns for camouflage or display must have had a key role in the early evolution of feathers in dinosaurs.
The research was supported by the National Science Foundation, University of Akron, the National Geographic Society and Yale University.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Around 300 Dinosaur footprints believed to be about 65 million years old were lost when the rock wall that contained them cleaved off and crumbled, a Bolivian national park director said Wednesday.
Parque Cretacio director Wilmer Astete informed ATB television that heavy rain and seismic instability had weakened a slab of rock measuring 80 meters (yards) in Cal Orcko, which signifies calcium peak in the Quechua language.
"That rock wall is about 140,000 square meters (1.5 million square feet) and piece of it collapsed. We've missed 300 footprints" made by two titanosaurs, he added.
The Dinosaur tracks were wiped out on Tuesday, Astete said, adding that efforts to safeguard the complete rock wall from fracturing would cost up to 30 million dollars a year, far exceeding the reach of the park administration's budget.
Regardless of the loss, the park remains the site of one of the world's largest collection of dinosaur tracks, Astete said.
Some 5,000 footprints left by 300 Species of dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period (65-145 million years ago) are embedded in the rock face at Cal Orcko, which is situated a few kilometers outside Sucre, Bolivia's constitutional capital.
Local authorities said they were learning plans to protect the archeological site from further damage.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
It's been long thought that the ancestors of emus, ostriches and other flightless birds that flew once were flightless too. But a latest study says that they only began exploring the ground in earnest after Dinosaurs were wiped out about 65 million years before.
The unexpected disappearance of dinosaurs opened up new, predator-free niches, where food was plentiful and flight wasn't required for quick escapes, said study leader Matthe Phillips of the Australian National University in Canberra.
The birds then got so plump that they became too heavy to fly, whether they desire or not, the study suggests.
Using Fossil DNA, Phillips and colleagues examined the genome of a giant moa, an extinct flightless bird that lived in what is now New Zealand.
The team establish that the moa's closest relatives were tinamous—small ground-dwelling birds still found in South America that can barely fly.
During most of the Cretaceous period (146 to 65 million years ago), South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica were joined as part of the massive southern continent Gondwana. About 80 million years before, New Zealand drifted away from Gondwana.
The researchers propose that a moa ancestor may have flown from another location—possibly what would become South America—to New Zealand, where the bird hopped to the ground and eventually evolved into the moa.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
China has made yet another astounding finding that is transforming everything we thought we knew about Dinosaurs - a 160 million-year-old creature that holds the claim that modern day birds are in fact dinosaur descendants.
In a Reuters interview by Dr. Xu, a member of the research team that found out the fossil, as having "unique features... it shares few features with birds. It shifts its hands sideways, like how birds can fold their wings. Its head, hind limbs, vertebral column, hands are all bird-like." That makes it... a lizard parakeet?
The Fossil was discovered in Xinjiang and is a member of the Alvarezsaurs family, this grandpa of a fossil predates all other discoveries by over 63 million years. The fossil shares numerous similar features to birds, but at this point in history was distinctly a dinosaur.
Because it is older than other fossils, it offers an significant link in the evolutionary record showing how birds have slowly developed from dinosaurs. Now we can say with more certainty that our feathered friends are in fact prehistoric living dinosaurs, which is pretty cool.
The fossil is one of 132 latest dinosaurs found by China. Some of our other incredible and long named Dinosaur discoveries comprise a dinosaur with four wings called Anchiornis huxleyi, a gigantic bird raptor called Gigantoraptor Erlianensis and a small feathered dinosaur called epidexipteryx.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Let's say you're Haplocheirus sollers. You've got two gangly legs, stubby arms and feathery adornments that look similar to something even a third-class figure skater wouldn't wear. On top of that, you have the ragged claws of a horror film monster, and a tail that seems like something from an overgrown rat.
As Dinosaurs go off, you're an odd bird -- even though you're not a bird at all.
According to a paper in the most up-to-date issue of the journal Science, the newly discovered Haplocheirus is the oldest known member of a group of dinosaurs called alvarezsaurs.
For years, researchers have debated whether alvarezsaurs come down from dinosaurs or birds. The majority accepted that they were dinosaurs, but gaps in the Fossil record -- especially a lack of any alvarezsaur fossils predating birds -- left the issue open to debate.
The discovery of Haplocheirus by a team of paleontologists from George Washington University widen the fossil record of alvarezsaurs back in time by 63 million years -- a good 15 million years before the first birds appeared.
With this innovative evidence that alvarezsaurs existed before birds, there's little room to argue that they could be anything other than dinosaurs. Strange-looking dinosaurs, but dinosaurs, nonetheless.
Friday, January 29, 2010
A sedentary lifestyle is often liable for causing obesity among humans.
Actually, the same thing happened to certain birds 65 million years ago.
The vanishing of Dinosaurs from earth at that time made the flying ancestors of the emu, cassowary and the ostrich lazy, new Australian research has found.
Instead of soaring away from gigantic beasts, they fattened up and turn into flightless, the study by Canberra's Australian National University (ANU) found.
New Zealand's now extinct flightless moa birds descended from a small, South America flying fowl, the examination of mitochondrial genome series found.
Earlier, scientists believed flightless birds, also known as ratites, shared a common flightless ancestor.
Dr Matthew Phillips the Study director said that as dinosaurs died out, natural selection favored the fatter birds.
“The Extinction of the Dinosaurs likely lifted predation pressures that had previously chosen for flight and its necessary constraint, small size,” he said.
Lifting of this pressure and added abundant foraging opportunities would then have selected for larger size and consequent loss of flight.
Dr Phillips said-“The ancestors of flightless birds originally flew to other parts of the world from the northern continents.”
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
DANVILLE — Local dentist Dr. John Jack Hankla is delighted as schoolchildren file into the grand hall of the Community Arts Center and marvel at the hefty collection of replica dinosaur skeletons.
I just enjoy seeing the children 'ooh' and aah, Hankla said. When they first come in through the door and they see the splendor of these specimens, and they say Wow! I understand that we have done our job.
That Wow! factor, as Hankla calls it, fueled the curiosity that he and his son, John, shared to obtain the collection over the last 20 years.
The collection which includes a 40-foot Tyrannosaurus rex does not include innovative fossils. Rather, the specimens in the display are cast replicas of the bones. The ground floor has completely assembled skeletons, while an upstairs room has skulls and feet.
The inventive fossils were found in China, Brazil, Germany, North Africa and elsewhere around the world. The skull of a duck-billed dinosaur was found on a site close to Lusk, Wyo., where the Hanklas one time owned the fossil rights for digging specimens.
It was at that site that Jack and John Hankla first got eager about dinosaurs when John was about 8 years old. Hundreds of duck-billed dinosaurs had drowned there in a few sort of water hazard.
They were all washed into one smooth lagoon, Jack Hankla said. The carnivores then came and feasted on all these carcasses, and it was nicknamed the T. rex Café, because we discover all these broken teeth of carnivores like T. rex and raptors and lesser dromeosaurs, where they had been there munching.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
About 77 million years before the juvenile duckbill dinosaur was attacked on the plains of what is now known as Montana, US, by a pack of Jurassic predators.
Fatally wounded, the young Brachylophosaurus struggled to the border of an inland sea, where he sank into the soft sand and died.
The salt water mummified him, preserving the wrinkles and scales on his skin and even his final meal of conifers and magnolia-like plants.
He remained buried until he was noticed north of Malta, in central Montana, in 2000.
Named after graffiti carved in a nearby rock, Leonardo is now a worldwide palaeontological star and a foremost attraction at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum in Malta, one of the stops along Montana's so-called Dinosaur Trail.
The Dinosaur Trail links collectively a series of dinosaur-related museums, laboratories and archaeological sites including the Great Plains Museum.
The idea of a dinosaur trail was daydream for local tourism authorities who wanted to capitalize on the state's wealth of Fossil resources.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Alligators breathe like birds owing to a Dinosaur ancestor they share in common, scientists have discovered.
Researchers investigated that, just as it does in birds, air flows in one direction as it loops through the lungs of alligators.
The breathing method is supposed to have first appeared in ancient reptiles called archosaurs which dominated the Earth 251 million years ago.
In contrast, mammalian breath flows in and out of branching cul-de-sacs in the lungs named alveoli.
Archosaurs evolved along two different paths, one of which gave up to the crocodilian ancestors of alligators and crocodiles.
The other produced the flying pterosaurs and ultimately birds.
The researches on alligators propose that birdlike breathing probably evolved earlier than previously thought, before the archosaur split. It may explain why archosaurs turn into dominant in the Early Triassic Period which followed a devastating mass extinction known as the ''Great Dying''.
Prior to the Extinction event, which destroyed 70% of all land life and 96% of sea life, reptile-like mammals called synapsids were the largest animals on Earth.
After it, mammals were outshined by reptiles in the form of archosaurs and, later, dinosaurs.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
JUST like being on a actual archeological dig, the Queensland Museum’s school holiday program I Dig Dinos will give kids the experience of hunting for Dinosaur bones and Discovering Fossils.
Queensland Museum Sought Bank acting director Bernadette McCormack said through its relationship with the community-based Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum and the Outback Gondwana Foundation, the museum would showcase some amazing fossil finds, including one of Australia’s newest Dinosaur Discoveries.
Wintonotitan wattsi, nick-named Clancy, was one of the three new species of dinosaur named for the first time this year after being unearthed close to Winton in the centre of the state.
The program comprise viewing of real dinosaur bones, children’s activity zone and talks from paleontologists Dr Scott Hocknull and Dr Alex Cook. And be on the lookout for T-rex junior - a 4m juvenile who will be raiding around the museum.
The program “I Dig Dinos” will be at Queensland Museum South Bank until January 24 from 9.30am-4pm daily.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Newly found out raptor may have employed venom to subdue his prey -- as if fangs and claws weren't enough.
And has powerful jaws, razor-sharp teeth, sickle-shaped claws, and can cut you down silently .The Sinornithosaurus — a birdlike raptor — that is, if you were unfortunate adequate to run across him 125 million years ago.
If that deadly arsenal wasn’t enough to make this dinosaur a ferocious predator, the latest discovered venom that was delivered with his bite surely was. The New York Times reports that a group of paleontologists have found evidence to propose that this birdlike raptor was indeed venomous.
Don’t get the Sinornithosaurus confused with his famous cousin, the Velociraptor, made famous in the original Jurassic park movie — and definitely not with his meme-like brother-in-law, the Philosoraptor— because this avian predator can do harm on the ground and in the air.
Enpu Gong of Northeastern University in Liaoning, David A. Burnham of the University of Kansas, and colleagues recognized Sinornithosaurus was venomous after examining fossils found in 1999 in the Liaoning Quarry of northeastern China. The fossil leftovers showed typically unusual features for that of a dinosaur — grooves in the teeth and a duct running along the base of the teeth.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
“Walking with Dinosaurs” is coming back to Roanoke, and on Monday we got a different sneak peek.
The baby T-Rex came to Hotel Roanoke to perform for few local boy scout troops in the Blue Ridge Mountains Council as they celebrated the Centennial Anniversary of Boy Scouts of America.
The Dinosaur looks extremely realistic, but it’s a man in a costume.
The international show took 6 years to produce and cost $20 million.
The show takes the viewers back 150 million years.
“I believe there’s this fascination .What occurred to them, what was it like when they were roaming the earth and dominating the entire globe. Now you get to notice them as best we can tell, what it was like,“ said Matthew Rimmer.
“Walking with Dinosaurs,“ is programmed to perform at the Roanoke Civic Center this weekend.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Scientists have long known that carnivorous dinosaurs used claws and teeth to kill prey. Now there is evidence that some of them may have used venom, too.
In a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week before Christmas, Chinese and American researchers announced that a fossilized individual from the dinosaur genus Sinornithosaurus had depressions on the side of its face that could have housed poison gland.
The researchers also observed in a fossilized skull a long depression above the dinosaur's teeth that, in their view, may well have delivered venom into a number of long, grooved teeth on the animal's upper jaw.
The teeth would have permitted the dinosaur to grab prey and hold onto it long enough for the venom to take effect.
This structure is commonly found in modern venomous birds and reptiles.
Sinornithosaurus is a genus of the dromaeosauridae, a Family of Dinosaurs that were ancestors of current birds. The dromaeosaurs also included raptor species recognized for a long and sharp claw used to slice open prey.
Animals within the genus would have been about 3 feet long and lived about 125 million years ago in forests within the northeastern region of China.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Dinosaur National Monument park officials announced this week that the Split Mountain campground in Utah will remain open throughout the winter, according to AP and other media reports.
Three additional campgrounds at the monument will also be open, but only the hardiest of hikers can attain them due to snowfall levels.
DNM spokesperson Carla Beasley warned that even the Split Mountain campground is particularly cold during the winter months owing to its proximity to the chilly Green River. Cold air tends to settle at the river, which usually remain in the entire area at teeth-chattering temperatures.
However, if you are an experienced camper, the news is good for dinosaur enthusiasts.
The National Park Service states, "Dinosaur fossils can only be noticed on the Utah side of the park. The chief exhibit wall of dinosaur fossils is closed due to significant life, health, and safety issues, but a temporary visitor center is open. Also, few fossils can be seen by hiking 3/4 mile from the temporary visitor center."
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
New research challenges the thought that the asteroid impact that killed the Dinosaurs also sparked a global firestorm.
Scientists modeled the consequence that sand-sized droplets of liquefied rock from the impact had on atmospheric temperature. The asteroid is thought to have gouged away the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.
Formerly it was thought that the falling spherules, as the tiny rocks are called, heated up the atmosphere by several degrees for up to 20 minutes — hot enough and long enough to cause whole forests to spontaneously burst into flames.
As evidence for this, scientists pointed to what appears to be carbon-rich soot from burned trees exposed in the thin band of debris dating back to the impact some 65 million years ago, a shift in geologic time called the K-T boundary.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Some dinosaurs, it is identified, were ferocious creatures — using claws, jaws, teeth, horns or even tails to subdue their prey.
But did some make use of poison, too?
A group of paleontologists has found evidence to imply that at least one dinosaur, the birdlike raptor Sinornithosaurus, was venomous. It perhaps used its poison to stun small birds or other prey, the researchers write in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sinornithosaurus, which was about 3 feet long and lived 125 million years ago, was described in 1999 based on fossils discovered at the Liaoning Quarry in northeastern China. The original description noted some unusual features, with grooves in the teeth and a duct running along the base of the teeth.
David A. Burnham of the University of Kansas and Enpu Gong of Northeastern University in Liaoning and colleagues have now interpreted those features, and a cavity in the skull not previously described, as evidence of a venom delivery system similar to that found in some living lizards.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
If the dinosaurs had dentists to take care of their teeth, they would have been possibly alive today.
At least, this is the picture that is rising out of a new research by scientist of David Varricchio and colleagues.
Infectious diseases can be transmitted by touching ,sneezing, or biting each other on the face, a habit that may have driven the dinosaurs to extinction through the transmission of a protozoan parasite.
This led the scientists to realize that a protozoan parasite was to blame for the diseased jawbones seen in many tyrannosaurid fossils.
The parasite’s modern-day equivalent, which infects birds, eats away at the jawbone and can cause ulcers so ruthless that the host starves to death.
Living in the jaw, the parasite may have been transfered from one dinosaur to another dinosaur during head biting.
According to Jacqueline Upcroft, a member of f1000 Biology, “This organism generally infects pigeons, doves, turkeys and raptors, causing necrotic ulceration in the upper digestive tract,” and in extreme cases it can fully pierce the bone.
The similarity of the fossilized jawbones and modern-day samples imply that the parasite was deadly enough to kill infected dinosaurs.
“This may not have been an segregated situation but may have occurred en masse and led to the Extinction of the Species,” said Upcroft.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Well-preserved fossils of a feathered dinosaur that exist about 124 million years ago — along with certain aspects of its teeth and skull — imply that the turkey-sized creature was venomous.
Sinornithosaurus was unearthed in China and first described by scientists about 10 years ago, but the telling details of the creature’s cranial anatomy are just now being described, says David Burnham, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
The majority of the teeth in each side of the creature’s upper jaw have grooves that run from the base of each tooth to the tip, a characteristic seen in some of today’s venomous reptiles. A huge triangular depression on the creature’s upper jawbone — a feature not previously reported in other dinosaurs or their relatives — probably held venom-producing glands, Burnham and his colleagues report online December 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Venom curving from those glands probably pooled in reservoirs at the base of each grooved tooth until the dino bit its prey, Burnham says.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Infectious diseases can be spreaded by sneezing, touching, or – for Tasmanian devils – biting each other on the face, a habit that may have driven the dinosaurs to extinction through the transmission of a protozoan parasite.
Jacqueline Upcroft, a member of f1000 Biology, draw attention to the 'paleobiological detective work' of David Varricchio and colleagues published in PLoS One. This led them to figure out that a protozoan parasite was to blame for the diseased jaw bones seen in many tyrannosaurid fossils.
The parasite's modern-day equivalent, which infects birds, eats away at the jawbone and can stimulate ulcers so severe that the host starves to death. Living in the jaw, the parasite may have been passed from one dinosaur to another dinosaur during head biting.
Upcroft said, "this organism generally infects pigeons ,doves, turkeys and raptors, causing necrotic ulceration in the upper digestive tract," and in extreme cases it can fully penetrate the bone.
The similarity of the fossilized jawbones and modern-day samples suggest that the parasite was deadly enough to kill infected dinosaurs. Furthermore, as Upcroft notes, "this may not have been an separated situation but may have occurred en masse and led to the extinction of the species."
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Bones found out in a New Mexico quarry indicate that the first dinosaurs appeared in what is now South America, with some migrating northward into the US as the continent began to split apart.
The 213-million-year-old fossils of prior unknown carnivorous dinosaur Tawa hallae include several of the best preserved dinosaur skeletons from the Triassic Period.Tawa was about six feet long - the size of a large dog, but with a much longer tail.
"If you have continents splitting separately, you get isolation," said lead author Sterling Nesbit of the University of Texas at Austin. "So when barriers develop, you would anticipate that multiple carnivorous dinosaurs in a region should correspond to a closely related endemic radiation. But that is what we don’t see in early dinosaur evolution."