Dinosaurs: New Findings & Theories

ramonmercado

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Vids at link.

Dinosaur breathing study shows that noses enhanced smelling and cooled brain

It's been millions of years since T. rex took its last breath, but a team led by Ohio University scientists is breathing life back into dinosaurs using high-powered computer simulations to model airflow through dinosaur snouts. The research has important implications for how dinosaurs used their noses to not only breathe but to enhance the sense of smell and cool their brains.

"Dinosaurs were pretty 'nosy' animals," said Ohio University doctoral student Jason Bourke, lead author of the new study published today in the Anatomical Record. "Figuring out what's going on in their complicated snouts is challenging because noses have so many different functions. And it doesn't help that all the delicate soft tissues rotted away millions of years ago."

To restore what time had stripped away, the team turned to the modern-day relatives of dinosaurs—birds, crocodiles and lizards—to provide clues. "We'll do whatever it takes," said Lawrence Witmer, professor in the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and principal investigator on the National Science Foundation's Visible Interactive Dinosaur Project, which funded much of the research. "We did lots of dissections, blood-vessel injections and CT scanning, but a major new tool was 3D computer simulation of airflow."

Bourke drew from a branch of engineering called computational fluid dynamics, an approach commonly used in the aerospace industry and medicine, to model how air flowed through the noses of modern-day dinosaur relatives such as ostriches and alligators. "Once we got a handle on how animals today breathe," Bourke said, "the tricky part was finding a good candidate among dinosaurs to test our methods."

The dinosaurs that best fit the bill were the pachycephalosaurs, or "pachys," a group of plant-eating dinosaurs best known for the several-inch-thick bone on the tops of their skulls which is thought to have served both as a visual display and as protection for head-butting behaviors like those of modern-day rams. It turns out that building all that extra skull bone resulted in ossifying soft tissues in other areas of the body—such as the nose. ...

http://phys.org/news/2014-10-dinosaur-n ... brain.html
 

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Kung fu stegosaur: Lethal fighters when necessary

Date: October 21, 2014

Source: Geological Society of America

Summary:
Stegosaurs might be portrayed as lumbering plant eaters, but they were lethal fighters when necessary, according to paleontologists who have uncovered new evidence of a casualty of stegosaurian combat. The evidence is a fatal stab wound in the pubis bone of a predatory allosaur. The wound -- in the conical shape of a stegosaur tail spike -- would have required great dexterity to inflict and shows clear signs of having cut short the allosaur's life.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 114903.htm
 

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First amphibious ichthyosaur discovered, filling evolutionary gap

The first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur has been discovered in China by a team led by researchers at the University of California, Davis. The discovery is the first to link the dolphin-like ichthyosaur to its terrestrial ancestors, filling a gap in the fossil record. The fossil is described in a paper published in advance online Nov. 5 in the journal Nature.

The fossil represents a missing stage in the evolution of ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles from the Age of Dinosaurs about 250 million years ago. Until now, there were no fossils marking their transition from land to sea.

"But now we have this fossil showing the transition," said lead author Ryosuke Motani, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. "There's nothing that prevents it from coming onto land."

Motani and his colleagues discovered the fossil in China's Anhui Province. About 248 million years old, it is from the Triassic period and measures roughly 1.5 feet long. ...

http://phys.org/news/2014-11-amphibious ... y-gap.html
 

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Another gap filled! :D
 

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Sweating, panting, moving to the shade, or taking a dip are all time-honored methods used by animals to cool down. The implicit goal of these adaptations is always to keep the brain from overheating. Now a new study shows that armor-plated dinosaurs (ankylosaurs) had the capacity to modify the temperature of the air they breathed in an exceptional way: by using their long, winding nasal passages as heat transfer devices.

Led by paleontologist Jason Bourke, a team of scientists at Ohio University used CT scans to document the anatomy of nasal passages in two different ankylosaur species. The team then modeled airflow through 3D reconstructions of these tubes. Bourke found that the convoluted passageways would have given the inhaled air more time and more surface area to warm up to body temperature by drawing heat away from nearby blood vessels. As a result, the blood would be cooled, and shunted to the brain to keep its temperature stable. ,,,

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 095533.htm
 

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The ancient flying reptiles called pterosaurs include the largest flying animals ever discovered, with estimated wingspans as wide as 11 meters, the width of a doubles tennis court. Exactly how such gargantuan creatures could have taken off, stayed aloft, and landed safely has long puzzled biomechanics experts. New calculations presented here last week at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual meeting suggest that flying and landing weren’t problems even for the biggest specimens, but takeoff probably limited how large the animals could grow.

Pterosaurs existed from the late Triassic until the end of the Cretaceous period—about 200 million to 66 million years ago. Although they lived at the same time, pterosaurs are not dinosaurs; they form a distinct branch of the evolutionary tree. The most famous member of the group is the first named species, Pterodactylus antiquus, commonly known as a pterodactyl. They were some of the smaller pterosaurs, with an estimated adult wingspan of about a meter, about the size a peregrine falcon. The largest known pterosaurs, Hatzegopteryx, unearthed in Romania, and Quetzalcoatlus, found in Texas, are thought to have had wingspans of 10 or 11 meters—more than three times the wingspans of today’s largest birds. ...
http://news.sciencemag.org/paleontology ... aur-flight
 
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It must have been a weighty question for dinosaurs, some of which were dutiful parents that brooded their eggs like birds: How could they sit on their eggs without breaking them? According to new research presented at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting here, some rhinoceros-sized dinosaurs successfully brooded in open-air nests by arranging the eggs so they wouldn’t break. The study shows that even the largest dinosaurs in this group probably provided some parental care.

Researchers have found a number of fossilized nests from the group of dinosaurs called oviraptorosaurs, fairly close relatives of early birds. (The name means “egg-thief lizards,” because researchers originally assumed the creatures ate the eggs that were so often found with them. But scientists now realize the animals were nesting, not feasting.) Several fossil nests include an adult, apparently a brooding parent buried alongside its eggs. Those specimens were about the size of a modern ostrich—about 100 kilograms. But some oviraptorosaurs weighed 3000 kilograms, as much as a modern rhinoceros. Whether those largest oviraptorosaurs, with eggs up to 40 centimeters in diameter, had open nests and brooded like their smaller cousins or buried their eggs more like modern crocodiles has been an open question. ...
http://news.sciencemag.org/paleontology ... their-eggs
 
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A tooth from a 140-million-year-old ‘bird-hipped’ dinosaur has been uncovered in Malaysia, researchers announced on Thursday.

The beast is referred to as ‘bird-hipped’ because of the bird-like hip structure, so the tooth belonged to a dinosaur of the herbivorous Ornithischian order.

However, the exact species of the dinosaur remains unknown. The group of dinosaurs into which the skeleton can be classed also contains the triceratops.

Additionally, its existence could provide clues to the whereabouts of the remainder of the dinosaur’s skeleton.

“It is plausible that large dinosaur fossil deposits still remain in Malaysia,” lead researcher Masatoshi Sone from the University of Malaysia told AFP. Sone said that the dinosaur could have been as big as a horse. ...
http://rt.com/news/205163-dinosaur-140-million-tooth/
 
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Scientists seek to solve mystery of Stegosaurus plates

Scientists have begun the most detailed analysis ever carried out on a Stegosaurus skeleton.

Researchers hope to learn how much it weighed, how it moved and what it used its iconic back plates for. A UK team has scanned each of its 360 bones into a computer and has digitally reconstructed the dinosaur. The specimen, nicknamed "Sophie", has been acquired by the Natural History Museum in London.

Although Stegosauruses are one of the most well known dinosaurs, they are among those that scientists know the least about. There are only six partial skeletons of the creature, which lived around 150 million years ago. It could grow to the size of a minibus and the gigantic plates which ran along its back were its most distinctive feature. ...

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30301895
 

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Beware of Turkey Rex

New research from the University of Kent suggests that chickens and turkeys have experienced fewer gross genomic changes than other birds as they evolved from their dinosaur ancestor. Professor Darren Griffin and a team at the University's School of Biosciences have conducted research that suggests that chromosomes of the chicken and turkey lineage have undergone the fewest number of changes compared to their ancient avianancestor, thought to be a feathered dinosaur.

The Kent research is part of a study by a consortium of leading scientists into avian or bird genomes, which tell a story of species evolution. The living descendants ofdinosaurs were thought to have undergone a rapid burst of evolution after mostdinosaur species were wiped out. The detailed family tree of modern birds has however confused biologists for centuries and the molecular details of how birds arrived at the spectacular biodiversity of more than 10,000 species is barely known. ...

http://phys.org/news/2014-12-chickens-turkeys-closer-dinosaur-ancestors.html
 

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Having spent some time around chickens, this doesn't surprise me. Particularly this rooster we had. Its cold reptilian eyes and aggressive nature made me grateful it wasn't the size of a t-rex!
 

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Scientists have named the first definite horned dinosaur species from the Early Cretaceous in North America, according to a study published December 10, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrew Farke from Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology and colleagues.

The limited fossil record for neoceratopsian--or horned dinosaurs--from the Early Cretaceous in North America restricts scientists' ability to reconstruct the early evolution of this group. The authors of this study have discovered a dinosaur skull in Montana that represents the first horned dinosaur from the North American Early Cretaceous that they can identify to the species level. The authors named the dinosaur Aquilops americanus, which exhibits definitive neoceratopsian features and is closely related to similar species in Asia. The skull is comparatively small, measuring 84 mm long, and is distinguished by several features, including a strongly hooked rostral bone, or beak-like structure, and an elongated and sharply pointed cavity over the cheek region. When alive, the authors estimate it was about the size of a crow. ...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141210140825.htm
 

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Bit of an all rounder but I'll put it here.

A perfectly preserved amber fossil from Myanmar has been found that provides evidence of the earliest grass specimen ever discovered -- about 100 million years old -- and even then it was topped by a fungus similar to ergot, which for eons has been intertwined with animals and humans.

Ergot has played roles as a medicine, a toxin, and a hallucinogen; been implicated in everything from disease epidemics to the Salem witch trials; and more recently provided the hallucinogenic drug LSD.

Apparently both ergot and the grasses that now form most of the diet for the human race evolved together.

And if they already seemed a little scary, imagine a huge sauropod dinosaur that just ate a large portion of this psychotropic fungus, which in other animal species can cause anything from hallucinations to delirium, gangrene, convulsions or the staggers. The fungus, the grasses it lived on and dinosaurs that ate grass co-existed for millions of years.

The findings and analysis of this remarkable fossil were just published online in the journal Palaeodiversity, by researchers from Oregon State University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Germany. ...

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150209130730.htm
 

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A debate you can get your teeth into: Darren Nash dips his toe into troubled waters.

Via bizarre and unexpected circumstances I recently* found myself secretly and furtively attending a lecture by Brian J. Ford. Ford is a British author and researcher who dabbles widely in matters of science and science communication. As readers interested in dinosaurs will know, Ford made something of a name for himself in the world of vertebrate palaeontology back in 2012 by announcing that palaeontologists have gotten dinosaurs completely wrong. Non-bird Mesozoic dinosaurs were, so says Ford, perpetually aquatic animals that actually sloshed around, shoulder-deep, in the water and were completely unsuited for life on land: the mainstream palaeontological view that these animals were strongly adapted for terrestrial life is, so he says, misguided and woefully wrong.

* “Recently” = during the latter part of 2014.

Ford published an article announcing his infallible hypothesis in science newszineLaboratory News (Ford 2012). Aided and abetted by an inciteful media, his idea received gargantuan coverage in the global press. Instinct told me to ignore the whole circus – in any case, colleagues were already doing a good job of saying what nonsense it was. Alas, I was specifically invited to produce a response and eventually decided, as a damage-limitation exercise, to do so (Naish 2012). ...

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/tetrapod-zoology/2015/02/10/brian-j-ford-aquatic-dinosaurs/
 

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Building a home for dinosaur fossils with extra opal bling at Lightning Ridge

In the north-west of New South Wales, opal miners have been digging up opalised dinosaur fossils for years, it seems that it's one of the best-kept secrets in the country.

abc.net

slideshow of some of the beautiful fossils at the link. The clam shells in particular !
 

rynner2

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Not to be confused with any fillums in your local multi-screen:

26 February 2015 Last updated at 10:59
Jurassica dinosaur museum model unveiled

A scale model of a proposed £80m underground dinosaur-themed museum has been revealed.
Jurassica would be built in a semi-subterranean cavern in a 40m (132ft) deep quarry in Portland, Dorset.
Set under a translucent roof, the attraction would show a snapshot of the Dorset coast 150 million years ago.

Science journalist Mike Hanlon, behind the idea, said: "What we are trying to do is to bring home just what a strange and alien planet Earth was back then."
If it goes ahead, the attraction could open in 2021.

...

The attraction has the backing of the Royal Society and the Natural History Museum.
Sir David Attenborough is the project's patron and the Eden Project's Sir Tim Smit is its trustee.
It has been awarded a £300,000 grant by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, as part of the Government's Local Growth Deal.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-31636870
 

Frideswide

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Frideswide

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Jurassica dinosaur museum model unveiled

wow! I'd certainly pay the no doubt hefty entrance charge (assuming I had the disposble income of course :( ). Does that bit of the proposed roof mean that it's an Eden-like structure?
 

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The Natural History Museum's Stegosaurus is 80% complete

Scientists have worked out the body mass of the world's most complete Stegosaurus.

The animal is one of the instantly recognisable dinosaurs thanks to a row of sharp bony plates along its spine.

London's Natural History Museum recently acquired a specimen with 80% of its skeleton intact, and finds its weight in life to have been about 1.6 tonnes.

This would have made it similar in size to a small rhino...


150 million years dead, and people are obsessing about her weight. That's not going to make her feel good about herself.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31712957
 

Mythopoeika

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It's dead weight, that's what it is. :D
 

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Brontosaurus is back! Brontosaurus is a unique genus after all
Although well known as one of the most iconic dinosaurs, Brontosaurus(the 'thunder lizard') has long been considered misclassified. Since 1903, the scientific community has believed that the genus Brontosaurus was in fact the Apatosaurus. Now, an exhaustive new study by palaeontologists from Portugal and the UK provides conclusive evidence that Brontosaurus is distinct from Apatosaurus and as such can now be reinstated as its own unique genus.

Brontosaurus is one of the most charismatic dinosaurs of all time, inspiring generations of children thanks to its size and evocative name. However, as every armchair palaeontologist knows, Brontosaurus was in fact a misnomer, and it should be correctly referred to as Apatosaurus. At least, this is what scientists have believed since 1903, when it was decided that the differences between Brontosaurus excelsus and Apatosaurus were so minor that it was better to put them both in the same genus. Because Apatosauruswas named first, it was the one that was used under the rules of scientific naming.

In fact, of course, the Brontosaurus was never really gone -- it was simply treated as a species of the genus Apatosaurus: Apatosaurus excelsus. So, while scientists thought the genus Brontosaurus was the same as Apatosaurus, they always agreed that the species excelsus was different from other Apatosaurus species. Now, palaeontologists Emanuel Tschopp, Octávio Mateus, and Roger Benson say that Brontosaurus was a unique genus all along. But let's start from the beginning...etc
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150407085256.htm

Every dino has his day, but I'd thought Brontosaurus had had his. Welcome back, my childhood friend!:)
 

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Good news, everyone knows Brontosaurus means "Thunder Lizard" for some reason. Now we just have to work out the correct way of pronouncing Diplodocus.
 
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Has anyone ever considered the possibility that the original reconstruction of its skeleton was incorrect.

I ask because for me its tiny arms and double claws look ridiculously inadequate. Who knows, perhaps one of the beasts favourite meals was a smaller creature and those likkle limbs belonged to that?

Just a thought.
 

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Giant sea lizards in the age of dinosaurs: A new beginning for baby mosasaurs
Date:
April 10, 2015

Source:
Yale University

Summary:
They weren't in the delivery room, but researchers have discovered a new birth story for a gigantic marine lizard that once roamed the oceans. Thanks to recently identified specimens, paleontologists now believe that mighty mosasaurs -- which could grow to 50 feet long -- gave birth to their young in the open ocean, not on or near shore.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150410165316.htm
 

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New evidence for combat and cannibalism in tyrannosaurs
Date:
April 9, 2015

Source:
PeerJ

Summary:
A new study documents injuries inflicted in life and death to a large tyrannosaurine dinosaur. The paper shows that the skull of a tyrannosaur genus, Daspletosaurus, suffered numerous injuries during life, at least some of which were likely inflicted by another Daspletosaurus. It was also bitten after death in an apparent event of scavenging by another tyrannosaur. Thus there's evidence of combat between two large carnivores as well as one feeding on another after death.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150409083201.htm
 

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Stegosaurs may have had quite different shaped plates, depending on whether they were male or female.

The bony appendages that ran down the backs of these animals made them among the most iconic of dinosaur species.

But quite what their purpose was is something of a mystery.

Now, new research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, claims that males could have sported rounder, broader plates, while females might have had narrower, taller plates.

Evan Saitta, from Bristol University, UK, examined the remains of stegosaurs preserved in a "graveyard" of these creatures in Central Montana, US. ...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32398027
 
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