Posts Tagged ‘Dinosaur’

Brontomerus mcintoshi – the dinosaur with thunder thighs

// February 23rd, 2011 // Comments Off on Brontomerus mcintoshi – the dinosaur with thunder thighs // Recent Research

Brontomerus. Image by Francisco Gascó

Across my twitter feed today we welcomed a new dinosaur. Brontomerus mcintoshi was named for it’s “thunder-thighs” and as honour to retired physicist and avocational paleontologist “Jack” McIntosh.

I hope Jack has no hang-ups about his thighs, as I can assure you if someone called a dinosaur “Thunder-thighs skelletti” I would whap them with my peg leg.

But I’m sure Jack is pleased to hand his name to this butt-kicking dinosaur. With huge thigh muscles, as shown by bone fragments, Brontomerus may have kicked his way out of hairy situations.

The authors of the paper suggest kicking could have been used by males fighting over females (or indeed, females fighting over males, which I put forward as an equally possible alternative.) If capable of delivering crippling kicks, they probably used their legs against predators as well.

Another suggestion is that Brontomerus used the thighs as a kind of “dinosaur four-wheel drive,” according to co author Matt Wedel, which helped them climb rough and hilly terrain.

The paper is based on a healthy smattering of bone samples from two individuals, a juvenile (a few years old) and an adult. The samples represent about 10% of the total skeleton, not much, but people work with less. With an incomplete skeleton, caution has been advised in describing its behaviour and good-looks. But I say, if you want to go ahead and imagine the dino as Xena trained in kickboxing, why the hell not?

Authors with fossils. Image by Linda Coldwell

Brontomerus is a sauropod, one of the long-necks, as are the familiar members Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus (my personal favourite. It’s fun to say!) It was found in Utah, North America, and lived about 110 million years ago.

Until recently, the Early Cretaceous Period was a bit of a black hole for fossils. After the stegosaurus, but before T-rex and duckbills, there was a gap. Now paleontologists are looking at rocks from that period, they’re uncovering more about that mysterious time.

It seems to me like there have been a LOT of new dinosaurs found lately. Three found in Queensland, Australia, plus Mojoceratops and Linheraptor Exquisitus.

According to Mike Taylor’s fact sheet on Brontomerus, “although the first dinosaurs were named almost 200 years ago, more than half of all known dinosaurs have been discovered in the last 30 years.” At least it’s not just me.

Check out their blog or read the paper (warning: PDF)

ResearchBlogging.orgMichael P. Taylor, Mathew J. Wedel, and Richard L. Cifelli (2011). A new sauropod dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 56 (1), 75-98 : DOI: 10.4202/app.2010.0073

Frilled dinosaur Mojoceratops is groovy baby, yeah

// July 11th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Recent Research, Sex and Reproduction

Mojo: The libido. The life force. The essence. The right stuff. What the French call a certain… I don’t know what.

Mojoceratops was discovered when Nicholas Longrich from Yale University was looking at existing fossils from American Museum of Natural History in New York. They had been classified as another species, Chasmosaurus, but Nicholas believed they were something else. Dinosaur, thy name is Mojo.

Mojoceratops was about the size of a hippo and roamed the Alberta and Saskatchewan provinces of Canada around 75 million years ago. It nommed on plants only, like its relative the Triceratops. Anyone else having a flashback to the Land Before Time? Ducky was my favourite. That movie was epic. Anyway…

Most striking is the frill. All the Ceratopsids had frills, but Mojo’s was the largest and the most heart shaped. Nicholas thinks it was used for sexual courtship. The right side of the frill is larger than the left side, which indicates it was a display or weapon under intense selection. The same kind of asymmetry is also seen in deer antlers. Sexual selection fail though, the species only lasted for a million years. Did they lose their mojo?

Mojo means a talisman for attracting members of the opposite sex. Of course, Nicholas first came up with the name after having a few drinks. “It was just a joke, but then everyone stopped and looked at each other and said, ‘Wait — that actually sounds cool’ ” he said. Yes, yes it does. I think I have a new favourite dinosaur.

ResearchBlogging.orgLongrich, Nicholas R. (2010). Mojoceratops perifania, A New Chasmosaurine Ceratopsid from the Late Campanian of Western Canada. Journal of Paleontology, 84 (4), 681-694

New dinosaur species discovered, Linheraptor exquisitus

// March 22nd, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Recent Research

Artists impression by Matt van Rooijen

Meet Linheraptor exquisitus, a species related to the infamous Velociraptor. It was discovered in the Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia. The paper was published in Zootaxa a couple of days ago.

Two PhD students named Michael Pittman and Jonah Choinier made the discovery. They were doing a field project at the time.

Finding a new species of dinosaur… It sounds like the kind of dream you have as a kid. Certainly in my younger years I nurtured fantasies of discovering a dinosaur and naming it something cool. I think Linheraptor exquisitus fits the bill.

As Michael describes the exquisitus experience, “Jonah saw a claw protruding from the cliff face. He carefully removed it and handed it to me. We went through its features silently but he wanted my identification first. I told him it was from a carnivorous dinosaur and when he agreed I’m surprised nobody in London heard us shouting.” Here’s a picture of the fossil.

It looks pretty intact, doesn’t it? I particularly like the foot, it looks like it’s dancing a merry jig in a silent movie.

That foot housed a stomach-slicing claw like that of Jurassic Park fame. The dinosaur would have been about 2.5 metres long and weighed 25 kilograms.

Quote from EurekAlerts.

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