Need for Speed: Cretaceous Drift 

 “Must go faster!” yells Dr Ian Malcolm, as his mangled, yet rather toned, body was hauled away in the Jurassic Park jeep, his lovely hair swaying in the wind as they fled from the Tyrannosaur paddock, chased by a particularly hungry and particularly nimble T. rex. He needn’t have worried. Today’s news brings with it a novel attempt to calculate the king of the tyrant lizard’s preferred gait and maximum speeds, combining two established methodologies…

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Early Fossil Sites – 150 things about Canadian palaeo, part 15

Unfortunately, Canada’s 150th birthday came and went (July 1) and I didn’t manage to make it through my 150 things about Canadian palaeontology. Thesis writing got the better of me, and I just couldn’t keep up. However, now that I’m done, I’m going to finish up the series. This post is going to focus on some of the other earlier fossil sites in Canada, with some very early fossils. Starting at 111/150: 111. Just in…

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Oxygen Isotopes and Oviraptorosaurs

Implications for Dinosaur Nesting Behaviour and Thermophysiology Oviraptorosaurs had received a pretty bad reputation when they first popped onto the scene. Initially, palaeontologists branded these creatures as “egg plunderers”, due to the discovery of an individual, Oviraptor, atop of a pile of eggs that were thought to belong to Protoceratops, a sheep-sized, desert-dwelling ceratopsian. Henry Osborn, describing the animal in 1924, gave the supposed egg-thieving theropod its ignominious name, although he did note that despite…

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Episode 78: Japanese Palaeontology

When thinking of palaeontology in Asia, most people think of Mongolia and China, but there is actually a significant palaeontology community in Japan. Japan has many fossils, starting in the Ordovician, and ranging from everything from bivalves and trilobites to dinosaurs and mammals. In this episode, we speak with Dr. Makoto Manabe, the Director of the Centre for Collections and Centre for Molecular Biodiversity Research at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.…

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The Significance of the Flocculus in Archosauria

With advancements in computed tomography (CT) scanning comes an increased understanding of the internal structures preserved in extant and extinct animals, providing a non-destructive way of peering into the bones and revealing their secrets. Along with this month’s publication on extensive rostral neurovasculature in the carcharodontosaurian Neovenator, comes the CT scanning of the braincase of a distantly related theropod, Viavenator exxoni. What interested me in this paper on Viavenator, discovered last year in 84 million…

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Neovenator Neurovasculature and the Purpose of Sensitive Snouts

Articles on dinosaur neurovasculature are like buses: you wait for most of the Phanerozoic for one to arrive and then two appear at once. Indeed, 2017 saw the publication of two articles relating to the purpose of cephalic neurovasculature in theropod dinosaurs, the subject being only briefly highlighted in a select few cases from disparate Mesozoic reptiles. Thanks to micro-focus computed tomography (μCT), our discovery of complex internal canals within the rostrum (snout) of Neovenator…

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Neovenator Neurovasculature and the Purpose of Sensitive Snouts

Articles on dinosaur neurovasculature are like buses: you wait for most of the Phanerozoic for one to arrive and then two appear at once. Indeed, 2017 saw the publication of two articles relating to the purpose of cephalic neurovasculature in theropod dinosaurs, the subject being only briefly highlighted in a select few cases from disparate Mesozoic reptiles. Thanks to micro-focus computed tomography (μCT), our discovery of complex internal canals within the rostrum (snout) of Neovenator…

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208-million-year-old giant amphibian discovered in Greenland

A new species of Cyclotosaur, a giant salamander-like amphibian, has been described from the Late Triassic rocks of East Greenland. Cyclotosaurs are temnospondyl amphibians, known from other Late Triassic deposits in Germany, Poland and Svalbard, but this new specimen represents the North-westerly-most ever found. The new species, described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, is named Cyclotosaurus naraserluki, after the Greenlandic word for amphibian/salamander, ‘naraserluk’, and is represented by a complete skull and three vertebrae.…

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Palaeobotany – 150 things about Canadian palaeo, part 14

I’ve disappeared for a few weeks while I’ve been working hard on my thesis, but now that I’ve finished a draft, it’s time for the next part in my ‘150 things about Canadian palaeo’ series! I’ve focused mostly on animals, but of course, there are also palaeobotany sites in Canada, and here’s a few facts about Canadian palaeobotany. Starting at 104/150: 104. The McAbee Fossil Beds in British Columbia are a Provincial Heritage Site that represent the…

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Episode 77: South American Gomphotheres

The proboscideans are a group of animals that contains the elephant and mastodont families. Many of us will be well-aware of these groups, but what of some of the lesser-known proboscideans? One such family are the gomphotheres and in this episode we’re introduced to them by Dr Dimila Mothé, of the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My first time in a paleontological collection, at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Minas Gerais, Brazil.…

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