Friday, September 11, 2015

Tyrannosaur footpath found near Tumbler Ridge



A university student exposed a huge and rare dinosaur footprint, in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., from the same family of top predators as the T.Rex.

Carina Helm, a 20-year-old UBC student, was out repairing some local boardwalks in the area when her father pointed out the region was rich in fossilized specimens.
"Before that I had never realized the area we're in is the right age for bearing fossils," she told CBC.
She realized that she might have stumbled across a dinosaur pathway earlier that summer when she was out berry picking with her friends, so the pair determined to take a short detour back to that site. 

"The very first rock I looked at had this enormous track-shape," she recalled. "At first, I thought it wasn't anything because it was so big and I had never seen anything like that before, but after looking at it for a bit, I felt you could absolutely see three toes there," she said.
They called the local paleontologist who examined the specimen and determined it's one of 14 unusual tyrannosaurs worldwide.
"It's appealing big. It's a single footprint and it's fairly large, nearly 60 cm in length and from its shape, it's simple to tell it's from a large meat-eating dinosaur," said Richard McCrea, a palaeontologist at the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre in Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
"It can sometimes be a challenge to recognize the maker of a single print, particularly one that has been weathered by the elements. Even with the tips of the digits eroded away, the track establish by Carina Helm still possesses characteristics that make it particular as the product of a meat-eating dinosaur."
He speculated the track might have even been larger as the tip and claw of the best toe have been eroded away.
He says the research centre plans to pick up the specimen and bring it back to the museum for defense, and go back to the area for further examination.
"If Carina could find this track ... we might find a lot more footprints or trackways in the area, which would be interesting," he said.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Study Report on Dinosaur's Tail evolution




One of the most remarkable weapons to show during the dinosaur arms race of the Cretaceous Period was the big bony tail club wielded by some members of a group of tank-like plant-eaters.

A new study provides a step-by-step account of the progress of this distinctive feature possessed by the heavily armored dinosaur Ankylosaurus and its cousins, a bludgeon that may have given even the violent Tyrannosaurus rex reason to worry.

The researchers studied fossils of the group called ankylosaurs with early, primitive species with no tail club and later ones with a fully developed one.
Ankylosaurs began to evolve tail clubs much earlier than formerly thought, the researchers found, and the clubs evolved in two steps over tens of millions of years.

First, vertebrae in the back part of the tail changed so that the tail became stiff. Next, bones that form in the skin to provide body armor, called osteoderms, became very large at the tip of the tail and entirely enveloped the tail's end to form a club that could be swung at an enemy.


Ankylosaurs lived at a time when the main land predators in Earth's history including T. rex roamed the landscape, dismembering other dinosaurs with great jaws and serrated teeth. In an arms race, some plant-eaters developed suspicious weaponry.


"A tail club was absolutely an effective weapon and could have broken the ankle of a predator," said paleontologist Victoria Arbour of North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, who led the study published this week in the Journal of Anatomy.

"But in living animals today, weapons are also often used for battling members of your own species - consider the horns of bighorn sheep or the antlers of deer - so perhaps ankylosaurs did something alike."

Ankylosaurs were wide-bodied, four-legged dinosaurs enclosed in bony plates and spikes. The oldest known ankylosaur dated from around 160 million years ago during the Jurassic Period, Arbour said. The first fully formed ankylosaur tail club appeared around 75 million years ago during the Cretaceous.

Ankylosaurus, measuring around 20 feet (6 meters), was the largest and last of the ankylosaurs, living at the end of the age of dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rare Dinosaur Tracks Discovered in Germany



Scientists discovered more than 90 giant dinosaurs tracks in a quarry outside the German city of Hannover.
The scientists said the foot prints belonged to a long-necked dinosaur and are supposed to be between 135 and 145 million years old, from the Cretaceous period, The Local news portal reported.
They compute about 1.20 metres in diametre and stretch over 50 metres.

"What is unusual about the tracks is that they go along for a long distance and then the dinosaur makes a sharp turn - that is exceptional," said excavation director Benjamin Englich.
He added that the footprints were "astonishingly deep", measuring 43 centimetres into the ground.
The paleontologists guess that the dinosaur would have weighed between 25 and 30 tonnes and had a long neck.''

"The foot-shape and type of step taken is very typical for long-necked dinosaurs. They left behind elephant-like footprints," Englich said.
According to the researchers, when the dinosaurs roamed during this time, the area had a tropical to subtropical climate.
There was maybe a huge lagoon area with frequent islands at that time and the long-necked dinosaur would have roamed around from island to island through the low water, looking for food, they added.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dinosaur skeleton has been seized from home in China



Police in China have seized 213 fossilised dinosaur eggs and skeletal leftovers. Police raided the house in Heyuan city and seized the eggs, which date back to the Cretaceous period.

The skeleton was later recognized as a Psittacosaurus, Xinhua news agency reported.

Heyuan was known as the "hometown of the dinosaur" in China, with many fossilised eggs exposed over the decades. The city's museum has set a Guinness record for having composed more than 10,000 dinosaur eggs.

Chinese laws place fossilised creatures under state ownership and ban any trade or ownership of them except by specialised institutions and professionals.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Causes for the Extinction of Dinosaurs

More than 90 percent of all organisms that have ever lived on Earth are extinct. As new species evolve to fit ever changing ecological niches, older species fade away. But the rate of extinction is far from constant. At least a handful of times in the last 500 million years, 50 to more than 90 percent of all species on Earth have disappeared in a geological blink of the eye..

The causes of these mass extinction events are unsolved mysteries, though volcanic eruptions and the impacts of large asteroids or comets are prime suspects in many of the cases. Both would eject tons of debris into the atmosphere, darkening the skies for at least months on end. Starved of sunlight, plants and plant-eating creatures would quickly die. Space rocks and volcanoes could also unleash toxic and heat-trapping gases that—once the dust settled—enable runaway global warming.

Massive floods of lava erupting from the central Atlantic magmatic province about 200 million years ago may explain the Triassic-Jurassic extinction. About 20 percent of all marine families went extinct, as well as most mammal-like creatures, many large amphibians, and all non-dinosaur archosaurs. An asteroid impact is another possible cause of the extinction, though a telltale crater has yet to be found. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Curly Horned Wendiceratops

A newly-named dinosaur whose head frill was adorned with curly horns has joined the ranks of the legendary family that includes the Triceratops, paleontologists said on Wednesday. The lumbering creature is named Wendiceratops pinhornensis, after the fossil hunter Wendy Sloboda, who first discovered the trove of some 200 bones in southern Alberta, Canada, said the study in the journal PLOS ONE.

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The plant-eating dinosaur lived about 79 million years ago, weighing more than a ton and measuring about 20 feet long. In all, more than 200 bones were collected from the Oldman Formation of southern Alberta, near the border with the US state of Montana, in 2011.

Paleontologists said the bones belonged to three adults and one juvenile. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Modern Birds Descended From Dinosaurus

Modern birds descended from a group of two-legged dinosaurs known as theropods, whose members include the towering Tyrannosaurus rex and the smaller velociraptors. The theropods most closely related to avians generally weighed between 100 and 500 pounds — giants compared to most modern birds — and they had large snouts, big teeth, and not much between the ears. A velociraptor, for example, had a skull like a coyote's and a brain roughly the size of a pigeon's.

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In the 1990s, an influx of new dinosaur fossils from China revealed a feathery surprise. Though many of these fossils lacked wings, they had a panoply of plumage, from fuzzy bristles to fully articulated quills. The discovery of these new intermediary species, which filled in the spotty fossil record, triggered a change in how paleontologists conceived of the dinosaur-to-bird transition. Feathers, once thought unique to birds, must have evolved in dinosaurs long before birds developed.

In modern birds, two bones known as the premaxillary bones fuse to become the beak. That structure is quite distinct from that of dinosaurs, alligators, ancient birds and most other vertebrates, in which these two bones remain separate, shaping the snout. To figure out how that change might have arisen, the researchers mapped out the activity of two genes that are expressed in these bones in a spectrum of animals: alligators, chickens, mice, lizards, turtles and emus, a living species reminiscent of ancient birds..