Skippy the Dinosaur
In 1980, Scipionyx was Italy's first dinosaur fossil, and it's a doozy, an exquisitely preserved specimen that deserves the label "National Treasure." In preparing an exhaustive new monograph, paleontologists Cristiano Dal Sasso and Simone Maganuco have...
...performed a real palaeo-autopsy on the soft tissues of the specimen, that revealed anatomical details never seen before in a dinosaur. Through ultraviolet-induced fluorescence photography, computed tomography and scanning electron microscopy coupled with element microanalysis, Dal Sasso & Maganuco demonstrated that the soft tissues of Scipionyx are exceptionally preserved even at cellular and subcellular levels - to a point that, after 110 million years, an unrivalled variety of biological structures can be seen in a single fossil.Read more from the Museum of Natural History in Milano. Naturally, Italian Andrea Cau has been writing much about it at Theropoda.
Analyzing the teeth of three different sauropod genera, John Eiler of Caltech has provided evidence of endothermy in sauropods. Of course, mammal-like body temperature in a sauropod may be due to gigantothermy, so it will be lovely to see the method applied to other critters. Read more from Nobu Tamura at Paleoexhibit, ScienceNOW, Livescience, and even USA Today.
Around the Dinoblogosphere
Last week, I was remiss in not including a fine post from David Tana at Superoceras, discussing the recent auctioning off of the "fighting pair," an Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. He asks some pointed questions about the whole affair and about how the auction was marketed to the public.
Anthony Maltese describes the rescue of a nearly poached specimen of the predatory Cretaceous fish Protosphyraena perniciosa, found partially excavated in the Niobrara chalk of Kansas.
Those pesky iguanodonts pop up at Paleo Illustrata, and Stu Pond shares an illustration of Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis.
The genus Darwinopterus has a sensation among pterosaur fans. At Archosaur Musings, Dave Hone shares a photo of a D. robustodens fossil and talks about the mad rush of similar material coming out of China. Taylor also discusses the new pterosaur at Life as we Know it.
Albertonykus continues to provide illuminating posts about the feathers of maniraptors, and how many of our visions of them might fall short of reality by a long shot. A diagram of an owl in the latest part of the series is especially illustrative of just how dramatically feathers can affect the shape of an animal.
At Faster Times, Asher Elbein recalls the 90's video game Primal Rage. "Its characters bit, smacked, clawed, and tore bloody chucks from each other, in addition to a variety of special attacks that ranged from the predictable (super powered bite) to the gag inducing (acidic golden showers.) There was something of an uproar when parents discovered that not only were the dinosaur attacks exceedingly visceral, but other unpleasant bodily fluids were involved." Jeez, I need to play this one again!
Susan of Crurotarsi chronicles her trip to Arizona to do research at Petrified Forest, providing photos of the lucky Postosuchus who gets to make the road trip with her.
Andy Farke writes about the quest to work out the disparity of ornithischian dinosaurs with the Open Dinosaur Project. Disparity "is the measure of how different species are from each other in terms of shape, size, or other discrete features (not the same as diversity, which just counts how many different species exist," he explains, and points us to a piece by Randall Irmis for a bit more education.
Tinamous may be an indicator of how oviraptorids and troodontids brooded, speculates Jason Brougham at his blog.
Stuff I shared on Twitter in the last week or so.
- Paleontology history at Chinleana: retracing steps of 1921 excavation of the Phytosaur "Machaeroprosopus" adamanensis
- Dinosaur Zookeeper, a game from Adult Swim
- Tree of Life review: "Daddy didn't love me. Hey look, a dinosaur!"
- A model of Ankylosaurus, reviewed by @mhorridus at the Dinosaur Toy Blog
- I love Newsradio, but this excessively 'shopped promo image is terrifying.
- Jaime Headden on the mysterious "Ronaldoraptor"
Paleoart of the Week
One of the questions in the Dino Gangs live chat I took part in this week was whether Mesozoic dinosaurs may have used tools, as their cousins the crows and parrots can today. Who knows? But here's a bit of playful speculation along those lines from Deviantartist Psithyrus.
Illustration by Psithyrus at DeviantArt.
Outrageously Off-Topic Indulgence