Friday, January 28, 2011

Mesozoic Miscellany #16

It's Friday, so let's hitch up our trousers and set to the serious business of surveying what's new in Mesozoic paleontology for the last week.

The Big Stories

Putting a finger on Linhenykus. There's a new alvarezsaur on the block, in all of its single-fingered glory. More at Dinosaur Tracking, Everything Dinosaur, Palaeoblog, and as Dave Hone is one of the authors of the description, Archosaur Musings (once, twice, and thrice). I also wrote about the little bugger (pun, as always, intended) and shared a video interview with Hone.

The monstrous murderer arrives. The newest member of the tyrannosaurid clan is Teratophoneus. The Campanian period of Cretaceous Utah is being better and better fleshed out. More at Pterosauria, Saurian, and Dinosaur Tracking, natch.

How did Tyrannosaurus get its supper? A new study looks at the paleoenvironment of Tyrannosaurus rex and attempts to estimate how much carrion would have been available, in an attempt to test the old "T. rex was an obligate scavenger idea." It's received some whithering commentary on the Dinosaur Mailing List, especially the way it plays fast and loose with biostratigraphy (basically, what dinosaurs lived when) and I expect to see some formally published counter-argument sometime soon. More at Palaeoblog and Dinosaur Tracking.

Of course I'm prosauropod; I'm certainly not antisauropod. At Jurassic Journeys, Matt Bonnan writes about the new prosauropod Leonerasaurus, taking the opportunity to give a good crash course in just how paleontologists distinguish this group from the true sauropods. He writes, "as more data has surfaced it is appearing less and less likely that we can place all things prosauropod into the same bucket." Paleontology. It's never that simple. Read more in the description, available at PLoS.

Variation in Allosaurus. Quietly, paleontologist Ken Carpenter published a look at variation among Allosaurus individuals in Paleontological Research.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Mark Witton has returned from his viewing of the new David Attenborough pterosaur doc, Flying Monsters 3D, and... he's not impressed. At, he writes, "All told, it seems like this was a story told on the fly with little continuity checking between scenes. Indeed, we left the theatre wondering if anyone with access to the script, let alone someone with a background in pterosaur research, had read the narrative from beginning to end..."

At Don't Mess With Dinosaurs, Brian Engh shared his struggles coming to grips with that big theropod everyone has heard of and that's why it appears in headlines to stories about totally different dinosaurs.

Though he recently began writing at Lab Spaces, Jeff Martz is still going with Paleo Errata. This week he shared his insights about how "big picture" studies and smaller scale research sometimes derided as "provincial" have a symbiotic relationship, and this perspective is often lost.

Andy Farke continues to add insight into last week's Nedoceratops paper at The Open Source Paleontologist. He offers a nice look at behind-the-scenes paleontology, writing about his contact with Jack Horner and John Scannella, whose paper he was countering. "My dialog with John (and Jack) has been engaging, challenging, and stimulating in a unique way. I've learned more about Triceratops in the past six months than I had in the past six years..." Sniping from afar gets old, and this was a nice reminder that there's room for cordiality in paleontology, as well. More here and a bit more here.

Twit Picks

Stuff I've linked to at Twitter over the last week or so.

When I posted this to Twitter this week, it quickly became my most retweeted link of all-time. We're not talking Phil Plait levels, but I was surprised by it nonetheless. There must be something deeply resonant about a Velociraptor who has, in the words of my beloved Grandma Dot, "put her face on."

Thanks go to I Effing Love Dinosaurs for sharing it.

Paleoart of the Week

It's only appropriate to feature an alvarezsaur this week, so I'll pick one of my favorites, Peter Schouten's Mononykus from Feathered Dinosaurs. If you've got some cash socked away, the original can be yours.

Outrageously Off-Topic Indulgence

Sure, it's gone around the internet before. But damn it, I love me some King Curtis.

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