Friday, July 29, 2011

Mesozoic Miscellany 41

This was one of those fun weeks in which a massive story about Mesozoic paleontology hits with a huge splash.

Xiaotingia, illustrated by Xing Lida and Liu Yi.

New research from Dr. Xu Xing, China's preeminent paleontologist, has described a new feathered theropod, Xiaotingia zhengi, as well as proposed a new cladogram which places the new animal, along with our old friend Archaeopteryx, closer to Deinonychus and Velociraptor than to the most primitive birds. Archie's iconic status - one of the "transitional fossils" that serves as a quick and easy example of the evolution of one line of theropods into birds - is what guaranteed that this would make a larger impact than if this was simply a new, beautiful fossil. Here's a roundup of places that the story has been covered, in the paleoblogosphere and elsewhere.

MSNBC's Cosmic Log
Nature News
The Panda's Thumb (mirrored from Pharyngula)
Greg Laden's Blog
Pick & Scalpel
Everything Dinosaur
Wired Science
Not Exactly Rocket Science
And, of course, Marc's look at sadly typical media fumbling of the story here at LITC.

This will likely cause a few clueless creationists to squawk about how science is wrong, and evolution is a hoax. We'll take it in stride. This is why I love science: the ability to reconsider accepted knowledge, to take new discoveries as they come and alter our model of the world based on the new information. It may be inconvenient for the general public to lose the easy shorthand of Archie as the first bird, but if this work by Dr. Xu is backed up, it will lead us down new, fruitful avenues of research at the base of the bird family tree.

Angie Rodrigues has created a lovely painting of Tuojiangosaurus. See it!

H2VP's Justin Hall shares his prototype of a Parasaurolophus tube endocast.

Journey to Africa's Tendaguru fossil site with Brian Switek at Dinosaur Tracking.

At Other Branch, Ian looks at Xuanhanosaurus - the first four-legged theropod?

Andrea has a bit of wrist-slapping for the Terra Nova producers over their Carnotaurus at Theropoda.

Check out the RMDRC's Nyctosaurus cast. Looks like a good addition to any home, really.

Chinleana is now on the Field of Science blog network.

In Houston? Want to meet Bob Bakker? Tonight is your night.

Finally, I must share with you what might be my favorite thing I've ever inspired with this blog. Not that I've inspired much... let's just say that I am so utterly stoked that this happened, I can hardly contain myself. Remember my wishlist of interspecies conflict videos? Well, Deviantartist Patriatyrannus, known in meatspace as Tuomas Koivurinne, took those five ideas and ran with them. This is the completely delightful result. Click to gigantosize.

From top to bottom, left to right: Carcharodontosaurus vs. Mononykus, Incisivosaurus vs. Giraffatitan, Gigantoraptor vs. Citipati, Pot-bellied T. rex vs. Jurassic Park T. rex, and Protoceratops vs. Leptoceratops.

Thank you, Toumas. This made my day when I saw it, and it makes each subsequent day that I look at it again.


  1. The interspecies conflict pictures are really great!
    Not only funny but beautifully drawn too!

  2. Slap Tuomas on the back for me, too - those are fantastic!
    Perfect materials to pitch the show, by the way. I'm crossing my fingers and pressing my thumbs!


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