Monday, January 19, 2015

Prehistoric Prognostications 2014: The Results

At the end of 2013, we called for predictions for the palaeontological discoveries of 2014, and due to my pathetic love affair with alliteration, we called the post Prehistoric Prognostications. After the LITC crew made their guesses, we compiled those from commenters. Check those posts out for the full field of predictions. This post is all about sharing those that came the closest. Please let me know if you notice any I missed - I tried my best to be complete, but the fact is that in this palaeontological golden age we're living in, there's just a heck of a lot that happens that doesn't get much press.

First up, among LITC contributors, Asher's remark that "More Deinocheirus material would be nice" was indeed fulfilled. We got it, and it was great. He got more carcharodontosaur material as well, with the publication of Datanglong guanxiensis.

Thomas Diehl came pretty darn close to the Spinosaurus publication, predicting a "marine spinosaurid. Though given that I think the claws were for locomotion, pulling the animal forward in the mud, this might be somewhat unlikely if I'm right." It may not have been marine, but Thomas's guess is close enough to the assertions of Ibrahim et al's contentious blockbuster publication that it warrants notice.

Elijah Shandseight's desire for "a big psittacosaurid" was fulfilled, though the Siberian material has not been published yet. A bit muddier is his hope for new stegosaurids: Amargastegos, Eoplophysis, Ferganastegos, Natronasaurus, and Weurhosaurus mongoliensis were all erected by Roman Ulansky [PDF link] but these seem a little shady.

Giraffatitan and Matthew Haynes also mentioned Spinosaurus, hoping for a relatively complete specimen, but since the new research was published on various parts of different individuals, it sadly doesn't count. Also close was Giraffatitan's hope for "Quills/Protofeathers on an ornithopod or thyreophoran," which is close to the discovery of Kulindadromeus, though the animal is a basal neornithischian, not an ornithopod; and Leinkupal isn't a "diplodocid in Mid-Late Cretaceous rocks" but as it hails from the early Cretaceous it certainly warrants a mention as the latest surviving specimen of the family.

Luis Miguez tossed a softball with a hope for "more Chinese diminutive birdie-things" and lo, there was the microraptorine Changyuraptor; the enantornithines Fortunguavis, Grabauornis, Longusunguis, and Eopengornis; the ornithuromorphs Gansus zheni and Iteravis huchzermeyeri, and more... there were a bunch.

20firebird hoped for "More of little-known dinosaurs like Utahraptor and Amphicoelias fragillimus (for A. fragillimus it's more proof it existed in the first place)", and while it hasn't been published yet, Jim Kirkland's team finally pulled a huge slab of Utahraptors from a hillside in Utah at the end of the year.

Matthew Inabinett predicted "fragmentary remains of a new giant (30+ m) sauropod" and Dreadnoughtus came super-close, with an estimated length of 26m and enough fossil remains to qualify as significantly more than "fragmentary." Still, I'll count it! [Edit: Actually, there was that Argentinosaurus femur, which makes this a bullseye, thanks to Matthew Haynes for catching it]. Matthew's predicton of "more bizarre palaeofauna from Madagascar" was also fulfilled, with the happy publication of a nice gondwanatherian skull, Vintana sertichi. Like Asher, his desire for another carcharodontosaur was fulfilled by D. guanxiensis.

Not a bad crop of discoveries for 2014! I considered repeating this for this year, but it seems a bit redundant, since we may as well just copy and paste last year's failed predictions and repeat them. Maybe in the future we'll do it again!


  1. I didn't realize I was so prescient!

  2. I think that 10 foot femur from Argentina would count for Matthew Inabinett's prediction....

    1. Oh yeah, forgot about that one. I'll add it.

  3. Here are some things I'd like to see discovered in dinosaur palaeontology in the near future:

    1)More substantive direct fossil evidence of Middle Jurassic North American dinosaurs.

    2)A North American spinosaurid.

    3)A North American abelisaurid.

    4)A North American allosaurid from the Early Cretaceous, especially one from the Berriasian or Valanginian age. (Note: Acrocanthosaurus is a carcharodontosaurid, not an allosaurid.)

    5)More big carnivorous dinosaurs from South America's Early Cretaceous. In particular, I'd like to see discovered some remains of carnosaurs that lived in South America at the same time as Amargasaurus and Leinkupal.

    6)More Cretaceous diplodocids.

    7)More sauropods from the El Rhaz Formation of West Africa's Early Cretaceous.

    8)Direct fossil evidence of large iguanodonts from the Mid Cretaceous of North Africa and southern South America.

    9)More direct fossil evidence of African and South American ankylosaurs.

    10)More direct fossil evidence of mainland African Late Cretaceous dinosaurs.


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