Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mesozoic Miscellany 73

In the News

Meet Carnufex carolinensis, a new Triassic crocodylomorph that hit the web with a splash last week. Described by Lindsay Zanno and team in Scientific Reports, C. carolinensis was a massive, top-of-the-food-chain predator nicknamed "The Carolina Butcher." Co-author Susan Drymala discussed the find with BBC Radio's Up All Night. Brian Switek wrote about it over at Laelaps. Chris DiPiazza also whipped up a fantastic illustration of the new beastie. The Guardian published a report as well. Good to see this one getting so much press, and more on that a bit later in this post...

In ichno-news, Lisa Buckley has written a great post about a new set of lower Cretaceous trackways: ornithopod, non-avian theropod, and a newly described avian ichnotaxon, Paxavipes babcockensis. The bird tracks are notable, Buckley writes, for their unique orientation of toes, which reminds her of our extant Killdeer. Also check out the paper in Cretaceous Research.

Hațeg Island continues to produce oddballs: this time, evidence of a new short-necked azhdarchid. Mark Witton discussed the research at his blog, while teasing that a complimentary publication relevant to Cretaceous pterosaur evolution is on its way. Nab the PDF here.

A new Pachyrhinosaurus bonebed has been discovered in the Upper Cretaceous Wapiti Formation. As the abstract says though, there's more here than the title of the paper suggests. "About 88% of vertebrate remains are ceratopsian, and dromaeosaurid, hadrosaurid, troodontid, and tyrannosaurid remains have also been identified." It's also notable for being the farthest-inland bonebed yet discovered, at almost 300 miles (450 km) away from the coastline of the ancient sea.

In other bonebed news and other Triassic news, squeaking in just as I wrap this post up, a new Triassic species of Metoposaurus, M. algarvensis, has been described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology by Steve Brusatte and team. Coming from a new Portugese bonebed, this monstrous temnospondyl offers up new details of skull anatomy that will assist in further phylogenetic work on the metoposaurids. And the reconstructions released with the news are terrific, too. Read more at Live Science.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Back to Mark Witton, as he has been putting out a ridiculous amount of beautiful work lately. Witton has been revisiting some of his older pieces to incorporate changes in his thinking as well as his artistic technique. Check out his recent posts on his reclining Torvosaurus, pigeon-like Therizinosaurus, and a pair of controversial ceratopsians.

At his New Views on Old Bones blog, Paul Barrett republished his guest post at Dave Hone's Guardian blog on the process of the NHM acquiring their stunning new Stegosaurus, Sophie.

Speaking of Stegosaurus, Matt Martyniuk has written a wonderful, thorough post on the evolving look of the iconic taxon over the years.

Dean Lomax and Nobu Tamura collaborated on a recent book on British dinosaurs, and Darren Naish has an in-depth review for us.

Darren also reviewed Matt Martyniuk's gorgeous recent Beasts of Antiquity: Stem-birds in the Solnhofen Limestone.

At Extinct Monsters, Ben Miller writes about famous mounts that share an origin in the Carnegie quarry, though they may be stars of distant museums now.

Always a good time to talk about Mary Anning, and Fernanda Castano wrote a tribute to her at Notes from Gondwana.

Gareth Monger wrote a nice post about his process of rethinking his own Rhamphorynchus reconstruction, showing how he's improved on it since its conception and considering the possibility of showier color schemes than his earlier work.

Extant Theropod Appreciation

Some wonderful news from Colombia: the Blue-Bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon cyanolaemus), thought extinct, has been rediscovered. Its ultimate survival, however, is anything but guaranteed, as its habitat is threatened by livestock grazing and fires set for agricultural purposes.

Palaeoart Pick

It's not every day that an ancient crocodylomorph makes international news, but props to Zanno, Drymala, and team for achieving such coverage for The Carolina Butcher. One of the reasons for this must be the stunning restoration included in the press release. The work of one Jorge Gonzales, this fantastic piece is one more example of how important good palaeoart is. I've said it before, and I'll probably never stop: There is no palaeontology outreach without palaeoart.

Carnufex carolinensis, © Jorge Gonzalez, from the press materials distributed by NC State University.


  1. Good stuff (as usual). My only nit-pick is that you forgot 2 things: 1) Bakker's 70th Birthday on 3/24/15; 2) My 8th pair of reviews (which I picked to coincide w/said birthday: https://www.facebook.com/groups/545022922308855/permalink/617156398428840/ ).


  2. On the new Hateg azhdarchoid, it is just that: An azhdarcoid, not an azhdarchid. This means it may be anything from a slightly longer-necked Tupuxuara-grade azdharchoid, or intermediate (as argued) between the "thalassodromid" and azhdarchid conditions. Almost all azhdarchids known to date have elongated necks, and the transition to longer necks is insecure. Obviously, in a clade definition for Azhdarchidae which contains all pterosaurs closer to Azhdarcho than to, say Thalassodromeus or Tupuxuara, then yes: it is an azhdarchid. But the authors make clear the material is azhdarchoid as a general rule.

    1. "But the authors make clear the material is azhdarchoid as a general rule."

      Er... that's really not true. David is correct: we have consistently presented the fossil as a short-necked azhdarchid whenever the specimen is discussed - the paper, the blog post, other social media etc.


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