What Else Happened? II – More Tails of Pterosaurs

Continuing a story of the low-key, not-Spinosaurus paleontological papers recently published, discussing our bizarre Mesozoic macrofauna, this installment covers a few pterosaur tidbits.

The first of these is an amazing assemblage of scattered bones of numerous different-sized individuals that are all almost certainly a single species of pterosaur. What is remarkable about this assemblage is that there are several extremely well-preserved remains of individuals, including skulls, with further support for sexual-dimorphism of the cranial crest in some pterosaurs. The second of these is a paper on the tail of an heretofore otherwise un-tailed group of pterosaurs, Anurognathidae, and the implications of this tail relating to their phylogenetics.

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Toothed Birds, A Preview

A piece I’ve been mulling around for about a year, but my laziness interfered. No more.

Toothed Birds silhouettes

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What Else Happened? I – The Dawn Dryosaur

Ignoring Spinosaurus for now, paleontology came up with a few other announcements in the last few weeks. Some pterosaurs (gotta love them) but also non-theropod dinosaurs! They do exist, they are interesting, but they receive much less press. Over the next few days I will present small posts on each of these and get away from what does tend to be an overly theropod-driven blog and the hype around #SpinoGate. Continue reading

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The Outlaw Spino Saurus

There’s been a lot of news now about Thursday’s (Sep. 11, 2014) publication on a new specimen attributed to Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. A lot of hype rose up months back about the release of  a photo of a mount of some unusual bones, and what that entailed. As with every fossil discovery, caution had to be carefully tended in regards this mount because we had no idea what it was based on. This mystery was spoiled, and it seems the culprit was wilier than we all thought.

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Really, again? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!

I honestly don’t think I can write any more on how bad Alan Feduccia’s “science” is on the subject of bird origins than I already have, here. Briefly, Dr. Alan Feduccia has teamed up with earstwhile companion in quackery Stephen Czerkas to pen a missive on Scansoriopteryx heilmanni (named by the former in 2002) to “demonstrate” how it and all other maniraptoran theropods (oviraptorosaurs, troodontids, dromaeosaurids, and other scansoriopterygids) are not, and cannot be, theropods or, even, dinosaurs, but birds. That is, birds are not dinosaurs, and neither are maniraptorans.

(An update to this post is emmended below.) Continue reading

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Piscivory – Building the Groundwork

I tend to be very generous when it comes to labeling diets. Animals are not perfect boxes to never spill out of their strict defintions, nor are their diets, produced as they are from a variety of different sources. You’ll notice that I’ve been talking about what exactly defines some particular diets, and what they involve. These extend from my interests in determine if, in fact, it is possible to determine if an animal is an ovophage/ovivore/egg-eater. What mechanisms exactly of the jaw, animal, environment go into defining a given diet? Are they all the same for different animals? Can we use one set of parameters to then determine the result for any given animal, or are some diets just that much more special than others?

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A Short Piece on Piscivores – Not All The Same

So you think you know a piscivore if you saw one? Not so fast. Take a look:

An array of extinct and extant specialist on fish-eating.

An array of extinct and extant specialist on fish-eating.

Piscivores come in a large array of sizes and morphologies. Not all have teeth. Some are slender-snouted, others broad. What mostly defines a piscivore is that it consumes fish, but not all do it the same way, and for some, it’s purely behavioral, sometimes seasonal, and sometimes based on relation to plentiful food.

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