Museum IDs New Species of Dinosaur

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by nakedwally, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. nakedwally

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    source abc news

    CLEVELAND Mar 4, 2007 (AP)— A new dinosaur species was a plant-eater with yard-long horns over its eyebrows, suggesting an evolutionary middle step between older dinosaurs with even larger horns and the small-horned creatures that followed, experts said.
    The dinosaur's horns, thick as a human arm, are like those of triceratops which came 10 million years later. However, this animal belonged to a subfamily that usually had bony nubbins a few inches long above their eyes.
    Michael Ryan, curator of vertebrate paleontology for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, published the discovery in this month's Journal of Paleontology. He dug up the fossil six years ago in southern Alberta, Canada, while a graduate student for the University of Calgary.
    "Unquestionably, it's an important find," said Peter Dodson, a University of Pennsylvania paleontologist. "It was sort of the grandfather or great-uncle of the really diverse horned dinosaurs that came after it."
    Ryan named the new dinosaur Albertaceratops nesmoi, after the region and Cecil Nesmo, a rancher near Manyberries, Alberta, who has helped fossil hunters.
    The creature was about 20 feet long and lived 78 million years ago.
    The oldest known horned dinosaur in North America is called Zuniceratops. It lived 12 million years before Ryan's find, and also had large horns.
    That makes the newly found creature an intermediate between older forms with large horns and later small-horned relatives, said State of Utah paleontologist Jim Kirkland, who with Douglas Wolfe identified Zuniceratops in New Mexico in 1998. He predicted then that something like Ryan's find would turn up.
    "Lo and behold, evolutionary theory actually works," he said.

    On the Net:
    Cleveland Museum: http://www.cmnh.org/
    Southern Alberta Dinosaur Research: http://www.dinoresearch.ca/
     
  2. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    I'm afraid you're doomed to disappointment. This board isn't particularly strong in vertebrate paleontology.
     
  3. SpoiledPrincess

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    That's fascinating :) However it really pissed me off when my favourite dinosaur diplodocus got turned into apatosaurus, I can't even say apatosaurus.
     
  4. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    That twinge in your intestines
    Gave me a bristling erection when I read it.
     
  5. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    Cum over here and let me give you a pata sorus.
     
  6. SpoiledPrincess

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    I will cum over there young man when I find my favourite black leather paddle :) You are going to be so sore.
     
  7. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Ouch! That was Brontosaurus which turned into Apatosaurus.

    The order Sauropoda was defined by Othniel Charles Marsh in two papers, Principle characters of American Jurassic dinosaurs (1878) and Additional characteristics of the Sauropods (1879). In those days Marsh and his bitter rival, Edward Drinker Cope, were excavating the huge bonefields recently discovered in the American west, and sending literal trainloads of fossils back east, describing and naming them as fast as they could write (before the other bastard could beat them to it).

    This left a mess which is still being sorted out. Since 1841, when Sir Richard Owen described Cetiosaurus from a few fragmentary vertebrae, some 150 sauropod species in 90 genera have been introduced. The vast majority of these were based on inadequate remains. Over a dozen are known only from a few teeth, half a dozen are based solely on single bones. Hardly more than a dozen are known from reasonably complete skeletal remains, including skulls and jaws. The first nearly complete sauropod skeleton wasn't found and described until 1925. So it's not surprising that there were a lot of spurious identifications lying around.

    Marsh identified six sauropods between 1877 and 1881, setting up three new genera for them - Apatosaurus ajax, Apatosaurus grandis, Atlantosaurus immanis, Apatosaurus laticollis, Brontosaurus excelsus, and Brontosaurus amplus. Later it was realized that A. immanis and A. laticollis were identical to the previously identified A. ajax, so existing specimens were reclassified. B. excelsus and B. amplus were later found to be identical to A. excelsus, so were also reclassified. A. grandis was later reclassified as a Camarasaurus, which must have really hurt Marsh (although he was dead by then), as the Camarasauridae had been set up by Cope (also dead by then).

    The Brontosaurus name appeared in 1879, beat out by two years by Apatasaurus. Hence Brontosaurus had to go. Which is not the approach used when poor old Trachodon was eliminated - but that's another story.
     
  8. SpoiledPrincess

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    duh that'll teach me to go mouthing off :)
     
  9. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Could be worse. I'd shortened my post, deleting the story - which I had typed out in excruciating detail - of that faked Camarasaurus-like head on the 1905 Brontosaurus exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, as it wasn't all that relevant to the Brontosaurus/Apatasaurus problem.
     
  10. kalipygian

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    The Bone Wars were pretty absurd, as was the more recent fight over Sue.

    People do fight over more than oil and religion.

    I think the binomial should be descriptive, rather than memorialising individuals, it aught to be exceptional, that practice goes back to when collectors and classifiers had to suck up to royal and aristocratic patrons for support for expeditions and publication.
     
  11. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    Whew. There for a minute I was afraid they'd exhumed my former mother-in-law.
     
  12. No_Strings

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    Allosaurus' and Velociraptors are the only dinosaurs worth bothering about :wink:
     
  13. transformer_99

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    I wish they would find more than one before they go off half cocked that there was a herd in an isolated area of Canada or that the species roamed the entire planet. What if this particular fossil was an inbred and abnormal exception to a species that already existed. What if, like dogs, they could breed from a variety of different breeds and come up with this fossil ?

    And damn it, Pluto is still the 9th planet !
     
  14. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Yes, the vertebrate fossil finds tend to be very slim, and far less is known about them than anyone will casually admit. It's not exactly secret, but that stuff about fragmentary specimens of sauropods I posted above took some fairly serious digging on my part to find. Most of the famous skeletons are almost entirely guesswork. "Plastersaurus", the monstrous Kronosaurus at the Peabody (Harvard), despite its fame, has not yet even been identified to specific level, and it may be a tough job, as it's not now generally remembered just how much of him is sheer guesswork (he was excavated in maybe the 1930s, and mounted for display in the late 1950). He may have as many as a dozen vertebrae and rib pairs too many (hence the nickname), and the skull shape doesn't seem to accord very well with other specimens of the genus Kronosaurus or the related genus Liopleurodon. That's what happens when your mortal remains are excavated by dynamite. (Ah, those were the days.)

    Unfortunately it seems that he who talks the mostest is the most likely to get next year's funding, so we get these long stories about how every new fossil is the most significant for blah blah blah. That is also doubtless the justification for the current trend of nicknames for fossils. "Lucy" was front-page stuff for a while. If the bone fragments were simply reported as Australopithecus afarensis, they wouldn't have made it to the bottom of page 16.
     
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