Ben Creisler | 5 Jul 17:49 2015

Cratoavis, new enantiornithine bird from the Early Cretaceous of Brazil (free pdf)

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper in open access:

Ismar Carvalho, Fernando E. Novas, Federico L. Agnolín, Marcelo P.
Isasi, Francisco I. Freitas and José A. Andrade (2015).
A new genus and species of enantiornithine bird from the Early
Cretaceous of Brazil.(FAST TRACK)
Brazilian Journal of Geology 45 (2): 161–171


The fossil record of birds in Gondwana is almost restricted to the
Late Cretaceous. Herein we describe a new fossil from the Araripe
Basin, Cratoavis cearensis nov. gen et sp., composed of an articulated
skeleton with feathers attached to the wings and surrounding the body.
The present discovery considerably extends the temporal record of the
Enantiornithes birds at South America to the Early Cretaceous. For the
first time, an almost complete and articulated skeleton of an Early
Cretaceous bird from South America is documented.

NOTE: This is the fossil specimen that was first announced back in June:

Ismar de Souza Carvalho, Fernando E. Novas, Federico L. Agnolín,
Marcelo P. Isasi, Francisco I. Freitas & José A. Andrade (2015)
A Mesozoic bird from Gondwana preserving feathers.
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 4 Jul 23:03 2015

New Triassic pterosaurs: Arcticodactylus, Austriadraco, Bergamodactylus + pterosaur reproduction (free pdfs)

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

Long before there were fireworks in the sky, there were pterosaurs...
Two new papers in open access:

Kellner, Alexander W.A. (2015)
Comments on Triassic pterosaurs with discussion about ontogeny and
description of new taxa.
Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências  87(2): 669-689

Eudimorphodon ranzii was the first Triassic pterosaur to be described
and several specimens have been referred to this taxon mainly based on
the presence of multicuspid teeth. Since this dental feature has been
observed in several other pterosaurs, the revision of some specimens
assigned to Eudimorphodon shows that they represent new taxa as
follows: Arcticodactylus cromptonellus (comb. nov.), Austriadraco
dallavecchiai (gen. et sp. nov.) and Bergamodactylus wildi (gen. et
sp. nov.). A preliminary analysis of pterosaur ontogeny resulted in
the recognition of six distinct ontogenetic stages (OS1-6). According
to this classification, the holotype of Arcticodactylus cromptonellus
has reached OS2, and although being ontogenetically much younger than
others, the conspicuous anatomical differences lead to its exclusion
from Eudimorphodon. The holotypes of Austriadraco dallavecchiai,
Bergamodactylus wildi and Carniadactylus rosenfeldi have reached at
least OS5, which demonstrates that the anatomical differences among
them cannot be explained by ontogeny. Moreover, Bergamodactylus wildi
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 3 Jul 17:11 2015

Iteravis (ornithuromorph bird) osteohistology (free pdf)

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper:

Jingmai K. O'Connor, Min Wang, Shuang Zhou, and Zhonghe Zhou (2015)
Osteohistology of the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation ornithuromorph
(Aves) Iteravis huchzermeyeri.
Palaeontologia Electronica 18.2.35A: 1-11

We describe for the first time the histology of an ornithuromorph bird
from the Lower Cretaceous Jehol Group, revealing the bone structure of
one of the oldest members of this derived clade. The newly discovered
Sihedang locality of the Yixian Formation in northeastern China
preserves the oldest ornithuromorph dominated avifauna, with all
collected birds referable to a single taxon, Iteravis huchzermeyeri.
These specimens are all preserved in a relatively greater degree of
three-dimensionality compared to Jehol specimens from other
localities. We sampled a specimen of Iteravis in order to test the
hypothesis that this aggregation of birds may represent a breeding
colony. Although medullary bone is known to facilitate
three-dimensional preservation, this bone tissue was not present in
the histological samples. The specimen is nearly adult with regards to
skeletal fusion, and histology indicates medullary expansion had
occurred and an inner circumferential layer had already formed.
However, lines of arrested growth are absent. Overall the bone
histology is comparable to Ichthyornis; this is consistent with the
derived phylogenetic placement inferred for this new taxon relative to
previously sampled basal ornithuromorphs (Patagopteryx, Hollanda),
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 3 Jul 05:45 2015

Small-sized sauropod trackways from China

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper:

Lida Xing, Martin G. Lockley, Matthew F. Bonnan, Daniel Marty, Hendrik
Klein, Yongqing Liu, Jianping Zhang, Hongwei Kuang, Michael E. Burns &
Nan Li (2015)
Late Jurassic–Early Cretaceous trackways of small-sized sauropods from
China: New discoveries, ichnotaxonomy and sauropod manus morphology.
Cretaceous Research 56: 470-481

The growing database on sauropod tracksites, particularly from China,
raises questions about hypotheses that wide-gauge sauropod trackways
with low heteropody (Brontopodus) dominate the global sauropod track
record in the Cretaceous. It also raises questions about the
definition of narrow-, medium- and wide-gauge trackways and the
quality of preservation needed to use such labels reliably. A number
of Lower Cretaceous sauropod tracksites from China have yielded
trackways of small-sized sauropods with pronounced heteropody that
have been named Parabrontopodus. These co-occur with medium-sized to
large Brontopodus trackways giving rise to at least two possible
interpretations regarding sauropod trackmakers at these sites: 1)
trackways were left by two different, smaller narrow gauge and larger
wide gauge, taxonomic groups, 2) trackmakers belong to the same
taxonomic group and were narrow gauge when smaller and wide gauge when
larger, therefore not maintaining a constant gauge during ontogeny as
inferred from some assemblages. The presence of different taxonomic
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 3 Jul 02:51 2015

Avian respiration + post-Cretaceous "age of fishes" + Deccan eruptions + more

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A number of recent non-dino papers that may be of interest:

John N. Maina (2015)
The design of the avian respiratory system: development, morphology
and function.
Journal of Ornithology (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.1007/s10336-015-1263-9

The avian respiratory apparatus is separated into a gas exchanger (the
lung) and ventilators (the air sacs). Synchronized bellows-like
movements of the cranial and caudal air sacs ventilate the lung
continuously and unidirectionally in a caudocranial direction. With
the lungs practically rigid, after their insertion into the ribs and
the vertebrae and on attaching to the membranous horizontal septum,
surface tension is not a constraining factor to the intensity that the
gas exchange tissue can subdivide. Delicate, transparent, capacious
and avascular, the air sacs are not directly involved in gas exchange.
The airway system comprises of a three-tiered system of passageways,
namely a primary bronchus, the secondary bronchi and the tertiary
bronchi (parabronchi). The crosscurrent system is formed by the
perpendicular arrangement between the mass (convective) air flow in
the parabronchial lumen and the centripetal (inward) flow of the
venous blood in the exchange tissue; the countercurrent system
consists of the centrifugal (outward) flow of air from the
parabronchial lumen into the air capillaries and the centripetal
(inward) flow of blood in the blood capillaries, and; the
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 2 Jul 18:55 2015

Woolly mammoth complete genome sequenced, showing adaptations to Arctic (free pdf)

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper in open access:

Vincent J. Lynch, Oscar C. Bedoya-Reina, Aakrosh Ratan, Michael Sulak,
Daniela I. Drautz-Moses, George H. Perry, Webb Miller & Stephan C.
Schuster (2015)
Elephantid Genomes Reveal the Molecular Bases of Woolly Mammoth
Adaptations to the Arctic.
Cell Reports (advance online publication)


•Complete genomes of three Asian elephants and two woolly mammoths
were sequenced
•Mammoth-specific amino acid changes were found in 1,642 protein-coding genes
•Genes with mammoth-specific changes are associated with adaptation to
extreme cold
•An amino acid change in TRPV3 may have altered temperature sensation
in mammoths


Woolly mammoths and living elephants are characterized by major
phenotypic differences that have allowed them to live in very
different environments. To identify the genetic changes that underlie
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 2 Jul 17:06 2015

Huanansaurus, new oviraptorid from Late Cretaceous of China (free pdf)

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper in open access:

Huanansaurus ganzhouensis

Junchang Lü, Hanyong Pu, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Li Xu, Huali Chang,
Yuhua Shang, Di Liu, Yuong-Nam Lee, Martin Kundrát & Caizhi Shen
A New Oviraptorid Dinosaur (Dinosauria: Oviraptorosauria) from the
Late Cretaceous of Southern China and Its Paleobiogeographical
Scientific Reports 5, Article number: 11490

The Ganzhou area of Jiangxi Province, southern China is becoming one
of the most productive oviraptorosaurian localities in the world. A
new oviraptorid dinosaur was unearthed from the uppermost Upper
Cretaceous Nanxiong Formation of Ganzhou area. It is characterized by
an anterodorsally sloping occiput and quadrate (a feature shared with
Citipati), a circular supratemporal fenestra that is much smaller than
the lower temporal fenestra, and a dentary in which the dorsal margin
above the external mandibular fenestra is strongly concave ventrally.
The position of the anteroventral corner of the external naris in
relation to the posterodorsal corner of the antorbital fenestra
provides new insight into the craniofacial evolution of
oviraptorosaurid dinosaurs. A phylogenetic analysis recovers the new
taxon as closely related to the Mongolian Citipati. Six oviraptorid
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 1 Jul 19:35 2015

Theropod teeth from Middle Jurassic of Niger

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper:

Alejandro Serrano-Martínez, Daniel Vidal, Lara Scisio, Francisco
Ortega, and Fabien Knoll (2015)
Isolated theropod teeth from the Middle Jurassic of Niger and the
early dental evolution of Spinosauridae.
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica (in press)

Four isolated theropod teeth from the ?Bathonian “Argiles de
l’Irhazer” in Niger are described. The teeth were  found in
association with the holotype of the basal sauropod Spinophorosaurus
nigerensis. These specimens have been assigned to two different taxa
by independent analyses, such as direct comparison with teeth
previously described in the literature, discriminant and morphometric
analyses from metric characters, and cladistic and cluster analyses
from discrete characters. The results suggest that three teeth share
affinities with those of  Megalosauridae and Allosauridae, belonging
most likely to the former. The fourth tooth might be from a member of
the stem group Spinosauridae. If so, this would be the oldest
representative of this clade. This tooth shows a combination of
characters that are unusual in typical spinosaurid teeth (crown
moderately compressed labiolingually and curved distally with minute
denticles on the carina and a deeply veined enamel surface texture
without apicobasal ridges), which could shed light on the
morphological transition from the plesiomorphic ziphodont dental
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 1 Jul 19:30 2015

Constructing paleontological databases from research papers with data extraction (free pdf)

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new short article in Nature:

Ewen Callaway (2015)
Computers read the fossil record.
Palaeontologists hope that software can construct fossil databases
directly from research papers.
Nature: 523: 115–116 (02 July 2015)

Ben Creisler | 1 Jul 18:53 2015

Biggest Plateosaurus from Switzerland + dinosaur injuries + Sereno video

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A number of recent items:

Switzerland's biggest Plateosaurus fossil found at Frick

New fossil of Plateosaurus is about 8 meters long (biggest known from
Germany is about 9 meters long), found in the Triassic-age Frick
Quarry in Switzerland. The site appears to be a waterhole that trapped
the dinosaurs in mud.

This article has photos and a  chronology of fossil finds in the Frick
quarry (in German)

This article also mentions a new Triassic theropod from the quarry to
be described probably next year (in German)

In French


Worst injuries found in fossil dinosaurs
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 30 Jun 20:24 2015

How many types of dinosaurs existed?

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

Some additional news items:

We’re not even close to discovering all the dinosaur types that ever existed


Young girl finds dinosaur bone on Isle of Wight