Ben Creisler | 25 Mar 19:36 2015

Dinosaur sites in Spain + archosaur digit hyperextension + more new papers

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A number of recent papers:

Laura Domingo, Fernando Barroso-Barcenilla & Oscar Cambra-Moo (2015)
Seasonality and Paleoecology of the Late Cretaceous Multi-Taxa
Vertebrate Assemblage of “Lo Hueco” (Central Eastern Spain).
PLoS ONE 10(3): e0119968
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119968

Isotopic studies of multi-taxa terrestrial vertebrate assemblages
allow determination of paleoclimatic and paleoecological aspects on
account of the different information supplied by each taxon. The late
Campanian-early Maastrichtian “Lo Hueco” Fossil-Lagerstätte (central
eastern Spain), located at a subtropical paleolatitude of ~31°N,
constitutes an ideal setting to carry out this task due to its
abundant and diverse vertebrate assemblage. Local δ18OPO4 values
estimated from δ18OPO4 values of theropods, sauropods, crocodyliforms,
and turtles are close to δ18OH2O values observed at modern subtropical
latitudes. Theropod δ18OH2O values are lower than those shown by
crocodyliforms and turtles, indicating that terrestrial endothermic
taxa record δ18OH2O values throughout the year, whereas semiaquatic
ectothermic taxa δ18OH2O values represent local meteoric waters over a
shorter time period when conditions are favorable for bioapatite
synthesis (warm season). Temperatures calculated by combining
theropod, crocodyliform, and turtle δ18OH2O values and gar δ18OPO4
have enabled us to estimate seasonal variability as the difference
between mean annual temperature (MAT, yielded by theropods) and
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 24 Mar 19:38 2015

Squamate study places mosasaurs near to snakes, not varanids

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

New in PLoS ONE:

Tod W. Reeder, Ted M. Townsend, Daniel G. Mulcahy, Brice P. Noonan,
Perry L. Wood Jr., Jack W. Sites Jr. & John J. Wiens (2015)
Integrated Analyses Resolve Conflicts over Squamate Reptile Phylogeny
and Reveal Unexpected Placements for Fossil Taxa.
PLoS ONE 10(3): e0118199

Squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes) are a pivotal group whose
relationships have become increasingly controversial. Squamates
include >9000 species, making them the second largest group of
terrestrial vertebrates. They are important medicinally and as model
systems for ecological and evolutionary research. However, studies of
squamate biology are hindered by uncertainty over their relationships,
and some consider squamate phylogeny unresolved, given recent
conflicts between molecular and morphological results. To resolve
these conflicts, we expand existing morphological and molecular
datasets for squamates (691 morphological characters and 46 genes, for
161 living and 49 fossil taxa, including a new set of 81 morphological
characters and adding two genes from published studies) and perform
integrated analyses. Our results resolve higher-level relationships as
indicated by molecular analyses, and reveal hidden morphological
support for the molecular hypothesis (but not vice-versa).
Furthermore, we find that integrating molecular, morphological, and
paleontological data leads to surprising placements for two major
(Continue reading)

Michael Barton | 24 Mar 16:58 2015

Indiegogo campaign for paleoart alphabet book for kids

I thought readers of this list would be interested in this Indiegogo
fundraising campaign to publish an awesome paleoart alphabet book for

It's created by David Orr, who you might know as the founder of the
paleo blog "Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs":

If you're able to pitch in, it's a great cause!


Michael D. Barton
Portland, OR

Ben Creisler | 24 Mar 06:03 2015

Low tide uncovers dinosaur tracks in France + Hupehsuchians + more

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A number of recent news and blog items:

Dinosaur tracks exposed by exceptional low tide in Vendee region of
France. The site was discovered 55 years ago and represents more an
estimated 15 species (in French):

Video (in French):




Evolution Icon: Zallinger's March of Progress


More on new Metoposaurus, with photo of model
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 24 Mar 04:30 2015

Yuanjiawaornis, new large enantiornithine bird from Lower Cretaceous of Liaoning, China

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper:

Dongyu Hu, Ying Liu, Jinhua Li, Xing Xu &  Lianhai Hou (2015)
Yuanjiawaornis viriosus, gen. et sp. nov., a large enantiornithine
bird from the Lower Cretaceous of western Liaoning, China.
Cretaceous Research 55: 210-219

A new large-bodied enantiornithine taxon is erected from the Early
Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation of western Liaoning, China.
This bird provides new morphological information about Enantiornithes.
A comparative analysis of sacral centra of basal birds suggests that
enantiornithines might have a uniquely shaped synsacrum.

Here we describe a new enantiornithine bird, Yuanjiawaornis viriosus
gen. et sp. nov., based on a nearly complete, mostly articulated
postcranial skeleton from the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation
(120 Ma) of western Liaoning Province, northeastern China. It is
similar in size to large bohaiornithids among the known Early
Cretaceous enantiornithines; only Pengornis houi is larger. The
semilunate carpal is incompletely fused to the metacarpals, suggesting
that the holotype specimen was not fully mature at the time of death.
The new specimen is distinguishable from other known enantiornithines
by a unique combination of features including large body size,
forelimb and hind limb subequal in length, a longitudinally grooved
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 23 Mar 21:32 2015

New Metoposaurus species (temnospondyl amphibian) from Late Triassic of Portugal

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new online paper:

Stephen L. Brusatte, Richard J. Butler, Octávio Mateus & J. Sébastien
Steyer (2015)
A new species of Metoposaurus from the Late Triassic of Portugal and
comments on the systematics and biogeography of metoposaurid
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (advance online publication)

Metoposaurids are a group of temnospondyl amphibians that filled
crocodile-like predatory niches in fluvial and lacustrine environments
during the Late Triassic. Metoposaurids are common in the Upper
Triassic sediments of North Africa, Europe, India, and North America,
but many questions about their systematics and phylogeny remain
unresolved. We here erect Metoposaurus algarvensis, sp. nov., the
first Metoposaurus species from the Iberian Peninsula, based on
several new specimens from a Late Triassic bonebed in Algarve,
southern Portugal. We describe the cranial and pectoral anatomy of M.
algarvensis and compare it with other metoposaurids (particularly
other specimens of Metoposaurus from Germany and Poland). We provide a
revised diagnosis and species-level taxonomy for the genus
Metoposaurus, which is currently represented with certainty by three
European species (M. diagnosticus, M. krasiejowensis, M. algarvensis).
We also identify cranial characters that differentiate these three
species, and may have phylogenetic significance. These include
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 23 Mar 16:53 2015

Nidophis (madtsoiid snake) found with dinosaur eggs in Romania

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper:

Márton Venczel, Ştefan Vasile & Zoltán Csiki-Sava (2015)
A Late Cretaceous madtsoiid snake from Romania associated with a
megaloolithid egg nest – Paleoecological inferences.
Cretaceous Research 55: 152-163


Taphonomy of the Nidophis insularis type series shows it represents
one individual.
Average size of Nidophis insularis was about 1 m in length.
Age estimation of the type individual was possible using apophyseal
growth rings.
Although found in a dinosaur nest, Nidophis was clearly not a dinosaur
nest raider.
Bite mark on one vertebra suggests predation or scavenging on Nidophis.

Here we report on the taphonomy and paleoecological implications of
the first record of a small madtsoiid snake (Nidophis insularis)
closely associated with a megaloolithid dinosaur egg nest. Taphonomic
and sedimentologic evidence suggest that the snake was buried
autochthonously within or nearby the egg nest, with at least partially
articulated skeleton. Count of growth rings on the vertebral
zygapophyses indicates that the holotype of Nidophis belonged to an
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 23 Mar 16:27 2015

Missing data estimation in tyrannosaurid dinosaurs

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper:

Gavin J. Bradley, Michael E. Burns & Philip J. Currie (2015)
Missing data estimation in tyrannosaurid dinosaurs: Can diameter take
the place of circumference?
Cretaceous Research 55: 200-209

Missing data, due to taphonomic deformation, inaccessibility of
specimens, or human error in collecting, cataloguing and measuring
features, is a formidable problem in current palaeontological studies.
Missing values within a data set can undermine confidence in analyses,
skew results in promoting analyses of small portions of a population,
not necessarily representative of the entire data set, and drastically
decrease sample sizes. Missing data estimation methods, however, may
reduce the effects of these missing values and potentially boost
sample sizes for palaeontological studies. Here, six missing data
estimation models for the prediction of femoral circumferences in
tyrannosaurids were statistically tested and their predictive success
measured against true circumferences, and other models. The
statistical analyses suggest that estimation models based on
anteroposterior diameter values of tyrannosaurid femora were poor
predictors of circumference, whereas those based on mediolateral
diameters were much more successful. Three out of the six models, were
presented as viable alternatives to missing measured circumferences
and may be used to boost tyrannosaurid samples with significant levels
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 23 Mar 16:25 2015

Cretornis Fric,1881, azhdarchid pterosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Czech Republic

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A new paper:

Alexander Averianov &  Boris Ekrt (2015)
Cretornis hlavaci Fric, 1881 from the Upper Cretaceous of Czech
Republic (Pterosauria, Azhdarchoidea).
Cretaceous Research 55: 164-175

Cretornis hlavaci Fric, 1881 from the Upper Cretaceous (Turonian) of
Czech Republic is a valid taxon referred to Azhdarchoidea based on
having a saddle-shaped humeral head, pneumatic foramen on proximal
humerus present on anterior side and absent on posterior side,
elongate deltopectoral crest with subparallel proximal and distal
margins, pneumatic foramen absent on distal side of humerus,
metacarpals I–III not articulated with carpus and displaced on
anterodorsal side of wing metacarpal, and wing metacarpal much longer
than humerus. Absence of a pneumatic foramen on posterior side of
proximal humerus suggests attribution of Cretornis hlavaci to
Neoazhdarchia. It has a unique construction of the distal ulna with a
dorsal articulation surface placed distinctly proximal to the
tuberculum shared only with the non-azhdarchid azhdarchoid
Montanazhdarcho minor from the Campanian of North America. Cretornis
hlavaci differs from the latter taxon by the structure of its humerus
and distinctly longer wing metacarpal. It is more derived than
“Tapejaridae” but shares with Azhdarchidae the deltopectoral crest of
the humerus displaced distally from humeral head. Cretornis cannot be
(Continue reading)

soledad.esteban | 23 Mar 09:23 2015

Course R Without Fear: Applied R, September 21-25, Barcelona, Spain

Dear colleagues,
Registration is open for the workshop "R Without Fear: Applied R for Biologists", September 21-25, 2015.
Instructor: Dr. Jordi Moya-Laraño (Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas - CSIC, Spain).

PLACE:  Facilities of the Centre de Restauració i Interpretació Paleontologica, Els Hostalets de
Pierola,  Barcelona (Spain). 

Introduction to the R working environment.
- Variable types in R.
- Statistical populations and samples through working examples.
- Measurements of central tendency and variability.
- Precision, accuracy and bias.
- Hypothesis testing: Falsability, Type-I and II errors and statistical power.
- Correlation and simple regression.
- P-value vs. effect magnitude.
- Linear Models: Residuals, assumptions and interpretation.
- Explained vs. unexplained variance of a model (the coefficient of determination).
- Building functions in R.
- Introduction to graphics in R.
- The concept of partial effect: Partial regression and correlation.
- General Linear Models (GLM).
- Curve fitting in linear models and General Additive Models (GAMs).
- The problem of spatial autocorrelation in ecology and evolution.
- Multicolinearity: When is there a problem?
- Additive vs. multiplicative effects: Checking and plotting interactions.
- Introduction to General and Generalized Linear Mixed Models (GLMM).
(Continue reading)

Ben Creisler | 23 Mar 06:36 2015

Therizinosaurus illustration + Chinese theropod teeth + North Carolina paleontologists + more

Ben Creisler
bcreisler <at>

A number of recent news and blog items:

Therizinosaurus by Mark Witton


Large Theropod Teeth Found From the Upper Cretaceous of Jiangxi, Southern China


Andrew Heckert on fossil hunting in North Carolina


Vince Schneider  interview


(Continue reading)