WFS News : Heterodontosaurus tucki Fossil found in SA finally gives up its secrets

Johannesburg – A remarkable dinosaur fossil discovery made by a South African palaeontologist in 2005 has finally revealed its secrets.The fossil, the most complete ever found of a species known as Heterodontosaurus tucki, was recently scanned at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.

Fossil skull of Heterodontosaurus tucki

Fossil skull of Heterodontosaurus tucki

The Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg took the complete skeleton of the small dinosaur to the ESRF. The dinosaur is believed to have roamed the earth 200 million years ago.Billy de Klerk found the fossil in a stream bed on a farm near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape.

The dinosaur was scanned between July 21 and July 26.

“Heterodontosaurus was a small, plant-eating animal with grinding teeth in the back of the jaw and big canines in the front,” the ESRF’s spokesperson Delphine Chenevier said in a statement.

De Klerk excavated the fossil from the stream bed and removed enough rock from the bones to identify the animal. The skeleton was, however, too small and delicate, and the rocks around it too hard to enable scientists to fully study the anatomy. The fossil was therefore sent to the ESRF, where it was X-rayed.

Artistic impression about Fossil skull of Heterodontosaurus tucki

Artistic impression about Fossil skull of Heterodontosaurus tucki

“That’s where the synchrotron comes in: the high-energy X-rays generated… will allow scientists to reconstruct the skeleton in incredible detail,” said Chenevier.

A team of scientists, led by Wits Prof Jonah Choiniere, with the ESRF’s palaeontologist Dr Vincent Fernandez, scanned the specimen with high-powered X-rays. They wanted to understand how Heterodontosaurus ate, moved, and breathed.

“We think the back teeth are used for grinding,” Chenevier said.

“Typically, in dinosaurs that have grinding dentition, they have a certain type of tooth replacement, that is: teeth grow inside the jaw and gradually replace those grinding teeth as they wear down. Lots of scientists have speculated about tooth replacement in Heterodontosaurus. Now this is the first time that we have a complete jaw and we can actually test some of those speculations.”

Choiniere said the scans revealed details of the bones forming the roof of the mouth.

“We can see the palate and the mid-line of the skull and those palate bones are really very fine, less than 1mm across. We’ve scanned this at such a good resolution that we can actually see the outlines of the palate bones very, very well.”

Source:news24.com

Key: WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

WFS News: Murusraptor barrosaensis a New Megaraptoran Dinosaur

A new species of megaraptorid dinosaur discovered in Patagonia may help discern the evolutionary origins of the megaraptorid clade, according to a study published July 20, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Rodolfo Coria from the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina, and Phillip Currie from the University of Alberta, Canada.

The Patagonian region of Argentina has previously proven to be rich in fossils from the Late Cretaceous epoch, including a number of megaraptorids, a clade whose carnivorous diet gave rise to their name meaning ‘giant thieves’. These medium-sized theropod dinosaurs, including South American genera Megaraptor, Orkoraptor, and Aerosteon as well as genera from Australia and Japan, have characteristically large claws and air-filled, birdlike bones.

Skull reconstruction of Murusraptor barrosaensis, MCF-PVPH-411. B) Body reconstruction of Murusraptor barrosaensis, MCF-PVPH-411. Both illustrations show recovered elements in white. Scale bars: A = 10 cm, B = 1 m.

Skull reconstruction of Murusraptor barrosaensis, MCF-PVPH-411. B) Body reconstruction of Murusraptor barrosaensis, MCF-PVPH-411.
Both illustrations show recovered elements in white. Scale bars: A = 10 cm, B = 1 m.

The fossilized partial skeleton of a megaraptorid dinosaur analyzed in this study was discovered in Sierra Barrosa, in northwest Patagonia and represents one of the most complete megaraptorids found, with an unusually intact braincase. With unique skull features, the dinosaur, which they namedMurusraptor barrosaensis, is a new species in the megaraptorid clade. This specimen appears to be immature, but the authors suggest that the species is larger and slenderer than Megaraptor and comparable in size with Aerosteon and Orkoraptor. While sharing many features with the other species, Musuraptor has distinctive facial features not previously seen amongst megaraptorids, as well as unusually shaped hip bones.

Field photos of the excavation of MCF-PVPH-411 (Murusraptor barrosaensis). A and B, the authors excavating the right ilium. C-F, different appendicular elements in their original burial positions before collection

Field photos of the excavation of MCF-PVPH-411 (Murusraptor barrosaensis).
A and B, the authors excavating the right ilium. C-F, different appendicular elements in their original burial positions before collection

While phylogenetic analysis could not clearly determine evolutionary relationships, the authors note that these fossils provide new anatomical information which might help to resolve current debates as to whether the megaraptorids are a clade of the allosauroid or the coelurosaurid theropods.

As lead author Rodolfo Coria states: “A new meat-eating dinosaur,Murusraptor barrosaensis, has been discovered from 80 million years old rocks from Patagonia, Argentina. Although incomplete, the beautifully preserved bones of Murusraptor unveil unknown information about the skeletal anatomy of megaraptors, a highly specialized group of Mesozoic predators.”

Citation: Coria RA, Currie PJ (2016) A New Megaraptoran Dinosaur (Dinosauria, Theropoda, Megaraptoridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0157973. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157973

Editor: Leon Claessens, College of the Holy Cross, UNITED STATES

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

WFS News : Aftermath of a mass extinction

A new study of fossil fishes from Middle Triassic sediments on the shores of Lake Lugano provides new insights into the recovery of biodiversity following the great mass extinction event at the Permo-Triassic boundary 240 million years ago.

The largest episode of mass extinction in the history of the Earth, which led to the demise of about 90% of marine organisms and a majority of terrestrial species, took place between the Late Permian and Early Triassic, around 240 million years ago. How long it took for biological communities to recover from such a catastrophic loss of biodiversity remains the subject of controversial debate among paleontologists. A new study of fossil fishes from Middle Triassic strata on the shores of Lake Lugano throws new light on the issue. The study, undertaken by researchers led by Dr. Adriana López-Arbarello, who is a member of the GeoBiocenter at LMU and the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology, suggests that the process of recovery was well underway within a few million years. The authors, including Dr. Heinz Furrer of Zurich University and Dr. Rudolf Stockar of the Museo Cantonale di Storia Naturale in Lugano, who led the excavations at the sites, and Dr. Toni Bürgin of the Naturmuseum St. Gallen report their findings in the journal PeerJ.

A specimen of the newly identified fossil species Ticinolepis crassidens (above) and of the species Ticinolepis longaeva. (Source: Adriana López-Arbarello)

A specimen of the newly identified fossil species Ticinolepis crassidens (above) and of the species Ticinolepis longaeva. (Source: Adriana López-Arbarello)

The fossil fishes analyzed by López-Arbarello and her colleagues originate from Monte San Giorgio in the canton Ticino in Switzerland, which is one of the most important sources of marine fossils from the Middle Triassic in the world. The Monte San Giorgio rises to an altitude of 1000 m on the promontory that separates the southern arms of Lake Lugano in the Southern Swiss Alps. But in the Middle Triassic, it was part of a shallow basin dotted with islands fringed by lagoons, which were separated by reefs from the open sea. “The particular significance of its fossil fauna lies in the careful stratigraphic work that has accompanied the excavations here. The positions of each of the fossil finds discovered here have been documented to the centimeter,” says Adriana López-Arbarello. On the basis of detailed anatomical studies of new material and a taxonomic re-evaluation of previously known specimens from the locality, she and her colleagues have identified a new genus of fossil neopterygians, which they name Ticinolepis. The Neopterygii include the teleost fishes, which account for more than half of all extant vertebrate species. However, the new fossil species are assigned to the second major group of neopterygians, the Holostei, of which only a handful of species survives today. The researchers assign two new fossil species to the genus Ticinolepis, namely T. longaeva and T. crassidens, which occur in different sedimentary beds within the so-called Besano Formation on Monte San Giorgio.

The two species coexisted side by side but they occupied distinct ecological niches. T. crassidens fed on mollusks and was equipped with jaws and teeth that could handle their hard calcareous shells. T. longaeva was more of a generalist, and was found in waters in which T. crassidens could not survive. The authors interpret the different distribution patterns as a reflection of changing environmental conditions following the preceding mass extinction event. The less specialized T. longaeva was able to exploit a broader range of food items, and could thus adapt more flexibly to fluctuating conditions. On the other hand, the dietary differentiation between the two species indicates that a variety of well-established ecosystems was available in the Besano Formation at this time. “This in turn suggests that the marine biota is likely to have recovered from the great mass extinction relatively quickly,” Adriana López-Arbarello concludes. (PeerJ 2016)

Source:Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

WFS News: Newfoundland fossil trove named UNESCO World Heritage Site

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

MISTAKEN POINT, N.L. — A rocky stretch of coastline along the southeastern tip of Newfoundland that holds secrets about the origins of complex life has been declared a world heritage site by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture.

Mistaken Point, so-named for its frequent disorienting fog, is home to the oldest-known evidence of early multicellular creatures.

The 565-million-year-old sea floor is embedded with the remains of ancient fossils, slowly exposed by the pounding Atlantic surf. Preserved in time by repeated volcanic ash-falls, the fossils include some of the earliest animal-like creatures ever discovered — a rare glimpse into what it was like “when life got big.”

Outlines of fossils that have been scientifically dated back 565 million years are seen in this handout photo from Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in N.L. on July 16, 2013. (HO, Mike Wert / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Outlines of fossils that have been scientifically dated back 565 million years are seen in this handout photo from Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in N.L. on July 16, 2013. (HO, Mike Wert / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The decision was announced in Istanbul after a hurried review by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on Sunday. The annual meeting had been cut short by a coup attempt in Turkey less than 48 hours earlier, forcing the committee to fast-track its agenda.

More than 6,200 kilometres away, a small crowd gathered in the Edge of Avalon interpretive centre in Portugal Cove South, N.L. to watch a live online feed of the proceedings.

“Everybody was going crackers,” Richard Thomas, a geologist who led the province’s years-long effort. “I was just sitting there dazed … I thought this day would never come.”

The rural fishing town, around a two-hour drive south of St. John’s, erupted in celebration, car horns blaring in a motorcade with blue-and-white balloons in honour of the United Nations’ official colours.

“Our province’s natural heritage is recognized today on the international stage,” Environment Minister Perry Trimper said in a statement.

Of 1000-plus world heritage sites around the world, there are now 18 in Canada. This will be the fourth in Newfoundland and Labrador and the first to be managed by the province.

UNESCO’s website says the prestige of being declared a world heritage site often raises awareness of the importance of preservation and a country may also get financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support preservation.

Another Canadian bid seeking UNESCO World Heritage Site status for Pimachiowin Aki, a large swath of boreal forest along the Manitoba-Ontario border, remains in limbo after the Pikangikum First Nation withdrew its support for the project over concerns about some Unesco reports of the area.

“We are all very disappointed that we encountered these challenges at such a critical time in the nomination process, after working on this project for 12 years,” William Young of the Pimachiowin Aki Corporation said in a statement. “We felt that we had no option but to seek a referral to give us all a chance to regroup and consider potential options.”

The World Heritage Committee “referred” the nomination giving stakeholders three years to resubmit their bid after more fact-finding.

WFS News: The Geological Society of America (GSA) 2016 Annual Meeting

The Geological Society of America (GSA) 2016 Annual Meeting

                                       25–28 September 2016        Denver, United States

This year’s five prestigious Pardee Keynote Symposia will scrutinize:
• Subsurface energy systems, which account for 80% of total US energy needs—Colorado is ranked eighth among the states in proven oil reserves;
• The environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing;
• Managing the high plains aquifer for future prosperity, with featured speaker Ann Castle;
• Geology of our solar system’s “third zone” — Pluto, Charon, and the Kuiper Belt;
• The geologic evolution of Cuba, featuring keynote speaker Manuel Antonio Iturralde Vinent in the first joint event in many years between the geological societies of our two nations, we initiate what we hope will become a strong relationship.

Sunday’s Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony will feature incoming GSA President Claudia Mora, Los Alamos National Laboratory, talking about mission-driven geoscience in federal agencies, working toward a goal of developing the basic understanding necessary to solve complex problems in support of the Nation’s energy and national security, and its environmental health.  In addition, top honors will be awarded to luminaries in the field.

There are currently 230 topical sessions submitted, many of which are identified with icons denoting industry applicability—including Energy, Economic Geology, Hydrogeology, Environmental Geology, and Engineering Geology.

“Head to Denver for the annual GSA meeting and fall aspen display—they set the gold standard for leaf gazing and Earth Science,” says Meeting General Chair Karen Berry of the Colorado Geological Survey.  Technical Program Chair Paul Baldauf, Nova Southeastern University Natural Sciences and Oceanography, invites participation, stating that the 2016 program “continues to demonstrate GSA’s relevance in the geoscience community with diverse and outstanding sessions.”

September meeting dates portend agreeable weather for the 35 pre- and post-meeting scientific field trips, which are a unique feature of GSA meetings.  Several field trips will explore the stratigraphy of the Denver Basin and its prime unconventional reservoirs. One field trip will explore Denver’s energy grid and look at the role coal, gas, solar, wind, and other renewables play in keeping the lights on. Other field trips will explore the cultural history, legacy, and geology of Colorado’s gold and mineral belt. Members of the media must register and pay appropriate fees to participate.

Complete meeting information will be updated regularly on the Annual Meeting website. Information is also available in the June issue of GSA Today.

Oral Sessions run Sun.–Wed., 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, in Denver. Watch the website for special “Feed Your Brain” lunchtime lectures scheduled each day from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Poster Sessions will be on display 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. on Sun. with authors present from 3:30–5:30 p.m.,

Technical Program
Search topical sessions for areas of interest by discipline categories or sponsors from the drop-down menus, or use your browser’s “find” feature to search for keywords or convener names.
The complete technical program schedule will be available in early August 2016 after the abstract submission deadline.

                             WFS WISHES ALL SUCCESS to GSA 2016 Annual meeting And Sessions

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev.

WFS News: Calciavis grandei, Ostrich relative lived in North America about 50 million years ago

Exceedingly well-preserved bird fossil specimens dating 50 million years represent a new species that is a previously unknown relative of the modern-day ostrich, according to a new paper co-authored by Sterling Nesbitt of Virginia Tech’s College of Science and part of the university’s Global Change Center.

The bird fossils were found more than a decade ago, completely intact with bones, feathers, and soft tissues in a former lake bed in Wyoming. Nesbitt cannot hide a grin as he calls the fossil a once-in-a-lifetime discovery for paleontologists.

“This is among one of the earliest well-represented bird species after the age of large dinosaurs,” said Nesbitt, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences.

“You can definitely appreciate how complete these fossil are,” added Nesbitt of the remains, the focus of a research paper co-authored by Nesbitt and newly published in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History.

Some of the remains are now on display as part of the exhibit “Dinosaurs Among Us” at the New York-based history museum. The fossils Other specimens used in the study are kept by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History and the Wyoming Geological Survey.

The new species is named Calciavis grandei — with “calci” meaning “hard/stone,” and “avis” from the Latin for bird, and “grandei” in honor of famed paleontologist Lance Grande who has studied the fossil fish from the same ancient North American lake for decades.

The bird is believed to be roughly the size of a chicken, and similar to chickens, were mostly ground-dwelling, only flying in short bursts to escape predators.

Nesbitt began studying the fossil in 2009 whilst a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, under Professor Julia Clarke, whom Nesbitt considers an important mentor. Clarke co-authored the paper with Nesbitt, who joined Virginia Tech’s faculty in 2014.

The work was funded by two grants from the National Science Foundation’s Earth Sciences Directorate.

Two fossils of Calciavis dating from the Eocene epoch — roughly between 56 million and 30 million years ago — were found by fossil diggers within the Green River Formation in Wyoming, a hot bed for extinct fish. “These are spectacularly preserved fossils, one is a nearly complete skeleton covered with feather remains, the others are nearly are nearly as complete and some show soft tissue remains,” said Nesbitt.

A Lithornithid skull from the Calciavis grandei fossil, found in Green River Formation of Wyoming. Credit: Sterling Nesbitt/Virginia Tech

A Lithornithid skull from the Calciavis grandei fossil, found in Green River Formation of Wyoming.
                                                        Credit: Sterling Nesbitt/Virginia Tech

“Fossil birds are rare,” added Nesbitt, adding that as bird bones are hollow, they are far more fragile than most mammal bones, and more likely to be crushed during fossilization. One of the fossilized birds in this rare case apparently was covered in mud soon after death.

The former lake in which the fossil was found is best known for producing scores of complete fish skeleton fossils, but other fossils such as other birds, plants, crocodilians, turtles, bats, and mammals from an ecosystem roughly 50 million years old.

Included in the extinct group of early Palaeognathae birds, the Lithornithidae, Nesbitt and Clarke call the bird a close relative of living ostriches, kiwis, and tinamous now living in the southern continents. After tropical forests disappeared in North America, Calciavis and other more tropical birds went extinct, said Nesbitt and Clarke.

“Relationships among species in this lineage of birds have been extremely contentious,” said Clarke. “We hope the detailed new anatomical data we provide will aid finding a resolution to this ongoing debate.”

“The new bird shows us that the bird group that includes the largest flightless birds of today had a much wider distribution and longer evolutionary history in North America,” Nesbitt said. “Back when Calciavis was alive, it lived in a tropical environment that was rich with tropical life and this is in stark contrast to the high-desert environment in Wyoming today.”

The Calciavis skeleton will be important to interpreting new bird fossils and other fossils from the Eocene epoch that were collected decades ago. “This spectacular specimen could be a ‘keystone’ that helps interpret much of the sparse fossil of birds that once lived in North America millions of years ago,” said Nesbitt.

@WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev,WFS News

WFS News: Oesia fossil – an acron worm

Paleontologists have finally identified two kinds of mysterious fossils misidentified for a century — and traced them both to some phallus-shaped worms that lived 505 million years ago and built themselves some very elaborate homes.Key to solving the mystery was an extraordinary new fossil bed discovered just four years ago and insights gained by the scientists through dissecting the rotting carcasses of some modern worms.

An Oesia fossil shows that it has an acorn-shaped structure near the top and a bright bulbous structure at the other end used to anchor the worm in its tube. (Jean-Bernard Caron)

An Oesia fossil shows that it has an acorn-shaped structure near the top and a bright bulbous structure at the other end used to anchor the worm in its tube. (Jean-Bernard Caron)

In 1911, American paleontologist Charles Walcott collected a fossil of a strange worm called Oesia disjuncta at the Burgess Shale of B.C.’s Yoho National Park, a now world-famous fossil bed that Walcott had discovered two years earlier.Another unusual find at the Burgess Shale was Margaretia dorus, which paleontologists proposed in 1933 was an extinct, tubular algae.

Researchers have now concluded that Oesia is a relative of penis-shaped marine animals that still exist today, called acorn worms, and Margaretia was a tubular home that it built for itself, they report in the journal BMC Biology this week.

Margaretia dorus is the name given to a fossil that was originally believed to be a strange kind of tubular algae. The fibrous tubes with lots of pores turn out to be the homes built by Oesia. (Jean-Bernard Caron)

Margaretia dorus is the name given to a fossil that was originally believed to be a strange kind of tubular algae. The fibrous tubes with lots of pores turn out to be the homes built by Oesia. (Jean-Bernard Caron)

Acorn worms aren’t related to earthworms or parasitic worms such as roundworms. Instead, they belong to a group of animals called hemichordates that are more closely related to sea urchins and starfish; and to chordates, the group of animals that includes humans and many other animals with a backbone.

Modern acorn worms don’t build and live in tubes. Instead, they bury themselves in the mud of seashores around the world.But several years ago, Jean-Bernard Caron, a paleontologist at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and some colleagues identified a Burgess Shale fossil that appeared to be a tube-dwelling acorn worm, namedSpartobranchus tenuis.

Karma Nanglu, lead author of the new paper, said previous decades saw a lot of debate about what kind of animal Oesia was, but researchers didn’t have much to go on other than fragments of poorly preserved specimens.

“Oesia is an extremely rare animal at the original location where it was discovered,” said Nanglu, a PhD student working with Prof. Jean-Bernard Caron at the University of Toronto.

Key: WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

WFS News: Giant Blobs of Rock, Deep Inside the Earth ?

Two massive blob-like structures lie deep within Earth, roughly on opposite sides of the planet. The two structures, each the size of a continent and 100 times taller than Mount Everest, sit on the core, 1,800 miles deep, and about halfway to the center of Earth.

Arizona State University scientists Edward Garnero, Allen McNamara and Sang-Heon (Dan) Shim, of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, suggest these blobs are made of something different from the rest of Earth’s mantle. The scientists’ work appears in the June issue of Nature Geoscience.

“While the origin and composition of the blobs are yet unknown,” said Garnero, “we suspect they hold important clues as to how Earth was formed and how it works today.”

The blobs, he says, may also help explain the plumbing that leads to some massive volcanic eruptions, as well as the mechanism of plate tectonics from the convection, or stirring, of the mantle. This is the geo-force that drives earthquakes.

Deep stirring

Earth is layered like an onion, with a thin outer crust, a thick viscous mantle, a fluid outer core and a solid inner core. The two blobs sit in the mantle on top of Earth’s core, under the Pacific Ocean on one side and beneath Africa and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

Waves from earthquakes passing through Earth’s deep interior have revealed that these blobs are regions where seismic waves travel slowly. The mantle materials that surround these regions are thought to be composed of cooler rocks, associated with the downward movement of tectonic plates.

Cutaway of the Earth's surface, down to the liquid core. A numerical convection experiment shows blobs in green, surrounding mantle rock in blue, and former oceanic crust from the surface that has subducted into the interior in yellow. Credit: Dr. Mingming Li/University of Colorado

Cutaway of the Earth’s surface, down to the liquid core. A numerical convection experiment shows blobs in green, surrounding mantle rock in blue, and former oceanic crust from the surface that has subducted into the interior in yellow.Credit: Dr. Mingming Li/University of Colorado

The blobs, also called thermochemical piles, have long been depicted as warmer-than-average mantle materials, pushed upward by a slow churning of hot mantle rock. The new paper argues they are also chemically different from the surrounding mantle rock, and may partly contain material pushed down by plate tectonics. They might even be material left over from Earth’s formation, 4.5 billion years ago.

Much is yet to be learned about these blobs. But the emerging view from seismic and geodynamic information is that they appear denser than the surrounding mantle materials, are dynamically stable and long-lived, and have been shaped by the mantle’s large-scale flow. The scientists expect that further work on the two deep-seated anomalies will help clarify the picture and tell of their origin.

“If a neuroscientist found an unknown structure in the human brain, the whole community of brain scientists, from psychologists to surgeons, would actively pursue understanding its role in the function of the whole system,” Garnero said.

“As the thermochemical piles come into sharper focus, we hope other Earth scientists will explore how these features fit into the big puzzle of planet Earth.”

Citation: Arizona State University (ASU). “Giant Blobs of Rock, Deep Inside the Earth, Hold Important Clues About Our Planet.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160624155000.htm

Key:  WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

WFS News: Ameloblastoma — a rare, non-cancerous tumor on Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus

@ WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev

The dinosaur fossil, estimated to be 69-67 million years old (Cretaceous period), was discovered in an outcrop of the Sinpetru Formation along the banks of the Sibisel River, in the Haţeg County Dinosaurs Geopark, western Romania.

The specimen is represented by a pair of well-preserved, associated lower jaws belonging to a sub-adult individual of the hadrosauroid dinosaurTelmatosaurus transsylvanicus.

It provides the first evidence of a pathological condition previously unrecognized in the dinosaurian fossil record.

Structure of the pathological Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus dentary: (A) – surface scans of the left and right rami positioned in anatomical articulation; (B) – segmented internal structures of the left ramus exhibiting the pathology (red – primary neurovascular canal, yellow – secondary neurovascular pathways, orange – functional teeth, blue – replacement teeth, light blue – segmented dentary bone, purple – lytic density areas); (C) – 3D micro-CT image with rectangular cutout in the area of the exostosis; (D) 3D micro-CT image of the investigated portion of the dentary showing the external appearance of the exostosis. Scale bars: (A,B) – 50 mm; (C-D) – 5 mm. Image credit: Mihai D. Dumbrava et al.

Structure of the pathological Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus dentary: (A) – surface scans of the left and right rami positioned in anatomical articulation; (B) – segmented internal structures of the left ramus exhibiting the pathology (red – primary neurovascular canal, yellow – secondary neurovascular pathways, orange – functional teeth, blue – replacement teeth, light blue – segmented dentary bone, purple – lytic density areas); (C) – 3D micro-CT image with rectangular cutout in the area of the exostosis; (D) 3D micro-CT image of the investigated portion of the dentary showing the external appearance of the exostosis. Scale bars: (A,B) – 50 mm; (C-D) – 5 mm. Image credit: Mihai D. Dumbrava et al.

“This discovery is the first ever described in the fossil record and the first to be thoroughly documented in a dwarf dinosaur,” said Katharine Acheson, a PhD student at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Telmatosaurus is known to be close to the root of the duck-billed dinosaur family tree, and the presence of such a deformity early in their evolution provides us with further evidence that the duck-billed dinosaurs were more prone to tumors than other dinosaurs.”

“It was obvious that the fossil was deformed when it was found more than a decade ago but what caused the outgrowth remained unclear until now,” said co-author Dr. Zoltán Csiki-Sava, from the University of Bucharest, Romania.

It is unlikely that the tumor caused the dinosaur any serious pain during its early stages of development, just as in humans with the same condition, but the paleontologists can tell from its size that this particular dinosaur died before it reached adulthood.

“We know from modern examples that predators often attack a member of the herd that looks a little different or is even slightly disabled by a disease,” Dr. Csiki-Sava said.

Artistic reconstruction of the pathological individual of the hadrosauroid dinosaur Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus from the uppermost Cretaceous of the Hateg Basin, Romania, in rostral view, showing the probable life appearance of the mandibular deformity caused by ameloblastoma. Image credit: Mihai D. Dumbrava.

Artistic reconstruction of the pathological individual of the hadrosauroid dinosaur Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus from the uppermost Cretaceous of the Hateg Basin, Romania, in rostral view, showing the probable life appearance of the mandibular deformity caused by ameloblastoma. Image credit: Mihai D. Dumbrava.

“The tumor in this dinosaur had not developed to its full extent at the moment it died, but it could have indirectly contributed to its early demise.”

“The particular make-up of the rocks allowed us to identify that this fossil was preserved near the channel of an ancient river,” Acheson added.

“In a setting like this, it is extremely rare to find the complete specimen, and so it is almost impossible to determine the specific cause of death. One can only make an informed guess based upon the evidence we have.”

“The discovery of an ameloblastoma in a duck-billed dinosaur documents that we have more in common with dinosaurs than previously realized,” said co-author Dr. Bruce Rothschild, from the Northeast Ohio Medical University.

Citation: Mihai D. Dumbravă et al. 2016. A dinosaurian facial deformity and the first occurrence of ameloblastoma in the fossil record. Scientific Reports 6, article number: 29271; doi: 10.1038/srep29271

Courtesy: SCI News.com

WFS News: Atopodentatus unicus: Earth’s Earliest Herbivorous Marine Reptile

Nearly two years ago, an international team of paleontologists discovered a bizarre fossil — Atopodentatus unicus, a 10 feet (3 m) long marine reptile that lived in what is now China 247 to 242 million years ago (Middle Triassic).

Atopodentatus unicus’ head was poorly preserved, but it seemed to have a flamingo-like ‘beak.’

But according to a new paper, published in the journal Science Advances, that beak is actually part of a hammerhead-shaped jaw apparatus, whichAtopodentatus unicus used to feed on plants on the ocean floor.

It’s the earliest known example of a plant-eating marine reptile.

Life restoration of Atopodentatus unicus. Image credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

Life restoration of Atopodentatus unicus. Image credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

“The wide jaw of Atopodentatus unicus was shaped like a hammerhead, and along the edge, it had peg-like teeth. Then, further into its mouth, it had bunches of needle-like teeth,” said co-author Dr. Olivier Rieppel from Field Museum in Chicago.

“That arrangement wouldn’t have been too useful for chewing prey.”

To figure out how Atopodentatus unicus’ jaw fit together and how the reptile actually fed, the scientists bought some children’s clay and rebuilt it with toothpicks to represent the teeth.

Prepared skulls of the newly-discovered specimens of Atopodentatus unicus. Scale bar – 2 cm. Image credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

Prepared skulls of the newly-discovered specimens of Atopodentatus unicus. Scale bar – 2 cm. Image credit: Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.

“We looked at how the upper and lower jaw locked together, and that’s how we proceeded and described it,” Dr. Rieppel said.

The verdict: Atopodentatus unicus used its bizarre jaw to help it eat plants.

Atopodentatus unicus used its front teeth to nip algae or other plants from rocky surfaces and then, with its mouth closed, forced mouthfuls of water through its side teeth, which acted as a filter trapping the plants and letting the water back out, like how whales filter-feed with their baleen,” Dr. Rieppel explained.

Not only does this discovery solve the mystery of the strange-toothedAtopodentatus unicus, but it also provides us with an example of the first herbivorous marine reptile.

“The jaw structure is clearly that of an herbivore. It has similarities to other marine animals that ate plants with a filter-feeding system, but Atopodentatus unicus is older than them by about 8 million years,” Dr. Rieppel said.

This reptile also helps tell a bigger story about the world’s largest mass extinction 252 million years ago.

“Animals living the years surrounding the Permian-Triassic extinction help us see how life on Earth reacted to that event,” Dr. Rieppel said.

“The existence of specialized animals like Atopodentatus unicus shows us that life recovered and diversified more quickly than previously thought. And it’s definitely a reptile that no one would have thought to exist.”

Courtesy: Li Chun et al. 2016. The earliest herbivorous marine reptile and its remarkable jaw apparatus. Science Advances, vol. 2, no. 5, e1501659; doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501659

Key: WFS,World Fossil Society,Riffin T Sajeev,Russel T Sajeev