Carcharodontosaurs were one of the most successful theropod clades of the early and middle Cretaceous. However little is known about the basal eastern asiatic members of the group. Recently, palaeontologist Chockchaloemwong and his research team discovered a Carcharodontosaurid named Siamraptor Suwati, in the Khok Kruat formation in Thailand. This discovery could change palaeontologists’ understanding of carcharodontosaur evolution.
S.Suwati would have been an estimated 26 feet long and around 6-8 feet tall. The site yielded four individuals with material consisting of the rear lower jaw, some cervical, dorsal and caudal vertebrae, a partial tibia and some hip bones (ischia).
This species could provide insight into basal carcharodontosaur palaeogeography and evolution, and has already proven that carcharodontosaurs had colonised three continents by the early cretaceous.
Duangsuda Chokchaloemwong, Soki Hattori, Elena Cuesta, Pratueng Jintasakul, Masateru Shibata, Yoichi Azuma. A new carcharodontosaurian theropod (Dinosauria: Saurischia) from the Lower Cretaceous of Thailand. PLOS ONE, 2019; 14 (10): e0222489 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222489
After being kept in the basement of a museum in Thailand for over 30 years, a group of palaeontologists from the University of Bonn in Germany and from the Sirindhorn museum in Thailand have brought to light two 125 million year old megaraptora dinosaurs. Phuiangvenator Yaemniomi and Vayuraptor Nongbualamphuensis been discarded in museum vaults until Adun Samanthi and Martin Sander identified them to be something worth looking at.
P.Yaemniomi would have been around 6 metres long (20 feet) with powerful arms and a long snout. V.Nongbualamphunesis would probably had a very similar build despite being about 1.5 metres shorter. Due to the fact that there are very few bones attributed to V.Nongbualamphuensis, the exact position of the species in the megaraptor phylogenetic tree is unknown.
Megaraptors are predominantly found in South America and Australia, so it is likely, considering that P.Yaemniomi shows characteristics of early megaraptors, that the group evolved in what is now south east Asia.
The fossil study is an extinct species of field mouse from Germany. The mouse is approximately 7 cm long. (University of Gӧttingen)
An international collaboration at the University of Manchester, has yielded the colour of a 3 million year old mouse who would have scurried about the fields of what is now Willershausen in Germany.
The incredibly well preserved fossil was discovered to have been predominantly covered in a reddish brown coating and a white underside. The researchers used x-ray spectroscopy and a number of other imaging techniques to finally reveal delicate chemical signatures of pigment.
This discovery is important for finally understanding smaller details of natural selection in prehistoric animals. For example, polar bears aren’t drastically dissimilar to their brown coated relatives further south. However the white colour of their fur coats meant the difference between a better chance of survival or not. This find is not dissimilar to the discovery of pigment in dinosaur feathers, particularly that of Sinornithosaurus Milenii.
The concept that helped determine the colouration, was determining that trace metals were incorporated to the fur identically to the way that they bond to the animal’s pigments.
This find has opened the doorway to a completely new way of looking at fossils, and may produce some exiting results in the future.
Bed bugs may have been around for over 100 million years
A recent study, which was conducted by a group of scientists (that included some from the University of Sheffield), has discovered that bedbugs might have a deeper past than previously thought. It was previously thought that bedbugs evolved around 50 million years ago due to the fact that they were assumed to have evolved alongside bats.
However this new study is claiming that they originated around 100 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. However the pests would probably not have annoyed dinosaurs as they prefer animals with a home e.g a bed or a lair. There is still debate over what the unfortunate victim of these pests were but further research will undoubtedly be conducted.
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This week’s main story is that of the newly found 163 million year old scansoriopterygid, Ambopteryx Longibrachium. This dinosaur, along with similar Yi Qi, is helping palaeontologists compile a clear picture of the evolution of flight. It defines this bat winged style of flying as a more common sight in the forests of Jurassic China rather than a rare, one species design. As palaeontologist Stephen Brusatte mentions in his book, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, maniraptorids evolved many different forms of flight, each unique to their clade. The feathers seem to be predominantly for insulation, except the four rod like tail feathers which would probably have been for intimidation and impressing mates. Two details which interest me the most are the presence of gastroliths (small stones swallowed, that help with the digestion of plant fibres), and the short tail. The gastroliths, as well as the sharp teeth clearly imply that it had an omnivorous diet. The short tail is found in every living bird, and is one reason why many scientists do not consider Archaeoteryx Lithoraphica a true bird. So despite the fact that A.Longibrachium might seem more like a dinosaur than a bird, this short tail might make it more birdlike. However close relative Epidepxipterix Hui has a similar short tail and 4 feather projections. This does make it seem more probable that it was a separate branch that had a characteristic short tail, which was trying an early version of flight.
Neanderthal teeth could destroy the current phylogenetic homonid tree
A new study by Aida Gomez Robles on Neanderthal teeth, may mean that Neanderthals branched off from our ancestors between 200,000 and 400,000 years prior to original theories. Aida Gomez Robles was studying a set of Neanderthal teeth from the Sima de los Huezos site, and using computer modeling from 30 Neanderthal molars and premolars, and several Austrolopithecine, Paranthropus and Homo species, she positioned the split at 800,000 years ago. If her results are proven accurate with further studies, it would mean that Homo Heidelbergensis would have to be ruled out as the ancestor of Neanderthals.
If you do want any paleontological finds or theories discussed in next week’s post leave a comment in the contact section.