June 15, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Dinos in the News

Three dinosaur finds were reported in the last month:

  • Sauropod:  A new kind of sauropod was found in the Morrison Formation (Jurassic) in Montana, reported National Geographic News.  This kind of dinosaur was unexpected, and suggests an unknown fauna existed in a state known more for its Cretaceous meat-eaters.  The skull of this sauropod had two unexplained holes similar to those found in a couple of African dinosaurs.
  • Carnivore:  A “wrinkle-faced” abelisaurid dinosaur was found in northern Africa.  This kind of carnivorous dinosaur was previously unknown on the African continent.  Its presence calls into question earlier ideas about the timing of Africa’s presumed split from the supercontinent of Gondwana.  The discoverers feel it moves the event forward from around 120 million years ago to a shorter interval between 95 to 100 million years ago.
  • Pterosaur:  A perfectly-preserved embryo of a pterosaur was found in China inside its fossilized egg, reported Nature Science Update.  It was apparently just about to hatch when something terrible happened.  The fossil, found in the Jehol Biota in Liaoning, China where many other detailed fossils have been discovered (see 02/21/2003 headline), confirms that pterosaurs laid eggs rather than giving birth to live young.  The discoverers, who published their find in Nature1, stated that “Preservation of such delicate tissues with the skeleton and eggshell probably indicates that the embryo was killed and deposited quickly as a result of a natural disaster, such as a volcanic eruption.”

1Wang and Zhou, “Palaeontology: Pterosaur embryo from the Early Cretaceous,” Nature 429, 621 (10 June 2004); doi:10.1038/429621a.

There is still much to learn about dinosaurs.  The discoverers each indicated that these territories, on different continents, all have potential for many more discoveries.  In each of these cases, the findings modified previous ideas.  Notice that none of these were transitional forms.  Each was a completely operational animal, fully adapted to its environment (undoubtedly they all had fully operational molecular trucks; see 06/14/2004 headline).  Notice also that none of the fossils were found with names or dates on them.  The bones are facts in the present, but always distinguish between the facts and interpretations about the unseen past.

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Categories: Dinosaurs, Fossils

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