June 10, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Mini-Dinos Found in Marine Sediments

Sauropods were not all the lumbering giants we think of; they could be the size of a pet dog (images of Deeno in the Flintstones come to mind).  This came to light from recent discoveries announced in Germany (see BBC News and LiveScience) of adult sauropods smaller than human height, ranging five to 20 feet long

According to Nicholas Bakalar writing for National Geographic News, the unlikely place of their discovery was quite a surprise.  Co-author of the study Octavio Mateus (New University of Lisbon) described the puzzle of their location in a quarry loaded with marine sediments.  “This was not supposed to happen,” he said, “because all those layers were supposed to be marine layers containing only marine animals.  We didn’t expect to find dinosaurs, but we did.”

To their shame, most of the news reports focused more on the story line than on the facts of the discovery.  They went on about how this species used to be large like the heavyweight sauropods, but found themselves trapped on an island of diminished resources so downsized into dwarfs.  Only National Geographic (not particularly partial to hard facts) mentioned the surprise of finding them buried among marine organisms.  Even then, Bakalar did not elaborate.  Yet this is an important detail of the discovery that should not have been understated.  These 11 individuals did not just go to the beach and wait for high tide to come in.  They were apparently caught off guard and overwhelmed suddenly by a watery catastrophe along with the sea creatures entombed with them.  If this were an isolated case, we might suspect a local misfortune, but is there a pattern emerging? (see 05/13/2006, 04/25/2006, 04/15/2005).

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Categories: Dinosaurs, Fossils

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