Author Topic: New dino species found  (Read 3833 times)

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New dino species found
« on: July 13, 2003, 03:00:00 PM »
Neglected for 20 years on the dusty shelves of a South African university, paleontologists have re-discovered the 215-million-year-old fossils bones of one of the earliest giant dinosaurs.
The two-ton (1.8 metric ton) species of sauropod, previously unknown to science, is the oldest known ancestor to lumbering herbivorous giants such as the well-known brachiosaurs of the Jurassic.
The partial skeleton of the sauropod species, Antetonitrus ingenipes was found in sediments dated 215 to 220 million years ago. (top) A diagram depicting the found fossils in relation to the much larger sauropod. (bottom) An artist's rendition of what Antetonitrus ingenipes looked like.
 The 215 million-year-old specimen, named Antetonitrus ingenipes, is significantly older than any previously known sauropod, a class of plant-eating dinosaurs with four legs and long necks. The new dino helps scientists to bridge a gap in their knowledge of where sauropods came from and how they evolved to be so large.

The fossil bones were first unearthed in 1981 on central South African farmland by veteran fossil hunter James Kitching. But the fossils were initially misidentified. Researchers cleaned the fossils and left them on a shelf at the Witwatersrand University's Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research in Johannesburg (BPI).

It wasn't until 20 years later, when young Australian dinosaur researcher Adam Yates, visited the institute in 2001 that the blunder was realized.

"Mounting Thrill"

"It didn't take me very long to realize their significance…it was very exciting indeed," Yates told National Geographic News. "First there was the pure joy at seeing such beautifully preserved and relatively complete remains," he said. "Then the mounting thrill as it began to sink in that this creature was very advanced for its time and so much more like the giant sauropod dinosaurs of the Jurassic than any of its Triassic contemporaries."

The partial skeleton (minus its skull, neck, and most of its ribs) is all that remains of a juvenile sauropod. The giant would have weighed two ton (1.8 metric tons) or more in real life, said Yates, now based at the BPI. The animal would have measured eight to ten meters (26 to 33 feet) in length—possibly longer when full grown—and two meters (6.5 feet) high at the hips.

The bones were found in sediments roughly dated to 220 to 215 million years ago, during the late Triassic period, the time between 251 and 200 million years ago that saw the dawning of the age of the dinosaurs.

The previous title holder for oldest sauropod, Isanosaurus, is more similar to its later relatives and provides less insight into the early evolution of the group than the new find. Isanosaurus was discovered in Thailand in sediments 10 to 15 million years more recent than those surrounding the new South African sauropod.

Four-foot's First Steps

Antetonitrus (pronounced ant-ee-tone-ite-rus) helps cement a gap between smaller primitive two-legged dinosaurs previously thought to be related to the well-known four-footed long-necked herbivores like the brontosaur. The new fossil fills in the time gap between the two groups. Antetonitrus appears to retain some of the more primitive features of two-legged dinosaurs while possessing the more advanced body shape of sauropods.

A key difference to later sauropods is in Antetonitrus' limbs. "The hand was not transformed into the tubular weight supporting device that it is in later sauropods, it had kept a…crude grasping [thumb] seen in earlier two-legged dinosaurs," said Yates, also noting that Antetonitrus' "hind feet were not quite the stumpy broad elephant-like feet of later sauropods. The toes were still quite long."

"We now know [sauropods] were present in the early history of the dinosaurs. We just hadn't recognized them," he said. Yates and Kitching will publish their new description of the species in an upcoming print edition of London's Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.

Kitching has built his reputation since the 1950s uncovering great quantities of Triassic and older Permian fossils in South Africa's Karoo region.

Monumental Beasts

While Antetonitrus was larger than any land animal living today and its contemporaries, it pales in comparison to the monumental dinosaurs that would follow millions of years later. Brachiosaur species from the Jurassic period (200 to 144 million years ago) ranged from 22 to 30 meters (72 to 98 feet) in length and weighed a whopping 30 to 80 tons (27 to 73 metric tons). Even larger dinosaurs followed in later periods until their extinction 65 million years ago.

But the newly discovered species was the first dinosaur giant, said Michael Benton, a dinosaur expert at the University of Bristol in England who commended the find.

"[Antetonitrus] is a quadruped because it has to be," said Benton. "At that size it couldn't continue as a biped." The new fossil shows that the four-footed dinosaurs evolved from two-footed ancestors earlier than thought and, surprisingly, retained some grasping function in their forelimbs, Benton said. "All later sauropods have [hands] designed solely to support their weight," he said.

And that transition to four-feet allowed sauropods to attain great size, and reap the benefits in more ways than one. Huge animals are more challenging snacks for predators, rarely get cold, and are able to break down large quantities of otherwise low quality plant food, by slowly fermenting it in their massively elongated guts.

Naming a new dinosaur is the "realization of a lifelong dream," said Yates. While ingenipes means massive paw, Antetonitrus comes from the Latin for before the thunder, and is fitting for an early ancestor of Brontosaurus—Greek for thunder lizard.

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dinosaur sighting
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2004, 02:30:04 PM »
on, there is the report of two 2 meter "dinosaurs" dunning across the road in front of a family's car! They had large legs and ran very fast.
 Does this coincide with the chupacabra sightings?Not the same.
 "Different species..."2IC

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New dino species found
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2005, 02:08:05 PM »
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Unhatched dinosaur eggs dating back 190 million years carried fully developed embryos that would have been born clumsy and helpless, scientists said on Thursday.
Their finding, published in Friday's issue of the journal Science, suggests even the earliest dinosaurs tended carefully to their young. It also raises questions about how the giant four-legged dinosaurs called sauropods evolved.
"These animals do not have any teeth, and since they are ready to hatch, that is strange," said Robert Reisz of the University of Toronto at Mississauga in Canada, who led the study.
"The only explanation for that is they must have been fed by the mother. That would be oldest evidence of parental care in the fossil record," Reisz added in a telephone interview.
"We are looking at the very beginning of dinosaur evolution."
"It does support the idea that parental care and possible altricial (helpless) young existed throughout the reign of the Dinosauria," paleontologist Jack Horner of Montana State University agreed in an e-mail.
The eggs come from a dinosaur called Massospondylus, one of a group called prosauropods that later evolved into the giant sauropods such as apatosaurus, previously known as brontosaurus.
"Most dinosaur embryos are from the Cretaceous period (146 to 65 million years ago)," Reisz said in a statement.
The fossil eggs were found in South Africa in 1978, but scientists have only now been able to open and study them properly. Reisz's team used tiny tools to do it.
"We have essentially miniature jackhammers. They are pencil sized," he said.
"And we use very delicate dental tools."
Working under a powerful microscope, Reisz's team had to design a vibration-free table to work on.
"When somebody slammed a door in the building, my technician who preparing this felt that," Reisz said.
When they got the eggs open, they could see the baby dinosaurs were just about to hatch. In fact, egg fragments were all around, suggesting that at least one did.
And the babies did not look like the parents. Adult prosauropods were slender and two-legged.
The babies looked more like the dinosaurs that developed later, and they looked like the babies of animals such as birds and mammals, as opposed to the small but adult-proportioned young of reptiles.
"The head is quite large. The pelvic girdle is very small. That's where most of the muscles that would be used for locomotion are located," Reisz said.
"So we are suggesting this was a relatively helpless little hatchling."
Very few animals develop as this one appears to have, Reisz said.
"It starts out as a quadruped and becomes, as it grows up, as a biped. There are very few examples in nature that do this," he said.
One example, however, is a human baby.
"We start out as an awkward quadruped and we manage to become bipedal," he said.
Now the researchers can use computers to work out how these animals grew from a 6-inch (15-cm) long embryo into a 15 foot-(5-meter) long adult.
"This discovery is exciting in providing a major piece of the puzzle of how sauropodomorphs grew and reproduced," said biologist James Clark of George Washington University in Washington.

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New dino species found
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2005, 07:48:26 AM »
WOW! jo jo u know as much about the DC beast as me!