Courtesy Photo and sculpting by Tyler Keillor via ZookeysA fossil found in South Africa over 50 years ago has finally come to light as a new species of heterodontosaurid dinosaur and named Pegomastax africanus, or "thick jaw from Africa". No larger than a house cat, Pegamstax lived about 200 million years ago near the very beginning of the Jurassic period. The bizarre, two-legged herbivore had a beak like a parrot but also large, sharp vampire-like fangs that were backed up by a couple of equally nasty bottom teeth. Although unusual for a plant-eater, the sharp teeth would have been useful in nipping off leaves, twigs, and other tasty plant morsels, or for defending itself against predators or mating rivals. It may have also sported some nasty porcupine-like quills for further protection against predation.
Paleontologist Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago first laid eyes on the fossil while a graduate student at a Harvard University laboratory back in 1983. Other projects, however, diverted his attention from the rare specimen until recently when he finally found time to analyze it and publish his conclusions in the journal Zookeys.
News of the mini-dino “vampire" couldn’t have come at a better time, and all you little rug-rats out there who haven’t decided yet what to be for Halloween should find comfort in the announcement. A prickly Pegomastax costume would make for one scary night creature, and probably guarantee you bagfuls of delicious, (and perhaps, ironically) fang-rotting candy.
They had to, right, to keep repopulating the Earth. In case you've ever wondered, here's everything you wanted to know about dinosaur sex, but were afraid to ask.
*Content suitable for those 65 million years old and over.
Who says there can't be crime and intrigue in the world of paleontology? Here's a really interesting report of a possible black market sale of fossilized dinosaur bones, blown open by a museum paleontologist. Why do I want to think Scooby Doo and Shaggy will help solve this situation?
Courtesy Mark RyanRichard Owen was born this day in 1804 in Lancaster, England. Owen was one of the great comparative anatomists and paleontologists of the 19th Century. He's best remembered for coining the word dinosaur ("fearfully great lizard") in 1841 to describe a group of large reptilian fossils that had come to light just a few decades earlier. He also consulted with artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins to create the first (although inaccurate) representations of dinosaurs for the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1853-54. Owen was a major force in the establishment of the British Museum of Natural History. He died on December 18th in 1882. You can read more about him here.
"Reporting in the journal Science, Paul Sereno, Ricardo Martinez and colleagues describe Eodromaeus murphi. This dinosaur was four feet long, fifteen pounds and lived 230 million-years-ago, just a few million years after dinosaurs first evolved. It looks similar to its contemporary Eoraptor, except for its long canine teeth, suggesting the newly-discovered dinosaur is an ancestor of the predatory dinosaurs, including T. rex.
Courtesy Public domainSir Richard Owen, Victorian-era anatomist and paleontologist best remembered for first coining the term "Dinosauria" in 1842. The word, which translates to "terrible lizard" (or the punchier, I think, "fearfully-great lizard") placed the prehistoric reptiles into their own taxon.
Courtesy Mark RyanOwen later headed the natural history collections at the British Museum, and, in the early 1850s, along with sculpture Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, created the first public (and now outmoded) models of dinosaurs. The life-size sculptures that can still be seen today at Crystal Palace Park in Sydenham, London. Owen died December 18, 1892.
Courtesy Curious Expeditions (turkey photo with adaptation by author)As you gather around the dinner table tomorrow, you can impress your family with some interesting facts (found in the links below) regarding the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner. You can also thank natural selection that you’re not the main course.
"Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe a new predatory dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period in Europe. Balaur bondoc (Romanian for "stocky dragon") is huskier than its closest relative the Velociraptor and has unusual feet."
Check out the awesome Triceracopter over at Gizmodo.com. The saurian-machine hybrid is an imposing sculpture created in 1977 by artist Patricia Renick. Now it's for sale. You should buy it (for me) - collectibles are a great hedge against inflation.