May 15, 2017

"We don’t just have a skeleton. We have a dinosaur as it would have been."



"I’ve been calling this one the Rosetta Stone for armor."/"It’s basically a dinosaur mummy ― it really is exceptional."

Sounds delightfully intact, but here they are breaking it in 2011:

26 comments:

EDH said...

I was trying to remember where I heard shovel operator Shawn Funk's voice before.

Oh yeah, "I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were married.... I believe you have my red Swingline stapler."

traditionalguy said...

Those Dinosaurs had plates that made them hard to eat whole by something much bigger than them. I want to see one of the the bigger ones.

Or was it a fashion design?

Bay Area Guy said...

18 feet long and 3000 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, but..........

I'm thinking really big alligator, not dinosaur.

Daniel Jackson said...

What an excellent reason to keep open all those coal mines! Archaeology can only examine the past when a shovel opens the ground. Who would have thought that the coal and oil industries further scientific research. Wow; what a find.

AllenS said...

... then, along came climate change, and they were all dead.

rhhardin said...

That's what they ate for thanksgiving in prehistoric times.

Four drumsticks.

rhhardin said...

Julia Child had a recipe for dewlap that might work on the plates.

David said...
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David said...

It's really worth watching the longer video in its entirety. The company (Suncor) and its employees were super excited about the find. They had paleontologists come in and the companythrew its very considerable resources at the problem of excavating the skeleton. I was very impressed by the dedication, ingenuity and skill of the equipment operators. They were able to used these big machines like giant scalpels. Bravo!

traditionalguy said...

Bravo Canadians. They may be stuck in white privilege, but can do much good stuff and do it well. Such as, Ted Cruz.

wildswan said...

That accent is a true north strong and free Canadian accent. It began as a Scottish accent because so many emigrated to Canada from the Highlands during the 1880's Highland Clearances. The Highland Scottish accent had a Gaelic lilt which is still there in Canada. And also so many Scottish people went to India that the English spoken there often has the same "Scottish" accent or, in others words, the same Gaelic lilt. You can hear the similarity among Scottish, Canadian and Indian accents very distinctly on phones because the phone signal cuts out so many of the under- and overtones. When the people who heard Paul's Epistle to the Galatians discussed it afterward, you would have heard this same Gaelic lilt.

Chris said...

But where are the feathers?

EDH said...

I suppose it'd be more than Mr. Slate who would tear Fred Flintstone a new asshole if he tried to slide down the back of that dinosaur at quitting time.

eric said...

It's funny, if they didn't show the cartoon picture, well, it's a crocodile or an alligator.

At least, that's what we call those dinosaurs where I come from.

How disappointing. We have all seen Jurassic Park and we all want our dinosaurs to be huge. Instead, all we get are some creatures that look a heck of a lot like crocodiles.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

They have created sea monsters through extrapolation from a single tooth to hysterical conclusions.

They want to believe.

Original Mike said...

Can we tell what color it was?

Fernandinande said...

Bay Area Guy said...
18 feet long and 3000 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, but..........
I'm thinking really big alligator, not dinosaur.


"Parvicursor ... dinosaur ... 5.7 ounces in weight"

Fernandinande said...

n.n said...
They have created sea monsters through extrapolation from a single tooth to hysterical conclusions.
They want to believe.


You're assuming that everyone is as ignorant and superstitious as you are.

Michael McNeil said...

Where are the feathers?

The paleontological group of reptiles generally known as “dinosaurs” is taxonomically split into two basic divisions: the so-called “bird-hipped” dinosaurs (a.k.a. “ornithischia”), vis-à-vis the so-called “lizard-hipped“ dinosaurs (“saurischia“).

Ironically, only the “lizard-hipped,” saurischian dinosaurs (and only some of them: Theropoda, and only some theropods) historically developed feathers — while only a particular subgroup of those theropods, the Avialae, ultimately became birds as we know them.

The dinosaur we're discussing here, contrariwise — a nodosaur, a kind of ankylosaur — was an ornithischian, whose entire primordial division of dinosaurs never knew feathers — no more than any other kind of reptile is feathered.

Quaestor said...

Chris wrote: But where are the feathers?

In 1887, British paleontologist Harry Seeley divided Dinosauria into two clades: Ornithischia and Saurischia, meaning "bird-hipped" and "lizard-hipped", respectively. Ironically the so-called bird-hipped dinos are more distantly related to birds than the lizard-hipped variety. Typically the order is rendered †Ornithischia, the cross symbol being the convention used to indicate an extinct clade or species. Contrastingly the order Saurischia does not have the attached cross symbol. Saurischia contains two sub-clades: †Sauropodomorpha and Theropoda. The sauropods, those iconic long-necked browsers often called "thunder lizards", are gone. But Theropoda is thriving. By any way you care to measure it, by the number of named species or simply by sheer biomass, the theropods are the most successful air-breathing vertebrates of all time. Theropods have a number of distinctive characteristics, one of them is their universal bipedality. Every one of them as far back as the known fossil record goes has walked on two legs. The other is a covering of feathers or feather-like integument. Since many extinct theropods are known only from fossil bones it's impossible to prove the universality of feathers, nevertheless, the evidence keeps pushing the origin of feathers further and further back into the Jurassic period, perhaps into the Triassic.

The theropods also invented a means to fly, the second vertebrate clade to do so. The first flyers, the pterosaurs, mastered the air much earlier, and they sometimes achieved titanic size and unmatched aerial endurance. The flying theropods have generally been smaller, but they did invent a flying morphology that did not compromise their ability to walk with high efficiency. Watch a sandhill crane foraging for grasshoppers, and you'll understand why the theropods survived the Great Dying and the pterosaurs did not. No pterosaur was ever so agile on while on the ground.

Since the theropods are more closely related to the sauropodomorphs than to other vertebrates paleontologists are on the lookout for something like protofeathers associated with sauropod remains. A few very controversial discoveries have been made which suggest something other than naked scaly skin was characteristic of at least some titanosaurs. On the other hand, no trace of feathers or feather-like integument has been discovered associated with ornithischian remains — so far. There are a number of dinosaur mummies like the Suncor nodosaurid, and most of them have been ornithischians, generally hadrosaurs. This is ironic because most of the fossils recovered from extreme latitude quarries, such as the famous Alaskan North Slope sites, have been hadrosaurs. How they kept warm in below-freezing weather with but their naked skin for insulation is a mystery.

Quaestor said...

n.n wrote: They have created sea monsters through extrapolation from a single tooth to hysterical conclusions.

Nodosaursus was not a "sea monster." It was a land-dwelling quadruped equipped with osteoderm armor and a tail-club or thagomizer (so named in honor of the late Thag Simmons), and it is well-known from many fossils comprising much more than teeth. Nodosaurs had very small teeth, but they had an ischium the size of a couch. The Suncor nodosaur was preserved in marine deposits probably because a flash flood or tsunami washed the carcass out to sea, not because it lived in water. Everything known about the Ankylosauria suggests they were poor swimmers and prone to drowning.

n.n further wrote: They want to believe.

Belief has nothing to do with it. Wisdom comes from the humility to subordinate prejudice to the test of evidence, not from the baseless claims of Bronze Age mythology.

Cog said...

Doesn’t seem possible so much of the reptile's particulars —last meal, skin, etc.—were so perfectly preserved over the span of 110,000,000 years. To this non-scientist, the discovery raises a question about how reliable is the scientific estimate of the fossil's age.

Quaestor said...

Original Mike wrote: Can we tell what color it was?

Melanosomes have been detected in the feathers of some extinct theropods which have revealed the coloration of a few dinosaurs. For example, Microraptor zhaoianus was evidently a uniform iridescent black, much like a modern-day grackle, while Anchiornis huxleyi resembled a woodpecker.

Ankylosaurs by all accounts didn't have feathers, however, there is evidence that their osteoderms were covered by a layer of keratin very similar to a bird's beak. From birds like toucans and puffins, it's clear that keratin can be very colorful.

Quaestor said...
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Quaestor said...

Cog wrote: To this non-scientist, the discovery raises a question about how reliable is the scientific estimate of the fossil's age.

To this non-scientist, it appears you may have tripped over your own presumptions.

Pretty good absolute dating of Mesozoic fossils was achieved by stratigraphic methods more than 100 years ago when nuclear physics was in its infancy. Since then radiometric dating has matured into a science of high precision. I suppose everyone has heard of carbon-14 dating, which because of its 50,000-year halflife plays no role in dinosaur paleontology. There are other methods more suitable, such as potassium-argon and samarium-neodymium. However the most precise so far is the uranium-lead dating method, which can nail an absolute date within plus or minus two million years.

The fossil itself can't be dated directly since uranium is not an element present in living tissue, however, the material above and below the fossil can be dated with remarkable precision so long as there are detectable levels of lead and uranium present in the sample material. If the stratum above the fossil can be dated to 90,000,000 BP and the layer below to 120,000,000 BP, then 110,000,000 years for the fossil is a defensible estimate. Physical context is everything. Paleontology isn't just about digging up bones. The dirt is sometimes more important than the bones.