This Week in Dinosaur News: New Dinosaur Zhenyuanlong suni (like a fluffy poodle), Dinosaur Robots, Utah’s Grand Staircase=Escalante National Monument, and More

Here’s what came out this week in dinosaur news:

  • A new dinosaur, called Zhenyuanlong suni, was discovered in China. The carnivore had wings and looked like a fluffy poodle, as reported in Reuters and Forbes
  • A hotel in Nagasaki, Japan is using dinosaur robots to help guests check in as well as cut costs, according to Time
  • The Witchita Eagle reported on a new dinosaur attraction that will be built in Derby, Kansas, to open in spring 2017 and complete with a museum, mini golf course, and a ropes course
  • Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument shows a glimpse of life in the late Cretaceous, 10 million years before dinosaurs went extinct, according to the New York Times
  • Scientists may be able to figure out more details about dinosaurs’ extinction, based on rocks from the Deccan Traps in India that were part of the volcanic activity that erupted around the time the comet hit (the two events may be related), according to KQED. But before and around that time, mammals “exploded” in evolution, according to Daily Mail

I Know Dino Podcast Show Notes: Acrocanthosaurus (Episode 35)

Episode 35 is all about Acrocanthosaurus, a carnivore with a high spine, somewhat similar to Spinosaurus

You can listen to our free podcast, with all our episodes, on iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/i-know-dino/id960976813?mt=2

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The dinosaur of the day: Acrocanthosaurus, whose name means “high spined lizard” (and is also the antagonist in the novel Raptor Red
  • Theropod that lived in North America during the early Cretaceous
  • Fossils found in Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming (teeth found in Maryland)
  • Only one species, Acrocanthosaurus atokensis
  • J. Willis Stovall and Wann Langston Jr. named the species in 1950
  • First fossils discivered in the early 1940s. Holotype and paratype are partial skeletons and skulls from the Antlers Formation in Oklahoma
  • Acrocanthosaurus atokensis is named after Atoka Countyin Oklahoma, where the holotype was found
  • Another partial skeleton found in 2012 in the Cloverly Formation (a juvenile), Wyoming; may have been the only theropod in the Cloverly Formation
  • Tooth found in southern AZ, possibly Acrocanthosaurus
  • 1990s two more complete specimens were described (from Texas, a partial skeleton without a skull; from OK found by Cephis Hall and Sid Love, an even more complete skeleton nicknamed “Fran”–the largest and only known one with a complete skull and forelimb)
  • After finding a few pieces of Acrocanthosaurus, Cephis Hall and Sid Love got permission to dig for the dinosaur (land was owned by Weyerhaeuser, a timber and building materials company) from Weyerhaeuser’s regional timberlands manager (said they had no interest in paleontological findings); but once they found out how valuable it was (after 3-4 years excavation) they contested ownership and it went court; first time two amateurs successfully excavated major dinosaur quarry by themselves without financial or logistical support from a university or commercial fossil company
  • North Carolina Museum Acrocanthosaurus was in a court battle (then a “mysterious donor gave millions of dollars to the museum to purchase the set of fossils for display”; more in Russell Ferrell’s book, Acrocanthosaurus: Bones of Contention
  • Acrocanthosaurus skeleton of NC took 3 years to excavate (1983-6) from amateur collectors Cephis Hall and Sid Love; Black Hills Institute cleaned and prepared the bones; because of this find, scientists realized Acrocanthosaurus was related to Allosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus
  • Bones of NC Acrocanthosaurus were jet black from minerals in the sediment; had a punctured shoulder blade and several healed broken ribs
  • Black Hills Institute said it was one of the most difficult preparations (due to moss and pyrite on the bones, which released acids when removed, so the bones had to be prepared in vaccum boxes or the preparors had to use respirators)–added many extra hours to the preparation
  • Can see an Acrocanthosaurus (54% of actual skeleton, not replica) in the N.C. Museum of Sciences
  • Sometimes called “Acro” for short.  Museum of Natural Sciences in North Carolina nicknamed it “Terror of the South”
  • Possible Acrocanthosaurus footprints in the Glen Rose Formation of central Texas (though it’s unclear for sure); however, it’s close to the Antlers and Twin Mountains formations and is from a similar time period, during which the only theropod known from around then at that place was Acrocanthosaurus
  • Glen Rose tracks were found in 1938. AMNH paleontologist Roland T. Bird studied them. One footprint seemed to skip a step (overlapping footprint with sauropod), so he thought that meant the predator latched onto prey with teeth and missed a step (though the gait of the prey didn’t change, so seems unlikely the sauropod would just continue on its merry way at that point)
  • Bird excavated the trackway in 1940 (half of it now in American Museum of Natural History (AMNH),  in New York behind the Apatosaurus, other half in Texas Memorial Museum in Austin)
  • Track at the AMNH shows heropod prints on top of sauropod tracks (suggests it stalked the sauropod herd, since its print came after the sauropod’s); but it’s unclear when these tracks were made–they could have been made as a group, or the dinosaurs could have just happened to go that route but at different times)
  • David Thomas, artist, and James Farlow, paleontologist, reconstructed the trackway (predator followed the sauropod very closely, made the same turns, probably interacted; also right before the theropod skipped a step the sauropod left a drag mark, so maybe it was attacked and faltere or it “threw its weight to avoid being bitten); not sure it was an attack, just know there’s a missing track; but they think the theropod stalked the sauropod and may have tried to attack. However, trackways are fragile ( the trackway at the Texas Memorial Museum has deteriorated since on display)
  • Vertebrae with tall spines from the early Cretaceous were found in England, and in 1988 Gregory S. Paul said they were a second species of Acrocanthosaurus, called Acrocanthosaurus altispinax (later classified as a new genus, Becklespinax)
  • When it was discovered, Acrocanthosaurus and many other big theropods were only known from partial skeletons, which led to a lot of reclassifying. Although first an Allosauridae, Acrocanthosaurus was for a while part of Megalosauridae (wastebasket taxon), and to some scientists it was thought of as a spinosaurid (because of the long spines–until the 1980s)
  • Part of the superfamily Allosauroidea; originally part of the Allosauridae family but now most scientists classify it as part of the Carcharodontosauridae family
  • In 2011, paleontologists Drew R. Eddy and Julia A. Clarke found in a study (comparing and contrasting anatomical features) that Acrocanthosaurus shared a common ancestor with Allosaurus, but belongs to the Carcharondontosaurus family
  • Acrocanthosaurus was one of the largest theropods, at 11.5 m (38 ft) in length, and weighing up to 6.2 tonnes (6.8 short tons)
  • Typical large theropod, but lived in early Cretaceous (millions of years before T-rex and Giganotosaurus)
  • 4.5 ft (1.4 m) long skull
  • Upper jaw had 19 curved, serrated teeth
  • Like allosaurids, it had long, low ridges that ran on each side of its snout from the nostril to the eye
  • Typical allosaurid skeleton (long heavy tail to counterbalance, short forelimbs, three clawed digits on each hand
  • Probably not a fast runner, because it’s femur was longer than its tibia (opposite of small fast-running dinosaurs)
  • Probably an apex predator, preyed on Sauropods, Ornithopods, and Ankylosaurs
  • Feet had four digits each, and first digit was smaller than the rest and did not touch the ground
  • Analysis of the forelimb found that it probably had a lot of cartilage in its joints (like living archosaurs), and when resting, the forelimbs would hang from the shoulders, elbows bent, claws facing inwards, humerus angled slightly backwards
  • Could not swing its arm in a circle, but could swing it backwards; could not completely straighten out its arm or bend it much
  • Could bend all digits backwards to nearly touch the wrist
  • First digit of the hand had the biggest claw (permanently flexed)
  • Because forelimbs could not swing very far forward (couldn’t scratch its own neck), probably used its mouth to hunt, but once it had prey in jaws, used its arms to hold the prey against its body and impale it with claws; may have also held prey in jaws while slashing into it with claws)
  • 2005 scientists did a CT scan of a replica of Acrocanthosaurus cranial cavity and found it was most similar to Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus (fellow carcharondontosaurids)
  • Brain was somewhat S-shaped (like a crocodile, more so than a bird); had large olfactory bulbs (good sense of smell)
  • When resting, its head would have been looking downward towards the ground (from CT scan), 25 degrees downward
  • Because Acrocanthosaurus was a large predator, it probably had a large range and lived in many different areas. Deinonychus also lived in the area, but was much smaller and not much competition
  • Bipedal predator, with (notable) high neural spines (probably to support muscle over its neck, back and hips)
  • 17-inch (43 cm) spines from its vertebrae on its back, neck and tail
  • Tall neural spines were sometimes more than 2.5 times the height of the vertebrae they came out of (though Spinosaurus had much higher spines); unclear what the spines did (help with communication, store fat, control temperature)
  • Spines may have also been used for visual display (sign of being healthy), or had different colors or markings
  • If the hump was fat, Acrocanthosaurus would have to eat more (bigger the hump, more successful predator, good for attracting mates); or shows dominance because they’re a better hunter
  • Twin Mountains and Antlers formations were large floodplains that drained into a shallow inland sea (in early Cretaceous), sea then expanded and became the Wester Interior Seaway (divided North America for most of the late Cretaceous)
  • Acrocanthosaurus is the state dinosaur of Oklahoma, as of 2006, though it already had a state fossils (Saurophaganax, a carnivore)
  • Theropod->Carnosaur->Carcharodontosauridae
  • Carnosaurs lived in the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and is comprised of allosaurs and their close relatives (used to include a large array of theropods)
  • Some of the largest ones are Giganotosaurus and Tyrannotitan, which are also some of the largest known predatory dinosaurs
  • Carnosaurs have large eyes and narrow skulls
  • Many carnosaurs were later classified as more primitive theropods (includes megalosaurids, spinosaurids, ceratosaurs)
  • Fun Fact: Dinosaurs may have inspired dragon myths in China and Europe.

I Know Dino Podcast Show Notes: Utahraptor (Episode 34)

In our 34th episode of I Know Dino, we had the pleasure of speaking with paleontologist Dr. Jim Kirkland. Dr. Jim Kirkland is the Utah State Paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey. He has discovered and described a long list of dinosaurs, including the first Jurassic ankylosaur, the oldest horned-dinosaur Zuniceratops, and ornithopods such as Eolambia and Velafrons, and of course Utahraptor. And he has authored and co-authored more than 75 professional papers. He is also adjunct Associate Professor at University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah and associate curator of the Natural History of Utah. And he has written a Star Trek novel, called First Frontier, with Diane Carey.

Find out more about Dr. Kirkland on his website at http://ugs.academia.edu/JamesKirkland and follow him on Twitter at @paleojim.

You can listen to our free podcast, with all our episodes, on iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/i-know-dino/id960976813?mt=2

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The dinosaur of the day: Utahraptor, whose name means “Utah robber”
  • From Cretaceous period
  • Species is Utahraptor ostrommaysorum (found in eastern Utah)
  • Largest Dromaeosauridae (family, also known as raptors); other dromaeosaurids include Velociraptor and Deinonychus
  • Before Utahraptor, paleontologist thought raptors were all small and only lived in the late Cretaceous
  • Most dromaeosaurs (raptors) lived towards the end of the Cretaceous, but Utahraptor lived during the early Cretaceous, around 50 million years earlier. So it’s interesting that other raptors were much smaller, since the trend for many dinosaurs was to grow bigger.
  • Holotype consists of skull fragments, tibia, claws, and some caudal (tail) vertebrae; is about twice the length of Deinonychus
  • Largest Utahraptor is estimated to be 23 ft (7 m) long and weigh around 1,100 lb (500 kg); about same size as a polar bear
  • Type species named by Kirkland, Gaston and Burge in 1993 for John Ostrom, paleontologist from Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History and Chris Mays (dino robotics pioneer) from Dinamation International
  • Ostrom theorized in the 1970s (before it became widespread) that raptors such as Deinonychus were ancestors of modern birds
  • The species was originally going to be named after Steven Spielberg, but as Jim Kirkland mentioned, it was changed at the last minute to avoid a potential lawsuit
  • Utahraptor was formally described in 1993 (shortly after Jurassic Park was released)
  • In Jurassic Park, the velociraptor is half the size in real life. But the large size is more similar to Utahraptor, some people have said it could be a combination of Deinoychus and Utahraptor
  • First fossils of giant dromaeosaurs found in the Brigham Young University’s Dalton Well Quarry (discovered in the late 1960s by Lin Ottinger), and a few specimens were prepared (out of hundreds collected) by Jim Jensen and his crew in 1975
  • Bones from Dalton Well were well preserved but a mix of many different individual dinosaurs
  • Second group of giant dromaeosaur fossils (including a foot claw) found in 1991 and 1992, during excavations of the Gaston Quarry
  • Another, large “carnosaur” was found at the Dalton Well site in addition to Utahraptor, but it’s unclear how the two large theropods lived alongside each other
  • A new dromaeosaur was discovered recently (named in 2012) in the Cedar Mountain Formation (where Utahraptor was found). Called Yurgovuchia doellingi, it had a unique tail skeleton similar to Utahraptor (large, flexible tail) and is probably in the same clade as Utahraptor, Achillobator, and Dromaeosaurus (about same size as a coyote)
  • Utahraptor was probably warm-blooded (active predator)
  • Several claws were found, has a sickle-claw and the rest are called manual claws (tended to be very thin)
  • Due to the specialized manual claws, scientists do not think it gave rise to other known dromaeosaurs, and instead there may have been an older common dromaeosaur ancestor (early Cretaceous or late Jurassic)
  • Had 9-inch long sickle-claws (nails were probably 15 inches)
  • Three fingers on each hand and four-toed feet
  • Utahraptor had enlarged toe joints, so that it’s sickle claw could raise up and backward so as not to be injured while running (but flexed claw out when attacking)
  • Utahraptor had blade-like manual claws (different from Deinonychus and other smaller dromaeosaurs which had long arms so as to hold its prey while attacking with its sickle-claw it’s possible the force of its kick to the prey “may have dislodged them”) but Utahraptor was much heavier and probably wouldn’t have been thrown off balance due to the force of its kick, so its hands were free to help kill the prey
  • Probably had very strong legs, used to slash prey with its sickle-claw
  • Based on Utahraptor’s size, it may have been able to make 5-6 feet long cuts with one slash by rotating its limbs and flexing its claw (probably could have killed prey with one kick)
  • Bipedal and agile
  • Based on the length of the tibia (scientists think it was subequal in length to the femur, like in other large theropods), scientists think Utahraptor were not as fast proportionally as Deinonychus or Velociraptor (would have been at least as fast as iguanodonts in the area and maybe faster than sauropods)
  • Like other dromaeisauridae, had a caudal vertebrae to stiffen its tail, for balance
  • Utahraptor had blade-like, serrated teeth (one tooth was 45 mm or 1.7 in long)
  • Premaxillary teeth are different from other described dromaeosaurs (had simple, blunt serrations, except for Dromaeosaurus–so Utahraptor may be in subfamily Dromaeosaurinae instead of Velociraptorinae)
  • Utahraptor had large eyes
  • Had a curved, flexible neck
  • No feathers found with Utahraptor specimens, but strong evidence that dromaeosaurids had feathers (partly because Microraptor, one of the oldest known dromaeosaurs, had feathers, as well as other dromaeosaurids)
  • Utahraptor’s feathers probably gave it an added lift, but would not have flown
  • Utahraptor was the most intelligent animal of its time and habitat
  • Utahraptor co-existed nodosaur (spiny and armored), iguandons and sauropods
  • May have gone after larger prey (iguanodonts, sauropods up to 65 ft or 20 m long)
  • Dromaeosaurs are sophisticated hunters, and could hunt prey bigger than themselves (dromaeosaurs that were 11.5 ft or 3.5m long and 70 kg or 150 lb could successfully hunt prey that was 8 m or 26 ft long and 1000-2000 kg or 2200-4400 lbs)
  • Utahraptor may have hunted in groups
  • Until 2014, only isolated specimens of Utahraptor have been found, but there’s evidence that Deinonychus hunted in packs, so scientists think other dromaeosaurs such as Utahraptor may have hunted in packs too
  • 2014: A 16-foot adult, 4 adolescents, and 3-foot baby Utahraptor were found together in Utah, which may give insight into how they behaved (Dr. Kirkland heading the study)
  • Kirkland heard about the site in 2001 when a geology student found what looked like a human arm bone, but turned out to be part of a dinosaur foot (hollow bone, which meant carnivore)
  • The 9-ton block of sandstone has many Utahraptors in it; fossils re packed tight, some stacked 3 feet thick, so they may have died together or at different times in quicksand
  • Dromaeosaurs are some of the rarest dinosaurs in the North American fossil record, according to paleontologist Stephen Brusatte, from the University of Edinburgh
  • Kirkland called the find “the Rosetta stone for Utah dinosaur collecting”
  • The bones are in sandstone and red mudstone. In the Cretaceous, lakes surrounded the area, and as the lakes drained, it would have turned the ground to quicksand. Probably killed the Utahraptors and preserved them.
  • Also in the area was an iguanodont (scent may have attracted the Utahraptors)
  • Because of Jurassic Park, raptors are often depicted as pack hunters, but there’s not much actual evidence for it (best evidence is a trackway in China that appears to show a group of dromaeosaurids going after an iguanodontian
  • The find may determine whether Utahraptor hunted in packs or not
  • Ways to see if they hunted together are if the skeletons show interweaving or the degree the bones were damaged by sun and exposure before being buried, to show if they were buried at the same time or at different times
  • Will take years to study fully
  • Pictures at http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2015/01/11/ams-scientists-unearth-9-ton-quicksand-block-containing-utahraptor-skeletons/#.VZ2hDxNVhHw
  • Robert Bakker (actually suggested the name for the Utahraptor genus) wrote Raptor Red (first novel, published in 1995)
  • Told from POV of Utahraptor Raptor Red, using many of Bakker’s theories about dinosaur behaviors, intelligence, and habitats (as well as studies of modern animals)
  • Follows a year of Red’s life (loses her mate, finds her sister, struggles to survive)
  • Bakker was inspired from Ernest Thompson Seton’s works, which show life through the POV of predators
  • Bakker’s goal was to portray predators as more than just evil (empathetic)
  • Got mostly positive feedback, but some critics thought the public would think Bakker’s theories on Utahraptors were fact
  • One reviewer compared it to Pride and Prejudice (Red’s sister does not approve of Red’s new mate)
  • Daily Variety reported in 1996 that producer Robert Halmi Sr. made deals with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to adapt Raptor Red (and Animal Farm), but no official projects were announced
  • In 1999 BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs portrayed Utahraptor as living in Europe (but it only has been found in the U.S.)
  • Can see Utahraptor at the Natural History Museum of Utah, Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology and USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum
  • Many dinosaurs in North America had similar-looking relatives in Europe and Asia during the Cretaceous (because of the continental drift). Utahraptor’s counterpart was Achillobator, a smaller version that lived in central Asia and had extra-thick Achilles tendons in its heels
  • Dromaeosaurs are “swift lizards”
  • Dromaeosaurs had unique wrist-joints that allowed hands to pivot sideways (similar to a bird folding its wing)
  • Dromaeosaurs are evidence that dinosaurs were active, related to birds, and probably warm-blooded
  • Dromaeosaurine is a subfamily of Dromaeosauridae
  • Another subfamily is velociraptorine
  • Dromaeosaurines have stout, box-shaped skulls compared to other subfamilies of dromaeosaurids (narrow snouts); dromaeosaurines had thicker legs (built for strength, not speed)
  • Dromaeosaurines lived in the US and Canada, Mongolia, and possibly Denmark and Ethiopia (teeth found in Ethiopia, may have been a dromaeosaurine from the late Jurassic)
  • Late Cretaceous dromaeosaurines were small (6 ft or 1.8 m long)
  • Fun Fact: Sinosauropteryx, which means “Chinese reptilian wing” is a compsognathid that was described in 1996, and was the first dinosaur not in the Avialae group to have evidence of feathers

For those who may prefer reading, see below for the full transcript of our interview with Dr. Jim Kirkland: Continue reading I Know Dino Podcast Show Notes: Utahraptor (Episode 34)

This Week in Dinosaur News: New Dinosaurs Wendiceratops and Zhenyuanlong, Tyrannosauridae in Japan, and Dinosaur Eggs

Here’s what came out this week in dinosaur news:

  • A new dinosaur called Wendiceratops was discovered, according to CNN and MSN
  • Reuters reported on another new dinosaur from China, called Zhenyuanlong, which looked a lot like a bird
  • The teeth (and first fossils) of a tyrannosauridae were found in Japan in a joint investigation between Nagasaki city and the Fukui Prefectural Museum, according to WSJ
  • Smithsonian reported on researchers finding a potential nesting site in southern Japan containing 90 fragments of 5 types of dinosaur eggs

This Week in Dinosaur News: Titanosaurs, New Feathered Dinosaur Huanansaurus ganzhouensis, Sue the T-rex Bike, and More

Here’s what came out this week in dinosaur news:

  • ABC reported that the largest dinosaur discovered in Australia, a titanosaur called Cooper, will soon go on display and be officially described
  • Smithsonian reported that paleontologists are on their way to solving the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry mystery (predators such as Allosaurus may have died from float and bloat or toxic water)
  • Forbes gave a list of the 5 most gruesome dinosaur injuries discovered, including an amputated sauropod tail and a cannabalistic Majungasaurus
  • ScienceNordic reported on a new feathered dinosaur species found in China, an oviraptorosaur called Huanansaurus ganzhouensis
  • HuffingtonPost reported on a “dinosaur turtle” found in Russia
  • Quartz published an article on how we still have a lot of dinosaurs to discover and there may be as many as 3,400 types
  • Kotaku shared pictures of a microscale version of Jurassic Park, built by Sami Mustonen
  • Distractify shared that someone is selling a Sue the T-rex bike on Craigslist for $2,000

I Know Dino Podcast Show Notes: Parasaurolophus (Episode 33)

Episode 33 is all about Parasaurolophus, a “duck-billed” hadrosaur.

You can listen to our free podcast, with all our episodes, on iTunes at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/i-know-dino/id960976813?mt=2

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The dinosaur of the day: Parasaurolophus, whose name means “near crested lizard
  • Lived in North America in the Cretaceous
  • Fossils found in Alberta, Canada, New Mexico and Utah
  • Fossils first found in 1920
  • First described in 1922 by William Parks, based on a partial skeleton and skull found in Alberta
  • Named after Sir Byron Edmund Walker, chairman of the board of trustees of the Royal Ontario Museum
  • Estimated length of 31 feet (9.5 m), weighed 2.5 tons, skull about 5 feet (1.6 m) long
  • Both bipedal and quadrupedal
  • Probably ran on two legs, but walked on all fours when eating
  • Thought to be closely related to Saurolophus (because of similar-ish crest); but now thought to be an offshoot of lambeosaurines, different from Corythosaurus (episode 31)
  • Thought to be similar to Saurolophus originally because of its crest (but Saurolophus is part of the sub-family Saurolophus, which had no crests or solid crests) Parasaurolophus’ crest was hollow and is part of lambeosaurine sub-family)
  • Three species: Parasaurolophus walkeri (type species), Parasaurolophus tubicen, and Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus (short-crested)
  • P. walkeri has a straight crest and simple tubes; P. tubicen has a long crest with complex tubs; P. cyrtocristatus has smallest, most curved crest
  • One specimen of P. walkeri may have had a disease. This is based on a v-shaped gap in the vertebrae, near the base of the neck (though another interpretation is there was a skin flap/ligament to support the head or the fossils were damaged during preparation)
  • Charles H. Sternberg found a partial skull in 1921 in the Kirtland Formation in New Mexico; sent to Uppsala, Sweden, and Carl Wiman described the second species, Parasaurolophus tubicen (tubicen comes from the Latin word for “trumpeter”
  • In 1995 a second, nearly complete P. tubicen skull was found in New Mexico
  • P. tubicen existed slightly later than P. cyrtocristatus in New Mexico, and lived among ornithischians, saurischians, pterosaurs, turtles, and fish
  • In 1961 John Ostrom described the third species, P. cyrtocristatus, based on a partial skull with a short crest and most of a skeleton (name comes from Latin curtus “shortened” and cristatus “crested”
  • New Mexico at the time of P. cyrtocristatus was swampy, close to the Cretaceous Interior Seaway
  • P. cyrtocristatus probably lived among Pentaceratops sternbergii (ceratopsian), pachycephalosaur Stegoceras novomexicanum
  • P. tubicen is largest species, P. cyrtocristatus is smallest
  • In 2014 PLOS ONE published a study by Xing about another possible species, P. jiayensis (originally Charonosaurus jiayensis, found in China)
  • Charonosaurus was named after Charon (boater in Greek mythology who rowed the deceased across the underworld)
  • Dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous in North America were very similar to the dinosaurs in Eurasia (Charonosaurus was slightly larger)
  • Parasaurolophus had a hollow crest, with tubes that ran from each nostril to the end of the crest (most complex tubes in P. tubicen, and simpler crests in P. walkeri)
  • Until the 1960s, scientists thought hadrosaurids were amphibious (and thought the crest helped them stay underwater)
  • Now, they think it may have been used for temperature regulation, make low-frequency sounds (to alert others)–Wiman suggested in 1931 when describing P. tubicen since the crest’s internal structure was similar to a swan–also, hardosaurid inner ears are similar to crocodile, so may have been sensitive to high frequencies)
  • Scientists used to think the crest was used to either support the head/neck, keep water out of its lungs (back when they thought it was amphibious), used as a snorkel, used as a weapon, used as a branch guard (but it probably ate low-lying plants), stored salt glands (found in marine animals, but doesn’t explain the difference in the crests of the three species), gave a greater sense of smell
  • P.E. Wheeler proposed thermoregulation in 1978 (surface area of crest took in heat during the day and dissipated at night)
  • In 2009, 17-year-old Kevin Terris, went with paleontologist Andrew Farke on a fossil hunt, and he found “Joe” the baby Parasaurolophus (also the best preserved specimen)
  • Parasaurolophus started growing its crest at 25% adult size (sooner than Corythosaurus, which may be why the crests are bigger); also Parasaurolophus grew fast
  • Parasaurolophus “Joe” was about one year old, 25% adult sized
  • Joe’s skull crest had a little bump, which shows how drastically the shape of the crest changed throughout a Parasaurolophus‘ life
  • Joe is named after Joe Augustyn (family sponsored the skeleton preparation)
  • Can see Joe on display at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology
  • See dinosaurjoe.org for a virtual museum about Joe
  • In the 1990s, some American paleontologists and computer scientists scanned a Parasaurolophus skull and simulated the sounds it probably made
  • Parasaurolophus sounds changed after puberty (younger ones could hear and emit higher frequency sounds)
  • Parasaurolophus was a herd animal
  • Migrated from shorelines to higher grounds to reproduce
  • Pebbly scale prints were found on one Parasaurolophus skeleton
  • Narrow beak, so probably choosier about what it ate
  • Continually replaced teeth; had hundreds of teeth and a beak to crop plants
  • Lived in a warm climate (warmer than Alberta today), no frost, wetter and drier seasons
  • Lots of conifers, as well as ferns and angiosperms
  • No natural defenses (like Corythosaurus)
  • Probably prey to Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus and Daspletosaurus (easier to hunt than a ceratopsian with horns)
  • Other predators may have been Bistahieversor, Teratophoneus, and Troodon (especially to smaller, younger Parasaurolophus)
  • But could run on two legs
  • Hadrosaurs were the largest land animals that could run on two legs
  • Other dinosaurs in North America in the Cretaceous included Albertosaurus, Nanotyrannus, Lambeosaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus
  • Parasaurolophus was in Jurassic Park 1, 2, 3 (short appearances, drinking from a lake, in a field, captured by InGen, etc.)
  • The Parasaurolophus in Jurassic Park 2 was nicknamed Elvis, because of its pompadour-like horn (and the character Roland Tembo didn’t bother to learn the dinosaur’s name)
  • Jack Horner said that the actors of Jurassic Park had a hard time pronouncing Parasaurolophus
  • A version of Parasaurolophus appeared in Star Trek Voyager (they were humanoid aliens called “Voths”, descended from Parasaurolophus but fled the galaxy before dinosaurs went extinct)
  • Parasaurolophus was also Ducky in Land Before Time
  • Hadrosaurid family is known for their crests on their heads (may be used to help recognize individuals, make sounds, or help regulate body temperature)
  • Fun Fact: Within an area of about 40 square kilometers, more than 200 oviraptorosaurian nests with eggs have been discovered in the Ganzhou region.

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