Episode 101 is all about Barsboldia, a large hadrosaurid with tall neural spines.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Barsboldia
- Type species is Barsboldia sicinskii
- A large hadrosaurid dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous and was found in Mongolia in the Nemegt Formation
- Name means “of Barsbold” and Barsboldia was named after a famous Mongolian paleontologist Dr. Rinchen Barsbold
- Teresa Maryańska and Halszka Osmólska named Barsboldia in 1981, based on a partial skeleton with nine back vertebrae, nine hip vertebrae, fifteen tail vertebrae, a partial pelvis, and some ribs
- Maryańska and Osmólska said Barsboldia was a lambeosaurine (hollow-crested hadrosaur) which was the first from the Nemegt Formation (though they didn’t find a skull)
- But it has lambeosaurine features, such as a sacrum with a keel along the bottom, and bones that look similar to Hypacrosaurus
- However, since there’s only a partial skeleton and no skull, some scientists consider it a dubious genus. And a 2011 study suggested it was actually a saurolophine
- 2011 study was by Albert Prieto-Márquez, called A Reappraisal of Barsboldia sicinskii (Dinosauria: Hadrosauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia, published in the Journal of Paleontology
- Makes sense, because by the time Barsboldia lived, saurolophines had mostly replaced lambeosaurines
- If a saurolophine, Barsboldia would have had a small solid bone crest or maybe even no bone crest on its head
- Though some studies of Edmontosaurus, a relative, have found that some saurolophines did have soft tissue crests (rarely preserved)
- Had tall neural spines, especially the ones over the hips (tips in the first few tail vertebrae were club shaped, possibly because of old age)
- Brecht said that he has a hypothesis about Barsboldia: “It had large spines, just like Acrocanthosaurus. Maybe inside this tall spines, there fat reserves saved to survive the desserts of Mongolia. Just like camels today.”
- Since Barsboldia is a hadrosaur it was both bipedal and quadrupedal, and would have eaten plants with lots of continually replaced teeth
- Not clear how large it was
- Other dinosaurs at the same time and place included Saurolophus (hadrosaur), Tarchia (ankylosaur), Nemegtosaurus (titanosaur) and predators such as Alioramus and Tarbosaurus (tyrannosaurs)
- Two subfamilies of hadrosaurids: lambeosaurines (hollow crests) and saurolophines with solid crests (pre-2010 most hadrosaurines classified as saurolophines) (talk more about it on Episode 31: Corythosaurus)
- Before the group was known as Hardosaurinae (hadrosaurs that for the most part didn’t have crests), but then the genus Hadrosaurus was found to be more primitive so the subfamily was renamed Saurolophinae
- Saurolophinae dinosaurs generally either have no crests or solid crests (the other subfamily is Lambosaurinae, which have hollow crests)
- Fun fact: Nyasasaurus at 243MYA is sometimes considered to be the earliest known dinosaur. Unfortunately it is a little complicated looking at specimens from that timeframe since you’re drawing a line in random evolutions between dinosaurs and dinosauromorphs (the larger group of all animals resembling dinosaurs). So it has some characteristics that are typical of dinosaurs and others that aren’t seen in other dinosaurs… The paper “The precise temporal calibration of dinosaur origins” by Claudia Marsicano and others estimates the origin of dinosaurs in the Carnian period (the period ~228–235MYA). This is based on an analysis of a basin in northwest Argentina which luckily has the “earliest dinosaur fossils of all three major clades (Ornithischia, Sauropodomorpha, and Theropoda)” Depending on how selective you want to be, the earliest known dinosaur could also be Herrerasaurus, Eoraptor, Saturnalia, Alwalkeria, Staurikosaurus, or others which are all approximately 220-230Ma (~10Ma younger than Nyasasaurus). It’s also important to note that we almost certainly never find THE earliest dinosaur, since that would be a specific individual and the fossil record is not nearly complete enough to get that kind of resolution.
This episode was brought to you by:
The Royal Tyrrell Museum. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is located in southern Alberta, Canada. One of the top paleontological research institutes in the world, the entire museum is dedicated to the science of paleontology. It’s definitely a must see for every dinosaur enthusiast. More information can be found at tyrrellmuseum.com.