Episode 406: Dinosaurs in Alabama with Skye Walker. Skye joins us to discuss fossil preparation, working in collections and science communication.
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Skye Walker, a paleontologist, fossil preparator collections assistant at Auburn University Museum of Natural History, and science communicator. Follow her on Instagram, twitter, & tiktok @thedinomancer.
The dinosaur of the day: Foraminacephale
- Pachycephalosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous in what is now Canada
- Looks kind of like Pachycephalosaurus, walked on two legs, had a dome, long tail
- Small and bipedal
- Estimated to be 4.9 ft (1.5 m) long and weigh 22 lb (10 kg)
- Had a thick dome on its skull
- Top of the dome had lots of small pits
- Bone on the front and top of the head projects backwards and downwards over the base of the skull
- Type species is Foraminacephale brevis
- Fossils found in 1902
- First thought to be a new species of Stegoceras (Stegoceras brevis), by Lawrence Lambe, then later assigned to Prenocephale and then to Sphaerotholus
- Lawrence Lambe wrote: “As a rule the bones are well preserved but very fragile, so that the greatest care is requisite, and special precautions necessary, before their removal can be attempted.”
- Also wrote: “For these bones the name Stegoceras validus is proposed with the hope that future discoveries may aid in a clearer understanding of their affinities.”
- Ryan Schott suggested new genus name Foraminacephale in 2011 thesis
- Formally named by Ryan Schott and David Evans in 2016
- Genus name means “foramina head” (open holes)
- 21 specimens found, so there’s a growth series
- Most specimens found were subadults
- Growth series helps show how Foraminacephale is different from Stegoceras
- Young Stegoceras had a flat dome, but young Foraminacephale specimens had slight domes. Foraminacephale also had less empty space in the skull roof, and the sides of the dome were less angled and the dome thickened at a slower rate than Stegoceras
- Dome gets taller with age, but not really wider
- Histology showed the domes also became less porous with age (less empty space)
- Other dinosaurs that lived around the same time and place include ankylosaurs, ceratopsians, hadrosaurs, theropods
- Other animals that lived around the same time and place include amphibians, crocodilians, lizards, fish, plesiosaurs, mammals
Only one dinosaur embryo has been found in the eastern United States (in Alabama). Amazingly, it was also found in a marine sediment.
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