Episode 265 is all about Altirhinus, an Iguanodontian with both a beak and teeth for chewing.
Interview with Mel Murray, Science Communicator and Digital Content Producer at the Australian Museum in Sydney. She made the corresponding app for the Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family exhibition. And she’s working to digitize fossils for public use. Follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter, and check out the video of our visit.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- A new Middle Jurassic ornithischian, Sanxiasaurus, was found near the Three Gorges Dam in China source
- Two new pieces of 100 million-year-old amber were found with lice feeding on dinosaur feathers source
- Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s Great Hall will be closing on Dec 31 for its renovations source
- Mary Anning may finally get her statue in Lyme Regis after another 15,000 pounds were donated to the town source
- A team from UC Berkeley created a digital T. rex that is able to kick a soccer ball source
- Monroeville Convention Center in Pennsylvania will have a Dinosaur Adventure exhibit source
- Colin Trevorrow recently posted a video on Twitter of a dinosaur robot from Jurassic World 3 source
The dinosaur of the day: Altirhinus
- Iguanodontian ornithopod that lived in the Early Cretaceous in what is now Mongolia (Khukhtek Formation)
- Estimated to be 21 ft (6.5 m) long, and weigh 1.1 tonnes
- Had a wide mouth and a tall arch on the top of its snout
- Had a beak that could crop food (also had teeth to chew)
- Had a wide snout, which may have helped with grazing food on the ground
- Had a gap between the beak and the back teeth (diastema), so it could crop plants and chew at the same time
- Nasal arch may have helped it cool down, or preserved moisture, or helped its sense of smell
- Could also have been for display or helped with communication
- Forelimbs were about half the length of hindlimbs
- The first digit in the hands were spikes, like Iguanodon’s thumb spikes
- May have used for defense, or to break open seeds or fruit
- The fifth digit of the hand was opposable-ish and may have helped with grabbing food
- Had thick wrist bones, and the three middle digits of the hands were wide, could extend out, and ended in hoof like bones, which shows they could support weight
- Bipedal and quadrupedal (probably walked and ran on two legs and probably was on all fours when eating food from the ground)
- Type species is Altirhinus kurzanovi
- Genus name means “high snout”
- Species name is in honor of Russian paleontologist Sergei Kurzanov, who found the original specimens
- Found in 1981 during expeditions by Soviet and Mongolian scientists
- Several specimens found, different sizes and ages (at least five specimens, and two were juveniles)
- Originally classified as Iguanodon orientalis (described in 1952)
- Iguanodon orientalis was found to be too fragmentary, not have enough unique features, and be too similar to Iguanodon bernissartensis (and type specimen of Iguanodon orientalis was found to be different from the Altirhinus specimens found in 1981)
- So David Norman named Altirhinus kurzanovi in 1998
- May have lived among Psittacosaurus and Shamosaurus, an ankylosaurid
Fun Fact: Lice feed on almost every modern species of mammal and bird—and likely most Mesozoic dinosaurs with feathers as well.
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Fascinating topic. Nymphs are the immature forms of insects that gradually grow through a series of active stages but do not go through a compete metamorphosis. Examples include dragonflies, grasshoppers and aphids as opposed to butterflies or true flies which have a larval stage, a resting pupal stage and then a distinct winged adult.