In our 81st episode, we got to speak with members of the Saurian team and hear updates on their game as well as what’s going on with their awesome Kickstarter project.
As you may recall from our interview with Saurian in episode 43, Saurian is an open world survival game that is both beautiful and scientifically accurate. In the game you play as one of four dinosaurs: Dakotaraptor, Pachycephalosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, or Triceratops, and you must survive from hatchling to adult in the Hell Creek ecosystem. Each life stage comes with new challenges, all while managing physical needs and avoiding predators and natural hazards.
We also talk about Citipati, an oviraptorid theropod that had a tall crest on its head like a cassowary.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Citipati
- Oviraptorid theropod that lived in the Late Cretaceous in what is now Mongolia
- Name means funeral pyre lord
- In Tibetan Buddhist folklore, Citipati were two monks who were in a deep trance when a thief beheaded them. Citipati are usually shown as a pair of dancing skeletons surrounded by a flame
- Described in 2001 by James M. Clark, Mark Norell, and Rinchen Barsbold
- 2001 paper called “Two New Oviraptorids (Theropod: Oviraptorosauria), Upper Cretaceous Djadokhta Formation, Ukhaa Tolgod, Mongolia
- Type species is Citipati osmolskae
- Species name is in honor of Halszka Osmólska, a paleontologist known for oviraptorids and Mongolian theropods
- Found in the Gobi Desert
- Many well-preserved skeletons found, and some found brooding on top of nests
- Holotype is of a nearly complete skeleton
- There may be a second species, but it’s unnamed
- One of the larger oviraptorids, though not as large as Gigantoraptor (named in 2007)
- About 10 ft (3 m) long
- Had a long neck and short tail
- Had a short skull with lots of openings in the bone structure
- Had a toothless beak and a tall crest (similar to a cassowary)
- Very similar to Oviraptor, and often the two are confused
- In 1981 a large oviraptorid with a distinct crest was called Oviraptor, but has been tentatively reclassified as a second species of Citipati (and has the large tall headcrest like a cassowary, taller than other Citipatis)
- This skeleton was so well known it’s often depicted as Oviraptor (especially since the Oviraptor holotype had a crushed skull so it’s unclear exactly what it looked like)
- Four Citipati specimens have been found in brooding positions on top of egg clutches. One has the nickname Big Mamma (described in 1999 and referred to as Citipati in 2001)
- Possible that Citipati had feathers on its forelimbs (position suggests the feathers would help cover the nest, with its arms and legs spread out on each side of the nest)
- Modern birds assume a similar posture, which further links birds and theropod dinosaurs
- The discovery of Citipati brooding changed the way scientists thought about Ovirapotorids, especially in 1993 when they found a Citipati embryo inside and egg thought to be a Protoceratops. Instead of being egg thiefs, they cared for their young
- Many Citipati eggs have been found
- Citipati eggs are oval shaped and were arranged in concentric circles of up to three layers. Clutches may have had as many as 22 eggs
- Eggs are 7 in (18 cm) long
- In the same nest where scientists found the Citipati embryo, they also found two skulls of embryonic Byronosaurus (a troodontid), which means Citipati may have preyed on them or an adult Byronosaurus laid eggs in the Citipati nest so that Citipati would raise them (nest parasitism)
- Oviraptorids lived in the Cretaceous in Mongolia and North America
- They used to be considered ornithomimids, but now they’re part of Maniraptora
- They are generally small, with short skulls, toothless jaws, and crests on the skull
- Had feathers
- Compared to other maniraptorans, they have short tails
- Fun fact: There have been over 300 animal taxa named after Charles Darwin including at least 2 dinosaurs. One, the Demandasaurus darwini, was discovered in Spain and named in 2011. It’s a diplodocoid sauropod from the Cretaceous. The Darwinsaurus evolutionis was named in 2012 after being referred to by different names since the 1800s, but may be a nomen dubium for another hadrosaur (also from the Cretaceous).
For those who may prefer reading, see below for the full transcript of our interview with the Saurian team:Continue Reading …