In our 21st episode of I Know Dino, we had the pleasure of speaking with Josh Cotton, a paleo-artist currently working at the Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology updating illustrations and videos for exhibits. You can see his work on his website, joshcotton.com, as well as the BYU Museum of Paleontology Youtube channel and the BYU Facebook page. See his Camptosaurus digital sculpt time lapse for an excellent example.
We also have the honor of being able to feature MYU Museum’s The Great Dinosaur Discovery, a 1976 film that features the museum’s founder, Dr. Jim Jensen, and his team:
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Ultrasaurus/Ultrasauros
- The holotype fossils of Ultrasaurus are incomplete (based only on a partial humerus), so not everyone sees Ultrasaurus as its own genus (or species)
- When Ultrasaurus was first described, it was supposedly 90 feet long and 180 tons, and the biggest dinosaur ever. However, Ultrasaurus may have been comprised of several dinosaurs found in the same quarry (Supersaurus and Brachiosaurus)
- Jim Jensen informally named Ultrasaurus machintoshi (type species)
- The holotype of Ultrasauros macintoshi was described as a particular dorsal vertabrae later found to be from a supersaurus so Ultrasauros macintoshi is now considered to be a subjective junior synonym of Supersaurus
- (Jim Jensen discovered Supersaurus in 1972)
- When Jim Jensen was describing Supersaurus before publication he was using the name as a “nomen nudum” meaning “naked name” in latin. This term is used for any scientific name (typically a species) that hasn’t been rigourously defined or published yet.
- The scapulocoracoid (shoulder bone) described in conjunction with the holotype vertabrae was later found to most likely be that of a brachiosaurus
- In paleontology, a chimera is a fossil which was reconstructed with elements coming from more than a single species (or genus) of animal
- Ultrasaurus lived in the early Cretaceous period (110 to 100 million years ago), in what is now Korea
- Haang Mook Kim discovered Ultrasaurus in 1983, and thought Ultrasaurus was a relative of a dinosaur Jim Jensen had found in the U.S. in 1979 (Jensen had only informally called his dinosaur Ultrasaurus, and did not formally describe his dinosaur until 1985.)
- Kim thought his Ultrasaurus was big because he thought he had found a giant ulna (lower arm bone), but it turned out to be a partial humerus, so his Ultrasaurus would not have been as big as previously thought
- Haang Mook Kim named his dinosaur Ultrasaurus tabriensis
- Because Kim used the name Ultrasaurus formally first, Jensen could not name his dinosaur Ultrasaurus, so he named it Ultrasauros (with an o); however this dinosaur turned out to be a mix of Supersaurus and Brachiosaurus fossils
- Some scientists think Ultrasaurus is a “nomen dubium”, which means “doubtful name” because it is only described from part of a bone which could be classified as an existing dinosaur if more of it had been found
- Ultrasauros probably traveled in herds and may have migrated for food
- Scientists used to think that sauropods, such as Ultrasauros, Brachiosaurus, and Supersaurus, had a second brain (now they think it was an enlargement in the spinal cord in the hip area, which is larger than the actual brain)
- Fun fact: Sauropods had a low EQ (brain to body weight)–about 0.2. Humans are about 7.5, dolphins about 4, dogs about 1, and rats about 0.4.
For those who may prefer reading, see below for the full transcript of our interview with Josh Cotton:Continue Reading …