Episode 364 is all about Palaeoscincus, the “ancient skink” that was named after a single tooth, but is now considered dubious.
We also interview Sterling Nesbitt, an associate professor at Virginia Tech in the Department of Geosciences, a research associate/affiliate of a number of museums, who has over 100 publications focusing on the origin of dinosaurs and their early evolution.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- Hadrosaur beaks, Hesperornis, & Ichthyornis talks from the Avialan Evolution & Biology session at SVP 2021 source
- A recent paper has tips on staying safe while conducting field work source
- A new list of resources has recommendations for LGBTQA+ paleontologists and students source
- Another list of resources has recommendations for taking care of your mental health source
- Dippy is headed back to the Natural History Museum in London from Summer 2022 through December 2022 source
- The American Heritage Center in Wyoming has a digital replica of the Triceratops from the original King Kong movie source
- The Buffalo Museum of Science in New York will have the traveling exhibit Antarctic Dinosaurs starting in February source
- Flint Hills Discovery Center in Kansas has the exhibit Dinosaur Discoveries: Ancient Fossils, New Ideas until January 2nd source
- The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, just received five Guinness World Records for their fossil collections (mostly dinosaurs) source
The dinosaur of the day: Palaeoscincus
- Dubious ankylosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous in what is now Montana, US (Judith River Formation)
- Looks like other ankylosaurs, often depicted with armor like Edmontonia with spikes along the sides of the body and a tail club
- Probably had a low, broad body, and stout limbs
- Type and only species is Palaeoscincus costatus
- Genus name means “ancient skink”
- Species name means “the ribbed one”
- First ankylosaur named based on fossils found in the U.S.
- Named by Joseph Leidy in 1856 based on one tooth
- Tooth found by Ferdinand Hayden
- Joseph Leidy, 1856 wrote “Notice of remains of extinct reptiles and fishes, discovered by Dr. F. V. Hayden in the Bad Lands of the Judith River, Nebraska Territories”
- Two paragraphs about Palaeoscincus, includes: “The fang is flattened cylindrical and is hollow”
- Leidy described it more in 1859
- O.C. Marsh wrote in 1892, “Notes on Mesozoic vertebrate fossils”
- Marsh said “many similar teeth have since been found, both in the Judith Basin and in various other localities of the Laramie”
- Said a smaller species found in Wyoming, and called it Palaeoscincus latus
- Said the crown of the tooth was broader and the apex more pointed
- Also said a tooth Cope described in 1882 as a mammalian premolar and the type of Meniscoessus belongs to Palaeoscincus or something similar
- Walter Coombs Jr. in 2010 wrote, “Teeth and taxonomy in ankylosaurs”
- Said there were five sources of dinosaur teeth variation: positional, ontogenetic, intraspecific, taxonomic, and chimeric
- Examples of positional variation include tooth size, number of cusps, where in the dental row the tooth is from, and ornamentation, such as grooves or ridges or serrations
- Said teeth are rarely analyzed with enough detail to name a new taxon based on teeth
- Said Palaeoscincus costatus is a nomen dubium, because not enough detail to tell the difference based on its tooth
- Other Palaeoscincus species that have since been reassigned:
- Palaeoscincus africanus, named in 1910/1912 by Robert Broom based on a partial jaw found in the Kirkwood Formation of South Africa, now known as the stegosaurid Paranthodon
- Palaeoscincus asper, named by Lawrence Lambe in 1902 (means “the rough one”), based on a tooth found in Dinosaur Park Formation in Alberta, Canada. Now considered to be Euoplocephalus
- Palaeoscincus latus, named by O.C. Marsh in 1892 (means “the wide one”) based on a tooth found in the Lance Formation in Wyoming. Now thought to be a pachycephalosaurid
- Palaeoscincus rugosidens, named by Charles Whitney Gilmore in 1930 (means “rough tooth”), based on a skull and partial skeleton found in the Two Medicine Formation in Montana. Now thought to be Edmontonia or Chassternbergia (most illustrations based on this one)
Fun Fact: The “duck test” is wrong and the Digesting Duck automaton can’t digest anything.
Our 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is available now! Find the perfect gift for the dinosaur enthusiast in your life (or yourself). This year’s guide features a dinosaur waffle maker, a Jeff Goldblum Pillow, a mug with a sauropod neck for a handle, and much more! Head to https://bit.ly/dinogifts21 to see the full list of 30+ gift ideas.