The Alaskan ceratopsian Pachyrhinosaurus as a Late Cretaceous musk ox analog, illustrated by Mark Witton. Accompanied by an enlightening essay on his blog, detailing his reasons for decking them out in a thick layer of protofeathers.
I saw this painting at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs and was going to upload it here. Then I remembered that David Orr (gallantcannibal) is already on Tumblr. It’s getting harder to bring new content to Tumblr, which is a good thing.
“Cetiosaurus mogrebiensis was a sauropod from the Middle to Late Jurassic Period, 181-169 million years ago, found from Africa (Marocco).Length up to 18 meters (59ft).Cetiosaurus was the first sauropod to be discovered and named.”
i think sauropods have the most beautiful and pleasing shape… maybe that’s why i like geese so much as well hahaha
Earth’s earliest dinosaur may have been discovered
The earliest dinosaur fossils reveal a dog-size beast that lived on Pangaea some 245 million years ago.
Birds Descended from Gliding Dinosaurs:
“The oldest known feathered dinosaurs would be Anchiornis (155 million years ago) and Epidexipteryx (between 152 million and 168 million years ago),” Yale University paleontologist Nicholas Longrich told Discovery News. “Feathers seem to have appeared initially for insulation. Basically they start out as down, and later are used to make wings.”
Life’s interesting, when you think about it. I’m not talking about the grand philosophy of existentialism or anything like that; I’m talking biological life. The fossil record is relatively quiet for four billion years of Earth’s natural history – life in complex forms is a more recent phenomenon. This quiet period of four billion years is commonly called the Pre-Cambrian, which ended with the Ediacaran Period. The most complex species alive were about as interesting as jellyfish and worms. Perhaps this is why the Cambrian is known for its explosive diversification. This is the Cambrian Explosion, and this is where our story begins.
Originally unearthed in the near-legendary Cambrian fossil site of the Burgess Shales, Canada, Anomalocaris has also been unearthed in places like China and Australia. It has been called the dinosaur of the Cambrian, as Anomalocaris’ depiction has evolved throughout the 20th century much like how that of the dinosaurs did throughout the 19th (culminating, perhaps, in the Crystal Palace exhibition). This has ranged from body parts being stitched onto the wrong animals to questions regarding its diet and how it actually moved. Early appraisals of Anomalocaris believed its constituent parts to be jellyfish and sea cucumbers. This is quite obviously an awkward start for our understanding of what is currently known as the dominant predator of the Cambrian period.
It is considered to be a comparative giant in the Cambrian period, patrolling the oceans long before the sharks. Fossils from the Chengjiang deposits of China suggest that some species of Anomalocaris may have reached lengths of 2 metres. They also suggest that Anomalocaris had a “tail fan” protruding from its abdomen, perhaps allowing it to swim like a fish. Some point to the “wings” growing from its torso, however, to suggest that Anomalocaris instead glided through the water like a ray. Experiments run in the 1990’s with a life-sized model of Anomalocaris support the view that it swam with its underwater wings.
Anomalocaris is theorised to have preyed on such animals as trilobites (common throughout the Palaeozoic Era), dragging them into its maw of teeth with limb-like mandibles. This view has been questioned due to new fossils that show little evidence associated with eating such hard-shelled creatures. It has been suggested that Anomalocaris instead fed on invertebrates, with researchers citing serrated plating within the creature’s mouth as a method to prevent its prey from escaping. It is noted in other literature, however, that anomalocarids developed a variety of predatory strategies suggesting that some species may have been more adapted to preying on harder-shelled trilobites.
In the 1990’s Chinese palaeontologists began comparing the fossils of such early Cambrian creatures such as Anomalocaris and Opabinia (another Burgess Shale fossil) and theorised that they belonged within the one taxonomic category and were possibly even related to arthropods. Scientists looking at Australian fossils have even found what they suggest is evidence of super-sight, with about 16 800 lenses (the dragonfly, with the most lenses of any animal, has 28 000), a definite advantage for such an early predator and considered evidence of its relation to arthropods. It’s not hard to see why when you look at the shape of Anomalocaris. This also provides a different perspective to the earlier view, which suggested that Anomalocaris was an evolutionary dead-end. It’s a stigma I guess of being extinct.
It seems a bit confusing why Anomalocaris disappeared. The Cambrian sites are pretty much all we have to go off, and they’re mostly very well preserved sites. It was thought that Anomalocaris and its kind went extinct at the end of the Cambrian period in a mass extinction, reflecting its curious absence from the fossil record outside of that period of explosive diversification. The recent discovery of Schinderhannes, a later anomalocarid from the Devonian period, is evidence of the anomalocarids surviving for hundreds of millions of years longer than previously believed. It is thought that despite this longevity, the anomalocarids were eventually outcompeted by cephalopods and eurypterids.
Anon, “Oldest predator Anomalocaris had super sight” (2011)
Derek Briggs, “Giant Predators from the Cambrian of China”, Science (May 27, 1994), pp. 1283-1284
James Hagadorn, “Taking a Bite out of Anomalocaris” (2009)
Peter Van Roy, “Anomalocarids from the Ordovician Fezouta Biota of Morocco” (2011)
Richard Monastersky, “The First Monsters”, Science News (Aug. 27, 1994) pp. 138-139
Dinosaur Family Crests: The full set of 20. Buy ‘em on stickers or handsome apparel in my shop.
I do plan on expanding the selection, and as always will take suggestions for new clades!
That was Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs’ David Orr!. And you know that you can wear those crests, right?: