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New Chinese thyreophoran (Crichton's "ankylosaur")




Apologies in advance if this has been mentioned before, but a new species of basal thyreophoran has been announced, from the Early Jurassic of China. CNN already had a story on this critter, but this article gives the name (presumably before publication, tut tut).


WARNING: This article features a _nomen nudum_.


http://www.msnbc.com/news/491426.asp?bt=nm&btu=http://www.msnbc.com/tools/newstools/d/news_menu.asp

The man behind ?Jurassic Park? finally has a real-life dinosaur named after him: Bienosaurus crichtonii, an armored plant eater that lived about 180 million years ago. ?For a person like me, this is much better than an Academy Award,? author Michael Crichton said.

CRICHTON?S NOVEL about a dinosaur-cloning experiment gone awry spawned the movie ?Jurassic Park,? as well as a book-film sequel titled ?The Lost World.? Those works have gained immense popularity in China ? and that fame, in turn, inspired Chinese paleontologists to work Crichton?s name into the scientific designation for the newly identified species.
The scientific name was announced Tuesday during a ceremony at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, attended by Crichton and Dong Zhiming of Beijing?s Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology.
?We are living in the greatest era of dinosaur discovery in history,? Crichton said. ?And Dong Zhiming has discovered more of these fascinating creatures than anyone else. I?m honored that he?s named a new species for me.?
Identification of the new species came after years of analysis conducted on an incomplete lower jaw and fragments of the skull. The fossils were found in 1938 in southern China?s fossil-rich Lufeng Basin by researcher Mai N. Bien ? which accounts for the ?Bienosaurus? part of the scientific name.
Dong describes ?Crichton?s ankylosaurus? in a book titled ?Mesozoic Vertebrate Life,? to be published next summer. He believes the creature stood about 3 feet tall and most likely walked on its two hind legs. It had armor on its cheeks and a distinctive, curved row of small leaf-shaped teeth, he said.
Bienosaurus lived in the Early Jurassic Period and thus appears to rank among the earliest armored dinosaurs.
Dong presented casts of skull bones from the dinosaur to Crichton during the ceremony, and Crichton lent the casts to the ?Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park: The Lost World? traveling exhibit, which is on display at the museum through Jan. 15. The exhibit features dinosaur skeletons and props from the films, directed by Steven Spielberg.
?It?s fitting that a significant new Jurassic Period animal be named for the man who has done most to make ?Jurassic? a household word, and by the scientist who has named more dinosaurs than any researcher,? said ?Dino? Don Lessem, a dinosaur consultant who helped organize the event and the exhibit.
Lessem is also involved in efforts to produce models of ?Jurassic Park? dinosaurs as well as Argentinosaurus, thought to be the biggest dinosaur yet to be identified.



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