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Sereno in Seattle



From: Ben Creisler bh480@scn.org

Sereno in Seattle
Now that things have calmed down a bit in Seattle (the 
earthquake knocked over one of my bookcases--fortunately 
boxes of photocopies all over the place cushioned the 
impacts) I attended a National Geographic lecture 
featuring Paul Sereno.  There were no major revelations 
for anybody who keeps up with the mailing list and current 
literature, and has checked Paul's website 
(http://www.dinosaurexpedition.org/   ) and press releases 
regularly. I'd seen all the video material on National 
Geographic Explorer on cable over the past few years.  
Still, there were a few interesting news items I'll pass 
along, though some may not be news for everybody.

Paul was just back from Inner Mongolia and a few weeks 
earlier had left work in India just days before the major 
earthquake struck there. He described the latest field 
season in Niger "as the best ever." 

Latest Expedition Goodies Arrive
The container with 20 tons of extracted bones and sacks of 
sediment that may contain mammal teeth arrived in Chicago 
on Tuesday (3-6-2001). Preparation will begin as soon as 
possible.

Feathered Road-kill Theropod from China
Paul mentioned in passing a new specimen from China yet to 
be described: a feathered theropod preserved in a road-
kill posture that shows the complete pattern of 
integument. The forelimbs have small feathers on the 
trailing edge while the lower legs are bare. He didn't 
mention if the tail had feathers too. The specimen should 
be described soon so artists take note. (Paul is not an 
author on this one as far as I know and he didn't have any 
slides.)

Complete Sequence of Asteroid Impact
A core taken off the coast of Texas documents the complete 
sequence of events after the Chicxulub impact -- chunks of 
the asteroid, then layers of ash and dust,  and finally 
barren sediments indicating a biological desert. The paper 
about this find may already have appeared.

Giant Crocodile
Cranial and post cranial remains of a giant 40 foot 
Sacrosuchus with a 6 foot skull  will be described soon.

Odd Duck-billed Croc
Paul showed the actual fossil skull of a new small 
crocodile with a very broad flat head with flange like 
projections on either side of the rostral end of the upper 
jaw. The animal would have been about 3 ft long in life.

New Dinosaurs, etc.,  from Niger
Finds include postcranial material for Nigersaurus, some 
new sauropods, new ornithopods and a new small theropod 
(already discussed on the mailing list), plus a folded 
wing from a very large pterosaur (20-25 ft span).  This 
stuff has been mentioned on the expedition's website.

Spinosaurus Gets T. rex in Jurassic Park III
Paul feigned annoyance that JP III ripped off Suchomimus 
to recreate Spinosaurus. Apparently Spinosaurus takes on 
T. rex and wins. Maybe they armwrestle.

Does sauropod foot-pad size indicate weight distribution?
The weight distribution between front and back limbs in 
sauropods may be indicated by the size of feet and track 
prints--Jobaria has a 40/60 weight distribution between 
front and back limbs compared to a 60/40 front/back weight 
distribution in African elephants. Since the front foot 
pads of elephants are larger than the back  foot-pads, 
weight distribution and foot-pad size appear to be 
correlated among elephants at least. This idea remains 
pretty speculative for now for dinosaurs and I would 
question if the same supposed foot-pad/weight 
correspondence would apply to the foot/track size of front 
and back prints for other quadrupedal dinosaurs such as 
hadrosaurs, ceratopsians, or ankylosaurs.