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OK, that's really reaching...but if you have the opportunity to go see "Avatar" 
in 3D IMAX, _do it_...it is WELL worth your time...!  Onto the new papers:



Cavin, L., Tong, H., Boudad, L., Meister, C., Piuz, A., Tabouelle, J., Aarab, 
M., Amiot, R., Buffetaut, E., Dyke, G., Hua, S., and Le Loeuff, J. 2009. 
Vertebrate assemblages from the early Late Cretaceous of southeastern Morocco: 
an overview. Journal of African Earth Sciences. doi: 
10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2009.12.007.

ABSTRACT: Fossils of vertebrates have been found in great abundance in the 
continental and marine early Late Cretaceous sediments of Southeastern Morocco 
for more than fifty years. About 80 vertebrate taxa have so far been recorded 
from this region, many of which were recognised and diagnosed for the first 
time based on specimens recovered from these sediments. In this paper, we use 
published data together with new field data to present an updated overview of 
Moroccan early Late Cretaceous vertebrate assemblages. The Cretaceous series we 
have studied encompases three Formations, the Ifezouane and Aoufous Formations, 
which are continental and deltaic in origin and are often grouped under the 
name “Kem Kem beds”, and the Akrabou Formation which is marine in origin. New 
field observations allow us to place four recognised vertebrate clusters, 
corresponding to one compound assemblage and three assemblages, within a 
general temporal framework. In particular, two ammonite bioevents characterise 
the lower part of the Upper Cenomanian (Calycoceras guerangeri Zone) at the 
base of the Akrabou Formation and the upper part of the Lower Turonian 
(Mammites nodosoides Zone), that may extend into the Middle Turonian within the 
Akrabou Formation, and allow for more accurate dating of the marine sequence in 
the study area. We are not yet able to distinguish a specific assemblage that 
characterises the Ifezouane Formation when compared to the similar Aoufous 
Formation, and as a result we regard the oldest of the four vertebrate 
“assemblages” in this region to be the compound assemblage of the “Kem Kem 
beds”. This well-known vertebrate assemblage comprises a mixture of terrestrial 
(and aerial), freshwater and brackish vertebrates. The archosaur component of 
this fauna appears to show an intriguingly high proportion of large-bodied 
carnivorous taxa, which may indicate a peculiar trophic chain, although 
collecting biases alter this palaeontological signal. A small and restricted 
assemblage, the OT1 assemblage, possibly corres!
ponds to 
he Kem Kem beds compound assemblage. Microfossils and facies from the Aoufous 
Formation, corresponding to the top of the compound assemblage, provide 
evidence of extremely abiotic conditions (hypersalinity), and thus of great 
environmental instability. At the base of the Akrabou Formation the first 
ammonite bioevent, Neolobites, corresponds to the onset of the marine 
transgression in the early Late Cenomanian while the Agoult assemblage (Late 
Cenomanian?) contains a variety of small fish species that have Central Tethyan 
affinities. Finally, the youngest Mammites bioevent in the late Early Turonian 
corresponds to a deepening of the marine environment: this sequence is 
isochronous with the Goulmima assemblage, a diverse collection of fish and 
other marine taxa, and shows affinities with taxa from the South Atlantic, the 
Central Tethys and the Western Interior seaway of North America, and further 
highlights the biogeographical importance of these North African Late 
Cretaceous assemblages.





Houssaye, A. 2009. A new aquatic pythonomorph (Reptilia, Squamata) from the 
Turonian (Late Cretaceous) of France. Comptes Rendus Palevol. doi: 
10.1016/j.crpv.2009.09.002.

ABSTRACT: Disarticulated vertebrae from the Turonian of France display a 
distinctive suite of characters and probably represent a new pythonomorph. This 
taxon displays some degree of vertebral pachyostosis s.s., often observed in 
varanoid squamates from the Cenomanian-Turonian interval of the ‘Mediterranean’ 
portion of the Tethys. The discovery of this new material highlights the 
importance of also describing possibly new taxa based on isolated remains.




Brochu, C.A., Wagner, J.R., Jouve, S., Sumrall, C.D., and Densmore, L.D. 2009. 
A correction corrected: consensus over the meaning of Crocodylia and why it 
matters. Systematic Biology 58(5):537-543. doi: 10.1093/sysbio/syp053. 




I mention this one because it has some interesting implications for possible 
life restorations of at least some dinosaurs:

Møller, A.P., and Erritzøe, J. 2009. Why birds eat colourful grit: colour 
preferences revealed by the colour of gizzard stones. Journal of Evolutionary 
Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01918.x.

ABSTRACT: Colour preferences from sexual or social contexts are assumed to have 
arisen owing to preferences for specific kinds of food, representing a sensory 
bias, but once colour preferences have evolved in a sexual context, they may 
also be expressed during foraging. We tested whether preferences for specific 
body colours (i.e. plumage and soft parts) were related to colour preferences 
for grit ingested by birds. Birds eat grit to facilitate break down of food by 
the gizzard, and this function is independent of the colour of grit, but 
depends on the physical properties of stones. Bird species were significantly 
consistent in colour of grit, and grit of different colours varied in 
prevalence among species, even when analyses were restricted to a sample from a 
single locality. There were positive correlations between presence of lilac and 
red grit in the gizzard and presence of sexually dichromatic lilac and red 
colour on the body. There was a positive correlation between red grit colour 
and red sexually monochromatic body colour. Bird species with many different 
sexual colours, but not sexually monochromatic colours on their body had many 
different colours of grit. Males had more lilac and red grit than females, with 
this effect differing among species, whereas that was not the case for grit of 
other colours. These findings are consistent with the sensory bias hypothesis 
that birds express preferences for grit of specific colours and a high 
diversity of colours related to sexual colouration of the body, even when the 
colour of such grit is only visible to the individual at the moment of 
ingestion.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jerry D. Harris
Director of Paleontology
Dixie State College
Science Building
225 South 700 East
St. George, UT  84770   USA
Phone: (435) 652-7758
Fax: (435) 656-4022
E-mail: jharris@dixie.edu
 and     dinogami@gmail.com
http://cactus.dixie.edu/jharris/


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