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Dinocephalosaurus reconstruction and other news stories

From: Ben Creisler

Some recent dino/paleo-related news stories:

Dinocephalosaurus reconstruction at American Association for the
Advancement of Science meeting in Boston


Here are the abstracts for AAAS presentations:

Shu-zhong Shen , Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Nanjing, China
The Permian Period's Catastrophic End

The end-Permian mass extinction has been universally documented as the
biggest extinction during the Phanerozoic and resulted in the
extinction of 95% marine species and 75% terrestrial species. In the
immediate aftermath the ecosystem was characterized by microbial and
monotonous communities dominated by disaster taxa, and the whole
recovery to the pre-extinction level took more than 5 million years.
Although it is the most intensively-studied event, its causes and
patterns remain contentious yet. To better constrain the timing, and
ultimately the causes of this event, we collected a suite of
geochronologic, isotopic and biostratigraphic data on tens of
well-preserved Permian-Triassic sections in South China and the
peri-Gondwanan region. High-precision U-Pb dating based on 29 volcanic
ash layers and biodiversity pattern pooled occurrence data of 4500
species in a large geographic area reveal that the extinction interval
happened in less than 200,000 years, and the extinction peak occurred
at 252.28 million years ago and coincided with a d13C negative
excursion of about 5‰. It was synchronous in marine and terrestrial
realms. Oxygen- and calcium-isotope analyses in the extinction
interval indicate a rapid warming and oceanic acidification in the
sea. Associated charcoal-rich and soot-bearing layers and massive
occurrences of breccia indicate widespread wildfires and catastrophic
soil erosion on land.


Olivier Rieppel , The Field Museum, Chicago, IL
China: A Hotbed for Fossils of Marine Reptiles

Excavation and research over the last 15 years have generated insights
into an impressive variety of Triassic marine reptiles from southern
China. The first discoveries were made in the Guanling area, Guizhou
Province, revealing an early Late Triassic fossil Lagerstätte yielding
predominantly reptiles and crinoids.  Today, fossiliferous localities
are known from Anhui, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Hubei Provinces,
collectively extending from the late Lower Triassic (Olenekian) to the
early Upper Triassic (Carnian).  The Triassic biota of southern China
are remarkably rich and diverse in ichthyosaurs, sauroperygians
(placodonts, pachypleursaurs, nothosaurs, and cymatosaurs), and –
uniquely on a global scale – thalattosaurs, but protorosaurs, the
enigmatic saurosphargids, and even archosaurs as well as turtles are
also represented.  Not surprisingly, the closest paleogeographical
affinities of these eastern Tethyan biota (originally deposited on the
South China Block) are with the western Tethys, such as the Middle
Triassic marine fauna known from Monte San Giorgio and Besano, located
in southern Switzerland and Lombardy (Italy) respectively. The two
faunal provinces were at the time conveniently connected by a string
of exotic terranes drifting northwards from Gondwanaland and
straddling the equator during the Triassic. There are, however,
possible faunal affinities of Tethyan Triassic faunas with
contemporary biota of the eastern Pacific faunal province (western
North America), which in the case of marine reptiles predominantly
populating coastal waters are hard to explain on the current
reconstruction of Pangaea.


Xing Xu , Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleanthropology,
Beijing, China
China's Fabulous Feathered Dinosaurs

China has been the key to solving one of the biggest questions in
dinosaur science in the past 150 years: the real relationship between
birds and dinosaurs. In the past 15 years, northeast China has yielded
exquisitely preserved fossils of feathered dinosaurs, the likes of
which have never been seen before.


Dragons of the East: China’s Paleontological Riches

>From our planet’s early life-forms to the dying days of the dinosaurs,
Chinese fossil beds have produced stunning finds in recent years. One
scintillating discovery is from the Qiongzhuoshi Formation, whose
fossils of strange marine creatures from the early Cambrian period 530
million years ago are an eastern analog of the famous Burgess Shale
Formation in Canada. China is also a hotbed for fossils of early
marine reptiles. When life rebounded in the early Triassic after a
mass extinction 252 million years ago, a new kind of top predator
arose: ichthyosaurs. Marine reptiles would dominate the oceans until
another mass extinction ended the Cretaceous 65 million years ago. The
origins of marine reptiles are an enigma that Chinese fossils are
beginning to penetrate. Most sensationally, China has been the key to
solving one of the biggest questions in dinosaur science in the past
150 years: the real relationship between birds and dinosaurs. In the
past 15 years, northeast China has yielded exquisitely preserved
fossils of feathered dinosaurs, the likes of which have never been
seen before. This symposium will explore these and other fascinating
finds from China’s prehistoric past.


dinosaur bones found in Comanche National Grassland



In Chinese:

new dinosaur tracks found in area where 300 tracks were previously
destroyed by mining


In German:

Westphaliasaurus skeleton on display in



Ichthyosaur with bitten-off tail gets "crime" investigation