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Goldfuss Mosasaurus translated and other papers in Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science

From: Ben Creisler

The recent issue of Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science
contains a number of items that may be of interest:

August Goldfuss
The Skull Structure of the Mosasaurus, Explained by Means of a
Description of a New Species of this Genus;
With four lithographic plates; Communicated to the Geological Section
of the Natural Scientists' Conference in Mainz, in the Autumn Moon
[September] 1843. Delivered to the Academy on May 27, 1844. Director
of the Imperial Leopold Charles Academy of Natural Curiosities

Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 116(1 - 2):27-46. 2013
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1660/062.116.0105

EDITOR'S NOTES: The following is a translation of: Goldfuss, A. 1845.
Der Schädelbau des Mosasaurus, durch Beschreibung einer neuen Art
dieser Gattung erläutert. Nova Acta Academa Ceasar
Leopoldino-Carolinae Germanicae Natura Curiosorum 21: 1–28. The paper
represents the first detailed description of a mosasaur skull.
Although prepared and described in Germany, the remains came from the
Late Cretaceous rocks along the Missouri River in South Dakota. The
missing anterior portion (snout) of the skull and other fragments had
been collected earlier by a trapper and mistakenly described by Dr.
Richard Harlan (1834) as part of the skull of Ichthyosaurus
missouriensis. The remains subsequently disappeared and were thought
to be lost, but the snout was recently relocated in the National
Museum of Natural History in Paris by Caldwell and Bell (2005). Prince
Maximilian zu Wied acquired the rest of the specimen during his
travels in North America in 1832–1834 and shipped it back to Germany.
There Dr. Georg August Goldfuss (1782–1848; Fig. 1) spent nearly eight
years meticulously removing the bones from the surrounding limestone
concretion. At the time of publication, other scientists were certain
that the Harlan specimen was actually part of the Goldfuss Mosasaurus
(see Von Meyer, 1845).

His description and actual sized, highly detailed plates include many
of the features later claimed as discoveries by Cope and Marsh,
including “the parietal and jugal arches, the pterygoids and vomers,
the position of the quadrate and the presence of sclerotic plates”
around the eye (Williston 1898. p. 85; see also Russell 1967, Everhart
2005). Unfortunately, although Harlan had been terribly wrong about
his identification of the original fragments of the specimen, his
species name (missouriensis) has priority over Goldfuss' choice of
Maximiliana, in honoring his benefactor.

The paper was translated from the original German by Dr. Robert T.
Firestone (ret.), University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado Department
of Germanic and Slavic Languages with assistance of the editor and
Earl Manning, then at Tulane University. Most recently the context of
the translation was improved by Sven Sachs (Engelskirchen, Germany).


Michael J. Everhart (2013)
Larry Dean Martin (1943–2013) — Renaissance Paleontologist.
Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 116(1 - 2):59-62. 2013
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1660/062.116.0109


The 145th Annual Meeting of Kansas Academy of Science — 2013
Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 116(1 - 2):63-64. 2013
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1660/062.116.0110

Some items that may be of interest:

Connolly, A.M.12 and Martin, L.D.12, 1. Biodiversity Institute, 2.
FORAMEN ON MOSASAURS. Modern vertebrates living in high latitude
environments require a larger pineal gland or parietal foramen (PF)
than vertebrates living in low latitude environments. This
correlation, however, may or may not apply to ancient vertebrates
because the PF is rarely researched. Mosasaurs (Squamata,
Mosasauridae) are a group of extinct marine lizards that were
distributed worldwide during the Late Cretaceous. The global
distribution of mosasaurs makes them ideal for testing the
biogeographical effects of the PF. In order to test the
biogeographical effects of the PF, a ratio was calculated between the
length and width of the PF to the length of the parietal bone. The
ratios were then averaged between specimens belonging to the same
genus. This averaged ratio was then compared to the latitudinal
distributions of their respective genera. A second test was done by
comparing the PF size of specimens of varying latitudinal distribution
within the same genus using the same calculated ratio. High
latitudinal mosasaurs, such as Platecarpus and Plioplatecarpus, had a
larger PF than low latitude mosasaurs Clidastes and Tylosaurus. These
results likely indicate that the PF controlled the latitudinal
distribution of mosasaurs among genera as it does in extant squamates.
The second test was focused on high- vs. low-latitude-dwelling
specimens of Platecarpus and Plioplatecarpus. Specimens studied all
had about the same PF size. This pattern likely indicates that
Platecarpus and Plioplatecarpus individuals were not restricted to any
latitudinal zone. More specimens need to be analyzed before a
confident evaluation can be made for both tests.

Everhart, M., Sternberg Museum of Natural History. A NEW SPECIMEN OF
remains of the first Protostega gigas turtle (YPM 1408) were
discovered in the upper Smoky Hill Chalk (Late Cretaceous; early
Campanian) of western Kansas by the Yale Scientific Expedition of
1871. Later that same year, E.D. Cope collected and named the type
specimen (AMNH FR1503), then described it in 1872. Since that time,
more than a dozen reasonably complete specimens have been discovered
in the Smoky Hill Chalk member of the Niobrara Formation, most of them
by Charles H. or George F. Sternberg. P. gigas was the largest known
marine turtle in the Western Interior Seaway during early Campanian
time, and was only eclipsed in size by the later occurring Archelon
ischyros. In October 2011, a new, articulated specimen of P. gigas
(FHSM VP-17979) was collected from the middle Santonian chalk above
Hattin's marker unit 7 in eastern Gove County, Kansas. Most of the
skull is missing and the left humerus is severed at mid-shaft. In
addition, the turtle exhibits nearly a hundred puncture wounds on the
plastron, damage which is consistent with a failed predatory attack by
a large mosasaur like Tylosaurus proriger. Although the remains appear
to be those of an adult, the specimen is relatively small in size (80
cm across the carapace) compared to later occurring examples of the
species. The specimen also represents the earliest documented
occurrence of this species, extending the fossil record of P. gigas
some 2 million years.


ICHNOLOGY AND ORNITHOLOGY Avian ichnology and ornithology (including
paleo-ornithology) have been considered two disparate field of study.
Most ichnologists are primarily geologists, whereas ornithologists are
biologists; this has created a false dichotomy between the two fields
that has rarely been bridged. A few recent studies, mostly examining
fossil trackways from the ?Jurassic and Miocene of Argentina, have
begun building a framework between modern and ancient bird tracks;
however, there is still a great deal of work to be done. No studies
have quantified avian trace making behaviors, resulting in a shortage
of studies on modern avian tracks. As a result, few attempts have been
made to identify potential avian trace makers. Tracks, in general, are
identified as shore birdlike or webbed footed, and no further
identifications are made. Too often, track evidence is not included in
studies of avian paleodiversity and paleobiogeography, which results
in an incomplete dataset; for example, there are no avian body fossils
in South Korea, however, there are several Early Cretaceous avian
tracksites with thousands of individual tracks. Focusing solely on
body fossils and disregarding trace fossils can result in major errors
when reconstructing the distribution of fossil birds. Trace fossils
also represent hidden diversity: there are tracks from the Lower
Cretaceous Haman Formation of South Korea that are identical to those
left by modern spoonbills; however, no body fossils of spoonbill
ecomorphs are known. Examining both body and trace fossils will give
researchers a better understanding of avian origins and their early
evolution, diversification and distribution.


Gibson, S.Z., University of Kansas Department of Geology and
remains of semionotiform fishes from the Upper Triassic Chinle
Formation of the southwestern United States are abundant, yet
understudied. In this investigation, I describe a new genus from
specimens collected from Triassic (Norian) deposits in Lisbon Valley,
Utah, with two new species, as well as specimens previously attributed
to Semionotus kanabensis. One of the new species within the new genus
displays a unique combination of characteristics, including a unique
cranial Suspensorium with a short, ventrally expanded vertical
preoperculum; expanded infraorbitals that contact the preoperculum;
deep body with pronounced postcranial hump; and dense tuberculation
that begins on the skull roof and continues onto the dorsal ridge
scales and dorsolateral flank scales. The other new species is smaller
and lacks the deep body morphology and postcranial hump and
tuberculation. It also differs in the morphology of the Suspensorium,
but shares the expanded infraorbitals that contact the anterior ramus
of the preoperculum. Expanded infraobitals are also described in
Semionotus kanabensis, and while they are also found in other
ginglymodian taxa, they are not observed in other species of
Semionotus and are unique to this group of fishes in the United
States. A phylogenetic analysis shows that this new genus of
semionotid fishes is distinct from and sister to the genus Semionotus
within the family Semionotidae.


Hoffman, B.L. and Hageman, S.A., Park University. AMPHIBIAN REMAINS
scattered amphibian remains from acetic acid macerations of the
Argentine and Frisbie Limestone members of the Wyandotte Limestone
Formation and the Raytown Limestone member of the Iola Limestone
Formation. Although the remains are fragmentary and not identifiable
to the species level, they are consistent with the Microsauria. Few
skull fragments have been found: a relatively complete dentary bone,
six stapes and fragments that are consistent with the small toothed
palatine and vomer bones of several microsaurs. Most of the remains
consist of about 220 vertebrae, including the atlas-axis complex, as
well as several presacral and postsacral vertebrae. One femur is the
only element of the appendicular skeleton that has been identified.
These amphibians likely inhabited a freshwater environment near an
estuary, being consumed by fishes swimming upriver that transported
the remains to the marine environments in which these limestones were
deposited, as evidenced by abundant sea urchin, conodont, shark,
crinoid, sponge, brachiopod and mollusk fossils. This site is located
along a band extending through Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas,
Illinois, Ohio, Nova Scotia, Ireland, Germany and Czech Republic,
which would have been positioned at about 5–10 degrees north
paleolatitude during the Upper Pennsylvanian. This appears to be the
first report of amphibian remains in these strata.


McCallum, M.L., University of Missouri at Kansas City. VERTEBRATE
Cretaceous mass extinction exterminated 76% of vertebrates including
the Dinosaurs, and spanned 0.5 – 2.75 MY. In 2012, the IUCN/SSC
evaluated 56% of vertebrates including 97% of the members of all
groups except lampreys (50%), reptiles (38%) and bony fishes (29%). I
used Fuzzy Arithmetic to compare recent vertebrate extinction rates
reported by IUCN/SSC to those rates at the end of the Cretaceous
(K-Pg). Modern extinction rates of vertebrates are tens to millions of
times the magnitude of estimates for losses during the K-Pg mass
extinction. These extinction rates could drive most vertebrates
extinct within hundreds to a few thousand years.