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Surviving South American sphenodont + other links

Ben Creisler

A new non-dino paper that may be of interest:

Sebastián Apesteguía, Raúl O. Gómez, and Guillermo W. Rougier (2014)
The youngest South American rhynchocephalian, a survivor of the K/Pg extinction.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2014 281 20140811

Rhynchocephalian lepidosaurs, though once widespread worldwide, are
represented today only by the tuatara (Sphenodon) of New Zealand.
After their apparent early Cretaceous extinction in Laurasia, they
survived in southern continents. In South America, they are
represented by different lineages of Late Cretaceous eupropalinal
forms until their disappearance by the Cretaceous/Palaeogene (K/Pg)
boundary. We describe here the only unambiguous Palaeogene
rhynchocephalian from South America; this new taxon is a younger
species of the otherwise Late Cretaceous genus Kawasphenodon.
Phylogenetic analysis confirms the allocation of the genus to the
clade Opisthodontia. The new form from the Palaeogene of Central
Patagonia is much smaller than Kawasphenodon expectatus from the Late
Cretaceous of Northern Patagonia. The new species shows that at least
one group of rhynchocephalians not related to the extant Sphenodon
survived in South America beyond the K/Pg extinction event.
Furthermore, it adds to other trans-K/Pg ectotherm tetrapod taxa,
suggesting that the end-Cretaceous extinction affected Patagonia more
benignly than the Laurasian landmasses.

News story


A few book reviews and movie reviews that may be of interest.

Some months back this review of Feduccia's Riddle of the Feathered
Dragons appeared in the open-access journal Evolution: Education and


I didn't post it since it pretty much falls for the bait about a
supposed "raging dispute" over the origin of birds.

However, there is now a pointed rebuttal to the review that I think
will be of interest:

Reaction to the review of Feduccia's book (open access)


Thanks to Nick Gardener for bringing this to my attention.


The recent documentary Dinosaur 13 about Peter Larson, the discovery
of "Sue," and the ensuing legal disputes has gotten some positive
reviews that I have not mentioned. A more critical review that
addresses larger issues in commercial fossil sales may be of interest:



This positive review of Dinosaur 13  delves into the more general
topic of how dinosaurs have been depicted in cinema:



A follow-up to an item I posted last week (Aug. 14), linking to a new
reconstruction of Spinosaurus depicted with very thick crocodile-like
legs and resting on plantigrade feet:

Spinosaurus make-over by Luis Rey (Note that some who've seen the
forthcoming scientific redescriptions of Spinosaurus have advised
caution about the accuracy of new reconstructions...)


I was referring in particular to a tweet by Darren Naish back on August 13:

"Hot news coming soon on Spinosaurus (but beware of reconstructions
appearing online, they ain't right)"

I decided to add a cautionary comment to the link to the
reconstruction--but tried to put it in less blunt language. Apparently
my choice of words was taken by some to mean that I was referring to
the accuracy of the yet-to-be officially revealed new reconstruction
by Sereno and others of Spinosaurus based on additional material. My
comment was about the speculative reconstruction of Spinosaurus with a
kind of "Crouching Crocodile, Hidden Dinosaur" look.

The thumbnail National Geographic photo view of the new mount of
Spinosaurus appears to have the legs bent, but this may be to give it
a more dynamic running posture and/or perhaps to better fit a skeleton
with long spines on the back under the height of the ceiling. The
poster for the Spinosaurus exhibit shows a very long thick tail but
normal-looking theropod hind limbs.


All will be revealed soon. Apologies for any misunderstanding my
unintentionally ambiguous wording caused. And as always, as many have
said: "Wait for the paper!"