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[dinosaur] Hesperornithiform from Late Cretaceous Canadian High Arctic + Mirambel Formation tracks + first animatronic dinosaurs

Ben Creisler

Some recent papers:

Laura Elizabeth Wilson, Karen Chin &  Stephen Cumbaa (2016)
A new hesperornithiform (Aves) specimen from the Late Cretaceous Canadian High Arctic with comments on high latitude hesperornithiform diet.
Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (advance online publication)
doi: 10.1139/cjes-2016-0053

Here we describe a new hesperornithiform specimen from the Upper Cretaceous Kanguk Formation of Devon Island, Nunavut, Canada. This specimen (NUVF 286) is referred to cf. Hesperornis sp. based on size and shape of femora and teeth preserved with other skeletal elements. Previous osteohistologic analyses indicate a sub-adult ontogenetic stage at the time of death. This new cf. Hesperornis specimen includes the first teeth associated with a high-latitude hesperornithiform, allowing for comments on the trophic behavior of these birds. Paleoecological reconstructions based on current knowledge of polar assemblages and comparisons to modern birds suggest that high-latitude hesperornithiform birds may have had more varied diets than previously assumed.


D. Castanera, I. Díaz-Martínez, M. Moreno-Azanza, J.I. Canudo, and J.M. Gasca (2016)

An overview of the Lower Cretaceous dinosaur tracksites from the Mirambel Formation in the Iberian Range (NE Spain).

Cretaceous Period: Biotic Diversity and Biogeography.  Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science 71: 65-74


Up to now, the ichnological vertebrate record from the Barremian Mirambel Formation (NE Spain) has remained completely unknown despite the fact that osteological findings have been reported in recent years. Here we provide an overview of 11 new dinosaur tracksites found during a fieldwork campaign in the year 2011. The majority of these tracksites (seven) preserve small- to medium-sized tridactyl tracks here assigned to indeterminate theropods. Only one footprint presents enough characters to classify it as Megalosauripus isp. Ornithopod tracks identified as Caririchnium isp. and Iguanodontipodidae indet. and sauropod tracks are recorded at two tracksites. The footprints are preserved in a variety of paleoenvironmental conditions and thus display different kinds of preservation (true tracks, shallow undertracks, natural casts and undertrack casts). The ichnological record from the Mirambel Formation seems to be theropod dominated. This is a clear discrepancy with the osteological record identified in this formation, which shows a predominance of ornithopod dinosaurs.

Blogs (in Spanish):




Chris Manias (2016) 

The Lost Worlds of Messmore & Damon: Science, Spectacle & Prehistoric Monsters in early-twentieth century America.

Endeavour (advance online publication)




A history of model-makers Messmore & Damon, and their animated prehistoric figures.

How commercial showmen deployed novel science and technology in their displays.

Shows the strong place of paleontology in 1920s and 1930s American culture.

Illustrates links between commerce, spectacle and science in 1920s and 1930s US.


In 1924, the model-making company Messmore & Damon, Inc. of New York unleashed their masterpiece: the Amphibious Dinosaurus Brontosaurus, a moving, breathing, roaring animatronic dinosaur, based on displays in the American Museum of Natural History. Over the 1920s and 1930s, this became the focus of an ever-increasing publicity campaign, as Messmore & Damon exhibited prehistoric automata in department stores, the media, and the Chicago World Fair of 1933–34. These displays were hugely popular and widely discussed, drawing from the increasing public appeal of paleontology. Mixing commercial entertainment with invocations of scientific value, Messmore & Damon's prehistoric creations offer a window into the meaning and popularity of the deep time sciences in early-twentieth century America, and the links between science and spectacle in this period.


Also of interest:

Rui Zhang​, Qiaoli Ji, Gang Luo, Shuliang Xue, Songsong Ma, Jianqiao Li & Lei Ren (2016)

Phalangeal joints kinematics during Ostrich (Struthio Camelus) locomotion. 

PeerJ Preprints 4:e2324v1

doi:  https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.2324v1


The ostrich is a highly cursorial bipedal land animal with a permanently elevated metatarsophalangeal joint supported by only two toes. Although locomotor kinematics in walking and running ostriches have been examined, these studies have been largely limited to above the metatarsophalangeal joint. In this study, kinematic data of all major toe joints were collected from walking to running during stance period in a semi-natural setup with selected cooperative ostriches. Statistical analyses were conducted to investigate the effect of locomotor gait on toe joint kinematics. The MTP3 and MTP4 joints exhibit the largest range of motion whereas the first phalangeal joint of the 4th toe shows the largest motion variability. The interphalangeal joints of the 3rd and 4th toes present very similar motion patterns over stance phases of walking and running. However, the motion patterns of the MTP3 and MTP4 joints and the vertical displacement of the metatarsophalangeal joint are significantly different during running from walking. This is probably because of the biomechanical requirements for the inverted pendulum gait at low speeds and also the bouncing gait at high speeds. Interestingly, the motions of the MTP3 and MTP4 joints are highly synchronised from slow to fast locomotion. This strongly suggests that the 3rd and 4th toes really work as an integrated system with the 3rd toe as the main load bearing element whilst the 4th toe as the complementary load sharing element with a primary role to ensure the lateral stability of the permanently elevated metatarsophalangeal joint.