So the near endless procession of incredible and incredibly preserved dinosaurs from the Cretaceous of Mongolia continues. This time it’s a troodontid, newly named Gobivenator mongoliensis by Taka Tsuihiji and colleagues in Naturwissenschaften. Although the paper concentrates on the issues of palatal evolution (alongside a short description), the thing for me is just how exquisite the specimen is. It’s one of the best preserved things I’ve seen from Mongolia, and given things like the fighting dinosaurs, nesting oviraptorosaurs and the rest, that’s saying something.

I have actually seen this specimen firsthand while visiting Japan back in 2011 and it really is superb. Also worth nothing is the quality of the preparation – although at one level it’s quite easy, a nice fine and fragile sandstone with strong and well-preserved bones – the delicate nature of the specimen (especially an intact skull with all the palate, braincase etc. intact and in situ) is something you don’t want to damage. Handling the material to take photographs was fraught with panic trying to avoid damaging anything.

And on that note, yes there are photos. Taka has generously said he’d let me publish a few of mine online, and show some non-standard views. However, he is planning a monograph on this (and so he should!) so he asked I not reveal too much, so I’ve stuck to a general shot of the prepared pieces, back by a shot of the tail (so nearly complete and yet not quite, curses!) and a shot of the dorsal ribs. Nothing too incredible, but whether or not you’ve seen the paper, I think this gives a better impression as to the sheer quality of the preservation and the state of the material, it really is a beauty.




9 Responses to “Gobivenator”

  1. 1 Garry Paton 21/01/2014 at 7:10 pm

    Hi, thanks for an interesting article.

    I have always been amazed at the level of preservation of dinosaur fossils from the Upper Cretaceous of Mongolia – just a question – it appears that the animals have been buried in aeolian sediments, i.e. desert sands – therefore, with limited fluid movement through the substrate at deposition and afterwards, actual mineral replacement of the bones must be somewhat limited (?) – therefore – are the fossils still proportionally original calcium phosphate bone material? If this is the case, this must enable some very detailed osteological studies? I was thinking of the numerous Protoceratops sp. discovered through the years, for example. Any information on this would be appreciated, thanks!

    Garry Paton

    • 2 David Hone 22/01/2014 at 8:52 am

      Sorry but I really don’t know. I’m not a taphonomist at all, and can’t immediately remember reading anything about the preservation of Gobi material. I’m sure there must have been some work on it, but none I can immediately think of, thought whether anyone has specifically addressed the question of replacement I really don’t know. Sorry, not much help there.

      • 3 Garry Paton 22/01/2014 at 9:12 am

        Hi David, when I get the chance I’ll see what I can find in the literature.

        Kind regards,

        Garry Paton

  2. 4 Kilian Hekhuis 22/01/2014 at 7:56 am

    Wow, they’re beautiful, and I’m not even a paleaontologist. They look just like real bones! Do you know btw why the tip of the snout isn’t cleaned? It seems there’s still some sediment there.

    • 5 David Hone 22/01/2014 at 8:50 am

      I think it’s because the bone is missing there / poorly preserved, so this is a block of sediment to hold together the front of the snout.

  3. 6 George Hancock 22/01/2014 at 9:30 pm

    Gorgeous fossil, just wish you were allowed to do a full preview of the skull it looks fantastic.

  4. 7 Thomas Peace (author) 23/01/2014 at 10:02 pm

    Wow! Superb preservation! Extremely impressive! Troodontids are my favorites!

    The skull is very intriguing. One wonders why the U.S. Troodon skull shows so much more apparent brain capacity, as apart from these Mongolian species (such as this species and, for instance, Zanabazar junior)? Our brains are much larger than Gorilla brains, but one wonders if the U.S. Troodon brain spaces where really as large as they seem to be.

    The tail bones and the dorsal ribs, too, look very impressive! Sweet!

  5. 8 Thomas Peace (author) 23/01/2014 at 10:14 pm

    Seems like Gobivenator may be well on the way to having a “larger” brain.
    Translation from the Spanish of El Cuaderno Degodzillin Blog:

    A new troodontid Mongolia joins the list of theropods baptized as “hunters” mongoliensis Gobivenator . And despite being the most complete representative of this group in the Upper Cretaceous, the work focuses mainly on the description of the excellent taste of this dinosaur. The reason is not because it is a culinary expert nor a food critic, but because the level of preservation of the bones of this structure represents a breakthrough in the study of cranial anatomical changes that occur near the origin of modern birds.

    Here the authors describe that Gobivenator presents common characteristics with Avialae group. Some of them are the presence of a narrow area of articulation between the palatine bone and the pterygoid and a thin long pterygoid process. Also share a buccal and vomeropterigoideo process smaller than those with palatal basal theropods. Although there are some homologous characters between Dromaeosauridae and Avialae and which however, are plesiomorphic in Gobivenator and other troodontids, which means that variations in the palate of the theropod line does not follow a simple but modern birds was observed a complex evolution of this structure.

    Morphology palate with several theropod cladogram showing their phylogenetic relationship. Scheme Gobivenator position shown in (e).

    Finally, the results of this study aim to resolve the debate on the evolution of the kinetic skull in teropodiano lineage. In this regard, Gobivenator a configuration on the palate that evidence the condition akinetic skulls in non-avian dinosaurs. Still, several more derived features may be a prerequisite to the subsequent evolution of the kinetic condition requirement. The most significant loss is epipterigoide remaining birds lacking in current and yet is present as in the rest of plesiomorfía terópodos including dromaeosaurids, supporting the position of the newly proposed troodontids Avialae closer than the Dromaeosauridae .

  1. 1 Lovec z Gobi | DinosaurusBlog Trackback on 12/04/2014 at 5:15 pm
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