Posts Tagged 'Mongolia'

Gobivenator

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.

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A super Saurolophus

This specimen may not be immediately familiar, but those who know my work well will certainly know the humerus. This is the specimen that was chomped on and led to my paper on tyrannosaur scavenging. As noted there, one major aspect of the paper was that the rest of the material was in otherwise excellent condition, implying that that the carcass was unavailable for consumption – this was scavenging of a dead animal and not simply late-stage carcass consumption.

So here is the rest of that specimen (well most of it) and as you can see it’s both a large individual and in wonderful condition. The bone surfaces are superb, the vast majority of it is preserved, and there are even small elements like gastralia and some skin in there too (and some 62 consecutive caudals!). The size meant that I took a number of photos for this post simply because to try and fit it all in otherwise (as with the top image) leads to all manner of parallax and that hardly serves the best well.






Mongolian ceratopsids


Although the Cretaceous beds of the Gobi contain far more ceratopsids than is good for them, it’s actually rare that I get to see Protoceratops in all it’s glory. In short, there are a ton of these in various museums, so most people prefer not to collect them anymore when time and money is limited. Or if they do pick them up, they end up at the bottom of the preparation ‘to do’ pile. So despite my own work in the field (where you can find a dozen ceratopsid teeth a day in places and dozens of partial skeletons over a season), specimens like these are still a novelty for me.

Above is Protoceratops and below Bagaceratops. I really can’t tell you why, these are the assignments I was told and I don’t know enough about the distinctions to confirm this and don’t have the time to go digging into the literature (and remember this?). Anyway, nice material, enjoy.


Protoceratops


I showed a collection of casts of this superb specimen the other day, and now here’s the whole thing. Preserved in a kind of sitting position, this is an amazingly complete and well-articulated specimen. The posture is unlikely to be *quite* original – the animal must have been buried while pretty fresh and obviously as the skin and muscles etc. rot the sediment will shift and settle and the limbs especially might well ‘drop’ relative the the rest of the material and help produce this ‘squatting’ posture.

This is one of the nicest specimens I’ve ever seen and has a lovely and well developed crest and jugal bosses which is great to see as well. Some nice details like the large anterior teeth and some ossified tendons are also clearly visible.



Behold the (possibly) mighty Deinocheirus

There is a tradition in archosaur palaeontology to refer to things we don’t know much about as ‘enigmatic’, and while an appropriate term much of the time, it is annoyingly overused. Basically if something is interesting and very incomplete it is left as ‘enigmatic’ which is often a euphemism for “I’m going to speculate wildly because there is no good evidence to contradict me” or “I’m not going to say anything about it at all”. Deinocheirus, in the public eye at least, sits firmly in the former camp and one can see why.

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Recovered from Late Cretaceous rocks the specimen consists of just a partial pair of arms. Very, very large arms to be sure, and certainly a theropod but after that things get murky. Most researchers seem happy with the idea that these likely belonged to some form of giant ornithomimid it has previously suggested to belong to a theirizinosaur. As a result of that lack of information (a pair of partial arms, described quite sometime ago, and in Russian as I recall) Deinocheirus seems to have entered into popular palaeo folklore as the great unknown theropod, thought I would have thought something like Gigantoraptor and the presence of other giant therizinosaurs would have left it without much potential glamour even if a complete one ever turned up. Still, it IS rarely figured and I have Max Langer to thank for this image from Warsaw (though it’s not clear if this is the original or a cast).

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