Friday, 28 January 2011

Odds, Ends and a New Tyrannosaurid

A few snippets of information now. I can now confirm the final closure of Quarry 4 and that there has been a significant amount of machinery moved into and around the quarry preparing it for the floodwaters to come. Speaking to our liaison at the quarry, the scheduled work will take around ten weeks to complete which, at time of writing, takes us into mid-April before the main flooding takes place.

The Quarry 5 situation remains unclear just now. It has often been the case that we receive mixed messages regarding our access into the new quarry. It was all very upbeat only a few weeks ago and the signs were good, as it finally seemed we were to be granted similar access rights as we have had at Quarry 4, albeit under a much tighter control.

I made a courtesy call this week, just to say hello and to see how things were going. I wish I hadn’t as everything had changed yet again. There would be no access at all now – maybe once if we were lucky and it looked decidedly grim for any future any access into the quarry at all. I was very disappointed and made a point of being extremely polite and trying not to show how anxious I really was.

Later, when I was mulling it all over, it seemed unlikely that this was the case since our liaison, whilst absolutely essential to our even getting anywhere near the quarry, is prone to the “good day, bad day” syndrome. Ring him today and all’s well, ring him tomorrow and its all doom and gloom. I did ask why the situation had changed so much and what brought about this zero access policy? I never really got a straight answer so I asked again and still didn’t get one as I was told everything but the reason. I hope it was a bad day and nothing more. There are other options but we will be saving them up until absolutely necessary.

Moving on and I finally popped off the bone from the centrum of the pliosaur vertebra that I’m cleaning up just now. It wasn’t as clean a removal as I would have liked but it’s not too bad and it also uncovered the other nutritive foramen as I thought it would. It’s cleaning up a treat now.

Andy Farke’s description of Nedoceratops was published last week and is a delicious contradiction to Scanella and Horner’s work on synonymising Triceratops and Torosaurus. Although I am happy to remain within the Scanella/Horner camp just now, I have to congratulate Andy on his paper and the counter arguments produced and I will delve into the issue again at a later date.

What pleases me, and Andy has commented himself about this here, is the courtesy and decorum shown by both camps towards each other regarding each other’s work, even though their conclusions differ. It is an example that I hope others take notice of.

Announced only today is the super basal tyrannosaurine Teratophoneus curriei ("Currie's monster murderer"). What a great name! Here’s the abstract:

Carr, T.D., T.E. Williamson, B.B. Britt & K. Stadtman. in press. Evidence for high taxonomic and morphologic tyrannosauroid diversity in the Late Cretaceous (Late Campanian) of the American Southwest and a new short-skulled tyrannosaurid from the Kaiparowits formation of Utah.

Naturwissenschaften. Online First. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-011-0762-7


The fossil record of late Campanian tyrannosauroids of western North America has a geographic gap between the Northern Rocky Mountain Region (Montana, Alberta) and the Southwest (New Mexico, Utah). Until recently, diagnostic tyrannosauroids from the Southwest were unknown until the discovery of Bistahieversor sealeyi from the late Campanian of New Mexico.

Here we describe an incomplete skull and postcranial skeleton of an unusual tyrannosaurid from the Kaiparowits Formation (Late Cretaceous) of Utah that represents a new genus and species, Teratophoneus curriei.

Teratophoneus differs from other tyrannosauroids in having a short skull, as indicated by a short and steep maxilla, abrupt angle in the postorbital process of the jugal, laterally oriented paroccipital processes, short basicranium, and reduced number of teeth. Teratophoneus is the sister taxon of the Daspletosaurus + Tyrannosaurus clade and it is the most basal North American tyrannosaurine. The presence of Teratophoneus suggests that dinosaur faunas were regionally endemic in the west during the upper Campanian. The divergence in skull form seen in tyrannosaurines indicates that the skull in this clade had a wide range of adaptive morphotypes.

Yet more evidence, it would seem, for dinosaurian provincialism. This is just a small part of a wealth of information that is leading to this conclusion. I’m currently working my way through New Perspectives on Horned Dinosaurs (wonderful volume by the way – review coming soon) and there is even more compelling evidence for provincialism here as well. And, of course, another tyrannosaurid, so soon after Bistahieversor was announced – from the same authors. And new species of daspletosaurs to come as well......

Reproduced from Carr et al 2011


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