Dinosaur Articles 2001- 2002

Dinosaur Articles 2001- 2002

England: Remains of Prehistoric 'sea dragon' found   October 2002 - BBC

The plesiosaur, which resembles the Loch Ness
monster, dates back to the beginning of the
Cretaceous period 130 million years ago. 

"Mummified" Dinosaur Discovered In Montana  Nationa Geographic - October 2002

Dinosaur hunters find plenty in Alaska   CNN - October 2002

Battle of the sexes 'prehistoric style' - Dinosaurs  September 2002 - BBC

China: Bucktoothed dinosaur fossils found - 128 million years ago  September 2002 - CNN

Triassic reptile saw red  September 2002 - Nature Magazine

Dino protein made in test tube   September 2002 - BBC

Cold spelt end of dinosaurs  September 2002 - BBC

Dinosaurs make tracks on the isles September 2002 - BBC

Weird Fossilized Flying Reptile 'A Vision of Hell'  June 2002 - Yahoo  
Scientists have found the remains of one of the weirdest
creatures ever discovered -- a big flying reptile that lived 
during the time of the dinosaurs that snapped up fish with 
a scissors-like beak as it skimmed over the water and had 
a head crowned by a huge, bony crest. 

Dino family tree shows birds are related - June 2002 - BBC 

Dino heatwave recorded in leaves  June 2002 - BBC  
Footprints Reveal Dinosaur Life May 2002 - Reuters Giant dinosaurs arrived with a bang Meteor impact - May 2002 - New Scientist Dinosaur Shows Feathers Not for Flight Reuters - March 2002 The biggest was not necessarily the best nor the fastest! BBC - March 2002 The most primitive wishbone yet found in a dinosaur BBC - Feb. 2002 Fossil Strengthens Dinosaur-Bird Link Reuters - Feb. 2002 Ancient Tracks Reveal How a Two-Ton Dinosaur Broke Into a Run ABC News - Feb. 2002 Dinosaurs felt the heat BBC - October 3, 2001 How reptiles survived the big one BBC - September 25, 2001

More 'feathered' dinosaurs found

Allosaurus - related to one of the new feathered discoveries

June 18, 2001 - BBC

Scientists in America claim to have discovered two new "bird-like" species of feathered dinosaur, unearthed in New Mexico.

The two dinosaurs - the sloth-like Nothronychus and a small carnivore from the coelurosaur family that has not yet been named - lived 90 million years ago in swampy forests.

At that time - the middle of the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era - Earth was in the throes of extreme global warming that melted the polar ice caps and dramatically reduced the land area on the planet.

Very few dinosaur fossils dating from this period have so far been found.

Nothronychus (pronounced "no-thron-EYE-kus") is a member of the theropod class of meat-eating dinosaurs that includes Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus, but it apparently evolved into a plant-eater, said Jim Kirkland, a paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey.

The creature weighed about a tonne, was 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 metres) long and stood 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.6 metres) tall, he said.


It had two legs and walked more upright than its meat-eating cousins, had a long, thin neck, long arms, dexterous hands, four-inch (10-cm) curved claws on its fingers, a large abdomen, a small head with a mouth full of leaf-shaped teeth designed for shredding vegetation, a relatively short tail and stout back legs, the scientists said.

It is the first example of a group of dinosaurs called therizinosaurs to be found in the Americas. The others all came from China and Mongolia.

No fossil evidence was found of feathers, but Wolfe noted that similar dinosaurs from Asia were found with feathers and speculated that this one had "a loose gaggle of feathers around the head and along the spine, back of the arms and legs".

Fossil of Gargantuan Dinosaur Unearthed in Egypt

May 31, 2001 - Reuters

Fossilized remains of a gargantuan plant-eating dinosaur, the second most massive animal ever to walk the Earth, have been unearthed in a desert oasis in Egypt at a site that eons ago was a lush coastal paradise, researchers said on Thursday.

The discovery of a partial skeleton of Paralititan stromeri was made by 31-year-old University of Pennsylvania doctoral student Joshua Smith, who went on a dinosaur hunt at a remote site that had yielded spectacular finds in the first half of the 20th century in expeditions led by German paleontologist Ernest Stromer von Reichenbach.

But the fossils of the four new dinosaurs Stromer uncovered were lost to the world during World War Two when British warplanes bombed the Bayerische Staatssammlung museum during a raid over Munich on April 24, 1944. Stromer's excavation site remained largely ignored in the decades since then.

Paralititan (pronounced pah-ral-ih-TY-tan and meaning ''tidal giant'') lived 94 million years ago during the middle of the Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era. The long-necked, long-tailed quadruped looked much like the familiar Brontosaurus (formal name Apatosaurus) that lived tens of millions of years earlier, except that its back may have been studded with bony body armor as protection from predators.

The finding was published in the journal Science.

``It was an enormous dinosaur by anybody's reckoning,'' Smith, who was 29 when he found it, said in an interview.

``We think that a large individual might have massed about 70 tons, 75 tons maybe and it might have approached 100 feet in length. As far as tall, stack four African elephants on top of each other. That's about the height. It would look through a third-story window without much problem.''


The only dinosaur known to be heavier than Paralititan is Argentinosaurus, which looked much like the new dinosaur (both are classified as titanosaurid sauropods) but is estimated to have been about 7 percent more massive. The remains of only one example of these two colossal dinosaurs exist. Smith found the partial skeleton preserved in fine-grained sediments full of plant remains and root casts in the Bahariya Oasis in the Sahara desert some 180 miles southwest of Cairo. He said the evidence suggests that the arid Bahariya site once resembled the tropical mangrove coasts of Florida, a low-energy, shallow water area of tidal flats and tidal channels. He compares it to the Everglades.

And based in part on Stromer's earlier finding of three massive carnivorous dinosaurs at the site, Smith said the area must have been teeming with life.

Smith believes the massive herbivore was standing on the edge of a tidal channel in very shallow water when it died.

His team also found evidence that the carcass had been scavenged by a flesh-eating dinosaur, including a tooth that may come from Carcharodontosaurus, whose name means ''shark-tooth lizard'' and whose size, 45 feet (13.5 meters) long, was comparable to Tyrannosaurus rex. In addition, the pelvis was ripped apart as if it had been eaten.

It's unclear whether Paralititan lost a life-or-death struggle with the predator or became a meal after dying for other reasons, Smith said. ``All we know is that the animal died and somebody came along and munched on it.''


Smith said the skeleton of Paralititan is only 20 to 25 percent complete. Most impressive is a humerus (upper forelimb bone) that measures 6 foot, 7 inches long. The remains also include several vertebrae, ribs and both shoulder blades. The Penn team also found fossils of fish, sharks, turtles, marine reptiles and other dinosaurs.

Dumb luck played a role in the discovery, Smith admits. He and University of Pennsylvania graduate student Matthew Lamanna, who at age 25 is a co-author of the study, dreamed up the idea of finding the sites that had been so productive for Stromer, who worked there extensively starting in 1911.

Smith said in 1999 he tagged along on another Penn expedition to Egypt and was given all of two days to search for dinosaurs. Another problem was finding the Stromer's exact site because he did not leave behind any maps or directions.

Scientific literature found in Cairo pointed the way, but Smith ended up in the wrong place anyway. But as luck would have it, on Feb. 23, 1999, Smith spotted from the window of his Toyota Land Cruiser three pieces of Paralititan's forelimb.

He said he may have stumbled on ``dinosaur heaven,'' adding: ''Nobody thought for a second that we'd find anything, including me. Paralititan was the first thing we found the first morning we looked. It's just ridiculous.''

Dinosaurs Survived Cataclysm 200 Million Years Ago

An ancestor of T rex was discovered in northeastern Brazil

May 26, 2001 - BBC

Palaeontologists in Brazil say they may have found the oldest known dinosaur fossil, in the south of the country.

The fossils of the creature could provide important clues as to how the dinosaurs evolved.

The newly-discovered creature had a pointed head of about 30 centimetres (12 inches) and was more than two metres (6.5 feet) long. It had the sharp teeth of a carnivore.

The fossils - which include two skulls and other bones - date back to the high Triassic period, between 235 and 240 million years ago, when the dinosaurs were first developing from older reptiles called Thecodonts.

It is a period of evolution about which there is little evidence and which has generated sharp debate among palaeontologists.

Evolutionary link

The Thecodonts, which moved on all fours, were the direct ancestors of crocodiles, but they were replaced by the faster and more agile dinosaurs.

The new find appears to have some characteristics of the Thecodonts and some of the dinosaur, and so may offer vital clues as to the evolutionary chain.

It was found in Rio Grande de Sul province, in southern Brazil, by a team led by palaeontologist Jorge Ferigolo.

He says he expects to publish his first findings of it within a year, although the studies will continue for much longer.

It is no surprise that the find should have been made in this part of South America.

Brazil and northern Argentina have long provided some the best dinosaur finds.

The area is a treasure trove for dinosaur fossils - last year palaeontologists found another of the oldest dinosaurs yet discovered, a direct ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Dinosaurs Survived Cataclysm 200 Million Years Ago

May 10, 2001 - Reuters

The dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid that smacked the Earth 65 million years ago, but they survived another cataclysmic event -- perhaps another asteroid impact -- that snuffed out 80 percent of all species about 200 million years ago, scientists said on Thursday.

By studying the fate of a type of marine plankton, single-celled organisms called Radiolaria, researchers found that the mass extinction was a sudden event, not the prolonged die-off that experts previously had thought. The extinction occurred at the boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic periods during the Mesozoic era.

The event provided the death knell for most species and helped crown the dinosaurs, which arose earlier in the Triassic, as the rulers of the Earth, said Peter Ward, a University of Washington paleontologist who led the study.

Ward said this calamity had tremendous similarities to two of the other five mass extinctions that have ravaged Earth over the past 500 million years. Like those, Ward said it appears this mass extinction was caused by a giant rock from space.

``We know now that asteroid impact can cause rapid extinction,'' Ward said in an interview. ``It may not be an asteroid. But if it isn't an asteroid, it acts like an asteroid, put it that way.''

Most scientists believe an asteroid strike caused the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period that killed the dinosaurs and ushered in the age of mammals. In February, scientists presented evidence that an asteroid or comet impact also caused the even bigger extinction at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods 250 million years ago.

Evidence off the coast of british Columbia

Ward's team gathered evidence about the extinction 199.6 million years ago at two remote sites in the Queen Charlotte Islands off Canada's British Columbia coast, examining fossil samples indicating a collapse of the plankton population.

The researchers found an abrupt drop in the rate at which inorganic carbon was turned into organic carbon by life forms through processes such as photosynthesis.

The organic carbon decline coincided with the disappearance of more than 50 species of radiolarians, which served as a food source for numerous marine species and whose disappearance was an indicator of a major biological crisis.

The study was published in the journal Science.

Ward said the research indicated it took less than 10,000 years for the mass extinction to unfold. It could have taken place even more quickly -- perhaps in an instant, he added.

``This thing was real fast,'' Ward said.

At the time, most dinosaurs were relatively small, and they were locked in a survival-of-the-fittest battle with other well-adapted animals, including the mammal-like reptiles -- the biggest of which were among the major herbivores of their day.

``These suckers are huge, they're hulking,'' Ward said.

But the mammal-like reptiles -- whose earlier forms gave rise to the first true mammals -- perished in the calamity.

``One of the great mysteries has been ... why would these creatures, which are seemingly better adapted for eating a variety of plant sources, die out and the dinosaurs not? And the answer is: Mass extinction doesn't give a hoot about your adaptations for everyday life. There's a lottery involved, for whatever reason,'' Ward said.

Also nearly wiped off the planet were the ammonoids -- marine predators that resembled a giant squid in coiled cone shell.

Death from the sky?

Ward said there are ongoing studies to try to confirm an asteroid as the cause. Ward said he has found evidence of little carbon molecules called buckminsterfullerenes -- or buckyballs -- that hint at a space rock as the culprit.

He said a massive crater in Quebec called the Manicouagan structure, which measures 60 miles wide, could be the impact site. The crater has been dated to 214 million years ago, but Ward said the date may be too old.

Ward said alternative theories include an explosion of a nearby star that could have blown off the Earth atmosphere's ozone layer and sent temperatures soaring, or massive volcanic activity, possibly related to the breakup of the archaic supercontinent known as Pangea.

Scientists know very little about the mass extinctions that took place 350 million and 420 million years ago, Ward said.

Paleontologists find remains of T-rex ancestor

May 9, 2001 - AP - London

A previously unknown relative of Tyrannosaurus rex has been unearthed in Britain, adding a limb to the family tree of the fearsome predator, scientists said Wednesday.

Eotyrannus lengi, named after collector Gavin Leng who found the first bone on the Isle of Wight, was a 15-foot-long carnivore that lived 120 to 125 million years ago.

Paleontologists described the discovery as one of the most important archaeological finds made in Britain.

Martin Munt, acting curator of the Museum of Isle of Wight Geology, which is coordinating the dig, said the Eotyrannus - "early tyrant" - was an important piece in the evolutionary jigsaw of T-rex.

"The remains start to fill in the family tree of life. They are a missing link. The T-rex was around 60 to 70 million years ago. At that time this skeleton was already 55 million years old," Munt said in a telephone interview.

"We are really pushing back to the origins of the group of dinosaurs that gave us T-rex."

The first bones were found in 1997 on a cliff top near the village of Brighstone, near Newport, and the name "lengi" honors Leng, who found the first bone. It has taken four years to excavate the site more fully and to analyze the findings.

Darren Naish of the University of Portsmouth, who is part of a five-member team examining the remains, said 40 percent of the skeleton had been discovered. He said that was enough to determine it was an entirely new species.

"Eotyrannus lengi is one of the most complete and most globally important predatory dinosaurs of this age that has been found. It gives us a lot of information about the early evolution of the tyrannosaur that we did not know before," Naish said.

"It also gives us a lot of information about the diversity of dinosaurs at this time in Europe."

The later tyrannosaurs, including T-rex, stalked North America and Asia in the late Cretaceous period, about 65 million years ago. They were 38-feet-long, had huge heads with powerful jaws and tiny forearms and relied on teeth alone to kill their prey.

Although much smaller, the Eotyrannus had a similar skull, shoulder and limb structure. It would have been a fast, agile predator, preying mainly on species such as Valdosaurus and Hypsilophodon, also found on the Isle of Wight.

Naish said the new species may also be closely related to the Velociraptor, a 6-foot-long predator of the mid-Cretaceous period, around 90 million years ago, which was made famous by the movie "Jurassic Park."

He said its small head, long powerful arms and sharp claws were very similar to those of Eotyrannus.

"People who work on theropod dinosaurs are pretty encouraged - it is the early proto-tyrannosaur that we were looking for," Naish added.

"Our dinosaur has a bigger head than Velociraptor, though it is nothing like the size of T-rex.... They may all be descended from a small predatory dinosaur very similar to the Velociraptor from the Jurassic period."

Gregory Erickson, a paleontologist at Florida State University who has done extensive work on tyrannosaurs, said the find was "very exciting."

"T-rex is the most famous and most popular of dinosaurs and any finds that reveal its ancestry are of considerable interest to paleontologists," Erickson said.

Massive Texas Dinosaur Fossil Shipped for Study

May 8, 2001 - Reuters - Texas

What may be the largest dinosaur backbone ever found was airlifted on Monday from a remote wilderness area in Big Bend National Park in far western Texas, scientists said.

The 10 pieces of articulated vertebrae measure almost 30 feet in length and weigh nearly 10,000 pounds. They are to be shipped to the Dallas Museum of Natural History for study.

Paleontologists from the museum and the University of Texas at Dallas believe the pieces constitute the largest fossil excavated of the largest animal ever to walk on earth -- the Alamosaurus species of sauropod dinosaur.

``Lots of bits and pieces have been found, but we don't have a complete skeleton of an Alamosaurus,'' said Tony Fiorillo, curator of earth sciences at the Dallas museum.

Two years of study will be required to confirm the fossils are from the Alamosaurus, a long-necked plant-eating creature from 70 to 90 feet long, weighing 30 tons, that lived 65 to 75 million years ago, he said.

The fossils, jacketed in plaster and mounted on pallets, were airlifted by helicopter from the secret discovery site in the park to a flatbed truck on a park roadway on Monday, then driven to Dallas, 470 miles to the northeast.

The fossil find was made by chance in 1996 when a student working at another Big Bend fossil excavation -- one of a juvenile Alamosaurus -- ``wandered over the hill and came back to say she'd found other big fossils...some of the vertebral column was exposed,'' said Fiorillo. The site was kept secret to protect the find.

Monday's airlift operation was set in motion after University of Texas at Dallas paleontologist Homer Montgomery and his crew of students and volunteers discovered the vertebrae were too massive to carry out without a helicopter.

It took hours of hiking over rocky arroyos to carry out two vertebrae pieces, said volunteers Scott Clark and Larry Millar, both Abilene, Texas, high school teachers. ``After 100 yards we knew we were in trouble. We were yelling 'helicopter, helicopter,'' said Clark.

Bell Helicopter of Hurst, Texas, sent a ground crew of five, two pilots and a Bell 205 A-1 emergency rescue helicopter with an 1800 hp engine to lift the fossils onto the truck for delivery to the Dallas museum.

Frank Deckert, superintendent of Big Bend National Park, said the fossils were threatened by erosion, vandalism and theft if left in the park, which a mountainous desert region.

He said they likely would be returned to Big Bend and put on display after preservation and study.

Fiorillo said the Big Bend was a coastal lowland at the time the dinosaur lived. It was ``dry but not dry like this,'' and ``not a wet humid steamy jungle'' like Hollywood's version of a dinosaur habitat, he said.

The Big Bend area was once the home of to least three other dinosaur species, including the largest known flying creature of all time, a pterosaur with a 35-foot wingspan, scientists said.