Posted by Nima On Wednesday, February 24, 2010 22 comments
Hello again dino-fans! I apologize for the long delay in getting stuff posted here, I have been working through a lot of projects, and mainly paleo-related ones.
There are several sauropods I have under completion and a radical and grand new skeletal (I dare not name the species, as I want to be the first to do a decent skeletal of it). And then there is the therizinosaur project from ArtEvolved, which I very much want to finish and submit, even if it's late. But the fascination with sauropods refuses to die! They are the frontier of paleontology that seems to defy frontiers altogether - seemingly getting larger, heavier, and stranger with each new discovery. And when you think you really know them, they get even stranger...
And there's another big piece of news (well, big to me at least). Nikola Popovic, a fellow paleo-fan, artist, blogger, and one of the most intelligent young science enthusiasts I've ever come across, has launched a new blog, which will include dinosaurs, space, evolution, the possibilities of life on other planets in distant star systems, and razor-sharp refutations of pseudoscience, from creationism to crypto-zoology. And even though Nikola's blog is still in its infancy, I thought I'd at least bring it to everyone's attention. Go visit it, and offer your comments and suggestions!
Here's a NEW piece of paleo-news that Zach Armstrong brought to my attention: the mysterious new Cretaceous brachiosaur skull from Utah's Dinosaur National Monument (shown above), which I suspected to be from Cedarosaurus last year, has actually been described as a totally new genus and species: Abydosaurus mcintoshi.
Here's a brief video of the new discovery; as you can see, Michael Skrepnick has already painted a pretty nice restoration of the creature. What's more, he put the nostrils right where they belong - directly on the nasal chamber. Whether or not he's ever read my thoughts on the subject (roughly fifty gazillion posts and comments ago), I do feel at least a little bit vindicated :)
Interestingly enough, the team from BYU found skulls from four individuals packed into a fairly small area. Even though most of the remains found at the dig site are from 35-foot juveniles, there are some larger bones found along with them that likely belonged to adults, which would have measured roughly 70-80 feet long, the same average size range as Brachiosaurus altithorax. It's not too hard to imagine that Abydosaurus may have evolved directly from Brachiosaurus, which lived in the same general area millions of years earlier. The fossils are probably remains of a herd of these animals which all drowned together in a huge flood and were buried in sand and silt instantly. The sandstone surrounding the bones was incredibly dense and hard and precisely placed explosives were needed to loosen up the rock to get at the bones without damaging them - earning this new giant the nickname "the dynamite sauropod".
The really cool thing about these skulls, IMO, is that they seem to contain all the thin bony membranes inside the skull which usually get lost or destroyed, including the cranium, internal struts, and possibly delicate palate bones as well. Oh, and the hyoid (tongue bone) is also preserved! These skulls can literally tell us more about brachiosaurs than every skull found in the past hundred years. There's more info on this guy in the FREE description paper, here.
And guess what!? Soon I will upload my first blog entry for the new titanosaur art series: FORGOTTEN GIANTS. And believe me, what you will see in this series, will be unlike anything you've seen before.