Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 in Paleontology

A selection of species described in 2013
Here is my pick for the top paleontology stories of year 2013 (not in particular order):

Archicebus achilles
1) The discovery in the Hubei province of China of the oldest haplorhine primate skeleton, Archicebus achilles., dating from the Eocene.
Reference: Ni, X.; Gebo, D. L.; Dagosto, M.; Meng, J.; Tafforeau, P.; Flynn, J. J.; Beard, K. C. 2013. The oldest known primate skeleton and early haplorhine evolution. Nature 498 (7452): 60–64.

Entelognathus primordialis

2)Entelognathus primordialis, a Placoderm fish with a modern type jaw that rewrites the history of jaw evolution in vertebrates.
Reference: Zhu, Min; Xiaobo Yu, Per Erik Ahlberg, Brian Choo, Jing Lu, Tuo Qiao, Qingming Qu, Wenjin Zhao, Liantao Jia, Henning Blom & You'an Zhu 2013. A Silurian placoderm with osteichthyan-like marginal jaw bones. Nature (502): 188–193.

3) A new study using computer mechanical simulation coupled with high resolution CT scans has indicated that theropod dinosaur beaks evolved to stabilize the skull during biting and feeding rather than as a lightweight replacement for teeth as previously assumed.
Microraptor gui
Reference: Lautenschlager, Stephan et al. 2013. Edentulism, beaks, and biomechanical innovations in the evolution of theropod dinosaurs. PNAS. in press.

4) Microraptor gets a highlight again with the description of a specimen with fish scales in its abdominal cavity proving that it was an opportunistic feeder that also was also piscivorous.
Reference: Lida Xing et al. 2013. Piscivory in the feathered dinosaur Microraptor. Evolution. 67(8): 2441–2445.

Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus
5) Two familiar duck-billed dinosaurs got facelifts with the redescription of the crest of Tsintaosaurus and the finding of a soft tissue wattle on the head of one well preserved specimen of Edmontosaurus.
Reference: Prieto-Márquez, A.; Wagner J.R. 2013. The ‘Unicorn’ Dinosaur That Wasn’t: A New Reconstruction of the Crest of Tsintaosaurus and the Early Evolution of the Lambeosaurine Crest and Rostrum.. PLoS ONE 8 (11): e82268.

Bell, P. R.; Fanti, F.; Currie, P. J.; Arbour, V. M. 2013. A Mummified Duck-Billed Dinosaur with a Soft-Tissue Cock's Comb. Current Biology. in press.
Edmontosaurus regalis

6) A new methodology has clocked the rate of evolution of arthropods and it was found to be four to five times faster during the so-called "Cambrian explosion" than after it.
Reference: Michael S.Y. Lee, Julien Soubrier, Gregory D. Edgecombe, Rates of Phenotypic and Genomic Evolution during the Cambrian Explosion, Current Biology, Volume 23, Issue 19, 7 October 2013, Pages 1889-1895.

Lythronax argestes
7) At 8 meters in length, the tyrannosaurid Lythronax argestes from the Cretaceous of Utah emerges as the new rising star among the dinosaur enthusiasts and t-rex lovers.
Reference: Loewen, M. A.; Irmis, R. B.; Sertich, J. J. W.; Currie, P. J.; Sampson, S. D. 2013. Tyrant Dinosaur Evolution Tracks the Rise and Fall of Late Cretaceous Oceans. In Evans, David C. PLoS ONE 8 (11): e79420.

8) Three new ceratopsians from North America have been described: Bravoceratops from Texas, Nasutoceratops from Utah and Judiceratops from Montana.
Judiceratops tigris
Reference: Longrich, N. R. 2013. Judiceratops tigris, a New Horned Dinosaur from the Middle Campanian Judith River Formation of Montana. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 54: 51–65.

Sampson, S. D.; Lund, E. K.; Loewen, M. A.; Farke, A. A.; Clayton, K. E. 2013. A remarkable short-snouted horned dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous (late Campanian) of southern Laramidia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280 (1766): 2013118.

        Wick, S. L.; Lehman, T. M. 2013. A new ceratopsian dinosaur from the Javelina Formation (Maastrichtian) of West Texas and implications for chasmosaurine phylogeny". Naturwissenschaften. in press (7): 667.

Panthera blytheae
9) Panthera blytheae from the Late Miocene of Tibet is the oldest known big cat (genus Panthera) that includes lions, tigers, panthers, leopards and jaguars, and points to an asian origin for them.
Reference: Tseng, Jack; Wang, Xiaoming; Slater, Graham J. ; Takeuchi, Gary T. ; Li, Qiang; Liu, Juan; and  Xie, Guangpu. 2014. Himalayan fossils of the oldest known pantherine establish ancient origin of big cats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281 (1774): 20132686.
10) Rock legend Jim Morrison has now a prehistoric animal named after him, the 2 meter long iguana relative, Barbaturex morrisoni.
Barbaturex morrisoni
Reference: Head, J. J.; Gunnell, G. F.; Holroyd, P. A.; Hutchison, J. H.; Ciochon, R. L. 2013. Giant lizards occupied herbivorous mammalian ecospace during the Paleogene greenhouse in Southeast Asia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280 (1763): 20130665.

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