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2008-10-24 – Gli Eterodontosauri e l’origine dell’erbivoria nei Dinosauri Ornitischi (Heterodontosaurs and the origin of erbivory in ornitischian dinosaurs)

La scoperta di un cranio di un giovane esemplare di Heterodontosaurus favorisce nuove considerazioni sulla dieta e sul percorso evolutivo di questo dinosauro.

Prima della scoperta, la presenza di una dentatura eteromorfa (e in particolare la presenza dei canini) aveva dato luogo a due considerazioni contrastanti; alcuni ritenevano che tale dentatura costituisse una prova di un alimentazione onnivora, altri invece che la presenza dei canini fosse propria soltanto dei maschi e rappresentasse quindi solo un carattere sessuale secondario (vedi l’esempio attuale dei Trichechi)

Ora la scoperta di un esemplare giovane con canini già ben sviluppati avvalora la tesi dell’onnivoria e pone il genere Hterodontosaurus coma una delle fasi di passaggio tra un antenato carnivoro e i successori ornitischi (triceratopi, adrosauri, anchilosauri) erbivori.


One of world’s smallest dinosaurs ever discovered ate meat AND plants

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:33 AM on 24th October 2008

[Photo: Laura Porro with her amazing find. The skull of a Heterodontosaurus had lain in a drawer since the 1960s]

One of the world’s smallest dinosaur skulls has been discovered, which could help explain how plant eaters branched off from their carnivorous cousins.

The tiny skull belongs to a young Heterodontosaurus, which lived 190million years ago, according to British and U.S researchers.

The mini dinosaur, which weighed around the same as an MP3 players, had fang-like canine teeth at the front for biting and tearing and flat grinding teeth typical of herbivores at the back.

‘Since Heterodontosaurs are among the earliest dinosaurs adapted to eating plants, they may represent a transition phase between meat-eating ancestors and more sophisticated, fully herbivorous descendants,’ Laura Porro from the University of Chicago said.

 ‘This juvenile skull indicates that these dinosaurs were still in the midst of that transition.’

 Porro came across the skull in a drawer in the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town, while researching the eating habits of the Heterodontosaurs. ‘

‘I didn’t recognise it as a dinosaur at first,’ she said.

‘But when I turned it over and saw the eye looking straight at me, I knew exactly what it was.’

Although dug up in the 1960s it was never identified. The dinosaur lived during the Early Jurassic period of South Africa. Porro’s find was reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


Enlarge   dino

[Photo: The adult creatures were the size of turkeys but youngsters were half the size and only weighed half a pound, say researchers]

The first dinosaurs appeared about 230 million years ago, and the earliest known ones were meat eaters.

 There were other plant-eating dinosaurs at the time of Heterodontosaurus including the long-necked sauropods. But this little creature was one of the earliest of the ornithischians that soon become very important in the Age of Dinosaurs.

 Later ornithischians included the duck-billed dinosaurs, horned dinosaurs such as Triceratops and tank-like dinosaurs such as Ankylosaurus.

 While adult Heterodontosaurus were turkey-sized creatures that reached just over three feet in length and weighed about five pounds (2.5 kg), the juvenile likely weighed less than half a pound and would have been just about a foot and a half long.

Enlarge   skull

[Photo: The rare juvenile skull of a 190 million-year-old dinosaur may help explain when an important group of plant eaters branched off from their carnivorous cousins]

 The find also offers a rare chance to compare a young dinosaur to adults in the species. Porro said the eyes in the juvenile skull are much bigger, and the nose is much shorter.

 ‘It’s the same things that makes puppies and kittens appealing,” she said. “I think it’s adorable.’



Other links:

Tiny Juvenile Dinosaur Fossil Sheds Light On Evolution Of Plant Eaters
Science Daily (press release) – 6 ore fa
ScienceDaily (Oct. 23, 2008) — One of the smallest dinosaur skulls ever discovered has been identified and described by a team of scientists from London,
Tiny dinosaur on verge of swearing off meat
Reuters UK – 10 ore fa
By Julie Steenhuysen CHICAGO (Reuters) – A rare juvenile skull of a 190 million-year-old dinosaur may help explain when an important group of plant eaters
Dinosaur ‘was turning vegetarian’
The Press Association – 10 ore fa
One of the smallest dinosaur skulls ever discovered belonged to a creature in the process of turning vegetarian, say scientists.
One of world’s smallest dinosaurs discovered that ate meat AND plants
Daily Mail – 1 ora fa
By Daily Mail Reporter Laura Porro with her amazing find. The skull of a Heterodontosaurus had lain in a drawer since the 1960s One of the world’s smallest
Tiny Skull Sheds Light on Strange Dinosaur Diets – 9 ore fa
By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer Juveniles of Heterodontosaurs (the little ones in the illustration) already sported fang-like canines, and so like the


Original article:

Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (the link will be inserted when available) (Bioone)


ottobre 24, 2008 Posted by | - Ornitopodi, - R. Dinosauri, Africa, Articolo sc. di riferimento, Bl - Top posts, Italiano (riassunto), Lang. - Italiano, P - Evoluzione, P - morfologia funzionale, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-24 – UK: Riscoperto dopo 150 anni sito con resti fossili eccezionalmente preservati (exceptional fossil preservation)

In Gran Bretagna riscoperto dopo 150 anni un sito che aveva fornito numerosi eccezionali ritrovamenti di pescsi e calamari con resti di parti molli risalenti al Giurassico.
October 24, 2008

 Jurassic treasure trove lost by Victorians found by Phil Wilby, fossil sleuth

Phil Wilby
 [Photo: Phil Wilby with a fossilised ammonite found at the site near Christian Malford]

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One of the world’s most valuable fossil beds has been rediscovered, having been forgotten during Victorian times. Fossils recovered near Christian Malford in Wiltshire caused a sensation when they were unearthed in 1840 because they were the first to include the flesh of Jurassic wildlife.

Phil Wilby, of the British Geological Survey, has now rediscovered the site and led the first dig there in more than 150 years. He hopes that freshly recovered fossils can help to explain why tens of thousands of animals died simultaneously in episodes repeated many times over about a million years.

Fossil hunters and academics flocked to the area in the 1840s and 1850s to dig out extraordinarily well-preserved specimens of fish and squid-like creatures. But despite its importance as an extremely rare source of fossilised soft tissues preserved along with hard bones and shells, the location of the site was lost.

None of the Victorians who visited the site, even leading researchers from universities and museums, recorded the precise place and, when digging ended, the location was forgotten.





Original scientific article:

Volume 24 Issue 3, Pages 95 - 98

Geology Today

Geology Today – Volume 24 Issue 3, Pages 95 – 98

Preserving the unpreservable: a lost world rediscovered at Christian Malford, UK

Philip R. Wilby 1 , Keith Duff 2 , Kevin Page 3 & Susan Martin 1
 1 British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, NG12 5GG, UK.;   2 Department of Geology, University of Leicester, Bennett Building, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK.   3 School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK.
Copyright © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

The small village of Christian Malford, Wiltshire (UK) is known to palaeontologists the world over because of the chance discovery of an astonishing fossil bonanza in the mid-nineteenth century. Pits in the Jurassic Oxford Clay yielded thousands of specimens of exquisitely preserved ammonites, fish and crustaceans, but became most famous for squid-like cephalopods and belemnites (collectively termed coleoids) with fossilized soft-parts. The precise location of the find has remained obscure, until now, and a new attempt is underway to understand the ancient environment that triggered this unusual preservation.

Published Online: 6 May 2008

ottobre 24, 2008 Posted by | - Pesci / Fishes, 2 Jurassic / Giurassico, Articolo sc. di riferimento, Curiosità, Europa, Italiano (riassunto), P - Preservazione eccezionale, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-24 – USA: Palinologist David M. Jarzen at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville

Conferenze del palinologo David M. Jarzen al Florida Museum of Natural History di Gainesville


Fossil pollen reveals looking at the past

Article published on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008

PINELLAS COUNTY – Fossil pollen is often called the fingerprint of ancient plants. Noted scientist and author David M. Jarzen, Ph.D., at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, uses fossil pollen to determine what sorts of plants lived in particular places long ago.

Plants the dinosaurs walked among share many features with the plants of today. These similarities allow scientists, with the help of artists, to reconstruct early landscapes in dazzling detail.

Dr. Jarzen will bring amusing anecdotal tales to the Environmental Lands Division’s premiere education centers to discuss how scientists work with artists to express natural history knowledge through color and beauty. The scientist will give guest lectures at two locations:

– On Friday, Oct. 24, from 7 to 8 p.m., Dr. Jarzen will share his insights and expertise at Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center, 1500 Weedon Drive N.E., St. Petersburg. For information, call 727-453-6500.

– On Saturday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 2 p.m., Dr. Jarzen will speak at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. For information, call 727-453-6800.

Both lectures are free and open to the public.  However, pre-registration for these talks, best suited for adults, is requested.

Both education centers are managed by the County’s Environmental Lands Division.  As one of six sections in the Department of Environmental Management, the Division is responsible for the stewardship of more than 15,000 acres of wild lands and waterways.  Weedon Island Preserve and Brooker Creek Preserve are two of the Division’s largest parcels open to the public every day of the year.

For more information about the County’s preserves and management areas, call 727-453-6900 or visit

Article published on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008

Copyright © Tampa Bay Newspapers: All rights reserved.


ottobre 24, 2008 Posted by | America Northern, conferenze, Italiano (riassunto), P - Paleobotanica, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-24 – Thailandia: nuovo sito con resti di Dinosauri giurassici (Thailand, Jurassic, Dinosaurs)

In Thailandia un contadino scopre nuovo sito con resti fossili di dinosauri (sauropodi e teropodi) datato 150 milioni di anni fa.


Second big fossil site unearthed at Kalasin

A new site rich in dinosaur fossils has been found in Kalasin province, with some of the fossils estimated to be 150 million years old. The new site is the second fossil discovery in the area after the find at Phu Kum Khao.

The new discovery was made in tambon Din Chee in Kham Muang district near the Phu Phan mountain range.

The fossils were found on land owned by Seethan Saengsit, 62, who made the discovery while working on her land.

Thida Saneyamoon, the chief of the geological survey unit of the Mineral Resources Department, said an initial dig had turned up several types of dinosaur fossils – sauropods and theropods – which were estimated to have roamed the area at least 150 million years ago.

There are also a number of fossils of crocodiles and fish, also estimated to be 150 million years old.

The fossils are to undergo a thorough examination by officials from the department. Ms Thida said the newly discovered fossils would be kept at the Sirindhorn Museum in Sahatsakhan district in Kalasin, where a number of rare fossils of crocodiles and replica skeletons of dinosaurs found in the region have been put on display.

Decha Tantiyawarong, the governor of Kalasin, said he had been told by the Mineral Resources Department that more than 100 fossils had been found.

The discovery was the second in the province following the find at Phu Kum Khao, which has some of the largest fossil deposits in Southeast Asia.

The governor said he had ordered the area to be guarded around the clock to prevent people digging up more fossils to supply illegal fossil traders.

The province bans the removal of fossils from the area without permission.

Based on the new Paleontological Research Protection Act of 2008, effective in August, anyone caught exporting rare fossils without permission could be jailed for up to seven years, or face a fine of up to 700,000 baht, and those trading in fossils without a licence face a one-year prison term or a 100,000 baht fine.

Any fossil discoveries have to be reported to the authorities within seven days, and those wanting to trade in fossils need to obtain a licence.

Anyone in possession of fossils needs to inform the Mineral Resources Department, either in writing or verbally within one year – by Aug 9, 2009 – or face a fine of up to 10,000 baht.


ottobre 24, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, - Teropodi, - uova / eggs, 2 Jurassic / Giurassico, Asia, Italiano (riassunto), P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-14 – Canada: memorandum per proteggere i “McAbee fossil beds”

Le autorità canadesi si stanno muovendo per proteggere i siti del McAbee fossil beds (Eocene) e limitarne il saccheggio, anche se per ora è stato emanato soltanto un “memorandum” che impone di consegnare agli scienziati i reperti fossili più significativi.

vedi pure: 2008-10-12 – British Columbia, Canada: danneggiato sito dell’Eocene (fossil site damaged)


B.C. government moves to protect 50-million-year-old fossil beds

Vancouver Sun – Published: Thursday, October 23, 2008

BRITISH COLUMBIA – The B.C. government announced Thursday it has signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at protecting globally significant fossil beds between Cache Creek and Kamloops.

Agriculture and Lands Minister Stan Hagen said the memorandum applies to the McAbee fossil beds dating back about 50 million years to the Eocene era. The site has already provided at least 23 new species of insects and four new species of plants with the potential for more to be discovered, he said.

The announcement immediately drew criticism for not going far enough.

Bruce Archibald, a post-doctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University who has done extensive research on the McAbee fossil beds, called for an “immediate stop-work order” on mineral claims at the site followed by the fossil beds being declared a protected heritage site.

The memorandum is “clearly insufficient in protecting this paleontological treasure, and does not yet represent real progress,” said Archibald, among five paleontologists who wrote a letter in 2007 outlining their concerns.

Richard Hebda, curator of botany and earth history at the Royal B.C. Museum, described the memorandum as a “really good start.” It applies to one mineral tenure for now, but the province will soon look at the scientific importance of other tenures in the area, he said.

The memorandum requires that significant fossils found on the site will be handed over to the province for study.

© Vancouver Sun 2008

see also: 2008-10-12 – British Columbia, Canada: danneggiato sito dell’Eocene (fossil site damaged)

ottobre 24, 2008 Posted by | 6 Eocene, America Northern, Commercio illegale, Italiano (riassunto), P - Geositi, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento