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2009-04-23 – Puijila darwini: Anello mancante nell`evoluzione dei Pinnipedi (missing link in pinniped evolution)

recommended links: (Official home page) (good scientific description of the discovery)


 Fossil of a walking seal found

Remains of a previously unknown mammal could represent a missing link in pinniped evolution
Web edition : Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 
Researchers discovered remains of a previously unknown pinniped in the Canadian Arctic. (Inset shows bones that were found.) The fossilized skeleton was about 65 percent complete. (Illustration fills in the missing pieces.)
Researchers discovered remains of a previously unknown pinniped in the Canadian Arctic. (Inset shows bones that were found.) The fossilized skeleton was about 65 percent complete. (Illustration fills in the missing pieces.)

A fossilized skeleton of what researchers are calling a walking seal has been uncovered in the Canadian Arctic. The remains of this previously unknown mammal could shed light on the evolution of pinnipeds, the group that includes seals, sea lions and walruses, researchers report in the April 23 Nature.

The animal, named Puijila darwini, had a long tail and an otterlike body with webbed feet and legs like a terrestrial animal, the researchers report. But P. darwini also had a pinniped-like skull.

“We realized there was no way this was an otter,” says study coauthor Natalia Rybczynski of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. The walking seal probably lived about 20 million years ago and was adept at moving both on land and in water, the team reports. 

Researchers describe Puijila darwini (illustration shown) as a walking seal, with the legs of a terrestrial animal, a seal-like skull and webbed feet.

Researchers describe Puijila darwini (illustration shown) as a walking seal, with the legs of a terrestrial animal, a seal-like skull and webbed feet.

 Scientists had theorized that pinnipeds evolved from land-dwelling ancestors but had little fossil evidence to support that claim. The new finding could be the missing link in pinniped evolution, the researchers report.

“This is a fantastic discovery,” comments evolutionary biologist Annalisa Berta of San Diego State University.

The finding may also indicate that the Arctic was a geographic center for pinniped evolution, the researchers speculate.

But, Berta notes, other early pinnipeds have been discovered in the North Pacific and Eurasia. “We can’t yet conclude the Arctic was the area of origin for pinnipeds,” Berta says.


Otter-like fossil reveals early seal evolution

The Associated Press – ‎22-apr-2009‎
One expert called it “a fantastic discovery” that fills a crucial gap in the fossil record. The 23 million-year-old creature was not a direct ancestor of

aprile 23, 2009 Posted by | - Mammiferi, America Northern, An. Vertebrates, Articolo sc. di riferimento, P - Evoluzione, P - morfologia funzionale, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia, X - Nature | , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2009-03-18 – Hesperonychus Elizabethae: un nuovo mini-dinosauro carnivoro (mini meat-eating dinosaur)


Scoperto fossile di dinosauro nano 

Viveva nell’America del nord 75 milioni di anni fa

(ANSA)- ROMA, 17 MAR – Dei mini-dinosauri carnivori vivevano nell’America del nord, 75 milioni di anni fa. Lo conferma un fossile scoperto da paleontologi canadesi. Il fossile, scoperto da Nick Longrich e Philip Currie delle universita’ di Calgary e Alberta, viveva nell’odierno Canada. Era piu’ piccolo di un gatto e correva su due zampe fornite di artigli. Probabilmente cacciava insetti e piccoli mammiferi. Resti fossili di questo dinosauro furono gia’ trovati circa 25 anni fa.


Alberta researchers discover mini meat-eating


It had razor sharp claws and its teeth may have been the terror of Alberta 75 million years ago — among animals smaller than a squirrel, that is.
University of Calgary researcher Nicholas Longrich sits with a model of tiny dinosaur, which likely weighed less than two kilograms. (University of Calgary)

University of Calgary researcher Nicholas Longrich sits with a model of tiny dinosaur, which likely weighed less than two kilograms. (University of Calgary)

The kitten-sized predator identified by paleontologists at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta is the smallest carnivorous dinosaur ever found in North America. The next smallest meat-eating dinosaur ever found on the continent was about the size of a wolf.

“Until we found this animal, basically we had no evidence for any small carnivores being present in North America,” said University of Calgary researcher Nicholas Longrich, in a video released by the university on Monday.

Longrich and the University of Alberta’s Philip Currie have written an article describing the velociraptor-like dinosaur, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The tiny, bird-like predator ran on two legs and was about half the size of a housecat, weighing less than two kilograms, and standing about as tall as an average wastebasket. It likely hunted near the ground in marshes and forests for insects, small mammals, amphibians and “maybe even baby dinosaurs,” Longrich said.

The researchers have given the dinosaur the scientific name Hesperonychus Elizabethae.

Hesperonychus means “western claw” and Elizabethae is a tribute to the late Elizabeth (Betsy) Nicholls, the well-known Alberta paleontologist and former curator at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller who originally unearthed the bones.

Found 20 km from Dinosaur Provincial Park

Nicholls found the fossilized claws and a well-preserved pelvis in 1982 at the Dinosaur Park Formation, about 20 kilometres east of Dinosaur Provincial Park, or about 140 kilometres east of Calgary. Longrich said he was going through the collections at the University of Alberta when he stumbled across the bones less than two years ago.

Previously, paleontologists believed they belonged to a juvenile dinosaur of some sort.

Longrich noticed that one of the bones looked like the hip bones of some velociraptor-like dinosaurs excavated in China. Those Chinese dinosaurs were a little less than a metre long.

On closer examination, Longrich noticed that the pelvic bones had fused together — something that happens after the animal stops growing, indicating that it was an adult.

Because quite a number of bones were found, the researchers suggest that Hesperonychus was an important part of the ecosystem in the late Cretaceous period, as small predators such as cats and foxes are an important part of the ecosystem today.

The results also show for the first time that tiny velociraptor-like dinosaurs lived not just in China, but also in North America, and that such dinosaurs continued to roam the Earth about 45 million years longer than previous records suggested.




Researchers ID North America’s smallest dinosaur

Reuters – ‎13 ore fa‎
By Scott Haggett CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canadian researchers said on Monday they have discovered North America’s smallest known dinosaur, a pint-sized



Miniature carnivore dinosaurs roamed North America

AFP – ‎18 minuti fa‎
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Meat-eating dinosaurs the size of a small chicken roamed areas of North America 75 million years ago, according to research by Canadian

marzo 18, 2009 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, - Teropodi, 1 Cretaceo, America Northern, An. Vertebrates, Bl - Top posts, Blogs, Lang. - Italiano, Mesozoic, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia, Theropoda | , , , , , , , | 3 commenti

2009-01-08 – Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park and 7 Wonders contest

Il parco dei Dinosauri dell Alberta, già patrimonio mondiale UNESCO, supera la prima fase dell’elezione alle “Sette meraviglie del mondo naturale”.


Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park advances in 7 Wonders contest

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 | 12:05 PM AT CBC News

Researchers collect the skull of Albertaceratops nesmoi at a dig site in Alberta. Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta is part of the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. (Cleveland Museum of Natural History/Associated Press)

Researchers collect the skull of Albertaceratops nesmoi at a dig site in Alberta. Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta is part of the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. (Cleveland Museum of Natural History/Associated Press)

 Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Niagara Falls and Lake Superior will be competing with more than 200 spectacular places around the world in the next phase of a competition to name the New 7 Wonders of Nature, organizers said Wednesday.The three Canadian entrants were among 261 nominees, a list that includes Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, and Loch Ness.

Over a billion people are expected to join in internet voting to nominate the 77 semifinalists for the top natural wonders. Votes can be cast until July 7, after which a panel of experts will select 21 finalists to be put to another popular vote, which is expected conclude in 2011.

“We are calling on people all over the world to actively show their appreciation for our … natural world by joining together to celebrate the most extraordinary sites on our planet,” said Tia Viering, spokeswoman of the New 7 Wonders campaign.

The Swiss-based non-profit foundation collected 441 nominations over the internet since it opened the selection process in 2007.

Dinosaur Provincial Park was named Canada’s official entry for the contest, after beating Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, the Maritime’s Bay of Fundy, Quebec’s Rocher Perce and Ontario’s Long Point Sand Spit during the first round of voting, which finished on Dec. 31.

The provincial park, which lies in the valley of the Red Deer River, is renowned as one of the great fossil beds in the world. Thirty-nine dinosaur species have been unearthed there, with more than 500 specimens removed and exhibited around the world. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

In addition to the 222 national nominees, the competition also named 39 additional nominees for those entrants that cross national borders. Niagara Falls and Lake Superior, shared between Canada and the United States, were among those.

The New 7 Wonders campaign, led by Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, aims to support, preserve and restore monuments and natural sites.

The competition to choose natural wonders follows an earlier competition to name the world’s top man-made wonders.

About 100 million people voted in that competition, which finished in the summer of 2007 with the naming of the winners: the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt; the Colosseum, Italy; the Great Wall of China; the Taj Mahal, India; Petra, Jordan; Christ the Redeemer Statue, Brazil; Machu Picchu, Peru; and the Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico.


gennaio 8, 2009 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, America Northern, Curiosità, P - Geositi, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-11-16 – Canada: Dinosaur Provincial Park candidate for “7 Wonders of Nature”

Canadian contenders for new ‘7 Wonders of Nature’

Updated Thu. Nov. 13 2008 10:07 AM ET



Located just two hours east of Calgargy, Alta., Dinosaur Provincial Park can be described as a 75-million-year foray into the past. The region was then a subtropical paradise populated by turtles, crocodiles and sharks — and featuring a lush vegetation similar to the coastal plains of the south-eastern United States today. Here, on the shores of the Bearpaw Sea, dinosaurs once hunted and mated — and ultimately met their demise, leaving an amazingly rich fossil and bone record for us to discover today.

Click here to vote

source and full article:

novembre 16, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, America Northern, Italiano (riassunto), P - Geositi, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-29 – La fossilizzazione delle argilliti di Burgess (Burgess Shale’s fossil diagenesis)

Nuove indiazioni sul processo di fossilizzazione che ha portato alla formazione dei fossili dei Burgess Shale’s (argilliti di Burgess, Canada – Cambriano).

Lo studio pubblicato sul numero di Novembre di Geology sostiene che i fossili si sono formati in una fase diagenetica precoce (metamorfismo di basso grado) con la migrazione di fillosilicati che si sono sostituiti al materiale originale delle diverse specie e dei diversi tessutti di esse gradualmente e in maniera differenziale a seconda del loro grado di decomposizione.


Riddle of Burgess Shale’s fossil-rich deposits solved: Scientists

Area of B.C.’s Yoho a treasure trove for fossilized prehistoric soft tissue

Randy Boswell ,  Canwest News Service

Published: Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Researchers have unravelled how one of Canada’s greatest gifts to science – the Burgess Shale fossil site in British Columbia – survived a subterranean superheating a half-billion years ago to preserve hundreds of “exquisite” images of slithering creatures, including a primeval human ancestor, from the “dawn of animal life.”

The existence of the Burgess Shale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site found on a Rocky Mountain cliff in Yoho National Park, is “a paradox,” says a British team that has published a study in the November issue of the journal Geology.

“The fossils have been buried deep in Earth’s crust and heated to over 300 degrees C before being thrust up by tectonic forces to form a mountainous ridge in the Rocky Mountains,” said a statement announcing the study. “Usually, such extreme conditions are thought to destroy fossils. But, in the Burgess Shale, the most exquisite detail of soft tissues has been preserved.”

 'Usually, such extreme conditions are thought to destroy fossils. But, in the Burgess Shale, the most exquisite detail of soft tissues has been preserved,' an article in the November issue of Geology states.


‘Usually, such extreme conditions are thought to destroy fossils. But, in the Burgess Shale, the most exquisite detail of soft tissues has been preserved,’ an article in the November issue of Geology states. J.B. Caron

The team, claiming to have “solved this riddle,” concludes that the “beautiful, silvery fossils” survived because the animals’ tissues were replaced during heating in the underground crucible by minerals able to withstand the high temperatures and capture “intricate details such as gills, guts, and even eyes.”

The special geological conditions in which shale formed, helped to “accentuate fossil outlines” and contributed to their “exceptional preservation,” the scientists note in the journal article, written by University of Cambridge geologist Alex Page and three co-authors.

The latest study follows the publication of a paper earlier this year that reconstructed how the sudden burial of an entire seabed ecosystem, following a catastrophic underwater landslide, led to the formation of the Burgess Shale some 530 million years ago.

That study described how an avalanche of “mud-rich slurry” killed tens of thousands of marine animals representing hundreds of species, then sealed them instantly – and enduringly – in a deep-sea tomb.

Interest in solving the mysteries surrounding the formation of the Canadian fossil treasure is further testament to its international importance for scientists.

The site, close to the B.C.-Alberta border, is considered crucial to understanding the so-called Cambrian “explosion” of life – a time when the future Canadian land mass was drifting in tropical climes close to the Earth’s equator.

U.S. paleontologist Charles Walcott, following reports of fabulous fossil finds by railway workers laying tracks across the Rockies in the late 19th century, is said to have tripped over a block of shale that revealed the area’s remarkable supply of fossils.

Scientists have gathered tens of thousands of specimens from the site, capturing in remarkable detail the rich diversity of organisms that suddenly filled the world’s oceans a half-billion years ago.

Among the imprints of animal remains excavated from the Burgess Shale is one called pikaia, an eel-like creature that has been classified as the earliest known, identifiable ancestor of modern vertebrates – including humans.

© Canwest News Service 2008



Original article:

Geology – Volume 36, Issue 11 (November 2008) pag.855

Ubiquitous Burgess Shale–style “clay templates” in low-grade metamorphic mudrocks

Alex Page, Sarah E. Gabbott, Philip R. Wilby, and Jan A. Zalasiewicz

Abstract . Full Text . PDF (473K)


Despite the Burgess Shale’s (British Columbia, Canada) paleobiological importance, there is little consensus regarding its taphonomy. Its organic fossils are preserved as compressions associated with phyllosilicate films (“clay templates”). Debate focuses on whether these templates were fundamental in exceptional preservation or if they formed in metamorphism, meaning that it is important to establish the timing of their formation relative to decay. An early diagenetic origin has been proposed based on anatomy-specific variations in their composition, purportedly reflecting contrasts in decay. However, we demonstrate that these films bear a remarkable similarity to those that occur on organic fossils in graptolitic mudrocks and form as a normal product of low-grade metamorphism. Such phyllosilicates may also occur within voids created by volume loss in maturation, a process that may have aided their formation. In bedding-plane assemblages from graptolitic mudrocks, different taxa are associated with distinct phyllosilicates. This likely reflects stepwise maturation of their constituent kerogens in an evolving hydrothermal fluid, with different phyllosilicates forming as each taxon progressively underwent maturation. These observations provide an analogue for the distribution and composition of phyllosilicates on Burgess Shale fossils, which we interpret as reflecting variations in the maturation of their constituent tissues. Thus, their clay templates seem unremarkable, forming too late to account for exceptional preservation.

Received: March 25, 2008; Revised: July 9, 2008; Accepted: July 22, 2008

DOI: 10.1130/G24991A.1


ottobre 29, 2008 Posted by | America Northern, Articolo sc. di riferimento, G - Diagenesi, Italiano (riassunto), P - Preservazione eccezionale, 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

2008-10-14 – Canada: Impronte di sauropodi (Sauropod,dinosaur tracks)

Un nuovo ritrovamento di impronte di dinosauri rappresenta la prima testimonianza della presenza di Sauropodi in Canada.


B.C. paleontologists seek clues in rare dinosaur tracks


Last Updated: Monday, October 13, 2008 | 8:31 AM ET  – CBC News

Paleontologists in northern B.C. are poring over rare evidence that the largest dinosaur that ever lived once roamed the province.

In August 2008, a group of coal miners discovered ancient sauropod tracks at a mine near Sparwood, B.C., in the province’s southeastern tip near the Alberta border.

Sauropods are a group of giant, plant-eating reptiles that roamed the Earth approximately 150 million years ago in the late Jurassic period.

Until the summer of 2008, there had been very little evidence of the giant dinosaurs in B.C., and paleontologist Rich McCrea said that’s what makes the discovery of a path of sauropod tracks so rare and valuable.

“It’s one of the major groups of dinosaurs that there was no record of until recently, and it was always a mystery as to why sauropods were not found in Canada,” McCrea said. “We’ve been doing paleontology for over 100 years and not a bit of bone or scrap of tooth, and now we have a track-way.”

Cast made of tracks

McCrea, the curator of the Peace Region Paleontology Centre in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., made a cast of the dinosaur’s metre-long tracks, impressed upon a vertical slab of rock nestled in the Rocky Mountains.

He and a team of experts are studying the cast in the hopes of learning more about the movements of the ancient creatures. They also plan to revisit the track site to complete more detailed mapping, measuring and photography of the tracks.

Alberta paleontologist Phil Curry said the Sparwood track-way fills in knowledge gaps about the movement of sauropods.

“Now, we have things like this track, which indicate dinosaurs definitely lived in this part of the world. We’ve just never had bones and skeletons of the animals,” Curry said.

After the cast has been studied, it will be on display at the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery in Tumbler Ridge. The public will be able to view the rare specimen when the museum reopens at its new location in 2009.


(see the source also for comments)


ottobre 13, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, - Sauropodi, America Northern, Lang. - Italiano, P - Impronte, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-13 – Canada: Mostra sui Triceratopi (C.Montreuil profile, Meet the Triceratops)

In Canada organizzata una mostra sui Triceratopi curata dal biologo evoluzionista Hans Larsson, i cui proventi saranno usati per acquistare e quindi esporre una famiglia completa di Triceratopi con esemplari a diversi stadi di sviluppo.


Boning up on dinosaurs

Chantal Montreuil’s dream was to work with animals – live ones, that is. But as a fossil technician at McGill University, it’s her job to piece together the featured exhibit at this week’s Meet the Triceratops event


Published: 3 hours ago

It’s the week before the big event and Chantal Montreuil is trying to figure out how to attach the lower jaw of this young triceratops to the upper jaw.

“What’s difficult is to do it without the wires showing,” said Montreuil, standing back from the two-metre-long dinosaur skull she’s been working on for the past three months at the Redpath Museum.

Montreuil is learning as she goes – as she has done for the past four years as the fossil technician of McGill University’s evolutionary biology laboratory.

She is working from hundreds of small fossilized bones that add up to about 70 per cent of a teenage triceratops’s skull – bones collected on digs led by Hans Larsson, a McGill professor of evolutionary biology, in southwestern Saskatchewan.

On a table in the lab sit the two horns, each weighing close to 10 kilograms, along with a bit of the frill, the upright collar surrounding the head that is characteristic of this Jurassic dinosaur, which wandered in herds until its demise 65 million years ago.

“There are 200 pieces of frill alone,” Montreuil said. “From the size of the horns and the size of the frill, we knew this was a juvenile.”

She has been piecing the bones together, gradually, since going on the first dig in Saskatchewan three years ago. But more recently, she has been using the bones as reference points as she adapts a life-size skull made of fibreglass.

The fibreglass skull and the bones will be on display Friday at the Meet the Triceratops event at Redpath. It’s a chance for the public to learn about McGill’s dinosaur-digging activities.

Later, Montreuil will embed the bones into the fibreglass model.

She picked up the original fibreglass model last summer from Research Casting International, a company in Trenton, Ont., that specializes in dinosaur casts. Montreuil has made various cuts to reduce the length of the head and to widen the face to most closely represent the fossil record the McGill team has collected.

This being her first time working with the material, Montreuil has experimented with different putties, glues, plaster, wire, paint and reinforcing foam. Initially, the fumes emanating from resins in the fibreglass forced her to take the skull out of the museum and put it in her backyard until the odours evaporated.

“My neighbours got a kick out of that,” said Montreuil, who lives in Plateau Mont Royal.

Montreuil, too, gets a kick out of her work. Having dropped out of school at 15, had a baby at 18, and worked at menial jobs through the years while completing high school and, finally, Vanier College’s program in ecology technology, the 37-year-old has nothing but appreciation for her job.

“I’m happy to be doing work I love,” she said.

Her intention was always to work with animals – but with live ones. Raised by parents who collected edible plants and hunted every fall, Montreuil grew up in Verdun knowing her plants and animals. Later, in her mid-20s and living in Vancouver, she learned to scuba dive and became a volunteer in the city aquarium’s marine mammal rehabilitation program, where she taught orphaned seals to hunt and return to the sea.

As fate would have it, however, the first job Montreuil landed after Vanier was a contract to put together a display for the Redpath Museum’s exhibit on biodiversity. Her qualifications for that job had as much to do with her manual skills as with her knowledge of nature. With a carpenter father and a mother who ran a crafts store, Montreuil knew how to use her hands. To this day, she keeps a studio in Mile End where she makes lampshades and sculpts imaginary creatures in papier mâché.

Montreuil was also happy to have work in her field that didn’t require uprooting herself and her son. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m a wildlife technician living in the middle of the city. Not bad,’ ” she said with dry humour.

At the end of that contract, Larsson was looking for a technician. And the rest, as they say, is prehistory. With knowledge of paleontology gleaned during her son’s dinosaur-loving period and from the Vanier program, Montreuil took on the job, learning from Larsson and through trial and error.

“My aptitude for jigsaw puzzles and for packing came in handy,” she joked.

Participating with Larsson and a dozen students in the annual May dig in Saskatchewan, however, has proven to be the most useful experience in the preparation of fossils.

“Seeing these fossils in the ground and visualizing the scene around an ancient riverbed, it gives me a better feel for my work,” Montreuil said. “I’m a bit like the detective who needs to go to the scene of the crime.

“The dig is also an opportunity for me to learn from the paleontology technicians at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum.”

Quebec has its own paleontology technicians, but their specialization is fossilized fish. Miguasha, in the Gaspé, is a World Heritage Site for Devonian (Age of Fishes) fossils from 370 million years ago. The Age of Reptiles – dinosaurs being the most highly evolved reptile – was a mere 245 million to 65 million years ago.

The triceratops skull will give Montrealers just their second dinosaur: It will take its place beside the albertosaurus that has ruled alone on the museum’s second floor for the past 16 years.

“It’s all very poetic, because it is thanks to the albertosaurus that I learned of this museum,” Montreuil said. “When my son was little, he showed me one of those Jurassic Park (movie) books about the tyrannosaurus. There was a photo in there of the Albertasaurus and in the credits was the name of the Redpath Museum, Montreal. That led to my first visit.”

Meet the Triceratops is a McGill University Homecoming event that features a presentation by evolutionary biology professor Hans Larsson. Proceeds will be used to acquire and display a complete triceratops family – parent, teenager and baby. Suggested contributions are $12 per adult, $5 per child, and $20 per family. No reservation is necessary. The event takes place Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Redpath Museum, 859 Sherbrooke St. W. Call 514-398-4086.

source: © The Gazette (Montreal) 2008


adiitional links:ù

Redpath Museum

Redpath Museum – Meet the Triceratops

ottobre 13, 2008 Posted by | - Ceratopsidi, - R. Dinosauri, America Northern, Mostre & Fiere, Musei, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

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

Fossil hunters run amok and the B.C. government sits idle

Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, October 10, 2008

A fossil bed of global importance is being irreparably damaged by commercial fossil hunters operating with provincial government approval, say leading scientists.

And scientists’ letters to a series of cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats show that although the province is finally seeking someone to monitor the site, it has been aware of the concerns for almost a decade.

The operations take place under provincial regulations.

One letter likened what’s been going on to “wrapping fish in the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

The McAbee site between Kamloops and Cache Creek is a 51-million-year-old lake bed that yields exquisitely preserved fossils from the early Eocene epoch. Scientists say it holds answers critical to our present-day understanding of how plants and animals adapt to rapid climate change.

The Eocene is known for its diversity of large and exotic mammals, among them a carnivorous ungulate. The scientific value of the McAbee site, however, is its vast array of lesser-known plant, insect, fish and bird species that flourished when the world was much warmer and palms grew in what’s now Alaska.

Tree leaves, flowers and pollen fell into the water, sank into the mud along with now-extinct insect and fish species and, layer by layer over millions of years, created a stunning fossilized record of a lost world that may hold information crucial to survival in ours.

It’s the diversity of the site that permits scientists to collect large assemblages of fossil specimens preserved in vertical layers of shale — the site’s “stratigraphy” — and enables them to study their evolution over long periods of time.

The Eocene is vital for scientific study because it was in this time that the evolutionary ancestors of many modern animals, insects and plants first appeared.

But five of Canada’s leading paleontologists have written to the provincial government protesting that the stratigraphic integrity of the site is being destroyed by the use of heavy equipment in the hunt for individual specimens prized for commercial sale.

“We are writing to you to express our concern that an important British Columbia heritage site is currently being dismantled and sold to the highest bidder,” the scientists said in a March 2, 2007 letter to Charlie Wyse, the Liberal MLA for Cariboo South.

“This important fossil locality is currently under mineral claim by fossil dealers, has been extensively worked, and is being rapidly destroyed.”

The letter, one of a number going back as far as 2002, advised the province that individual fossil specimens from the McAbee site were for sale on the Internet.

The letter was signed by James Haggart, chair of the B.C. Paleontological Alliance, Rolf Mathewes of Simon Fraser University, James Basinger at the University of Saskatchewan, David Greenwood at Brandon University and Bruce Archibald, a PhD candidate at Harvard University.

Archibald, now a post-doctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University, has done extensive research on the McAbee fossils.

He wrote again on Sept. 11, 2008, this time to Stan Hagen, minister of agriculture and lands, to inform the government that he had just visited the McAbee site.

“I was absolutely shocked to see the amount of new destruction present,” Archibald wrote. “In fact, the richest beds containing the most finely preserved and most diverse fossils are now completely destroyed, or very nearly so. It is quite clear that degradation of the site has greatly accelerated since I visited it last year before the claimholders signed the current agreement with your ministry supposedly defining their appropriate stewardship of the site.”

© The Vancouver Sun 2008


Additional info:

Site description:

Scientific info: by Heidi Henderson blog

Fossil tour:

Fossils for sale:

ottobre 12, 2008 Posted by | 6 Eocene, America Northern, Commercio illegale, P - Geositi, P - Paleobotanica, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , | 1 commento

Premiato Al Lakusta scopritore del Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai

Grande Prairie teacher honoured for dinosaur discovery

Keith Gerein,

Published: Wednesday, October 01


More than 35 years after unearthing one of Alberta’s most important and unique fossil beds, a retired Grande Prairie science teacher is getting his very own dinosaur.

Al Lakusta, an amateur fossil collector, was hiking along the Pipestone Creek southwest of Grande Prairie in 1972 when he began to notice pieces of bone on the banks. He followed the trail and eventually came across the source of the material, a treasure trove of prehistoric skeletons from a previously unknown horned creature.

Provincial scientists have now finally completed a comprehensive report on the Pipestone Creek dinosaur, officially dubbed Pachyrhinosaur lakustai in honour of the man who found it.

The naming announcement was made at a surprise ceremony Wednesday evening in Grande Prairie.
Philip Currie, a University of Alberta professor and one of the lead researchers on the project, said Lakusta’s discovery put northern Alberta on the paleontological map.

While most bone beds contain fossils from a variety of dinosaur species, the Pipestone Creek site was unusual because it had many animals all from the same species, he said.

Other Pachyrhinosaurs – whose name means thick-nosed lizard – had been found at different sites in Alberta and Alaska, but the Pipestone Creek version showed unique characteristics.

“We eventually realized it was not only a pretty rare kind of ceratopsian (horned) dinosaur, it was also a new species,” Currie said. “Horned dinosaurs are pretty weird anyway, and this is probably the most bizarre of all of them.”

Lakusta’s Pachyrhinosaur was marked by a bony frill on the back of its skull that was ornamented with a set of horns, including some that were turned forward so they resembled big hooks.

The dinosaur’s face also had large deposits of bone, known as bosses, above the nose and eyes. These structures likely supported horns made of keratin, the same fibrous material in hair and fingernails, which would have made them lighter and less susceptible to damage, Currie said.

Although Lakusta made his discovery in the 1970s, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that a team from the Royal Tyrrell Museum began excavations. Skeletons were unearthed and put on public display, including one at the Tyrrell and one in Grande Prairie, yet they remained nameless until this week, when Currie and his team finally published their report on the animal.

“Through all these years, the displays have been listed as just Pachyrhinosaurus without designating the species,” Currie said. “Now we have a name on it and we know how it relates to other species of these horned dinosaurs in Alberta.”

The Pipestone Creek bed is also notable for its size.

So far 27 individuals from what was likely a large herd of Pachyrhinosaurs have been found, yet only three- to four-per-cent of the site has been excavated, Currie said.

The fossils are from the full range of ages, allowing scientists to study variations and growth patterns.
“For the first time we realized the babies don’t look anything like the adults,” Currie said. “A baby looks like a baby Triceratops or other horned dinosaur, without the big boss of bone and all the extra horns on its head.

“Because we have so many individuals, we can travel through all the different ages and see the bigger it got, the more weird it got.”

All of the animals died together in some catastrophic event 72.5 million years ago, during the Upper Cretaceous period.

“We are always looking for clues to explain what might of happened,” Currie said.

“It’s quite possible they drowned, or maybe they died from drought and then once the rains came again they picked up the bones in the river channels and redistributed them.”


Other links:

Bizarre Dinosaur Lured Mates With Bony Adornments
National Geographic – 18 ore fa
The scary spikes on a newly discovered horned dinosaur species may look bizarre today, but they were sexy 72 million years ago, new research suggests.

New dinosaur fossils in Canada
Times of India – 6 ore fa
TORONTO: Canadian researchers have discovered fossils of a new horned dinosaur species which perished 72.5 million years ago. The discovery has been made
Alberta teacher finds namesake in newly discovered dinosaur
Edmonton Sun – 9 ore fa
By Damien Wood, THE CANADIAN PRESS GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Waiting for the naming of the dinosaur species he discovered in the Pipestone Creek area 34 years
Retired Alberta teacher honoured for dinosaur discovery – 15 ore fa
A horned dinosaur discovered by an Alberta junior high school science teacher in 1972 has been officially named a new species, researchers said Wednesday.
Catastrophe Killed Entire Herd of New Dinosaur Species
FOXNews – 16 ore fa
A catastrophic event 72.5 million years ago left a herd of giant, horned dinosaurs buried to become fossils. Now scientists have identified the extinct
New Dinosaur Species, Pachyrhinosaur Lakustai, Had Bony Frill And
Science Daily (press release) – 23 ore fa
ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2008) — The fossils revealed a herd of dinosaurs that perished in a catastrophic event 72.5 million years ago.
Modest Alberta teacher finally gets his dinosaur
Globe and Mail – 2 ott 2008
It has been more than three decades since Al Lakusta noticed giant ribs poking out of an embankment during a fall hike along Pipestone Creek, southwest of
Grande Prairie teacher honoured for dinosaur discovery – 1 ott 2008
More than 35 years after unearthing one of Alberta’s most important and unique fossil beds, a retired Grande Prairie science teacher is getting his very own

ottobre 2, 2008 Posted by | - Ceratopsidi, 1 Cretaceo, America Northern, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento