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2009-01-15 – New Mexico, USA: Students discover Triassic Reptiles

Students discover possible dinosaur fossil

A Mesalands Community College paleontology class has found a fossil that could be of a new form of Triassic reptile at an eastern New Mexico dig site.

“I think that we have found a new form of aetosaurs,” said Axel Hungerbuehler, professor of Paleontology at Mesalands Community College.

The aetosaur, or eagle lizard, fossils were among numerous fossils excavated at a site in the Redonda formation in Quay County.

Aetosaurs, a heavily armored plant-eater that lived in the Triassic period an estimated 200 Million years ago, are identified by the armor plating on their back and sides. Each of the plates has a distinct pattern and shape, Hungerbuehler said.

“The analysis of the armor plates found at the dig site indicates that we have found a new form of aetosaur,” Hungerbuehler said.

In addition to the plates, they have identified bones of the internal skeleton of an aetosaur, including parts of the hip and several leg bones. So far, however, no complete articulated skeletons have been excavated from the site, Hungerbuehler said.

Several more dinosaur-like elements, including another hip bone (pubis) and several hollow limb bones, were also recovered, Hungerbuehler said.

“These bones are not from the same individual dinosaur that was found in 2007,” Hungerbuehler said. “They could be fossils of a similar type of dinosaur.”

In 2007 a field class found  a hip bone (ilium) of an un-named primitive dinosaur that was collected at the Redonda Formation site.

“We have not done enough examination of the fossil to determine if it is a new and previously undiscovered type of primitive dinosaur,” Hungerbuehler said. “A definite identification will be done once these fossils have been freed from their rocky host and they can be carefully cleaned.”

 This all started during the summer of 2006, when three field classes and several volunteers of Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum started excavating bones of reptiles at the current dig site.

Hungerbuehler said an abundance of fossils were found in red and green siltstones, and sandstones of the Upper Triassic estimated to be 200 million years old. To date, about 250 field numbers have been recorded.

 At the site they have found that bones occur in two different settings.
• In coarser layers of sandstones, bones are evenly distributed and show signs like breaking and abrasion, indicating they have been washed together by water currents.
• In red, fine-grained siltstones, undamaged bones have been found in spots of dense concentrations. These probably represent skeletons that fell apart at the spot.
Many of the bones still await preparation.

Items identified from the records kept in the field and the bones already freed from the rock in Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum Lab include:
• Phytosaurs — semiaquatic crocodile-like reptiles
Two phytosaur skulls and parts of a large lower jaw were recovered, plus numerous bones of the body.
• Large carnivorous reptile
A large reptile, perhaps,  a rauisuchian (Rau’s crocodiles) which includes the largest predators in the Late Triassic, is represented by the tip of a lower jaw. The element is currently under study by students at Mesalands to confirm the identity.



gennaio 15, 2009 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, - Rettili, 3 Triassico, America Northern, Mesozoic, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , | Lascia un commento

2008-10-10 – Germania: Dinosauri più antichi? (3) (Dinosaur,Triassic, track)

Debate Rages over ‘Oldest Dinosaur’ Find in Germany

By Philip Bethge

A scientist in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt believes he has uncovered tracks from the world’s oldest dinosaur. But the footprints at the center of the find have sparked a major debate among scientists.

Are the evolutionary "missing link" between reptiles of the Paleozoic era and the later, lithe dinosaurs?
Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Halle

Purported dinosaur tracks in Bernburg, Germany: Are the evolutionary “missing link” between reptiles of the Paleozoic era and the later, lithe dinosaurs?

A massive creature tromped its way across an expansive limestone marsh. Horseshoe crabs scurried in its wake, and a reptile similar to a crocodile crossed its path. Weighing between 600 and 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds), the creature left impressive footprints in the limestone deposit. Shifting sand then covered the tracks. The creature’s rear foot measured a large 35 centimeters (14 inches). 

All this happened around 243 million years ago — and it took until now for the fossilized tracks of this massive reptile to come to light again. The find was made in a quarry near Bernburg, a small city in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, and the first details were revealed last week. If the discoverer, paleontologist Cajus Diedrich, is to be believed, these limestone impressions will make for a research coup of global dimensions.

Diedrich believes he’s found the world’s oldest dinosaur, the ancestor of T. rex, Brontosaurus, Triceratops and all the others. The German weekly newsmagazine Stern obligingly reported the paleontological discovery was a “sensation,” but a number of experts in the field believe Diedrich’s theory is fundamentally wrong and an all-out scientific brawl is brewing within the profession.

Here are the facts: Diedrich first came across the site in late 2007. In June 2008, together with specialists from Saxony-Anhalt’s state Office for Monument Protection and Archeology in the nearby city of Halle, he retrieved material from the limestone quarry near Bernburg from an area about half the size of a soccer field. There they found fossilized tracks from many kinds of reptiles and crabs, as well as skeletal impressions of marine reptiles.

But the set of tracks that Diedrich describes as “spectacular” is the same one making waves among paleontologists now. Covering almost 50 meters (164 feet), it includes 34 individual impressions, each showing five toes. According to Diedrich, the anatomy of the footprints leaves no doubt: “There were relatively large dinosaurs far earlier than previously assumed.”

Diedrich speaks of the Prosauropods, dinosaur ancestors of the long-necked giants who later grazed the plains of the Jurassic period. He sees his find as the evolutionary “missing link” between the slow reptiles of the Paleozoic era and the later, lithe dinosaurs.

But the freelance paleontologist has attracted criticism with his theory. It’s “ridiculous,” declares Hartmut Haubold, a paleontologist from Halle. “It’s as if someone found a 10-million-year-old stone and claimed it was a hand axe made by humans.” Dinosaurs didn’t come into existance until a good 15 million years later than Diedrich claims,” he says.

 Haubold believes the tracks in question, were most likely left by a Chirotherium, an ancestral reptile long known to scientists and possibly related to the dinosaurs’ predecessors. Martin Sander, a paleontologist at Germany’s Bonn University, is also skeptical. “The first dinosaurs were smaller creatures,” he explains, “about as big as monitor lizards.” That a much larger dinosaur would have lived so much earlier, says Sander, is “extremely improbable.”

More than anything, though, it’s the secretiveness surrounding the allegedly sensational discovery that is causing the most agitation. “In Internet forums on the topic, moderators have had to warn people to temper their word choices,” says Michael Schudack, a paleontologist at Berlin’s Free University. For weeks Harald Meller, head of the Office for Monument Protection, released very little information about the find — ostensibly to keep hobby paleontologists away. Now, however, the accusation has been leveled that Meller, as an archeologist, is treading here on ground outside his field of expertise.

“We were only responsible for securing the tracks,” Meller says, defending his role. But Haubold suspects there may be another motive: “Mr. Meller wants another Nebra sky disk.”


Paleontologist Cajus Diedrich is responsible for the controversial discovery.
Martin Jehnichen

Paleontologist Cajus Diedrich is responsible for the controversial discovery.

Haubold is referring to a Bronze Age disk that brought Meller’s office fame in 1999. Also discovered in Saxony-Anhalt, the disk is known as the oldest depiction of the heavens worldwide. Haubold accuses the agency of looking to create a similar sensation with the fossilized tracks in Bernburg: “That’s not science, that’s just hype.”

Is it charlatanism on the one side, or injured vanity on the other? Diedrich claims his critics are just upset that they didn’t get their hands on the discovery first, and he feels he’s been attacked unfairly. “I don’t turn to colleagues for advice anymore,” he says, “because many of them don’t follow the scientific code of honor.”

Ultimately, that could help the researcher, whom even Haubold admits deserves “a lot of credit.” The appraisal of the Bernburg find is so controversial partly because — so far at least — no independent dinosaur tracks specialist has examined it.

In the meantime, Diedrich has submitted his data “to an international scientific journal” for review, but that step appears to be insufficient for quieting his critics.

 “With only tracks to go on, it’s very difficult to draw conclusions about a new dinosaur,” says Bonn University’s Sander. “There would have to be a skeleton.”

Perhaps Diedrich senses that, too. He’s already planning for his next coup. He wants to begin the search for evidence that supports his theory in Bernburg soon.

“The tracks continue further into the rock,” says Diedrich. “My hope is that the dinosaur who made it is at the end of the tracks.” But how probable is it that the creature would have done him the favor of dying right there?




view also the previous posts:

a) I dinosauri molto più vecchi di quanto si pensava (2) (Dinosaurier-spuren, Isochirotherium, Germany)

b) E 3 – I dinosauri molto più vecchi di quanto si pensava

and see also the comment (vedi anche il commento)


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ottobre 10, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, 3 Triassico, Bl - Top posts, Europa, P - Evoluzione, P - Impronte, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 commento

2008-10-08 – L’origine del carapace delle tartarughe (origin of the turtle’s shell, Chinlechelys tenertesta, New Mexico USA)

Fossil reveals how the turtle got its shell

  • 11:22 08 October 2008
  • news service
  • Ewen Callaway

A newly identified fossil could explain one of evolution’s biggest mysteries – the origin of the turtle’s shell.

Royal Society)

Chinlechelys tenertesta - The gradual origin of the turtle shell with two hypothetical ancestors, from an animal with isolated lumps of armour, to one with a complete shell (Image: Royal Society)

Bone fragments from a 210-million year-old, land-dwelling reptile from New Mexico suggest that the earliest turtles didn’t have much of a shell at all.

Over millions of years, rows of protective armour plates gradually fused together and to the reptile’s vertebrae, eventually creating a complete shell.

“Turtles ultimately originated from something that looked like an armadillo,” says lead author Walter Joyce, a palaeontologist at the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, Connecticut.

His colleague Spencer Lucas, of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, discovered a neck-bone fragment of the new reptile more than a decade ago, but its provenance remained debatable because the skeleton was so small, Joyce says.

However, recent erosion revealed enough pieces of Chinlechelys tenertesta – Latin for thin-shelled turtle – to remove any doubt.

Unlike turtle fossils dating from the later Jurassic era – “they’re so common people stopped collecting them,” Joyce says – Triassic turtles are few and far between. That’s probably because they lived on land, where fossilisation is far less likely to happen, he says.

The new animal is about 30 centimetres long, with a shell only a millimetre wide. “This one’s by far the thinnest ever found,” Joyce says.

More importantly, the reptile’s dorsal ribs aren’t fully fused to its shell – or carapace – as is the case in later fossils and in modern turtles.

“This is a crucial new discovery,” says Guillermo Rougier, at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who uncovered the first Triassic turtles in northwest Argentina. These and other early turtles had already gained their carapaces and offered few clues as to its origin.

C. tenertesta, on the other hand, points to the body form that must have given rise to the shell. “This new guy is an animal that belong to the lineage of turtles, it’s a proto-turtle in a way,” he says.

Exactly why turtles evolved their shell remains a mystery, Joyce says. A full shell might offer added protection and stability. And the proof could be in the pudding – their body plan is the world’s oldest, changing little over 200 million years. “For some reason just being a turtle is an idea that came along and just really works,” he says.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the Royal Society B (DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1196)

Evolution – Learn more about the struggle to survive in our comprehensive special report.



A thin-shelled reptile from the Late Triassic of North America and the origin of the turtle shell

Proceedings of the Royal Society B
free previewPDF 
Walter G. Joyce1, Spencer G. Lucas2, Torsten M. Scheyer3, Andrew B. Heckert4, Adrian P. Hunt2

1 Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
2 New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque, NM 87104, USA
3 Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Universität Zürich, 8006 Zürich, Switzerland
4Department of Geology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA


 A new, thin-shelled fossil from the Upper Triassic (Revueltian: Norian) Chinle Group of New Mexico, Chinlechelys tenertesta, is one of the most primitive known unambiguous members of the turtle stem lineage. The thin-shelled nature of the new turtle combined with its likely terrestrial habitat preference hint at taphonomic filters that basal turtles had to overcome before entering the fossil record. Chinlechelys tenertesta possesses neck spines formed by multiple osteoderms, indicating that the earliest known turtles were covered with rows of dermal armour. More importantly, the primitive, vertically oriented dorsal ribs of the new turtle are only poorly associated with the overlying costal bones, indicating that these two structures are independent ossifications in basal turtles. These novel observations lend support to the hypothesis that the turtle shell was originally a complex composite in which dermal armour fused with the endoskeletal ribs and vertebrae of an ancestral lineage instead of forming de novo. The critical shell elements (i.e. costals and neurals) are thus not simple outgrowths of the bone of the endoskeletal elements as has been hypothesized from some embryological observations.


Triassic, New Mexico, Testudinata, Chinlechelys tenertesta, origin of the turtle shell

ottobre 8, 2008 Posted by | - Rettili, 3 Triassico, America Northern, Articolo sc. di riferimento, P - Evoluzione, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 commenti

I dinosauri molto più vecchi di quanto si pensava (2) (Dinosaurier-spuren, Isochirotherium, Germany)

Continuano le ricerche sulle “presunte” impronte di dinosauro ritrovate in agosto in Germania e che sposterebbero indietro di 15 milioni di anni la “nascita dei dinosauri”

Dinosaurier 15 Millionen Jahre älter als gedacht

Die Abdrücke in einem Tagebau beweisen es: Dinosaurier gab es bereits vor 243 Millionen Jahren – 15 Millionen Jahre früher als angenommen. Die bereits im Juni bei Bernburg in Sachsen-Anhalt freigelegten Spuren gelten als seltener und äußerst spektakulärer Fund.

Die Spuren beweisen, dass es bereits vor fast 245 Millionen Jahren Dinosaurier gab - 15 Millionen Jahren früher als bisher angenommen

Isochirotherium - Größe des Saurierabdrucks: Die Spuren beweisen, dass es bereits vor fast 245 Millionen Jahren Dinosaurier gab - 15 Millionen Jahren früher als bisher angenommen

Bernburg – “Das war schon eine Sensation”, schwärmte Cajus Diedrich, der Entdecker der Saurierspuren. “Uns war klar, dass das etwas Großes werden kann.” Der Forscher von der Universität Osnabrück hatte im Oktober 2007 gemeinsam mit Frank Trostheide vom Magdeburger Museum für Naturkunde in einem Kalksteinbruch bei Bernburg die Fährten von frühen Dinosauriern entdeckt.

Vom 9. Juni bis 4. Juli 2008 wurden in einem fünf Meter mächtigen Muschelkalkpaket fünf Schichten freigelegt und auf einer 50 mal 40 Meter großen Fläche die Spuren gesichert. Angesichts der großen Dichte von Fährten sprach Diedrich von einem spektakulären Fund. Inzwischen ist belegt, dass die Spuren zwischen 243,5 bis 243,9 Millionen Jahre alt sind. Bislang hatten Wissenschaftler angenommen, dass sich Dinosaurier erst im mittleren Trias vor 235 Millionen Jahren von anderen Archosauriern abgespaltet hatten.

Die Fährten könnten neue Erkenntnisse zur Evolution der ausgestorbenen Tiere liefern. “Woher die Saurier kamen, in dieser Beziehung herrschte bislang eine große Wissenslücke”, sagte Diedrich. “Aus der Mitteltrias gab es bislang weder Fährten- noch Skelettfunde von echten elefantenfüßigen Dinosauriern. Die Evolution muss also irgendwo dazwischen stattgefunden haben.” Mit den Funden von Bernburg sei nunmehr bewiesen, dass die Spezialisierung der Arten bereits in der Mitteltrias eingesetzt habe.

Die Dinos pressten die Fährten seinerzeit ins Watt eines sich vom heutigen Rhein bis nach Böhmen erstreckenden Binnenmeeres, dessen Boden sich durch Ebbe und Flut sowie unter wüstenartigen Bedingungen schnell verfestigte und die Spuren so konservierte. In seiner zwölfjährigen Forschung habe er andernorts bereits mehrere kleinere Spuren gefunden, sagte Diedrich, in Bernburg seien es jedoch ganze Spurenfolgen gewesen.


Als bemerkenswert bezeichnete er die 20 Meter lange Fährte eines primitiven Prosauropoden. Diedrich vermutet, dass sie von einer drei Meter langen, hochbeinigen Echse hinterlassen wurde, die einem Krokodil ähnelte. Diese Raubsaurierspur wird von einer Fährte eines elefantenfüßigen großen Dinos gekreuzt. “Ein einmaliger Fund”, meint Diedrich.

Neben den Fährten wurden unter anderem Knochen wie Rippen, Wirbelbögen und Sitzbeine gefunden. Laut Diedrich könnte die seltene Kombination von Fährten und Knochen eine neue Vorstellung von der Nahrungskette im Trias-Watt liefern.

Die ältesten bekannten Dinosaurierarten lebten vor mehr als 200 Millionen Jahren. Die meisten bewohnten Gebiete mit reicher Vegetation in der Nähe von Küsten und Binnengewässern. Sie waren an warmes, subtropisches Klima angepasst, konnten aber auch Kälteperioden überstehen.

Dinosaurier kamen in vielen verschiedenen Arten vor. Die kleinsten waren rund 30 Zentimeter, die größten 37 Meter lang. Manche ernährten sich von Pflanzen, andere von Fleisch und Aas. Die Ursachen für das Aussterben der Dinosaurier vor rund 65 Millionen Jahren sind bis heute noch nicht ganz geklärt. Wahrscheinlich ist, dass sich die hoch spezialisierten Tiere nicht an grundlegend veränderte Umweltbedingungen anpassen konnten. Die meisten Forscher gehen davon aus, dass der Einschlag eines Meteoriten, ein Vulkanausbruch oder beides die Umwelt über Jahre hinweg stark veränderten und so den Niedergang der Dinosaurier einleiteten.



link:,1518,581983,00.html (see also for additional photo)


Fotostrecke starten: Klicken Sie auf ein Bild (7 Bilder)

see also previous post (link)


Other links (news, In german)

Halle: 243 Millionen Jahre alte Dinosaurier-Spuren vorgestellt
ZEIT ONLINE – 21 ore fa
Rund 243 Millionen Jahre alte Dinosaurier-Spuren sind am Donnerstag in Halle der Öffentlichkeit vorgestellt worden. Der spektakuläre Fund, darunter eine 25
245 Millionen Jahre alte Saurierspuren entdeckt
MDR – 21 ore fa
Wissenschaftler haben bei Grabungen in einem Kalkstein-Tagebau bei Bernburg fast 245 Millionen Jahre alte Spuren von Dinosauriern entdeckt.
SPUREN IN SACHSEN-ANHALT Dinosaurier 15 Millionen Jahre älter als
Spiegel Online – 21 ore fa
Die Abdrücke in einem Tagebau beweisen es: Dinosaurier gab es bereits vor 243 Millionen Jahren – 15 Millionen Jahre früher als angenommen.
Sensationsfund in Sachsen-Anhalt:
Netzeitung – 22 ore fa
Ein Kalksteinbruch in Bernburg macht Experten euphorisch: Schlappe 15 Millionen Jahre weichen die dort gefundenen Spuren vom bisher angenommenen Alter ab.
243 Millionen Jahre alte Dinosaurier-Spuren vorgestellt
Mitteldeutsche Zeitung – 22 ore fa
Halle/dpa/ddp. Bei Grabungen in einem Kalkstein-Tagebau bei Bernburg in Sachsen-Anhalt haben Wissenschaftler fast 245 Millionen Jahre alte Spuren von

ottobre 3, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, 3 Triassico, Bl - Top posts, Lang. - German, P - Impronte, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 commento

2008-09-19 – Paleoecologia del tardo Triassico

Discussion on Palaeoecology of the Late Triassic Extinction Event in the SW UK

Posted on: Friday, 19 September 2008, 03:00 CDT

By Radley, Jonathan Twitchett, Richard J; Mander, Luke; Cope, John

see link:

settembre 20, 2008 Posted by | 3 Triassico, conferenze, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , | Lascia un commento

E 3 – I dinosauri molto più vecchi di quanto si pensava

I dinosauri molto più vecchi di quanto si pensava

I dinosauri sono molto piu’ vecchi di quanto si pensasse: ne e’ convinto un gruppo di paleontologi della Sassonia-Anhalt, nell’Est della Germania, che hanno trovato tracce di un animale preistorico nato 15 milioni di anni prima di qualsiasi altro suo consimile conosciuto finora. I paleontologi hanno scoperto in una cava di calcare della regione i resti di un dinosauro esistito oltre 250 milioni di anni fa. Mai prima d’ora erano venute alla luce ossa cosi’ antiche di questi animali.

Per il momento, le autorita’ della regione non hanno confermato la scoperta, ma la comunita’ scientifica gia’ parla di un ritrovamento di “importanza sensazionale”.

Secondo la teoria corrente, i dinosauri si sarebbero evoluti dagli arcosauri circa 235 milioni di anni fa, cioe’ 15 milioni di anni dopo la nascita del dinosauro della Sassonia-Anhalt.

‘Sensational’ fossil illuminates birth of dinosaurs

Last Updated: 2:01pm BST 22/08/2008

An archaeological dig in central Germany has unearthed fossils which could be the oldest record of dinosaur life ever.

  • ‘Calamari killing field’ fossils found
  • Missing link feather fossils found in France
  • ‘Frog from Hell’ that ate baby dinosaurs

    The dinosaur find, at a quarry near the town of Bernburg 90 miles south-west of Berlin, appears to date from 250 million years ago.

  • Scientists previously believed that dinosaurs evolved from smaller reptilians around 235 million years ago.

    But the new find could radically redraw archaeologists’ understanding of the dawn of the Triassic age, and the birth of the dinosaur era.

    “This is a spectacular, unique achievement,” said regional archaeology chief Harald Meller, announcing the discovery.

    He said that the crucial remnants ­ believed to be fossils of bone fragments – had been secured, but the German authorities called on amateur enthusiasts to stay away from the site, for fear of damaging potential further finds.

    Other experts declared the dig of “sensational importance”.

    If confirmed, the find would add to a long list of landmark archaeological dinosaur discoveries in Germany, including the Archaeopteryx, which showed a link between dinosaurs and birds.

    It was discovered in southern German in the 19th century, helping to cement the reputation of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    Sensationsfund von Bernburg Den Sauriern auf der Spur
    Mitteldeutsche Zeitung – 20 ago 2008
    von Hendrik Kranert und Lars Geipel, 20.08.08, 11:06h, aktualisiert 20.08.08, 11:08h Bernburg/MZ. In einem Kalkstein-Tagebau im Norden von Bernburg wurden
    Sensationsfund von Bernburg Debatte um Spur der Saurier
    Mitteldeutsche Zeitung – 20 ago 2008
    von Hendrik Kranert und Lars Geipel, 20.08.08, 22:17h, aktualisiert 20.08.08, 22:28h Bernburg/MZ. Nach dem Fund von Saurierspuren Anfang Juni in einem
    Forscher prüfen Alter von Saurierfährten – 20 ago 2008
    Bernburg/Halle (dpa) – Nach einem Fund von Saurierfährten in einem Kalkstein-Tagebau in Bernburg (Sachsen-Anhalt) wollen Wissenschaftler nun das genaue
    Sensationelle Saurierspuren in Sachsen-Anhalt entdeckt – 20 ago 2008
    Halle – Ein sensationeller Fund in Sachsen-Anhalt könnte die Geschichte der Dinosaurier revolutionieren. In einem Kalkstein-Tagebau bei Bernburg wurden

    settembre 19, 2008 Posted by | - R. Dinosauri, 3 Triassico, Europa, P - Ritrovamenti fossili, Paleontology / Paleontologia | , , , , , , | 2 commenti