Paleocene Mammals from Brazil – #365papers – 2018 – 67

de Paula Couto, 1952, Fossil Mammals from the Beginning of the Cenozoic in Brazil, Condylarthra, Litopterna, Xenungulata, and Astrapotheres: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, v. 99, 355-394.

What’s it about?

This paper is a listing, with descriptions, of most of the Paleocene mammals of Brazil at the time of its writing (1952). Several new species, genera, families, and even orders are named, in many cases by the author, Carlos de Paula Couto. Continue reading

Why is Irritator so Irritating? – #365papers – 2018 – 66

Martill, Cruickshank, Frey, Small, and Clarke, 1996, A new crested maniraptoran dinosaur from the Santana Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of Brazil: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 153, p. 5-8.

What’s it about?

This paper is the description of a new species (and Genus and Family) of dinosaur, grouped with the tetanuran theropods, a subgroup of carnivorous dinosaurs along the lineage leading to modern birds.

The type specimen was collected from the Santana Formation in Brazil, the same unit that gave us Santanaraptor. Continue reading

A Lost Titan – #365papers – 2018 – 65

Kellner and Azevedo, 1999, A new sauropod dinosaur (Titanosauria) the the Late Cretaceous of Brazil, in Tomida, Rich, and Vickers-Rich, eds., Proceedings of the Second Gondwanan Dinosaur Symposium: National Science Museum Monographs, no. 15, p. 111-142.

What’s it about?

This paper is a detailed description of Gondwanatitan foustoi, a new species of titanosaur (a sauropod) from Brazil. This new species is based upon specimen number MN 4111-V at the Museu Nacional. The material includes several vertebrae, part of a shoulder blade, parts of the hips, upper arm and lower leg bones, and some ribs. Continue reading

Lost with the National Museum of Brazil – Gondwanatitan – Luto #MuseuNacional

On September 2, 2018, the National Museum of Brazil (Museu Nacional) was gutted by fire. 2018 was the Museu Nacional’s 200th year.

This post is one of series in which I discuss an important specimens that may have been lost to science in the blaze.

Alexander Kellner and Sergio de Azevedo described a new genus (and species) of sauropod dinosaur called Gonwanatitan. As sauropods go, Gondwanatitan was pretty small, only about 7 meters in length.

Size comparison between the sauropod dinosaur Gondwanatitan and a human. Gondwanatitan was 25 feet long ( about 8, 3 meter ), and small for a sauropod. CREDIT: Conty

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Lost with the National Museum of Brazil – Santanaraptor – Luto #MuseuNacional

On September 2, 2018, the National Museum of Brazil (Museu Nacional) was gutted by fire. 2018 was the Museu Nacional’s 200th year.

This post is one of series in which I discuss an important specimens that may have been lost to science in the blaze.

In 1999, Alexander Kellner, a researcher at the Museu Nacional, published a paper describing the holotype for the genus Santanaraptor (“Santana Formation thief”). This holotype (MN 4802-V) consists of several bones of a juvenile individual and fragments of mineralized soft tissues (including epidermis, muscle, and possibly blood vessels).

A reconstruction of Santanaraptor at the Museu Nacional.
CREDIT: Dornike CC BY-SA 4.0

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Lost with the National Museum of Brazil – Luzia – Luto #MuseuNacional

On September 2, 2018, the National Museum of Brazil (Museu Nacional) was gutted by fire. The loss has hit the paleontology community (and the larger museum community) hard. I will highlight over the next few days some of the many priceless specimens that have been lost.

This year, the Museu Nacional celebrated its 200th year. I am hopeful all is not lost.

Lapa Vermelha IV Hominid 1, informally referred to as Luzia, was discovered in 1975 in a rock shelter locality near Belo Horizonte, Brazil, by a French and Brazilian team led by Annette Laming-Emperaire. At the time, Laming-Emperaire felt that this was among the oldest human remains found in South America.

Facial reconstruction at the National Museum of Brazil. CREDIT: Dornike CC BY-SA 4.0

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On Fossil Eggshells – #365papers – 2018 – 63

Montanari, 2018, Cracking the egg: the use of modern and fossil eggs for ecological, environmental and biological interpretation: Royal Society Open Science, v. 5, 180006.

What’s it about?

Most people think of bones or shells as the most important mineralized remains of fossil animals. Vertebrates, particularly land-dwelling vertebrates, produce a third important (though often overlooked) mineralized remnant: Egg shells. Continue reading

Long Distance Prospecting – #365papers – 2018 – 61

Conroy, Emerson, Anemone, and Townsend, 2012, Let your fingers do the walking: A simple spectral signature model for “remote” fossil prospecting: Journal of Human Evolution, v. 63, p. 79-84.

What’s it about?

The authors demonstrate the utility of satellite imagery combined with surface observations and GIS software to make predictions about where fossil localities may be located. Continue reading

Pharyngeal Denticles and the Placoderms – #365papers – 2018 – 58

Johanson and Smith, 2005, Origin and evolution of gnathostome dentitions: a question of teeth and pharyngeal denticles in placoderms: Biological Reviews, v. 80, p. 303-345

What’s it about?

This paper presents a detailed discussion of tooth development in fishes. In particular, the authors review the state of knowledge of tooth development in placoderms, among the first of the jawed fishes and now extinct. They also make observations about denticles, tooth-like bumps, on the gill arches of many fishes, including jawless forms, and how the development of these relate the development of teeth and external scales in early fishes. With these details, the authors propose a hypothesis for the origins and development of teeth in placoderms and in modern fishes. Continue reading