21 October 2014

Written Dinosaurs

Gastroliths in dinosaurs are well known from many different genera and many different time periods. They are somewhat rare, as are all fossils, but they are most definitely well known. Gasparinisaura are one of those dinosaurs that have well documented gastroliths. In 2008 those gastroliths were discussed by Cerda. His paper describes the stones, their purpose, and the implications they provide to the diet of Gasparinisaura. The image at left is from the paper and has been released on Wikipedia. Cerda is a professional when it comes to Gasparinisaura. He also had a hand in describing the microstructure of Gasparinisaura bone in Cerda and Chinsamy (2012). The original knowledge of the dinosaur came to the general public through the work of Coria and Salgado (1996), but new material has been unearthed since that time. That new material was again described by these two scientists, but in Salgado et al. (1997). The latter two papers kind of speak for themselves and do not need to be detailed ahead of time.

20 October 2014

Under the Feet of Giants

Planet Dinosaur almost features Gasparinisaura in its 5th episode. However it does not actually feature Gasparinisaura but it does feature Argentinosaurus. Under the feet of Argentinosaurus lived small dinosaurs, quickly darting in and out under the larger dinosaur's body. Those dinosaur do appear in the show and they happen to be Gasparinisaura. So far this entire paragraph has been a very convoluted way of saying that Gasparinisaura shows up in Planet Dinosaur as a speck beneath the lumbering giant that is Argentinosaurus. We should probably just watch it scurrying around rather than talking about it.

19 October 2014

Gasparinisaura's Lonely Link

Gasparinisaura appears on the internet very sparingly. We do have three quality sites that address our three normal levels of reading ability. The Dino Directory addresses the lower level readers and supplies an illustration and size comparison. Enchanted Learning actually rests in the middle level position with more detail taxonomically and guides for pronunciation. The third level is adequately filled by the Dinosaur Wiki. That page details more about the discovery, anatomy, and properties of the dinosaur. Unfortunately, that is where our road ends in the pursuit of educational links. There are no coloring sheets or videos for today.

18 October 2014

Looking Basal

©Nobu Tamura
Ornithopods all have a similar look to them. Basal ornithopods are no different in that respect. They exhibit primitive and derived traits, but they all have a fairly basic body plan that can be generalized as typically facultatively (at least) bipedal with a beaked face and a body that suggests that running is the primary defensive tactic of these animals.Safety in numbers may not have been their only defense, but for now it appears to be the only one we know of. This is, of course, partly due to the fact that there are not many remains from the known individual and that that one is fragmentary to begin with. However, it is important to note that there does not appear to be much in the way of novel traits that stick out in Gaspirinasaura's body plan.

17 October 2014

Gasparini's Dinosaur

1992, Argentina. Like so many other stories in recent paleontology this dinosaur's discovery happens in Rio Negro Province of that country. The dinosaur was described in 1996 and named after famed Argentine paleontologist Zulma Brandoni de Gasparini by Rodolfo Coria and Leonardo Salgado. Gasparinisaura cincosaltensis (named for the location Cinco Saltos) is a small bipedal ornithopod that has been placed as a basal euornithopod. This dinosaur is fragmentary, but the fossils did contain gastroliths, which are always a welcome addition to fossil evidence as they impart many behavioral and dietary implications to the researchers.

16 October 2014

First Dinosaurs

Saltopus was famous at some point but is not famous anymore, not as famous as it was before at least. The videos that we saw earlier in the week exist, as do the numerous websites we saw. There are, however, little to no remaining pieces of evidence. That has not stopped people from knowing about Saltopus. Part of the reason that it is known is that it has lived on through literature, including a small book called Saltopus and Other First Dinosaurs. This book is a pretty good introduction to Saltopus, but it does contain a somewhat unsubstantiated remark about the hunting habits of the dinosaur. However, rather than tell you what the book says, you should all check it out.

15 October 2014

Weak Bones

The partial skeleton of Saltopus is mostly gone at this point. The skeleton was not that great to begin with actually. The original material consists of a partial vertebral column, pelvic girdle (which contained an ancestral two vertebrae and not the novel trait of four), and partial remains of both the fore and hind limbs. The skull, unfortunately, is completely missing from the holotype. That material, also, is the only known material to date. The majority of that material was originally preserved as casts (or impressions) in the sandstone of the Lossiemouth Quarries.