STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 May 2016

Cartoons and Serious Movies

Ranging from independent animated shorts like the simply titled Carnotaurus by Bennett Kim to serious feature length films, Carnotaurus is a film superstar.

In the majority of films Carnotaurus is depicted as a violent, and often, brainless carnivore with a single goal. That single goal tends to be the devouring of all life forms though that is not the case in the above Bennett Kim short. Dinosaur fandom being what it is, there are also more amateur productions such as this puppet feature by the so-called "Great Nate". We are not disparaging an amateur short like Nate's; his puppet fight is actually fairly well done and fun to watch. Most famously, Carnotaurus, was the feature villain in the 2000 animated Disney film Dinosaur. There were two animals that attempted to eat the main characters without talking or singing and dancing (contrary to many Disney movies) but they eventually were not able to eat the main characters. Sad for the villains.

29 May 2016

Carnotaurus Facts

There are many ways to find information about a dinosaur as widely known as Carnotaurus. Those ways include normal fact sheets like those found at Enchanted Learning and About. The real value today is in allowing a 2nd grade student to teach his peers about a dinosaur that he likes. There is nothing quite like young enthusiasts teaching one another. Our older readers may be more interested in different videos that are a little more edited. There are plenty that are far too edited, featuring music that really does not seem to go along with the information or images that are presented in the video. We can actually follow the progression of videos through their complexity with the assumption that the video from the 2nd grade student is somewhere in the middle. The Dinosaur Feed presents a video that is all instrumental music and written facts displayed with an animated Carnotaurus. A more detailed, but somewhat editorial representation of facts is presented in this Paleo Profile video. Clocking in at nearly thirty minutes it is definitely the most detailed video.

28 May 2016

The Weird Limbed Astronaut

©Brynn Metheney
Abelisaurids have very small arms that are even stranger than the tiny arms of tyrannosaurs. The group includes some very ornamented and very strangely armed but well known theropods including Majungasaurus and Carnotaurus. The "fleshy bull" deserves the bull part of its name as it possesses two significant and obvious bovine-like horns superior to its orbits. The fleshy part of its name refers to its diet; what else might teeth like those be used to eat? Known as a single species (C. sastrei Bonaparte 1985) from a single skeleton discovered in 1984 in Argentina, Carnotaurus is also unique for those strange and tiny arms. Shorter in proportion than even the arms of Tyrannosaurus, the arms of Carnotaurus are also rotated posteriorly at the shoulder so that the arms face the hips (to remember the direction I think of it anthropomorphic terms, like the dinosaur is putting its hands in its pockets). These hands are fairly vestigial and therefore largely useless to Carnotaurus. We will look at the horns, the hands, and the skin of Carnotaurus this week!

27 May 2016

New Images, Maybe?

Araripesuchus is almost always shown in some sort of trotting posture. Rarely is the imagery of an Araripesuchus eating or sleeping or doing anything other than trotting. Instead of digging up some strange interpretations of Araripesuchus we should probably have a better idea of how large these animals were. The small crocodilians were not as large as their extant cousins and appear to be less frightening because of their diminutive size. The lessened scariness, based on size, is more than likely not a real thing for most people, though I am sure a few people would disagree. A small crocodilian of any kind trotting around can be quite scary.

26 May 2016

Why Are You Famous?

The most well known of the species of Araripesuchus is A. wegeneri. Many quality specimens of this species exist and have been recovered including the block of a number of individuals interred together that was shared earlier in the week. Aside from that specimen there are a number of high quality skulls of A. wegeneri that allowed for dietary inferences to be detailed. The lower jaw is known only from the dentary and therefore does not add any information to the inferences about diet. The block, and other remains from other species, allowed for inferences about gait that painted the picture of a galloping terrestrial croc. This makes Araripesuchus look and walk much more like a mammal than a reptile.
From Sereno PC, Larsson HCE, 2008,
Cretaceous Crocodyliforms from the Sahara.

25 May 2016

Where It Lives

Sixteen collections of Araripesuchus remains are recorded in the Fossilworks database online. Fossilworks does not have all of the collections of the fossils presented there meaning that there are more collections of the fossils not recorded online of course. The site allows one to generate timelines of occurrence and allows for maps to be generated. The plots are basic, but being able to see where Araripesuchus remains have been recovered shows us a great deal about the general distribution of the taxa before they went extinct. As we can see from the map and the timeline, the many species of Araripesuchus are widely distributed across geography and time. The majority of the recorded remains are spread across Africa during the Cenomanian age of the Late Cretaceous. A number of the remains represent book ends of their specific as they have been recovered from the Cenomanian and the Aptian age at the end of the Early Cretaceous. Proposed errors (i.e. missing fossils) are represented here as one species at least has been recovered from the Maastrichtian age which ended with the end of the Cretaceous or, as we usually refer to this time period, the K-T extinction. Assuming some error, Araripesuchus may have even lived, however briefly, into the Paleogene era as a genus headed toward extinction. Unfortunately Araripesuchus is considered to be a dead-end genus with no surviving descendants and is on the sister branch to extant crocodilians; this depends on the tree that one is consulting and if others have a more preferred assignment for Araripesuchus that they would like to share please do so!

24 May 2016

Love for Crocodilians

Araripesuchus is a well loved group of animals, in part because there are a lot of species in the genus that are represented by a lot of remains. There are newly describe species within the genus like A. patagonicus that was first published in 2000 and A. buitreraensis described in 2005. There are also new remains that belong to previously known and described species. The most famous species was described in 1981, in German, and can still be found in the original form online. There are papers concerning every aspect of Araripesuchus' history beyond description. Among these the most common themes in paleontology are well represented as well, such as osteology and phylogeny. Conveniently these are both addressed in the same paper more than once. The most recent version of this discussion available online is from Turner in 2005. There may be newer discussions coming in the near future, but these will suffice until that time.