18 April 2014

Ocean Voyages

In the continuing tradition of April, this week is another deviation from the norm. Rather than venturing back into the Mesozoic and staying on land, this week the plan is to slide off the beach and back in time even further, to the wild seas of the Late Devonian. 380 to 360 million years ago armored fish roamed the oceans of Earth. Many of these fish were still jawless animals that would barely be recognized as fish, but the earliest jawed fishes were clearly taking control of the seas by the Late Devonian. One set of the larger jawed fish, a truly charismatic mega-fish genus, was Dunkleosteus. Named for David Dunkle and the bony head that is the most commonly found fossil associated with the animal, Dunkleosteus was a hypercarnivorous fish capable of eating its way through the ocean with sharp bony ridges on its jaws and a powerful bite. As far as fish go this is a well known fossil and a rather well documented fossil at that. Who knew a fish would be so fun or interesting?

17 April 2014

Popular Movie and Video Outlets

Desmatosuchus is a popular model in videos and games, old and new. It appears in dinosaur encyclopedias, despite not being a dinosaur. It also appears as an inspiration in Spore a few times. This one is the best and looks about as real as any Spore model has looked. However, the most ridiculous but entertaining and probably also the funniest Desmatosuchus model in all of video games is that found below:

16 April 2014

Grouper or Land Animal?

Desmatosuchus is described as having a "pig-like" skull. Why would anyone (this image could be slightly altered post-DK publishing) change the head of this animal so that it looked not like a pig but like a fish of some kind? The body here is still anatomically correct but the skull of Desmatosuchus is not exactly accurate in this image. Points of the skull have been interpreted here to match the overall shape of the exhibited skull, but the fish-like aspect of it is very hard to reconcile after looking at the skull for an entire week and viewing it, and its more populous interpretations as very reptilian. What is the general consensus on this altered interpretation?

15 April 2014

Papers Everywhere

The papers discussing Desmatosuchus are plenty and available everywhere. Rather than going into detail on every paper that I looked up and perused to share with everyone today it is much more prudent to throw out a solitary sentence blurb for each topic. The first paper discusses an endocranial cast molded from Desmatosuchus spurensis. Other papers address cranial anatomy and even a potential reanalysis of phylogeny. The identification of a new species, and another new species, of Desmatosuchus has also been discussed at length. These papers discuss Desmatosuchus finds in New Mexico and Texas respectively. The second I have found online free elsewhere, but only in French.

14 April 2014

Saving Movies

There are a lot of videos out on the internet with Desmatosuchus as the main character or 3D model. Most of them I want to save for Thursday. Instead, and because none of those videos are related to documentaries, I am going to only post a video today that is a tribute video. It is okay, not the worst, but it is worth seeing today if, for no other reason, to look at as many images of Desmatosuchus as possible in a few minutes.

13 April 2014

Plays Well With Others

The links available for children about Desmatosuchus are a little bit less populated than one would think, given that Desmatosuchus is a charismatic and interesting looking archosaur. The shoulder spikes of most fossils are typically enough to interest the most enthusiastic young paleontologists. However, lacking a high number of solid links, there is still a short blurb on a page calling itself Dinosaur Facts that sports a Tyrannosaurus in eyeglasses, About.com's Prehistoric Reptiles pages and, sharing a coloring sheet as well, Enchanted Learning. Other than looking like a happy turtle (it is mostly in the face) the Enchanted Learning coloring sheet is fairly well done.

12 April 2014

Real Southwestern Animal Attitude

Museum of Natural History (Public Domain Release by Photographer)
Desmatosuchus from any angle looks like a pretty tough animal. The plating along the entire back of the animal from neck to tail is a defensive bulwark that likely made Desmatosuchus nearly impregnable from above. Like all half-armored animals, however, the underbelly was a great deal softer than this protective sheath of armor above was. To protect that underbelly, in addition to the strong dorsal plating, large spines protruded from the pectoral area of the dorsal plating. Spines like these are often depicted in popular outlets as offensive weapons wielded against predators hunting the animal possessing them. Pectoral spikes of this magnitude could be used as offensive weapons if the occasion warranted such action, but it is likely that Desmatosuchus used them as a deterrent effecting threat displays and swinging them, and its entire upper body as an effect, only as a last resort.