STL Science Center

STL Science Center

29 August 2014

Trudging Through Mongolia

In the 19th Century England, Germany, then North America were centers of paleontological discovery. North America still is, but much of the world has joined the fossil hunt and there have been other centers of discovery as time has gone on.  Different parts of Africa were huge fossil hunting magnets over the past few decades. South America has really come into its own over the past few decades as well. For a time, multiple times actually, China and Mongolia have been big. One of those times was during the roaring 20's, pun certainly intended. In 1923 Walter Granger led the importantly titled Third Asiatic Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History. A young man named George Olsen spent the weeks around April 25 - May 4 of that trip digging in a small area and recovered the bones of what is now known as Alectrosaurus olseni. A couple of years later, during the same expedition, Olsen would find a dozen dinosaur eggs with his colleague, the slightly better known, Roy Chapman Andrews. However, the discovery of Alectrosaurus is much more interesting as it is one of the first Asian tyrannosaurs described. At times Alectrosaurus has been hypothesized to be an Asian albertosaur, but a rather long list of autapomorphies compiled by Charles Gilmore in 1933 and subsequent researchers concerned with tyrannosaurs seems to have cemented Alectrosaurus' place in the tyrannosaur family tree.

From now on Fridays will also include some taxonomy (better late than never?):
Kingdom:                                           Animalia
Phylum:                                              Chordata
Clade:                                               Dinosauria
Suborder:                                          Theropoda
Superfamily:                          Tyrannosauroidea
 Genus:                 Alectrosaurus (Gilmore 1933)
 Specific Epithet:                                        olseni

Alectrosaurus from Planet Dinosaur

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