Trunks trunks trunks

i-1b798f4279bd77ba535a9c6c8ae11a30-trunks_trunks_trunks_trunks.jpg

Firstly, happy Tianyulong day! How incredibly cool. Secondly, this is an annoying teaser - full post to appear soon. Sorry, but c'est la vie.

Tags

More like this

We had a pediatrician appointment yesterday, at which it was declared that SteelyKid is in excellent health. She gained 8 ounces in the last week, or 1/16th of her weight (she was 8lbs even last week, and 8lbs 8oz this week). To put that in perspective, for me to make an equivalent change, I would…
After attending the ASCO Meeting in Chicago over two weeks ago, I can't believe I forgot to post about this. More than two years ago, back in my favorite city (Chicago), a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared. It appeared, oddly enough, as such visions are wont to do, in a rather mundane spot.…
I speak of Dinesh D'Souza, who seems to have noticed that his creepy and dishonest tirade against atheists won him some attention, so now he has upped the ante, and gotten even creepier and more dishonest. Start with the title: "Dawkins' Message to Mourners--Get Over It!". That sounds as if he is…
My fellow bloggingheads John Horgan and George Johnson took some time on their latest science talk to dissect my New York Times article on swarms (you can jump to that section here). John wonders if I'm just discovering all the complexity stuff he and George were writing about back in the 1990s. I…

Mr. Snuffleupagus!

By Stevo Darkly (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

That's a cane you picked up in a souvenir store. Very practical.

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 18 Mar 2009 #permalink

From the image on the right, I'd guess one of those trunked sauropods that you occasionally see, but the skull on the left looks very mammalian. A Google image search for "litoptern" confirms that the right image is a trunked sauropod, ironically enough, but I still have no idea about the skull.
The other two websites on the entire internet that contain the word "Tiangyulong" weren't very helpful, either.

Tianyulong is the new heterodontosaurid from China, preserved with a row of filaments all the way down its back and tail, very cool stuff. The skull at the left looks like maybe it's a tapir skull? Which would fit in well with the trunked sauropod thing. Let's see if it's got any new skeletal basis, or mostly speculation fun ;)

Isn't the skull on the left a tapir?

IIRC Psittacosaurus also has evidence for some kind of bristles or something like that. So if the stinkin' theropods have feathers, the stinkin' ornithischians have something approximately featherlike, where are the feathered sauropods? The awesomeness of sauropods is on the line here...

damn you Darren for kiving a teaser rather than a proper topic on my fave extinct mammal!

By Zach Hawkins (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

[from Darren: delayed by spam-filter. If you use MORE THAN ONE url, the spam-filter will automatically quarantine your comment.]

Tianyulong confuciusi, i.e. another wrong chinese dino-name.

If dedicated to "Confucius" as Latin nominative, one should expect "Confucii" [T. confucii] for its genitive.
They have baptized the poor heterodontosaurid in such a way that the nominative is "Confuciusus", a double - yet wrong -nominative, just adding the suffix "-i" to the original matrix (Confucius)!
[Please stop these wrong names from China]

> Infos at "Theropoda.blogspot.com"; look for the comments:

http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2009/03/lipotesi-del-gdsp-ovvero-tianyulo…

http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2009/03/settimana-super-paleontologica.ht…

In my previous comment on the chinese heterodontosaurid's wrong name I've forgot to mention this:
> "No Trunks, Says Palaeontologist"
Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 15th, 2008
Darren Naish interviewed on Cryptomundo.com on trunks, trunks, trunks! (in sauropods, glyptodonts, macraucheniae etc...)

Well, I see that the comment has not yet appeared:

"Confucius" is the correct latin nominative; its correct genitive is "Confucii". (T.)confuciusi is wrong, and it sounds like the nominative of the sp. is "Confuciusus". They have just add the suffix "-i" to the original matrix.

More Infos on
http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2009/03/lipotesi-del-gdsp-ovvero-tianyulo… and http://theropoda.blogspot.com/2009/03/settimana-super-paleontologica.ht…

The one on the left looks like an Asian Tapir (Tapirus indicus); the one on the right, although it looks like the product of Watto + Macrauchenia, I'll go for the trunked sauropod.

It is Dougal Dixon's lumber!!! Damn, he was true at least once till his career of speculative biologist! (joke)
But what is it in real life? Can it be reptile? They lack of fleshy lips, except for theromorph reptiles.

By Pavel Volkov (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Tian, not Tiang. The syllable tiang doesn't even exist in Mandarin.

(Most of the theoretically possible syllables, in fact, don't exist in Mandarin. If we ignore the tones, there are only 412 syllables in the entire language! OK, 414 if we take recent developments into account.)

preserved with a row of filaments

No, it's not a row! It's a complete covering, of which some patches happen to be visible in the plane in which the fossil was split.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Well, he doesn't look happy, whatever he is...never mind
the pachyderms, what wrong with the damn Hippo?!

By craig york (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

I don't know, maybe I'm just doing something wrong with my comment; I'll post it again.

> On the new heterodontosaurid and its infamous name:

"Confucius" is the correct latin nominative; one should expect "confucii" as its correct genitive. (T.) confuciusi is wrong: in this case, the nominative form is "Confuciusus", as a double (!) nominative. Chinese scientists have just added the suffix "-i" (peculiar to genitive) to the nominative ("-us").

The model on the right looks like Camarasaurus with a trunk.

By Dan Varner (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

The image on the right is obviously what happens when an elephant makes love to a camarasaurid.

But yeah, I want to know what was wrong with that hippo, too.

By Sclerophanax (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

The image on the right is obviously what happens when an elephant makes love to a camarasaurid.

But yeah, I want to know what was wrong with that hippo, too.

By Sclerophanax (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Confucius, genitive confucii.

Grammatical errors doesn't invalidate scientific names, for example, the correct genitive of Greek selakhos "shark" is selakheos, so, families in -selachidae should be -selacheidae.

Sorry about the double post, there was an error and I got a message I should try again. :(

By Sclerophanax (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Back when we were all talking about therizinosaurs and all that stuff back in the "recent ornithodiran discoveries" articles, I mentioned that it seems rather likely that all ornithodirans were feathered to some degree, due to a mix of phylogenetic bracketing (pterosaurs, Psittacosaurus, and many theropods all have feathers) and other traits, such as endothermy (many terrestrial endothermic animals tend to have integument). So I guess I can now safely say, "I called it, I totally called it!". Sorry if I sound like a jerk here, its just such an awesome discovery, and so weird that one of my ideas actually turned out to be true.

So...I guess all of Luis V. Rey's pictures of ornithiscians with fluffy crests are now accurate. And now we have to start drawing fluffy silesaurs. (Well, at least this adds credibility to the idea that those new, weird structures on that one specimen Triceratops anchor quills). It will be interesting, however, to find more of these quilly ornithiscians, and find if quills are a trait that all ornithiscians had, or was it just restricted to the marginocephalians (heterodontosaurs have been linked to ceratopsians via Yinlong), and the rest of the ornithiscians had more fluffy feathers.

As for the trunked animal, I was going to say a weird speculative Macrauchenia like animal (or alien, but then again that's not a tetrapod), but I think I agree with the statements above that it was one of those hypothetical trunked sauropods proposed a while back.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Back when we were all talking about therizinosaurs and all that stuff back in the "recent ornithodiran discoveries" articles, I mentioned that it seems rather likely that all ornithodirans were feathered to some degree, due to a mix of phylogenetic bracketing (pterosaurs, Psittacosaurus, and many theropods all have feathers) and other traits, such as endothermy (many terrestrial endothermic animals tend to have integument). So I guess I can now safely say, "I called it, I totally called it!". Sorry if I sound like a jerk here, its just such an awesome discovery, and so weird that one of my ideas actually turned out to be true.

So...I guess all of Luis V. Rey's pictures of ornithiscians with fluffy crests are now accurate. And now we have to start drawing fluffy silesaurs. (Well, at least this adds credibility to the idea that those new, weird structures on that one specimen Triceratops anchor quills). It will be interesting, however, to find more of these quilly ornithiscians, and find if quills are a trait that all ornithiscians had, or was it just restricted to the marginocephalians (heterodontosaurs have been linked to ceratopsians via Yinlong), and the rest of the ornithiscians had more fluffy feathers.

As for the trunked animal, I was going to say a weird speculative Macrauchenia like animal (or alien, but then again that's not a tetrapod), but I think I agree with the statements above that it was one of those hypothetical trunked sauropods proposed a while back.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Oop, double posted by accident. Darren, could you delete this?

On another note, we do have skin impressions for some of the larger dinosaurs, so it would seem (thus far) that most ornithischian dinosaurs horse-sized and up would be mostly featherless, except for perhaps a Luis Rey crest of feathers. Of course, that doesn't tell us if polar dinosaurs (I'm looking at you, Zach) were fluffier than species living in warmer climates.

Oh, I think I heard someone suggest somewhere (in a book, not a blog) that the bumps on Carnotaurus may have been anchors for feathers too. I don't exactly agree with that hypothesis, but imagine the implications if THAT is true.

"The awesomeness of sauropods is on the line here..."

Darren mentioned they may have just turned their feathers into spines. But who knows, fluffy sauropods may be just around the corner (Oh man, I just made myself sound so stupid for saying that just now).

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Sorry about the double post, there was an error and I got a message I should try again.

No, you got a message that you should not try it again because the comment almost certainly got through.

Read it again next time.

heterodontosaurs have been linked to ceratopsians via Yinlong

A more recent and bigger analysis has found the heterodontosaurs as the sister-group of all the rest of Ornithischia together (except Pisanosaurus).

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Oh, and, the picture on the left is clearly supposed to show a sauropod. Look very closely on a good screen, and you'll see the scales.

Why shouldn't it have lips? Condors have cheeks.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Off-topic: new photographic evidence supporting the chelonian trans-continental boreitropic phorusrhacid transport hypothesis: http://www.pixdaus.com/single.php?id=137567

David M.: Is "boreitropic" valid neo-Latin for "north-going"?

By Nathan Myers (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

David Marjanovic wrote:

No, it's not a row! It's a complete covering, of which some patches happen to be visible in the plane in which the fossil was split.

There are two different types of integument preserved, one of which is a splay of quill-like elements as seen on a Psittacosaurus specimen, and another which is the tiny, hollow fibers that Lingham-Soliar claims -- constantly -- are frayed collagen, but which are associated with various taxa also from Liaoning including Confuciusornis (if you really want to complain about Latinization and declension, use THAT name!), Sinornithosaurus, and Beipiaosaurus. The "quills" are arrayed only along the dorsal base of the tail, although they may be mor extensive, and presumably also above the hips. All other integument is of the "fuzz" variety around the dorsum, ventral to the taill, and around the anterior shoulder region and the arm. The quoted phrase is therefore either wrong, or misleading, in its implication that "it" is covered entirely by any single integument, since it is unclear where and how far any of the integument extends. It is clear with some animals, such as the basal maniraptoran Scansoriopteryx, that such "fuzz" can coexist on the same body with squamation, as in birds, but in this case it is the tail that is partially squamate while the arms and legs and back are partially "fuzzed." It would be more correct, David, to be very careful when dealing with animals that show partial integumental extents like these, and be much more explicit especially in a high-traffic site like TetZoo.

By Jaime A. Headden (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

David Marjanovic wrote:

Condors have cheeks.

To paraphrase former American president W.J. Clinton, that depends on what the definition of "cheeks" is. You should more clearly define how you're using this, since what you say here can so clearly lead to confusion.

For the record, however, if mammals define "cheeks" by the nature of a muscular pinnate muscle between mandible and zygoma and series of cirumoral musculature, then no, no other nonmammalian animal has "cheeks". The need to define correlates for structures that act like cheeks in nonmammalian animals (such as the extension of nonmuscular tissue in some birds and turtles, as in crocs) requires some work on the topic that unfortunately Witmer's previous work on the topic doesn't clarify.

By Jaime A. Headden (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Metalraptor:

Yeah, I thought of that last night. The big problem for Australian dinosaurs is that they had nowhere else to go when ice started forming. Alaska's dinosaurs at least had the option of migrating. But if these animals were able to grow an insulating coat of feathers, then BOOM! They can stay all year. And just look at the birds up here that currently go through a winter cycle. The best-known example is the willow grouse (Lagopus lagopus). As winter approaches, it grows several new layers of feathers, and it sheds its outer coat to crow a totally white one. It also grows big tufts of insulating feathers on its feet. When summer comes, it sheds all that excessive plumage and its coat changes color to brown and speckled white.

I can certainly see Alaska's smaller dinosaurs doing that, and the larger dinosaurs doing the mammoth thing, migrating short distances annually and shedding their winter coat during the summer months.

Jaime Headden wrote:
"There are two different types of integument preserved, one of which is a splay of quill-like elements as seen on a Psittacosaurus specimen, and another which is the tiny, hollow fibers that Lingham-Soliar claims -- constantly -- are frayed collagen"

This doesn't appear to be mentioned in the paper... from my reading of it, it sounds like the authors say all the filament patches are composed of the same type of filaments, all about equal in cross section diameter. No mention of small,er more pliable "fuzzy" integument. Or have I missed something?

Matt Martynuik wrote:

This doesn't appear to be mentioned in the paper... from my reading of it, it sounds like the authors say all the filament patches are composed of the same type of filaments, all about equal in cross section diameter. No mention of small,er more pliable "fuzzy" integument. Or have I missed something?

I'm referring to the short "fuzz" and the "quills". The paper (fig. 2) delineates not just the major "quills" on the tail (2a), but also much finer, shorter, and "softer"-looking "fuzz" (2b-c).

By Jaime A. Headden (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

Jaime Headden wrote:
"I'm referring to the short "fuzz" and the "quills". The paper (fig. 2) delineates not just the major "quills" on the tail (2a), but also much finer, shorter, and "softer"-looking "fuzz" (2b-c)."

I'm not sure I'm seeing what you're seeing. All the integument in fig. 2 looks the same to my eye, unless the "fuzz" is very, very faint and I'm not picking up on it. The only places it looks a bit "fuzzy" is e.g. the bottom left corner of the slab in (2c) where the bases of many quills are all, um, smooshed together. The authors even provide illustrations of sinornithosaur "fuzz" for contrast.

Also, it says fig. 2a is ventral to the cervical verts, not the tail. The caudal quills are 2c.

Zach: I did hear somewhere that Alaskan troodonts were found to be quite a bit larger than more southernly troodonts. Perhaps Bergmann's Rule in action, Mesozoic style?

David: I hit preview several times to make sure my message came out the way I wanted to. The message that popped up was "too many messages have been submitted by you in too short a time", which referred to the previews I had; I hadn't posted anything yet, I probably had the same problem Sclerophanax did. So please don't yell at me, and don't be a jerk.

And the phylogenetic analysis is interesting, I haven't seen that. But I would have thought that the new heterodontosaur might add credibility to the marginocephalia+heterodontosauridae hypothesis, because I read that the quills on Tianyulong are somewhat like those on Psittacosaurus.

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 19 Mar 2009 #permalink

So, time to accept that all smaller saurischians and ornithiscians were furry, and only adults of big forms were naked like rhinos and elephants?

Funny, I also thought of furry polar dinosaurs like Mutaburrasaurus and Llyaenasaura. Frankly, the idea of Walking with Dinosaurs of bare-skinned, ectothermic Llyaenasaura in winter torpor seemed very stretched. Maybe Ockham razor tells its more likely to have furry, warmblooded, rabbitlike ornithiscians?

BTW - what was the integument on the rest of Psittacosaurus?

Is it likely that whole animal was spiny like porcupine? Specimen preserved could be a carcass with most of skin gone before fossilization.

Jerzy, you're probably right, though I'd like to see more "fuzzy" ornithischians before anything is cemented. The bristly Psittacosaurus is very well-preserved across its body, so if there were more quills, you'd expect them to show up.
And the supplementary info for Tianyulong, the authors note that its "quills" show similarities to the recently-discovered Beipaiosaurus specimen, which argues in favor of homology.
And Metalraptor, I don't think Alaska's troodonts are any bigger than Alberta's. ALL of our carnivores a known from isolated teeth, so that doesn't tell you a whole lot about whether the animal in question was a pygmy or just a youngster.

Yes, I had the numbers off on the figure. Nonetheless, there are two sizes and degrees of integument in the specimen, and one of them is much finer and possibly "softer" although not "fuzz" as in the stage 1 analogues in Sinosauropteryx.

Zach, the supplementary information does make some distinction between the round, hollow "quills" and the secondary structures in Beipiaosaurus, which are flat and apparently not hollow.

By Jaime A. Headden (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

Is "boreitropic" valid neo-Latin for "north-going"?

Both parts are Greek, and I'd say boreotropic.

You should more clearly define how you're using this

In the widest sense: substantial skin between the corners of the mouth and the jaw muscles. I'm not talking about musculature -- after all, it's irrelevant for my point that lips aren't restricted to mammals/theropsids/whatever.

Good point on the two types of stage I feathers. I haven't had time to read the paper itself yet, I was going by blog posts⦠However, my point was that the animal wasn't naked (scaled) except for a row of stage I feathers on the tail, the way Psittacosaurus was.

Alaska's dinosaurs at least had the option of migrating.

Hadrosaur eggs have been found at the other side of what is now the Bering Strait, in Kakanaut in northeastern Siberia (Chukchi Peninsula).

The message that popped up was "too many messages have been submitted by you in too short a time", which referred to the previews I had

Wow!

What happens very, very often on ScienceBlogs (so I had assumed it had happened here) is a "submission timeout": the comment gets through, but because several comments get posted at the same time, the software stops talking to you as soon as it has accepted the comment and refuses to refresh the page. That error message says people shouldn't submit again, and lots of people ignore this and then end up posting the same comment two to six times.

what was the integument on the rest of Psittacosaurus?

Scales. Well-preserved scales all over the body.

Llyaenasaura

Leaellynasaura, named after Lea Ellyn Rich.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

What I find odd in a lot of illustrations is that people are willing to give their polar theropods (Troodon, etc.) protofeathers, but when they come to Leaellynsaurus, they leave it compeltely naked, making it look as conspicuous as a monitor lizard in a mammal convention (maybe it tries to hang out with the other not-so-hairy mammals, the elephants and the like).

And David, so now you see. It was an honest error in the programming. Don't go flying off the handle because of a mistake in the computer regarding previews (it doesn't help that this computer acts like it was created in the Cambrian either). I am not trying to spam, it was just a simple mistake.

"And Metalraptor, I don't think Alaska's troodonts are any bigger than Alberta's. ALL of our carnivores a known from isolated teeth, so that doesn't tell you a whole lot about whether the animal in question was a pygmy or just a youngster."

It mentioned this somewhere, I forget exactly where. I'll have to look through my library of dinosaur literature and try to find it. Maybe it was the Saurornitholestes article in that one Kenneth Carpenter book.

Another paleontologist friend of mine stated that we also might want to be a smidge bit careful about Tianyulong. Its almost the perfect example of the kind of fossil one needs to show that ornithiscians were fuzzy, at least to an extent. Almost too perfect. I'm not saying Tienyulong isn'r real (I really hope that it is real, though), and I realize I'm looking a gift heterodontosaur in the mouth, but remember Archaeoraptor...and Piltdown man? We should at least be a little skeptical of this, at least for a while. Though I realize this is hard, because this discovery is so exciting!

And on the subject of trunks, I read in the cryptomundo interview that Darren suggests that Macrauchenia did not have a trunk. Rather surprising, because it was obviously doing something with an enlarged nose, but Darren you are right to an extent in that the skull of Macrauchenia does not look entirely like those of the trunked tapirs and elephants. But the question then becomes, what was it doing with its nose? To me, though I may be wrong, it appears as though a saiga antelope-like snout may be the most likely. (Ironically, if true this would mean that people would not have to change their pictures of Macrauchenia that much). Who knows, maybe the Patagonian plains were as cold as they are in southern Patagonia, where a big nose would be helpful. Or perhaps it was useful in running, helping to take in more oxygen...or something. But it was doing something out of the ordinary with its nose, we can see that much.

Also on tapirs, has anyone read the recent article on dwarf Miocene river tapirs yet?

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 20 Mar 2009 #permalink

Just forgot something.

Aren't there some dinosaur embryos which show that some forms, at least, hatched naked?

Metalraptor:

remember Archaeoraptor

I'm not saying that peer review is a foolproof system (it isn't). But for the record, it is worth noting that Tianyulong has passed peer review while Archaeoraptor never did. (The paper describing Archaeoraptor was rejected by both Nature and Science, and Archaeoraptor was only 'published' in the National Geographic.)

I share your general point about healthy scepticism, though.

I agree with you Dartian, I am just saying that when a specimen that is apparently almost too perfect (as in it provides a "perfect missing link", or it seemingly turns paleontology on its head, or both). Also I have noticed that integument has to be treated with caution, for example in one trackway of Lystrosaurus, there are some tracks that are thought by some to have hair, but were later found to be either preparator mistakes or bacterial mats. At least with finds like Tiktaalik we could clearly see with the bones it had intermediary features between sarcopterygian fish and tetrapods.

I am not doubting that Tianyulong is probably real, but I'm just trying to have healthy skepticism because the find is almost too good to be true. Though I am happy Tianyulong passed peer review, making it all the more likely that it is real, but I am worried of all the hype this fascinating little heterodontosaur is getting. I only found out about it three or four days ago, and by now it is all over the blogosphere, and even the news (while flipping through the channels, I found they were talking about Tianyulong on Fox News. Unfortunately, they made it sound like this is the first dinosaur found with feathers).

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 21 Mar 2009 #permalink

I am not trying to spam

Calm down, nobody ever said or thought you were trying to spam. I just thought you had got the usual error message and reacted the usual way to it, when in fact you had got a completely different error message and reacted the logical way to it.

but remember Archaeoraptor...and Piltdown man?

"Archaeoraptor" consisted of a Yanornis specimen glued together with the counterpart of the holotype of Microraptor. It did not consist of feathers glued to bones -- because that simply isn't feasible. There's not a single theropod bone in Tianyulong.

Same for Piltdown Man: the skull of a human with the lower jaw of an orang-utan with filed-down canines. Again, there's not the slightest hint of Tianyulong being a composite, and you can't put feathers and bones together.

Also, "Archaeoraptor" was forged to fetch a higher price, and Piltdown Man was forged to discredit someone (IIRC). No such thing with Tianyulong.

Finally, the stage I feathers of Tianyulong are pretty much unique so far.

I figured a long necked dinosaur would have no trunk, but maybe a moose-like nose, if it fed in water sometimes?

Sauropods would have floated like corks...

I am worried of all the hype this fascinating little heterodontosaur is getting.

No, all that hype is richly deserved.

(while flipping through the channels, I found they were talking about Tianyulong on Fox News. Unfortunately, they made it sound like this is the first dinosaur found with feathers).

There's a reason it's called Faux News.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 21 Mar 2009 #permalink

Speaking of Piltdown Man... Darren, I remember that you've alluded to having an article on that subject in preparation (a year or two ago). Is that still in the pipeline? I'd love to read your take on Piltdown.