Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Pocket sauropod' sheds light on giant's evolution

Date:
June 12, 2014
Source:
Taylor & Francis
Summary:
A new study presents a detailed description of the skull bones of a dwarf sauropod, together with an updated reconstruction of an adult Europasaurus skull. At 40 meters long and 100 tons in weight, and with an exceptionally long neck and small head, the herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs were the largest animals ever to have walked the Earth.

Europasaurus holgeri skull reconstruction in A, left lateral; B, occipital; and C, dorsal views.
Credit: Image courtesy of Taylor & Francis

In a new study published in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology presents a detailed description of the skull bones of a dwarf sauropod, together with an updated reconstruction of an adult Europasaurus skull.

At 40 metres long and 100 tonnes in weight, and with an exceptionally long neck and small head, the herbivorous sauropod dinosaurs were the largest animals ever to have walked the Earth. In 2006, fossil remains of a diminutive form of sauropod - Europasaurus, measuring only 6 metres long and weighing just 0.8 tonnes - were discovered at a quarry in northern Germany. The fossils from the quarry are the best sauropod remains ever discovered, since they include most bones of the skull, as well as different growth stages.

In a new study published in Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, Martin Sander, Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Steinmann-Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology of the University of Bonn, and colleagues present a detailed description of the skull bones of this dwarf sauropod, together with an updated reconstruction of an adult Europasaurus skull.

In the Late Jurassic, 150 million years ago, Europe was an archipelago, and most reptile fossils from the continent are those of marine species. The few dinosaur remains that have been found would have been washed into the sea from the islands of the archipelago. Europasaurus would have lived on one of these islands, evolving as a dwarf island species.

Earlier analysis of backbone remains had suggested the existence of two different types (sizes) of Europasaurus. The current study, in its extensive analysis of the skull remains, confirms this dimorphism.

There are several hypotheses for the dimophism observed in the Europasaurus remains. The two types could be examples of male and female sauropods. Another possibility is that populations from two different islands have been preserved in the quarry. A third theory is that the quarry has preserved two populations that were separated in time by several thousand years.

The study contributes to an understanding of the evolutionary dwarfing of Europasaurus, which in turn sheds light on the unique gigantism of sauropod dinosaurs. The fossils will continue to yield important insights into sauropod dinosaur evolution and biology for years to come, and researchers hope that new fossils will continue to be found at the quarry for many years to come.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Taylor & Francis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean Sebastian Marpmann, Josι Luis Carballido, P. Martin Sander, Nils Knφtschke. Cranial anatomy of the Late Jurassic dwarf sauropodEuropasaurus holgeri(Dinosauria, Camarasauromorpha): ontogenetic changes and size dimorphism. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2013.875074

Cite This Page:

Taylor & Francis. "'Pocket sauropod' sheds light on giant's evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140612085132.htm>.
Taylor & Francis. (2014, June 12). 'Pocket sauropod' sheds light on giant's evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140612085132.htm
Taylor & Francis. "'Pocket sauropod' sheds light on giant's evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140612085132.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Newsy (Aug. 15, 2014) — A mother and son in Alaska uncovered woolly mammoth tusks in the same river more than two decades apart. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Newsy (Aug. 14, 2014) — Newly found fossils reveal a previously unknown species of flying reptile with a really weird head, which some say looks like a butterfly. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

AFP (Aug. 11, 2014) — The hulks of tanks can still be found rusting in the jungles of Palau, but the fierce fighting that scarred the Pacific island nation in WWII has left a more dangerous legacy - unexploded bombs that pose a constant risk to locals. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins