Thursday, December 26, 2013

The New Dinosaurs of 2013

Welcome back everyone! I hope that everyone had a good Christmas! I know I did. There were no movie updates this week, so we'll jump write into this week's topic right after we look at our "days till" section.

It is: 6 days till New Year's!

Despite the fact that most people only have heard of a select few dinosaurs (e.g. T. rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus), scientists have discovered hundreds and hundreds of different dinosaur species, many of which have only been discovered in the last ten years! Take a look at this clip from the new movie, Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie to see what I mean:

So as you can see, dinosaurs are being discovered all the time. Before we go on, you should know that even though there appear to be hundreds and hundreds (perhaps thousands) of different species of dinosaurs

Some even have only made their appearance within the past year! Some dinosaur discoveries consist of a few unidentifiable bones and are put in museum storerooms until they can be identified. But there are many others that consist of terrific skeletons. Like the article I posted about dinosaurs discovered in the last few years, I'll give a little description of the dinosaur itself. Let's start learning about some of the newest discovered dinosaurs that used to roam the world before the Flood of Noah's time killed and buried these amazing animals that can only be seen as fossils today:

Discovered in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, Acheroraptor means “underworld thief” and was discovered and named by David C. Evans, Derek W. Lawson and Philip J. Currie. As the last part of its name suggests, Acheroraptor is a dromaeosaur or “raptor” dinosaur and related to the more famous Velociraptor. Like Velociraptor, Acheroraptor had a sickle-shaped claw on each foot that was used to help kill its prey.

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The small ornithopod Albertadromeus was an herbivorous creature from Alberta, Canada, hence its name which means “Albertan runner”. Like its name suggests, this dinosaur was a swift and agile runner; this is a good thing because when this animal was alive, predators such as Daspletosaurus, Troodon, Saurornitholestes and Dromaeosaurus would have stalked the landscape Albertadromeus made home. Other dinosaurs that lived with this relatively small dinosaur were Coronosaurus, Anchiceratops, Chasmosaurus, Parasaurolophus and Corythosaurus among others.

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Brasilotitan was a genus of titanosaur sauropod from the Cretaceous habitat of the pre-Flood world. Sauropods – more commonly known as “long-necked dinosaurs” – were the largest land animals God made and are found on every continent. As its name suggests, Brasilotitan was discovered in Brazil. It was closely related to sauropods such as Antarctosaurus (which was discovered in southern South America! Go figure!) and Bonitasaura.

Though discovered in 2009, Cuspicephalus wasn't named until 2013. This animal was a pterosaur, not a dinosaur, as dinosaurs were terrestrial creatures. The exact size of the animal is not yet determined due to the incompleteness of the fossils found so far, but its skull is about 326 millimeters long and 55 millimeters high. Like many pterosaurs, Cuspicephalus had a crest on its head, probably used for display.

Jiangxisaurus was a species of oviraptorid theropod from the Cretaceous of China. It is quite similar to its relative Oviraptor. The family Jiangxisaurus belongs to is also known for their head crests that, like the head crest of Cuspicephalus, were probably used for display purposes.

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Judiceratops is a relative of the more famous Triceratops. Like Triceratops, Judiceratops possesses a large neck frill and three horns on its head for protection and display. It was discovered in the Judith River Formation in Montana.

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Lythronax was a ferocious 24-foot, 2.5 ton carnivore from Utah and since many of its more “important” parts of its skeleton were well preserved, we tell know a good bit about this extinct reptile. It that had a short, narrow snout and eyes set far back on its head. Its forward facing eyes enabled it to see three-dimensionally, which helped it lock its target on what it hoped to catch for a meal. And when Lythronax bit down, there was no way of the prey getting loose from its toothy grip! Lythronax was an efficient hunter that would have hunted a variety of herbivorous dinosaurs such as members of the ceratopsian (horned dinosaur) and hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaurs) family. Like its larger cousin, T. rex, this dinosaur had large banana-shaped, serrated teeth that were perfect, not for slicing, but for chomping out huge chunks of meat and bones. That makes it no wonder it's name means “king of gore”!

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Another Utah weirdo discovered in 2013, Nasutoceratops was also a member of the ceratopsian family, like Triceratops. At about 24 feet in length, it was shorter than Triceratops, but what made it unique was its head – instead of the typical triple horns on an average ceratopsian, Nasutoceratops had two bull-like horns near the top of its head and the nasal horn that sat on its short and high snout was low and narrow with an elongated base. Along with the fossil bones, skin impressions of Nasutoceratops have also been found and reveal that at least the left shoulder region of the dinosaur's body was covered in a pattern of large, eight to eleven millimeter wide hexagonal scales surrounded by smaller triangular scales.

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Yet another dinosaur from the state I live in, Siats, at around 30-40 feet long and weighing 2.5 tons, is the third largest carnivorous dinosaur from North America, behind Acrocanthosaurus and, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex. This dinosaur is related a carnosaur and is related to creatures such as Allosaurus and the aforementioned Acrocanthosaurus, two dinosaurs whose remains are also found in Utah.

Many species of sauropods grew to gigantic proportions, and Xinjiangtitan was definitely no exception – it grew 98-105 feet long, outsizing most other sauropods. The only sauropods that grew longer were creatures including Diplodocus and Argentinosaurus. Like its relatives, this dinosaur was herbivorous, stripping plants of their leaves and/or fronds with its spoon-like teeth. As its name suggests, this dinosaur is from China.

So there you have it, a list mentioning a mere few of the incredible (and often times bizarre) dinosaurs discovered in 2013. I hope you've enjoyed the articles my co-author, Joy, and I have written as much as we enjoyed writing them. Next week begins a new year! The year 2014 will be upon us! I'm also planning to do things slightly different with the set-up of this website, so be sure to come back next week to see what changes are made. Happy New Years everyone!

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