Colors, Horns, and Humps: 2010 in Dinosaurs
2009 was a pretty good year for dinosaur paleontology. But 2010 has been a fantastic one. To make up for my lamentable lack of activity in the past two months, I’m doing an extensive round up of all the cool stuff that’s been happening in the realm of the dinosaurian.
2010 has been the Year of the Ceratopsian, and for excellent reasons. A veritable flood of new horned dinosaur research came down the pipe, much of it from the finally released New Perspectives On Horned Dinosaurs. Among the highlights from this and other papers are these.
“Torosaurus” may be a junior synonym of Triceratops, which means the former name will be defunct. This is a story that got a lot of play this year, and as per usual, most of the reports managed to get stuff wrong. No, Triceratops is still a valid genus and probably always will be. In this case, the loser is the massive frilled Torosaurus, which appears to be a large adult for of Triceratops. The facts of the matter are still being worked out, so expect some news about it in the coming year.
Welcome to the newest members of the Ceratopsian Class of 2010. Koreaceratops, a swimming, primitive member of the family, was joined by two other Asian finds; Zuchengceratops and Sinoceratops. Europe welcomed its first known horned dinosaur with the arrival of Ajkaceratops. And from Utah came the intriguingly odd Utahceratops and Kosmoceratops, as well as the entertainingly named Medusaceratops. And finally, breaking news; introducing the fantastic Titanocaratops, a re-description of a Guinness World Record breaking skull previously thought to belong to Pentaceratops. There’s undoubtedly going to be a lot more cool stuff next year, so keep your eyes peeled.
Some fairly interesting predatory dinosaurs were discovered or announced over the course of the year. Two of them–the bizarre humped Concavenator and the double bladed Baluar–hailed from Europe, a place with a paucity of good theropod remains. The small Linheraptor was described as well, with some fairly gorgeous fossils. As is right and proper, the bounty of horned dinosaur discoveries was matched by a good deal of new research on the Tyrannosaurs. First was the fun news that apparently, Barney got back–the nether ends of T.rex and other predatory dinosaurs were a good deal thicker then previously thought. A new tyrannosaur called Bistaheiversor was announced from New Mexico, and we learned that the great predators could be dainty with their dentition or cannibalistic in their consumption.
Finally, 2010 was a banner year for insights into the lifestyles of predatory dinosaurs. A dietary study revealed that many small predatory dinosaurs were, in fact, at least partially omnivorous. For those that weren’t, it became clear that occasionally they dug for their food, as evidenced by a trace fossil showing a predator clawing at a mammal burrow. Most importantly, the discovery of a method of determining color in fossils allowed for the reconstruction of two theropod color schemes; the tawny Sinosauropteryx and the woodpecker colored Anchiornis.
Overall, 2010 provided some excellent discoveries. With new species and studies due to be written up and released, the next twelve months promise to change our view of dinosaurs forever….at least until next year.
(Hat tip to Brian Switek, both on the publication of his new book Written in Stone and for his excellent blogs, both of which were a great help in putting this together.)
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