Nigersaurus, a Cretaceous hedge-trimmer

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Last August, when I was at the Sci Foo camp, Paul Sereno brought along the skull of one of his latest discoveries…and whoa, is it ever a weird one. This is Nigersaurus taqueti, an herbivorous dinosaur with specializations for ground-level grazing. Look at this picture; in reality, it's even more striking.

nigersaurus.jpg

Those jaws and teeth—they are so neatly squared off and flat-edged. In addition, the skull itself on the spinal column is turned habitually downward. This is a creature that kept its face pressed to the ground as it nibbled its way across the landscape.

Another feature that was apparent is that the skull is awesomely light — it's mostly empty spaces with a delicate webwork of bony struts holding it together. It's so specialized it's almost comical, and you can imagine something like this appearing on the Flintstones as a lawn mower or hedge trimmer.

Bora has more, and you can read the original on PLoS.


Sereno PC, Wilson JA, Witmer LM, Whitlock JA, Maga A, et al. (2007) Structural Extremes in a Cretaceous Dinosaur. PLoS ONE 2(11): e1230. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001230

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Today is a super-exciting day for me and I hope you will find it exciting as well. Why? Because today PLoS ONE published a paper I am very hyped about - Structural Extremes in a Cretaceous Dinosaur by Sereno PC,... Read More

25 Comments

Beautiful!

“you can imagine something like this appearing on the Flintstones as a lawn mower or hedge trimmer.”

Careful now, somebody might think it was a documentary ; )

Just what a modern stone age family needs… :)

Nigersaurus, please.

Seriously though – it looks like a very streamlined structure: I guess we’re lucky to have found it as I would imagine this wouldn’t fossilize well in less than ideal conditions.

Wow.

It must have had some industrial strength stomach. I don’t see any cud grinding facility there.

Could it maybe have used its teeth like a bad electric razor to only take really small nibbles of just the juiciest bits? Although from the paper it suggests it had fairly week jaw muscles.

To all the lawyers out there, its the egg shell skull Dino! You could kill something elephant sized with a good punch between the eyes.

With that jaw shape, I don’t see how it could be choosy about which bits it gets.

The skull is on display at National Geographic’s headquarters in Washington, DC from now until March 19. It’s pretty awesome (I saw it today because I work there) and it’s free. Photo gallery here: http://magma.nationalgeographic.com[…]rsaurus.html

Has anybody else failed to notice that “fossil” is actually a rusted-out car seat probably scavenged from the local dump. The only missing link is in the mind of the evolutionists!

It does make me wonder why an “Intelligent Designer” would bother to actually design something like this. Wouldn’t it be easier to design grass that didn’t need cutting?

There’s an article about this on CNN’s website.

Pole Greaser: We’re all curious. Just what is the origin of your name?

PZ Myers:

Look at this picture; in reality, it’s even more striking.

Typical. Biologist calling an fancifal art a “picture.” Will probably end up in a biology text book after it’s doctored a bit to look more like a link between two other species.

From the article:

“Several cranial features of Nigersaurus have never been reported in any other sauropodomorph dinosaur including closure of the supratemporal opening, five additional fenestrae on the lateral aspect of the skull, and teeth packed into terminal dental batteries that extend laterally beyond the side of the skull [10]. The external nares are large elongate openings that are only partially retracted, and the ends of the upper and lower jaws have numerous impressed neurovascular grooves suggestive of a keratinized sheath.”

Yea, sure sounds like a car seat to me. You know, people who are proud to display their ignorance really shouldn’t be surprised when others choose to increase their knowledge instead. Just proves once again, that denial ain’t just a river in Africa.

From the article:

“We used high resolution computed tomography, stereolithography, and standard molding and casting techniques to reassemble the extremely fragile skull. Computed tomography also allowed us to render the first endocast for a sauropod preserving portions of the olfactory bulbs, cerebrum and inner ear, the latter permitting us to establish habitual head posture. To elucidate evidence of tooth wear and tooth replacement rate, we used photographic-casting techniques and crown thin sections, respectively. To reconstruct its 9-meter postcranial skeleton, we combined and size-adjusted multiple partial skeletons.”

Yea, sure sounds like fanciful art to me. Come on you guys, give it up already. You just can’t accept that scientists really are honest and really do know what they are talking about. Here is a hint for you, if you have any problem with the scientific analysis you have to present evidence to support your contentions. That is all that a real scientist will take seriously. Anythng else is just sour grapes. If you have no scientific case just shut up already. If you feel there are scientific inaccuracies in any reconstructions, please feel free to present your evidence, otherwise piss off. If you are so concerned with scientific accuracy, why don’t you go to the Ken Ham creationist museum and criticize some of the “reconstructions” there?

It’s clearly a commensalist, which lived by clipping other dinosaurs’ toenails.

Obviously this fossil is intelligently designed for mowing lawns of biblical proportions and eating corn on the cob. Later models came with an edger.

What is really neat about this find is the parallel evolution between the structure of this skull with those of most hadrosaurs - a branch of ornithischian dinosaurs, including the location of the foramen magnum, which on the bipedal ornithopoda kept their heads at a similar orientation with respect to the spine. The difference with hadrosaurs is in the teeth.

In terms of the absence of cud-chewing ability, that is a feature known in modern ruminants, not in archosaurs (including birds). Rather, sauropods are known to have ingested gastroliths to aid in the digestion of the rough diet, but it has not been established across all saurischian lineages.

Thanks for the update PZ

Tom

PG and HOG are 1920s-era creationists. That’s when the folks with good old time religion were still denying that dinosaurs ever existed. Both comments seem to charge that the fossils are a fraud–either car parts or only the imagination and drawings of dishonest “darwinists.”

I predict the evolution of these ideas. Once some creationist “authorities” admit this creature existed, these two primitive-brained hominids will proclaim the creature had some purpose in Eden or on the Ark.

And will conveniently forget that they once denied its very existence, and ridiculed those who took it seriously.

Considering the thinness of the bones and the hollowness of the spine, does this thing offer any insights into the evolution of birds? (And no, I am not suggesting that this is an ancestor to birds)

All I can say is.. WOW! Too cool for words!

Where can I get one? I’d love to replace my lawn mower with something a bit more ecologically sound, though I rather doubt it could digest modern flaura.

I wonder if the creation.…. er… Intelligent Designists will latch on to this. The skull does look minimalist - not a lot (if any) extraneous garbage left behind by random evolution.

Now.. there’s a thought… it’s easy to see the benefit to two eyes. two hands, two feet - even two ears. Why do we have two nostrils? [ha! ID finally smacked in the face!]

this was great, my grandson was really excited, I googled and found National Geographic has the best pictures Link: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/[…]us-pictures/

Where can I get one? I’d love to replace my lawn mower with something a bit more ecologically sound, though I rather doubt it could digest modern flaura.

But if you get one, watch where you step. If these things are as large as that triceratops in Jurassic Park, stuff happens! ;)

Henry

jeh:

Pole Greaser: We’re all curious. Just what is the origin of your name?

It refers to the fact I was a research assistant when I was in MD/Ph.D program at Yale.

Pole Greaser said:

“It refers to the fact I was a research assistant when I was in MD/Ph.D program at Yale.”

Umm…I don’t get it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Greasy_Pole

Pole Greaser = person who makes the political environment more difficult for others :)

In other words, someone who contributes nothing to an enterprise, and devotes all of his energy to making it impossible for anyone else to progress either.

Sort of like a troll.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on November 15, 2007 1:18 PM.

Evolution: The Fossils Say Yes! was the previous entry in this blog.

Nova ‘Judgment Day’ show online is the next entry in this blog.

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