Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sinocalliopteryx Gigas

Hallo everybody! Today's post is on the compsognathid Sinocalliopteryx Gigas.

So apparently I've never written a post about any compsognathids, so I'll give you a quick run down on what exactly they were.  The family Compsognathidae is widely known for containing some of the smallest dinosaurs known to exist.  The family's namesake is the relatively well-known Comsognathus Longipes.  This dinosaur was little more than a meter long, and weighed 2.5 kilograms, making it marginally larger than a chicken.  You're probably familiar with Compsognathus thanks to Jurassic Park.

Despite accurately depicting the size, Jurassic Park was incorrect in its affirmation that it possessed a poisonous bite (I can't remember if that was the books or the movies, it's been a while).  

As a general rule, compsognathids were all diminutive in size, and fed primarily on insects and small lizards.  However, there was one member of the group that was an exception to this rule.  Twice the size and ten times the weight of Compsognathus  was the family's giant: Sinocalliopteryx Gigas.  This beast was 2 meters long, and weighed 20 kilograms.  Although this may not seem like much, Sinocalliopteryx is an amazing find, comparable to finding a mouse the size of a bear. Sinocalliopteryx was found with many of its feathers preserved in the form of impressions, hence it's name: "Giant Chinese Beautiful Feather." The majority of its body was covered in these feathers, including the feet, an interesting feature that isn't present in most of the early theropod groups.  These feathers are thought to have been for display.
Theropods have weird feet.
But the thing that makes Sinocalliopteryx the most flippin metal dinosaur ever isn't its foot feathers.  To find that, you must look no further than the creature's diet.  A study of the abdominal contents of a Sinocalliopteryx showed that, among several birds and mammals, Sinocalliopteryx ate dromaeosaurs. That is to say, raptors.  

There wasn't anything I could do to this picture to make it more awesome
This is super cool because practically every other member of Sinocalliopteryx's family spent its time eating nothing but lizards and insects.  This thing ate RAPTORS.  Why did Sinocalliopteryx evolve this way? There are numerous possibilities, perhaps they evolved larger in an isolated area, and dromaeosaurs entered later. Actually I can't think of any other possibilities, but I'm sure there are some. 

That's all for this time. I'll do another at some point. 


Long, John A., and Peter Schouten. Feathered Dinosaurs: The Origin of Birds. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Paul, Gregory S. The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2010. Print.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Telmatosaurus Transsylvanicus


Listen once again, to the story of the dinosaurs.  Great beasts who walked the Earth, slayers of kings and terrors of the mead hall benches!

What have I done.

As you can see, I don't have access to photoshop at the moment. So until I have it again, everything will be made in microsoft paint! HOORAY.  That means I might not be able to rely on visual gimmicks as much and might actually have to give you guys useful information! I can already tell this post is a mistake...

ANYWAYS. As you guys may have noticed, I haven't been around for a while (this is, in fact, the first post since SUMMER), so I thought I'd do a really exciting dinosaur. Telmatosaurus!

I lied. It's not an exciting dinosaur.  It's a hadrosaur.  But it was the dinosaur the book selected for me, so we're gonna do it.

Telmatosaurus has a rather interesting story relating to its discovery.  In Romania, circa late 1800's, several farmers presented their monarch with a skull they had found while tilling the fields. Intrigued, the son of the village's lord left to the University of Vienna, where he learned that the skull belonged to an unknown species.  Recognizing it as a hadrosaur, he decided to name it after the hadrosaurs presumed habitat, a swamp, with the name Lemnosaurus (Swamp Lizard).  This name was short lived, however, because it was soon realized that Othniel Charles Marsh (dude ruins everything) had already given a crocodile the name.  Looking for a similar name, Telmatosaurus was decided upon, meaning "Marsh Lizard," but not "Othniel Charles Marsh Lizard," because that would be Othnielia, which is horrible. Just like Marsh.

Now you probably want to know what makes Telmatosaurus unique.  I mean it is a hadrosaur after all, what is there to make it unique? I'll be honest with you.  Not very much.  It was small in hadrosaur terms, being only about 16 feet long.  It lived in the Late Cretaceous, and was pretty similar to most other hadrosaurs, but a few things set it apart.  For one, it had unique humeri.  These upper arm bones were different from other hadrosaur's because, to quote the book, "the delto-pectoral crest is small, projecting only half again the diameter of the humeral shaft."  Perhaps this will make more sense with a picture.

It was also different because of its teeth. It had the usual leaf-shaped battery like all hadrosaurs, but it also had strangely curved teeth, more like those of a carnivore. Here's a visual aid.

Personally I'd like to think of it as a cannibalistic hadrosaur. That, although unlikely, would be super terrifying.  In some ways it would be worse that a Tyrannosaurus, I think. You know, a huge awkward quadrupedal animal hurling itself forward to eat you. Anyway just a thought. Looking at you Jurassic World.

The next post will probably be something to celebrate 10000 views!! I mean we're not there yet (still like 9300), but we should be soon.  Suggest a dinosaur to celebrate and I'll do it.


Weishampel, David B., Peter Dodson, and Halszka Osmólska. The Dinosauria. Berkeley: U of California, 1990. Print.

Dalla Vecchia, F.M. 2009b Telmatosaurus and the other Hadrosauids of the Cretaceous European Archipelago: an Update. Natura Nascota, 39. 1-18.