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Nanotyrannus

Nanotyrannus (meaning "small tyrant") is a problematic genus of tyrannosaurid dinosaur, and is possibly a juvenile specimen of Tyrannosaurus. Nanotyrannus is the smallest known tyrannosaurid and was one of the last tyrannosaurids to before the end-Cretaceous mass extinction, the K-T event. The genus is represented only by a small skull that was discovered by Charles W. Gilmore in 1942 and described in 1946 as a specimen of Gorgosaurus lancensis (now known as Albertosaurus). In 1988, the specimen was re-described by Robert T. Bakker, Phil Currie, and Michael Williams, the late curator of paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where the original specimen was housed and is currently on display. Opinions continue to remain divided on the validity of N. lancensis. Nanotyrannus can be a possible juvenile of a tyrannosaur that is closely related to Tyrannosaurus and the adult of this animal is yet to be identified, or it really is a juvenile Tyrannosaurus. In either case, an adult Nanotyrannus has to be discovered or a juvenile Tyrannosaurus of the same size as Nanotyrannus but morphologically distinct from it in order to fully resolve this debate. Many paleontologists consider the skull to belong to a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. (Read more...)


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Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"When out fossil hunting, it is very easy to forget that rather than telling you how the creatures lived, the remains you find indicate only where they became fossilized."
—Co-author with American science writer Roger Amos Lewin (1946), Origins: What New Discoveries Reveal about the Emergence of our Species and its Possible Future (1977), 96.


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Ichthyosaur vertebrae from the Sundance Formation (Jurassic) of southern Wyoming.

Ichthyosaurs were giant marine reptiles that resembled fish and dolphins. Ichthyosaurs thrived during much of the Mesozoic era; based on fossil evidence, they first appeared approximately 245 million years ago (mya) and disappeared about 90 million years ago, about 25 million years before the dinosaurs became extinct. During the Middle Triassic Period, ichthyosaurs evolved from as-yet unidentified land reptiles that moved back into the water, in a development parallel to that of modern-day dolphins and whales. Ichthyosaurs were particularly abundant in the Jurassic Period, until they were replaced as the top aquatic predators by plesiosaurs in the Cretaceous Period. Ichthyosaurs averaged two to four meters in length (although a few were smaller, and some species grew much larger), with a porpoise-like head and a long, toothed snout. Ichthyosaur fossils have been found on every continent except Africa and Antarctica (other researchers reported finding possible ichthyosaur teeth in Antarctica, but they weren't enough to convince most paleontologists). They belong to the order known as Ichthyosauria or Ichthyopterygia ('fish flippers' - a designation introduced by Sir Richard Owen in 1840, although the term is now used more for the parent clade of the Ichthyosauria).

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