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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 Sereno2

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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"A fossil hunter needs sharp eyes and a keen search image, a mental template that subconsciously evaluates everything he sees in his search for telltale clues. A kind of mental radar works even if he isn't concentrating hard. A fossil mollusk expert has a mollusk search image. A fossil antelope expert has an antelope search image. ... Yet even when one has a good internal radar, the search is incredibly more difficult than it sounds. Not only are fossils often the same color as the rocks among which they are found, so they blend in with the background; they are also usually broken into odd-shaped fragments. ... In our business, we don't expect to find a whole skull lying on the surface staring up at us. The typical find is a small piece of petrified bone. The fossil hunter's search therefore has to have an infinite number of dimensions, matching every conceivable angle of every shape of fragment of every bone on the human body."
—Describing the skill of his co-worker, Kamoya Kimeu, who discovered the Turkana Boy, the most complete specimen of Homo erectus, on a slope covered with black lava pebbles. Taken from Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human (1992), 26.


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Hybodontspine

A hybodont spine from Morocco. In hybodonts, such spines were mounted at the leading edges of the dorsal and pectoral fins. This spine in particular is a dorsal spine.

Hybodontiformes are an order of extinct sharks, characterized by possessing 1-2 pairs of hooked protrusions on their heads. Hybodontiformes first appeared in the Lower Triassic, some 320–290 million years ago, but blossomed during the Mesozoic era. They did not survive past the end of the Cretaceous period, which ended some 65 million years ago. Hybodont sharks were originally described in the early 19th century from fossil teeth. Complete or partial skeletons of several hybodont genera have been found, although most of what is known about these sharks is based upon the study of their isolated teeth, fins, and cephalic spines.

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