Friday, June 09, 2006

Sauropods With Dwarfism! (And other things.)

` I'd spend more time writing something original, but my current excuse is that I've been working on the railroad. Not all the live-long day today - in fact, I just got back. And not a real railroad, either - the track is only a few inches wide!
` Finally! I get paid to have fun with power tools!
` Another big win for me is the fact that I went off to buy a microphone so that I could talk on Skype with The Swill Man because my first microphone was corroded - which I noticed when the casing fell off in my hand! Well, I plugged the new one in and turned it on, and still... nothing!
` It turns out that the speaker jack wasn't working, so I plugged the mic directly into the jack going from the bejacked speaker to the computer - apparently it's an input port, so it works now! I forget who told me to do that... I think both Lou and Joey came up with the idea independently.
` Another piece of good news - Weird Al sent me (as a fan) one of his new songs in order to make up for the fact that some kind of legal mumbo-jumbo is preventing him from releasing his new CD on time. The song is called 'You're Pitiful'. Listen to it. And love it, dammit!

` Argh! I'm rambling!! I must say, I got home today and looked at my Yahoo account to find something neat going on in the paleontology world:

A small dinosaur in Germany

The idea that dwarf species tend to evolve among island populations has received recent publicity in the context of Homo floresiensis and the dwarf animals (mainly elephants) found on the island of Flores. Now it seems that the same thing may have happened with sauropod dinosaurs. Newly discovered fossils from northern Germany have been identified as dwarf adult sauropods, possibly evolved on islands in the Lower Saxony basin from their larger mainland cousins. Sauropods were previously considered almost universally large — they include Diplodocus and Titanosaurus for example — and any small sauropod bones were assumed to be juvenile. In these new finds though, the bone histology suggests that they were adults.
` Yes indeed! Sauropods are by definition built like elephants with massive bodies and pillar-like legs for bearing several tons of weight. Apparently, some of them have evolved into smaller sizes - just as some elephants have!

Bone histology indicates insular dwarfism in a new Late Jurassic sauropod dinosaur

P. Martin Sander1, Octávio Mateus2, Thomas Laven3 and Nils Knötschke3


Sauropod dinosaurs were the largest animals ever to inhabit the land, with truly gigantic forms in at least three lineages1, 2, 3. Small species with an adult body mass less than five tonnes are very rare4, 5, and small sauropod bones generally represent juveniles. Here we describe a new diminutive species of basal macronarian sauropod, Europasaurus holgeri gen. et sp. nov., and on the basis of bone histology we show it to have been a dwarf species.
` The fossils, including excellent skull material, come from Kimmeridgian marine beds of northern Germany6, 7, and record more than 11 individuals of sauropods 1.7 to 6.2 m in total body length. Morphological overlap between partial skeletons and isolated bones links all material to the same new taxon. Cortical histology of femora and tibiae indicates that size differences within the specimens are due to different ontogenetic stages, from juveniles to fully grown individuals.
` The little dinosaurs must have lived on one of the large islands around the Lower Saxony basin8. Comparison with the long-bone histology of large-bodied sauropods suggests that the island dwarf species evolved through a decrease in growth rate from its larger ancestor.

  1. Institute of Paleontology, University of Bonn, Nussallee 8, D-53115 Bonn, Germany
  2. Centro de Estudos Geológicos da Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museu da Lourinhã, Rua João Luis de Moura, 2530-157 Lourinhã, Portugal
  3. Dinosaurier-Freilichtmuseum Münchehagen, Alte Zollstrasse 5, D-31547 Rehburg-Loccum, Germany
` Isn't that special? Well... I have to go. Lou and I are going to do some karate now. Bye!


Galtron said...

So, you're saying your job is to assemble dwarf train tracks?

S E E Quine said...

` Yes indeed. The most simple ones have 130 nails I have to drill holes for, shove nails into and hammer down and then bend the nails.
` They are meant for outdoor use, so I expect to see garden gnomes using them....

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