Paleontologists Discover First Evidence For Live Birth in Archosauromorphs

Author: Kovu | Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:54 pm
© Nobu Tamura / CC BY-SA 3.0

An international team of paleontologists from China, USA, Australia and UK discovered the first evidence for viviparity in an archosauromorph. Previously it was assumed that Archosauromorpha, the group that is represented today by birds and crocodilians, only laid eggs. However, a new specimen of Dinocephalosaurus, which lived in shallow seas of South China in the Middle Triassic (245 mya), shows now clear evidence for live birth: there's an embryo inside the mother's rib cage, and it faces forward. wrote:“Live birth (viviparity) is well known in mammals, where the mother has a placenta to nourish the developing embryo,” said University of Queensland Professor Jonathan Aitchison, senior author of a paper on the discovery published Feb. 14 in the journal Nature Communications.

“Live birth is also very common among lizards and snakes, where the babies sometimes hatch inside their mother and emerge without a shelled egg.”


“Indeed, egg-laying is the primitive state, seen at the base of reptiles, and in their ancestors such as amphibians and fishes,” Prof. Aitchison noted.


“We report the discovery of a pregnant long-necked marine reptile (Dinocephalosaurus) from the Middle Triassic of southwest China showing live birth in archosauromorphs,” Prof. Aitchison and co-authors said.


“Our discovery pushes back evidence of reproductive biology in the clade by roughly 50 million years, and shows that there is no fundamental reason that archosauromorphs could not achieve live birth,” they said.

Professor Chris Organ from Montana State University, co-author of the study, said evolutionary analysis showed that this instance of live birth was also associated with genetic sex determination.

“Some reptiles today, such as crocodiles, determine the sex of their offspring by the temperature inside the nest,” he explained.

“We identified that Dinocephalosaurus, a distant ancestor of crocodiles, determined the sex of its babies genetically, like mammals and birds.”

“This combination of live birth and genotypic sex determination seems to have been necessary for animals such as Dinocephalosaurus to become aquatic,” said University of Bristol Professor Mike Benton, co-author of the study.

“This new specimen from China rewrites our understanding of the evolution of reproductive systems,” Prof. Organ added.


JW2 Begins Filming This Thursday, February 23rd

Author: Kovu | Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:11 pm
Jurassic Outpost reports that Jurassic World 2 (working title "Ancient Futures") will begin filming this week, February 23rd, in Slough (Berkshire, England)!

Apparently, local residents received letters from the production, preparing them for the upcoming filming (and the potential disturbances in the city). According to the letter, filming is to be for 1 day only. 11 more days are planned in the same location though. Further, the letter confirms filming will continue into June.

And another news from Jurassic Outpost points out a new filming location - one where JW2-sets already seem to be built: Minley, Surrey.

We recently heard a rumor that added another filming location (Harrow, London) to the list, and now we have received some substantial information that puts the area of Minley, Surrey in the spotlight. The location is roughly an hour’s drive from Pinewood Studios, and permits for filming and set building have been awarded to the production.

We first received an email with some information on sets being constructed on “Army Training grounds” in Minley, leading us to this location, which has been used previously for films such as The Avengers, Stardust, and Die Another Day. While we’ve learned Jurassic World 2 won’t be filming at the Manor itself, after receiving more information and corroborating filming/construction permits we were able to determine that the film will be utilizing the surrounding area of Hawley Common, and the former Pyestock Jet Engine test site.

Does all the filming in Britain also mean that we'll finally see some new landscapes in the Jurassic franchise? It's not unlikely, because Trevorrow wants to expand the story to the rest of the world. However, Jurassic World's main street scenes also weren't filmed in Hawaii but in New Orleans, where they simply replaced the surrounding area with "Isla Nublar".


B.D. Wong Confirms His Return For JW2

Author: Kovu | Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:16 am
Yes, B.D. Wong aka Dr. Wu returns for Jurassic World 2. The actor teases this with a picture from Pinewood Studios, where the sequel will be filming. B.D. Wong can be seen with a velociraptor bust (presumably Legacy's Blue from Jurassic World):

Jurassic World 2 Adds James Cromwell to its Cast

Author: Kovu | Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:43 pm
© Glenn Francis, / CC BY-SA 3.0

According to The Hollywood Reporter, veteran actor James Cromwell joins the Jurassic World 2 cast. Just like Ted Levine last week, Cromwell is a really interesting choice of actor who might add some value to the film (provided that he doesn't receive a meaningless role without any depth like Masrani or Hoskins in Jurassic World). Cromwell was nominated for an Oscar for the much-loved children's movie Babe and is probably best known for films like Deep Impact, L.A. Confidential and The Green Mile.

Silence-of-The-Lambs-Actor Ted Levine Joins JW2 Cast

Author: Kovu | Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:03 pm
© Kristin Dos Santos / CC BY-SA 2.0

According to Variety, "Silence-of-The-Lambs"-actor Ted Levine (middle) joins the "Jurassic World 2" cast. Plot details are still being kept under wraps, including who Levine will be playing in the sequel. However, he's a really interesting choice for the movie:

Buffalo Bill in Silence of The Lambs

Maybe it's too early to hype JW2, but the more they reveal about the movie, the more I get interested in it.

Evidence Hardens That Collagen Can Survive in Fossils For Several Hundret Million Years

Author: Kovu | Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:12 pm
Two recent studies suggest that it is possible to isolate protein fragments from dino­saurs much further back in time than ever thought possible. The first one, led by Mary Schweitzer who became famous (and questioned) for the discovery of 'intact' soft tissue in T-Rex bones back in 2007, confirms a highly controversial claim to have recovered 80-million-year-old dinosaur collagen. And the second one even suggests that the protein may have sur­vived in the 195-million-year-old remains of Lufengosaurus. wrote:Last week in the Jour­nal of Proteome Research, Schweitzer, her postdoct Elena Schroeter, and colleagues report that they did a complete makeover of their 2009 experiment to rule out any possible contamination. They took new samples from the same 80-million-year-old fossil, of a duck-billed dinosaur called Brachylophosaurus canadensis. They reworked procedures for extracting would-be proteins from the bone, identi­fied protein fragments with a more sensi­tive mass spectrometer, and compared the recovered protein sequences to those from many more living animals. Schroeter even went so far as to break down the mass spectrometer piece by piece, soak the whole thing in methanol to remove any possible contaminants, and reassemble the machine. “About the only thing that is the same [as the 2009 experiments] is the di­nosaur,” Schweitzer says.

In their 2009 paper Schweitzer’s team had identified three fragments of a protein called collagen 1 from their fossil. Collagen is the main protein in connective tissue and is abundant in bone. Each fragment contained about 15 amino acids strung to­gether, which the mass spectrometer was able to identify. In their current study, Schweitzer’s team identified eight protein fragments, two of which matched those identified originally. “If [both sets] are from contamination, that’s almost impos­sible,” Schweitzer says.

The three protein fragments originally recovered most closely resembled the col­lagen found in living alligators and other reptiles. But the new data show that B. canadensis collagen was a better match to that of birds. That’s just what paleontologists, who consider birds to be descendants of extinct dinosaurs, would predict.

Just how those collagen sequences sur­vived tens of millions of years is not clear. Schweitzer suggests that as red blood cells decay after an animal dies, iron liberated from their hemoglobin may react with nearby pro­teins, linking them together. This crosslink­ing, she says, causes proteins to precipitate out of solution, drying them out in a way that helps preserve them. That’s possible, Collins says. But he doesn’t think the pro­cess could arrest protein degradation for tens of millions of years, so he, for one, re­mains skeptical of Schweitzer’s claim. “Pro­teins decay in an orderly fashion. We can slow it down, but not by a lot,” Collins says.

In the case of the 195-million-year-old Lufengosaurus-proteins, a team led by Robert Reisz from the University of Toronto reports a finding what they believe is collagen in a 195-million-year-old fossil rib. Reisz says his team's methods, called Raman spectroscopy and synchrotron radiation Fourier trans­form infrared microspectroscopy (SR-FTIR), can probe the chemical makeup of a sample without the need to purify it first, which low­ers the risk of contamination. The rib absorbed infrared light in wavelengths that match those of collagen from mod­ern animals. wrote:Schweitzer and Cappellini caution that while SR-FTIR is good at spotting the so-called amide chemical bonds that link suc­cessive amino acids in proteins, it can’t pin down exactly which protein is present, or the protein's sequence. Thus it isn't useful for evolutionary studies. This method also can’t rule out that the amide bonds are in other compounds, such as the epoxy used to assemble microscope slides. “Synchrotron data is very powerful, but it’s limited,” Schweitzer says. “I would like to have seen confirmatory evidence,” such as exposing the fossilized material to an antibody that binds solely to collagen to see whether it targeted the fossilized material. Reisz agrees “that certainly would be the next step.” But he’ll have to team up with other specialists to carry that out.

Still, his work, too, suggests that colla­gen fragments can survive for astonishing periods of time. Meanwhile, Schweitzer’s team is going beyond collagen. In a 2015 paper in Analytical Chemistry, her group reported isolating fragments of eight other proteins from fossils of dinosaurs and extinct birds, including hemoglobin in blood, the cytoskeletal protein actin, and histones that help pack­age DNA. Comparing those se­quences from many different species could reveal evolution’s handiwork over geological time, much as studies of an­cient DNA do today.

Although this certainly isn't Jurassic Park, in which we recreate creatures that existed millions of years ago, their work is now about to open the door to more in-depth study of long extinct species.


Jurassic World 2 adds Daniella Pineda to its Cast

Author: Kovu | Fri Jan 27, 2017 9:43 pm
According to Variety, "The Detour" actress Daniella Pineda receives a key role in "Jurassic World 2".

Daniella Pineda joins Rafe Spall, Toby Jones, and Justice Smith as new actors who have recently been confirmed for the film.

ARK Park VR: New Dinosaur-World Exploration Game by Peacock Studio

Author: Kovu | Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:31 pm
I really don't know why I've overlooked this for such a long time, but Peacock Studio and Studio Wildcard are developing a "Jurassic World"-style dinosaur-world exploration game based on "ARK Survival Evolved": "ARK Park"!

The game looks very promising and feels a bit like a mix between Afrika (by Rhino Studios), Jurassic World and How to Train Your Dragon. And VR likely provides a true lifesize dinosaur-experience at home. wrote:ARK Park is a virtual reality experience like no other, allowing players to get up close and personal with dinosaurs and also the immersive primal environments. Explore tropical rainforests, snow-covered mountains, and expansive plains, along with the dinosaurs that call these habitats home.


Visitors to ARK Park will be able to head out on Excursions into the lush biomes to explore and witness dinosaurs up close. At various points during the Excursions, visitors will be on-foot, riding dinosaurs, or riding vehicles. While on these Excursions, visitors will be able to participate in Gene collection of these fantastic creatures. Through crafting of ARK tools, lures, and weapons, visitors may collect Gene Cubes from the many dinosaurs and extinct creatures throughout the habitat, including more than 100 unique species.

However, collecting all of the ARK creatures can be challenging due to the reclusive habits of particular dinosaurs. Determined visitors will need to use a combination of puzzle-solving logic, action skills, exploration and careful resource management to bag the most prized animals. For visitors who would rather capture memories, ARK Park will also include a Snap mode where you can photograph these wondrous creatures for extra points! Capture images of your friends in precarious moments in multiplayer Excursions, or use your ARK Park selfie stick to record your own solo adventures for bonus points.


Capturing a creature’s Gene Cube will allow for you to upload it to ARK Park’s Hub area to learn more about the life form, including factoids and vital stats. Along with this, you’ll learn about how the ARK species has diverged from real-world variants. Gene Cubes may also be uploaded to the Hub’s Petting Zoo where visitors can get up close and personal with the creatures. In this scenario, visitors will be able to pet and feed dinosaurs, paint colors using the warpaint system from ARK, or even assign customizable cosmetics to creatures. If you have beloved creatures in ARK: Survival Evolved or ARK: Scorched Earth, you can upload your very own creatures from those games into the ARK Park’s Petting Zoo. View your favorite Black & Crimson T-Rex in life-size VR to truly appreciate the scale of your favorite pet!


Universal Registered New Domains

Author: Kovu | Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:31 pm
According to Jurassic Outpost, NBC Universal registered 3 new domain names that will likely be used for viral contents on "Jurassic World 2":

We all remember the viral campaign they started for "Jurassic World" with and It was some of the best viral marketing we've seen on the www, allowing us to dive into the movie's world long before it hit theaters.

Eggs of Ornithischian Dinosaurs Took 3 to 6 Months to Hatch

Author: Kovu | Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:14 am
© Dinoguy2 / CC SA 1.0

The eggs of ornithischian dinosaurs took 3 to 6 months to hatch, a new study led by Prof. Gregory Erickson from the Florida State University finds. wrote:“We know very little about dinosaur embryology, yet it relates to so many aspects of development, life history, and evolution,” said Dr. Mark Norell, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History and co-author on the study.

“But with the help of advanced tools like CT scanners and high-resolution microscopy, we’re making discoveries that we couldn’t have imagined two decades ago. This work is a great example of how new technology and new ideas can be brought to old problems.”

Previously it has been suggested that dinosaur incubation time was similar to birds, whose eggs hatch in periods ranging from 11 to 85 days.

The researchers studied the fossilized teeth of two well-preserved embryos of ornithischian dinosaurs: Protoceratops, with eggs weighing around 194 grams; and Hypacrosaurus, with eggs weighing more than 4 kg. wrote:First, the authors scanned the embryonic jaws of the two dinosaurs with CT to visualize the forming dentitions. Then they used an advanced microscope to look for and analyze the pattern of ‘von Ebner’ lines — growth lines that are present in the teeth of all animals, humans included.

This work marks the first time that these growth lines have been identified in dinosaur embryos.

“These are the lines that are laid down when any animal’s teeth develops. They’re kind of like tree rings, but they’re put down daily. And so we could literally count them to see how long each dinosaur had been developing,” Prof. Erickson explained.

Their work revealed an age of 3 months for the Protoceratops embryo and an age of 6 months for the Hypacrosaurus embryo. Although the team couldn't test this on close relatives of birds within Theropoda, the study implies that birds likely evolved more rapid incubation rates after they branched off from the rest of the dinosaurs. wrote:“The results might be quite different if they were able to analyze a more bird-like dinosaur, like Velociraptor. But unfortunately, very few fossilized dinosaur embryos have been discovered,” the researchers said.

The biggest ramification from the study, however, relates to the extinction of dinosaurs.

Given that these creatures required considerable resources to reach adult size, took more than a year to mature and had slow incubation times, they would have been at a distinct disadvantage compared to other animals that survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.

“We suspect our findings have implications for understanding why dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, whereas amphibians, birds, mammals and other reptiles made it through and prospered,” Prof. Erickson said.