Boneyard #7

14 October 2007

Welcome to the Boneyard #7 featuring the best of the last two weeks of blogging about the last ~3000 million years of life on our planet. Illustration for this edition has been kindly supplied by Dan McCarthy, prints, posters, paintings and more are available at, each image links to the site as well.

Let’s start with the oldest at top, those searching for geologic integrity can flip their monitors over…

Kevin at The Other 95% writes about the discovery of a Lower Cambrian crustacean, Yicaris dianensis, and its implications for the evolution of the most important group of animals on Earth: New Fossil Crustacean Pushes Back Arthropod Origins…you may know that this has direct implications for my dermis

In honor of last week’s much lauded International Cephalopod Awareness Day, Christopher from Catalogue of Organisms offers up not one but two absurdly large cephalopods: Day of the Tentacle and More giant cephalopods…along with a ‘buxom wench with a rapier.’

Also inspired by ICAD, Ben from Principles of Parsimony muses upon the tales told by one punctured ammonite: Cephalopods, mosasaurs, and Cretaceous parenting

Speaking of Cretaceous…Julia, the ethical palaeontologist, hopefully enjoying a tasty margarita under New Mexican skies as we speak, writes about one of many dinosaurs you wouldn’t want to get your arm stuck in: New Hadrosaur!

Gryposaurus has received a fair bit of attention across the’s Dr. Ryan’s summary: New Hadrosaur, Gryposaurus monumentensis and Dr. Bridger’s elegy is here: R.I.P.

Elsewhere amongst Cretaceous dinos, Therizinosaurs are some of the weirdest of the lot and perpetual paleo-blogger Brian Switek wrote about the recently published Suzhousarus megatherioides at his brand new Science Blogs site: Suzhousaurus and its strange relatives…were they, in fact giant ground sloth analogues?

No! in fact they were giant arboreal sloth analogues climbing around giant trees and tearing into super proto-bee hives…you see it all has to do with the tensile strenth of lignin at high O2 concentrations…oh never mind…


Of course no K dino is as emblematic as T. rex, perhaps the only organism known familiarly by its abbreviated genus, and we all know T. rexo had two fingers right? Right? Zach from When Pigs Fly Returns copes with the unsettling news: Tyrannosaurus rex has three fingers?! while Brian posits atavism: A Tyrannosaurus with three fingers?

Wait a minute! Actually, the most important dinosaur post of the last two weeks is Hairy Museum of Natural History curator Matt’s post: A wish for coelophysis, which pushes us way back into the Triassic…I wish for world peace and a whole bunch of thalattosaur skulls, or maybe a Hupehsuchus with gut contents. Oh, nevermind.

Moving into the Cainozoic…
Vintage, collectors item Laelaps looks at hyperdentition among mammals: What big teeth you have

Greg Laden examines the overlooked animals that are in fact at the core of the modern petroleum defense cabal: Hyracoidea.

Zach lays out some core knowledge: Evolution for dummies. Not that you, dear reader, are in fact a dummy.

The Boneyard Sells Out:

Various gifty holidays are coming up, and those looking for presents in the paleo theme are in luck:

Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway the new Kirk Johnson/Ray Troll book.

Trilobite Clothing

Dan McCarthy’s Website (prints, posters and t-shirts)

12 Responses to “Boneyard #7”

  1. No! in fact they were giant arboreal sloth analogues

    I’m not sure how much you were joking there, Neil – if you were, someone bet you to it. The idea that Deinocheirus and/or segnosaurs were arboreal like tree sloths as juveniles and became terrestrial as they became to large to fit in the trees has already been suggested.

    By the way, your link for Greg Laden’s post is broken.

  2. […] Boneyard #7 now up! 14 10 2007 Neil has got the latest edition of The Boneyard up at microecos, complete with some fantastic artwork by Dan McCarthy. The next edition will be up in two weeks at […]

  3. Neil Says:

    I’m vaguely aware of that idea, ergo the ‘joke.’ Fixed that link!

  4. laelaps Says:

    Excellent work, Neil, and I love the artwork you included! The next time I get paid I’ll have to get some Dan McCarthy prints…

  5. […] The seventh and latest edition of The Boneyard is online at microecos. Be sure to stop in and browse through the past two weeks worth of paleo on the web. […]

  6. Zach Miller Says:

    Those are gorgeous pictures! Now, I’m happy to say that the arboreal therizinosaur theory is NOT complete hogwash. I forget who the author of that particular idea was (I’d have to go digging through my Dinosauria, 2nd Ed., and I’m very lazy at the moment), but it’s been suggested! Apparently an illustration of a giant therizinosaur, hanging sloth-like from what must have been the largest branch in the world, completed the monograph.

  7. Laelaps Says:

    I’m a bit dubious about the arboreal therizinosaur hypothesis; it’s hard to make a living in the trees when your so big. Look at extant primates, for example. New World Monkeys are primarily arboreal quadrupeds; they’re small, have prehensile tails, and can “run” through the trees on top of branches because of their small size. There are size constraints, however, and when you get too big you can’t run on top of the branches as 1) you can’t get a good grip, and 2) you might break the branches. Thus, arboreal apes like gibbons hang underneath the trees and brachiate, their shoulder blades moving to their back rather than their sides as they’re being suspended underneath branches as they move. There are other ways to be arboreal, of course, and perhaps the smaller therizinosaurs had the ability to climb a tree now and then, but I think they were just too large to be arboreal and they don’t seem to show any adaptations to life in the trees.

  8. neil Says:

    But you guys are assuming that lignin tensile strength has remained constant over time! All dinosaurs were, in fact, arboreal. Even sauropods.

  9. […] Boneyard #7 is here at microecos. If you like it, share it! These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

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