EGU Blogs


IPC4 Day 1 – Death is the road to awe

Following on from the previous post, the afternoon symposium was all about the applications and implications of vertebrate taphonomy.

Matt Carrano kicked things off with a great talk on how microfossil bonebeds help to guide our understanding of terrestrial palaeoecosystems. Using sites from the well-known but poorly understood Cloverly Formation, he provided a key insight from abundances from terrestrial microsites into the composition of faunas. This was a particularly appealing talk for me as it contained atoposaurids!

Carina Colombi asked what the effect was of atmospheric CO2 on the evolution and preservation of the terrestrial fauna of the famous Ischigualasto Formation. It seems that decreases in atmospheric CO2 may explain decreases in the number of preserved vertebrate fossils in different horizons.

Tao Deng explored the taphonomy of the vertebrate fauna in the Linxia Basin in Gansu, China. Older individuals from particularly abundant rhino fossils seem preferentially preserved, based on ages inferred from tooth eruption

Adriana Mancuso described her research into taphonomic modes in a Triassic-Jurassic loessite (wind-blown deposit) from Patagonia. Different taphonomic regimes suggest aspects of social aggregation in some animals, for example from the accumulation of groups of juvenile specimens.

Alexander Parkinson gave an interesting talk on insect-bone interactions from the “Cradle of Humankind” in South Africa. There were plenty of types of boring trace, with a possible new ichnotaxon. The spatial distribution and mode of preservation of the fossils suggests extremely rapid burial and fossilisation.

Raymond Rogers brought us back to microfossil bonebeds, from the Upper Cretaceous Judith River Formation in the US. He was looking at huge numbers of fragmentary fossils and what their size and shape can tell us about their diagenensis, in particular how the deposits formed and where the fossils were sourced from.

Vijay Sathe discussed the taphonomy of a new large mammalian fauna from the Quaternary of India, and the possibility of their mode of death. It seems some may have fallen into pits, and subsequently scavenged by predators, with the preferential preservation of younger and older animals.

Leif Tapanila finished things off by looking at the effect of impermeable ash layers within geological basins, and whether their distribution affected the preservation potential of fossil layers by changing hydraulic regimes.

End of day 1! The best part for me of this second symposium was the potential that fossil microsites have in greatly increasing our understanding of diversity through time. Hopefully much more on this in the future.

IPC4 Day 1 – Using the past to inform the present

Welcome to the fourth International Palaeontology Congress! 900 palaeontologists have piled into the land of steak, sun, and malbec in Mendoza, Argentina, for the biggest palaeontology conference that draws from all parts of the field.

What I want to do with these posts is just provide snapshot summaries of the talks I’ve been at to provide a window into the conference and the amazing diversity of research being conducted by a global team of awesome researchers. It’s not all just dinosaurs you know! Results will not be discussed in any detail for obvious reasons.

The first symposium I attended was on the “Coevolution of the Earth and life: the role of the physical environment in species’ evolution.”

[Read More]

Grim reaper or gentle giants?

Therizinosaurs were some of the true freaks of the dinosaur world. I mean that in the nicest possible way for something that looked like the sick offspring of a giant chicken and Freddie Kruger. Perhaps the weirdest things about them were these long, scythe-like claws, that although may have seemed deadly, probably weren’t unless you were a particularly scrummy looking piece of foliage. That’s right, these cousins of tyrannosaurs and other theropods used their wicked sickle-claws for trimming hedges for food.



[Read More]

Last dinosaur of its kind found in the land that time forgot

In terms of iconic dinosaurs, the gargantuan sauropods are certainly up there. Along with the mostly meat eating-theropods, and herbivorous and often armoured ornithischians, they form one of the three major groups, or clades, of dinosaurs, and were the biggest animals to ever walk this Earth.

The end of the Jurassic period, some 145 million years ago, was a pretty important time for sauropods. Their diversity was already in decline through some of the latter part of the Jurassic, but it seems that they were hit pretty badly at the Jurassic/Cretaceous (J/K) boundary, in an extinction event that may have been quite severe among land and marine-dwelling animals.

[Read More]