Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rise of the Obscure Species, Part 2

Last time, I brought you many wonders of the obscurity world. Acrophoca, Arctotherium, Inostrancevia uralensis, Ichthyovenator, Lythronax, Dinofelis, Xenosmilus, and a few more. Now, I will continue with more obscure species that have yet to receive the light they deserve. This post, I will focus more on Mesozoic animals, mostly dinosaurs. Some have never been restored, others, have a unique restoration. All illustrations where kindly provided by Yutyrannus form the Dinosaur Toy Forum,who did them as soon as he could. Thanks!

The new name for an old friend. 

We all remember him. Acheroraptor was the name recently given to the Hell Creek dromaeosaurid. At first, there was no evidence droameosaurids lived with Tyrannosaurus, but now there is irrefutable evidence. I have nothing to say except that the illustrator based the colours off of the Guam Rail, a very cool bird. It is flightless and as of now extinct in the wild.


Jurassic Antarctica has been the new frontier in paleontology for me. It was populated by some pretty awesome dinosaurs, one of which, Cryolophosaurus, is one of the most complete Antarctic dinosaurs yet found. Another group of dinosaurs that lived there where the sauropods. You may be familiar to the primitive bipedal sauropod, Glacialisaurus, but there is also another, quite large sauropod from there. It has no formal name, and so the name I identify it as, is not the actual name. For now, I call it, Antarctotitan. Antarctotitan is not new to paleontology. It has been known from almost  decade, but I haven't seen a restoration of it. Since there is no published skeletal of the dinosaur available, we have to look at relatives. In this case, the artist used Malawisaurus as a reference. Even though it is a Cretaceous titanosaur, I think of it as a good reference. I especially like the red head. I'm sure sauropods where not all dull coloured. 

Australian spinosaur

I have another obscure animal from the South Pole, only it's from the Cretaceous and from Australia. For namesake, I'll call it Australospinas. It has no formal name yet, but we'll call it that. Australospinas has been known for a few years, and only from vertebrae and a few other bones. It is mostly based on Baryonyx, but here it is featured as iridescent, even though it isn't seen in the picture. This is the second restoration of Australospinas I have seen, and I am surprised I haven't seen more. 


Alverazsaurs are cool. They have the most interesting hands of any theropod. A very short arm, almost the mini-tyrannosaurs, except not as ferocious, but it only has one functional finger and claw. It has since been speculated that they hunted colonial insects, such as termites, or ants. Above is one of the rare alverazsaurs that only people like me and paleontologists know about. You may remember in the 2011 BBC documentary, Planet Dinosaur, depicted Bradycneme has a troodontid. However, it was recently classified as an alverazsaur. It should be noted that Bradycneme is known from very fragmentary remains, so it could be a troodontid. The one thing I like about this restoration is that it isn't shrink wrapped, with long feathers all over its body, and the hoatzin like head. 


One thing I am surprised to see is dinosaurs that have speculative soft-tissue that doesn't really fossilize, as I am sure that just like birds, they have bizarre fleshy structures used for mating that you wouldn't expect for it to have by looking at the skeletons. This seldom seen dinosaur above, Melanorosaurus, has a small red dewlap, used for attracting mates. It is unsure wether or not it had it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had it. Relatives like Diplodocus get more attention, because they are larger than their early ancestors, but relatives like this are also very cool. 


For all of this post, we have been talking about dinosaurs, but we will end with a very cute and tiny Mesozoic mammal, Zalambdalestes. They were like the elephant shrews of the Cretaceous. They may have lived in underground burrows, and ate small insects. Overall, it was a perfect example of the typical Mesozoic mammal, and you would be seeing a lot of mammals looking like Zalambdalestes, although not all mammals where small and shrew-like. The Zalambdalestes in the picture above, is also albino, something so rare, I wish it was depicted more often. The only other piece I've seen features an albino Microraptor. 

Overall, these animals are considerably more obscure than my first obscure species post, two of them don't even have formal names. This is not the last post on Obscure Species. I will have many more, and soon, an entire army of Obscurities will dominate this blog. 

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