Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New dinosaur raptor found; First in Southern Hemisphere

28.02.2005


Scientists at Ohio State University and the Argentine Museum of Natural History have identified a new species of raptor dinosaur from fossils found in Patagonia -- the very southern tip of South America.



It is the first raptor ever found in the Southern Hemisphere, but compared to other raptors, Neuquenraptor argentinus wasnt much of a standout. It was only of average height and weight for its kind, measured six feet from head to tail, and brandished a razor-sharp claw for slashing prey.

Now, its bones provide the first uncontroversial evidence that raptors roamed the prehistoric world beyond the Northern Hemisphere 90 million years ago, said Diego Pol, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State. Before this, the extent of the dinosaurs range wasnt certain. Pol and Fernando Novas of the Argentine Museum of Natural History published their finding in the current issue of the journal Nature.


With joint appointments in Ohio State’s Mathematical Biosciences Institute and the Department of Biomedical Informatics, Pol represents a kind of new species himself. He is one of a growing number of scientists who are using todays powerful computers to confront grand challenges in the life sciences.

He spends most of his time developing software to map the genes of living creatures, from bacteria to humans, to show how different species are related. He used similar techniques to study the relationships of the new raptor. Because fossils don’t preserve DNA, Pol mapped the dinosaur’s anatomical and skeletal characteristics to place it on the raptor family tree.

Novas discovered the fossils in Patagonia with colleague Pablo Puerta in 1996. They found fragments of the dinosaur’s vertebrae and ribs, as well as parts of its legs and a left rear foot, complete with the signature raptor claw.

Since then, scientists from around the world have worked to record all the data that could be used to identify the dinosaur, such as the size and shape of its bones and where the muscles and ligaments connected to them. All in all, they measured 224 separate characteristics. That may sound like a lot of information, but Pol is accustomed to working with much larger data sets. He routinely assembles family trees based on genetic sequences that number in the thousands. He’s working with experts in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, the Ohio Supercomputer Center, and the University of Tucuman in Argentina to develop software to sort through those mammoth databases and find connections between species. "We can use gene sequences, or any physical characteristic like bones or muscles, or even behavior. We find the tree structure that is most compatible with whatever data we have," Pol said.

Once Pol entered the dinosaur data into the software, the final analysis took only minutes. The conclusion: the bones definitely belonged to a raptor. Not only the claw, but also finer details such as the pointed shape of some of the foot bones provided key proof, he explained. Neuquenraptor lived 90 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period -- roughly the same time that the Velociraptor of Jurassic Park fame and its cousin Utahraptor roamed what are now Asia and North America. And thats what makes Neuquenraptor so special.

According to current geologic theory, the Earth of 90 million years ago featured two giant supercontinents -- one called Laurasia that eventually split into Europe, Asia, and North America, and another called Gondwana that became Australia, Africa, Antarctica, and South America. Because Neuquenraptor was found in Patagonia, it must have lived on Gondwana, Pol said. All other verified species of raptor have been found on land that was once Laurasia. "That’s what was most striking," Pol said. "Given the geographic location, you wouldn’t expect to find a raptor there. So from the beginning we knew we had an interesting finding."

Since Gondwana and Laurasia were completely separated by ocean 90 million years ago, the find suggests that a common raptor ancestor probably roamed both supercontinents before they split apart from an even larger land mass, Pangea -- some 150 million years ago, during the late Jurassic period.

"Up to now, all known raptor species were exclusive to the Northern Hemisphere," Pol said. "And they all date to a time way after the splitting of the two land masses."

Now, he said, scientists can make a more complete map of raptors biological and geographical history -- where they lived, how old the various species lineages were, and how long ago they diversified from each other.

The scientists named the raptor based on the Patagonian province where it was found, Neuquén.

Counting Neuquenraptor, the raptor family tree now has eleven official branches, including Velociraptor, Utahraptor, and pint-sized Microraptor. All share a common ancestor with modern birds.

The National Geographic Society and the Agencia de Promocion Cientifica in Argentina funded Novas research and the fieldwork for the study. Pols analysis of the fossils was funded by Ohio State.

Diego Pol | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>