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 Seismic study reveals huge amount of water dragged into Earth's interior
18.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

nachricht A damming trend
17.12.2018 | Michigan State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pressure tuned magnetism paves the way for novel electronic devices

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>