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First report of the giant ichthyodectid Xiphactinus audax from the Mancos Shale (Campanian) of Western Colorado

ReBecca Hunt-Foster

A partial skull collected in the Mancos Shale northwest of Grand Junction, Mesa County, Colorado, represents the first specimen of the ichthyodectid fish Xiphactinus audax reported from the formation in western Colorado. The Museum of Western Colorado specimen is from the Smoky Hill Member of the Mancos and is likely Coniacian or Santonian in age. The specimen is well preserved and consists of both premaxillae, the left maxilla, a fragment of the right maxilla, both dentaries, a ceratohyal, another indeterminate skull bone, two vertebrae, several fragments of pectoral fin spines, numerous rib and vertebral spine fragments, and nearly 400 scales. The only other Xiphactinus specimens from the Mancos Shale are a partial skeleton from near Snowmass, Colorado, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and very fragmentary field evidence from near Green River, Utah. All three occurrences of Xiphactinus in the Mancos Shale in Colorado and Utah (plus recent reports from the Tropic Shale of Utah) are unreported in previous summaries of the genus but push the distribution of Xiphactinus farther west in its southern distribution.

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Respect and Protect: Paleontological education and outreach in BLM Canyon Country District, Southeastern Utah

ReBecca Hunt-Foster, jessica uglesich

In 2009, the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act was enacted, instructing the Secretary to manage and protect paleontological resources on Federal land using scientific principles and expertise, and to develop plans to increase public awareness about the significance of paleontological resources. Many rural communities throughout the country, including southeastern Utah, remain underserved due to lack of resources to support physical fossil site visits. In response, lesson plans, activities, and videos targeted at K-12 students have been developed, which are used in both the classroom and to support exploratory, place-based learning experiences at Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fossil sites. These public lands fossil sites are used as outside laboratories, where stewardship, monitoring, and site-based science are taught. The Natural History Museum of Utah and Museum of Moab have worked with the BLM to develop a suite of short educational videos that emphasize the site stewardship and the scientific process through featuring public fossil sites. The materials developed promote the importance of stewardship toward the natural world by discussing the benefits of preservation, both for future generations building scientific understanding of our ancient past, and informing current scientific understanding. These videos provide the audience with: 1) a brief historical overview of the area; 2) observations about the sites made by scientists and participants; 3) to foster curiosity about the sites and paleontology by asking relevant questions; and 4) to learn how to respect and protect our public fossil sites. The program concludes by administering evaluations to teachers and students to gather feedback on the effectiveness of the media and curricula used in their classrooms. This project meets two of the President’s initiatives: “America’s Great Outdoors”, supporting programs and projects that educate and engage Americans in our history, culture, and natural bounty; and “Every Kid in a Park”, to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors through youth outings and existing educational programs, such as Hands on the Land sites. Integrating new technology, such as educational videos and curricula, that work in conjunction with traditional interpretive efforts to convey information helps to reach a variety of audiences and ability levels. This is in line with Secretary Jewel’s efforts to engage the next generation in conservation and stewardship while building skills relevant to today’s outdoor work-force.

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Claudia Serrano

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Cretaceous Research

Revised identification of a reported Iguanodon-grade ornithopod tooth from the Scollard Formation, Alberta, Canada

2011 •

Paul Barrett

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Society of Vertebrate Paleontology October, 2012

2012 •

Robert Denton

The Host Committee of the 72nd Annual Meeting welcomes members and student members of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology to Raleigh, North Carolina, where you can experience first-hand a bit of southern hospitality. Your Host Committee consists of individuals representing a number of institutions and whose research interests encompass many facets of the discipline of vertebrate paleontology. The principal institutions hosting this year's meeting are the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North ...

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Lee Berger, Shahed Nalla

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Jaime Priego Vargas

In the present study, we characterize the dietary behavior and habitat preferences of Pleistocene mammals, through isotopic analyses of carbonate in tooth enamel apatite (δ13C and δ18O). The fossil material comes from a sedimentary sequence consisting of sands and conglomeratic lenses deposited in a fluvial setting located near San Agustín Tlaxiaca in southeastern Hidalgo, central Mexico. The samples were extracted from molars and tooth fragments belonging to the following taxa: Equus conversidens (n=5), Bison sp. (n=2), Hemiauchenia gracilis (n=2), Camelops sp. (n=1), Stockoceros conklingi (n=2), Capromeryx mexicana (n=1), Odocoileus cf. virginianus (n=3), Mammuthus sp. (n=2), and an unidentified gomphothere species (n=2); the presence of fossil remains belonging to Bison is indicative of a Rancholabrean age. The values of δ13C (V-PDB) range from -1.06‰ to -12.23‰ whereas those of δ18O (V-SMOW) range from 23.68‰ to 29.60‰. The mean value of δ13C indicates that most taxa were mixed-feeders (δ13C values between -1‰ and -10‰), although the deer O. cf. virginianus and the gomphothere are included within browsers (δ13C values < -10‰). A Kruskal-Wallis test indicates differences (p < 0.05) between the δ13C values of species considered, suggesting a distinctive dietary behavior for each taxon, consisting of a particular ratio of C3/C4 plants. The δ18O average of small-sized antelopes, gomphothere, mammoths, and deer are similar (≈ 25‰), suggesting a comparable relatively high water dependency for these mammals and/or preference for humid habitats. The higher δ18O values are those of the medium-sized antelopes, camelids, bison, and horses (≈ 28‰) that may be related to a lower water dependency. The record of δ13C and δ18O suggests a scenario of open areas covered by grasses and variable coverage of shrubs and trees of different sizes; furthermore, it seems that unsteady humid conditions occurred at the area, which in turn, would be related to seasonal rainfall patterns. This study provides evidence of the environmental conditions in Central Mexico during the second part of the Pleistocene.

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Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Vol. 34. p. 136.

Rediscovery of Laophis crotaloides – the world’s largest viper?

Georgios Georgalis

The Neogene vertebrate fossil record of Greece is famous for its rich mammal assemblages, which were documented as early as the 19th century. In contrast, the equally diverse but comparatively understudied coeval reptile faunas have only recently gained research attention, both as an important source of information on palaeobiogeographical radiations, and as a potential centre for the early cladogenesis of Europe’s modern herpetofauna. Snake remains have been particularly enigmatic because, despite their ubiquity, they are almost always poorly preserved. Nonetheless, these isolated specimens, consisting almost entirely of vertebrae, reveal a range of taxa including typhlopids, boids, pythonids, colubrids sensu lato, elapids and viperids. To date, only two species have been formally named: the endemic pythonid Python euboicus and the gigantic viperid Laophis crotaloides. Both of these taxa were described in the 19th century and their holotypes are now lost, yet L. crotaloides arguably remains one of the most mysterious snake fossils from Europe. Derived from the early Pliocene (MN 15) of Megalo Emvolon in Northern Greece, L. crotaloides was thought to be a gigantic viper in its initial description. The holotype comprised 13 vertebrae, which although figured only as a schematic diagram, have proven sufficient to identify more recently recovered material, including a large precloacal vertebra (centrum length 16.3 mm) from the type locality. Size estimates based on the new specimen suggest a body length possibly exceeding 3 m, and a mass range of up to 26 kg that would place it amongst the largest venomous snakes ever to have lived. The presence of a gigantic viperid within the late Neogene ecosystems of mainland Greece concurs with the distribution of other largebodied Mio-Pliocene snakes, including the elapid Naja sp. and an indeterminate species of Vipera. Conversely, their palaeoenvironmental coincidence with cool, dry climates is puzzling and prompts speculation about the ecological and/or physiological factors that must have favoured large ectothermic predators in such an atypical setting.

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Victor Adrian Perez Crespo

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Phylogenetic Implications of the Bird-Like Podotheca of Concavenator Corcovatus (Theropoda, Carcharodontosauridae)

Francisco Ortega

The evidence on the morphology of the soft-tissues belonging to the autopod of nonavian dinosaur is restricted to some examples of exceptional preservation of integumentary structures and some well-preserved tracks. The holotype of Concavenator corcovatus (MCCM-LH 6666) is a complete and well-preserved carcharodontosaurid individual from Las Hoyas (Lower Cretaceous, Cuenca, Spain). The exquisite preservation of Concavenator is typical from this fossil site, and is related to burial by development of microbial mats. In this context, the Concavenator specimen shows replicas of soft-tissues associated with several areas of the skeleton, such as around the pedal digit, the metatarsal area and the vertebral series. The autopodial soft-tissues of Concavenator have been analyzed in order to reconstruct the morphology of a complete foot of a non-avian theropod. The analysis has been carried out based on descriptions under visible and UV light. A previous taphonomic analysis has been taken i...

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