News Article | February 5, 2017
Scientists were surprised when routine restoration works for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's famous diorama, the "Lion Attaquant un Dromadaire," revealed a secret that's been kept — for the past 150 years — on display. Though the piece is already known to have taxidermy elements in the camel and lions, the human element in the diorama has since been believed to be a mere mannequin and nothing more. However, a CT scan revealed that the mannequin had a more human component to it in the form of a complete human skull. The Carnegie Museum's popular display features a man atop a camel defending itself against what is believed to be a Barbary lion, now extinct in the wild, while a female lion lay on the ground. The piece was made by the Verreaux brothers, specifically Edouard Verreaux, in 1867. It was then displayed at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867, then at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. There it stayed until Andrew Carnegie purchased the piece for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1899 for $50 where, until today, it has remained silent about its secret. In all its years of existence, no record of the skull was ever made. This was problematic for scientists debating proper action over the skull. They find that it is unlikely for them to repatriate the skull to its country of origin given the little information that they currently have. DNA testing is also seen as unlikely to give conclusive results, but the method is being used to see whether the lions on display are, indeed, Barbary lions. The piece in question was first believed to be created by Jules Verreaux, but it was later known that it was his younger brother Edouard who indeed made the creation. Though skilled in their craft, the Verreaux brothers were notorious for keeping vague and inaccurate archives, and have been alleged questionable manners of acquiring specimens. They have even been rumored to falsify information to increase the sale value of their pieces. In this particular piece, scientists believe that the skull may have been stolen from catacombs in Paris. Some of the brothers' works include Prints of Oceania, or geographical and historical description of all the islands of the Pacific Ocean and the continent of New Holland (1832) and Catalog of birds found in the house of E. Verreaux (1868). To mark the 150th year the "Lion Attaquant un Dromadaire" has been on display, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to organize the celebration of the relocation and the new, more accurate name of the piece with a symposium. From being called "Arab Courier Attacked By Lions," the piece will now be called "Lion Attacking A Dromedary." The new name addresses the previous question on accuracy of the human element of the piece: his garments did not accurately represent an Arab of the time. The diorama is now on display at the Carnegie Museum in a more prominent place on the first floor, near the grand staircase. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | October 21, 2016
The Australian dinosaur might descend from titanosaurs who trekked from South America through Antarctica, say paleontologists. Is there a lesson in problems at the Oroville Dam? (+video) Researchers discover 60 new planets: Could you help find the next? Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum founder David Elliott was herding sheep when he came across a pile of bones in Western Queensland, Australia, in 2005. The discovery turned out to be huge – literally. At first, Mr. Elliott thought that the bones might belong to a theropod like T. rex, but he was wrong. Instead, the bones belong to two enormous species of Titanosaur, massive long-necked creatures with a penchant for salad – perhaps actually much less frightening than a number of Australia's better-known creatures today, from scorpions, to saltwater crocodiles, to box jellyfish. Once excavation began, paleontologists discovered bones from two distinct dinosaur species in the same rock formation. One, Diamantinasaurus matildae, featured skull fragments, a first for sauropods in Australia. The other, which Elliott and his wife Judy nicknamed Wade, belongs to a new species called Savannasaurus elliottorum. In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers say that Wade can help scientists understand how dinosaurs made it to Australia in the first place. “A new dinosaur like Wade, or Savannasaurus, will allow us to work out how these dinosaurs evolved through time, how they responded to climatic changes, and also how they responded to changes in the positions of the continents as well,” study lead author Stephen Poropat said in a video interview, according to the Los Angeles Times. Titanosaurs have been discovered around the world, but experts say Wade is most similar to titanosaur species discovered in South America. During the early part of the dinosaur era, present-day South America and Australia were both part of a supercontinent called Pangaea, but by the time Wade made Australia his home, about 95 million years ago, the modern continents had separated. So how did Wade come to live Down Under? After comparing Wade to South American titanosaurs, and considering what they knew about the position of the continents at the time, paleontologists determined that titanosaurs may have crossed to Australia via Antarctica, a route made more accessible by prehistoric global warming. (Antarctica hadn't yet reached the South Pole, but it was already at high latitudes.) "One of the most exciting things about this discovery – and others that have come from Australia in recent years – is we’ve really only scratched the surface as to what’s there," Carnegie Museum of Natural History curator Matthew Lamanna told the Verge. "There are entire lost worlds of dinosaurs waiting to be found in Australia." In some ways, S. elliottorum was the cow of the dinosaur world. Wade had wider hips and a bigger belly than most titanosaurs, which helped him digest fibrous plants and trees. “If you’re going to be digesting tough plant matter,” Dr. Poropat told the Washington Post, “the bigger the better.” Digestion matters for creatures as large as Wade, whose impressive length rivals that of a tractor trailer. Weighing in at 40,000 pounds and measuring approximately 50 feet, S. elliottorum would have been a sight to behold. Although Wade and his fellow titanosaurs are continuing to provide clues, researchers write, “considerable further work is required before the complex biogeographic history of the Australian Cretaceous terrestrial vertebrate fauna can be unraveled.”
News Article | April 26, 2016
Two individuals of the new titanosaurian dinosaur species Sarmientosaurus musacchioi in their approximately 95 million-year-old habitat in southern Chubut Province, central Patagonia, Argentina, with a digital rendering of the skull in the same position as the head of the foreground individual, are seen in an undated artist's rendering courtesy of Mark A. Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and WitmerLab, Ohio University. REUTERS/Mark A. Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and WitmerLab, Ohio University/Handout via Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A beautifully preserved fossil skull unearthed in Argentina is giving scientists unparalleled insight into the sensory capabilities and behavior of a group of dinosaurs that were the largest land animals in Earth's history. Scientists announced on Tuesday the discovery of the skull as well as neck bones of a newly identified dinosaur called Sarmientosaurus that roamed Patagonia 95 million years ago. CT scans of the skull revealed its brain structure and provided close understanding of its hearing, sight and feeding behavior. Sarmientosaurus, about 40-50 feet long (12-15 meters) and 8-12 tons, belonged to a group called titanosaurs, plant-eating dinosaurs known for long necks, long tails and huge bodies. Sarmientosaurus was a medium-sized titanosaur. The largest species exceeded 100 feet (30 meters) and 50 tons. Of the 60 known titanosaur species, only four, including Sarmientosaurus, have been found with complete skulls. "The head is key to understanding an animal's biology. It's home to the brain, sense organs, jaws and teeth - food-gathering mechanisms - and more," said paleontologist Matt Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. Titanosaurs were part of a larger group of similar dinosaurs called sauropods. "As for its brain, Sarmientosaurus, bless its heart, was not the sharpest tooth in the jaw," Ohio University anatomist Lawrence Witmer said. "Sauropod dinosaurs in general are famous for having the smallest brain size relative to body size, and Sarmientosaurus was no exception. Its brain was about the size of a lime yet its body weighed as much as two or three elephants." Its skull provided the best information on brain structure for any sauropod, Witmer said. Its hearing organ, the cochlear duct, was long, indicating good hearing of low-frequency sounds transmitted over long distances, perhaps to keep track of other members of the herd when they were out of sight, Witmer said. Its eye sockets and eyeballs were relatively large, suggesting vision was particularly important for Sarmientosaurus, Witmer added. Its inner ear orientation on the skull indicates Sarmientosaurus had a nose-down head posture and that it fed mostly on ground plants rather than cropping leaves from tall trees, Witmer said. "It makes sense to envision Sarmientosaurus standing with its feet planted and moving that long neck around like the wand of a vacuum cleaner while the head vacuums up all the low-growing plants in the area," Witmer said. The research was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
News Article | February 2, 2016
Buried beneath the perpetual ice of Antarctica are the remnants of a once lush and temperate environment. Millions of years ago, the continent’s life resembled that of fellow southern continents, such as Australia. And traversing about this now-barren frozen landscape were dinosaurs. An international team of researchers, with support from the National Science Foundation, is headed to Antarctica for a month-long expedition, with hopes of unearthing the secrets of the prehistoric lifeforms that once called the continent home. The research team—which is being led by paleontologists from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Univ. of Texas at Austin, Ohio Univ., and the American Museum of Natural History—is headed to James Ross Island and other islands near the Antarctic Peninsula. According to the Australian Government, the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula is well-known for its fossil specimens, including ankylosaurs, mosasaurs, and plesiosaurs. The nearby Seymour Island also holds paleontological significance, as it boasts a plethora of fossil sites. Looking at the period straddling the border between the Cretaceous and the Paleogene, the research team hopes to uncover more information regarding the transition between the Age of Dinosaurs and the Age of Mammals. Already. Researchers believe Antarctica played an important role in avian evolution. Back in 2005, researchers reexamined fossils found in Antarctica in 1992, and were able to classify it as a new bird species Vegavis iaai, which lived during the Cretaceous period. According to the researchers, Vegavis is most closely related to modern ducks and geese. “It’s impossible not to be excited to reach remote sites via helicopter and icebreaker to look for dinosaurs and other life forms from over 66 million years ago,” said Julia Clarke, a paleontologist with the Univ. of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences. “The Earth has undergone remarkable changes, but through all of them, life and climate and geological processes have been linked. A single new discovery from this time period in the high southern latitude can change what we know in transformative ways.” Clarke led the research team that reexamined Vegavis in 2005. The research team includes geologists, who will be examining the rocks with fossils to decipher what the climate in Antarctica was once like. You can follow the team’s journey here.
Livezey B.C.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2010
Modern shorebirds (Neornithes: Charadriiformes) are among the most diverse, phylogenetically challenging, and evolutionarily critical of avian orders. Despite several morphological analyses and diverse molecular studies of the order, a consensus regarding relationships within the order, as well as clarity of membership of Turnix, has heretofore remained elusive. This paper describes a cladistic analysis of 1024 phenotypic characters (427 multistate, 209 of which were ordered), which represents an outgrowth of a prior higher-order study. The analysis was performed at species level for all families, exclusive of the highly derived, monophyletic, and intensively studied Alcidae and Lari (the analysis included three out-groups and an in-group, comprising 242 taxa). Characters analysed (excluding 83 poorly known, primarily myological characters) comprised 446 of the skeleton, 558 of the definitive integument, and 20 of natal patterns. Eighty parsimony-uniformative autapomorphies - neutral with respect to summary statistics - were included for descriptive and diagnostic purposes. The analysis found a large set of shortest trees: the majority-rule consensus of these was fully resolved, and most included nodes were unanimously conserved in the solution set. Support was significant for a majority of nodes, both by bootstrap percentages and (for higher-order nodes) support (decay) indices. All families were inferred to be monophyletic in this analysis, although the stability of relationships below intergeneric groups was generally found to be low. Some findings challenge previous morphological results, as well as many groupings variably inferred from molecular data. Close relationships were confirmed between: (1) the Jacanidae and Rostratulidae; (2) the Dromadidae and Haematopodidae; (3) the Ibidorhynchidae and Recurvirostridae; (4) among the Chionididae, Alcidae, Stercorariidae, Rynchopidae, and Laridae; and (5) between the Charadriidae and a clade comprising the Thinocoridae, Phalaropodidae, and Scolopacidae. Pedionomus was inferred to be the sister group of other Charadriiformes, with the Turnicidae arguably considered the sister group of the Charadriiformes or its basalmost member. The Jacanidae and Rostratulidae were strongly supported as sister groups, in agreement with most modern studies. Two points of controversy inferred herein were: Pluvianellus as the sister group of the clade comprising the Alcidae and Lari, and a closer relationship between Thinocoridae and Scolopacidae than between the former and Pedionomus. The topological neighborhood of weakest support involved the position of the Lari-Alcidae (especially relative to the Burhinidae) and the inclusion of Pluvianellus. A lesser point of contention was the rejection of the Glareolinae as closely related to the Laridae and allies, with the Laridae marginally favoured in some molecular studies. The Charadriidae were inferred to comprise four primary subgroups: lapwings (Hoploxypterus and Vanellus), dotterels (nine restricted genera), greater plovers (Pluvialis), and lesser plovers (Anarhynchus and Charadrius). The Scolopacidae comprised four subfamilies, the most speciose of which were the Calidridinae (sandpipers and stints), Tringinae (shanks, curlews, and godwits), and Scolopacinae (snipe and woodcocks). Lesser scolopacid clades included the 'surfpipers' (Arenaria and Aphriza) and the 'meadowpipers' (Philomachus and Tryngites). Biogeographic and evolutionary implications of the phylogeny are discussed, including the potential of fossils for stratocalibrations, and a revised classification of the order is proposed. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London.
Orstan A.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Check List | Year: 2010
The European land snail Cepaea nemoralis (Linnaeus, 1758) was introduced in North America in 1857 in Burlington, New Jersey, U.S.A. There is only one anedoctal record of C. nemoralis from Montreal, Canada, but without a date or an exact location. In this note, recent records of C. nemoralis are presented for Montreal, based on surveys from 7 to 9 August 2009 along a southwest to northeast transect parallel to the Montreal-Dorion-Rigaud commuter railroad. © 2010 Check List and Authors.
Morton C.M.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden | Year: 2011
The nuclear gene xanthine dehydrogenase (Xdh) was sequenced for 247 genera representing all major lineages of angiosperms and "gymnosperms," and the results were analyzed using likelihood and parsimony methods. The overall topology is mostly congruent with previously published trees based on chloroplast rbcL, atpB, and matK sequences. A total of 190 of the 253 nodes (71%) of the Xdh tree received bootstrap support greater than 50%. The likelihood tree was comparable in robustness to the matK topology, which exhibited 79% of the nodes with bootstrap support greater than 50%, and to the reported 7%-24% support observed for individual analyses of rbcL, atpB, and 18S ribosomal DNA clades. The number of parsimony-informative sites (1068, 69%) was similar to that of the matK (1083, 62%) study. The likelihood tree depicts angiosperms as monophyletic, with Ceratophyllum L. (Ceratophyllaceae) as sister to the rest of the flowering plants, followed successively by Amborellaceae, Nymphaeaceae, and Austrobaileyales clades as sisters to the remaining angiosperms. Acorus L. plus the remaining monocots, magnoliids, and Chloranthaceae diverge after the Austrobaileyales. Eudicots are supported and include a basal grade of Ranunculales-Proteaceae, Sabiaceae, Trochodendraceae, Buxaceae, Gunneraceae, and Dilleniaceae-Santalaceae, which are subsequent sister to the remaining eudicots. The remaining eudicots are split into two clades. The first clade consists of the Ericales, Cornales, and euasterids I and II (lamids-campanulids). The second clade consists of the following orders: Saxifragales, Myrtales-Caryophyllales-Cucurbitales, Crossosomatales, Geraniales, Rosales-Fabales-Fagales, Celastrales, Malpighiales, Brassicales-Malvales, Oxalidales, and Sapindales. Xdh data provided good support in the Caryophyllales, Ericales and Cornales, euasterids I (lamids), Magnoliales and Laurales, Malvales, Rutaceae, Oxalidales, Brassicales, and Sapindales. A future combined analysis of Xdh and other DNA data sets will have a strong potential to enhance resolution and internal support for angiosperm phylogenetics and provide insights into angiosperm evolution using biparental information.
Wible J.R.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Annals of Carnegie Museum | Year: 2012
The ear region of the aardvark, Orycteropus afer (Pallas, 1766), including the auditory ossicles, is described and illustrated in detail based on five museum specimens (one from the United States National Museum and the remainder from Carnegie Museum of Natural History). Comparisons are made with the few published ear regions of extinct orycteropids, the late Miocene Amphiorycteropus abundalufus (Lehmann et al., 2005) from Chad, and Amphiorycteropus gaudryi (Major, 1888) from Greece, as well as with the enigmatic Plesiorycteropus Filhol, 1895, from the Quaternary of Madagascar. Orycteropus afer is considered to be the single living aardvark species, but as many as 18 poorly-defined subspecies are recognized across its sub-Saharan Africa range. The small sample studied here exhibits surprising morphological diversity for many features of the ear region, and some, but not all, differences fall along subspecific lines. The more striking differences concern the squamosal and alisphenoid epitympanic sinuses, the alisphenoid tympanic process, the post- and entoglenoid processes of the squamosal, and the anterior crus of the ectotympanic. The significance of these preliminary findings awaits future morphological and molecular studies on this unusual mammal.
Morton C.M.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History |
Telmer C.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden | Year: 2014
Thirty-four species representing all subfamilies and tribes of the Rutaceae Juss. were included in phylogenetic analyses that utilize six molecular data sets from five chloroplast markers, three from the noncoding region (the rps16 gene intron, the trnL-trnF intergenic spacer, and the atpB-rbcL spacer) and two from coding genic regions (rbcL, atpB), with the sixth marker from the Xdh nuclear gene. Based on the large number of nucleotide characters from the chloroplast and nuclear regions as well as the high levels of resolution and support from both parsimony and Bayesian analyses, the results are sufficiently robust to justify reclassification of the Rutaceae, with four subfamilies recognized in contrast to the traditional seven. This subfamily classification includes major rearrangements: (1) taxa within the subfamily Aurantioideae Horan. remain the same; (2) subfamily Cneoroideae Webb encompass the subfamilies Spathelioideae Engl. and Dictyolomatoideae Engl., Harrisonia R. Br. ex A. Juss. of the Simaroubaceae DC., Cneorum L. of the Cneoraceae Vest, and Ptaeroxylon Eckl. & Zeyh. of the Ptaeroxylaceae J.-F. Leroy; (3) subfamily Rutoideae Arn. include Ruta L. and Chloroxylon DC. of subfamily Flindersioideae Luerss.; and (4) subfamily Amyridoideae Link unite Flindersia R. Br. of subfamily Flindersioideae with subfamily Toddalioideae K. Koch and taxa previously included in subfamily Rutoideae.
Henrici A.C.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History |
Martens T.,Abteilung Palaontologie |
Berman D.S.,Carnegie Museum of Natural History |
Sumida S.S.,California State University, San Bernardino
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology | Year: 2011
Tambaroter carrolli is a new genus and species of medium-sized ostodolepid 'microsaur' from the Lower Permian Tambach Formation, lowermost formational unit of the Upper Rotliegend, Thuringia, central Germany. Based on a single skull, it is the first 'microsaur' to be described from this formation and the first vertebrate fossil known from the Tambach Formation outside of the well-known, nearby Bromacker locality. It possesses typical ostodolepid features, including presence of a recumbent snout, ventral embayment of the cheek, a notch in the posterolateral margin of the tabular, and a well-developed retroarticular process. It can be distinguished from other ostodolepids by proportional characters and bones forming the cheek embayment rim. The presence of Tambaroter in Europe, as the first ostodolepid known from outside of the midcontinent of North America, indicates that the geographic occurrence of this family was more widespread than previously known. © 2011 by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.