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Friday, December 15, 2017

Turtle or Late Dinosaur?

Niolamia is an extinct genus of South American meiolaniid turtle.[1] Arthur Smith Woodward sunk it into Meiolania, but this was not accepted by later authors.[2] The genus is known from the Sarmiento Formation in Argentina.[3]
Few members of the turtle lineage have horns in the supraorbital region, and few display spikes in the osteoderm.

It seems the only reason this creature was put in the "testudine" lineage is because its fenestrae are closed, it has an osteoderm, and it lived after the KPg event. Since only the osteoderm and skull have been preserved, there is little other evidence to place it in Pantestudine.

Ankylosaurus had horns and a spiked osteoderm. By 66 mya, most of its fenestrae had closed. The one remaining pair of fenestrae was growing smaller, as if "closing."

In order to put this "turtle-like" creature in Meiolania, you must construct a ghost lineage that lived for nearly 100 million years while leaving no fossils. An ankylosaur ancestor only requires a 20 million year gap.

Oh but wait, it's not a member of  Meiolania.  Apparently there is no consensus as to what it was, but they call it  Meiolania anyway.

Here is the skull:

It looks nothing like that of any turtle, but looks very much like that of an ankylosaur:

This is not proof, just a questioning. Questions are important for science.

Does anyone have anything to link it to Pantestudines besides the lack of fenestrae in the skull and the presence of an osteoderm? 


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How Humans Stopped Eating Each Other...Mostly

Cannibalism and Kuru[edit]
Cannibalism among the Fore of the New Guinea highlands was stopped in the 1950s and by the 1990s, most of the people who’d taken part in the cannibal feasts had developed kuru and died. Yet inexplicably, there were some who were still perfectly healthy. Alpers and his colleagues were able to show these survivors had a particular gene profile – one that protected them from Kuru. Then they compared the Fore’s genes with everyone else on the planet and found that this protection wasn't unusual-many people from Europe, Asia, and Africa, had the same protective genes. The conclusion was that at some stage in our prehistory, maybe 500,000 years ago, our forebears were routinely eating their dead.[7] Alpers and his work are the main theme of Kuru: The Science and the Sorcery (2010).[8] He is interviewed in The Genius And The Boys (2009).[9]

A detailed study here;
But it was a cannibal planet long after 500,000 years ago, right up into the neolithic. Frazer's Golden Bough points to numerous universal cultural traditions that survive as relics of human sacrifice, headhunting and cannibalism at harvest time, lending strong evidence that the first agriculturalists practiced both. 
In my 25 years of research into man's prehistoric past, I have found numerous citations of cannibalism and human sacrifice in every continent and nearly every culture with the exception of Africa and Australia, where evidence is more tentative. These practices, along with headhunting, continued through the neolithic  in nearly every Eurasian culture. Its abandonment usually coincides with the introduction of Buddhism or a monotheistic religion (Especially Zoroastrianism and the related Abrahamic religions, such as Christianity and Islam). The proto-indo-european religions from which Hinduism and the Greek and Roman gods are said to have originated may have also played a part in the process of eliminating specifically cannibalism.So far I've not found evidence of a ban on headhunting or sacrifice in the earliest related cultures or texts. 

The Fore, the tribe which inspired these studies,  obtained the disease upon adopting cannibalism. They had little resistance in their genome before the epidemic and survivors were primarily those with the resistant gene.

The Fore are dominated by Y Hap C, which is thought to have been predominant in Australia during the late pleistocene. Unlike most peoples, Australian aborigines have little if any history of cannibalism.  In most PNG tribes besides the Fore and a few others, Y hap C is rare and prion disease restance is ubiquitous. Elsewhere, resistance reaches it's highest level in Japan and parts of India.

Though sub-saharan Africans such as the Hadza and San have not been tested for prion disease immunity, they are among the few peoples colonial explorers never accused of cannibalism. No evidence of cannibalism has been documented among them or their possible ancestors. However, multiple reports hint the pygmy tribes may sometimes be victims of cannibals from neigboring Bantu tribes even today. Australian and African hunter-gatherers also exhibit less Neanderthal introgression than the vast majority of other populations, including the Bantu.

Neanderthal cannibalism is well documented and seems to have continued in the homo sapiens who assimilated them.

It seems that unless you are an Australian aborigine or sub-saharan African, you likely descend from cannibalistic neanderthal hybrids. I definitely do, so please don't take me wrong. I've got close to 4% Neanderthal introgression myself. My ancestral Y haplogroup (Hap R) is a sister group to the two Haplogroups who ate and mated with the paleolithic Papua New Guineans(Haps S and M). My haplogroups other sister group is the one that ate and mated with the former paleoamericans(Hap Q). My ancestor and his sisters (Haplogroups inside  F) ate and mated with 70% of the planet. The men of Y Haplogroup DE ate and mated with 29% that we didn't get to.

The San and Hadza's ancestors may be the only people who escaped the spread of Neanderthal genes by cannibalistic hybrids. And it seems they had to assimilate genes to do so, bearing evidence of two Archaic African Hominids in their immunity systems. It's likely they went where invading northerners couldn't go; Malaria infested jungles and sun drenched deserts.

My ancestor was brought out of a cannibalistic, human sacrificing, headhunting, barbaric state by the spread of  a monotheistic religion. Unless you're an African hunter-gatherer or Australian aborigine, you probably have a cannibal ancestor too.


Monday, December 4, 2017

No Bipedal Ancestor For Dinosaurs

"Silesauridae is an extinct clade of dinosauriformes, a group of Triassic reptiles which included early ancestors and relatives of the dinosaurs."
A large phylogenetic analysis of early dinosaurs and dinosauromorphs carried out by Matthew Baron, David Norman and Paul Barrett (2017) and published in the journal Nature recovered Silesauridae as a monophyletic sister group to Dinosauria.

None of them are bipedal. One Silesaurid MIGHT be partially bipedal.
 Silesauridae evolved from Dinosauriformes just like dinosaurs. Few unclassed Dinosauriformes are known, but the earliest is Asilisaurus. Asilisaurus was also quadrupedal.

And yet scientist think the ancestors of ornithischians and saurischians, the two main groups of dinosaurs, were fully bipedal. Though early saurischians are fully bipedal, the earliest ornithischians were not. No reason or explanation for the assumption is given in available literature.

Pisanosaurus has been considered the earliest known ornithischian. A 2008 study placed Pisanosaurus outside of (and more basal than) Heterodontosauridae. In this study, Pisanosaurus is the earliest and most primitive ornithischian.[4]
On the other hand, a phylogenetic analysis conducted by Agnolin (2015) recovered Pisanosaurus as a possible non-dinosaurian member of Dinosauriformes related to the silesaurids.[14] In 2017, it was again suggested that Pisanosaurus was a silesaurid.[15][16]

Pisanosaurus was only partly bipedal.

Other primitive ornithischians include Eocursor, Trimucrodon, and possibly Fabrosaurus.

Of the three, only Eocursor is known to have been partly bipedal. No one thinks it was ancestral to any quadrupedal ornithischians.
Hedetodontosaurus is among the first ornithischians in the Jurassic, and was primarily bipedal. It was also highly specialized, even exhibiting heterodont teeth in response to niche adaptation. No one thinks it was an ancestor of later ornithichians.

Lesothosaurus and Strombergia  are just as old as Hedetodontosaurus. Some scientist think the two were the same species, but one belongs to Thyreophora and the other to Neornithischia. These are the two main clades of Ornithischian. They were both bipedal, but also highly specialized.  Neither are candidates for the ancestor of later Ornithischians.

 Emausaurus, Scelidosaurus, Scutellosaurus are also Ornithischians as old or nearly as old at hederodontosaurs. Among them, only Scutellosaurus is thought to have been partly or primarily bipedal.

 Scelidosaurus  is considered basal to both stegosaurs and ankylosaurs and is firmly quadrupedal.

After  Scelidosaurus , the great majority of ornithischians are quadrupedal. Late Cretaceous bipedal ornithischians are thought to have evolved from quadrupedal ancestors.

So quadrupedal Silesauridae, basal to all dinosaurs, was quadrupedal. It evolved into partly bipedal Pisanosaurus (or a sister taxon) which evolved into quadrupedal  Scelidosaurus (or sister taxon) which evolved into quadrupedal ankylosaurs and stegosaurs.

So why would anyone think stegosaurs evolved from a fully bipedal ancestor? There is not a single fully bipedal candidate for ancestor of the two main clades of dinosaur, ornithischian and Saurischia. There is not a single fully bipedal ornithischian in lineage  between stegosaurs and Silesauridae. But for no reason whatsover, it's considered settled science that ornithischians and saurischians evolved from a bipedal ancestor.

For shame, for shame.


Monday, November 20, 2017

My Author Spotlight from Radiant Crown Publishing!

First, tell us a little about yourself. When did you want to become an author? What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?
Being told I should be a writer and wanting to be an author are both among my earliest memories, so it’s foggy which came first. I used to create stories for my toys and make up skits with my siblings, and I’d tell ghost stories to scare my cousins. I remember being told I should be a writer when adults looked at my drawings as well, so I’m glad I took their feedback the right way! Later on in school, I made up stories with my spelling words instead of just writing sentences for each one, and we had to read those assignments aloud in class. The kids got a kick out of it and the teachers encouraged me, so maybe those early nudges set me on the path.
What inspires you to do what you do? Who are you?
I dropped out of college as an English major going into his senior year because I’d found a new love—music. Also because I could barely afford to take the bus to class. I worked as a freelance music journalist and musician for years while also holding a job as a cabinet designer or installer, and gave up the construction and journalism about the time the housing bubble burst. People always need music and bars, even during a depression, so music kind of saved me financially. These days I tell ghost stories or play music for a living, depending on the night, and this gives me my daytime hours to write.
But the real reason I began writing fiction again is because I finally have the information I need to tell the story that’s been bugging me since I first learned about Neanderthals and Megafauna as a child. I was first made aware of these prehistoric creatures by the same person who’d read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to me, my dad. One night, while we watched Ripley’s Believe it or Not or something like it, my dad said “With all these different cultures describing ogres and trolls and goblins living in the woods, there had to be something to it. It was probably Neanderthal Man… or something like him.”
At the time, however, civilization was only supposed to be 5000 years old, whereas Neanderthal Man was thought to have died out 35 thousand years ago, so no one would have taken such speculation seriously. But the more I learned about ancient hominids and megafauna, the more I realized they’d eventually be found at much younger dates. So I sort of had to wait until the science caught up with my dad’s theory in order to write these novels.
In the 20th century, man tried to use science as a tool to disprove the myth. In only the first few decades of the 21st century, science has proven many aspects of myth a reality whether man likes it or not. I believe science will continue to do so in the years to come. It’s about time—like Joseph Campbell said, modern man is in dire need of myth and legend. I’m compelled to share the great news with my fellow fantasy fans that the creatures they’ve dreamed about since youth were real after all… and that magic does exist, despite what the 20th century tried to tell us.
I feel driven in this endeavor because the scientists aren’t doing a great job of explaining the implications of their recent findings to the public yet. A few of them have called our prehistoric world a “Stone-age Middle Earth” or a “Fantasy World” in news articles, but no one has really connected the dots for the public or brought the findings into the limelight. No one has really brought it home to the fantasy fans like it should be, and I believe the best way to do this is through fiction. So my stories are the result of over 20 years of research into our mythological and prehistoric past, and I’ve worked hard to make sure every creature, technology, and culture depicted therein actually existed on the same continent during a particular period in our prehistory.
“The Unnamed Bears Favor” is set sometime between 8000 B.C.and 10,000 B.C. in a Pengtoushan village on the Yangtze River, where giant megafauna and archaic hominids still roamed the forest just miles away from walled settlements with primitive moats. The people inside these settlements practiced types of spiritual technology now lost to us, and in fiction, we can call this “magic.”


Friday, November 17, 2017

Establishing Aetosaurs, Ornithischians, and Tritylodontidae as Sister Species

Today we will use the wikipedia entry on Tritylodontidae, a sister clade to mammals,  to prove these Therapsids were also a sister clade to ornithischian dinosaurs.

Tritylodontidae ("three knob teeth", named after the shape of animal's teeth) is an extinct family of small to medium-sized, highly specialized and extremely mammal-like cynodonts, bearing several mammalian hallmarks like erect limbs, and endothermy. 


Tianyulong from China appears to preserve filamentous integument which has been interpreted to be a variant of the proto-feathers found in some theropods. These filaments include a crest along its tail. The presence of this filamentous integument has been used to suggest that both ornithischians and saurischians were endothermic

The ornithischian pelvis is "opisthopubic", meaning that the pubis points down and back (posterior) parallel with the ischium (Figure 1a).[2] Additionally, the pelvis has a forward-pointing process to support the abdomen.[2] This results in a four-pronged pelvic structure. In contrast to this, the saurischian pelvis is "propubic", meaning the pubis points toward the head (anterior), as in ancestral reptiles (Figure 1b).[2] Ornithischians, wikipedia

The archosaurs are characterized by numerous synapomorphies that lend strong support to the hypothesis that they form a monophyletic group (clade) exclusive of other Reptilia. First of all, the "stem archosaurs" (properly termed Archosauromorpha), including Champsosauridae and Euparkeria, have a calcaneal tuber. This is a bony process projecting posteriorly from the ankle joint that serves as an attachment point for some of the lower leg flexor muscles. If you feel your heel, the bone that forms it is your calcaneal tuber. This is an example of convergent evolution; synapsids and archosaurs evolved these features independently..........This restricts the posture to a more erect orientation, so the gait can be called parasagittal

They were the last known family of the non-mammalian synapsids. Tritylodontidae probably descended from a Cynognathus-like cynodont. Most tritylodontids are thought to have been herbivorous, feeding on vegetation, such as stemsleaves, and roots. A recent study indicate some may have had more omnivorous diets.[1] Tritylodontid fossils are found in the AmericasSouth Africa, and Eurasia - they appear to have had an almost global distribution, including Antarctica.

Ornithischia (/ɔːrnɪˈθɪskiə/ or-ni-THISS-kee-ə) is an extinct clade of mainly herbivorous dinosaurs . Ornithischia, Wikipedia

"The tritylodont's skull has a high sagittal crest. They retained the reptilian joint between the quadrate bone of the skull and the articular bone of the lower jaw[2] - the retention of the vestigial reptilian jawbones is one of the reasons they are technically regarded to not be mammals, but are instead mammaliaformes.[3] "

The left and right upper temporal fenestrae were separated by the sagittal crest, which would have provided lateral attachment surfaces for the jaw musculature in the living animal.[10]Heterodontosaurus, wikipedia

Amphibians, reptiles, and birds[edit]

The jaw in tetrapods is substantially simplified compared to fish. Most of the upper jaw bones (premaxillamaxillajugalquadratojugal, and quadrate) have been fused to the braincase, while the lower jaw bones (dentarysplenialangularsurangular, and articular) have been fused together into a unit called the mandible. The jaw articulates via a hinge joint between the quadrate and articular. The jaws of tetrapods exhibit varying degrees of mobility between jaw bones. Some species have jaw bones completely fused, while others may have joints allowing for mobility of the dentary, quadrate, or maxilla. The snake skull shows the greatest degree of cranial kinesis, which allows the snake to swallow large prey items.


In mammals the jaws are made up of the mandible (lower jaw) and the maxilla (upper jaw). In the ape there is a reinforcement to the lower jaw bone called the simian shelf. In the evolution of the mammalian jaw, two of the bones of the jaw structure (the articular bone of the lower jaw, and quadrate) were reduced in size and incorporated into the ear, while many others have been fused together.[3] As a result, mammals show little or no cranial kinesis, and the mandible is attached to the temporal bone by the temporomandibular jointsTemporomandibular joint dysfunction is a common disorder of these joints, characterized by pain, clicking and limitation of mandibular movement.[4]  Jaw, wikipedia

Ornithischians were also distinguished by an extra bone at the tip of the lower jaw called the predentary. Ornithischian teeth were leaf-shaped, and the jaw joint was located well below the occlusal plane (where the teeth met during chewing).

I posit the theory that the mammalian jaw bone is an indication of specialization and not necessarily evidence of a shared ancestor. It is largely absent from the fossil record until the late Cretaceous, when grass appears for the first time and many plant species begin to go extinct.

"The back of the skull had huge zygomatic arches for the attachment of its large jaw muscles. 

The zygomatic arch or cheek bone is formed by the zygomatic process of temporal bone (a bone extending forward from the side of the skull, over the opening of the ear) and the temporal process of the zygomatic bone (the side of the cheekbone), the two being united by an oblique suture (zygomaticotemporal suture);[1] the tendon of the temporalis passes medial to the arch to gain insertion into the coronoid process of the mandible. The jugal point is the point at the anterior end of the upper border of the zygomatic arch where the masseteric and maxillary edges meet at an angle. The jugal point is the anterior end of upper border of the zygomatic arch where it meets the process of the zygomatic bone.zygomatic arch, wikipedia

So, What If Ornithischians Did Have “Cheeks”?

Except in a couple of very primitive genera the cheek teeth of ornithischians are inset with a lateral space that was roofed by the overhanging maxilla and floored by the massive dentary.

In hadrosaurs and ceratopsians at least where there was a coincidence of cheeks, dental batteries, and the evidence of tremendous jaw musculature, food was being processed in the mouth to a far greater extent than is found in living ectotherms such as snakes, lizards, crocodilians, and turtles.

The jugal bone also formed a "blade" that created a slot together with a flange on the pterygoid bone, for guiding the motion of the lower jaw. Ventrally, the antorbital fossa was bounded by a prominent bony ridge, to which the animal's fleshy cheek would have been attached
 Heterodontosaurus, wikipedia


They also had a very well-developed secondary palate. 

Ankylosaurs and hadrosaurs both bear well-developed secondary palates, suggesting that these animals had the benefit of being able to breathe and chew

The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs(Cambridge University Press)

 The tritylodont dentition was very different from that of other cynodonts: they did not have canines, and the front pair of incisors were enlarged and were very similar to rodents of today.[2] 

"An unusual feature of the skull was the different-shaped teeth (heterodonty) for which the genus is named, which is otherwise mainly known from mammals. Most dinosaurs (and indeed most reptiles) have a single type of tooth in their jaws, but Heterodontosaurus had three. The beaked tip of the snout was toothless, whereas the hind part of the premaxilla in the upper jaw had three teeth on each side. The first two upper teeth were small and cone-shaped (comparable to incisors), while the third on each side was much enlarged, forming prominent, canine-like tusks. These first teeth were probably partially encased by the upper beak. The first two teeth in the lower jaw also formed canines, but were much bigger than the upper equivalents" Heterodontosaurus, wikipedia 

My hypothesis - the beak was actually a gum covering and is also seen in basal mammals of many groups. The cavity in the jaw evolved sometime after 235 million years ago, which is my proposed divergence point of Tritylodontidae and Ornithischians. It may have occurred in the transitional phase between Tritylodontidae and Ornithischians, also known as Aetosaurs. See previous two blog entries for more on this.

Tritylodontids had a large gap, called a diastema, that separated the incisors from their square-shaped cheek teeth. The cheek teeth in the upper jaw had three rows of cusps running along its length, with grooves in between. The lower teeth had two rows of cusps which fitted into the grooves in the upper teeth. The matching of the cusps allowed the teeth to occlude more precisely than in earlier cynodonts. It would grind its food between the teeth in somewhat the same way as a modern rodent, though unlike rodents tritylodontids had a palinal jaw stroke (front-to-back), instead of a propalinal one (back-to-front).[2] The teeth were well suited for shredding plants matter; however, there is evidence that some tritylodontids had more omnivorous diets, much in the same vein as modern mammals with "herbivore dentitions" like modern rats.[1]


Ankylosaurus was herbivorous and had approximately 72 small, leaf-shaped teeth. The teeth were thin and made up of a series of cusps that looked like large serrations and a swollen base or cingulum.

Like other ankylosaurs, Ankylosaurus had small, phylliform (leaf-shapedteeth, which were compressed sideways.

Ankylosaurus, wikipedia

Like Mammaliformes, tritylodontids have epipubic bones, a possible synapomorphy between both clades,[4] and this suggests they may also have laid eggs, or produced undeveloped fetus-like young like modern monotremes and marsupials.

Ornithischians did not have epipubic bones, just like placental mammals. Evidence exists that Late Jurassic and Cretaceous Ornithischians gave live birth to large offspring. See the last two blog posts for more on this.

Tritylodonts were active animals that were probably warm blooded and probably burrowed, though in Kayentatherium these supposed burrowing adaptations may be indicative of semi-aquatic habits.[5] For example, Oligokyphus could be compared to a weasel or mink, with a long, slim body and tail.

Elsewhere in Ankylosaurus, how about that weird giant skull? 

Ankylosaurus shares a lot in common with Laramidian ankylosaurins like EuoplocephalusAnodontosaurus, and Zuul, but when it comes to the nose Ankylosaurus is doing something very different and weird. Instead of having forward-facing nostrils, the nostrils are pulled backwards and roofed over by cranial ornamentation so that you can’t even see them when you look at the skull face-on. Why has Ankylosaurus done such a weird thing to its face? We can’t say for sure, but when we look at other animals with somewhat similar faces, the closest comparison we could come up with were the unusual subterranean amphisbaenians and scolecophidians. Some of these lizards have narial openings that look a lot like those of Ankylosaurus, broadly speaking. Ankylosaurus wasn’t a fossorial, burrowing dinosaur – but maybe it was foraging around in the earth, eating tubers, roots, and insects, instead of relying more on ferns and leaves for its diet. It’s speculative for now, but I think there’s still a lot to investigate around ankylosaur diets!

If you'll check out the wikipedia page on Aetosaurs, you'll find they also share the majority of these traits. They could even be said to be a transitional stage between the direct ancestor of Tritylodontidae and Ornithischians. The morphology and anatomy of Aetosaurs and Ankylosaurs is extremely similar, and both possess a well-formed osteoderm, or shell. The last Aetosaurs and first undisputed Ornithischians have coinciding dates, converging at the Triassic/Jurassic boundary 200 million years ago. 

The earliest undisputed Ornithischians belong to 

Thyreophora(Stegosaurs and Ankylosaurs).

 The teeth of Late Aetosaurs and early Ankylosaurs are nearly identicle:

During the Triassic, large tunnels akin to "Paleoburrows" are associated with Aetosaur activity. There is little evidence of such large, long burrows during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. However, good evidence exists that Ankylosaurus burrowed. During the Paleogene, paleoburrows are attributed to large members of Xenarthra, namely Glyptodonts and giant sloths.

It's remamrkable that these three animals connected by so many traits, skull shape, morphology, and lifestyle are also the only members of their Superfamily who burrowed. Aetosaur was unique among archsaurs in having a full -shell-like osteodern exoskeleton nearly identicle to Ankylosaurus, burrowing, and being a herbivore (among other traits). During the Jurassic, the same can be said of  Ornithischians (or more specifically, 

Thyreophora) in contrast to other dinosaurs. During the Paleogene, the same can be said of Xenarthra in regard to the other placentals.

If Ankylosaurs were indeed burrowing animals, it may not only explain these strange underground tunnels found in S. America but also those in Eurasia and Antarctica. The South American variety are usually attributed to giant sloths or giant armadillos. However, researchers have often noticed similarities in the claw marks between S. American paleoburrows and European claw marks supposedly made by cave bears.. Certain recently discovered tunnels in China of unknown date may also be a clue.

The Chinese tunnels have obviously seen the hand of man. But did the workers already find most of their work cut out for them? Or "clawed out," so to speak?The claw or tool marks on the walls bear a striking resemblance to paleo-burrows in S. America.

Tetrapod and Large Burrows of Uncertain Origin in Triassic High Paleolatitude Floodplain Deposits, Antarctica

This Massive Tunnel in South America Was Dug by Ancient Mega-Sloths

Get Lost in Mega-Tunnels Dug by South American Megafauna

Having spread over the globe before Gondwanaland broke up, Ankylosaurus had been present on all three continents by the time the tunnels were made. And in our last two blog posts, we learned of a striking possibility that descendants of Ankylosaurus lived into the Eocene.

For more exciting possibilities from Dr. Eugene Anklesloths ongoing research, click the link below!