Official Q&A thread of DPG's Paleontology Center

I don’t see that much similarity (probably only the crest)

I just saw this

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It’s neat, but the story of Leonardo has been around for a while. And yes - it’s cool to think about scientists getting fragments of DNA from the mummy - but reason tends to win out over daydreaming. I’m saying that because there’s two good reasons: First, any DNA fragments recovered would more than likely be unusable after being fossilized for 65 million years or more, and Second, there are five films that show exactly why cloning any extinct animal is a very bad idea.

It works in the realm of sci-fi, but not in the realm of actual science. (A lot of articles like this tend to focus more on the sensational aspect of the discovery than they should, blowing it way out of proportion, making the gullible public believe that it’s possible to clone dinosaurs. Tabloid newspapers online and their irl doppelgangers don’t normally bother with fact-checking anything they publish.)

When anything fossilizes, the bones and soft tissues decay and are replaced by minerals - sort of like pouring plaster into a mold. The same would go for any traces of DNA left behind - at the end of the day, it’s all a chunk of rock.)

Not too likely that they could clone another Leonardo, but it’s entirely possible that they found fragments of fossilized and unusable DNA.

For a good example, look at it like this - say you’ve just found some frozen steak that’s been lost in the hinterlands of your freezer for a year or two. It’s a brick. An ice-encrusted, freezer-burned brick. Now no one in their right mind would eat anything that old, but say you’re just so hungry that you decide to cook it in a way that will somehow reconstitute the steak’s now non-existent flavor and molecular integrity. Yum, right?


The reason it won’t turn out the way you think it will is because being in the deep recesses of
your freezer for that long has caused structural and molecular damage from freezing and thawing out after such a long time. It hasn’t been in “cryostasis”. It’s already breaking down. This is because decay and cellular breakdown are not halted completely by freezing, they’re just slowed down to a nearly imperceptible crawl.

You’re basically trying to bring the meat back to a somewhat edible state, but the damage has already been done, and you can’t reverse it. The same holds true of fossilized DNA fragments.
It’s an imprint. A ghost. Nothing more.

You can’t reverse fossilization, especially something that’s 77 million years old. That thing is made of rock now. Nothing truly organic could survive for that length of time.


Leonardo the Brachylophosaur (a type of crested hadrosaur, related distantly to Parasaurolophus) is technically not a mummy - although he does resemble one. He was fossilized in a very rare way - and very quickly - before scavengers could scatter the remains (Nature “offed” him, then hid the body and threw away the murder weapon).

It’s kinda like the Nanotyrannus “Jane” specimen, which wasn’t “mummified”, but was quickly buried intact by sediments when a river flooded. This kept any scavengers from picking apart the body, and left behind a nearly complete skeleton (minus one rib and one tail vertebra). Leonardo must have had something similar happen to him, for him to have been fossilized with impressions of internal organs, his last meal, and skin/muscles.

Quick question, did juvenile Sinoceratops really ate meat for their bone growth?

I find it highly unlikely to have done that in real life. I think that since the in-game dinos are clones, but imperfect ones, they made that up for the purposes of having a back story for a ceratopsian that isn’t very well known.

Sooo… Is that a no?

Yeah. I don’t see the real Sinoceratops being any different from others in its family. Maybe the clones in JW acted differently due to the fact that they weren’t 100% genuine.

New book for anyone who wants to learn more about what it’s like to be an academic paleontologist, written by Steve Brusatte - one of the relatively new faces in the field today (and one of the scientists who reconstructed Spinosaurus Aegyptiacus along with Sereno and Ibrahim).

It’s $29 at your local bookstore - and worth every penny.


You having trouble telling your Sauropods apart? Can’t say for sure if you have a Diplodocid or Macronarian or even a Titanosaur? The next feature I’m currently working on should help with easing the difficulty in knowing who goes where (and when) on the HUGE sauropod family tree. Stay tuned!


Someone in this video mentioned that Euparkeria isn’t the closest ancestor to the dinosaurs, is this true?

It’s currently thought that Euparkeria was more closely related to the pseudosuchia than before. It’s no longer considered a basal dinosauromorph. If so, that would make it the smallest pseudo-croc ever. It was at the point of its evolution where it was almost a proto-dino, but it fell short of the mark.

Honestly, it’s hard to really tell something like that from just looking at the bones, since most Triassic fossils look like they are crumbling and about to disintegrate. Comparatively, bones from Jurassic or Cretaceous species are easier to look at and judge where an animal fits in the dinosaur family tree. The Triassic (more specifically the late Triassic) was merely a test bed for dinosaurs that had begun to emerge. They didn’t become dominant until the Jurassic period.

Triassic strata is also some of the most difficult to find - you basically have to know where to go. A lot of Triassic remains have been dug out of the North American Southwest, but they’ve been down there for a lot longer than other fossils - worn down by time and insane geologic pressure.

Thanks for the data

No problem. I’ve seen different reconstructions of this little creature over the years. It’s gone from a bipedal, bird-like posture to a more sprawling, skittery lizard-style stance over the decades. It was a pseudo-croc, in my opinion. Of course, it never quite got to the point of achieving full dinosauromorph status, so it never was related to the dinosaurs that took over later on.

Saltoposuchus is another of those really odd little pseudo-crocs that never quite made it to the finish line of the “Iron Lizard” Triathlon during the middle to late Triassic. So Euparkeria wasn’t alone in not getting its “Super-Official Dinosaur” Merit Badge.

We know this now, because of new technologies and discoveries since the early days. Back when I was a kid, both Euparkeria and Saltoposuchus were thought to be these little primitive Dinosaurs, skittering through the forest undergrowth - kind of like how we envision compys. But it just wasn’t true, no matter what I read in those old books. It’s outdated. Paleontology is about change, especially changing one’s way of thinking about certain extinct species.

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The Triassic was like an arms race, where lifeforms were constantly pushing new boundaries, trying new adaptations to win out over the others. Now, as the latest Triassic came around, lots of these smaller pseudo-crocs started adopting a more bipedal stance, with shorter forelimbs and longer tail and hind limbs - COMPETITION. But by the late Triassic, true dinosaurs were beginning to emerge - Coelophysis and Plateosaurus, for example - and the pseudosuchians just hit a speed bump. The reason for their failure wasn’t because they got a late start. It was because they had remained obligate carnivores with slow metabolic rates, whereas the little basal dinosauromorphs like Panphagia came out on top due to their being omnivorous with a high metabolism - very useful traits to have in the harsh climate of Triassic Pangaea. If you could eat anything, you could survive much longer.

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Alright where are the Pyroirritator and Utahsinoraptors today i demand to see pryoittitator today so i can get him

Uh, I think you’re in the wrong thread buddy

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I think someone’s trying to troll… And failing hard. Or he’s obviously in the wrong thread.

We get that a lot. You’d think that people would have gotten the idea by now that you’re supposed to actually do this really cool thing that only humans can do. It’s called reading.

You begin at the beginning, and work your way through to the end. Simple.

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Gonna do another one of those “FYI” thingys again… Here goes:

This is a discussion thread for questions pertaining to the actual science of Dinosaur Paleontology, and not for questions pertaining to the game itself or fictional hybrids in-game. (Unless the hybrid question is about Jack Horner’s “Chickensaurus” project. Yes, it’s real, and yes - it might work.)

There are countless other threads on the forums where fiction is discussed, as are game tactics. Please remember that before asking things here.

We don’t get angry, but we do tend to ignore those sort of things.


Oh, and no trolling. Just thought I’d make that clear.