Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wow, are you dense!

Will it fly? Bird bones are hollow but heavy, says biologist

Which weighs more -- the skeleton of a two-ounce songbird or that of a two-ounce rodent?

For centuries biologists have known that bird bones are hollow, and even elementary school children know that bird skeletons are lightweight to offset the high energy cost of flying.

Nevertheless, the songbird skeleton would, in fact, tip the scale at about the same weight as that of the rodent.

Bird biologists have known this for a long time, but it took a modern bat researcher, Elizabeth Dumont of the Department of Biology, to explain how bird skeletons can look so delicate and still be heavy. The answer is that bird bones are denser than mammal bones, which makes them heavy even though they are thin and sometimes even hollow.

Her findings, supported by bone density measurements, are published in the March 17 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B. As Dumont explains, “The fact that bird bones are denser than bones in mammals not only makes them heavier for their size, but it may also make them stiffer and stronger. This is a new way to think about how bird skeletons are specialized for flying and solves the riddle of why bird skeletons appear so lightweight and are still relatively heavy. This has never been explained fully and so has never gotten into the textbooks. I’d like to see that change.”

Dumont measured the density of the cranium, the upper arm bone or humerus and the thigh or femur bones in song birds, rodents and bats by measuring bone mass and volume. “I found that, on average, these bones are densest in birds, followed closely by bats. Many other studies have shown that as bone density increases, so do bone stiffness and strength. Maximizing stiffness and strength relative to weight are optimization strategies that are used in the design of strong and stiff but lightweight man-made airframes,” she points out. Density is a measure of mass per unit of volume; dense bones are both heavier and stronger, much as a titanium toothpick would be stronger than a wooden one.

Over time bird bones have evolved specializations that maximize stiffness and strength, Dumont says. These specializations include high bone density, a reduction in the total number of bones, fusion of some bones, and changes in bone shape. For example, a long history of studies have shown that the main bone in the bird wing, the humerus, is quite round in cross-section. This makes it stiffer in the same way that a round toothpick is harder to snap than a flat one.

Galileo described bird bones as lightweight in 1683, Dumont says. Her new data help to dispel the common misconception that bird skeletons are lightweight relative to body mass. Instead, bird and bat skeletons only appear to be slender and delicate—because they are dense, they are also heavy. Being dense, strong and stiff is one more way that birds’ and bats’ bones are specialized for flight.

Source: University of Massachusetts Amherst

Photos: upper right=Chicken skeleton; lower left=Northern Parula skull

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fossilized Croc Dung is Evidecne of Predation on Dinosaurs

CSU Researchers Produce New Evidence Related to Giant Croc

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Ancient bite marks and fossilized feces discovered in Georgia are providing new details about a giant crocodile that roamed the Southeast United States about 79 million years ago.

The giant reptile, called Deinosuchus, reached at least 29 feet long in Georgia and preferred living in a shallow water environment and could take down dinosaurs its own size, as new findings show.

“We’re sure (Deinosuchus) ate a lot of sea turtles, but it’s evident it sometimes preyed on dinosaurs too,” said Columbus State paleontologist, Professor David Schwimmer who recently completed two studies on the giant croc with one of his students, Samantha Harrell.

Schwimmer and Harrell gave a combined presentation on the bite marks and the fossilized dung, called coprolites, at the March 13-16 Geological Society of America Northeastern-Southeastern annual meeting in Baltimore. Additionally, the coprolite study is being published as “Coprolites of Deinosuchus and other Crocodylians from the Upper Cretaceous of Western Georgia, USA” in a special symposium volume of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin, a publication of international interest.

The studies detail how bite marks on dinosaur bones discovered in various locations around the country, and large fossilized dung droppings discovered near Columbus, Ga., have been linked to the Deinosuchus.

The dung fossils are the first such documented samples from the Deinosuchus and help confirm the giant, ancient croc preferred living in the marine shallows. Meanwhile, the separate bite mark findings reveal aspect of the creature’s eating habits.

“In some cases we’re talking about a 29-foot Deinosuchus taking down a 29-foot dinosaur,” Schwimmer said.

A likely victim, Appalachiosaurus montgomeriensis — a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex — was discovered near Montgomery, Ala., and named in 2005 by Schwimmer and a pair of colleagues.

Schwimmer is regarded an expert on both the Deinosuchus and the Late Cretaceous paleontology of the southeastern United States. The status was affirmed with his 2002 book, King of the Crocodylians: The Paleobiology of Deinosuchus.

In spring 2009 Schwimmer asked Harrell to take command of a project as an independent study course to gather and analyze fossilized feces he had started to recover from a fossil hot spot along the banks of the Hannahatchee Creek in Stewart County, a major tributary of the Chattahoochee River, south of where the Piedmont meets the Coastal Plain.

Harrell, a senior geology major from Girdler, Ky., worked with 20 samples of fossil crocodylian dung. She attributed six of the large spindle shaped masses, 8-13 centimeters long, to Deinosuchus.

Harrell explained coprolites are studied in order to convey information about the lifestyles of the dead and buried. She discovered sand and lots of shell fragments, signifying the crocs lived in a shallow, brackish, warm-water environment — likely near the mouth of a river where it opened to a sea with sandy shoreline and an abundance of sea turtles for its diet.


The unusual nature of Harrell’s project drew the attention of Georgia Public Broadcasting, which highlighted Harrell’s research as part of its Dinosaur Week series last September. The series also featured Schwimmer in a pair of separate stories.

Harrell plans to pursue graduate study in paleontology. Schwimmer said Harrell is already off to a fast start in her field. “It’s a rare and outstanding accomplishment for an undergraduate to be the lead author of a study in an international journal.”

Harrell also will present her coprolite research as part of the March 27 Georgia Academy of Sciences annual meeting hosted by Columbus State University.

Photo above: American Crocodile

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Raptor Discovered

George Washington University Doctoral Candidate and University College London Grad Student Discover New Species of Raptor Dinosaur

Near Complete Skeleton Will Help Further Describe Pre-Historic Relatives

WASHINGTON – A new species of raptor dinosaur being named "Linheraptor exquisitus" has been discovered by George Washington University doctoral candidate Jonah Choiniere and Michael D. Pittman, a graduate student at University College London (UCL). The exceptionally well-preserved, nearly complete skeleton is a relative of the well-known species "Velociraptor," and will help scientists further describe the physical appearance of other closely-related dinosaurs within the Dromaeosauridae family. The research, led by Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, will be published in the March 19, 2010, issue of "Zootaxa."

“I only saw the tip of the claw sticking out of a cliff face, and it was a total surprise that the whole skeleton was buried deeper in the rock,” said Mr. Choiniere. “This fossil is going to tell us a lot about the evolution of the skeleton in the group that includes 'Velociraptor'.”

At approximately eight feet long and 50 pounds, the researchers believe "Linheraptor" would have been a fast, agile predator that preyed on small horned dinosaurs related to "Triceratops." Like other dromaeosaurids, it possessed a large, highly curved claw on the foot, which may have been used to capture prey. Within the Dromaeosauridae family, "Linheraptor" is most closely related to another recently discovered species "Tsaagan mangas." The head and neck of the "Tsaagan" skeleton was discovered in Mongolia in 1993 by James Clark, the Ronald B. Weintraub Professor of Biology at The George Washington University's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. "Tsaagan’s" skull indicates that it is more primitive than "Velociraptor," and the skeleton of the new species should help reconstruct the series of evolutionary changes within the Dromaeosauridae.

“This is a really beautiful fossil and it documents a transitional stage in dromaeosaurid evolution,” said Dr. Xu.

"Linheraptor" was found by the researchers in approximately 75 million year-old red sandstone rocks during a 2008 field expedition in Inner Mongolia, China. It is the fifth dromaeosaurid discovered in these rocks, which are famous for their preservation of uncrushed, complete skeletons. These red sandstones are best known from the Flaming Cliffs field site in outer Mongolia, the location where "Velociraptor" was discovered and dinosaur eggs and nests were first found.

“The original 'Tsaagan' find was very intriguing, and this discovery should really help us flesh out what these animals looked like,” said Dr. Clark.

Dromaeosauridae is a family of bird-like theropod dinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous Period. In addition to "Linheraptor" and "Velociraptor," theropod dinosaurs include charismatic meat-eaters like "Tyrannosaurus rex" and modern birds.

This research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Chinese National Science Foundation, the Jurassic Foundation, the Geological Society of London and The George Washington University.

Mr. Choiniere is a doctoral student of Dr. Clark’s and first accompanied Dr. Clark on his excavations in China in 2005. Though this discovery is Mr. Choiniere’s first significant fossil find, he was the lead author of the recent "Science" article, “A Basal Alvarezsauroid Theropod from the Early Late Jurassic of Xinjiang, China.” Mr. Pittman is a doctoral student of Dr. Paul Upchurch and Dr. John R. Hutchinson and has worked with Chinese scientists since 2006.

The article, “A new dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Upper Cretaceous Wulansuhai Formation of Inner Mongolia, China,” appears in the March 19, 2010, issue of "Zootaxa." "Zootaxa" is an international journal for animal taxonomists.

Photo above: Velociraptor model

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Climate Change cause of decline in prehistoric Musk Ox

Musk Ox population decline due to climate, not to humans, study finds

University Park, Pa. — A team of scientists has discovered that the drastic decline in Arctic musk ox populations that began roughly 12,000 years ago was due to a warming climate rather than to human hunting.

"This is the first study to use ancient musk ox DNA collected from across the animal's former geographic range to test for human impacts on musk ox populations," said Beth Shapiro, the Shaffer Career Development assistant professor of biology at Penn State and one of the team's leaders. "We found that, although human and musk ox populations overlapped in many regions across the globe, humans probably were not responsible for the decline and eventual extinction of musk oxen across much of their former range."

The team's findings will be published in the early on-line edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week ending Friday, March 12.

Musk oxen once were plentiful across the entire Northern Hemisphere, but they now exist almost solely in Greenland and number only about 80,000 to 125,000. According to the researchers, musk oxen are not the only animals to suffer during the late Pleistocene Epoch.

"The late Pleistocene was marked by rapid environmental change as well as the beginning of the spread of humans across the Northern Hemisphere," said Shapiro. "During that time several animals became extinct, including mammoths and woolly rhinoceroses, while others, including horses, caribou and bison, survived into the present. The reasons for these drastically different survival patterns have been debated widely, with some scientists claiming that the extinctions were due largely to human hunting. Musk oxen provide a unique opportunity to study this question because they suffered from a decline in their population that coincided with the Pleistocene extinctions, yet they still exist today, which allows us to compare the genetic diversity of today’s individuals with those individuals that lived up to 60,000 years ago."

To conduct their research, the team collected musk ox bones and other remains from animals that lived during different times -- up to 60,000 years ago -- and from animals that lived across the species' former range. From these remains, the scientists isolated and analyzed the mitochondrial DNA, which is useful for studying ancient population dynamics due to its rapid rate of evolutionary change. The scientists also isolated and analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of musk oxen that are alive today. They then used a Bayesian statistical approach to estimate how the amount of genetic diversity of the musk oxen populations changed through time.

"Over the past decade, ancient DNA studies have matured, moving away from simply identifying animals to actually giving us insights into the population size and dynamics of animals, stretching back over the last 100,000 years," said Tom Gilbert, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and another of the team's leaders. "Thanks to significant computational developments made by colleagues of ours, we have the fantastic opportunity to watch what happened to the ancient populations. When did they increase, or decrease, and at what rate?"

Scientists believe that a reduction in genetic diversity of an animal's population can reflect a decrease in the size of the population. By estimating when the genetic diversity of musk oxen began to decline, the team was able to test whether the decline was due to the arrival of humans in a particular region or to some other effect. The scientists found that the genetic diversity of the musk ox was much higher during the Pleistocene than it is today. They also found that the genetic diversity of the species increased and decreased frequently over the past 65,000 years.

"The periods of growth and decline observed in the musk ox populations in this study are considerably different from those that have been reconstructed previously for musk oxen or for other species, such as bison and mammoths," said Shapiro. "While musk oxen experienced a significant population decline nearly 65,000 years ago, mammoths first began to decline only around 48,000 years ago. Bison populations remained stable until around 35,000 years ago -- a period during which musk ox populations actually were growing. As we get a better idea of the overall picture of megafaunal dynamics in the Arctic, it is becoming clear that each species is following its own population trajectory. This is a strong argument that it is changes in habitat that are driving these population dynamics, and not a single factor such as the introduction of human hunters."

"We know from historical data that musk oxen are sensitive to changes in the Arctic environment," Shapiro continued. "While we cannot confirm exactly what climate factors are driving the changes we observe in musk oxen over the last 65,000 years, we can say with confidence that humans are not causing local extinctions. In Greenland, for example, humans and musk oxen arrived and began their expansion at the same time."

According to Gilbert, "We wonder how the current climatic instability will effect the survival of musk oxen in the near future. There's a lot in the news about the plight of polar bears, but musk ox may be similarly at risk."

This research was funded, in part, by Forsknings-og Innovationsstyrelsen and the Marie Curie Actions "GeneTime."

For more information, contact Shapiro at bus11@psu.edu or 814-863-9178, or Barbara Kennedy, Penn State press officer, at science@psu.edu or 814-863-4682. For high-resolution images associated with this story, visit http://www.science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2010-news/Shapiro3-2010 online.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

DNA from Eggs of Extinct Birds

Ancient eggshell yields its DNA

By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News

Researchers have found that eggshells of extinct bird species are a rich source of preserved DNA.

An international team isolated the delicate DNA molecules of species including the massive "elephant birds" of the genus Aepyorni.

The Proceedings of the Royal Society B research demonstrated the approach also on emu, ducks and the extinct moa.

The team says that the technique will enable researchers to learn more about ancient birds and why they died out.

"Researchers have tried unsuccessfully to isolate DNA from a fossil eggshell for years," said Charlotte Oskam at Murdoch University in Western Australia, who authored the research.

"It just turned out that they were using a method designed for bone that was not suitable for a fossil eggshell."

The team has obtained DNA from the shells of a variety of species, most notably the elephant bird Aepyornis, which at half a tonne was heaviest bird to have ever existed.

Aepyornis looked like an outsized ostrich, standing three metres tall; most of them died out 1,000 years ago.

Archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson at the University of Sheffield hopes that an analysis of the bird's DNA will shed more light on why the bird went extinct.

The extinction coincided with humans arriving at Aepyornis's natural habitat in Madagascar.

The mystery, according to Professor Parker Pearson, is that there's no evidence that the bird was hunted by humans.

"There's not even evidence that they ate the eggs - even though each one could make omelettes for 30 people," he told BBC News.

The elephant bird may be at the root of legends about giant birds. Marco Polo claimed erroneously that these giant birds could fly. There are also tales of birds that could pick up elephants in 1001 Arabian Nights.

There are complete skeletons of the elephant bird, but by analysing its DNA researchers hope to build up a more detailed picture of the creature and discover why it went extinct.

above photo: Great Auk egg

Friday, March 5, 2010

Plants Mimic Dead Animals to Attract Pollinators

One of the most fascinating groups of plants are those that mimic the flesh of dead animals to attract insects, like flies, as unconvential pollinators or as a source of "food". I say unconvential because, unlike many insect pollinators which are primarily attracted to flowers based on a nutrient reward and have co-evolved with flower species, many of the insects attracted to these plants typically feed on dead, rotting flesh. These plants exploit some insect's necrophagous tendencies to achieve pollination without necessarily having to invest resources in the production of nutrient rewards for the insects.


(left--Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) from Englewood, Ohio; right--Chocolate Lily (Fritillaria camschatcensis ) from Anchorage, AK)

To learn more about how plants mimic corpses to attract insects as food, check out this great article in National Geographic magazine.
(left & middle--Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea); right--Roundleaf Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia))

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oldest Known Dinosaur Relative Discovered

Utah Paleontologist Part of International Team to Discover Oldest Known Dinosaur Relative

New herbivorous species lived about 243 million years ago and was part of a widespread newly-discovered Triassic group

March 3, 2010 -- Until now, paleontologists have generally believed that the closest relatives of dinosaurs possibly looked a little smaller in size, walked on two legs and were carnivorous. However, a research team including Randall Irmis, curator of paleontology at the Utah Museum of Natural History and assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah has made a recent discovery to dispel this hypothesis.

The team announced the discovery of a proto-dinosaur (dinosaur-like animal) - a new species called Asilisaurus kongwe (a-SEE-lee-SOAR-us KONG-way), derived from asili (Swahili for ancestor or foundation), sauros (Greek for lizard), and kongwe (Swahili for ancient). The first bones of Asilisaurus were discovered in 2007, and it is the first proto-dinosaur recovered from the Triassic Period in Africa. Asilisaurus shares many characteristics with dinosaurs but falls just outside of the dinosaur family tree-living approximately 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinosaurs.

The description of the new species Asilisaurus kongwe appears in the March 4 issue of the journal Nature in a paper co-authored by an international team, including Irmis, Sterling Nesbitt, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences, Christian A. Sidor (Burke Museum and University of Washington), Kenneth D. Angielczyk (The Field Museum, Chicago), Roger M.H. Smith (Iziko South African Museum, South Africa), and Linda A. Tsuji (Museum für Naturkunde and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany).

Fossil bones of at least 14 individuals were recovered from a single bone bed in southern Tanzania making it possible to reconstruct nearly the entire skeleton, except portions of the skull and hand. The individuals stood about 1.5 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 meter) tall at the hips and were 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 meters) long. They weighed about 22 to 66 pounds (10 to 30 kilograms), walked on four legs, and most likely ate plants or a combination of plants and meat.

"The crazy thing about this new dinosaur discovery is that it is so very different from what we all were expecting, especially the fact that it is herbivorous and walked on four legs, said Irmis, who was involved in the researching the discovery over the past three years.

Asilisaurus kongwe is part of a newly recognized group known as silesaurs. "We knew that there were a number of species from the Triassic that were similar to Asilisaurus," said Irmis, "but we were only able to recognize that they formed this group called silesaurs with the new anatomical information from Asilisaurus." Members of the silesaur group were distributed across the globe during the Triassic, when all of the continents were together in a supercontinent called Pangaea.

Silesaurs are the closest relatives of dinosaurs, analogous to the close relationship of humans and chimps. Even though the oldest dinosaurs discovered so far are only 230 million years old, the presence of their closest relatives 10 million to 15 million years earlier implies that silesaurs and the dinosaur lineage had already diverged from a common ancestor by 245 million years ago. Silesaurs continued to live side by side with early dinosaurs throughout much of the Triassic Period (between about 250 million and 200 million years ago). The researchers conclude that other relatives of dinosaurs, such as pterosaurs (flying reptiles) and small forms called lagerpetids, might have also originated much earlier than previously thought.

Silesaurs have triangular teeth and a lower jaw with a beak-like tip, suggesting that they were specialized for an omnivorous and/or herbivorous diet. These same traits evolved independently in at least two dinosaur lineages (ornithischians and sauropodomorphs). In all three cases, the features evolved in animals that were originally meat-eaters. Although difficult to prove, it's possible that this shift conferred an evolutionary advantage. The researchers conclude that the ability to shift diets may have lead to the evolutionary success of these groups.

"The research suggests that at least three times in the evolution of dinosaurs and their closest relatives, meat-eating animals evolved into animals with diets that included plants," said Irmis. "These shifts all occurred in less than 10 million years, a relatively short time by geological standards, so we think that the lineage leading to silesaurs and dinosaurs might have had a greater flexibility in diet, and that this could be a reason for their success."

This new species (Asilisaurus) is found along with a number of primitive crocodilian relatives in the same fossil beds in southern Tanzania. The presence of these animals together at the same time and place suggests that the diversification of the relatives of crocodilians and dinosaurs was rapid, and happened earlier than previously suggested. It sheds light on a group of animals that later came to dominate terrestrial ecosystems throughout the Mesozoic Era (250 million to 65 million years ago).

"This new research suggests that there are more groups of animals yet to be discovered in this early period of dinosaur relatives," said Irmis. "It's very exciting because the more we learn about the Triassic Period, the more we learn about the origin of the dinosaurs and other groups."

Funding for the research was provided by the National Geographic Society, Evolving Earth Foundation, Grainger Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The real egg thief revealed

Fossil snake from India fed on hatchling dinosaurs

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The remains of an extraordinary fossil unearthed in 67-million-year-old sediments from Gujarat, western India provide a rare glimpse at an unusual feeding behavior in ancient snakes.

An international paleontological team led by the University of Michigan's Jeff Wilson and the Geological Survey of India's Dhananjay Mohabey will publish their discovery online March 2 in the open-access journal PLoS Biology.

The remains of a nearly complete snake were found preserved in the nest of a sauropod dinosaur, adults of which are the largest animals known to have walked the earth. The snake was coiled around a recently hatched egg adjacent to a hatchling sauropod. Remains of other snake individuals associated with egg clutches at the same site indicate that the newly described snake made its living feeding on young dinosaurs.

"It was such a thrill to discover such a portentous moment frozen in time," said Mohabey, who made the initial discovery in the early 1980s.

Working with the sediment-covered and inscrutable specimen in 1987, Mohabey recognized dinosaur eggshell and limb bones but was unable to fully interpret the specimen. In 2001, Wilson visited Mohabey at his office at the Geological Survey of India and was astonished when he examined the specimen.

"I saw the characteristic vertebral locking mechanism of snakes alongside dinosaur eggshell and larger bones, and I knew it was an extraordinary specimen—but I also knew we needed to develop it further," Wilson said.

From that point began a decade-long odyssey that led to a formal agreement with the Government of India Ministry of Mines in 2004 that allowed preparation and study of the fossil at the U-M Museum of Paleontology, weeks of museum study in India, and field reconnaissance at the original locality in Gujarat by a team that included Wilson, Mohabey, snake expert Jason Head of the University of Toronto-Mississaugua, and geologist Shanan Peters of the University of Wisconsin. The field research was funded by the National Geographic Society.

Preparation of the fossil at the U-M revealed the snake was coiled around a crushed dinosaur egg next to a freshly hatched sauropod dinosaur.

"We think that the hatchling had just exited its egg, and that activity attracted the snake," said
Mohabey. "The eggs were lain in the loose sands near a small drainage and covered by a thin layer of sediment."

The arrangement of the bones and delicate structures, such as eggshells and the snake's skull, point to quick entombment.

"Sedimentation was unusually rapid and deep for this formation—a pulse of sand, probably mobilized during a storm, resulted in the preservation of this spectacular association," said Peters, who interpreted the paleoenvironment of the site.

The new snake, which was named Sanajeh indicus or "ancient-gaped one from the Indian subcontinent," because of its lizard-like gape, adds critical information that helps resolve the early diversification of snakes. Modern large-mouthed snakes are able to eat large prey because they have mobile skulls and wide gapes. Sanajeh bears only some of the traits of modern large-mouthed snakes and provides insight into how they evolved.

"Sanajeh was capable of ingesting the half meter-long sauropod hatchling because it was quite large itself, almost 3.5 meters long," Head said. "This points to an interesting evolutionary strategy for primitive snakes to eat large prey by increasing their body size."

Although the sauropod dinosaurs that Sanajeh preyed upon include the largest animals capable of walking on land, they began their life as small hatchlings that were about one-seventh the length of Sanajeh. Sauropods appear to have achieved their enormous size by virtue of a fast-growth phase, which would have kept them out of danger from Sanajeh-sized predators by the end of their first year of life.

This discovery of Sanajeh adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the Indian subcontinent retained ties to southern landmasses for longer than once hypothesized. Sanajeh's closest relatives are from Australia and speak to its strong ties to southern continents, collectively known as Gondwana.

A life-sized flesh reconstruction of the scene immediately before burial was designed and executed by University of Chicago paleoartist Tyler Keillor. The team will donate the first cast to the Geological Survey of India at a formal function to be held in Mumbai, India, on March 12, 2010.
Univeristy of Michigan News Service