Welcome to Superoceras, a blog about science and natural history, slightly biased towards paleontology and zoology, but inclusive of all sciences. Started in October of 2009, my goal is to communicate scientific knowledge (and the occasional piece of nonsense) in an informative and entertaining manner. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, concerns, or criticism at superoceras(at)gmail(dot)com, and follow me on Twitter @Superoceras for all that and more in 140 characters or less!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

A (possibly) feathered allosauroid. Yeah, you read that right.

I have absolutely no time to blog today, and it is killing me. Why you ask? Because of a new theropod named Concavenator corcovatus. I'm sure other paleo bloggers are going to be covering this story (just like the story of the new dromaeosaur, Balaur bondoc, last week) but I have to say something. Again, you wonder why? Take a look at this hypothetical reconstruction from the journal Nature by Raúl Martín.

I'm definitely freaking out - look at the forearms! As the paper will tell you, this guy may (or may not) have had quill knobs, like those seen in Velociraptor, and modern turkeys. That also means it may (or may not) have had feathers, or feather-like structures on its forearms (very similar to an allosauroid featured on Superoceras earlier this week). Evidence of integumantary structures in Dinosauria, but outside of Coelurosauria, is few and far between (but not unknown) and we need as much as we can get. Will it turn out that most theropods (or most dinosaurs, or most ornithodirans) were in fact covered with some kind of integumentary structure? It may just be wishful thinking on my part (and I'm trying to remain as objective as possible about this, I swear), but I sure hope it does. I like my archosaurs fuzzy!

A proper review of the Concavenatur paper will definitely be coming soon. So will one of Balaur for that matter. I probably need to have a dedicated theropod week, but I don't want to seem biased when there are so many other cool critters out there as well. But for now, check out the Nature article, and the news release on this potentially fuzzy beast. Also Dr. Darren Naish's post on the discovery over at Tetrapod Zoology, and a portrait of the dinosaur over at Brett Booth's Carnosauria.

Brian Switek has a good post up about Concavenator over at Dinosaur Tracking, and Mickey Mortimer over at The Theropod Database Blog has a two parter as well.

Also, thanks should go out to Dr. Thomas Holtz for keeping everyone on the edge of their seats about this discovery. While I admit that the facebook status updates and subtly dropped hints were making me stir crazy, the big reveal was completely worth it in the end.

David Orr at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurus shakes his way on the the Concavenator scene with this post (and a great set of links to other posts) here (but be warned, you will have that song in your head for the rest of the day).


  1. Concavenator is most certainly an unusual Theropod, its discovery opens up new ideas on other meat-eaters such as Becklespinax and the much larger Acrocanthosaurus. However, I'm surprised that few writers have suggested that this could be a case of convergent evolution.

  2. Mike,

    very true. This changes a lot of what we know about allosauroids/carcharodontosaurids in terms of anatomy, phylogeny, and distribution over space-time. And I haven't heard a lot about convergent evolution either. But that doesn't mean that it's not a possibility.

    Thanks for stopping by!