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!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The 1st of May: Things I Learned This Semester #1

I honestly can't believe how long it's been since I've been on the Interwebs. Spring is a busy season, at work, school, and home. And I've certainly been keeping occupied with things. Yes, I've tried I make my presence known through Twitter, but I figure now is a good a time as any to make my triumphant return to blogging. So on this, the first of May, I'm going to introduce something new, and ease myself back into things with a post series on "things I learned this semester". Each post will be pretty quick, and I hope to do one a day for the entirety of the month, but at least it's content. And maybe all of you will pick up a little something along the way; I know I have!

A photograph of the skull and mandible of Yutyrannus huali (ELDM V1001).  From Xu et al., 2012.
To get things started, I thought I'd write about the coolest thing I learned this semester (maybe even this decade): tyrannosauroids can be big and fluffy! I know right? I can't say I didn't see it coming, but to finally have the evidence is quite fantastic! Dr. Holtz teased his "Fossil Record" class with the news immediately prior to the publication of the paper (no embargoes were broken, you have my word) and I can only describe my feelings upon hearing the official announcement as pure elation. Honestly, I almost teared up a little. I was taken back to my childhood; to a time when everything seemed new and amazing. And it felt great.
Life restoration of Yutyrannus huali, using ELDM V1001 as a reference.  By Pilsator, from Wikipedia.
Yutyrannus huali was a basal tyrannosauriud that lived alongside a bunch of other fluffy critters in Liaoning Province, China during the Early Cretaceous. Known from more than one specimen, and two ontogenetic stages, this critter reached sizes of at around 9 meters, and weighed in at about 2.5 tons.  To give some reference of scale, that's about the size of an Allosaurus; nothing to shake a stick at for sure. And did I mention is was covered extensively in long, filamentous feathers?  Yeah.  Definitely the coolest thing I learned this semester.

And with that, I'm back!  Yes, you can find out loads more about this critter all over the blogosphere; the coverage at the time of publication was extensive.  But it's a start.  I'll be back tomorrow with another "thing I learned this semester". Until then, happy May!


Xu, X., Wang, K, Zhang, K., Ma, Q., Xing, L., Sullivan, C., Hu, D., Cheng, S., & Wang, S. 2012. A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature10906

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