Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ice to Meet You

Several weeks ago, I talked about the Antarctic dinosaur Cryolophosaurus. As Phil and Eva’s Antarctic adventure winds down, I thought it was high time to write a little bit about another Antarctic dinosaur, Glacialisaurus.

This is not Glacialisaurus, but it is still awesome. Ice sculpture competitions like Ice on Whyte are one of the winter benefits of living in the frozen tundra of Edmonton. And this year, there were several teams from China participating!

Glacialisaurus, a basal sauropodomorph (“prosauropod”), is known only from a femur and feet. Thus far it is the only sauropodomorph material known from Antarctica (don’t be fooled by the sauropod genus Antarctosaurus, which is known from South America, not Antarctica). It appears to be closely related to Lufengosaurus from China and Massospondylus from South Africa. Basal sauropodomorphs in the Early Jurassic had a nearly global distribution (and one day I will talk more about the prosauropods of my neck of the woods) although Glacialisaurus is one of the most high-latitude species known.

I don’t have photos of Glacialisaurus but I DO have Lufengosaurus! And so I present you with the derriere of Lufengosaurus as displayed at the IVPP in Beijing.

It sounds like the folks down in Antarctica have been having a very successful field season despite the challenges of working in such a harsh environment. It’s definitely worth checking out the Field Museum Expeditions website for photos and videos, as well as updates from the field.

You can download the Glacialisaurus description for free because Acta Palaeontologica Polonica is awesome like that:
Smith ND, Pol D. 2007. Anatomy of a basal sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Early Jurassic Hanson Formation of Antarctica. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 52:657–674.

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