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Found 6 results

  1. Reassessment of an iconic plesiosaur specimen

    Just received via ResearchGate a new paper (see at the end of this post) from "plesiosaur-ologist" Sven Sachs It's basically an in-depth description and reassessment of the elasmosaurid Styxosaurus snowii holotype specimen. The fossil consists of a beautiful skull, along with several articulated cervical vertebrae. The fossil was collected from the Chalk of western Kansas. The reassessment provides more insight into North American plesiosaur diversity and interrelationships. (+it has amazing pictures of the skull ) Sachs, S., Lindgren, J. & Kear, B. (2018): Reassessment of the Styxosaurus snowii (Williston, 1890) holotype specimen and its implications for elasmosaurid plesiosaurian interrelationships. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology, DOI: 10.1080/03115518.2018.1508613 Abstract: The holotype (KUVP 1301) of Styxosaurus snowii—one of the earliest described elasmosaurid plesiosaurians—consists of a well-preserved cranium, mandible and articulated sequence of anterior–mid-series cervical vertebrae found in the lowermost Campanian strata of the Smoky Hill Chalk Member in the Niobrara Formation of Kansas, USA. This particular specimen has proven important for recent phylogenies of Elasmosauridae, and is integral to resulting definitions of the subfamily-level clade, Styxosaurinae. Despite this, KUVP 1301 has not been redescribed or figured in detail since its original taxonomic establishment. We, therefore, re-evaluated KUVP 1301 and assessed its phylogenetic implications. Several notable character states are pertinent for diagnosing S. snowii at genus and species level: (1) an anisodont functional dentition comprising enlarged premaxillary and dentary teeth with a pair of maxillary ‘fangs’, and elongate posterior-most dentary teeth that overlap the upper tooth row; (2) a prominent dorsomedian crest extending from the tip of the premaxillary rostrum, and expanding into a low ‘mound-like’ boss between the external bony nasal openings and orbits; (3) a pronounced convex projection on the posterolateral edge of the squamosals; and (4) platycoelous post-axial cervical vertebral centra that are substantially longer than high, and bear both lateral longitudinal ridges and ventral notches. Character state comparisons with the congeneric subfamily specifier Styxosaurus browni suggest that taxonomic distinction is possible, but equivocal. We, therefore, restrict our definition of Styxosaurus to morphologies observable in KUVP 1301. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of our first-hand data returns inconsistent elasmosaurid intra-clade relationships, especially with regard to Styxosaurinae. Consequently, we posit that a more targeted reassessment of Elasmosauridae is necessary to resolve both species-level topologies and higher taxonomy within the group. The paper: Sachs et al. 2018_Styxo reassessment.pdf Thought some people might want to hear about this Hope y'all like it! -Christian
  2. I found this Ptychodus marginalis on a sandbar on a river this spring after a large flood. The river cuts through the lower Smoky Hill Chalk of Northwest Kansas. After I picked it up, I asked myself "is this real?" It is!!! 54mm across.
  3. This past weekend, my dad, brother and I were able to go out to Western Kansas to search in the Niobrara Chalk formation. We live in Manhattan, KS, so we had to drive about 4 hours to get to a suitable spot. A lot of Western Kansas is private property, so we had to look up GIS maps for Lane and Gove counties, which is where we wanted to search. Sadly, when we got there, one of the roads seemed to not exist; our map led us through the middle of some farmer's cornfield. It wasn't blocked off, but we decided not to take our chances. We started to look around in the area, and about an hour later, we finally found a spot that was not fenced off on the southern border of Gove County.
  4. I have been finding a lot of inclusions in a batch of coprolites from the Smoky Hill Chalk that assumed were bits of cartilage. One of the newer specimens from that batch had a piece of the material in question on the surface; enabling me to view it from the side. They look like little teeth, so now I don't know what I have. I have one other specimen that has a couple of the little tooth-like structures intact (one that I posted a while back that has possible Ptychodus tooth fragments). Is this skin with denticles, cartilage, a skull part or some sort of tooth plate? As always, any help is greatly appreciated.
  5. Hi all, I was going through some smoky hill chalk coprolites that I recently acquired and found one with some interesting inclusions. At first I was thinking these were skull fragments, but after looking at the Oceans of Kansas site, the only thing that I could find that had a similar texture were Ptychodus sp. teeth and what looks like cartilage. I have never seen cartilage in a coprolite before. I would think it would be easily digested, so perhaps it is just bone. There are also numerous fish bones and scales, so if our poopetrator did dine on Ptychodus, it had a diverse palate. I have not seen anything similar and would love your opinions on this. Thank you in advance!
  6. Techniques with fragile fish

    I just recently got back from a short trip to the Niobrara chalk formation and I need help preparing some partial fish fossils. Many of the bones are covered in chalk and they are extremely fragile. How should I clear matrix stuck to the bone without ripping off the bone itself? The one piece I am especially concerned about is a jaw bone that has chalk in between the individual teeth. I would really appreciate it if you told me how you would tackle this situation. Thanks in advance.
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