NatSCA Digital Digest – February

Compiled by Sam Barnett, NatSCA Volunteer and PubSci Committee Member.

What should I read?

If you’ve not been keeping up with your South American sauropod discoveries, this next item might have completely passed you by. A new dinosaur has been named Bajadasaurus pronuspinax and hails from the Bajada formation of Patagonia. It bears a similarity to Dave Hone’s favourite dinosaur Amargasaurus but with far more flamboyant adornments – as illustrated here by Natee Himmapaan. You can read all about Bajadasaurus over at Nature or you can find a very good piece on it by Ed Yong here.

Bajadasaurus pronuspinax. (C) Natee Himmapaan.

In China, Qiang Fu and colleagues have proposed an earlier date for flowering plants; much, much earlier. This has been met with some cynicism from the palaeobotanical community and we’re looking forward to seeing how that plays out.

February appears to be the month for pushing back beautiful external features into deep time, as my next item features a pterosaur with branching “feather-like” filaments. We’ve known for a long time that pterosaurs possessed simple fibres that have been named “pycnofibres” and speculation has been rampant as to whether the simple filaments found on early dinosaurs are homologous to these pycnofibres – suggesting that the entire ornithodira clade might be ancestrally “fuzzy”. Another pterosaur specimen had been described as possessing branching filaments but the idea never really caught on. This one is more compelling but there is more work to be done before we can assume that branching pycnofibres and branching protofeathers share a common origin.

What should I attend?

On Friday 22nd March, NatSCA is running a Care and Conservation of Insect Collections training day at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. It costs £75 NatSCA for Members and £95 for Non-members. Places are first come first served and booking is available through Eventbrite.

At this time of year we are gearing up for the annual NatSCA Conference from the 1st to the 4th of May. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, what are you waiting for? One recent attendee described it as “the reason I’m excited to get back into the collections.”

What Should I Know?

We’ve had a changing of the guard recently! After many years on the blog, followed by over two years in the official role of Blog Editor, Emma Nicholls is leaving us for other pastures. I would like to take a moment to tell Emma it’s been a pleasure blogging with you and I look forward to continuing reading your posts over at the Geological Curators’ Group, as you combine your Blog Editor skills with palaeontology (and other earth sciences!). Our new Blog Editor here at NatSCA is Jen Gallichan, I’m sure you’ll all join me in welcoming her to the position.

Before You Go…

If you have visited an exhibition/museum, have something to say about a current topic, or perhaps you want to tell us what you’ve been working on, please drop the Blog Editor an email at Thanks!

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