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LiveScience: Newfound dino looks like creepy love child of a turkey and ostrich

A new giant bird-like dinosaur discovered in China has been named for SMU paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, Corythoraptor jacobsi, by the scientists who identified the new oviraptorid.

Live Science Senior Writer Laura Geggel covered the discovery of a new Cretaceous Period dinosaur from China that is named for paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, an SMU professor in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.

Jacobs mentored three of the authors on the article. First author on the paper was Junchang Lü, an SMU Ph.D. alum, with co-authors Yuong–Nam Lee and Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, both SMU Ph.D. alums.

The Live Science article, Newfound dino looks like creepy love child of a turkey and ostrich, published July 27, 2017. The dinosaur’s name, Corythoraptor jacobsi, translates to Jacobs’ helmeted thief.

The scientific article “High diversity of the Ganzhou Oviraptorid Fauna increased by a new “cassowary-like” crested species” was published July 27, 2017 in Nature’s online open access mega-journal of primary research Scientific Reports.

Jacobs in 2016 co-authored an analysis of the Cretaceous Period dinosaur Pawpawsaurus based on the first CT scans ever taken of the dinosaur’s skull.

He is president of SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man.

A world-renowned vertebrate paleontologist, Jacobs in 2012 was honored by the 7,200-member Science Teachers Association of Texas with their prestigious Skoog Cup for his significant contributions to advance quality science education. He joined SMU’s faculty in 1983.

Jacobs is the author of “Quest for the African Dinosaurs: Ancient Roots of the Modern World” (Villard Books and Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2000); “Lone Star Dinosaurs” (Texas A&M U. Press, 1999), which is the basis of a Texas dinosaur exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History; “Cretaceous Airport” (ISEM, 1993); and more than 100 scientific papers and edited volumes.

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By Laura Geggel
Live Science

The newly identified oviraptorid dinosaur Corythoraptor jacobsi has a cassowary-like head crest, known as a casque.

A Chinese farmer has discovered the remains of a dinosaur that could have passed for the ostrich-like cassowary in its day, sporting the flightless bird’s head crest and long thunder thighs, indicating it could run quickly, just like its modern-day lookalike, a new study finds.

The newfound dinosaur’s 6-inch-tall (15 centimeters) head crest is uncannily similar to the cassowary’s headpiece, known as a casque, the researchers said. In fact, the crests have such similar shapes, the cassowary’s may provide clues about how the dinosaur used its crest more than 66 million years ago, they said.

The findings suggest that the dinosaur, which would have towered at 5.5 feet (1.6 meters), may have had a similar lifestyle to the modern cassowary bird (Casuarius unappendiculatus), which is native to Australia and New Guinea, the study’s lead researcher, Junchang Lü, a professor at the Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, told Live Science in an email.

Researchers found the oviraptorid — a type of giant, bird-like dinosaur — in Ganzhou, a city in southern China, in 2013. The specimen was in remarkable shape: The paleontologists found an almost complete skeleton, including the skull and lower jaw, which helped them estimate that the creature was likely a young adult, or at least 8 years of age, when it died.

The long-necked and crested dinosaur lived from about 100 million to 66 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period, and likely used its clawed hands to hunt lizards and other small dinosaurs, Lü added.

The research team named the unique beast Corythoraptor jacobsi. Its genus name refers to the raptor’s cassowary-like crest, and the species name honors Louis Jacobs, a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University who mentored three of the study’s researchers.

The researchers think the crest likely served the dinosaur in different ways, they said, including in display, communication and perhaps even as an indication of the dinosaur’s fitness during the mating season.

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