Nav: Home

Canuckosaur! First Canadian 'dinosaur' becomes Dimetrodon borealis

November 24, 2015

A "dinosaur" fossil originally discovered on Prince Edward Island has been shown to have steak knife-like teeth, and researchers from U of T Mississauga, Carleton University and the Royal Ontario Museum have changed its name to Dimetrodon borealis--marking the first occurrence of a Dimetrodon fossil in Canada.

"It's really exciting to discover that the detailed anatomy of the teeth has finally allowed us to identify precisely this important Canadian fossil," says lead author Kirstin Brink, who did the research while at UTM. "Dimetrodon is actually more closely related to mammals than it is to dinosaurs." In fact, it's believed they went extinct some 40 million years before the dinosaurs.

The study appears in the November 23 issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences.

The fossil, previously known at Bathygnathus borealis, was collected in 1845 while a farmer was digging out a well on his property near French River, PEI. As there were no natural history museums in Canada at the time the fossil was found, it was sold to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, where Joseph Leidy--a preeminent paleontologist--could study and name it.

Leidy named the fossil Bathygnathus (meaning deep jaw) borealis (from the north) because he mistook it as the lower jaw of a dinosaur, similar to the large bipedal species that were being collected in Europe at the time.

The Bathygnathus specimen was the first "dinosaur", and the second vertebrate fossil named from Canada (Dendrerpeton, an extinct amphibian from Nova Scotia, was named by Sir Richard Owen two months earlier). Several paleontologists have studied the Bathygnathus specimen since it was first named, but its precise identity was unknown. For example, it was unclear whether it had Dimetrodon's signature dorsal sail--created by tissue stretched between spines sticking up from its backbone--or lacked a sail like its smaller cousin Sphenacodon.

Using family trees and imaging techniques to see the internal anatomy of the fossil, researchers found that the eight preserved teeth linked the fossil to the Dimetrodon family--the first terrestrial animal to have "ziphodont" teeth.

"These are blade-like teeth with tiny serrations along the front and back of the teeth, similar to a steak knife," says Professor Robert Reisz, the senior author of the study. "The roots of these teeth are very long, around double the length of the crowns. This type of tooth is very effective for biting and ripping flesh from prey."

Fossils of Dimetrodon have now been found in the USA, Canada and Germany.
-end-
MEDIA CONTACTS:

Kirstin Brink
Life Sciences Institute
University of British Columbia
brinkkir@dentistry.ubc.ca
kirstin.brink@mail.utoronto.ca

Professor Robert Reisz
Department of Biology
University of Toronto Mississauga
905-569-4768
robert.reisz@utoronto.ca

Nicolle Wahl
U of T Mississauga Communications
905-569-4656
nicolle.wahl@utoronto.ca

University of Toronto

Related Dinosaur Articles:

Japan's largest complete dinosaur skeleton discovered
The complete skeleton of an eight-meter-long dinosaur has been unearthed from marine deposits dating back 72 million years at Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, making it the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Japan, according to researchers.
First baby of a gigantic Oviraptor-like dinosaur belongs to a new species
First baby of a gigantic Oviraptor-like dinosaur belongs to a new species.
'Last African dinosaur' discovered in Moroccan mine
One of the last dinosaurs living in Africa before their extinction 66 million years ago has been discovered in a phosphate mine in northern Morocco.
Headless dinosaur reunited with its skull, one century later
Researchers at the University of Alberta have matched the headless skeleton to a Corythosaurus skull from the university's Paleontology Museum that had been collected in 1920 by George Sternberg to the headless dinosaur.
What can we learn from dinosaur proteins?
Researchers recently confirmed it is possible to extract proteins from 80-million-year-old dinosaur bones.
80-million-year-old dinosaur collagen confirmed
Utilizing the most rigorous testing methods to date, researchers from North Carolina State University have isolated additional collagen peptides from an 80-million-year-old Brachylophosaurus.
Our ancestors evolved faster after dinosaur extinction
Our ancestors evolved three times faster in the 10 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs than in the previous 80 million years, according to UCL researchers.
New species of horned dinosaur with a spiked 'shield'
A chance fossil discovery in Montana a decade ago has led to the identification of an audacious new species of horned dinosaur, Spiclypeus shipporum, according to a study published May 18, 2016, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jordan Mallon, from the Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada, and colleagues.
EARTH: Making tracks through the dinosaur diamond
EARTH Magazine travels through time to meet the major players of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous -- from sauropods and theropods to protomammals -- that created the rich tapestry of life in this region millions of years ago.
Canuckosaur! First Canadian 'dinosaur' becomes Dimetrodon borealis
A 'dinosaur' fossil originally discovered on Prince Edward Island has been shown to have steak knife-like teeth, and researchers from U of T Mississauga, Carleton University and the Royal Ontario Museum have changed its name to Dimetrodon borealis -- marking the first occurrence of a Dimetrodon fossil in Canada.

Related Dinosaur Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".