A new take on Yehuecauhceratops.

Luis V. Rey Updates Blog

Yehue copy.jpgThe danger of having extremely fragmentary dinosaur remains like the ones found in Mexico is that they are  bound to different interpretations… and if we are not careful we can end up in opposite directions when it is time to reconstruct the animals. Meet my own take to a male and a female Yehuecauhceratops mudei, the  now famous  mid-sized ceratopsian from the Late Cretaceous Coahuila, Mexico.

I have been aided by Angel Ramírez in the reconstruction. As you can see I have also increased and bloated the size of the nostrils according to the latest trends of research… the space is massive so it is justified!

We followed closely the very fragmentary remains of the skull (specially the frill). And this is the final result… It appears to have been recognised by (among others) Peter Dodson as a closer relative to  Nasutoceratops than to Chasmosaurus and the model used…

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A new take on Yehuecauhceratops.

Yehue copy.jpgThe danger of having extremely fragmentary dinosaur remains like the ones found in Mexico is that they are  bound to different interpretations… and if we are not careful we can end up in opposite directions when it is time to reconstruct the animals. Meet my own take to a male and a female Yehuecauhceratops mudei, the  now famous  mid-sized ceratopsian from the Late Cretaceous Coahuila, Mexico.

I have been aided by Angel Ramírez in the reconstruction. As you can see I have also increased and bloated the size of the nostrils according to the latest trends of research… the space is massive so it is justified!

We followed closely the very fragmentary remains of the skull (specially the frill). And this is the final result… It appears to have been recognised by (among others) Peter Dodson as a closer relative to  Nasutoceratops than to Chasmosaurus and the model used for the frill is more like  than the aforementioned or even better: Avaceratops. So those were the main  references to follow.  The main characters are a reduced squamosal with three undulations (maybe bases for hooking keratinous display structures), a rugose lateral bump and expanded parietals.Yehuecauhceratops-2.png

Yehuecauhceratops mudei NEW ver-2 with skeleton.jpg  Here is his own most recent restoration of  the skeleton by Angel Ramírez. I specially thank him for his help and assistance… and allowing me the artistic license of including a flock of ornithomimids in the background (they are not flocking this way this time!)… together with the de-rigueur hadrosaurs .

This restoration may change in the future  once again, but for the time being this was the best we could come with.

UPDATE. An extra note requested by Angel Ramírez: his reconstruction used the silhouette and skeleton drawing of Scott Hartman of Avaceratops and modified it in what concerns the skull,  so that it looks more like a nasutoceratopsine.

The interpretation is based on the description of Rivera-Sylva, Hendrick and Dodson, 2016. A centrosaurine (dinosauria: ceratopsia) from the Aguja Formation (Late Campanian) of Northern Coahuila, Mexico.

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Tyrannosaurus rex in Mexico?

Trex Mex copy.jpgCoastal Laramidia ( Late Cretaceous).  A couple of T. exes are feasting from a “Sabinosaurio” carcass, while several azdharxhids queue for their turn… Impossible? Not according to Dr.  Claudia Serrano Brañas  that after reading my comments in the previous blog about Totlmimus, through personal communication, graciously gave me this link and comments as  information.

Tyrannosaurid teeth from the Lomas Coloradas Formation, Cabullona Group (Upper Cretaceous) Sonora, México

“Regarding the comment of the tyrannosaurids that were present in the Cabullona Basin of Sonora, my colleagues and I published a paper in 2014 concerning the identification of Tyrannosaurus rex in the Lomas Coloradas Formation, which is the top formation of the Cabullona Group.”

“With regard to the information you request, I leave you with the following comments: When working with isolated teeth, great care must be taken when assigning them to a particular family or genre, as there is a great morphological similarity between many groups Of theropods. In the case of tyrannosaurids, this happens frequently, since their teeth are very similar to each other. For this reason, in addition to the anatomical descriptions of the specimens, different types of statistical analyses using quantitative parameters have now begun to be used in order to discriminate between taxa so that the specimens can be assigned to a group or genus of theropods in particular. In our case, we measured our specimens and compared them with a database that included 342 teeth of different types of theropods and precisely through the analysis of the combination of these variables, we were able to establish that our specimens corresponded to the genus Tyrannosaurus.
On the other hand, I wanted to point out that we are currently working with other teeth of the Cabullona Basin in Sonora, but this time they are from another formation of the same Geological Group (Cabullona Group). These new teeth, although also of tyrannosaurids, are very different from those found in the Lomas Coloradas formation, which would indicate that in addition to having Tyrannosaurus in that area, there were also other types of tyrannosaurids. As soon as I get more information about it, I’ll let you know.”

 So there you have it: Although the remains (mainly  teeth) come undoubtedly from tyrannosaurids, some are diagnostic of T. rex… although there might be some doubters (ready for it Dave Hone?)! It makes complete sense to locate Tyrannosaurus rex in Mexico too. It shared the same environment as the “Sainosaurio” and Tototlmimus.

So understanding that most, if not all of you, need something to cheer you up for having to turn off your TV today (and avoid a really bad remake of the Twilight Zone),  here’s something factual for your solace from this  Blog. An entertaining  beginning of the year no doubt.

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… and to end an eventful year: Mexican Ostrich dinosaurs!

totlmimus-copySuddenly I realised that I overlooked this piece of my Mexican Dinosaurs series. Meet a displaying pair of Tototlmimus packardensis (Serrano-Brañas et al 2016) from Cuenca Cabullona, Sonora some 72 million years ago. An obvious relative of the Canadian Ornithomimus, it was indeed pretty robust 4-meter ornithomimosaur, with stouter and longer legs and arms that its cousin, according to Angel Ramirez.

I got the inspiration for this piece in an old painting of two ostriches displaying… the shared anatomical features  might have lead to  coincidental behaviour! Incorporated is the newly discovered feathery distribution in ornithomimids. The environment is again coastal and  shared by some hadrosaurs (like the included, still unnamed “Sabinosaurus”), ceratopsians and tyrannosaurs… one of which could have been the famous Tyrannosaurus rex according to some footprints (but this needs evidence for definitive confirmation).sabino

Thanking everybody for their support, specially our friends in the national Museum of Natural History in Denmark, Mexico’s Universum and UNAM, Spain, Australia’s Gondwana Studios, Italy, France, StoneCo and Silver Plume and the many fans in the U.S., Bristol  and London, that’s all from me in this eventful 2016 from here, “springtime London”! For the record: Twelve degrees Celsius the 25th of December! This reminds me a crispy, clear winter day in Barcelona more than 35 years ago. It was bitterly cold but nevertheless, somehow in the sun you felt the warmth of its rays (something that never happened to us before)… I was with a friend ands we joked: “I wonder if that’s what the dinosaurs felt just before they went extinct… they looked at the sky and felt that something was different… 

To counter all the state of denial, madness and irrationality of the world as it is today, there’s nothing better than Science… if two Stegosaurus were capable of successfully mating (carefully!) everything positive is possible with good will and determination… the only things humans need to survive is common sense and wisdom…even if more often than not we glorify our lack of both of them!

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Some therapy you can do after the current horror stories worldwide… and with one and a half eye!

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Peter Norton from Gondwana Studios has been around to take down the Hatching The Past exhibition from the Horniman Museum (an unprecedented success!). Looking forward to see it in Cardiff  next!  We have also continued our task to finish off … Continue reading

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More Mexican Dinosaurs: Labocania anomala.

labocania-copyIn my series about Mexican Dinosaurs, I haven’t been able to avoid repeatedly the use of violent scenes… that is what popular palaeontology is about according to some of the kids  attending my workshops last week: VIOLENCE… and gore… of course! Well, this may be justified for primitive tyrannosaurs like tho enigmatic Labocania  (from La Bocana Roja, Baja California 83 million years agoattacking an even more enigmatic primitive hadrosaur. We know that the fossil remains in Mexico are most of the time fragmentary… but the traces of the predator and prey are there for sure!

I reconstructed Labocania based on the work o Angel Ramírez, that reappraises Labocania as an eight meter long.  peculiar  and robust Chilantasurus or Schezuanosauruslike theropod with primitive tyrannosaur characteristics…  I added some touches of  the better known Yutyrannus (three fingers and plenty of feathers). Until we get more remains it will continue to be anomalous, as its name describes it!

We know even less about the prey but according to the age, it must have been a primitive hadrosaur similar to Huehuacanauhtlus...

There was a time when North America had no frontiers and only an inner sea as boundaries… sometimes even South America hooked up with it… dinosaurs roamed freely across the continent and  an enormous, rich diversity prevailed…  suddenly a catastrophe struck  and their environment collapsed. Only the small dinosaurs, with their wings could fly away and survive. Any similarity with modern times is not mere coincidence… only this time disasters are man made!dsc01904

The artwork was also immortalised in 3D by Aldebaran (Aldo) Castañeda with one of his fomisaurios tailor made for me… here having a drink with and René Hernández!

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Comedy sometimes troubles me…


Just back from a Dinosaur Society weekend at the Wetland Centre in Barnes. I had workshops and couldn’t go to all the talks, but I was surprised that Friday, sandwiched in between academic talks by Darren Naish and Mike Benton (Benton talk included very updated information and was especially compelling), I found myself witnessing an event that was not only a throwback, but an apology of creationism-like methods and a disgrace to science. Was it a comedy sketch? No it was -supposedly- dead serious.

You might be forgiven if you haven’t heard of the speaker (last he published something was in the era where Archaeopteryx was still the “first bird” and dinosaurs were stranded in swamps with their tails dragging on the ground)… and,  unfortunately,  he has never learned anything ever since. But that is not what troubles me… it is the fact that in his talk he picked and chose whatever suited his grand outdated ideas, ignoring any evidence that could contradict him. And that is what I call “the creationist method”. He considers himself a maverick… a rebel! A “provocateur”…!

I could say: leave that to me… I‘ve had enough troubles defending misinformed audiences from the likes of him for decades.

He started the talk well enough. An exercise in taphonomy trying to demonstrate that the famous Deinonychus-Tenontosaurus battle scene didn’t really take place, and it was mostly something akin to what happened in La Brea tar pits: an aggregation of hunters and victim that died together. Fair enough, it may well have been! Some may argue the contrary of course…http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/5/1/81.short

He added a very good summary of John Ostrom’s magnificent scientific methodology to find the relationship of dinosaurs and birds via the study of Archaeopteryx… surprisingly Ostrom was trying to find an evolutionary relationship of the peculiar tail of Archaeopteryx somewhere, including pterosaurs… he found a specimen in Germany labelled as a “pterosaur” which turned out a missing specimen of Archaeopteryx… he started studying it and he was to find much more than that…. the rest is history!

But the speaker is not particularly fond of the likes of John Ostrom and “unfounded” imagination exercises (except if they are his own) .  His intention was not narrating the story of an ‘Eureka!’ moment of a great academic. That was just an excuse. His  aim was to stress that dinosaurs: 1.-Could not have been pack hunters because “they were just not intelligent enough” 2.- Feathered dinosaurs is a conspiracy concocted by Ostrom and his allies. They never existed as they are unrelated to birds . Unfortunately, that was the departure point where things started to get ridiculous and turned into an exercise of junk science…

Adjusting and distorting facts at will, he first presented us with his interpretation of the theropod brain in a phantom Deinonychus braincase (he admitted he didn’t have the brain case of what he was “describing”!)  with information  that goes back to the first Ostrom paper describing Deinonychus from the  60’s! He dismissed any contemporary study,not just because he doesn’t know… he wilfully dismissed and ignored the last 40 years of Palaeontology because he thinks we are all involved in some sort of conspiracy against his own, very personal, “theories”

Another argument came to the fore: that the specialised sickle clawed foot of Deinonychus and Velociraptor has nothing to do with Archaeopteryx so they “could not have been feathered” because “Archaeopterygids” are the real birds and are obviously feathered…
So what did he show immediately after? A slide of the torso and head of “Dave”, the Sinornithosaurus… a little modernity after all! How could he argue that “Dave” was not feathered? Well he can’t of course, because he announced with great pomp that he considers “Dave”  an “Archaeopterygid”(!), taking at the same time great care in not showing the lower part of the body! He is not interested in noting the pedal anatomy of “Dave” with its clearly dromaeosaurian sickle claw, that is so well preserved that even the keratin coverage is shown… and I have studied at close quarters the real fossil at Mark Norell’s office many years ago!


Neither he cared to show the sickle claw of Microraptor, Anchiornis and so many fully feathered maniraptorans, dromaeosaus,and NON maniraptorans or dromaeosaurs …
Was Caudipteryx with its clear arm and tail feathers, an Archaeopterygid too?  So Oviraptor must have been too! I thought the problems with Sinosauropteryx were over… even the melanosomes  contained in its keratinous protofeathers  are successfully analysed  for indication of colours these days! Maybe he is also marrying Sinosauropteryx (a compsognathid) with Archaeopteryx in what they really are: Dinosaurs? … No chance I’m afraid! This was all about fringe Palaeontology or better: Cryptozoology.

And why all this continuous nonsense? It just didn’t suit his theoretical conspiracy. A whole world of dinosaur palaeontology was dismissed in a single stroke! And all because the man has a grudge?  He has not done his homework since the 70’s…
Indeed it suits the title of the talk(even included “abstract”!): “Trouble at YPM 66-75”… it never reached beyond 1975!

Of course at this point the whole of the audience was laughing… or in a fit, like yours truly. After all, MY artwork was used by him to illustrate the “fantasy” of a Deinonychus pack hunting… or of having wing feathers … Fantasy about sporting arm feathers? https://www.academia.edu/12552076/FURTHER_DESCRIPTIONS_OF_THE_OSTEOLOGY_OF_DEINONYCHUS_ANTIRRHOPUS_SAURISCHIA_THEROPODA_

When I enquired about it, he also obviously dismissed not just cladistics, but the hard evidence of the quill bumps along the arm bones of Velociraptor as an oddity of an obscure  “single bone”… he was not naive about it: he knew what I was talking about, but gave no other argument…no other reason… no mention of the preservation bias of fossils… nothing…science reduced to simple twisted opinion or prejudice! A Troll with credentials… a bit like creationists dismissing the existence of dinosaurs because they are not in the Bible. A British “academic” in the podium actually questions the existence of actual fossil bones! Hallelujah!


One thing that Alan Feduccia said a long time ago was something like “Palaeontology is not a democracy”. You don’t have the right to talk “just because”. If you are going to speak,and specially talk in an academic context challenging ideas, you do it not disdaining or distorting facts to fit the theory. We need to abide by the facts and if we have to dismount our personal horses, so be it.

I have a deep respect for Palaeontology. I profoundly resent my artwork being used by ego-tripping individuals that pass for  “academics”  as much as I resent being used by any creationist. And worst under the limelight of the Dinosaur Society. No wonder dinosaurs in good part have not been able to overcome the toddler stage in this country!

Luis V Rey

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