New dinosaur species is a missing link
April 12th, 2011
07:15 PM ET

New dinosaur species is a missing link

It's fitting that a place called Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, would yield the discovery of a scary-looking creature. But it's not a ghost - it's a dinosaur.

This dog-sized, ferocious-looking critter is called Daemonosaurus chauliodus, which means something along the lines of  “buck-toothed evil lizard,” says Hans-Dieter Sues, lead author of the published research describing this dinosaur, and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.

The illustration above compares the head and neck with a quarter. You can see that it has a short snout and enormous front teeth.

Scientists found the skull and neck of this previously unrecognized dinosaur, and described it in a study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

This dinosaur provides a link between what paleontologists consider "early" and "later" dinosaurs. There's a gap in the fossil record between the oldest known dinosaurs, which walked or ran on their hind legs about 230 million years ago in Argentina and Brazil, and other predatory dinosaurs that lived much later. Daemonosaurus chauliodus helps fill in a blank in dinosaur history.

This newly discovered species lived about 205 million years ago, and probably preyed on other dinosaurs and other small animals, Sues said. At that time, what is now the American Southwest was located close to the equator, so it was warm and monsoon-like with heavy seasonal precipitation. This dinosaur was probably active during the day, although its large eyes suggest it could have seen at night as well.

How did it go extinct? It may have fallen victim to an extinction event that occurred about 200 million years ago. As the continents were separating, there was a large zone of volcanic activity. Enormous quantities of lava was released, doing "horrible things to the atmosphere." Most dinosaurs made it through (that is, until an asteroid struck around 65 million years ago), but perhaps not this one.

"It just shows that even here in the United States, there are still many new dinosaurs to be found," Sues said. "People always think we have to go to some remote places, but, right here in northern New Mexico, we can still find new dinosaurs."

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Filed under: Animals • Dinosaurs
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  1. Andrew

    This won't do anything to dissuade creationists. It's an interesting new transitional fossil which lets us fill in some more gaps, but as far as creationists are concerned, for every gap you fill with a fossil, two new ones pop up so they are still willing to say "we've never found a real transitional fossil!"

    It's cool science, but lets not be so silly to think creationists will ever care about this, or any other transitional fossil we ever find. KNM ER 1470, KNM ER 1813, Lucy, Turkana Boy, Peking Man, DIK-1, seriously it doesn't matter how many fossils we dig up, they'll just stick their fingers in their ears and scream "LIES LIES LIES!"

    April 12, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • akruckus

      Looking at it from a purely scientific standpoint, all the article says is they found a skull and a neck. Then they give it fur and call it a missing link. I can't say for sure whether I believe in creation or evolution bit this wouldnt be the first time some palentologists found a few bones and drafted some pictures to support their agenda.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      You'd be surprised what you can learn from a head and a neck, and yes that still counts as transitional fossils. Note, that isn't saying they are complete, or full. The drawings are not done by researchers. You're confusing what the popular press puts out with what palaeontologists put out. I'm not sure why.

      Lets say you're a CNN editor. "Well, some researchers found some bones for a new transitional fossil, we want to air a story on it... but we need to have some graphic. Ask the researchers what they might think could have covered the skin, and contact the graphics department".

      If you've ever read actual peer reviewed journal papers, you wouldn't find graphics like this in the paper unless they're specifically explaining why the graphics are relevant and how they deduced the information. I get the feeling you don't do much scientific research, do you?

      April 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • CathyC

      Exactly. They won't even admit the Bible is based on religions and civilizations that existed before Abraham left Ur. If it weren't for the fertile crescent civilization, they would have no bible. The earth is millions of years old, yet they cling to an absurd notion it is a mere 6,000 or so years old. The idea to Eden comes from Mesopotamia and Sumeria, a wonderful civilization that gave birth to the Semitic peoples. They are afraid to look at things rationally.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • CT73

      Andrew, can I marry you or something? I thought rational, well-informed people were gone (or never existed) on CNN. You restore my faith.

      I think CNN should run a series twice a year on the principles of scientific investigation and scientific methodologies. And one day, when the viewership is ready, maybe a series on drawing conclusions from statistical tests. As of right now, articles like this make little impact because they are unintelligible to a population that is unacquainted with science and reasoning.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cocopuf

      This picture of course is a recreated drawing by some fantasy island artist of what it might have looked like. As an example, Just because we have 4 legs doesn't mean we are related to the monkey, cow, tiger or even a dog (lol !!!) So, how do you know it is a link to another so called "evoluted" creature?

      One last thing you have to realize; that dead animals OR fossils DON'T EVOLVE (period)

      Paleontologists are so desperate to find "a missing link" (or in between species) that they'll connect anything FROM the PAST to the TODAY and say: "See, there is a missing link" Voila!!

      So, let me repeat one more time: DEAD FOSSILS DO NOT EVOLVE. They simply died.

      Fossils implies a quick death just like the large number of Dinosaurs found in Siberia with plant food still in their mouths and stomach.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      "One last thing you have to realize; that dead animals OR fossils DON'T EVOLVE (period)

      Paleontologists are so desperate to find "a missing link" (or in between species) that they'll connect anything FROM the PAST to the TODAY and say: "See, there is a missing link" Voila!!

      So, let me repeat one more time: DEAD FOSSILS DO NOT EVOLVE. They simply died. "

      I'm sorry, but this is completely batcrap insane.

      I would presume that your great-grandparents mated before they died. The same could be said for this fossil.


      April 12, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • common sense

      Andrew I agree with you that can't really talk sense with Creationists, but those with extreme views cannot be reasoned with. What bothers me is that those of you with scientific minds cannot resist labeling all people with a faith as "they" or "them". I suppose those with a belief in God do the same to scientists too unfortunately. The Bible doesn't teach a lot of what the creationists teach. The whole 24 hours of creation, 6,000 years stuff is baloney, the Bible doesn't teach that. Tons of what science teaches is true, no problem with that for me. These creatures are real; fossils are real. However, for me, God is real. I know that because I have a spiritual dimension. Don't you ever wonder why people all over the world, for recorded history, have pursued a spiritual dimension? Science and learning are a wonderful ability we humans have. But why do we feel the need to negate the spiritual for the scientific? I find that sad. But the central argument for me is that mankind is unique and spiritual and intelligent, and that separates us from the apes and from bacteria. I believe God created all living things and the universe itself. Including scientists. And, I believe we should all try to have some intelligent discourse once in a while. Wouldn't that be great?

      April 13, 2011 at 12:01 am | Report abuse |
    • gerc

      And where are these transitional forms? We should be able to see them at any time during evolutionary time. The evolutionary tree is a hoax. The horse has always been a horse. The horseshoe crab has always been so. Ditto the bees, and every other critter you could think of.

      April 13, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. John

    Was this dog-sized creature, the remains of which were discovered recently in New Mexico, one of the animals that died about six thousand years ago in the great flood? It is probably just as well that none exist today. Visiting our national parks would be much different today if those guys were still roaming around. Maybe that's what we need; a natural enemy to keep the population in check.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. L64


    April 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. religionsucks

    Religion = committed to ignorance

    April 12, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. IceT

    Why would they pose the question.. how did this guy become extinct? If, as it's suggested, it is a link between earlier & later dinosaurs it would have gone the way of evolution, evolving into a later species.

    April 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • blue

      It had these things called "offspring"

      April 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      blue... that's not extinction, that's procreation & eventual death. I questioned why the article discussed it's "extinction".

      April 12, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Bleh, this is why I hate the US educational system, people have a very bad fundamental understanding of evolutionary biology. A transitional species does not need to literally link one generation to another. Rather, a transitional fossil is supposed to exhibit properties of two different generations of organisms, not necessarily meaning it is a direct ancestor of anything.

      When you no longer have DNA to verify direct lineage, the only thing we can do is examine morphology. But morphology isn't insufficient either, as evolution would sorta mandate multiple instances of organisms sharing transitional traits. These traits reflect more a generation of organisms, rather than a specific instance of one lineage.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      Andrew... yes, extinction refers to the demise of an entire species, not the individual animal. That's why I wondered why the sophmoric question of it's extinction, it didn't seem to fit the premise of the article itself.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      IceT, my point is that an extinct species generally will always be considered a transitional fossil. H-mo erectus and H-mo hablis are extinct, yet every new fossil of them we find is a "transitional fossil". Chances are, any of those fossils we found are not our ancestors, but they certainly qualify for transitional fossil from any evolutionary biology perspective. It being extinct is kinda irrelevant.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. blue

    Oh God, you silly prankster putting those fossils there to fool us into thinking the Earth was older than 6000 years...

    April 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. American Citizen

    @ Kerry.... I would say what my college professor said," Science is moving toward the door of truth". Do you remember when the T-rex was thought to have smooth skin? Then many years later they found a T-rex fossil with feathers. The scientists had to make an adjustment.... to what they believed to be true only to discover later they had to change their ideas. Well, I wouldn't be so stuck on what they discover....... It is all interesting stuff to me, yet it doesn't prove one way or the other about God, the source or peoples doubts about spirituality. Evolutions is what life is all about and it doesn't prove anything except to show that you believe you are right. Whatever that means??? Being right what does that really get anybody?

    April 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Volumes of medical research and a basic understanding of how life on earth functions? I'm sorry, that seems fairly valuable to me. BTW, when they said the world was flat, they were wrong. When they said it was round, they were wrong. But if you believe that the world is flat is just as wrong as the world is round, your view is more wrong than both combined.

      In other words, yeah what we may say now might be wrong, but it's probably less wrong than what we said before. Creationism was shown to be wrong some 150 years ago.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonS

      @Andrew-are you a professor or anyone who actually teaches this crap, since you seem so high up on your horse trying to prove everyone else wrong when for all we know you could be an 8yr old who just likes to read...there's fanatics of religion just like there's fanatics of science, I prefer to use common sense and and believe that yes there's proof that creatures like dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago but at the same time I really don't see how I came from a monkey like scientist tell me. A scientific theory is pretty much a group of hypothesis to describe a phenomenom which doesn't make it a fact, it can be disproven and therefore discarded. Just because a bunch of scientists sit around and say "oh I think that's how it happened" doesn't make it a fact. There's no set in stone evidence saying we evolved its just your belief so I guess you can call it your faith in science just like creationists have faith in God. Being booksmart doesn't give people much common sense, that must be why "smart" people are so awkward socially because of their narcissism thinking they're better than other people bec they're smart. Even Einstein believed in God... "In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."

      April 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      I'm a fourth year physics student with a morbid curiosity interest in both paleontology (a relic of my childhood) and evolutionary biology (an idle curiosity), but that said, I'm saying stuff as trivial to evolutionary biologists as "velocity is relative" would be to a physicist. In other words, I'm being very careful to not make any statement concerning biology beyond my education. I'm only speaking with such confidence on evolutionary biology because the level of discourse among the general populace is so damn poor that my knowledge is sufficient to seem well educated on the subject.

      First, I should indicate that you ARE a monkey, not just came from one. Although, from a pure taxonomic standpoint we are paraphyletic to monkeys. What I mean to say is you are as much a "monkey" as you are a "eukaryote", "metazoan", "chordate", or a "hominid".

      Other apes share a common ancestor with us which would have been classified as an ape. Thus, we are apes, as we share an ape ancestor with other apes. Just like we are eukaryotes, as we share a eukaryotic ancestor with all other eukaryotes. Evolution isn't "monkey turns into man", but rather a branching tree pattern. We are humans, all of our ancestors will always be humans forever and ever and ever, never becoming anything but a human, even if fifty million years from now there are thousands of species of "humans" (unlikely, but that's the principle).

      Scientists then never say "monkeys became human", rather, "humans evolved from a common ancestor shared with other monkeys". The difference may sound semantic to you, but it's important for understanding how evolution works.

      Hell, evolution is so well supported that realistically even if it's "disproven", it would be replaced by an updated form, that is what I meant with my statment. Creationism is going back to a form of science hundreds of years old, science has updated to give us a much more accurate picture than we had back then, hence my Asimov quote.

      Oh, and I recommend you don't go talking to a physics major about Einstein's quotes on god. While I find myself siding with Feynman's philosophy over Einstein, Einstein's quotes tend to have been mangled over time. He believed in Spinoza's god, an essential redefining of the universe as "god". It seems a silly term to me, I find no use in defining a god, so I prefer Feynman philosophy, but Einstein's "god" was a very different form from anything most people mean by the word.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cocopuf

      To Andrew :- I think that you are getting so much information (much of which will be incorrect) that you are failing to see the obvious ... in front of your nose: That we had to have been created by a very skillful designer. Having said that, you should spend a lot more energy in the right direction and find Him.

      Also, with regard to evolution (that is macro-evolution), DEAD FOSSILS don't evolve (period) ... you've got to think carefully to understand that statement.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      @ Cocopuf, due to the influx of liquor in my body, I'm not likely to be as kind as I was before.

      You say that it's "obvious" and "right in front of my nose"? Really? I'm sure you've got a strong background in evolutionary biology, one that far surpasses my, admittedly, limited knowledge, so I ask you... demonstrate the veracity of your claim. See, to do this, you need to establish a few things.

      You claim we were "designed"? How does one go about verifying this designer given the fact that a "designer", by very nature of not being constrained to reality, could eliminate any physical trace of its existence. What experiment can you define that would indicate "designer"? I don't give a damn about finding "him" if you can't verify that "he/she/it" exists, and you claim it's "right in front of my nose" but I'd say the same thing about evolution.

      Except I did something very, VERY different from something you truly annoying human beings do. See, I have posted, over and over and over, various specific fossils, or various peer reviewed articles showing evidence for evolution. I have posted paper after paper after paper, in some of the most reputable scientific journals in the world, and you have provided... "it's right in front of your nose"

      And you expect me to take you f ing seriously? Really? You expect me to give a damn about what you say? "Here is the research conducted by scientists which proves my point".... "I don't care, you ignore what's right in front of you" is the BEST you can come up with, and you expect me to listen?

      I spent the past term trying to learn how to code in IDL to analyze the 47 Tuc white dwarf cooling sequence. It was a three month project where I spent countless nights up till two, three, four, five am in the morning trying to figure out how to properly analyze the data. It took me a month to figure out how to incorporate the recovered star data set to determine the photometric errors. ALL of my work will amount to nothing but a footnote, at best, in my professor's research. That is how much work goes into finding out the tiniest aspects of science. EACH of those papers people so casually ignore contains f ing YEARS of research conducted by dozens of individuals to better understand the world we live in... and then you come and have the gall to say "the evidence we were designed was right in front of your nose"!?

      You know, when I was looking at that white dwarf sequence, first inspection, the "obvious" truth, was that the data would best be explained by a single population. But, that's not research, the "obvious" truth may not be "true". Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation "seemed" true, but it turned out to be woefully inadequate. Yet here you come saying that all of those papers, all of those fossils, all of that is irrelevant and instead I should just accept your claim that I should "find him".

      SCREW YOU! I like science because I can show what I learn to be true based on evidence. You are telling me to accept what you believe by just telling me it's true. You are loathsome. You are vile. Your philosophy deserves nothing but scorn and condemnation.

      I accept science. If you want to peddle nonsense and claim unverified designer because "macro-evolution and micro-evolution are different", then you have shown you don't give a f about how evolution functions or understanding even the very basics of the theory.

      I don't claim to be an expert on evolutionary biology. I don't need to. Your statements are so f ing inane, so damn wrong, so damn uninformed that my basic university biology education is disturbingly sufficient to rule out everything you say out of hand.

      The difference between "macro and micro" evolution, at best, could be done at speciation. We have observed instances of speciation. If you want to define "macro-evolution" as "evolution between kinds", you A) Have to provide a robust definition of the word "kind", which creationists always seem reluctant to do, and B) if you believe that means "dogs turn to cats", then clearly you didn't understand what evolution is in the first place. Hint, reread my post.

      PS, dead fossils don't evolve... true... and pointless. INDIVIDUALS don't evolve. POPULATIONS evolve. Fossils, or rather, transitional fossils, simply indicate instances within grander evolutionary lineages. Finding a transitional form indicates we have found fossils which exhibit traits merging two populations with some matching morphology, not that somehow we found the direct ancestor.

      But hey, why should I expect you invest even a reasonable amount of time researching the subject and understanding it? Why should I expect you invest even a fraction of the time a single researcher does before you scream and rail against "macro-evolution is false!!!" Why should I expect any form of intellectual honesty and academic integrity from creationists?

      Time and time again you people demonstrate your complete unwillingness to learn. "You post peer reviewed papers, pft, I'm not going to care, why should I do research when I can just say 'macro-evolution is false"?

      Do you REALLY believe I've never heard that before? Do you really believe that's some new creationist idea to me that I'm unequipped with? Do you honestly believe I am that poorly informed?

      You underestimate the willingness of a science student to do research, generally a p!ss poor idea. I bother to learn about the subject, you, clearly, do not.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
    • JSinKC

      @Andrew regarding the post that starts:

      "@ Cocopuf, due to the influx of liquor in my body, I'm not likely to be as kind as I was before."

      Absolutely the best post I have seen on CNN....EVARRRRRR!!!!!

      April 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cynos

    In the Book of Job there is a passage that could be construed as describing a dinosaur. Calling it Behemoth, God refers to an animal that moves its tail like a cedar tree. This might require someone to believe that dinosaurs and humans coexisted, however.

    April 12, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      That's all the bible is. Bronze age writings that people choose to interpret. Religion is nonsense.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • LuigiPastram

      Did you read that in the original scrolls, the Greek translations, the King James version, or the new version? And did you check the credentials on the translators?

      April 12, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cocopuf

      TO JIM :- You are beyond help because you are willingly ignorant. However, there is always hope for you.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
  9. raven

    With the undignified name they gave it, it probably would just as soon stay buried. Bucktoothed ? Thanks Mr. Scientist. Next will be Bad Hairasaurus.

    April 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • EdDebevic

      Bad Hairasaurus: Weren't they an 80's synth pop band?

      April 12, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • looniedog

      I think I saw them perform once... They opened for Madonna...

      April 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bbare89

    I think it was Jesus's dog-sized pet dinosaur.

    April 12, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. L64

    I like hairasaurus!

    April 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. truthinrock

    So That's what God did on the 8th day......

    April 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike F.

    God really did a magnificent job when It set up the first microorganisms on Earth with the remarkable ability to adapt and change over time.

    April 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • 21k

      mike, that version of creationism doesn't match what the xtian and gop leadership believes. the big finger lightning bolt created adam, then grabbed a rib and made eve. so yew shall burn in the fires of hell for alllllll enternity!

      April 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Azuma

      @Mike F

      What does it feel like to know other Christians think you're going to hell, a la Kirk Cameron?

      April 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rod

    Asteroids do not strike the Earth. Meteors do.

    April 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • klarg

      What about the planet that struck the earth (forming the moon)

      April 12, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • OnanismO

      Asteroids do not strike the earth, huh? Just because you haven't seen one in your lifetime MUST mean that it NEVER happens, huh?

      April 12, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan A -Florida

      What he/she means Ona, is that it is simply a matter of termonolgy and their definitions, i.e., Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive body, composed of rock, carbon or metal, which is orbiting the Sun.

      Comet: A relatively small, sometimes active object, which is composed of dirt and ices. Comets are characterised by dust and gas tails when in proximity to the Sun. Far from the Sun it is difficult to distinguish an asteroid from a comet.

      Meteoroid: A small particle from an asteroid or comet orbiting he Sun.

      Meteor: A meteoroid that is observed as it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere – a shooting star.

      Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere and impacts the Earth's surface.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. 21k

    gawd, with the power to create the entire @#$% universe including dinosaurs, couldn't figure out a way to save his chosen people and stop the Holocaust. or maybe he just hates people!

    April 12, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JaC

      Or maybe there really is a hell, and he's just patient.

      Remember he also did not spare his own Son when he died on the cross so obviously he's up to something that we can't fathom...which is exactly what I'd expect from the King of the Universe. He might be just a little smarter than us...don't you think?

      April 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • IceT

      And again we add another stone to the ever expanding foundation that is evolutionary reality.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
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