Home Dinosaur Episode 446: Dinosaur-era Oceans and Darren Naish from Prehistoric Planet 2

Episode 446: Dinosaur-era Oceans and Darren Naish from Prehistoric Planet 2

Episode 446: Dinosaur-era Oceans and Darren Naish from Prehistoric Planet 2


Episode 446: Dinosaur-era Oceans and Darren Naish from Prehistoric Planet 2. Darren answers our biggest questions like why Dreadnoughtus had inflatable sacs on its neck (but not Alamosaurus) and why Masiakasaurus didn’t have teeth pointed out of its mouth.


Darren Naish, a paleontologist, author, science communicator, and founder of Tetrapod Zoology. He’s also the scientific consultant and advisor for Prehistoric Planet and Prehistoric Planet 2.


Paleo Pins: Diversity Expansion

The dinosaur of the day: Baptornis

  • Related to Hesperornis, and like Hesperornis, lived in the Western Interior Seaway
  • Hesperornithiform that lived in the Late Cretaceous in what is now Kansas (at the time was mostly Western Interior Seaway), in the Niobrara Formation
  • Also has been found in what is now Sweden, where the Turgai Strait joined the North Sea
  • Looked kind of like a penguin, but with a longer neck and teeth
  • About the size of a loon. Loons are about 28 to 32 in (71 to 81 cm) long and weigh about 9 to 12 lb (4 to 5.5 kg)
  • Good at diving and swimming
  • Probably a great swimmer, and not great at moving on land
  • Lower legs were close to its body and the feet stretched out sideways, so would have toppled over if moving upright
  • Based on how its lower legs were, would have pointed toes forward and waddled or took small hops to move around on land
  • Ate fish. One specimen found with coprolites, about .4 in (1 cm) in diameter, and have remains of a fish
  • Probably hunted smaller, more mobile prey compared to its relatives that were larger
  • Held prey in its beak
  • Hesperornithiforms may have been able to hold and turn their prey as they swallowed it head first
  • Type species is Baptornis advenus
  • Genus name means “diving bird”
  • O.C. Marsh found the first fossils in the 1870s, and named Baptornis in 1877
  • Holotype includes parts of the foot, which probably belong to separate specimens. Now only one is the type specimen
  • In 1977, Larry Martin and Orville Bonner wrote about a fragmentary, immature Baptornis specimen (included vertebrae, pelvis, parts of the legs and feet, parts of the jaw)
  • Other specimens have since been found, many of them juveniles
  • Young specimen found was found in an area that may mean it either travelled a long distance from shore or it nested somewhere nearby (an island?)
  • Many Baptornis specimens are isolated bones
  • Only five specimens have been found that have more than a single bone/element, though in 2015 Alyssa Bell and Luis Chiappe said there may be more in museum collections
  • May have migrated, based on fossils being found as far south as Kansas and as far north as Canada
  • Lived in a subtropical to temperate climate
  • There was a second species of Baptornis: Baptornis varneri, named in 2007 by James Martin and Amanda Cordes-Person. But later was reclassified as Brodavis, another hesperornithiform that’s about twice the size of Baptornis
  • Fossils found in Sweden were thought to be “Cretaceous flamingo” Parascaniornis stensioi (lived in the Late Cretaceous). But later was found to be Baptornis. Found a vertebra, so not enough to compare and know if it’s a second species
  • Found there wasn’t enough to make Parascaniornis its own species, but still unclear if it’s a junior synonym of Baptornis

Fun Fact:

Dinosaurs like Spinosaurus, Hesperornis, and others that lived in and around water probably had webbed feet.

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