2023 was a banner year for paleontology discoveries. These are our Top 5 favorites of the year.
1. From the largest earth-rattling beast... Argentina
Argentina’s sauropods seem to only come in jumbo-size. The newly named Chucarosaurus diripienda, was a large titanosaurian sauropod that lived 93-95 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous of South America. Although only a few leg and hip bones of this creature were found, the femur alone measured 6.2’ (1.9 m) leading researchers to surmise that Chucarosaurus measured about 121’ (37 m) long. That's a big boy!
2. ...To the smallest pests-Lebanon
Our distant ancestors also likely fought off blood-sucking pests in the early Cretaceous. In 125-million-year-old amber from Lebanon, paleontologists found a new species of mosquito called Libanoculex intermedius. Females mosquitos are the current bane of our existence, but in the past, the males of this species also likely joined in on the blood fest. The males of this new species were found with piercing mouthparts with sharp mandibles. No blood was found in the abdomen of Libanoculex intermedius; a young, spritely 46-million-year-old species from Montana claims that honor.
3. Who's eating who?-China
In 2023, paleontologists discovered that dinosaurs were both predator and prey. In China, the fossil of a 125-million-year-old badger-like mammal called Repenomamus robustus was found mid-lunch. Its paws grip a small, dog-sized dinosaur called Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis, while sinking its teeth into the ribcage. White meat seems to have been popular in the Cretaceous as well.
4. Cutting you down to size-England
A new ankylosaur species covered in razor sharp bony plates in the shape of scythe blades was found on the Isle of Wight in England in 2023. Vectipelta barretti was a plant-eater that evolved to protect itself from being someone else's lunch. The armor of this 125 million year old dinosaur was found to be related to other ankylosaurs found in China, with scientists surmising they migrated from Asia to Europe.
5. Teenagers sure can eat a lot-Canada
For the first time ever, researchers discovered the final meal in the stomach of a dinosaur. A teenage Gorgosaurus found in Canada had snacked on two sets of hind legs from the birdlike Citipes elegans. Whether this was a just a tasty appetizer for the young tyrannosaur or the full meal deal, we can only guess.
Work alongside paleontologists and contribute to science by joining a paleontology dig from Ancient Odysseys in 2024.