A computer-generated image of Sefapanosaurus. Photograph: Wits University

Scientists are busy finding new dinosaurs all over the place. Last week we brought you the Hell Chicken Dinosaur, this week, we bring you Clive.

A computer-generated image of Sefapanosaurus. Image credit: Wits University

Okay, fine, they aren’t really calling Sefapanosaurus zastronensis Clive, but don’t you think he would have gotten more attention if they had? Clive is a sauropodomorph (yes, like the brontosaurs that may or may not have existed, but significantly older.) Long necked, large and herbivorous, Sefapanosaurus was originally thought to be another Aardonyx, and so has been left in a Wits University lab in South Africa since 1930. When palaeontologists Dr Alejandro Otero and Emil Krupandan began probing the collection they realized that they actually had an entirely new dinosaur. They published their findings in this month’s issue of the Zoological Journal1

And that wasn’t the last of the dino news this week. Scientists confirmed something long suspected: the demise of the dinosaurs gave rise to the age of fishes.Paleobiologist grad student Elizabeth Sibert and Professor Richard Norris from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego determined that ray-finned fish rose to dominate the oceans 66 million years ago, right on the heels of the K/Pg extinction event that took out the dinosaurs.

How? They looked at tons of tiny, and not so tiny, fossilized fish teeth.


An assortment of Early Cenozoic ichthyoliths. Image credit: Elizabeth Sibert with Yale University

By comparing the number of ray-finned fish teeth Sibert and Norris found that the fish increased by a factor of 24 after the extinction event, making the dominant species of the ocean, where previously while they had existed, the numbers were almost insignificant. The pair created an awesome video detailing their discovery that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.2

And finally, scandal has rocked the toy dinosaur world this week. Hasbro’s Jurassic World toy line was inadvertently released with all sorts of gender assumptions.

jurassic-world-hasbro-gender-swapped-toys-11-2-thumb-500x886-130347Specifically, the assumption that the dinosaurs were male. Velociraptors, and other plastic replicas, near and far, including the very popular Blue character, were released with male pronouns in the product descriptions.

If you are not a fan of the Jurassic World universe, you may not have realized that the dinosaurs in these movies are all explicitly female, as a result of the very fancy fake-science explanation for how they were cloned.

And so, today we learned from the Geekiary via io9 that not even toy dinosaurs are allowed to be female. And probably not because copywriters are jerks, just because they can’t really imagine that all those roaring, macho dinos might actually be ladies. Because when gender stereotypes meet anthropomorphized toys, implicit bias is revealed. Hey, as a lady writing about robots, gotta say, the temptation to describe them all with the pronoun “he” becomes real tempting – and that’s coming from someone with about eleventy billion gender studies classes under their belt.

If Hasbro hadn’t pulled such a dick move, we might feel sorry for the utter and absolute internet shit-storm that they walked into.

[Featured image courtesy of Dinosaurs television show.]

  1. A. Otero et al, 2015, “A new basal sauropodiform from South Africa and the phylogenetic relationships of basal sauropodomorphs” Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol. 174, no. 3, pp. 589-634; doi: 10.1111/zoj.12247

  2. E. Sibert, R. Norris, 2015, “New Age of Fishes initiated by the Cretaceous−Paleogene mass extinction” PNAS, published ahead of print June 29, 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1504985112

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