Top 10 Open Access Fossil Taxa of 2017

The big moment is finally here! With 669 votes cast from around the world, we have our Top 10 Open Access Fossil Taxa of 2017. Our honorees were chosen from a field of 45 discoveries announced between December 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017, including everything from extinct mushrooms to ferocious dinosaurs.

Our Top Open Access Fossil Organism of 2017, Eekaulostomus cuevasae, as illustrated by Brian Engh.

We were thrilled to see our Top 10 list include a broad swath of organisms, not just dinosaurs and not even just vertebrates. Six different journals hosted the original publications, and the authors hail from every hemisphere. It’s an impressive group on all fronts!

Each organism will be highlighted in its own blog post…but for now, here’s the full list. For the first time ever, a fish occupies our number one slot — congratulations to the authors of Eekaulostomus cuevasae, whose discovery has been illustrated by renowned paleoartist Brian Engh.

1. Eekaulostomus cuevasae, an ancient trumpetfish. Described by Kleyton Magno Cantalice and Jesús Alvarado-Ortega in Palaeontologia Electronica.

2. Borealopelta markmitchelli, an armored dinosaur. Described by Caleb M. Brown, Donald M. Henderson, Jakob Vinther, Ian Fletcher, Ainara Sistiaga, Jorsua Herrera, and Roger E. Summons in Current Biology.

3. Anatoliadelphys maasae, an early marsupial mammal relative. Described by A. Murat Maga and Robin M. D. Beck in PLOS ONE.

4/5 (tie). Gondwanagaricites magnificus, the oldest fossil mushroom. Described by Sam W. Heads, Andrew N. Miller, J. Leland Crane, M. Jared Thomas, Danielle M. Ruffatto, Andrew S. Methven, Daniel B. Raudabaugh, and Yinan Wang in PLOS ONE.

4/5 (tie). Zuul crurivastator, an armored dinosaur. Described by Victoria M. Arbour and David C. Evans in Royal Society Open Science.

6/7 (tie). Daspletosaurus horneri, a carnivorous dinosaur. Described by Thomas D. Carr, David J. Varricchio, Jayc C. Sedlmayr, Eric M. Roberts, and Jason R. Moore in Scientific Reports.

6/7 (tie). Shringasaurus indicus, an herbivorous archosaur. Described by Saradee Sengupta, Martín D. Ezcurra, and Saswati Bandyopadhyay in Scientific Reports.

8. Websteroprion armstrongi, the oldest “bobbit worm.” Described by Mats E. Eriksson, Luke A. Parry, and David M. Rudkin in Scientific Reports.

9. Isaberrysaura mollensis, an herbivorous dinosaur. Described by Leonardo Salgado, José I. Canudo, Alberto C. Garrido, Miguel Moreno-Azanza, Leandro C. A. Martínez, Rodolfo A. Coria, and José M. Gasca in Scientific Reports.

10. Babelichthys olneyi, an early crestfish. Described by Donald Davesne in PeerJ.

Stay tuned…there’s lots more to come, as we highlight each of these organisms during the next month!

Header image by Brian Engh.

Published by Sarah Z. Gibson

Dr. Sarah Z. Gibson is a paleontologist and science communicator based in Minnesota. Her research focuses on the evolutionary history of ray-finned fishes from the Early Mesozoic.

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