Monday, July 18, 2016
Sunday, July 10, 2016
|Images copyright Mark Witton, used with permission. Remember, "there's a special circle of hell...located halfway up Satan's bottom" for art thievin' types. (And book pirates.)|
Friday, July 8, 2016
In the News
Cool news regarding a shared origin of feathers, hair, and scales: Nicolas Di-Poï and Michel Milinkovitch of the University of Geneva have published research tracing them all to the shared ancestors of modern birds, mammals, and reptiles. It all has to do with placodes, thickenings of the skin in embryos which had until now not been observed in developing reptiles, though the same genes had been found to control these three forms of integument. Read more at CS Monitor and Cosmos Magazine.
New research studying tooth wear patterns reveals that the Leptoceratops chewed like a mammal.
Around the Dinoblogosphere
Missed this last year, but saw it pop up on the old Facebook recently. An interview with the one and only Dr. Tom Holtz.
The conflict between private and public interests in fossils isn't going away. At the Inverse, Jacqueline Ronson writes about an important sauropod skeleton from Montana that's in the hands of a private firm, the Judith River Dinosaur Institute.
Trish Arnold offers up a slab of 1993 pop-paleontology goodness with an issue of Time magazine featuring... Mononykus on the cover, of all things.
Meet the pterosaurs of the Liverpool World Museum, courtesy Paul Pursglove at the Pterosaur Database.
She's headed for Toronto soon, and Victoria Arbour offers a tour of North Carolina geology before she leaves.
Tristan Stock is not a fan of the "Montanaspinus" prank from last month.
At Letters from Gondwana, Fernanda Castano writes about the end-Permian and end-Triassic extinctions.
Gareth Monger celebrates the humble conodont - which has been gone from this planet since the end-Triassic - in a new design riffing on the poster for Alien 3.
Mongolia is undoubtedly one of the most important countries in the history of palaeontology, but too many important fossils have been taken away. A new crowdfunding effort seeks to bring the wonder of Mongolia's scientific treasures to the country's children via a moveable museum. "Kids in the communities we visit will board the moveable museum to experience the interactive exhibits, and join classroom activities about dinosaurs, fossils and the relationship of dinosaurs to modern birds." Pledge your support today!
I love how he expressed the idea of "credibility" in palaeoart. His point that many depictions of prehistoric life can depict equally valid hypotheses is in line with my feelings over the past few years. Wouldn't it be great if at least some palaeontology press releases or media coverage included multiple reconstructions, driving home the point that there are no concrete answers for many of our questions? Anyhow. Pick up a copy of the book.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
In the News
The most complete ctenochasmid pterosaur to date has been described in PLoS One, a juvenile specimen of Gladocephaloideus.
Two new (but pretty scrappy) theropods from Patagonia have been described: the carcharodontosauroid Taurovenator and the megaraptoran Aoniraptor. Check out the PDF here. These come from "a single locality located in northwestern Río Negro province, Patagonia, Argentina. This theropod association is composed of abelisauroids, two different-sized carcharodontosaurid allosauroids, a coelurosaur of uncertain relationships, a megaraptoran tyrannosauroid, and a possible unenlagiid paravian."
Around the Dinoblogosphere
Darren Naish has been writing a series on our current understanding of that beloved clade, Maniraptora. Start there, and then hit parts two and three. Oh yeah: like cassowaries? Darren wrote about them, too.
At the PLoS One paleo blog, Jon Tennant writes about sexing a T.rex.
"With a little help from his knife-wielding Grandmother Maribel, and friends Starlee and Captain Jim, Nate opens a restaurant that secretly serves dinosaur meat." So... read more from Prehistoric Pulp.
Brian Switek interviewed Victoria Arbour about her recent investigation into "Ankylosaur Fight Club," the paleoart depictions of battlin' tank-o-saurs and the physical evidence that exists for such interactions.
Beyond Bones, the Houston Museum of Natural History blog, told the story of the Chicxulub crater recently.
What the heck were dromaeosaurs doing with their wingy-army-thingies? Duane Nash has some ideas.
I recently priced tickets for a trip to New York City to see the "Dinosaurs Among Us" exhibition. I'm hoping it moves to a closer museum! For a preview, Albertonykus just visited and has a report for us at Raptormaniacs.
Speaking of Saurian, check out their recent post on the Hell Creek hadrosaur, and their reasoning for what they're calling it (even though I'll be whispering "Anatotitan" when I encounter it).
At Expedition Live!, Dr. Lindsay Zanno has been chronicling this summer's field work, including the not so hellish Hell Creek and a very good day which may have seen the discovery of a beauty of a Triceratops skull.
On the crowdfunding platform Walacea, you can help Stephen Durham of the Paleontological Research Institute in Ithaca, New York fund his lab's work in Amino Acid Racemization geochronology, which can help us learn more about past climate change through mollusk shells. There is just a bit over two weeks left on the campaign, with about a third of the goal reached.
An update on another campaign from Walacea: The Virtual Museum of Natural History did not reach its initial funding goal, but the team is rethinking some aspects and keeping the campaign open-ended. So the more they get, the better they can make the app! Head over and kick in some money to help the team make this very cool educational tool.
Check out Fred Wierum's Brontosmash animation. Gloriously retro depiction of a contemporary behavioral hypothesis.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
But what sort of model to draw from? Perhaps certain big theropods settled things with showy displays and bellowing, but this doesn't always make for a compelling illustration, especially for an artist working with limited time. So I started thinking about some of the most compelling (and goofy) grapplers in the extant animal kingdom. I speak, of course, of monitors.
What's interesting about the conflict here is how quickly it's decided by weight and technique. Big dragons can easily kill each other, and sometimes they do. But mating disputes tend to be more ritualized affairs. Whether or not big theropods did something similar is hard to say--we don't really have a good analogue for the big-armed, big-clawed theropod body type anymore, since birds lack meathook forelimbs and crocodiles don't precisely wrestle. (Though as Darren Naish points out, passarine fights can get really unpleasant, and anybody who's encountered an annoyed swan is aware of how much use they get out of their wings in a scuffle.) It's possible that big theropod fights ended where most human fights do--on the ground. But I wanted to take the Monitor model of conflict for an artistic spin.
Abelisaurs were my first pick, in part because I found the idea of mostly armless dinosaurs neck-wrestling to be kind of fun. These are intended to be fairly generic, although they're based on Aucasaurus. The resulting fight is more of a shoving match, with both animals working on a fairly narrow margin of balance.
Pretty goofy looking. But sometimes it works out that way.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Monday, June 6, 2016
In the News
Two new ceratopsid taxa debuted simultaneously in PLoS One recently. Meet the new centrosaur Machairoceratops cronusi and new chasmosaur Spiclypeus shipporum, AKA Judith. Machairoceratops joins Diabloceratops as the second ceratopsid described from the Upper Cretaceous Wahweap Formation (though the two did not overlap in time), while Spiclypeus hails from farther north in the Judith River Formation. Read more on both from Liz Martin-Silverstone.
Spiclypeus is the subject of a gaffe by one science news site, which noted that the dinosaur "sported beautiful coloring akin to butterfly camouflage." Not everyone groks that paleoart relies on speculation and inference, I suppose. Maybe Mike Skrepnick's beautiful restoration is just that persuasive. Speaking of paleoart, see also Mark Witton's Machairoceratops and Brett Booth's Spiclypeus.
Jack Horner has retired from the Museum of the Rockies. The museum bid him farewell with a big public party, at which folks could check out field equipment and meet field crews. Good luck in retirement, Jack!
Around the Dinoblogosphere
Mark Witton trains a skeptical eye on the popular theory that Protoceratops was the origin of the griffin myth.
Meet Dr. Marina Suarez, who along with her twin sister is namesake of Geminiraptor suarezarem.
At Inverse, Jaqueline Ronson profiles one John Conway, a paleoartist of note.
Emily Willoughby tells the amazing story of the avian eye at GotScience.
Brian Switek and Laelaps have a new home. You can now read his excellent work at Scientific American.
Tails and wing feathers were in Matt Martyniuk's crosshairs at DinoGoss recently. He discusses the repeating meme of giving Microraptor-style tail fans and Caudipteryx-style mini-wings to feathered dinosaurs that probably would have looked more like Archaeopteryx, with lozenge-shaped tails and large wings. Not the end of the world but I'd probably rework a dromie I drew last year if I could.
Here's Scott Potter of Thagomizers on... the world of Awesomebro.
Well, there certainly has been a lot going on since the last time I had the time to do one of these! We've seen Beasts of the Mesozoic and Saurian destroy their funding goals, providing more evidence that there is a decent market for scientifically-minded dinosaur media.
While the BOTM campaign is closed (finishing with enough money to greatly expand the original set of raptors), Saurian still has a few weeks. They've passed the "Post-impact Survival Mode" stretch goal, and it's certainly conceivable that they'll hit more of them. Head over to check out the pledge levels if you haven't already. I'm really excited about their field guide book, which is employing many paleoartists to illustrate the world of Saurian.
Meanwhile, on the research side of things, there have been a nice batch of recently funded paleo projects at Experiment. One that needs support now is Dean Lomax's effort to track down errant British ichthyosaurs in American museums. As Dean says, "This project will enable me to complete my ongoing study revising the genus, something that has been required for a very long time. Some specimens have been examined by a colleague but in order to critically evaluate them we must examine and assess eachothers findings together – like good scientists should!"
The deadline is June 19, so hop to!
Pawpawsaurus gets the nod here, and not just because the generic name reminds me of a certain smelly native tree 'round my parts. I just love Julio Lacerda's reconstruction, head down in mid-sniff on a rainy evening - perhaps getting a nice whiff of Actinomycetes.