Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Thai zoos win

Recently, Niroot (yes! Him again!) went back to Chiang Mai in Thailand and visited the Chiang Mai zoo, where he found the below information board - among others - explaining how birds are dinosaurs.

Admittedly, I can't read most of the text since, well, I don't speak (or read) Thai. So the main text could contain complete nonsense, for all I know. But the diagrams! The wonderful diagrams! I've been to a reasonable number of zoos in my life and have never seen anything quite like this. Another sign even featured some of Matt Martyniuk's restorations of feathered nonavian theropods.

Zoos: more of this, please.

One other thing: if you're thinking that it's been a little quiet around here recently, you're right. David's been very busy with his degree work and I've just been rather short on cash, so unable to get out there and find interesting stuff as much as I'd like. Hopefully things will pick up again soon, though. If nothing else, I have a fantastically geeky day out among some awesomely terrible life-size dinosaurs planned for next weekend, as well as more Vintage Dinosaur Art from the '70s on the way. Stay tuned.

Until then, here's a photo of a cassowary's (Casuarius casuarius) big behind that Niroot took while at the zoo. Cassowaries are perhaps some of the birds that are most evocative of their nonavian theropod relatives, as was explored in the Inside Nature's Giants episode 'The Dinosaur Bird'. Enjoy.


  1. I humbly beg forgiveness for inadvertently and continually littering LITC with my tiresome presence. ;_;

    The first few lines of text that we can see in this picture is a continuation of something else, and mentions something (or things) '...sharing a common ancestry, and possessing all the qualities which point to the evolution of flight from ground-dwelling dinosaurs to birds of today' (paraphrased).

    The following paragraph is headed 'The Evolution of Flight', and details the advantages of flight in feeding, nesting and avoiding predation, and mentions how wings evolved from the forelimbs of non-avian dinosaurs, then continues off the picture.

    The description directly beneath the diagram on the left reads 'the positions of air sacs in dinosaurs, compared to birds'.

  2. This is awesome. All zoos, wildlife sancturaries and other places where people view birds should have this.

  3. The Velociraptor lacks plumage, and the ordering is very odd. Should go more like: [Sinosauropteryx, {Caudipteryx, Protarchaeopteryx}, {Archaeopteryx, Unenlagia, Velociraptor}, Eoalulavis, Corvus].

  4. I hope Matt M. got credit/ payment for his stuff that was used by this zoo!

    Things will indeed pick up, once my semester's over on December 9. My independent study project will be featured here when it's done, for sure. Sorry for the dropping out of cyberspace thing - I'm too easily distracted and I can't afford distraction at the moment. Eye on the prize!

  5. @Mike: Yeah, the ordering is a little strange. But I can forgive them for mentioning the common respiratory system. How many natural history museums, never mind zoos, mention that?

    @David: Can't wait to see that!

  6. Of course, Chiang Mai zoo might get points for 'birds are dinosaurs', but Thai copyright laws leave much to be desired. I can only apologise to Matt Martyniuk and the other artists whose artwork were used, as I highly doubt they were reimbursed or their permission sought. I expect, as with most similar cases, that the illustrations were simply sourced from the internet.

  7. A lot of Matt's work is published with a Creative Commons license. The zoo would therefore be free to use it, as long as they credited him. I actually used his illustration of Pteranodon longiceps in my thesis (with credit of course).

  8. I thought about the Creative Commons license too. Though again, I have my doubts about the proper credit. I will have to investigate this display in greater depth the next time I'm there (which may be a long way off yet).

  9. I don't think this would count as attempting to make money from the work, so as long as they gave him full credit they're alright. If they haven't, doesn't take much effort, and they're just mean. ;)

  10. Or merely negligent, which isn't much better... ¬_¬

  11. I'm surprised I'm the 1st 1 to mention that the right-hand diagram is from the NatGeo article, "Dinosaurs Take Wing" (See pages 893-897: ).

  12. @ David Orr:
    This is the first I've heard of it! But if it was anything from Wiki credit along with the image is all that's required by the CC license. I can't tell if they gave credit for the images shown in this post but I'm not holding my breath ;)

    @ Mike Keesey:
    That image is from the 1999 NatGeo feathered dinosaur issue (_Caudipteryx_ color). IIRC this was published before the whole caudipterids as oviraptorosaurs thing had gained traction. In that issue they were treated as basal avialans.


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