Monday, February 9, 2015

Mesozoic Miscellany 72

In the News

Early snakes have been in the news, with a press push and gorgeous Julius Csotonyi artwork accompanying the publication of a paper in Nature Communications. In their new paper, Michael Caldwell et al have described four ancient snake species dating to the mid-Jurassic, including Diablophis gilmorei. Read more at Laelaps. This is another fine example of why art is central to palaeontological outreach.

That iconic ambassador of American sauropods, Dippy the Diplodocus, is ceding the main hall at the Natural History Museum in London to a new blue whale skeleton. Paleontologist Steve Brusatte is all in favor of it, even though public consternation has sparked a #SaveDippy hashtag. Read more from Brian Switek at Dinologue.

Around the Dinoblogosphere

Our own Asher Elbein has written about Alabama's deep history at Atlas Obscura.

Liz Martin offers a great overview of Canadian pterosaurs at Gimpasaura.

Sci-art legend and stalwart artist's rights proponent Glendon Mellow shared some of his amazing tattoo commissions at Symbiartic, including Brian Switek's new Torvosaurus.

At Tyrannosauroidea Central, Thomas Carr continues to offer valuable insight into the ethics of the fossil market, weighing in on the Naturalis Museum's obtaining of a Tyrannosaurus rex specimen from a private landowner.

Speaking of the Tyrant Lizards, Mark Wildman writes about The Lost Tyrannosaurid of Kazakhstan at Saurian.

Check out Rebecca Groom's amazing plush Velociraptors, preparing for shipment.

For practical advice for those looking to pursue a science career and be good community members as well, look to Lisa Buckley at Shaman of the Atheistic Sciences.

Dino-fights! At his blog, David Prus offers up his favorite fictional dinosaur battles.

Garth Monger designed a cute papercraft Aquilops anybody can print and make.

Mark Witton revisited two of his iconic ceratopsid illustrations, but this is no George Lucas/Special Edition situation. The changes are definite improvements to my eye, and clearly show Mark's steadily improving skills.

Extant Theropod Appreciation

At the great Window to Wildlife blog, photographer Jim Edlhuber captured a great sequence of photos of a Red-Tailed Hawk nabbing a vole. I'm especially enamored of the fourth image in the series.

Paleoart Pick

Fuzzy wuzzy ceratopsids may yet be a stretch as far as fossil evidence goes (and some people have really negative reactions to them), but I appreciate them. Following the post about Mark Witton's ceratopsian pieces above, here's a super-quilly, porcupine-influenced Bagaceratops by DeviantArt member Azraelangelo.


  1. "Paleontologist Steve Brusatte is all in favor of it, even though public consternation has sparked a #SaveDippy hashtag. Read more from Brian Switek at Dinologue. "

    I'd feel better about this if I heard an endorsement from a dino expert who's a good popular source (E.g. Switek), as opposed to 1 who's a bad popular source (E.g. Brusatte; See "Good" for Switek & "Semi-good" for Brusatte: ) or a dino-ignorant whale expert who should either read Sampson's "Dinosaur Odyssey" or stick his head in a blowhole.

    "Dino-fights! At his blog, David Prus offers up his favorite fictional dinosaur battles."

    If you like those, you'll love my upcoming Amazon Reviews in March. The books in question involve dino fights to a major extent.


    1. Woah! I happen to disagree strongly with Steve Brusatte about the NHM Diplodocus (which I can't bring myself to call "Dippy"), but the idea that he's a "bad popular source" would be laughable if it wasn't so offensive. Brusatte is a superb and very productive palaeontologist who consistently produces excellent work (and is a nice guy to boot).

      He's wrong on the Diplodocus, but that's because his arguments are mistaken (and yes, I owe the world an SV-POW! post explaining why). But to criticise those arguments on an ad hominem basis would be wrong even if there was a problem with the man. But there isn't.

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    3. No offense, but I think you misunderstood what I said: I didn't say anything "ad hominem" about Brusatte in my previous comment; All I said was that he's "a bad popular source" & included a link in which I explain what I mean by that; I'm guessing you didn't check the link before commenting, so I including the relevant parts below; As you can see, I said that his technical work is good & that his popular work is bad (as dino experts like Naish have shown); There's nothing there about him as a person. Point is, as good as he is as doing science, he's not very good at popularizing science, & so I can't take his opinions about popularizing science seriously.

      Benton ("Professor Mike Benton - Earth Sciences": ) & Brusatte ("Stephen Brusatte, Paleontology Research": ) are consistently good sources for the specialist (E.g. "Dinosaur Paleobiology": ). However, they're also consistently not-so-good sources for casual readers/the enthusiast (E.g. "Dinosaurs": ).*

      *Naish's "All Yesterdays Book Launch Talk" ( ) sums up what I mean.

  2. I love how palaeontologists are seemingly tripping over themselves to say that we should replace a stupid old dinosaur with a wonderful conservation-endorsing whale... not that I have a strong opinion on the matter. Anyway, just wanted to say that the Bagaceratops owes less to porcupines and more to red river hogs.

  3. My thoughts on #saveDippy, finally posted on SV-POW! (and featuring some new #MikeTaylorAwesomeDinoArt):

  4. Not that I want to steal anyone's credit or honour or valour or whathaveyou... I've been wondering if I had little something to do with the fossil tattoo boom-thingie?
    I have a love/hate relationship with the Internet and especially DeviantART (which has been a platform for more art thievery than I can recall, not that this would be the case now).
    I drew a design based on Gorgosaurus specimen in Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and got it tattooed on my chest back in -07, -08?
    I posted a photo of the finished work along with the design and got a huge response of everyone wanting the same, and then it started to appear in all sorts of versions on other peoples' skin. I urged people to not to copy but to create their own, and finally ended up removing the whole thing from my Gallery.
    Still, nowadays as a working tattoo artist myself, I still have that relationship with the Internet. Great way to share stuff, but you always have to remember, you might be sharing more than you want.
    I have plenty of ink in my skin, and a lot more new tattooed fossils on me, but I guess I keep to myself for a while now.

    1. Back when I was on DeviantArt regularly, I remember being a big fan of your work, Tuomas. Didn't realize you've gotten into tattoos. Just had a look and your body of work is impressive.

      In my case, I like black line tattoo designs: I drew my own flying trilobite design a couple of years before I decided to get it. Shortly afterward, I started getting requests for similar black line science tattoos.

      Carl Zimmer was gathering science tattoos in posts on his Science Tattoo Emporium, which eventually led to the Science Ink book.

      I suspect that there were a lot of forces increasing the visibility of dinosaur skeleton tattoos around the same time, as loading speeds for artwork and the science communication world took off online.

      (edited so it is inline as a comment)

    2. Thanks and thanks for the book tip :) And keep up the good work!

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