Monday, August 15, 2016
Thursday, July 28, 2016
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.