January 29, 2010
News You Can Use: Fed up with constant errors in the media, David Hone at Archosaur Musings has written “A Guide for Journalists Reporting on Dinosaur Stories.” Among his tips: avoid generating false controversies. “Don’t deliberately hunt down contradictory quotes and generate straw men for others to pull down. Science is about consensus NOT balance, so seeking out an alternative point of view does not necessarily make things better (and indeed rarely does).”
The Year That Was: All hail the Paleo King, who offers his 2009 retrospective list of the best and worst in dinosaurs and paleontology.
Fun For All Ages: Got scissors and glue? Then Mike Taylor at SV-POW! can show you how to make your very own brachiosaurid cervical vertebra!
A Matter of Perspective: Biostratigraphy is a technique for assessing the relative ages of rock strata by studying the fossil remains contained within. As Walcott’s Quarry illustrates, that’s great if you’re a geologist—but rather traumatizing if you’re a trilobite.
Deep in the Heart of Texas: Chinleana makes a pilgrimage to a small Texas town named Spur. What’s the appeal? An impressive painting on the side of the local history museum: “Let’s just say that outdoor murals of aetosaurs are rare, and to someone who has spent over a decade researching these animals and especially this taxon—visiting the area where the original specimens were collected, the town D. spurensis was named for, and this spectacular mural, is a thrill (at least for me).
Wear the Wild Things Are: Dinochick highlights the latest must-have paleo-fashion item. Behold, Jurassic Parka!
Make Dinos, Not War: Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs spotlights a fascinating sculpture—“Triceracopter: Hope for the Obsolescence of War,” which melds the body of a decommissioned helicopter with a fiberglass Triceratops head and limbs. “The meaning of the piece is pretty clear— it plays off the durable old conception of dinosaurs as failed monstrosities, the most outlandish critters on the evolutionary discard pile. A bit on the nose, and while I disagree with dinosaurs being saddled with this reputation—no group of animals who dominated terrestrial ecosystems for 120,000,000 years has much to apologize for—you can’t fault the craftsmanship.”
Keeping it Real: Reflecting on the pterosaur-inspired “Mountain Banshees” that appear in the blockbuster film Avatar, Asher Elbein argues that the most effective critters in sci-fi and monster movies are those that take their cues from paleontology: “Things that look prehistoric just seem more impressive to most people, even if they can’t quite say why. A flying reptile should look like a pterosaur….A big bipedal predator is going to look like a theropod. It’s not a matter of unoriginality, although alien creatures almost certainly will look nothing like dinosaurs. But it’s what the audience expects, deep down. Dinosaurs are alien to us in the most fundamental of ways, even when they seem familiar.”
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