July 1, 2011
Long Live Rock! At Archosaur Musings, David Hone lists some musicians who have been honored by paleontologists. “In addition to Qiliania graffini [named for the lead singer of the punk band BAD RELIGION], the most obvious example would be the dinosaur Masiakasaurus knopfleri, named for Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Trilobites, I know, cover the Beatles in some detail (even Pete Best gets one!) and there are ones for the Grateful Dead and Mick Jagger too.”
T-Rex Isn’t Going to Take It Anymore: Everything Dinosaur fact-checks a popular insult: “Using the term ‘dinosaur’ to represent an inefficient, outmoded person or organization seems a little bit unfair. On balance the Dinosauria were rather successful, arguably more successful than many orders of Mammalia, including our own part of the Mammalian family tree.”
Please Don’t Feed the Therapods: Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs points us to “Dinosaur Zookeeper,” a free online game at Adult Swim. “Take your fledgling dinosaur park from empty and safe to full and incredibly dangerous…. Remember, if too many visitors die it will be your job that’s going extinct.”
An Intersection of Time and Space: You can find Dinochick hanging out at the corner of Jurassic Avenue and Cretaceous Street.
All the Dinosaurs of the Rainbow: Sharon at Omegafauna shows off her impressive childhood collection of vintage “Dino Brights” toy figures.
The Pencil is Not Yet Extinct: At Paleo Illustrata, Stu Pond explains why, even in the age of sophisticated computer graphics, “the sketchbook is still arguably more important than any other tool an artist has at their disposal.”
Paleo Justice: At RMDC Paleo Lab, Anthony Maltese recounts how he and his team foiled a fossil poacher at a Kansas excavation site.
June 2, 2011
But I Play One on TV: At Archosaur Musings, David Hone notices a trend regarding how real-life scientists are portrayed during TV interviews: “If you are not sitting next to a series of flasks full of colored liquids then you are obviously not a scientist. Most of them also have a human skeleton in the background too. This is madness….I’m surprised they didn’t have a Van Der Graff generator in there or a shambling hunchbacked servant called Igor in the corner.” Be sure to check out his photo gallery of egregious examples.
Fashion Tips: Paleontology meets Cathy Horyn as I09 presents its list of best- and worst-dressed dinosaurs that have appeared in comic books and on screen. Take note, fashionistas: T-Rex + Green Smoking Jacket = Fabulous!
Before Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth: ArtEvolved has announced that it is accepting submissions for its July gallery devoted to the Carboniferous Period (359 million to 299 million years ago). So, if you’ve harbored a secret desire to paint an intimate portrait of a gastropod, now is your big chance.
Sticking Their Necks Out: Conventional wisdom states that giraffes have long necks so that they can reach higher leaves. But, at Tetrapod Zoology, Darren Naish points to an alternate theory that giraffe necks serve as a sexual signal: “The necks of males are bigger and thicker than those of females…the necks of males continue growing throughout life…[and] females prefer males with bigger necks.” Perhaps inevitably, an article that appeared in the Journal of Zoology applied the “necks for sex” hypothesis to sauropods. Naish and the guys at SV-POW! have posted a preview of their paper [pdf] refuting the theory.
Out and About: At Whirlpool of Life, Scott Sampson suggests some clever ways to get kids to explore the natural world. First, instead of using the term “hike,” tell them they’re embarking on an “adventure.” Also, introduce them to bird watching, and explain that they are observing “backyard dinosaurs.”
Just the Facts: Bob’s Dinosaur Blog presents “10 Dinosaur Facts Every Person Should Know.” He reminds folks, for instance, that most dinosaurs were vegetarians. (But the jury is still out on whether any were vegans.)
April 29, 2011
Thirty Earths: ArtEvolved points us to this remarkable set of images depicting the changing physical appearance of the Earth over the last 750 million years. The thirty visual reconstructions were recently released by the Planetary Habitability Laboratory of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo. The research team was granted access to NASA’s Next Generation Blue Marble project, a computer program that generates realistic color renditions of an area based upon geographic information such as topography, elevation, climate and vegetation.
On the Virtues of Flossing: Everything Dinosaur reports on the world’s oldest toothache.
Dino Chow: SV-Pow! gives a glowing review to the now-open World’s Largest Dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. Among the many nice details: a Plexiglas box filled with a one-day serving of sauropod food.
Battle of the Bulge: Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs presents a brief history of the Pot-Bellied Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Gator-Aid: At Jurassic Journeys, paleobiologist Matt Donnan raves about WitmerLab’s 3D Alligator project—a highly interactive, easily downloadable set of tools for understanding (or just playing with) alligator anatomy. As Donnan notes, “Alligators and the crocodylian kin form an important outgroup branch that we dinosaur paleontologists use to constrain and ‘root’ our anatomical reconstructions and inferences of dinosaurs as living animals.”
A Becklespinax By Any Other Name: Bob’s Dinosaur Blog lists ten dinosaur names that are so bad the creatures would “throttle some of the paleontologists that discovered them.”
A River Runs Through It: Grande Prairie, Alberta is home to Pipestone Creek, where hundreds of the horned dinosaur Pachyrhinosaurus perished millions of years ago. The blog Pseudoplocephalus informs us that members of the Grande Prairie community have spent the better part of a decade trying to find sponsors for their very own paleontology museum. Fundraisers have been a bit turned off by the proposed name of the institution: “The River of Death and Discovery Dinosaur Museum.” Fortunately, the museum organizers decided to opt for a less goth-sounding name: “The Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum,” in honor of the world-renowned paleontologist.
March 29, 2011
How is a Saurpod Like a Vacuum Cleaner? Find out at Everything Dinosaur.
Renaissance Reptiles: Art Evolved alerts us to the opening of Dinosauri in Carne e Ossa, the first large-scale paleoart exhibition in Italy. The event will be running through May 31 in Piacenza—a city renowned for its historical palaces and renaissance churches. And now, it also has dinosaurs. (Your move, Venice.)
The War of Art: A blogosphere battle royale has erupted in response to comments posted on the Dinosaur Mailing List by pioneering paleoartist Gregory S. Paul. As Asher Elbein writes over at The Faster Times, Paul “made a sweeping statement to the paleoart world: stop using my skeletal reconstructions. This sparked a massive discussion…Did he have the right to prevent artists from making use of his technical and scientific skeletal illustrations for the purposes of their own reconstructions? How far did his copyright claims extend? And most importantly, can you copyright the exact proportions of an animal skeleton?”
Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs has dubbed the debate, the “paleoart-pocalypse,” and is posting regular updates on his blog.
New Blog on the Block: Let’s extend a warm, paleosphere welcome to Skeletal Drawing, a blog that “will deal with the functional anatomy of dinosaurs and other extinct critters…as well as the limits on what can be confidently restored in extinct animals.” Be sure to check out the blog’s three-part series on “A History of Skeletal Drawings.”
Rex Riders: Looking for t-shirts featuring homo sapiens riding on dinosaurs? Dinochick has you covered.
Nazi Dinosaurs: Finally, someone has recognized the one crucial element that’s been missing from World War II strategy games: dinosaurs. Kotaku offers a preview of “Dino D-Day,” which will be released in early April. The premise, according to the game’s manufacturer: “The year is 1942. Adolf Hitler has succeeded in resurrecting dinosaurs. The reptilian horde has trampled Europe and the Mediterranean. Can nothing stop the Nazi’s dinosaur army?”
The Write Stuff: Greg Leitich Smith, author of novels for young adults—including the forthcoming dino-themed time-travel mystery, The Chronal Engine—is starting a blog series called Writers and Dinosaurs. “The idea is to feature children’s authors and illustrators in photos with dinosaurs of some kind. These can be realistic dinosaurs or skeletons from natural history museums or theme parks or can be dinosaurs of the more cartoon-y variety. So if you’re an author or illustrator and have a picture and want to be included, leave a comment with your email and I’ll be in touch!”
March 4, 2011
Blog Carnival #29: PhyloPic Launches, Dino Robots, Prosauropods and Riley the First Grade Paleontologist
Paleo-Profiles: A new site called PhyloPic is a free online archive of silhouhettes featuring organisms both living and extinct. Art Evolved presents this primer on how you can create and contribute silhouettes.
Welcome to the Neighborhood: The Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in Saint George, Utah recently unveiled its newest exhibit— the first Scelidosaurus ever displayed in the Western Hemisphere. Dinochik interviews paleontologist Jerry Harris about how he designed the installation.
It Walks! Sure, this past month we commemorated the 150th anniversary of Archaeopteryx, but Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs reminds us that it is also the 10th anniversary of Troody, a bipedal robot based on Troodon formosus and developed by Peter Dilworth at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab. “Dilworth was concerned with solving the problems of bipedal locomotion in robots, and in a canny move to draw attention to his work and get youth interested in robotics, he chose to work on the theropod body plan.”
Growth Spurt: Dracovenator has begun his countdown of the ten largest prosauropods—herbivorous dinosaurs that lived during the Triassic and early Jurassic—and were among the biggest of the early dinosaurs.
Bringing a Shrimp Down to Size: Recent research suggests that one of Earth’s earliest predators—the carnivorous shrimp Anomalocaris, which lived in oceans three billion years ago—wasn’t all that fearsome. New 3D modeling of the critter’s mouth reveals that it likely couldn’t have even penetrated the exoskeleton of trilobites. Needless to say, this was welcome news for the denizens of Walcott’s Quarry.
Jurassic Food Pyramid: Illustrator Eduardo San Gil, a self-described “28.78-year-old boy,” presents this handy infographic of the “T-Rex Diet.”
Are You Smarter Than a First-Grader? At Superoceras, David Tana introduces us to Riley, “the first grade paleontologist,” who stars in his very own YouTube series (Episode 1: Carnivores). “In all seriousness, if this kid keeps it up, he’s going to go places,” Tana writes, “he’s already starting to throw his weight around and question the established view of things.”