September 11, 2012
I have a soft spot for Dryptosaurus. The enigmatic tyrannosauroid was found in my previous home state of New Jersey, and, more than that, played a key role in helping 19th-century paleontologists revise their understanding of just what a dinosaur really was. I even took the theropod’s original name–”Laelaps“, sadly found to be preoccupied by a kind of mite–as my nom de blog. The dinosaur perfectly combines my love of tyrannosaurs and the history of science with a reminder of where I came from.
Despite the historic importance of Dryptosaurus, though, the Late Cretaceous predator has since been overshadowed by bigger, badder dinosaurian carnivores. While Dryptosaurus seemed to be the baddest the prehistoric Jersey shore had to offer when E.D. Cope first described the tyrannosauroid in 1866, and was forever immortalized by artist Charles R. Knight in his “Leaping Laelaps” painting, more complete skeletons of other theropods had relegated Dryptosaurus to the background. Even worse, there’s little hope that we’re ever going to completely comprehend this dinosaur. Many isolated bones have been attributed to Dryptosaurus over the years, but New Jersey’s Cretaceous dinosaurs are known from bits and pieces that were washed out into the primeval Atlantic. Even if there is another partial skeleton out there somewhere, the suburban sprawl of the Garden State has probably paved over it by now.
That’s why I’m ecstatic that the exceptional artist and sculptor Tyler Keillor is planning on creating a full-scale Dryptosaurus restoration. Even though much about this dinosaur remains unknown, I think Keillor’s Kickstarter project is a wonderful way to pay tribute to one of my favorite dinosaurs. Even better, the project will highlight the long history of American paleontology and the critical role East coast fossils played in our ever-shifting understanding of dinosaurs. I’m confident Keillor can successfully bring the dinosaur back to life, or as close to it as art supplies will allow–two years ago, I interviewed Keillor about a full-size, fuzzy Dryptosaurus head he had created. It’s a gorgeous sculpture that really captures the spirit of the dinosaur. Now it’s time to put the rest of the tyrannosauroid’s body in place.
March 26, 2012
Eight years ago, 100 dinosaurs roamed Pittsburgh. They trod into town as part of the DinoMite Days event. Many have since disappeared, but a few—including a Tyrannosaurus posing as Batman—have recently been spotted. Reader Traci Suppa sent in a snapshot of an additional three decorative dinosaurs. A Stegosaurus (“Philiposaurus”), Torosaurus (“Ketchupsaurus”) and Tyrannosaurus (“Mr. Dig”) still stand outside the Wintergarden building at PPG Place in the middle of the city. I especially like the Ketchupsaurus—if only condiments actually came in Torosaurus-shaped bottles.
Have you seen a dinosaur or other prehistoric creature in an unusual place? Please send a photo to email@example.com.
January 27, 2012
Last week I asked you submit your favorite atrocious roadside dinosaurs. While the sculptures along the main drag of Dinosaur, Colorado come close to the top of the list, my vote last week went to the ugly, ugly dinosaurs outside Stewart’s Petrified Wood near Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park. Readers sent in a few additional contenders for the title.
Reader Mark Ryan sent in this sad, decaying dinosaur that stands near Interstate 15 in the vicinity of Victorville, California. No wonder the dinosaur needs those metal rods to support itself—its legs look like they’re made of cooked noodles.
A regular favorite of Dinosaur Tracking readers is the truly strange Dinosaur Kingdom in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Suggested as a top choice for weird dinosaurs by reader Laura Wilson, this tourist trap features a peculiar southern mash-up of dinosaurs and the Civil War—Union Soldiers are chomped on and terrorized by Mesozoic monstrosities. This particular shot, sent in last year by Kathy Krein, features a rather surprised looking cowboy who looks as if he’s only just begun to realize that riding a deinonychosaur was a horrible decision.
Reader Kelly Enright sent in a set of several dinosaurian abominations from around the country. This one, complete with glowing eyes, stands guard over Goony Golf in New York.
While not actually a dinosaur, this boxy mosasaur outside Big Mike’s Rocks & Gifts in Kentucky deserves an honorable mention, especially since the poor thing is stranded hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean.
While not the absolute worst dinosaur I have ever seen, this Tyrannosaurus at the entrance to Kentucky’s Dinosaur World is one of the creepiest. So if the head is up there, and the legs are on either side, what part of the dinosaur am I walking into, exactly?
We may have a new winner! While this automotive Triceratops—I think?—from Hanksville, Utah does win some bonus points for recycling, my first thought when I opened the image was “Oh geez! Kill it with fire!” This dinosaur is a junkyard nightmare, and surely a top contender for the worst roadside dinosaur ever.
August 23, 2011
I’m not that good making sand sculptures. Give me a pail and a shovel and I can make a rockin’ series of turrets for a sand castle, but the finer points of sand art elude me. That’s why this beach sculpture seen in Albufeira, Portugal is so impressive. Sent in by reader Sean Markey, the art shows a group of carnivorous dinosaurs chowing down on a sauropod dinosaur, much like some of the Late Jurassic dinosaurs of that country’s Lourinhã Formation must have done. I don’t know how likely an Allosaurus would have been to share with a hungry Torvosaurus in real life, though.
August 8, 2011
I was among the crowd that saw Cowboys & Aliens during the film’s opening weekend. Sure, the scenery was nice—parts of the film were shot in the vicinity of the famous dinosaur-bearing strata at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico—but there was something missing from the film. I’m not just talking about a good plot or dialogue that involved more than Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig growling at each other. The movie needed a little something extra, and today’s Dinosaur Sighting from reader Kathy Krein might be the answer.
In Natural Bridge, Virginia, there’s a very peculiar theme park where dinosaurs stomp on and slash at Union soldiers. Charming. Kathy stopped by the place, and while she didn’t get to actually go in to see the absurd alternate history, she did snap this shot of a cowboy riding a raptor outside the entrance. I think that’s just what we need for the inevitable sequel to Jon Favreau’s summer blockbuster—Cowboys & Aliens & Dinosaurs. (Or maybe not…)
“I’m not a dinosaur expert so I have no idea the name of this particular dinosaur,” Kathy writes, “but I did think the look on the cowboy’s face was appropriate.” I agree. If you find yourself riding a Deinonychus or other large dromaeosaur, you’d better make sure you keep riding it lest you find out how effective those recurved claws can be.
Have you seen a dinosaur or other prehistoric creature in an unusual place? Please send your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.