Saturday, April 30, 2005

India Losing Priceless Dinosaur Fossils

From Sify comes a report by Vijay Dabur in Chandigarh:

Rich fossilized remains of dinosaurs in parts of India are being lost as tribes in these areas are selling them to foreigners who know the value of the product in the international market, according to Dr Ashu Khosla.

Dr. Khosla has been working for over 14 years to excavate fossil dinosaur skeletal remains from the Cretaceous deposits of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. More recently, the scientist excavated two big femur bones of a plant-eating dinosaur (Sauropod) from deposits in Madhya Pradeshs Dhar district. According to him, these gigantic bones are about 1.2 metres in length and the total length of the animal was 25 metres and is the oldest fossil record of dinosaurs from Central India. However, the tribal population and poor people of these areas were excavating dinosaur fossils unscientifically and selling them to foreigners, which is worrying the scientists of the local Punjab University's department of Geology. "Some tribes, especially Bheel, store fossil eggs of the dinosaur in their houses and sell them to foreigners at a price ranging between Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per egg," says the scientist. "It is unfortunate that India is ignorant about the value of these precious fossils of dinosaurs. The practice of tribals selling them for peanuts is ruining our geology," he says.

According to the scientist, the price of fossilized egg of dinosaur is around Rs 2.5 lakh in the international market. In the past 14 years, around 15,000 eggs of the monstrous reptiles, some of them going up to 25 metre in length, had been discovered in India, says Khosla. The scientist says Indian dinosaur nesting sites are extensive and are found along a 10,000-sq-km stretch of river Narmada from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh to Kutch in Gujarat.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Steve R. Bissette's The Paleo Path: The History of Dino-Comics - Part 7

Note: The following is modified from Steve Bissette's introduction to the new collection of the comic book PALEO by Jim Lawson.

This Week - Gorgo's Mash O' Monsters :

As “Young Earth” continued in every issue of TUROK, competing publishers jumped on the monster-boom bandwagon of the early 1960s, spicing their giant monster comics with the occasional back-up strip dedicated to prehistoric animals and early man.

None of these approached the quality of either “Young Earth” or the Classics Illustrated comics; Dell’s own mercurial KONA, MONARCH OF MONSTER ISLE (debuting early in 1962) was drawn by Sam Glanzman and brimmed with imaginative renditions of dinosaurs, mutants (below), and monsters, but only its second issue (May-July, 1962) featured a perfunctory one-pager dedicated to dinosaurs.

Furthermore, editorial standards at, say, Charlton Comics were much less exacting than those at Dell, Gold Key, or Gilberton. Proper spelling (much less any semblance of ‘scientific accuracy’) was a struggle on the best of days. Among the misspellings we young comic-reading punks particularly prized was “A Vistit to Earth” (in GORGO #23, Sept. 1965). Thus, at the age of ten, “vistit” entered our vocabulary as a synonym for ‘breast’ that was vague and disorienting enough to be spoken aloud in the vicinity of adults without provoking a slap to the head.

The prehistoric ‘back up’ comics in the pages of Charlton’s GORGO and KONGA comics were, and remain, laughable curios, of interest primarily for their art -- or their risible crudity, which invited derisive snorts from kids and outright laughter from older readers. Much as I loved Steve Ditko (left) and the Montes/Bache art in both titles, there was no mistaking the abysmal (and always uncredited) rush-jobs most of the back-up pieces truly were, from GORGO #3’s slap dash “Men and Monsters” (Sept., 1961) onwards. However rough and ready the art might have been in Ditko’s rare appearance among these back-up strips (KONGA #3, 1961), there was no mistaking his work: it was alive and invigorating, even at its silliest (e.g., a caveman smashing out the teeth of an attacking saber-tooth cat in a cartoonish gag in “Why He Survived,” KONGA #8, Sept. 1962). The rest of the back-up stories seemed anonymous and disturbingly amateurish; our first intimations, really, that mere mortals were responsible for the comics we devoured. Heck, even Don Perlin’s work seemed a breath of fresh air by compare (“And Then Came Man,” KONGA’S REVENGE #2, Summer 1963). The complete lack of research evident in a strip like “The Beginning” (REPTISAURUS SPECIAL EDITION #1, Summer, 1963) yielded delirious creatures unlike any that ever lived (below) -- including bizarre putty-like fishes with fleshy, eyeless faces and a cross between a unicorn and a dragon that was supposed to represent the first mammals -- and the featureless phallic Brontosaur of “The Victor” (KONGA #19, Sept. 1964).

The stiff, stodgy art for “From Beyond Time” (GORGO #13, June 1963) seemed to imply that Brontosaurs (the outmoded moniker for Apatosaurus) mated by rubbing their necks together (“...but they were young and in their prime...”), provoking some sniggering on the playground at the close of that school year (it could also be argued that the latter piece also fueled my own dinosaur comics, as a classmate then told me -- at the age of eight -- “Jeez, Bissette, you draw better dinosaur comics than this!”).

Like I said, it was slim pickings for a dinosaur-comic junkie. I made due with the rock-solid TUROK, the hallucinogenic KONA, and the Robert Kanigher lunatic-scripted, Andru/Esposito-illustrated “The War That Time Forgot!” in STAR-SPANGLED WAR STORIES (below), and dreamed about drawing my own honest-to-God dinosaur comics one day.

As time demonstrated, I was hardly alone.

Next Week: Part 7 - Up From The Underground.

Read Part 6 of the series by clicking HERE.

Thanks to:

The Grand Comic Book Database for many of the colour covers used in this posting;
Bob H. of the KIRBY COMICS BLOG for the cool scans (too many to be used in this posting but stayed tuned...!);
and, Scott Shaw's! OddBall Comics.

All art and properties are (C) their creators and/or current copyright holders.

Steve R. Bissette
is an artist, writer and film historian who lives in Vermont. He is noted for, amongst many things, his long run as illustrator of SWAMP THING for DC Comics in the 1980's and for self-publishing the acclaimed horror anthology TABOO and a 'real' dinosaur comic TYRANT(R).

Born This Day: Harold C. Urey

April 29, 1893 - January 5, 1981

From Today in Science History:

American scientist awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1934 for his discovery of deuterium, the heavy form of hydrogen (1932). He was active in the development of the atomic bomb. He contributed to the growing basis for the theory of what was widely accepted as the origin of the Earth and other planets. In 1953, Stanley L. Miller and Urey simulated the effect of lightning in the prebiotic atmosphere of Earth with an electrical discharge in a mixture of hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and water. This produced a rich mixture of aldehydes and carboxylic and amino acids (as found in proteins, adenine and other nucleic acid bases). Urey calculated the temperature of ancient oceans from the amount of certain isotopes in fossil shells.

Read more about him HERE.

Image from HERE

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Life Of A Grad Student

Day 649

Birds May Be Behind Exploding German Toads

From Red Nova News the full story is HERE.

Nice to know that these living dinosaurs can still surprize us.

Dino Eggs Over EZ

As a teaser for tomorrow's "History of Dinosaur Comics, Part 7", by 'Snappy' Steve Bissette, Bob H. of the KIRBY COMICS BLOG provides us with a great drawing by Sam Glanzman from Kona #2. On Intelligent Design has a free-access article on Intelligent Design and some of the people behind the 'movement'. Click HERE to read it.

This is one topic that the scientific community should pay closer attention to so we'll be able to fight the good fight when it comes crashing through our doors.

King Kong Sneak Peak

While I was back in Canada last weekend I picked up the latest issue of French cinema magazine "Cine Live"(Mars 2005) to read on the plane flight back to Cleveland. Cover featured this month is Peter Jackson's upcoming remake of "King Kong" due out this December. The article has lots of concept art (e.g. below) and other tidbits of info about the movie.

Like its french counterpart, "Premiere", "Cine Live" puts most North American film magazines to shame. The average issue provides in-depth coverage of many excellent European films that will never see the light of day in North America (other than on DVD), as well as giving critical evaluations of the usual blockbusters that go beyond just reprinting studio press releases. Additionally, you'll get double-sided, pull-out posters (often featuring art that differs significantly from the North American versions), and an hour long DVD (region 2) featuring movie trailers, articles and art that never makes it onto the DVD releases. Any film fan with a basic understanding of French will get a lot out of any issue; everyone else can enjoy the excellent selection of photographs and other art. All for the cost of about 5 bucks Canadian.

For more info on "Cine Live" go to

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Dr. Edwin R. Delfs Memorial Lecture in Earth Sciences: Dinosaurs

Join the Cleveland Museum of Natural History FRIDAY, APRIL 29 AT 7:00PM, for a celebration of the life and accomplishments of the late Edwin R. Delfs, M.D., who played a pivotal role in the history of the Museum. In 1954, the young Delfs was charged with finding and returning to Cleveland a dinosaur of spectacular proportions. Over a two-year period, Delfs and his team surveyed and retrieved the unique sauropod they'd discovered that is now a signature Museum exhibit. The specimen was named Haplocanthosaurus delfsi in his honor. Delfs also collected some of the largest and most fragile specimens in the Museum's mineral collection, including the huge gypsum crystals and delicate angel-wing calcite on permanent exhibit.

Dr. Jeffrey A. Wilson, assistant professor of geological sciences and assistant curator of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan, is an expert on the subject of the origin and evolution of sauropod dinosaurs. He presents an overview of what paleontologists know about long-necked sauropods such as "Happy."

Tickets: Members $5; nonmembers $7. Call the box office at the CMNH for more details; 216-231-1177, or visit

megalodon vs. The Great White

From a Wright State University Press Release:

A significant debate is currently underway in the scientific community over the evolution of the Great White shark, and Chuck Ciampaglio, Ph.D., an assistant professor of geology at the Wright State University Lake Campus, is right in the middle of it. The issue is if the Great White, one of the most feared predators of the sea, evolved from the huge prehistoric Carcharocles megalodon shark or if its ancestry rests with the mako shark.

painting (c) Dan Varner 1999

“Most scientists would probably say the Great Whites evolved from the megalodon line, which existed from two million to twenty million years ago. They were huge sharks, approximately the length of a Greyhound bus and possessing teeth that were up to six inches long,” explains Ciampaglio. “However, our research, which is based on analyzing fossils of several hundred shark teeth, shows that the Great White shares more similarities with the mako shark.” He added that because sharks regularly replace their teeth, it is relatively easy to obtain tooth samples through fossil field work along the Atlantic seaboard.

Our analysis of their teeth shows that Great White and mako sharks have very similar tooth growth trajectories, while those of the great white and megalodon are not similar. Analysis of both the root and entire tooth also shows a remarkable similarity in all four tooth positions under study for both the Great White and mako shark. Serration densities possess a strong similarity between the Great White and makos, where the serration densities between the Great White and megalodon exhibit sharp differences. In summary, our morphological (form and structure) evidence strongly supports the theory that the Great White is descended from the prehistoric mako group.

Image from HERE.

Born This Day: Philip Hauge Abelson

April 27, 1913- August 1, 2004

From Today in Science History:

Philip Hauge Abelson was a U.S. physical chemist who proposed the gas diffusion process for separating uranium-235 from uranium-238 which was essential to the development of the atomic bomb. In collaboration with the U.S. physicist Edwin M. McMillan, he discovered a new element, later named neptunium, produced by irradiating uranium with neutrons. At the end WW II, his report on the feasibility of building a nuclear-powered submarine gave birth to the U.S. program in that field. In 1946, Abelson returned to the Carnegie Institution and pioneered in utilizing radioactive isotopes. As director of the Geophysics Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution (1953-71), he found amino acids in fossils, and fatty acids in rocks more than 1,000,000,000 years old.

Image from HERE.


Herbert Spencer
April 27, 1820 - Decemeber 8, 1903

English sociologist and philosopher who was an early adherent of evolutionary theory. He regarded society as an organism which was evolving from a simple primitive state to a complex heterogeneous form according to the designs of an unknown and unknowable absolute force. Similarly, knowledge developed from an undifferentiated mass into the various separate sciences. Formulating his ideas independently of Darwin, Spencer coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" as early as 1852. He applied Darwin's theory of natural selection (proposed four years later) to social development and in A System of Synthetic Philosophy (1862-96) presented a philosophical system to the natural and social sciences, synthesizing metaphysics, biology, psychology, sociology, and ethics.

Image from HERE.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Untamed Dino Art

As of this posting you've got two hours left to bid on this on EBAY.

I Saw Ogopogo!

Well, not me personally, but many people claim to have seen this legendary creature that is supposed to inhabit a picturesque lake in British Columbia.

For the curious the CBC Archives currently has posted on their website a wonderful series of clips from radio and television about “Great Canadian Monsters, Myths, & Mysteries”.

Click HERE to choose between items on Ogopogo, Sasquatch, Loup-Garou, or why lemmings don’t commit suicide.

Note: you’ll need some sort of media player to watch/listen to these. Be warned that the site is addictive!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Treasure Chest Unearthed

Thanks to Bob of the Kirby Comics Blog an image of the cover of "Treasure Chest" Vol. 16, No. 9, from 1961, that Steve Bissette discussed in his 'History of Comics, part 6' has been located and added to that column. Go HERE and scroll down to see it.

Joggins Fossil Forest

From the latest issue of Geology:

Role of evaporite withdrawal in the preservation of a unique coal-bearing succession: Pennsylvanian Joggins Formation, Nova Scotia. John W.F. Waldron, University of Alberta, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and Michael C. Rygel, Dalhousie University, Department of Earth Sciences, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Geology 33(5): 337-340.

The cliffs at Joggins, on the coast of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, are famous for fossil trees that are preserved in sandstone and shale layers known as the Joggins Formation. The trees stand upright, and are 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall. The section in the coastal cliffs is widely regarded as the world's best exposure of Carboniferous-age, coal-bearing strata--distinctions that will feature prominently in the Canadian government's pending application for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This section profoundly influenced the founders of the science of geology in the 19th century, and is mentioned in Darwin's Origin of Species. The fossil trees, known as lycopsids, grew in tropical wetlands, a little over 300 million years ago. The mud and sand in which they grew accumulated extremely rapidly; the Joggins Formation is about 1.5 km (just under a mile) thick, but was laid down in only about 1.5 million years, suggesting that the area was subsiding rapidly. The new results presented in this paper are based on seismic profiles, recently collected in the course of petroleum exploration for in the Cumberland Basin just east of Joggins. These profiles show that layers of salt were once present deep below the surface, but that the salt was able to flow because of its softness and low density, rising to the surface in structures known as diapirs. The profiles show that the salt was moving while the Joggins Formation was being deposited. The withdrawal of salt led to the subsidence of the low-lying area in which the Joggins trees grew, leading to the preservation of both the coal seams and these famous fossil forests.

For more on the Joggins Fossil Cliffs click HERE.

Original image from HERE.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Young Earth Annual

In response to the previous posting that gave a sample from the "Young Earth" series that ran in "Turok, Son of Stone", Pete Von Sholly sent along another great cover for a "book that never was". Go check out Pete's site HERE.

Pete's not just about dinosaurs -- at his site you'll find the box illustrations for monster model kits from movies like "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" and the original "The Thing". How did I ever miss those cool kits when I was a kid? Well, at least Pete "saved" the boxes!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Cretaceous Tsunami

New and Noted from the latest volume of CRETACEOUS RESEARCH:

A tsunami deposit at the Cretaceous/Paleogene boundary in the Neuquén Basin of Argentina. Roberto A. Scasso, Andrea Concheyro, Wolfgang Kiessling, Martin Aberhan, Lutz Hecht, Francisco A. Medina and Roald Tagle. Pages 283-297

From the abstract:

A coarse-grained sandstone bed of Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary age occurs in a homogeneous neritic shelf mudstone sequence (Jagüel Formation) in the Neuquén Basin of Argentina. This bed, 15–25 cm thick, contains abundant plagioclase, broken shells and sharks' teeth. Sedimentological features include an erosive base, abundant rip-up clasts, normal grading and hummocky cross-bedding. The K/Pg boundary age of the bed was confirmed by calcareous nannofossils. Similar to other sections in the Gulf Coast region and the Danish Basin, a “dead zone” significantly depleted in macrofossils is evident in the basal 1 m above the clastic layer. In combination, these features suggest that the clastic layer represents a tsunami deposit that was related to the Chicxulub impact event in Yucatan/Mexico. Mechanisms of tsunami wave amplification in this extremely distal and somewhat protected setting are poorly understood but the funnel-shape of the basin may have promoted the unusually strong sedimentological response.

From the same volume:

The first non-avian maniraptoran skeletal remains from the Lower Cretaceous of Korea. Haang Mook Kim, Alan D. Gishlick and Takanobu Tsuihiji. Pages 299-306

From the abstract:

Most dinosaurian material discovered on the Korean Peninsula remains undescribed and poorly documented. The specimen DGBU-78 is a well-preserved, non-avian theropod femur found in the Hayang Group of the Gyeongsang Supergroup in Korea. A phylogenetic analysis based on femoral characters suggests that it belongs to non-avian Maniraptora more derived than Oviraptorosauria. This specimen possesses a crest-like fourth trochanter, which is similar to those in dromaeosaurids such as Adasaurus mongoliensis and Velociraptor mongoliensis, suggesting a possible close phylogenetic relationship to these taxa. Non-avian maniraptorans including dromaeosaurids have been found in roughly contemporaneous deposits in China and Japan. Therefore, the discovery of the present material in the Korean Peninsula provides further supporting evidence for possible faunal exchange within East Asia during the Early Cretaceous.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Steve R. Bissette's The Paleo Path: The History of Dino-Comics - Part 6

Note: The following is modified from Steve Bissette's introduction to the new collection of the comic book PALEO by Jim Lawson.

This Week - "Classics" Illustrated:

The next significant landmark dinosaur comic emerged in 1959 from a rather unlikely source; and it becomes, somewhat, part of my own story. For two decades, Gilberton Publications had built their publishing empire entirely upon comic book adaptations of classic literature: the venerable and celebrated Classics Illustrated series. By the late 1950s, Gilberton had diversified, enhancing its line with the fairy-tale fueled CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED JUNIOR adaptations, and the encyclopediac THE WORLD AROUND US which offered “a World of Adventure, Travel & History” to more studious comic book readers. This monthly educational series offered 72-page squarebound overviews on a variety of subjects, from military histories (THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF THE MARINES; THE COAST GUARD; etc.) and animals (THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF HORSES; DOGS; etc.) to more esoteric fare (THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF PIRATES; GHOSTS; MAGIC; etc.).

I was a mere lad of four years when the cover of the November, 1959 issue of THE WORLD AROUND US #15 leaped off the comic book racks at Towne’s Market in Essex Junction, Vermont. Beneath the bright yellow masthead THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF PREHISTORIC ANIMALS was a vivid painting (signed by one Geoffrey Biggs, or Bigge) of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops locked in mortal combat as twin volcanoes erupted in the background. It was the first comic I recall wanting; my dear mother obliged, and my life forever changed.

This new artifact was a thing of beauty to me (and, in hindsight, it still is). Dinosaur children’s books had been a fixture of my existence, but this was something new, and somehow more vital, more alive, than the most beloved of all my dino books. I poured over its pages, brooded over its single most glaring error (the coelacanth in the very first story, “The Fish That Never Died,” was erroneously drawn as an icthyosaur -- my, how that bothered me), labored over my own crude copies of the art in my favorite panels, read and reread the comic, as best as I could read at age four. I wore out my first copy so quickly that mom still had time to buy a replacement copy off the newsstand, and was sorely disappointed when the next issue of THE WORLD AROUND US wasn’t dedicated to more prehistoric material -- it was (choke!) THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF THE CRUSADES -- leaving me to make due with TUROK as usual.

Though written and rendered for the most part in the staid mode of most Gilberton titles, lacking the immediacy and electricity of the TUROK “Young Earth” series, THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF PREHISTORIC ANIMALS formalized and legitimized the dinosaur comic. However restraining the Gilberton editorial templates, among the artists illustrating the dry-as-chalk-dust narratives were masters like Al Williamson, George Evans, Reed Crandall, and an artist who became a personal favorite, Sam Glanzman. Al Williamson and George Evan’s rendition of “Death of the Dinosaur” seemed positively lush and grandiose, almost operatic in its mournful undertone of irrevocable loss: the final panel of dinosaur life, as paired Trachodons and Triceratops move toward a distant river, haunted me like no other comic panel ever had. [Years later, when I was all grown up (well, mostly) and working professionally as a comic book artist, I had the rare pleasure of meeting and spending some time with Al Williamson (right; art below). When I made the grievous error of admitting to Al how much his pages in THE ILLUSTRATED STORY OF PREHISTORIC ANIMALS meant to me, he grumbled, “okay, so how old were you then?” When I told him, he raged, “I don’t want to know about it!” What can I say, Al? I had no idea at the time; now, of course, I had an inkling of where you were coming from...]

Art by Al Williamson (C) EC Comics.

But most mesmerizing of all were Sam Glanzman’s pages, illustrating the eight-page “Giants in the Earth.” Though there was little sequential intensity to the piece -- composed, essentially, of unconnected single-page splashes depicting the ‘star’ dinosaurs circa 1959 pop science, many of which were (apparent even to my encyclopedia-trained four-year-old eyes) clearly drawn from Charles Knight’s paintings -- it was Glanzman’s drawing and inking style that I found riveting. Sam dared to be ‘messy’: his jungles and saurians were fly-blown and gritty, stray drops of water, slaver, and shreds of vegetation dropped away from his dinosaurs, unidentifiable bits of matter spun or hung in the air, as if suspended or moved by the heat and humidity. I’d been around enough barnyards, ponds, and forests to know nature was as ‘messy’ as Glanzman’s tableaus, which I quickly loved as I’d loved no drawings before. Glanzman eschewed the neat sterility of most natural history and paleontology art, and seemed more tactile, more alive, than any art I’d ever laid eyes on before. His mere eight pages of comic art blew away every recreation of dinosaur life I’d ever seen before, and I was hooked. From that day on, I had a tyrannosaur on my back. I was a dinosaur comic junkie in need of a fix -- of which there were precious few.

Art from "Attu" (C) Sam Glanzman.

Almost three years later, Gilberton and CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED obliged with a giant “Special Issue,” PREHISTORIC WORLD (July, 1962). Though it was a fine comic indeed, featuring at least one innovative bit of sequential experimentation (the three-pager “The Wonderful Earth Movie,” presenting tiny panels illustrating an imaginary one-year-long movie about the history of life on Earth, offering a humbling, mind-boggling perspective on how fleeting man’s cameo in that history is) and lots of dinosaurs, it didn’t have anything approaching those pages by Sam Glanzman, and thus never assumed the mythic stature of that first CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED dinosaur comic.

So desperate was my hunger, and unproductive my search, that even a Catholic comic book might offer sanctuary. Among the treasures of my youth I ache to hold again in my hands again is a one-off issue of the Catholic comicbook series TREASURE CHEST, which for one and only one glorious issue in the late 1950s or very early 1960s featured a cover story on dinosaurs. It was, if memory serves, as much an educational dinosaur comic as the Classics Illustrated specials, and very nicely illustrated at that. Alas, the copy I was given at St. Patrick’s in Waterbury, Vermont was promptly cut and clipped for pasting into my dinosaur scrapbook, and I’ve never seen a copy since, though I’ve searched for over three decades. I’d love to see that issue of TREASURE CHEST again and read it with adult eyes. I’m curious about how the Catholic editors and writers approached the subject, and how theological their orientation might have been. [Here it is Steve!]

A more contemporary Christian (and stridently anti-Catholic) comicbook approach to the subject is still in print: Jack T. Chick’s notorious religious tracts tackled the controversy over evolution time and time again -- most memorably in Chick’s mini-comic anti-evolution screed BIG DADDY, and most gloriously in ‘The Crusaders’ color comicbook PRIMAL MAN?(‘The Crusaders’ Vol. 6, 1976). The fossil record of early man commands more attention and takes more heat than the dinosaurs do in these comics, but PRIMAL MAN? plays the faux-fossil card of the Texan Paluxy river bed dinosaur footprints which appear alongside (carved) human prints, a favorite Creationist strategy. But I’m getting a little ahead of my chronology. Back to the 1960s...

Read more of Steve's thought's about Sam Glanzman HERE.

Next Week: Part 7 - Gorgo's Mash O' Monsters.

Read Part 5 of the series by clicking HERE.

All art and properties are (C) their creators and/or current copyright holders.

Steve R. Bissette
is an artist, writer and film historian who lives in Vermont. He is noted for, amongst many things, his long run as illustrator of SWAMP THING for DC Comics in the 1980's and for self-publishing the acclaimed horror anthology TABOO and a 'real' dinosaur comic TYRANT(R).

Species Diversity & Speciation

This week in Nature:

Species diversity can drive speciation. Brent C. Emerson and Niclas Kolm. Nature 434: 1015-1017.

Image (c) Nature 2005.

From BBC.CO.UK News:

By carefully studying animals and plants in the Canary and Hawaiian Islands, Dr Emerson and his colleague Niclas Kolm were able to show an apparent link between biodiversity and the evolution of new species.

They found that endemic species, such as the predatory robber fly (Promachus vexator), are more common in places that are bustling with many different species. Therefore, they speculate, new species are more likely to evolve if they are surrounded by an already rich biodiversity.

The researchers can think of three reasons why this might be the case. First, species that are forced to share a space with a lot of other species usually have smaller population sizes. That means they are more susceptible to genetic drift, which can speed up speciation.

Secondly, islands with a rich biodiversity have more habitat complexity. In other words, instead of just one habitat - say, grass - there is, for example, grass, shrubs and trees. That means species are more likely to evolve new adaptations and, eventually, become different species.

Thirdly and, the researchers believe, most importantly, competition between species can encourage speciation.

"We think the islands with more species have an increased interaction effect - and that is the most significant thing," said Dr Emerson. "So the more species you have, the more competitors and predators you face as an individual.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Welcome To the Palaeoblog

Suddenly visitation to the Palaeoblog has jumped through the roof, so thanks to all those providing links to the page.

So, just a note to all the new readers and curious visitors. The Palaeoblog is a resource of serious and fun information from, or related to, the world of dinosaur palaeontology. It's updated more so less daily as my work and research permits. Tune in tomorrow for the latest installment of Steve Bissette's "History of Dinosaur Comics".

For the moment be aware that Van Der Graaf Generator have reformed and are releasing a new cd on April 25th. Go HERE for more info and to listen to sizable chunks of the new music.

Piltdown Man Revisited

From the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society you can read the entire article, The Piltdown forgery: a re-statement of the case against Hinton, by Brian Gardiner, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society,Vol. 139 (3):315 - November 2003, on their web site by clicking HERE

From the abstract:

A review of the evidence supports the conclusion reached by Gardiner and Currant in 1996 that the hoaxer was Martin Hinton, who worked in the Geology and Zoology Departments of the Natural History Museum throughout the Piltdown affair. This was based primarily on the discovery in 1978 of a cabin trunk in the loft space immediately above what had been the office of the Keeper of Zoology which post Hinton occupied between 1936 and 1945.This contained material similarly stained to that discovered at Piltdown, while several of the pieces had also been whittled in an identical fashion to the last find at Piltdown the notorious 'cricket bat'. Additional proof came from Hinton's executor who discovered eight human teeth varyingly stained in a tobacco tin of Hinton's. These revealed that the forger used two methods for staining his material, one of which involved decalcification, a process which converted apatite into gypsum, the other of which did not. The material in the trunk was stained using the first method, the teeth obtained from his executor, the second. The analyses of the contents of the trunk (carried out in 1995-6) and of the tobacco tin (1997-8) are reported for the first time.

Image from HERE

Appalachiosaurus : New Tyrannosaur Described

A new genus and species of tyrannosauroid from the Late Cretaceous (Middle Campanian) Demopolis Formation of Alabama THOMAS D. CARR, THOMAS E. WILLIAMSON, AND DAVID R. SCHWIMMER, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 2005, 25(1):119-143 .

From the abstract from the latest volume of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology:

The discovery of a new genus and species of tyrannosauroid from the Demopolis Formation (middle Campanian) of Alabama increases the known diversity of the clade, although it does not elucidate the place of initial dispersal. This subadult tyrannosauroid is the most complete non-avian theropod collected and described from the Cretaceous of eastern North America. In contrast to tyrannosaurids, the new taxon possesses several plesiomorphic ["primative"] characters, including lacrimals that lack a distinct peaked cornual process, and a dorsoventrally shallow horizontal ramus of the maxilla. Autapomorphies ["shared, advanced characters"] include a wide jugal process of the ectopterygoid, a caudal pneumatic foramen of the palatine that pierces the rostral half of the vomeropterygoid process of the bone, an articular surface for the lacrimal on the palatine that is distally positioned on the dorsolateral process, and pedal unguals that have a distinct proximodorsal lip over the articular surface. Cladistic analysis indicates the new taxon is a basal tyrannosauroid and its presence in eastern North America suggests that the recent common ancestor of Tyrannosauridae probably evolved following the transgression of the Western Interior Seaway. Cladistic analysis indicates that Dryptosaurus aquilunguis is also a basal tyrannosauroid but is less derived than the new genus.
Read more about it from and here at Columbus State University.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Time In Overdrive

Art(c)Mark Schultz. Cadillacs and Dinosaurs(R)Mark Schultz.

Mark Schultz is acclaimed as one of the greatest illustrators working today. In a few weeks we'll be doing a long feature on Mark and what's he's been up to since "Xenozoic Tales" seemingly went into 'hiberation' a few years back (rest assured that Mark promises more XT stories sometime soon). With any luck Mark will even provide us with an unseen treasure or two.

But the question for the moment is why haven't you already bought this cool poster?! Although Mark's original work commands high prices (and is very rarely available) you can own this now for only 10 bucks!

Go, Go, Go, & order it now HERE!

Dinosaurs Against Fossil Fuels: The Opera

Go to ZED.

Talking Dinos On The Radio

For those of you wondering what I sound like tune in this Friday between 9-10 pm EST where I'll be the featured guest on Bobby Brown's "Jazz Show" on WCPN 90.3 FM in Cleveland.

Bobby and I did a walking tour of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's "Feathered Dinosaur Show" (yes, I know - an odd thing to do for radio), where we chatted about the exhibits in between jazz tunes with a dinosaur- or bird-inspired title. I suggested that he play some "Birdsongs of the Mesozoic" or "Ozric Tentacles (e.g. Pterosaur), or even "Fossil Culture", but, strangely, Bobby seemed unfamiliar with these groups. Oh well, maybe I'll have to put the Palaeoblog's own 'Radio Free Ceratopsia' on the air....

Listen live HERE.

Apparently the Jazz Show is rebroadcast on Sunday between 1-2 pm EST.

The Quirks & Quarks of Dino Eggs

The recent posting on the dinosaur eggs found inside the body of the mother has proven to be very popular here at the Palaeoblog so I’m presenting more on the find from the CBC’s weekly science show, “QUIRKS & QUARKS”. On the show Dr. Darla Zelenitsky was interviewed about the unusual find and research that she was co-author on. Darla is an old friend from both the U of C and the RTMP where we did our research, as are the other co-authors, Dr. Tamaki Sato and Dr. Xiao-chun Wu, both of whom I shared an office with in Drumheller. Congratulations to them all on this excellent work!

Photo (c) Science Magazine 2005

From the CBC’s Quirks & Quarks web site:

Finding a dinosaur is hardly a news event these days, and neither is finding a dinosaur egg. But finding an egg inside a dinosaur is something new. That’s what a team, including Dr. Darla Zelenitsky from the University of Calgary, have just described. In fact, they found two eggs in the pelvis of a female dinosaur. This extends our knowledge of dinosaur reproductive biology, and also their relationship to birds.
Read the University of Calgary Press Release HERE

Listen to the sound file HERE.

Listen to the sound file on OGG HERE.

Note: sound files are updated and replaced weekly.

New Basilosaurus Skeleton Found In Egypt

Photo (c) Philip Gingerich/U. of Michigan

From National Geographic News.Com:

Dr. Philip D. Gingerich, a paleontologist from the University of Michigan and National Geographic grantee, has announced that his team has excavated the first known nearly complete skeleton of a Basilosaurus isis (above). The 18-meter-long, 40-million-year-old fossil will now be shipped to Michigan, where experts will preserve it. Later they will return the fossil to Egypt along with a complete cast of the skeleton.

The first of the truly gigantic whales, Basilosaurus had a serpentine shape and short, sharp teeth for hunting sharks and other prey. Unlike today's whales, it had no blowhole—the ancient behemoth had to raise its head above water to breathe. Basilosaurus also still had the feet it inherited from its land-dwelling ancestors.

Welcome to Kaleb Royce Routley

Wendy (Sloboda) and Keith Routley proudly welcomed Kaleb Royce Routley at 9:21pm on Friday, April 15.
"[I've] have already had my first fight - note the black eye... Boy you should see what I did to those forceps though!!!"
Wendy is one of the best fossil prospectors in the world today and has been responsible for many exceptional finds in Alberta (notably associated with the first discovery of dinosaur eggs in Alberta), and has hunted, collected, and prepared dinosaur fossils from around the world. A few years back I had the pleasure of hunting for fossils in the Cretaceous of Argentina with her. Keith has also hunted for and collected fossils and is credited with finding one of the most complete Centrosaurus skulls known (it's currently on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Lost World

Things are busy here, so I'll give you another of Pete Von Sholly's great cover paintings for 'books that never were'. Please drop into his own teriffic site by clicking HERE, and see more of his 'Turok' work at Psychosaurus.

Monday, April 18, 2005

John Acorn's 'Deep Alberta'

Join John Acorn, host of Deep Alberta - an exciting new series on CKUA that explores fossil sites and ancient life in Alberta, unearthing the mysteries of a province billions of years in the making.

John Acorn is perhaps best known as the writer and host of the television series "Acorn, The Nature Nut," a family-oriented, how-to-be-a-naturalist show. He also hosted “Twits and Pishers,” a travel show for bird watchers. John also has two albums of original music to his credit, and is the official “video host” of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

Don’t miss Deep Alberta, 7:57 AM (MST), every Tuesday and Thursday , and in rebroadcast on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Go to CKUA.ORG and click on their ‘Live On Air’ link to hear the show.

As an aside, John and I meet many moons ago (I think) when he was an interpreter in Dinosaur Provincial Park and I was a field assistant for the Tyrrell Museum (pre - “Royal”). One of my most memorable times with John was when he coerced everyone in the Park to take part in his epic film production of “Peak of Peril”, adapted from Turok, Son of Stone #64. John played crazy old Wodie who tried in vain to help lead Turok and Andar out of the Lost Valley. I played the Head Caveman because I had a beard. The film still lurks in the archives of John’s own “Muir Films” vaults. I should dig out my own copy and post a few stills from it.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Cave Carson Was Here

From Fred Hembeck.Com:
“From METAMORPHO #7 (July-August 1966), our hero and his two companions stumble across evidence that ANOTHER [Bob] Haney-scripted adventurer had left his mark, fittingly, on the inside wall of a volcano.”
Cave Carson starred in the “Inside The Earth” series in BRAVE AND THE BOLD (numbers 31, 32 , and 33 from 1960, and 40, 41 from a year later) and SHOWCASE (numbers 48, 49, and 52 from 1964) where he and his colleagues explored the inner Earth ala the heroes of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and Edgar Rice Burrough’s “Pellucidar” stories. In the 1960’s the Cave Carson stories were the closest things one could get to comics featuring palaeontologists. Someone should put out a compilation of these excellent and fun stories. I'd bet good money that the palaeoblogger's good friend, Mark Schultz, could have his arm twisted to do a wonderful new cover for the collection.

Pleistocene Fossils Found In Bangkok


Palaeontologists have announced the discovery of a complete stegadon skeleton and a range of 2 million year-old fossils said to be the most complete in Thailand, which are being shown to visitors to Khok Sung District in the country's northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima over the Songkran period.

Palaeontologists were called into the area by local officials at the beginning of March, after residents reported finding animal bones around 5 metres below the surface of the soil. According to Dr. Yaowalak Chaimanee, a palaeontologist from the Department of Mineral Resources, the find was stunning - over 100 bones from a complete stegadon, or ancient dwarf elephant, including teeth, the backbone, leg bones, hips and ribs.

Also unearthed were over 10 types of fossils from the Pleistocene period, including the fossilised skull of an ancient hyena, turtle shells, deer antlers, and bones from ancient cattle and deer.

Describing the find as one of the most complete fossil discoveries ever in Thailand, Dr. Yaowalak said that the fossils would be put on public display over the Songkran period.
Original image from HERE
Thanks to Chad from the Digital Dream Machine Blog for the head's up on this

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Macroevolutionary Sources and Sinks

From the upcoming June 2005 issue of the American Naturalist:

Diversity, endemism, and age distributions in macroevolutionary sources and sinks. Emma E. Goldberg, Kaustuv Roy, Russell Lande, and David Jablonski. The American Naturalist, June 2005.

"Understanding the large-scale processes that shape distributions of species diversity is a long-standing challenge in ecology and can also help set conservation priorities. Regions with highly diverse or unique organisms may be targeted for conservation, but how such a region acquired its species could affect how they should be protected. Without near-perfect records of where organisms have occurred throughout the past, it can be difficult to determine the processes underlying diversity patterns. In the absence of such detailed information, regions with high diversity or many unique species are often assumed to be hotbeds of species origination, but a new theory demonstrates that such places could instead result from the immigration of species. This theory also shows how combining the ages of species, determined from the fossil record, with information on where those species currently live can give insight into the past processes that have shaped diversity. Application of the theory to clams, mussels, and other marine bivalves shows that the polar oceans have had higher rates of immigration and extinction and much lower rates of origination than have the tropical and temperate oceans. This example underscores the importance of considering not just species origination but also extinction and dispersal when testing hypotheses about the geographic distributions of organisms."
Original Image from HERE.