Saturday, August 27, 2005

More From Ulaanbaatar

Protoceratops Skull Photo

More from the Natural History Museum in UB. Above, a nice Protoceratops skull on display.

Protocertatops and Velociraptor Skeletons Fighting Photo

Above the famous fighting Proteratops & Velociraptor fossil. The Velocirpator has one foot (B) trapped in the jaws of the Protoceratops while it slashes at Proto's neck with its sickle claw (A). C, Velociraptor skull, D, Velociraptor leg, F, Protoceratops pelvis.

All photos © Michael Ryan

Trip Photos

We're still in Ulaanbaater. Here are a few images squeezed thtrough the tiny internet connection. Above, Deinochyrus at the Natural History Museum in UB. Below, the Forbidden City in Beijing.

All photos © Michael Ryan

Friday, August 26, 2005

Gobi Update

Greetings from UlaanBaatar. After 3 successful days at the IVPP in Beijing the crew has arrived in Mongolia. The expedition starts on Sunday so we're spending some time at the Natural Histroy Museum examining specimens. Unfortunately this internet cafe link-up will not download imgaes from my jump-drive so I can not share any of these great pictures until I get back to NA. Stay Tuned!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

To The Flaming Cliffs of The Gobi

I'm off to the Gobi. I'll be back in a few weeks.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Celluloid Dinosaurs

A History of Dinosaur Movies is HERE from the Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette.
"A chronological list of every dramatic dinosaur movie ever made with amazing and unique annotations and insights that only the addled brains of The Dinosaur Interplanetary Gazette's cadre of astonishing (and astonished) scribes could concoct."
The eyes are weird though.

The Fantastic Worlds of Willam Stout

All art © William Stout. Click images to enlarge.

A few weeks back I alerted the readers of the Palaeoblog to the new Mark Schultz art book that was recently published by Flesk Publications.

I’d be remiss if I did not also point out that Bill Stout has recently published his 11th annual sketchbook full of fantastic and fanciful pen and ink drawings, including many dinosaurs. Bill has also published specific themed sketchbooks including those devoted to dinosaurs, "universally"-loved monsters, and the creations of Ray Harryhausen.

All of Bill’s books are highly recommended and can be purchased from Bill’s own on-line shop

Friday, August 19, 2005

3D 425Ma Shellfish

Silurian brachiopods with soft-tissue preservation. 2005. Mark D Sutton, Derek E G Briggs, David J Siveter, and Derek J Siveter. Nature, Vol 436, issue 7053 pp 1013-1015.

From the presse release at EurekAlerts:

An ancient shellfish not seen for 425 million years is recreated in vivid 3D images published today, following a unique fossil find in the UK.

Click to enlarge. These are STEREO pairs.

The 'articulate brachiopod' fossil, found in a quarry in Herefordshire, England, is the first of its kind to be preserved with its soft parts intact in 3D. It was discovered by Dr Mark Sutton of Imperial College London, who reveals the structure of the clam-like organism using a 3D colour computer model in this week's Nature. Showing the internal structure of the brachiopod as well as the stalk and rootlets that kept it tethered in place, the model gives a unique insight into the workings of the ancient shellfish.

Dr Mark Sutton, a lecturer in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, who discovered the fossil alongside colleagues at the Universities of Yale, Oxford and Leicester, said: "This is a significant discovery because it is something we never dared to dream we might see - an ancient fossil articulate brachiopod with its fleshy parts intact, and preserved in three-dimensions to boot.

The find has challenged the assumption that ancient brachiopods were put together in the same way as their modern descendents. The ancient model is unusual because its rootlets are physically tied onto a stick-like object on the sea-floor, most likely to be debris from a dead sea-lily. Some modern brachiopods have rootlets, but they spread out into soft sediment, just as plant roots do.

NB: Dr Mark Sutton will be speaking about this fossil and other exciting finds during his talk 'The Herefordshire Lagerstatte: a 3D glimpse of Silurian life' at the BA Festival of Science, Dublin, on Thursday 8 September 2005 from 15.40 to 16.00.

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #12-13

Dr. Philip Currie takes notes on one of the many dinosaurs we found this summer in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

A close-up for the above specimen -- a juvenile duck-billed dinosaur.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Kids Love Dinosaurs

Especially six year old Gwendolyn Goebelt from Stow, Ohio atop the Stegosaurus in front of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, August 6, 2005.

Photograph by Zach Goebelt
Courtesy of Zach Goebelt and Shannon Hines

Pearls Before Swine

More proof that modern birds are derived from dinosaurs and not crocodiles.

Click the image to enlarge. Read more 'pearls' HERE.

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #11

Back in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Clive Luckwell screenwashes material for the microvertebrate project he is working on with Dr. Don Brinkman. Before coming to Dinosaur Park, Clive spent two weeks with me as part of the Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project team working along the Milk River. This gave Clive the opportunity to work with me learning the geology of the Belly River Group in this region in preparation for conducting his own undergraduate research in DPP.

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #8-10

The Vortex Ceratopsid

RTMP technician, Mark Mitchell, U of Calgary undergraduate, Reilly, Eric Snively, and long time volunteer, Dr. Brad Belluk work on collecting the postcrania of a ceratopsid from the top of the Dinosaur Park Formation in the SE corner of DPP, near Iddesleigh. The quarry was first opened in 2000 and has produced the skull and most of the body of a potentially new ceratopsid. I spent my final week in Alberta working on the paper describing this new skeleton. Unfortunately, one of the few elements missing from the animal is the frill (parietal) -- one of the most important bones for identifying any ceratopsid. In 2006, Dr. Don Brinkman from the RTMP, Brad and his wife Carolyn, and myself plan to take down the rest of the hill and find this elusive element.

The quarry got its nickname for the vortex-like winds that tend to swirl around it and have the tendency to blow away any quarry maps not secured to the ground.

Eric Snively (World's Nicest Guy) surveys the quarry.

Mark Mitchell collects one of the two ischia we found this summer.

Scientific Societies Support Teaching Evolution

From EurekAlerts comes this article:

ASA-CSSA-SSSA executive committees opposes President's support of intelligent design in position statement

MADISON, WI, AUGUST 15, 2005 – The 2005 Executive Committees of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) are concerned by President Bush's support for teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in K-12 science classes. They have prepared the following:

In Support of Teaching Evolution
Position Statement by the Executive Committees of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, adopted August 11, 2005

Intelligent design is not a scientific discipline and should not be taught as part of the K-12 science curriculum. Intelligent design has neither the substantial research base, nor the testable hypotheses as a scientific discipline. There are at least 70 resolutions from a broad array of scientific societies and institutions that are united on this matter. As early as 2002, the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) unanimously passed a resolution critical of teaching intelligent design in public schools.

The intelligent design/creationist movement has adopted the lamentable strategy of asking our science teachers to "teach the controversy" in science curriculums, as if there were a significant debate among biologists about whether evolution underpins the abundant complexity of the biological world. We believe there is no such controversy.

The fundamental tenet of evolution -– descent with modification -– is accepted by the vast majority of biologists. The current debates within the research community deal with the patterns and processes of evolution, not whether the evolutionary principles presented by Darwin in 1859 hold true. These debates are similar to those surrounding the relativistic nature of gravitational waves. No one doubts the existence of gravity just because we are still learning how it works; evolution is on an equally strong footing.

The discussion of life's spirituality is most appropriate for philosophy or religion classes. It is a mistake to conclude that reluctance to incorporate spiritual questions in science classes runs counter to the cherished principle that vigorous challenge is vital to the scientific method.

In all scientific fields, including evolutionary biology, challenge has always been essential and welcomed. Scientific challenge succeeds if it is methodical and findings are verified to the satisfaction of the scientific community. This has not happened with creationism either with or without its new label "intelligent design." President Bush, by suggesting that we use intelligent design as a scientific counterpoint to the teaching of evolutionary biology, is unwittingly undermining the scientific method at its core. This is most unfortunate in an era when U.S. students are already lagging behind their international peers in science education.

This Position Statement is an expression of the official position taken by the 2005 Executive Committees of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America on the issue of evolution. This statement serves to summarize the scientific aspects of this issue and serves as official viewpoint of the 2005 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Executive Committees that can be shared with others.

2005 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Executive Committees:
ASA President Lee E. Sommers
SSSA President John L. Havlin
CSSA President James G. Coors
ASA Past-President Lowell E. Moser
CSSA Past-President Kenneth J. Moore
SSSA Past-President J. Thomas Sims
ASA President-Elect David A. Sleper
CSSA President-Elect Steven L. Fales
SSSA President-Elect Mary E. Collins
ASA-CSSA-SSSA Executive Vice President Ellen G.M. Bergfeld

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) are educational organizations helping their 10,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop and soil sciences by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #7

In Dinosaur Provincial Park Dr. David Eberth, David Evans, Darren Tanke, and Dr. Philip Currie inadvertently strike a pose straight off of a 1980's album cover. We were there on the north side of the Red Deer River so that David, Phil, and I could compare notes on a possible Styracosaurus bonebed (BB 167) that Dr. Eva Kopplehus had found a few years earlier. The concensus was that it was not. But we found some more UADs (uncollected articulated dinosaurs)-- there are now several hundred of these in Dinosaur Park (you can pick up your jaws now!).

Eerie Ceratopsians

These cover paintings by Ken Smith (left) and Rich Corben (right) from some old Warren Publishing magazines probably had no influence on my early interest in ceratopsians.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #6

The Sock Tree.

After a hard day of prospecting the badlands along the Milk River these antlers provided the perfect way to dry out a pair of soggy socks.

Best Wishes To Chasmosaur

Now that I'm back in Cleveland (for a four days -- I head off to the Gobi on Saturday) I wanted to take the time to wish our own "Chasmosaur" aka Toni Hudzina best wishes. Just after Toni started with the palaeoblog she became ill and will need more than a little time to get back on her feet. Once she's got everything in order hopefully she'll drop back in with some of her own unique postings.

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #5

This is a picture that will be of interest to ceratopsid researchers. It's the quarry for the holotype of Monoclonius lowei in the upper Dinosaur Park Formation SE of Manyberries, Alberta, with Clive Luckwell for scale. I relocated it a few years back and we were back in the same area looking for the quarry for the holotype of Lambeosaurus lambei. Alas, the latter quarry was originally no more than a shallow depression and no trace of it could be located 80+ years later. On the plus side, we did find the weathered remains of an associated hadrosaur a few dozen meters from the M. lowei quarry -- it must have been in pretty good shape when the ceratopsid was collected way back when.

And while I'm thinkng about it, I should mention that the term "Belly River Group" is now officially being used rather than "Judith River Group", so all of you researchers writing up papers on material from the late Campanian of Alberta should take note.

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #4

This photo was taken the same day as the previous post. David Evans points to a hadrosaur skeleton in the Oldman Formation that had been previously found a few years ago by Palaeo-Prospector Supreme, Wendy Sloboda. The specimen includes at least part of the postcrania and is on our list of potential excavations for 2006.

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #3

On July 3, 2005, the Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project team included (from left to right): University of Calgary Ph.D. student Eric Snively; palaeontologist Wendy Sloboda, Dr. Darla Zelenizky (U. of Calgary), and David Evans (U. of Toronto)shown here at a locality where Dr. Wann Langston Jr. collected embryonic hadrosaur elements back in the 1950's. Not shown in the photo is Clive Luckwell from Portsmith University in the UK and the palaeoblogger.

Earliest dinosaur embryos & sauropod evolution

In an article published in the July 29 issue of Science, a team led by Canadian paleontologists from the University of Toronto (including lead author Robert Reisz and the palaeoblogger’s good friend David Evans (see previous post)) report on the discovery of the oldest known dinosaur embryos, and the rare glimpse into the life history of the sauropodomorph dinosaurs that they provide. The Early Jurassic aged embryos are identified as Massospondylus, a ‘prosauropod’ dinosaur that grew to 5m in length and was relatively common in South Africa.

The exceptional growth series of Massospondylus was analyzed from embryo to adult using articulated skeletons. Body proportions of the embryos indicate that the hatchlings were born four-legged (quadruped). As the animal matured, the neck grew faster than the rest of the body but the forelimb and head grew more slowly. The end result was a two-legged animal that looked very different from the four-legged embryo.

The researchers suggest that the later four-legged gait of the giant sauropods may have evolved through a developmental phenomenon called paedomorphosis, the retention of juvenile features in the adult, and may have preceded their giant size. In addition, the embryonic skeletons lack teeth, leading the researchers to hypothesize that the young may have required parental care.

Read the story at National Geographic News by clicking HERE.

Read the UT press release HERE

Summer 2005 Field Photos: #2

Ph.D. candidate, David Evans (above left in his "Sam Roberts" mode), joined the palaeoblogger for the first season of his Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project looking at the palaeoecology and systematics of the dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous outcrops of southern Alberta. Evans is pictured here with the T. rex statue at the Milk River Vistor Center that was built by Brian Coolee of Calgary. Together with Evans and an ever shifting crew of volunteers, we found a number of exciting specimens -- more photos to follow!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cho T. rex

Click on the image above for a larger view of Frank Cho's great T. rex.

Summer 2005 Field Photos #1

As promised! The first in a series of photos from my last seven weeks of field work. This little guy is a horned lizard. We found him in the Natural Area on the north side of Milk River in Alberta early in August. Not quite a dinosaur but a good start!

ROM Feathered Theropod Confusion?

Stephan Strauss of The Globe and Mail has this intersting article on the Feathered Dinosaur Show on now at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
It has been widely believed that birds are the direct descendents of dinosaurs. And this view was in part based on fossils, which people interpreted to be birdlike dinosaurs that were birds' forebears. But the new research suggests, says Stephen Czerkas, the Utah paleontologist and dinosaur sculpturer who mounted the exhibit, that "what people saw as ground dwelling dinosaurs, but which were still bird-like, were in fact actually birds.

Then one goes to the second part of the exhibit – you know it's mounted by the ROM itself because it's bilingual – where a whole bunch of evidence shows the similarities between dinosaurs and birds. Hard eggs, feathers, walking on two legs etc., leading to the last poster's final sentences: "This much is certain. No matter how far back you place the first bird. All dinosaurs are birds."

Hmmm, but didn't the first part opening argue that birds weren't the descendent of dinosaurs? Mark Engstrom, vice-president for collections and research at the ROM, justifies his exhibit by saying, "we often mount our own exhibits in conjunction with travelling shows." He brushes aside the disagreements between the first and second interpretations by suggesting it is really an academic dispute."
Read the full article to see if Mr. Strauss can clear up the confusion!

Thanks to Jumpin' Judy Horan for the head's up on this!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Hong Kong Dinosaurs

The Palaeoblogger is now at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller after six successful weeks in the field. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to start posting some of the many photos I took over that period of time starting in a few days before I return to Cleveland. In the meantime here are some photos from a new display of dinosaurs set up at City Plaza, Tai Koo Shing in Hong Kong. Many of the skeletons are apparently original fossil bone.

Thanks to Mike Marcynuk for passing on these photos taken by his friend, Nelson Chau, in HK.