Today it is the turn of Graeme Lloyd to entertain us with tails of dinosaurs. You might know him from his blog This Life’s A Fiction, or as the lead author on an old paper of mine on dinosaur supertrees. Of course he should be best known for our most important contribution as PhD students where we instigated the arrival of Dr Leonard P. Annectens to the University of Bristol, Geology Department. Here Graeme, talks about his most recent work revisiting issues of dinosaur diversity and their potential decline before the famous KT extinction.
Archive for the 'Guest Posts' Category
Tags: Dinosaurs, diversity, extinction
Tags: Dinosaurs, footprints, tracks
Sadly I wasn’t able to get across to the recent conference on dinosaur tracks that was held in Obernkirchen, Germany. However, occasional Musings contributor Peter Falkingham did make it, and he was kind enough to write up an illustrated review of proceedings.
Tags: archosaurs, palaeontology
Today I’m delighted to bring you a guest post by Stephan Lautenschlager. Pterosaur researchers might remember Stephan from the Munich Flugsaurier meeting where he was generous enough to help me arrange the meeting during his last year of study there. Since then he’s moved on to start a PhD in the UK on therizinosaurs (cool!) and has just returned from a trip to Larry Witmer’s lab. Here he introduces the rauisuchians (a group of archosaurs I really should have written more about before – though the one behind him might be familiar…) and discusses his recent paper on them.
Tags: art, Dinosaurs, palaeoart, tyrannosaur, Zhuchengtyrannus
Yes another guest post and yes we’re back on the tyrannosaurines again. While I’ve already talked somewhat about the impact of the artwork (that by now everyone is familiar with) I’ve not talked process. Here is a chance to make that up as Bob Nicholls returns to the Musings again (see here, here and here for starters!) to talk about how he created this piece. My thanks once again to him for his superb work:
Being the first artist to illustrate a new species of extinct animal is a great honour. The series of events that are required to successfully fossilise a dinosaur and for that individual to be revealed to the world millions of years after death is an epic story. In brief, the dinosaur first died in a location where its remains were covered by sediment rapidly. The animal’s remains then hid within the Earth and lay undisturbed for a length of time we cannot imagine. During this vast period the dead creature’s species will evolve out of existence and new life forms will survive catastrophes to colonize our planet. Eventually a species of energy hungry ape developed an interest in investigating planet Earth’s history and against the odds our fossilised dinosaur was discovered. One of the apes, let’s call him Dave Hone, then decided to reveal the dinosaur to his entire ape species and asked a friend, let’s call him Bob Nicholls, to illustrate the wonderful discovery. It may sound like a simple tale, but if you really think about it, it is astonishing. To be a small part of it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. There is no greater honour for a palaeontologist than to be the first to show the world what a long extinct animal looked like. Especially a tyrannosaur!
The illustration of Zhuchengtyrannus took me about eight hours in total, from the first preliminary drawing to e-mail delivery. The first sketch was a satisfactory pose but four re-draws were required to make small adjustments to the teeth, snout, nostril and eye. When Dave was happy for me to render the colour artwork I painted it with acrylic paint on illustration card. I chose to paint the colour scheme of a show-off male with an eye stripe and blood red patches for impressing the tyrannosaur ladies. I wish Dave and I could have worked on the piece a little longer but it was an excellent and most enjoyable day’s work. Zhuchengtyrannus is dead, long live Zhuchengtyrannus!
Tags: Dinosaurs, Diplodocus, sauropods
In today’s guest post, John Whitlock takes us through his recent PLoS One paper on the wear facets of sauropod teeth and what this might mean for their feeding habits. I’ve long had a general curiosity about this and was delighted to see renewed interest in this area, not least from someone who takes their sci-comms seriously enough to have signed up for AAB! Take it away please John:
Tags: anatomy, bones
Today’s guest post comes from Michael Doube. I found out about Michael’s work though my friend John Hutchinson at the Royal Vet College in London who regular readers might well recognise as a major dinosaur researcher, though John often dabbles in extant organisms as a basis for his palaeontological research. In this case Michael and his team were looking at trabeculae, those little supporting threads of bone. Their pattern of distribution can potentially tell us quite a lot about both extant and extinct species and Michael explains:
Tags: fossils, palaeontology
My guest posts are generally exclusive but this one’s doing the rounds after Tom Holtz wrote this up on the DML. The title question was recently asked by Roberto Takata on the Dinosaur Mailing List and Tom took up the challenge. :
I think that is a good question. What really are the most important elements of paleontology that the general public should understand? I took a shot at coming up with a list of key concepts, based on experiences with teaching paleontology and historical geology and with less-formally structured outreach to the public. I have offered this list (cross posted at the Sauropod Vertebrae Picture of the Week and Superoceras blogs) as a way for it to reach a wider audience. That this is Darwin Week makes it even more appropriate, as we should use this occasion to encourage a better understanding of the changes of Earth and Life through Time for the public at large.
Much as I might like to think otherwise, the specific details of the hindlimb function of Tyrannosaurus rex or the pneumatic features of brachiosaurid vertebrae really are not the most important elements of the field. Understanding and appreciating the nitty gritty details of the phylogeny and anatomy of any particular branch of the Tree of Life are not really necessary for everyone to know, any more than we would regard detailed knowledge of bacterial biochemistry or the partitioning of minerals in a magma chamber to be significant general knowledge. (Indeed, these latter two items are actually far more critical for human society than any specific aspect of paleontology, and so from a certain point of view really more important for people to know than the History of Life.)
That said, all human societies and many individuals have wondered about where we have come from and how the world came to be the way it is. This is, in my opinion, the greatest contribution of paleontology: it gives us the Story of Earth and Life, and especially our own story.
I have divided this list into two sections. The first is a list of general topics of paleontology, touching on the main elements of geology that someone would need to know for fossils to make any sense. The second is the more specific list of key points in the history of life.
(NOTE: as the idea of this list is that it should be aimed at the general public, I have tried to avoid technical terminology where possible.)
Tags: Canada, pterosaur
Those with an ear to the ground might well have heard already about Gwawinapterus a new istiodacylid pterosaur from Canada. This is quite a find as it represents the first istiodactylid from outside Eurasia and is by far the most recent extending both the geographic and temporal range of the group. Describer Victoria Arbour, (who also writes the rather entertaining Pseudplocephalus blog about her dinosaur travels) takes us through the history of the find and the difficult identification of the jaws.
Tags: flight, Pterosaurs
Today it’s the turn of Colin Palmer, an aero engineer turned pterosaur researcher in Bristol who takes us through his new paper on their flight mechanics. And inevitably has some issues with how his work was portrayed in the media. Colin of course comes into this problem from the opposite end as do most pterosaur workers, but as he explains, that’s no bad thing… Continue reading ‘Guest Post: The Jack Sprat Effect’
Guest Post: Lessons from a first paper – New pterosaur fossils from the Early Cretaceous (Albian) of Queensland, AustraliaPublished 07/12/2010 Guest Posts , Pterosaurs 2 Comments
I’m enjoying a flood of guest posts at the moment, and this is an especially nice on to see. I first met Tamara Fletcher in Munich as she hauled herself over from Australia to the Munich Flugsauirer to discover just what happens when you put 40 or 50 pterosaur researchers in a room for 3 days. However, not only did she survive, she went on to turn her poster into a full blow paper that has just come out. Oz is not exactly heaving with pterosaurs, but there are some, and Tam has been describing them. Here she takes us through them and getting them to print. A great lesson for budding researchers:
Tags: Dinosaurs, theropods, tyrannosaurus
One of the great things about conferences is that you do get to see new work coming though. As a researcher you are generally familiar with major projects and the research themes of your colleagues and collaborators, but people entering the field for the first time, especially PhD students, can spring a surprise. At the Beijing Flugsaurier, I was delighted to meet W. Scott Persons IV who was there talking about pterosaur tails, but is looking at dinosaur tails primarily for his thesis under Phil Currie. Scott recently had a great paper published about the structure of tyrannosaur tail musculature and was kind enough to pen this for me to explain more. The photos are Scott’s property with the exception of art generously on loan from Scott Hartman. Right onto the tails:
Tags: Dinosaurs, fossils, palaeontology
Today my Dublin colleague Sue Beardmore talks about her work as part of a team excavating dinosaurs in the Utah badlands. While I’ve talked about my own fieldwork in China and Mexico, and some of the skills in making jackets, it’s great to have a report on a major project run over a number of years and to get a real feel for how these things work from start to finish. Enjoy: