Rodents and dinosaurs

One very occasional issue in palaeontology is the effects of bioturbation. In short, living animals and plants by their action s altering the fossil record in various ways. This can be a herd of sauropods tramping across a muddy area and trampling and destroying existing skeletons, or as undramatic as plant roots coursing through layers of the earth and blurring the boundaries. It can even involve rodents burrowing into the soil and bones from one layer falling into a deeper one, concealing their true stratigraphic position. Here however is an exceptionally mild case, a jerboa sitting on a tyrannosaur scapula. This was (he’s now moved on to bouncy rodent paradise) Xu Xing’s pet, generally refereed to as simply ‘the rat’. I had occasional jerboa-sitting duties and he was allowed to hare around the office at high speed and occasionally interact with fossils (note, no damage was ever done!). Especially keen-eyed readers may have spotted him before – he lives on as a mascot on AAB.

[The pink tones comes from a broken camera].

9 Responses to “Rodents and dinosaurs”

  1. 1 Albertonykus 04/03/2011 at 1:34 am

    Cute! They aren’t very common pets, are they?

  2. 5 Maija Karala 05/03/2011 at 9:36 am

    I’m actually just starting a master’s thesis project with these things. The jerboas, I mean, not the tyrannosaur bones. Nice to find out that jerboas have something to do with dinosaurs nevertheless.

    • 6 David Hone 05/03/2011 at 9:58 am

      Well not much admittedly, but yes they are linked a little and in the most tenuous manner. Mostly I wanted an excuse to post the picture to be honest but it was an excuse to talk about bioturbation and I do like jerboas in general and The Rat in particular.

  3. 7 ReBecca 06/03/2011 at 5:04 am

    That is cute! I have to admit I typically scream however when I see I mouse in with the fossils.

  4. 8 Mickey Mortimer 09/03/2011 at 9:29 am

    Er…. isn’t that a Kelmayisaurus dentary as opposed to a tyrannosaur scapula?

    • 9 David Hone 09/03/2011 at 10:16 am

      Yes it is. The scapula is just behind and that was what I was thinking of when I wrote that and because I couldn’t remember which bits of skulls we had out that week – Steve Brusatte was visiting and the place was awash with theropod bits.

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