Archive for November, 2011



Late to the party – Apatosaurus cervicals

While I have been banging out a bunch of short posts during my travels to keep the Musings ticking over, I had planned to get some longer posts done once I had the time. One of these was intended to comment on the extreme breadth of the Apatosaurus cervical series and just how broad these bones are, and thus how simply massive the neck must have been.

However, over on SV-POW, Matt Wedel has gone and beaten me to the punch on this exact subject. Inevitably he does it in more detail and with greater knowledge than I could have done, so I suggest you all pop over there to read it, though I can comfort myself in the fact that I have different pictures to Matt, so take a gander at these before you head his way.

A young Camarasaurus

While we’re on a juvenile sauropod kick, I thought I should add this in. It’s a cast of a beautifully preserved and near complete Camarasaurus and various photos of the original are knocking around in all kinds of places. Of course it immediately evokes (to me anyway) this mount I recently saw in Japan.

Hopefully there’ll be some time for some longer posts soon with my trip now over. There’s still some catching up to do, but I should get a bit more writing time.

Small but beautiful (and tasty)

Over the last few days I’ve given a couple of presentations about my work on the feeding ecology of theropods and in particular their apparent preference for juvenile prey. It seemed appropriate (well to me at least) to post up these photos of the very young Apatosaurus in the Carnegie dinosaur hall. I’m rather assuming it’s a pure sculpture since I’m not aware of any very young material of this genus, though I could have missed it, and foolishly I didn’t check the signs. Anyway, my time in Pittsburgh is drawing to a close, but I have, quite literally, nearly a hundred photos of things I want to post and talk about from my visit (and then there’s the zoo and aviary!) so expect to see a lot more stuff in the coming weeks.

My thanks to Mike Habib and Matt Lamanna for hosting my time here. Cheers guys!

Carnegie Tyrannosaurus pt 4: Jane

In addition to a not inconsiderable rex collection in the dinosaur hall, the Carnegie also has a cast of the juvenile Tyrannosaurus ‘Jane’ striding around the corridors. Yet another specimen I’d not seen before, this was a great lesson in ontogeny as even the briefest glance shows that the head here is quite small relative to the body and the legs appear absurdly long. This is an animal yet to grow into it’s powerful adult form – even the skull looks pretty narrow when seen from the front.

A nice touch was the fact that this was mounted close to the ground and not miles behind some barrier so I was able to get a pretty good look up close and see some details (which also shows off the quality of the casting). A great little find and quite unexpected.

Carnegie Tyrannosaurus pt 3: dentary

I’ve yet to have the chance to mention that in addition to all the superb specimens and mounts on display, the signs and details of the Carnegie exhibits are superb. Most mounts are accompanied by a smaller specimen of some description with additional details about its provenance or relationship to the main skeleton. This of course helps to reinforce the idea that we often have multiple specimens of given taxa and that different things can preserve or be found in different places etc. and our knowledge is built from a patchwork of material. In the case of the Tyrannosaurus display, the two adult rexes are accompanied by this rather nice dentary and a details such as an original exchange of letters about the purchase of one of the skeletons. It brings a nice touch of more recent history to things that otherwise date from the Cretaceous.

Carnegie Tyrannosaurus pt 2: a second adult rex

In yesterday’s post I was deliberately using photos that showed off the holotype Tyrannosaurus alone. However, the exhibit has a second, adult rex, mounted with the first. The two are challenging each other over the dead hadrosaur in a wonderfully dramatic and evocative pose. This great, not just because it’s so evocative – two huge carnivores facing off, but simply because there are tow of them. I suspect the average museum patron tends to think of a given skeleton as the species almost, so having a pair, with some (admittedly subtle) differences, shows that there are multiple specimens, with all the differences that come in a  natural population. Of course it also allows them to have different poses, suggesting ranges of motion and capabilities. All probably lost on most, but the kind of thing that can make people think, or will be remember another time, and simply great to see if nothing else. After all, this is a major expenditure to put up a second large mount for a species that is already represented (and that’s the type!). Great stuff.



Carnegie Tyrannosaurus pt 1

Yes this is only part 1 because there is quite simply so much Carnegie Tyrannosaurus material on display to cover. And here’s the first and most important – the holotype of T. rex, what is, in effect the very definition of what Tyrannosaurus actually is. It’s a superb mount and sits over the carcass of an Edmontosaurus and with the head rather dipped which makes it easy to get to see this up close which is nice. Three more posts to come, so stay tuned.

An outstanding Stegosaurus

The single biggest please for me finally getting into the Carnegie Museum is the fact that it’s also the first time I’ve been to a museum in the US period. As such, although there are various casts and even specimens floating around the world that I have seen on occasion, this is the first time I’ve actually seen real material or high-quality casts of a great many taxa that are rather fundamental to how we generally perceive dinosaurs. Stegosaurus is a real classic in this sense and just a great animal to see. While I barely work on ornithischians, this was something rather special for me.

Solnhofen wall

One thing I was not aware of before my first visit to the Carnegie is that they have a superb collection of Solnhofen material. Better yet, there is a major display of this alongside the Jurassic dinosaurs in the form of a massive case that is literally crammed full of fossils. Naturally this is dominated by fish of various sizes, but there are other things like turtles, plants, insects and the like. Obviously for me, I was pleased to see several pterosaurs including this rather nice and near complete Pterodactylus below.

A pair of giants

So obviously these guys got a decent look in yesterday, but this pair of photos hopefully shows off how nicely the two have been mounted and the way in which they have been matched in their respective poses to provide a nice mirror-image effect. For me though it’s nice to be able to compare them – I’ve seen mounts of Diplodocus before (indeed of this Diplodocus), and of Apatosaurus, but never the two together and it genuinely does make a difference to have them put together like this for comparison.

Cargenie dinosaurs

There is simply so much I can say about the dinosaur hall of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, but I don’t want to end up with one monstrous post so I’ll be breaking it up. There is a great deal to commend this, with details of the signs, layout, murals, dioramas and more all worthy of comment, in addition to the huge number of specimens and casts on display. So given all of the things that will be coming, for now I’ll just leave you with these two images of much of the Jurassic section of the hall featuring Diplodocus, Apatosaurus and Allosaurus.

Pittsburgh day 2

Well there wasn’t much of a day 1 to be honest since well, I only turned up at 6pm local time last night. Still I was here yesterday so that’s why I’m calling this a 2. I’ll not be blogging my trip here as a journal since that’s not really what it’s about, but since I have managed to run up over 200 photos on the dinosaur hall alone in the Carnegie this afternoon, it seemed worth putting up a couple of teaser shots. Above, my host, Mike Habib (of Pterosaur.net and H2VP fame / infamy) poses with a sauropod skull cast and below, well, it’s me, with a dirty great Tyrannosaurus mount. I’m already working on some more posts and to be honest this one room is probably going to keep me going to the end of the year I’m so loaded with images already which is great. More to come shortly, but probably irregularly, but I’ll try to keep to my usual ‘post-a-day’ schedule despite the work ahead of me on this trip.


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