Posts Tagged 'random'

Never organise a scientific meeting…

and if you do, don’t agree to edit a volume of papers on it. And if you do that, for God’s sake don’t do it on pterosaurs. And if you do, then you clearly didn’t read this. You have been warned.

Being eaten alive? Arrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!

Another diorama from the Beijing Natural History Museum for your edification and delight. As before we have a nice predator prey relationship done with some actually pretty good models, but this time the prey has actually noticed that it is about to be devoured and turned into a bloody smear on the ground. The Herrerasaurus here is excellent, and something you rarely see in any form in a museum, so congrats there. The Scaphonyx could do with a bit of work on the jaws, but apart from that is really nice (for some more on rhynchosaurs try here).

Once more, while the reconstructions are nice, I derive some pleasure from the extreme looks on the face of the dinner-to-be. It is hard to make a reptilian face emotive given the lack of facial muscles, and fixed expression but I can honestly say I am not sure I have ever seen a more terrified expression that than of our little rhynchosaur. Let us hope the end comes swiftly.

Being eaten alive? No problem.

This little diorama is from the Beijing Natural History Museum. The place as a whole is actually very good (apart from the terrible aquarium section and frankly terrifying human biology section) and includes a nice dinosaur hall. Bolted on the side is a little covered area full of life sized dinosaurs and other reptiles that are a real mish-mash. In general the models are very well made, with good details like realistic colouration, nice skin patterns, proper claws and teeth etc., and put in a good setting. On the other hand the gross anatomy of some is frightening like tail dragging sauropods and a snake-tailed Pteranodon.

This one I have decided to post simply because it makes me laugh. The models are a couple of the best there and look really good, but I just love the juxtaposition of the roaring charging Dilophosaurus, slavering jaws agape, and the completely nonchalant Lufengusaurus who seems to be quite oblivious to what is going on just three feet away and is calmly waiting to be ripped to bloody shreds by a predator nearly its own size. How peaceful.

Don’t waste your time or mine Pt. 2

It’s very easy to criticise people, so I will. Same as before, don’t know who is responsible, and don’t want to waste time on what’s wrong. I will say however that to be fair, this is from a small non-natural history museum which did not have a huge budget, had to fit the thing in a small space which obviously constrained how it was built, and actually did not too a terrible job. The weird thing was they got some relatively minor details right while screwing up the obvious ones which makes me thing the former was more luck than judgement.

While the last one was pretty obviously supposed to be a T. rex, it is probably worth pointing out to the non-pterosaur aficionados that this is supposed to be Quetzalcoatlus.

Edit: Not sure what’s up with the font, I’ll try and fix it.

Don’t waste your time or mine

I do want to show this picture because I thought it would amuse. But please don’t bother pointing out the flaws in the damn thing, it’ll take forever. And don’t ask me who made it (I don’t know) or where I found the picture (I don’t want to say). Still, there is something familiar about it….

Continue reading ‘Don’t waste your time or mine’

How to spot a palaeontologist

Stereotypes are a double-edged sword. On the one hand they can be useful shortcuts to extrapolate a whole bunch of correct information based on very little. On the other hand they can be deeply flawed shortcuts to extrapolate a whole bunch of incorrect information based on very little. The typical stereotype of a scientist or indded a palaeontologist as presented to the world at large by the media is not exaclty flattering and full of deep inaccuracies and, well, stereotypes. However, there is always a reason for the stereotype and here is one of them…

How do you spot a palaeontologist? Allow me to be your guide:

Continue reading ‘How to spot a palaeontologist’

Language issues

Despite my best (and sometimes not so best) efforts, I remain pretty much a monoglot. My French is not too bad, my Spanish is barely passable, my German is limited to a few words and my Chinese barely that. However, right now my head is a complete mess.

I have just come back from a month in Mexico where I have been working with both locals and German colleagues and trying to resseurect my shaky grasp of two languages while mostly just speaking English. Of course I started in Chinese, but that vanished quickly. Like many people, when stuck with a word I don’t know in another language I tend to default into another foreign one, rather than English. This means I produce lots of sentences that are primarily Spanish or German with a bit of French thrown in when I get stuck.

However, I have left that behing and then after just a few hours in the UK I have come back to Beijing and in addition to the CHinese, I have several French colleagues here who I try to practice with. (Typically I ask them a question in French and then they reply in English – not answer you understand, they ask me what I said). It’s probably not hard to guess that I have spent most of today talking in a mixture of Spanish and German to the bemused Chinese populace of the city and when realising that I am using the wrong language, promptly switching to English or worse, French. I hope it will clear up in a few days if not the local shopkeeps are just going to have to work out that ‘gracias’ means thanks.

Off again

My last two posts on ‘How to write a paper‘ and ‘How to complete a PhD‘ will probably be my last for a while. For those who have been paying attention, I am off to Mexico in the next couple of days for a combined fieldwork trip / break with my pterosaurologist (copyright Dave Unwin) friend and colleague Dino Frey. We are out to hunt down various Mesozoic vertebrates in a range of beds and localities in Mexico and I am looking forward to it immensely. I would say more, but frankly, I am not sure where we are going or what we are looking for exactly as I am just a spare set of hands on the job and it’s Dino’s project.

While I try to avoid this normally, there are quite a few themes that I have touched on in recent posts that I have not been able to follow up on. Since I am again going away and will be unlikely or unable to post on here for a while (though access should be better in Mexico than Inner Mongolia) the Musings are likely to be quiet for a time. Thus my flurry of posts in the last week and the promise of many more on my return I hope will keep readers intrigued enough to remember to come back in a month.

There are still posts to come on what archosaurs actually are (something I should have addressed long ago), more on pterosaurs (inevitably), a proper review of my time in Inner Mongolia and the work that was done there, some new posts being prepared on dinosaurs, and of course I’ll be covering my Mexican forray too. So do check back periodically to see if I have been able to get something up, and do remember to come back in October if not.

Suitable for ages 3 and up

Another photo from the IVPP outstation though this one was taken back in 2006 during my first trip to China. This box was tucked away in a storage room and was basically full of left over cast parts from various exhibitions and displays. I know Hollywood stores most of it’s props from films in case they want to be reused, but I doubt even Jurassic Park left bits like this behind.

Insert tab A into slot B...

Insert tab A into slot B...

I’m not even sure what’s in there, I think it’s mostly Sinraptor, but there appears to be an ornithopod foot in the lower left and one bone certainly looks like a pterosaur femur. It would certainly make for an interesting anatomy lesson – a jigsaw puzzle with no picture, and probably parts missing and others added incorrectly. Oh, and you need about 3 tons of steel to hold it up while you work out the details. Now, where did I put that welding mask?

Archosaur Musings in ‘non-archosaur related post shock’

Yep, and this time it’s not an archosauromorph (close enough) or reptile (pushing it) but, *gasp* a mammal. But really quite a special one, and since I have photos of it, and as far as I can tell, no-one else does, I thought it worth posting.



Continue reading ‘Archosaur Musings in ‘non-archosaur related post shock’’

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