I'm a museum educator with an eye for paleontology, science history, animals and the occasional bit of pop culture nonsense. My long-winded blog is here.

 

asylum-art:

The Incredible Scrap Metal Animal Sculptures of John Lopez

Sculptor John Lopez was born and raised on a ranch in Western South Dakota. In the midst of a successful career in bronze sculpting, Lopez discovered an exciting new direction: scrap iron sculpting.

“I am never bored! I look forward to each new creation, and it is helping me grow and develop as an artist,” he says. As he John explains on his website.

evaporites:

dino-sours:

Know Your T. rex!

There are dozens of Tyrannosaurus skeletons on display around the world, but most are casts of a handful of specimens.

AMNH 5027

The first T. rex ever exhibited, and for most of the 20th century the only nearly complete specimen known. Look for a boxier skull, oversized legs borrowed from the T. rex holotype, feet based on Allosaurus, and filled-in fenestrae on older casts.

As Seen At: American Museum of Natural History, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Academy of Natural Sciences, National Museum of Natural History (skull), Peabody Museum of Natural History (skull)

The Nation’s T. rex - MOR 555

Discovered by rancher Kathy Wankel on Army Corps of Engineers land. Currently on loan to the Smithsonian. Look for longer, lankier legs, and an inaccurately reconstructed sloped snout on cast skulls.

As Seen At: Royal Ontario Museum, Museum of the Rockies, National Museum of Scotland, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, National Museum of Natural History (in 2019)

Stan – BHI 3033

By far the most duplicated and most exhibited dinosaur in the world. Look for excessively long teeth and a perforated jaw.

As Seen At: Black Hills Institute, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, National Museum of Natural History, Dinosaur Discovery Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Manchester Museum, Tokyo National Museum of Natural Science, traveling exhibits

Sue – FMNH PR2081

Discovered by Susan Hendrickson and the subject of an ugly 3-year legal battle before being purchased by the Field Museum. The oldest and most complete T. rex known. Look for a longer snout and stubby cocker spaniel legs.

As Seen At: Field Museum of Natural History, Disney World Animal Kingdom, traveling exhibits

Jane – BMRP 2002.4.1

A juvenile Tyrannosaurus discovered in 2001. Look for a scrawny build, gracile legs and a narrow skull.

As Seen At: Burpee Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Also need to talk about RTMP 81.6.1 “Black Beauty” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specimens_of_Tyrannosaurus#.22Black_Beauty.22:_RTMP_81.6.1) and my cuddle baby the Huxley Tyrannosaur (RTMP 81.12.1)

(Big ol’ list of Rexes: https://www.bhigr.com/pages/info/rex_chart.htm)

The Royal Tyrell Museum rexes are totally rad, but I didn’t include them because they’re not widely replicated! AFAIK there’s only one complete copy of Black Beauty (in Stockholm), and the original RTMP 81.12.1 mount is the only one on display. It’s also filled in with lots of AMNH 5027 casts, including the skull.

Smackdown: Supersaurus vs. Giraffatitan and Diplodocus

(Source: skeletaldrawing)

mucholderthen:

AMAZING DOPPLER RADAR IMAGE:FROM OUT OF THE MISSISSIPPI, MAYFLIES EMERGE TO MATE AND DIE
Via evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True blog [July 22, 2014]
What you’re seeing is a Doppler radar loop from the Lacrosse, Wisconsin office of the National Weather Service.  
What the radar saw for 90 minutes was a massive mayfly emergence on June 23.
Probably the giant mayfly, Hexagenia limbata.

On Saturday evening, June 23 2012, a massive mayfly emergence occurred along the Mississippi River beginning just after 9 pm. By late evening, mayflies were swarming in La Crosse, La Crescent, and points up and down the river. While the emergence of mayflies from their river bottom mud dwelling can occur at various times through the warm season, this particular event was one of the best seen on radar yet. 
In the radar time lapse loop from 9 pm to just after 1030 pm, the yellows and oranges indicate a large magnitude of airborne mayflies. 

Go here to see another amazing radar loop showing part of this swarm of mayflies being carried off by the wind at altitudes as high as 3000 feet!
More information [as well as images] at the La Crosse National Weather Service site …

mucholderthen:

AMAZING DOPPLER RADAR IMAGE:
FROM OUT OF THE MISSISSIPPI, MAYFLIES EMERGE TO MATE AND DIE

Via evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True blog [July 22, 2014]

  • What you’re seeing is a Doppler radar loop from the Lacrosse, Wisconsin office of the National Weather Service.  
  • What the radar saw for 90 minutes was a massive mayfly emergence on June 23.
  • Probably the giant mayfly, Hexagenia limbata.

On Saturday evening, June 23 2012, a massive mayfly emergence occurred along the Mississippi River beginning just after 9 pm. By late evening, mayflies were swarming in La Crosse, La Crescent, and points up and down the river. While the emergence of mayflies from their river bottom mud dwelling can occur at various times through the warm season, this particular event was one of the best seen on radar yet.

In the radar time lapse loop from 9 pm to just after 1030 pm, the yellows and oranges indicate a large magnitude of airborne mayflies.

Go here to see another amazing radar loop showing part of this swarm of mayflies being carried off by the wind at altitudes as high as 3000 feet!

More information [as well as images] at the La Crosse National Weather Service site …

Know Your T. rex!

There are dozens of Tyrannosaurus skeletons on display around the world, but most are casts of a handful of specimens.

AMNH 5027

The first T. rex ever exhibited, and for most of the 20th century the only nearly complete specimen known. Look for a boxier skull, oversized legs borrowed from the T. rex holotype, feet based on Allosaurus, and filled-in fenestrae on older casts.

As Seen At: American Museum of Natural History, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Academy of Natural Sciences, National Museum of Natural History (skull), Peabody Museum of Natural History (skull)

The Nation’s T. rex - MOR 555

Discovered by rancher Kathy Wankel on Army Corps of Engineers land. Currently on loan to the Smithsonian. Look for longer, lankier legs, and an inaccurately reconstructed sloped snout on cast skulls.

As Seen At: Royal Ontario Museum, Museum of the Rockies, National Museum of Scotland, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, National Museum of Natural History (in 2019)

Stan – BHI 3033

By far the most duplicated and most exhibited dinosaur in the world. Look for excessively long teeth and a perforated jaw.

As Seen At: Black Hills Institute, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, National Museum of Natural History, Dinosaur Discovery Museum, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Manchester Museum, Tokyo National Museum of Natural Science, traveling exhibits

Sue – FMNH PR2081

Discovered by Susan Hendrickson and the subject of an ugly 3-year legal battle before being purchased by the Field Museum. The oldest and most complete T. rex known. Look for a longer snout and stubby cocker spaniel legs.

As Seen At: Field Museum of Natural History, Disney World Animal Kingdom, traveling exhibits

Jane – BMRP 2002.4.1

A juvenile Tyrannosaurus discovered in 2001. Look for a scrawny build, gracile legs and a narrow skull.

As Seen At: Burpee Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Meet a Mount: AMNH Tyrannosaurus

Taxon: Tyrannosaurus rex

Specimen Number: AMNH 5027

Year Created: 1915 (original), 1995 (remount)

Dimensions: 38 feet

How have I not done this one yet? The American Museum of Natural History Tyrannosaurus rex mount is no less than an icon. It was the first mounted T. rex ever built, and has been a destination attraction in New York for longer than the Empire State Building. Constructed by Adam Hermann, the original mount combined the original fossils of a specimen discovered by Barnum Brown in 1908 with a cast of the pelvis and legs of the 1905 T. rex holotype. Missing portions of the skeleton, including the arms, feet, and most of the tail, were sculpted based on Allosaurus fossils. When the Tyrannosaurus was unveiled in 1915, it was akin to a mythical dragon made real. A front page article in the New York Times was heavy with hyperbole, declaring the dinosaur “the prize fighter of antiquity”, “the king of all kings in the domain of animal life,” “the absolute warlord of the earth” and “the most formidable fighting animal of which there is any record whatsoever.”

In 1993, AMNH commissioned Phil Fraley Productions to restore and remount the classic Tyrannosaurus. The new mount not only corrected the dinosaur’s posture, but improved visitors’ view of the fossils by replacing vertical supports with steel cables suspending the skeleton from the ceiling. Regrettably, the new mount did not replace the legs, which are too large for the rest of the body, or the feet, which are now known to be much too robust for a tyrannosaur.

Historic photo courtesy of AMNH Research Library.

avisuchian:

assuming-dinosaur:

avisuchian:

assuming-dinosaur:

avisuchian:

assuming-dinosaur:

Quick ‘n’ dirty picture showing what I know off of the top of my head of tyrannosaurid integument—green is glabrous, red is scaly. Images are from Phylopic, top is Tyrannosaurus rex (Scott Hartman), middle is Tarbosaurus baatar (Matt Martyniuk), bottom is Albertosaurus libratus (Craig Dylke). More impressions are known for Tyrannosaurus rex and Albertosaurus libratus; Tyrannosaurus rex's integument might be glabrous rather than scaly.

Pardon my ignorance, but what is “glabrous”?

"smooth", in this case basically meaning "apparently free of integumentary structures"

Ah excellent, and that’s likely to be the life appearance and not from decomposition?

In the case of Albertosaurus libratus, yes. Albertosaurus libratus appears to have had a few sparse, minute scales but otherwise glabrous skin. Tarbosaurus bataar is reported to have a “wattle”, apparently not scaly or feathery. With respect toTyrannosaurus rex, Paul Sereno has said that he is confident that Tyrannosaurus rex did not have scales based on the impressions he has studied while others have reported Tyrannosaurus rex skin impressions as preserving scales. A poorly-known basal tyrannosauroid, Santanaraptor placidus, however, seems to appear glabrous due to taphonomy.

Cool, thanks for the info!

avisuchian:

assuming-dinosaur:

avisuchian:

assuming-dinosaur:

avisuchian:

assuming-dinosaur:

Quick ‘n’ dirty picture showing what I know off of the top of my head of tyrannosaurid integument—green is glabrous, red is scaly. Images are from Phylopic, top is Tyrannosaurus rex (Scott Hartman), middle is Tarbosaurus baatar (Matt Martyniuk), bottom is Albertosaurus libratus (Craig Dylke). More impressions are known for Tyrannosaurus rex and Albertosaurus libratus; Tyrannosaurus rex's integument might be glabrous rather than scaly.

Pardon my ignorance, but what is “glabrous”?

"smooth", in this case basically meaning "apparently free of integumentary structures"

Ah excellent, and that’s likely to be the life appearance and not from decomposition?

In the case of Albertosaurus libratus, yes. Albertosaurus libratus appears to have had a few sparse, minute scales but otherwise glabrous skinTarbosaurus bataar is reported to have a “wattle”, apparently not scaly or feathery. With respect toTyrannosaurus rex, Paul Sereno has said that he is confident that Tyrannosaurus rex did not have scales based on the impressions he has studied while others have reported Tyrannosaurus rex skin impressions as preserving scales. A poorly-known basal tyrannosauroid, Santanaraptor placidus, however, seems to appear glabrous due to taphonomy.

Cool, thanks for the info!

bluerhinostudio:

Images from the production of “World’s Collide” for Panama’s new national natural history and science center, the Bio Museo…..

The exhibit covers the interchange of animal species that occurred between North and South America when the Panamanian land bridge was exposed, joining the two continents.

sylph0fl1ght asked
Do you try to educate the public through the work you do at the museum as well as well as through the internet? I love your wordpress by the way.

Yep, teaching people of all ages about how science works and why it matters is my day job, but I do it for fun online too. I’m just that crazy. 

Museums and the Triceratops Posture Problem - Part 1

Fossil mounts aren’t just for show. Mounted Triceratops skeletons have been central to the ceratopsian posture debate for more than a century.

Dinosaurs and Open Access: The State of the Field by Andrew Farke

Open access publication has, for the most part, long since ceased to be controversial. Although it certainly isn’t without its minor issues, open access is generally accepted to be a good thing by most scientists. So, how is that reflected in the scientific literature? As one barometer, I took a look at
the new dinosaur species named in 2013
.
The armored dinosaur Europelta, one of many open access dinosaurs named in 2013

The armored dinosaur Europelta, one of many open access dinosaurs named in 2013. Image  modified from Kirkland et al. 2013, CC-BY.

A total of 38 new species of non-avian dinosaur were coined in 2013 (including a handful that were new genus names for previously described species). Of these, 16 (~42%) were published as freely readable publications (note that this is a very broad definition of open access–12 of the 16 names were in CC-BY journals).

Seven different journals are represented in the mix for freely readable papers; of these, PLOS ONE is the most frequently utilized (7/16 names – that’s 44% of the open access dinosaur species). In fact, more new dinosaurs (seven) were named in PLOS ONE  in 2013 than in any other journal.

So, what does this mean for paleontology? A few random thoughts:

  • There doesn’t seem to be a major bias for which dinosaurs are named in the open access literature, either by clade or geographic location.
  • It would be really, really nice to see more non-dinosaurs named in open access publications. For whatever reason (probably related to a broader uptake of open access within the dinosaur researcher community), dinosaurs seem to predominate in the open access literature. We need more open access insects, trilobites, plants, and foraminifera!
  • New names are nice, but it is absolutely crucial that newly coined names hold up to scientific scrutiny. The last thing anyone wants to see are unneeded names cluttering up the literature. My glance through the list of 2013 dinosaurs shows that those published in open access journals are probably just as robust (or not robust) as those published in closed access journals.
  • There is room to diversify the open access ecosystem within dinosaur paleontology. I do love PLOS ONE [full disclosure - I am a volunteer editor, and have published there, in addition to my PLOS blogging activities], but it can only be a good thing if more open access venues are used and available. Competition encourages quality.
  • In 2008, only 7 of the 28 (25%) named new species of dinosaurs were in freely readable or open access publications.
  • 2014 is on track to meet or exceed the “openness” of 2014 – 7 of the 13 new dinosaur species named so far have been named in open access journals!

Why do I care so deeply about this issue? Beyond my general interest in open access and dinosaurs, I feel that we paleontologists have a unique opportunity in hand. Our field generates a disproportionate amount of media interest compared to many other fields. This in turn is shown by the number of individuals without easy journal access who want to read and engage with the scientific literature. There are numerous bulletin boards, art websites, and the like where amateurs discuss and build upon the scientific literature (and, let’s be frank, share non-open access papers without publisher authorization). Sure, most of these won’t lead to direct citations–but does that matter? This is public engagement with our work!!! How many botanists working on an obscure but threatened plant species would kill to get that kind of exposure?

Furthermore, there is a renewed interest within the professional community for engaging directly with amateur paleontologists (e.g., The FOSSIL Project) and other enthusiasts. Paleontologists are working hard to limit the black market for poached fossils and devise workable regulations for legally collecting fossils on public lands, in recognition that fossils are part of our shared planetary heritage. This is often up against claims of elitism and an “ivory tower” mentality leveled against some vertebrate paleontologists. I generally disagree with these accusations (when I was on the amateur side of things, I found the majority of paleontologists to be open, helpful, and accessible, and not at all opposed to most forms of legal amateur fossil collecting*), but I do think that the field of paleontology has a special obligation to be accessible, if only on grounds of public interest. Open access publications are one way to reach this goal.

Partial skull of the tyrannosaur Lythronax.

Partial skull of the tyrannosaur Lythronax. Modified from Loewen et al. 2013.

*to stem the inevitable quibble, amateur fossil collecting is NOT the same as commercial fossil collecting.

APPENDIX

Dinosaurs named in freely readable (“open access”) publications in 2013. Source: Wikipedia. Note: I counted only those names for which the papers were available from the journal website; a handful of other papers naming new dinosaurs can be found on the open web, but these are on author websites or other venues of dubious permanence.

Dinosaur Journal Canardia garonnensis ornithopod PLOS ONE Dahalokely tokana theropod PLOS ONE Dongyangopelta yangyanensis ankylosaur Acta Geologica Sinica Europelta carbonensis ankylosaur PLOS ONE Gannansaurus sinensis sauropod Acta Geologica Sinica Jianchangosaurus yixianensis theropod PLOS ONE Jiangxisaurus ganzhouensis theropod Acta Geological Sinica Juratyrant langhami theropod Acta Palaeontologica Polonica Lythronax argestes theropod PLOS ONE Nankangia jiangxiensis theropod PLOS ONE Nasutoceratops titusi ceratopsian Proceedings of the Royal Society B Nyasasaurus parringtoni [named in 2012, not 2013] dinosaur(?) Biology Letters
Oohkotokia horneri ankylosaur Acta Palaeontologica Polonica Saurolophus morrisi ornithopod Acta Palaeontologica Polonica Wulatelong gobiensis theropod Vertebrata PalAsiatica Xinjiangtitan shanshanesis sauropod Global Geology Yunganglong datongensis ornithopod PLOS ONE

Update: Nyasaurus was first published in 2012, so I have adjusted the stats in this post accordingly.

(Source: sciencetoastudent)

Pseudoplocephalus: SVP Report 1: Natural History Museum of LA County by Victoria Arbour

sciencetoastudent:

SVP Report 1: Natural History Museum of LA County

The Natural History Museum of LA County is excellent! I had a chance to visit it during the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting in Los Angeles the week before last. A great museum with some wonderful dinosaur exhibits. Here’s a sampling!
image
Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops face off in the eternal battle of good vs. evil…

image
Triceratops puts its best foot forward.

image
Wall of Stuff! Can you identify all of the bones here?

image
Fruitadens protests the fact that it stands no taller than the hand of a sauropod. Always nice to see heterodontosaurids on display!

image
Thescelosaurus looks majestic, for once! (I kid, I kid, I love Thescelosaurus. But this is a particularly nice skeletal mount.)

image
I thought this was a pretty neat display of tracks and their trackmakers! Here’s a hadrosaur foot and a hadrosaur footprint.

image
The centrepiece of the dinosaur galleries must be the Tyrannosaurus trio - juvenile, subadult, and adult - feeding on a carcass. There’s a nice display to the side (but behind this photo) showing the preserved elements used to reconstruct the three skulls.

image
The dinosaurs are split into two galleries, and each has an upper level, allowing for multiple angles of specimen viewing. In this shot you can see Carnotaurus in the foreground, the three tyrannosaurs in the middle, and towards the back are Allosaurus and Stegosaurus.
image
Juvenile Edmontosaurus skeleton! So cool!

image
A display case discussing the origin of birds has this Velociraptor skeletal mount…
image
And a 3D reconstruction of Archaeopteryx! Stripped of its feathers, it really does show off its dinosaurian features.

image
And a non-dinosaur to wrap things up: I really enjoyed seeing this life-size reconstruction of the Mesozoic marsupial Didelphodon. It really emphasizes just how big some of the Mesozoic mammals could get - the skull is about the size of a opossum or skunk skull.

Next time: The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits!
Looks like I missed these posts from when Victoria Arbour went to SVP.  Love this museum!