Friday, February 28, 2014

Reanimator: Woolly

The Mammoth Cometh
Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.

Read all about it here

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Keep those Rexes Rollin'

The Dinosaur Cowboy

Montana cattleman Clayton Phipps is living off the land – by digging up T. rex skeletons.
Clayton Phipps hikes along a prairie ridge near Jordan, Montana, staring at the ground. Ancient tributaries of the Missouri River have carved the landscape into a comb of dry ravines and flat-topped buttes. It's a barren and sandy place – but one that holds a coveted treasure. Phipps, 40, squats and plucks a blackish nub from the dirt, and when he blows away the dust, a tiny specimen of bone appears: the remnants of a mammal's skull, left here millions of years ago when Montana held an ancient sea. "This little jaw could be worth 100 bucks," he says.

With the average Montana ranch hand making about $25,000 a year, some locals, like Phipps – a third-generation cowboy who runs 40 head of Black Angus cattle on a small family ranch – have viewed the area's rich bone deposits as a better way to make a living. (The region is an unusually accessible dinosaur-bone field, owing to its ex­posed Cretaceous rock, known as the Hell Creek Formation, and lack of vegetation. The first-known Tyrannosaurus rex was excavated here in 1902.) Last year, Phipps made international headlines when his "duel­ing dinosaur" fossils – a tyrannosaurid and a horned ceratopsian locked in battle, which he'd excavated near here – were expected to fetch $7 million at Bonhams auction house in New York.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What's brown and sounds like a bell? Dung!

Reading the Book of Life in Prehistoric Dung
Chapter 1
Karen Chin doesn’t have all the answers, but she is willing to make those awkward phone calls that will give her the information she needs. There was the time back in 1998 when she needed to know what size animal could produce a fecal mass of 2.4 liters in one go. So she called a physician who studied bowel movements. “I said, ‘This is going to be a funny question, but I’m a paleontologist, and I’m interested in finding out what is the largest fecal mass that a human can produce. I wonder if I can talk to the doctor about this.’ ” She pauses in her anecdote, remembering the silence on the other end of the phone line. “It was a weird question."

Keep reading

Thursday, February 20, 2014

BOLO: Moab fossil missing

Ancient dinosaur track stolen from trail near Moab
MOAB — The Bureau of Land Management is investigating the theft of a dinosaur track from a popular trail near Moab.
An off-road adventure group that often goes to the area noticed that one of the blocks containing the track was gone Wednesday. The tracks in the Hell’s Revenge area are estimated to be 190 million years old.
“A lot of the guides will pull off and show people the dinosaur tracks that are there on the cliff side so all of the public can enjoy them and unfortunately one of these guides who is very familiar with the tracks recognized that one of the blocks had been stolen and reported it to us," BLM Canyon Country district paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster said.
The tracks are from the Navajo sandstone, which is Jurassic in age.
“You can’t assign a monetary value to it, they are priceless,” Hunt-Foster said. “They are one-of-a-kind, individual tracks a dinosaur made 190 million years ago, and they cannot be replaced.”

Details here

Meanwhile, another "priceless" item goes up for auction on the black market, because everything has a price.

Two Aussie teens made a Tinysaur video

So these two teenage brothers started a toy company. They bought Tinysaurs from us. I never expected them to make this cute video. It ain't Raiders of the Lost Arc, (FYI Indiana Jones was an anthropologist, not a paleontologist) but it's worth a look. Give your Rotten Tomatoes review in the comments.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Austria mints a new dino coin

Herbert was very happy to be selected to design this side of the coin because he lives very near to where the fossil was found. Although it was a really small dinosaur, Herbert decided to design the coin in such a way to make the dinosaur appear larger than life.

Read the article

Got an hour? You won't be able to read just one.

Start here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rob Ford was busy digging another hole and found a fossil.

New fossil bed found by scientists hailed as 'motherlode'
Marble Canyon in B.C.'s Kootenay National Park yielding dozens of discoveries

Scientists say a recently located fossil site on the Alberta-B.C. border is already yielding major new discoveries about early animal evolution. 

The Marble Canyon fossil beds were located in 2012 by a team of Canadian, U.S. and Swedish researchers in Kootenay National Park, about 40 kilometres from the 505-million-year-old Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park — which is considered one of the most important fossil fields in the world.

Read more here

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A prehistoric pee stain

The Surprising Science of Dinosaur Pee
Dinosaurs pooped. The fossil record makes that abundantly clear. Scores of coprolites – fossilized feces – not only allow paleontologists to better understand the diet and ecology of dinosaurs, but let educators pass the mineralized excrement around to students and knowingly ask “Do you know what you’re holding right now?” in the hope of a shocked reaction. But did dinosaurs ever pee? That question hasn’t exactly been at the top of paleontology’s list in terms of dinosaur mysteries. Feeding behavior, colors, sounds, and other biological details carry a bit more prestige. Nevertheless, curious fossils found at two distant locations might record how Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs relieved themselves on lakeshores and sand dunes. 

The first possible dinosaur pee trace to be discovered was described only recently. At a 2002 meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Katherine McCarville and Gale Bishop reported on a strange “bathtub-shaped depression” among dozens of dinosaur tracks just south of La Junta, Colorado. The scour, set in the 150 million year old stone of a long-lost lakeshore, measures approximately ten feet long, five feet wide, and ten inches deep. The shape is similar to splats McCarville and Bishop created by streaming water onto sand.

Read more here

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sad and amazing at the same time.

 The reptile labour that lasted 248 million years

What a moment to preserve in time. Scientists have discovered a fossil capturing what could be the oldest live reptilian birth – 10 million years older than those seen before.

The Chaohusaurus was a giant marine reptile that lived about 248 million years ago. It looked a little like a cross between a dolphin and a lizard, with flippers but no dorsal fin. In this exceptional specimen, discovered in a quarry in Anhui, China, you can clearly see a live birth – the baby ichthyosaur's head has just exited its mother's pelvis. There are at least two other offspring involved in the birth: one is still inside the mother's body, the other lays beside her.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Family tree of flight

How a burst of colour in dinosaurs hints at how birds evolved: Sudden change suggests feathered arms soon developed into wings 

The first birds evolved after the feathers of a group of dinosaurs received a burst of colour, a study shows. 
Research has found that, as well as giving birds their appearance, the pigment chemicals in feathers readied their dinosaur ancestors for flight. 
These same chemicals may have helped change the metabolism of early birds so they could stay in the air during flight.

Read more:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pass the A1.

Dimetrodon Had Steak-Knife Teeth, Scientists Say
An international team of paleontologists suggests Dimetrodon was the first terrestrial vertebrate to develop serrated ziphodont teeth.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Glow-in-the-dark dino quarters!

Prehistoric Creatures: Tiktaalik - 25-Cent Coloured Glow-in-the-Dark Coin (2014)

In 2004, researchers working in Nunavut uncovered the fossilized remains of a mysterious prehistoric creature to bridge the evolutionary gap between water and land.

Tiktaalik lived roughly 375 million years ago. It had the gills, scales and fins of a fish, but the head of an amphibian: flat with both eyes on top, and spiracles that suggest the presence of rudimentary lungs.

What's more, Tiktaalik had extra-thick ribs, another adaptation for animals that don't float in water and need extra support against gravity while on land. It also had wrist and finger-like bone structures inside its fins—precursors to actual limbs.

Experts believe Tiktaalik used these limb-fins to push itself out of the shallow, fast-flowing water where it lived and crossed short distances on land. It's a captivating, puzzle-packed creature that will fuel the imagination of dino-detectives young and old alike!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

These could be the new plush toys next season.

Who Was the Snuggliest Dinosaur of All?

For over a century and a half, dinosaurs were viewed as monstrous, scaly reptiles. Scores of science fiction stories hinged on the peril we would face if we ever got close to one. And though it’s still true that encountering a Tyrannosaurus while on foot would likely be fatal, over the past several decades paleontologists have discovered a variety of dinosaurs that aren’t nearly as threatening as some of their more prodigious and prestigious relatives. These finds raise a question that I doubt the Victorian naturalists who first described the dinosaurs could have anticipated – who was the snuggliest of the non-avian dinosaurs?

Read more fuzz here

Saturday, February 8, 2014

There's a grant for everything

Attach a Tail to a Chicken and Watch a Mini Dinosaur Strutting Around

Sticking a fake dinosaur tail onto a living chicken helps researchers approximate how those animals once walked and moved.

See it here

Thursday, February 6, 2014

This guy was a real prince in wet, shining armor!

Devil frog sported anti-dinosaur body armor, scientists say

An ancient, predatory creature known as the devil frog may have looked even scarier than previously thought.

The monster frog, Beelzebufo ampinga, lived during the Cretaceous Period in what is now Africa, and sported spiky flanges protruding from the back of its skull and platelike armor down its back, almost like a turtle shell.

More here

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ash preserves fossils like dried plums in China.

450-mph Pompeii-type volcano blasts created exquisite dinosaur fossils
In the northeast of China, at the Yixian and Jiufotang formations, scientists have discovered thousands of exquisitely preserved fossils of plants and birds, dinosaurs and mammals. Together they make up the Jehol Biota -- an ecosystem, preserved in ash, that dates back nearly 130 million years.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Reconstructing Dinosaur Duels

Classic dino images have interspecies throwdowns, but what about against one of their own?

Of all dinosaurian visions ever committed to canvas, few are as famous as Charles R. Knight's depiction of a duel between Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops.

More here

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A paleontologist is asked 3 questions about Barney.

It could only be Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me.

Not My Job: A Dinosaur Expert Gets Quizzed On Barney
We've invited paleontologist Paul Sereno to answer three questions about the purple dinosaur.