Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Origin of Raptor Lewis, Part One

For the past few months, I'm sure a good deal of you readers have wondered the same question: "Where did his interest in paleontology and dinosaurs come from?" Well, since y'all asked, I'll oblige with a whole post of it's own.



First of all, I always had an interest in dinosaurs. However, it hasn't been as intense as it is now. My interest had some wierd beginnings. To start off, I think I'll give you some of my background. I have Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning Autism. With this developmental disorder, I also have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.) That will explain where my attention goes from paleontology.


My interest comes from two things. One of those things may sound very bizarre. That, readers, was Nintendo's Pokemon. Bizarre, right? I thought so. I also had the privelage to go to some very cool museums (more on that in another post.) The reason Pokemon had some influence on my interest in paleontology and fossils were the prehistoric pokemon or fossil pokemon.






Aerodactyl


One of the fossil pokemon and any Pterosaur's "poke" counterpart.
















Omanite (looks familiar, don't it?)














Pokemon has some references to paleontology as you can see. Hopefully, you won't think I'm crazy...


To Be Continued....






Saturday, December 20, 2008

Geologic Time Scale- A Visual Aid in Paleontology and Geology


You guys can use this chart as a visual aid for the Fossil Facts! This can help you understand what the Earth was like during each period!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Darwin Took Steps By: Glendon Mellow the Flying Trilobite (Artwork of the Day!)

Readers, I thought I'd try something new. Everyday or every other day, I will post some sort of artwork for appreciation on my blog. Just for those few people who love art, this is perfect! The first one is by Glendon Mellow: The Flying Trilobite:



Darwin Took Steps By: Glendon Mellow the Flying Trilobite (Artwork of the Day!)


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fossil Fact #6!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, here it is, readers. *sigh* Sorry again for the delay. I've been busy on the road of life and high school. I've decided to clear up some misconceptions about some of the deadliest theropods (again....paleontologists classifcation for predatory dinosaurs) that ever lived......Dromaeosaurs or "Raptors." These started with Jurassic Park back in 1993. The confusion mainly was between Velociraptor mongoliensis and Deinonychus.

Commonly confused Dromaeosaurs (Part One of Movie Myths):




Velociraptor mongoliensis

Time Period: Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago-65 million years ago)

Diet: Carnivore

Method of kill: retractable "killing claw"

Height: 3 feet tall
Length: 6 feet long?
Locality: Gobi Desert in what is now Mongolia and China

Cool Facts: Cool fossil of it locked in combat with a Protoceratops near a protoceratops nest in Mongolia. Theorized as a pack hunter.



Deinonychus
Time Period: Early Cretaceous to Late Cretaceous (145-65 million years ago)
Diet: Carnivore
Height: 6 feet or as tall as a full-grown Human male.
Length: (I'm not sure how long it was)
Locality: North America
Method of kill: retractable "killing claw" (for lack of a better term.)
Cool Facts: Mistakenly called "Velociraptor" by fans because it was needed to fill the role of a 6-foot-tall "Raptor." They knew the difference thanks to Horner but, in Crichton's novel, the Velociraptors were 6 feet tall. Theorized as a pack hunter because a group of them were found together next to their prey. This indicates that they died trying to take down the herbivore. The vertebrae in the tail were stiff and interlocked creating a stiff and strong counter-balance for running and jumping.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Quick Genetics Lesson- Why Jurassic Park is still Science Fiction




DNA-Deoxyribonucleic Acid-the universal genetic code. This amazing molecule codes for everything about us. For about 150 years, Biologists have wondered where we get our characteristics. Readers, I've decided to do a quick basic lesson on Genetics to clear up any confusion you may have with Crichton in Jurassic Park and all this talk of heredity and DNA sequences and jargon that make you go "Huh?"




Here's a basic Timeline on DNA studies:






  • Mid 1800s: Johann Gregor Mendel (1822-1884), "Father of Genetics", discovers the fundamental laws of inheritance through his eight year work on interbreeding pea-plants. This idea deals with dominant and recessive traits that are inherited from parents to offspring. He published his findings in 1865.


  • Mid 1800s: Fredrich Meischer (1844-1895), discovered the FIRST crude fragment of DNA that he named Nuclein. He found bandages from a nearby clinic and washed the pus off the bandages and isolated the molecule around 1876 or so.


  • Late 1800s: Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945), discovered the chromosomal theory of inheritance with fruit flies. He won the Nobel Prize in 1933.


  • 1920s-1940s: Geroge Beadle discovered that bacteria can mutate by absorbing DNA from their environment.


  • 1950s: Rosalind Franklin stretched a molecule of DNA in a long tube and fired X-rays at it. The rays diffracted and formed an x-shaped photograph on paper. The shape gave clues as to the shape of DNA. The shape implies a Double Helix. This was expanded by Francis Crick and James Watson in the early 1950s. Crick (now dead) expanded his thoughts on the subject with the Central Dogma. (too complicated to explain.)


  • --50 years later-----


  • 2003: The Human Genome Project was completed. Human DNA has been completely sequenced.


DNA basics:


DNA is made of the sugar Deoxyribose, and is an acid. The "rungs" of the molecule are made of a phosphate group linked to a deoxyribose sugar which are linked to one of four nitrogenous bases: Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Cytosine (C), and Guanine (G). A fits with T and C fits with G and vice versa. The bases are linked by weak Hydrogen bonds so it can easily replicate. When it replicates, the molecule unwinds, and an enzyme called DNA Polymerase moves down the bonds and "unzips" it. Then another strand comes and fits with correct corresponding base. This happens in the Cell's nulceus. The molecule replicates when the cell divides. That's DNA basics for you. Also, to extract DNA, the lower the temp., the better perserved DNA stays when the cell gets dissolved.


However, as the animal dies, and the cells and tissues deteriorate, so does the DNA. Thus, by the time an animal is fossilized, you have fragmented and dead Deoxyribonucleic Acid. The same holds true for the amber in a mosquito idea. The Mosquito's dead therefore it's genetic material is too.

Maybe? Maybe Not? Certainly NOt in 2008!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Museum News #2!!!!!!

Dinosaur Mummy CSI: Cretaceous Science Investigation
Leonardo the Brachylophosaurus and a mummified pregnant ichthyosaur as well as Triceratops with preserved skin on it will appear at the Houston Museum of Natural History SOON!!!

Paleo Lovers MUST CHECK IT OUT!!!


Ticket Information
Members
$8
Adults
$15
Children (3-11)
$12
Seniors (62+)
$10
K - 12 School Groups
$5
Groups of 20 or more / Corporate
$9

Monday, December 1, 2008

PaleoQuest's 2 Month Annniversary!!


Hard to believe I've been a blogger for 2 months. I'm still a relative newcomer but, I think PaleoQuest is pretty popular! Thanks for all of your support!!


Sue the T-rex at the Field Museum