Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Before I begin the long-awaited and promised Fact, I would like to apologize for my absence. Many of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter are probably aware of my busy schedule these past few days, or rather, weeks. I am truly sorry for my absence, but I hope you had a GREAT Christmas and I hope you have a Fantastic New Year!! :)
Now, this Fact is the result of inspiration by the Great Craig Dylke, the Weapon of Mass Imagination who, if you have been following him closely, has definitely improved in his artwork, as can be seen on his blog, and Art Evolved!! The topic of my choosing is a bit adventurous for me, guys, so please bear with me if the quality isn't as good as my previous ones concerning Extinction and The Tyrannosauridae. The topic: The Mosasaurs, more specifically, the genus: Tylosaurus. Now, though my knowledge may not lie in the Mosasauridae, but the Coelurosaurs, I'm confident that my research will suffice. And, yes, I will offer links to sources at the end of the post.
Kings of the Cretaceous Seas- The Mosasaurs
What are the Mosasaurs?
The Mosasaurs were a group of Cretaceous marine reptilian predators that belong to the group that includes Snakes and monitor lizards known as Squamates. In fact, one could describe their appearance as being monitor lizards with flippers. Mosasaurs evolved during the Cretaceous period and inhabited the Western Interior Seaway of North America preying on large reptiles like large seaturtle genera like Archelon and Protostega, other Mosasaurs, and Ammonites.
Fossil remains have been uncovered in Cretaceous strata in states such as Kansas, Oklahoma, etc. since the mid 19th Century. According the finds, they lived in a purely aquatic environment that covered the middle of North America thanks to rising sea levels, dividing the continent into thirds becoming the Western Interior Seaway.
A Few Known Genera-
Mosasaurus- the extinct genus for which this group is named and based; lived in the Maastrichian age (Late Cretaceous) of the Cretaceous period.
Tylosaurus- a Mosasaur of the Late Cretaceous, and, probably one of the better known genera of this family. Though, it has many species, a few are actually considered taxonomically valid: T. progirer (Cope, 1869) (Type), T. nepaeolicus (Cope, 1874), T. haumuriensis (Hector, 1874), and T. kansanensis (Everhart, 2005). Like most animals in this family, they were powerful swimmers, gargantuan, fast, and heavily built. It possibly preyed on sharks, other mosasaurs, juveniles of it's species (not the individual's own offspring of course, but, possibly the offspring of another Tylosaurus.), and a few species of fish.
This animal was portrayed in National Geographic's IMAX documentary, Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure living alongside Ammonites, Plesiosaurs, Dolichorynchops, being depicted as the top predator of the Seaway, 82 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period.
The whole phylogenetic cladogram of this family can be found here.
Mosasaurs can be identified by their similar design to modern day terrestrial monitor lizards. They have a large, flexible head, strong neck muscles, and powerful muscles attachments to the radii and ulna in the flippers. I imagine that, unlike some animals, they had open sutures in the bones, allowing room for more growth, after reaching adult size. It's also clear that they were possibly endothermic, as they required extensive meat to keep up their tremendous size and energy. They possibly had a great sense of smell allowing hunting to be much easier.
I have a hard time believing that they are exothermic, as, though I have not had the opportunity to personally examine a mosasaur, each morning and night, they would have to pull themselves up on the beach at night, and, at dawn, would have to stay up on the shore line warming up. There were predators that would have been willing to attack a defenseless Mosasaur, despite it's size. So, they would need to get back into the water as soon as it can, and could not waste time sun-bathing. Although it is a good idea to avoid predators and allow oneself to breathe fresh air, it is still dangerous as there were predators at all times of the day and night who could be prowling the beach. At least, that's my hypothesis for a group, I know almost nothing about.
Another thing, Mosasaurs were most likely VERY active and quick. It's true that sharks and other marine predators are quick and exothermic, but the ability to create an animal that size and sustain that size requires massive amounts of food. Other predators, can go awhile without eating.
This group possibly evolved during the Jurassic period, but, at the time, were dwarfed by the pliosaurs like Liopleurodon. It could be that they were still terrestrial animals, and had not yet filled those niches in the sea until the Pliosaurs began to die out.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
- Fossil Fact #12- Tylosaurs/Mosasaurs- The Deadly Cretaceous Seas (Thanks to Craig Dylke, The Weapon Of Mass Imagination, of Prehistoric Insanity for this bit of inspiration!)
- A sample of the GSP essay.
- Thoughts on Darwin and Natural Selection
- Christian Evolutionist-Finding the Middle Ground With God and Darwin.
- What is "Jane?" Identifying this Mysterious Tyrannosaur
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This post is to allow me organize my thoughts on this Program and fill out the tedious, but thankfully somewhat easy, application process which encompass the following:
- The Traditional Application- What I mean by that is this part of the application process is in the format one would probably normally think of for an application.
- Records of Accomplishments- The application includes several pages of these.
- The Essay- This is the crucial part of the application! I will be live-blogging the completion of the essay much like one would for Art Evolved pieces in a new series on PaleoQuest in the next week. (That reminds me...the new gallery has been decided- Paleo Environments- this gallery has no specifications other than unique environments. NO Blank Backgrounds, UNLESS you have two animals accurately interacting in the space. Due: January, 2010!) Anywho, here is what I am supposed to do, for the essay- "250-350 words; Write about a specific leadership project you've participated in, or would like to in the near future. Keep in mind that this is limited to the constraints of my imagination and may evolve over time."
Saturday, November 7, 2009
The nice thing about these two documentaries is their extensive coverage of the group, including the odds and ends, as well their use of Diagrams and Models in addition to interviews with key experts, like Dr. Horner, Dr. Sereno, Dr. Bakker, Dr. Holtz, Dr. Witmer, among others. Now, lets go throught the oddities of the documentaries one by one.
The name says it all and it nicely covers the some of the odd ones of the Dinosaur World. The following list are of the Animals covered in the documentary and what they said about them:
- Amargasaurus- this sauropod is truly bizarre with it being the only sauropod/titanosaur genus to have a double row of elongated "spines" on it's back, large enough to have supported a skin sail, similar to the Spinosaurus aegyptiacus.
- S. aegyptiacus- I found this part to be the most interesting as not only did the show talk about the basics of this animal, but commented on it's truly bizarre morphology, the crocidilian snout and the large single row of spines jutting from the middle vertebrae of the spinal column, which most likely supported a sail as well. Oddly enough, Horner admitted to the true diet of this theropod, when they referrenced it's appearance in the failure, Jurassic Park III. His reasoning for selecting the Spino and not, say...Giganotosaurus carolinii or T. rex, yet again, was, one, it was the largest theropod known, and second was he was tired of T. rex "hogging the glory." They, then, commented on it's bizarre "sail." Covered were the ideas of thermal regulation while fishing, and/or display.
- Nigersaurus- "The Jurassic Lawn Mower/ Vaccuum cleaner" as I'd like to call him. This sauropods most bizarre feature is it's head! Clearly this looks like it's the offspring of a Diplodocus and a vaccuum cleaner, making me infer it's a diplodocid. The teeth and the jaws of this animal or in such a bizarre layout that it possibly combed the low growing vegetation.
- Dracorex hogwartsia- or "juvenile Pachy." This pachycephalosaurid is so named because it looks like something out of a fantasy film, specifically a dragon. The odd skull doesn't seem to be real! Well it is, but what exactly is it? "Hogwarts' Dragon King" is one of those taxa that Horner and Goodwin believe to be a stage in the life of a related pachy. So, is it's own species/genus or is it the growth stage of another animal. (Will cover this soon....)
- Deinocheirus- Bizarre as it only known from a gargantuan pair of menacing arms and that is it!! Ornithomimid? Herbiverous? Carniverous? Omniverous? We don't know! This theropod is about as mysterious it gets!
- Epidendrosaurus- Tiny, cute, but bizarre! This little theropod, and I Do Mean Little, is bizarre as it apparently had large eyes, making it nocturnal, and an elongated index finger, possibly to fish for insects in the barks of trees.
- Masiakasaurus- This small theropod is bizarre, though sadly not in the documentary, but the article, was bizarre in that it had it's four front dagger-shaped teeth curved out of it's mouth and looked like hooks at the end of it's jaws.
- Carnotaurus sastrei- This large Cretaceous theropod is bizarre for it's bull-like face, from which it gets it's name. The function of the horns was purely social and used for display and identification between members of the family. It was portrayed in Michael Crichton's The Lost World as possessing the ability to blend into it's environment like a chameleon.
However, there's more to growth than that. It's true that fused bones in an animal don't necessarily mean the animal is full grown. Sutures are a good way to tell, however, that doesn't necessarily mean anything either. Now, I know I'm no Ph.D, yet, but think about it. There may be some taxa that reach adulthood but continue growing through out their entire life. Therefore, they would still have open sutures. To truly tell an age and when they stopped growing when they matured is to count the growth rings as well as look for sutures under a microscope.
In my personal opinion, I agree that dinosaur juveniles and their adult counterparts were not Mesozoic "Dr Evils and Mini-Me's" of each other here. More research definitely still needs to be done.
On another note, I would like to comment on the habitual nature of Paleontologists, Biologists and Zoologists that think "black & white," if you wil about the functions of some animals with strange morphologies and appendages. A prime example are the plates of Stegosaurus. My hypothesis is that they were for sexual display, family member/sex identification and thermal regulation, along with other taxa with bizarre appandages like Spinosaurus aegyptiacus' sail and Amargasaurus. There's also the old question about the functionality of the front limbs of the tyrannosaurs. Sure, there obviously was the trade off with the larger head and more muscular neck, along with powerful jaws, and the shrinking of the seemingly vestigial fore-limbs. However, when paleontologists discuss function, they say it's "either this OR that" which is just NOT a good way to think in this field! I believe they were used in number of different ways from courtship, mating, and consuming prey. They might have even helped the animal get up in the morning or something. The arms may have been used to pick itself up if it tripped on the hunt. And, if injujured and can't hunt, the family would have taken care of the injured member. The limbs could have been used for grooming as well, as proposed by Dr. Robert T. Bakker.
My point is that the majority of paleontologists are too "black and white," if you will in their thinking, instead of "grey." In other words, they need to stop thinking that something is "either/or." The thinking is too extreme left and right wing with no middle ground. At least, that's what all this research and thinking has taught me. Hopefully, I will learn more about this when I continue my "Paleo Quest" and my own personal research in my spare time between posts and tweets.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Extinctions- Out with the Old/ In with the New-
Please pay attention, readers, and read this Fact verbatum! For a good several centuries, Early Biologists, thought that all organisms that had ever lived on this Earth was still alive, and no one would have thought that God would be one to let his most precious creations die off. Yet, in the late 18th Century, French Anatomist Baron Georges Cuvier (1769-1823), known by many as the Father of Modern Paleontology, proposed the idea of Extinction.
EXTINCTION?! Why in the history of the World would God kill off His own creations? The answer is known by many today as not the hand of God but Natural Selection, with the great Father taking a backseat to the Universe and intervening as He sees fit. This leads into my next topic of Discussion: "What is it?" and "How does it apply to us today?"
What IS Extinction?!
Extinction, by working scientific definition, is the absence/disappearance of all individuals of one taxa or several populations of several taxa in an ecosystem. That's extinction, in a nutshell, however, this is still a complicated topic to instruct, so please keep reading.
What CAUSES Extinctions?
Now that we know WHAT Extinction is by working definition, we need to understand what it's role in Evolution actually is...more specifically the "Causes." Unfortunately, many scholars know WHAT it is and it's implications, but WHAT truly causes these mysterious disappearances of populations of organisms remains unknown. That's what this Fact is truly about and I've had an ambition to discuss this recently.
However, we do know that Extinctions are multi-factorial and that not ONE factor can cause extinctions as it's like a Dominoe effect, where one change affects the other factors until the group is wiped out, or at least, that's what is believed to happen, yet when it comes to large extinctions like the extinction of the Dinosaurs, the Permian extinction, and the Pleistocene extinction (A few of which I will cover briefly in a little while, if you'll bear with me.) the factors aren't as forgiving as they are with modern extinctions, thanks to the gap in the Fossil Record.
Extinctions On A Large Scale-
Many extinctions continue to occur today and everyday, despite human (H. sapiens) interaction, but the one's that make the headline news are the global "Mass" Extinctions like the ones Humans are causing or are we? (I'll get to that soon enough.) and the infamous K-T Event.
Here are a Few of the Infamous Mass Extinctions, their Time Periods, Evidence and Possible Factors:
- The K-T Boundary- 65 million Years Ago- a.k.a. the Extinction of the Dinosaurs- This is marked by a higher concentrated layer of Irridium (rare on Earth, but abundant in meteors) at the boundary of the Cretaceous ("K") and Tertiary ("T") periods. The "K" for Cretaceous is used as a notation to prevent confusion with the Cambrian and Carboniferous periods. Approximately 68% of all life on Earth was wiped out in this event. The Irridium indicates a definite meteor strike, but was that the finger that fired the loaded gun of Evolution? Possibly, but I have another idea. If one were to go into the Badlands of Alberta, Canada, Outside of Drumheller, you would see some of the best evidence of the end of the Cretaceous. As the Fossil Record shows, the Dinosaurian speciation was down to 12 individual speies of each group around the end of the Cretaceous, yet the the fossils seem to end a few feet below the irridium line, indicating that the meteor strike had not done them in, something else. However, that's not to say that it did NOT wipe them out, but rather, as fossils are extremely rare, some may not have fossilized, so there's really NO way to tell. We KNOW it was an environmental change but the exact combination of the factors is nearly impossible to tell.
As you all can see, Extinction is a VERY complicated topic and I am already exhausted from typing it honestly. lol! ;P The most important thing to remember is when you hear about Extinction theories and hypotheses, keep in mind that it takes MORE than ONE factor to cause extinctions!!! In fact, ALL extinctions share the same basic trait in common with one another is that they share the same factors for the most part, the ENVIRONMENT, yet the combinations of those factors differ with each one! I hope you enjoyed and I encourage you to get in touch with experts and ANY of the Open Access Journals, such as PLos One and continue to read up on it if you have ANY further questions! Take Care, Readers! Talk to you Tomorrow!! :)
The Ceratopsians- Horned Champions of the Cretaceous
Possibly the most famous of all the armored herbiverous dinosaurs on Earth, the Ceratopsians were, indeed, some of the most successful and lasting on our childhoods hearts. However, I'm going to cover as best I can and as hastily as I can if I am going to squeeze in two Facts today, with some of the latest research.
What is a Ceratopsian?
As simple as this may sound to most of my "older" readers (by "older," I mean those who have been with me since I started this blog.), there are still a number of folks who may know what they are but, simultaneously not know what they are, if you follow me. Everyone's familiar with them, if they are not familiar with term, like Triceratops, Torosaurus, Styracosaurus, etc. The term "Ceratopsian" is a variation of the scientific family name "Ceratopsida," which means, ironically, "Horned Face." This group has been an obvious success so I doubt I will cover into too much depth into their evolution, as, honestly, I'm completely clear on.
The Ceratopsians were known for their unusually thick and gragantuan "frills" that provided protection for the major arteries in the neck, and held an impressive armory of weapons on the some of the well-known, larger Cretaceous taxa, Triceratops horridus, Torosaurus, and their kin. Though not all had the impressive assortment of weaponry, some had frills whose sheer glance would make any intelligent theropod re-think it's position or just high-tail it out of there!
Thankfully I need not repeat myself when I discuss behavior from the Fossil Record. This is more of an abstract concept and requires more imagination as, well, people have conflicting views when they literrally look at the same thing. Prior to Paleontologists like Dr. Robert T. Bakker, and Dr. John "Jack" R. Horner, the view of the Dinosauria were big, dumb, lizards. Yet, universally, we see them as living animals with as much an ability to survive as any animal today, if not better. The Ceratopsians were, in my opinion, pretty docile, and would only attack when threatened, as any other animal. Other than that, very little canbe gained from their remains, no matter how complete, which leads into the next section of this Fact: Anatomy.
A Quick Over-View Of Ceratopsian Anatomy:
Other than being Ornithischians ("bird-hipped," Pronounced, ORN-ITH-SCK-IANS), these herbivores are known for their massive frills. Sadly, new research shows that structurally, these frills' primary function was display, and then defense. I'm not saying that defense wouldn't have been an option, I mean, if display were the primary and ONLY function, then evolution wouldn't have needed a large head crest to show off as other animals do. The ONLY ceratopsian species whose frill is solid bone, was the infamous Triceratops horridus. As stated, if the frills were used for defense only, then evolution would have standardized the design, unless, it was as equipped as necessary to handle the perils and predators of it's particular ecosystem (i.e. The sheep-sized Protoceratops of Cretaceous Mongolia doesn't need to be as well-equipped as the North American Triceratops or Torosaurus.
New research by Dr. Horner of Montana and his colleague, whose name escapes me for the moment, was published in the article in PLos One on the growth of Triceratops horridus and Pachycephalosaurus. According to them, the different taxa for these families were actually growth stages of well-known taxa (i.e. Dracorex hogwartsia, and Stygimoloch were actually growth stages of Pachycephalosaurus, respectively.). As farfetched as this may seem, it seems an even larger changed when it came to the Triceratops. However, no information on the differences in the sexes has been found, even with the detailed studies.
That about wraps up this quick Fact, and I'm sorry if the quality wasn't as expected, but if I wanted to fulfill my ambitions, some sacrifices had to be made. :( Again, sorry, readers.
Monday, October 19, 2009
September 2008: Genesis
I decided to join the blogosphere after stumbling onto Traumador's blog through a random search on Google Images on Tyrannosaur infants, which, in turn led me, even more specifically on Traumador's Excellent Jurassic Park film reviews from 2007. My first brief visit fed my curiousity and decided to explore more of the site. And, lo! It wasn't long before I realized I liked his blog and began communicating with him through his comments page and e-mail. Honestly, this little T. rex has been THE best "virtual friend" on the blogosphere a guy could ask for! I owe him a lot!!
September 2008: PaleoQuest-Version 1.0 (Original)
Shortly afterward, I decided to start PaleoQuest. Only this is the version Traumador SHOULD remember. As a fresh blogger, I was merely experimenting with the features of Blogger with simple posts, gadgets, etc. Sadly, I was "booted" out of my first Google address, from a simple, yet ludicrous reason. Since, I could not log back in to my blog, I decided to move on and create this one. Because I could not log back in with my original account, I could not delete it. So, it must be on the blogosphere still: http://raptor-paleoquest.blogspot.com/. If any of you readers find it or not let me know.
October 2008: PaleoQuest-Version 2.0 (Current):
In October of 2008, I started the one you know today and the one I still use. I have been blogging for approximately ONE year today. I am extremely proud of myself especially considering the fact that school has me on such a short leash. That's basically all there is to this one, except, I met several of my closest "virtual friends" through this version. Here are some of the first ones:
- Jason "Naveed" Westby-Naveed's Realm- One of my first friends on the blogosphere, Naveed welcomed me onto the blogosphere and began subscribing very early on shortly after Traumador. Shortly after he left a comment on my first Fossil Fact, I clicked his name to learn more about him on his profile. Afterward, I proceeded to his blog and found it pretty cool! His interests are in Cryptozoology, the Paranormal, Science Fiction, and, most importantly Chthulu (spelling?), in addition to Paleontology.
- Traumador the Tyrannosaur-The Tyrannosaur Chronicles- My first follower and friend on the blogosphere. Like Naveed, he showed me the ropes of Paleontology and blogging. Trust me, he does justice for the Coelurosaurs. He probably doesn't need much introduction, but, still, a little more can't hurt. ;) Affilliated with the Amateur Multimedia Theatre Troupe from Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, Prehistoric Insanity Productions, his blog is a sight and read to behold if one hasn't already.
- OilIsMastery-Oil Is Mastery- My third friend and follower on the Blogosphere. His blog is more of a multitude of different scientific fields, which the author's main goal is to get his readers to think. Ranging from Physics, to Paleontology, and Geology, even Anthropology, his blog is a good one to visit to get your mind going.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The Tyrannosaurs- From Man-sized Jackals to Gargantuan Apex Predators
What makes a theropod a Tyrannosaur:
The Tyrannosaurs are characterized mainly by the shape of their teeth, and the powerful jaws, as well as gracile to heavy stature. The D-shaped teeth are serrated on both sides and usually curve backwards, indicating the ability to rip apart a carcass with ease. This design first started in the earliest known ones like Guanlong wucaii and Dilong paradoxus and then continued in the large, powerful Late Cretaceous members, like T. rex.
Tyrannosaurs, however, are not really known for their gracility (Slenderness) and are more characterized as large, well-muscled, powerful brutes. This heavy stature wasn't evident in the earlier members, but were well defined in the later members like Daspletosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Tyrannosaurus bataar ( Tarbosaurus). There are a few members that increased in size, yet kept their gacile stature, like Albertosaurus.
What they are known for are their bite force, which is exactly what their jaw is designed for. The majority of the bite force is correlated with the increase in weight and bulk in later Tyrannosaurs.
This group is also known for the small, dual clawed, fore-limbs, whose function is still under controversy. However, the early Tyrannosaurs did not have the dual clawed, small forelimbs, but had the long three-digit, fore claws.
The Early Tyrannosaurs- The Tyrannosaur Dark Ages and "T. rex's Granddaddy"(Jurassic Period-208 million years ago-145 million years ago)
What I mean by "Dark Ages" is that this is the part of their evolution that we are, seriously, in the dark about. It wasn't until Guanlong that we even knew (Or, at least, I knew) the lineage extended that far back and reclassified T. rex from being a Carnosaur as a Coelurosaur. We really don't know much about this time in their evolution, except a large mass grave found by James C. Clark in China with Xu Xing, containing layer upon layer of doomed theropod dinosaurs. That's our only clear indication of the lineage of the Tyrannosaurs.
Let me tell you a little bit about Guanlong, the "T. rex granddaddy," as it is popularly referred to by the public. Guanlong is most noted for that odd crest on top of it's head, similar to Cassowary of Australia. Unlike later Tyrannosaurus is it's notable gracile stature, lengthened fore limbs, that happen to have three digits like most other theropod groups.
The behavior of this animal has been related to the jackles of the African savannah (however, the jackles are the active predators most of the time and not the lions.) in that they were scavengers. I believe that they were active predators with the possibility of pack hunting or family groups.
Other than this limited information, there is not much to say on this part of their evolution, other than check out Wikipedia.
The Reign of the Tyrannosaurs- The Tyrannosaurs At their Prime (Cretaceous- 144 million years ago-65 million years ago)
The Cretaceous points out the success of the Tyrannosaurs as we see them diverge through genetic drift and migration filling in almost every predatory niche in the ecosystem and we see a lot of diversity in the other fauna as well.
Despite the gaps in the fossil record of this period on their evolution, we have a much better idea and a much clearer picture of their evolution than we did of the Jurassic period. Some of the Tyrannosaurs grew larger in size and retained their gracile stature, like Albertosaurus sarcophagus and those that have not grown any larger than Dilong paradoxus and have retained that gracile stature like Nanotyrannus lancensis and the newly discovered, Raptorex kreigsteini. These animals filled in the second level predator status of the ecosystem and, some like Raptorex, are on the direct line to Tyrannosaurus rex.
Others sacrificed their gracility for power and a larger head and, a larger, more developed brain, than other theropod groups, (though not as much as the Dromaeosauridae, or the "raptors."), like Daspletosaurus, Tyrannosaurus bataar and Tyrannosaurus rex.
Another notable fact about this family is that every one is rare. VERY few articulate, complete remains have been found and that is why classification and studying their evolution is so frustrating and difficult.
For those of you who did not mind my, indifferent tone, I hope you enjoyed it! And, those who did not, please let me know of how I could have improved it. ;) I also would like some feedback on accuracy and writing ability! Thanks! :D
Anywho, here are a list of sites to visit for more information on this family:
- Wikipedia-The Free Encyclopedia
- The Tyrannosaur Chronicles-the Palaeo Facts Are A Must!
- Ask A Biologist- Q&A
- University of Berkeley Tyrannosauridae page
- Dinosaur World-Tyrannosaur page
Monday, September 21, 2009
Skull of the Cretaceous Predatory fish Xiphactinus audax at the St Louis Science Center. I took this on one of the trips there, this summer. (Note: You can find this on my Deviant Art page. ;))
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Anywho, as I don't have much time for this one, I should tell you this one is a brief overview of the Evolution of Theropods according to the Fossil Record. So, Lets get started!!
What is a Theropod?
Because of the possibility that there are new readers, and those who are not familiar with the technical vocabulary, allow me to explain what "Theropod" means, simply. Simply, and briefly, the term "theropod," literally "beast-feet" is the term referencing to the dinosaurian bi-pedal carnivores that, literally dominated the landscape of the Mesozoic. Theropods, as will be covered shortly, according to the Fossi Record (despite the obvious gaps) branched off into a number of different groups based on certain aspects of their skeletal anatomy.
Theropods Emerge- Late Triassic (~208 million years ago):
Despite the evidence of carniverous dinosaurs somewhat earlier, (i.e. Eoraptor, and Herrarasaurus), "true" theropods, like Coelophysis bauri, didn't evolve until later. Coelophysis is considered the earliest known theropod, because of some pretty crucial reasons, namely his body plan. If one were to actually examine a C. bauri skeleton, then one would think he/she was, perhaps, looking at a bird, which, because of it's hollow bones, is it's namesake. This animal had a long flexible vertebrae in the S-shaped neck and tail. The joints of the limbs to the torso allow for fluid movement, and, though, primitive, Coelophysis forelimbs were essential for the manipulation of prey. Though, not heavy and powerful as some of it's predecessors or the reptiles of the time, C. bauri is built for speed and his upright posture gave him the advantage over it's archosaurian neighbors.
Syntarsus, and Dilophosaurus to Ceratosaurus and Allosaurus- Theropods Diverge (Jurassic period, 208 million years ago-145 million years ago):
The Jurassic was not only the reign of the Theropods, but other groups as well. Of course, this post is covering the Theropods. At the beginning of the Jurassic, change was in the air as the Dinosaurs have control of the land. Although, one may not realize it, but many groups that appeared in the Triassic were beginning to branch away from each other, as animals began to migrate and the continents shifted during this period. Pangaea was now breaking up, though the modern continents still haven't arrived.
During the start, we have little predators similar in size and design as Coelophysis, Syntarsus. These animals still have the build: not for power, but for speed. Syntarsus, despite being the same build and no longer has to compete with the primitive archosaurs of the Triassic, is not the terror on the block. Even at the beginning major animal groups were branching off, with some becoming larger, and heavier, while others are remaining gracile. One of the stars of the book and film Jurassic Park, is around, without the frill and the poison glands, and about 2-3 times larger, yet still slender and gracile, Dilophosaurus. Still primitive, because of the five fingered fore-claws, indicating that he just became a biped from a quadroped. He looked like he just started walking upright. Also, his build is like the smaller Syntarsus and the Triassic Coelophysis. His most unusual feature are the two, thin, blood-vessel, filled crests at the top of it's head, possibly for display, hence the name. This theropods jaws were very unusual, as they're pretty slender and the teeth are long and blade like. (The bone crushing teeth of the Tyrannosaurs, do appear during this period, though they won't appear until the mid to late Jurassic.) This jaw design suggests to me that Dilophosaurus wasn't built for hunting the large prosauropods like Anchisaurus. Since behavior doesn't fossilize, I can only go on what I have read, heard and seen in the documentaries and books on the subject (For example, most of this information, is based off of the Discovery Channel documentary When Dinosaurs Roamed America, which covers MOST of the Mesozoic and goes into it more deeply than Walking with Dinosaurs and shows us the fossil evidence of each scene of the show.). So, readers, bare with me, I haven't been around enough specimens to really get my own opinion, thanks to KY.
Anywho, as the animals continue to branch off, we have the carniverous Ceratosaurus of North America, and the tyrannosaurid Guanlong wucaii, of Asia. In the Late Jurassic, we have large, more robust animals like Allosaurus and the Torvosaurus. In the mid to late Jurassic, we see the transitional form of Archaeopteryx. The Jurassic founds an evolutionary boom, similar in size to the Cambrian, only this boom continues into the Cretaceous.
Tyrannosaurs, Birds, Mammals, Raptors, and Flowers- The Peak of their Reign and, Sadly, their Tragic End (Cretaceous period, 145 million years ago to 65 million years ago):
The Cretaceous is one of the most famous periods of the Mesozoic and Prehistory with the public, yet the most commonly misunderstood, as it is second only to the Jurassic period, in terms of popularity. This is where the world starts to look more modern and less alien.
Here is a quick overview of the Cretacous Predators:
Tyrannosauridae- This family emerged in the Jurassic period as medium sized, gracile, feathered animals. One of the most unique feature of this family are the design of their teeth. The D-shaped, serrated, banana-sized teeth bagan in Guanlong and Dilong, and taken into extremes in Tyranosaurus rex. This family belongs to the same group as the "Raptors" (The Dromaeosauridae and the Troodontidae), the Coelurosauria (the most bird-like group of theropods.) As such, they are some of, if not, the most advanced animals of the time.
(i.e. Guanlong wucaii, Dilong paradoxus, Raptorex kreigsteini, Daspletosaurus torosus, Albertosaurus sarcophagus, Gorgosaurus libratus, Alioramus altai, Nanotyrannus lancensis, Tyrannosaurus bataar (Tarbosaurus) and, of course, Tyrannosaurus rex.)
The "Raptors"- Called such because of Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, this group includes more than just the Dromaeosaurs. These also include the Troodonts. These families share a similar body plan, such as the retractable "Killing claw" and large complez brains and bird like features. Some even have feathers. (Fauna include: Velociraptor mongoliensis, Deinonychus anhtirropus, Utahraptor, Troodon, Jinfengopteryx, Microraptor gui, Dromaeosaurus, among others.)
The Spinosauridae- The odd crocidilian-snouted theropods. Not much to say other than this group is poorly understood, as there is not much fossil evidence for these guys. (Fauna: Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, Suchomimus tenerensis, Baryonyx walkeri, and the others, who are still controversial, that I won't mention to have this post be as accurate as it can be.)
The Allosauroids and the Carcharodontisaurs- There is a long standing debate about how the Carcharodontisaurs emerged. Some say they emerged from the Allosaurids of the Jurassic period. Others say they have a separate lineage. Other than that, I can't say much about them other than they include the largest carnivores that have ever walked the Earth!
Birds-This is obviously, still controversial, but I'll stil mention them anyway.
Those are some of the major groups that inhabitated and terrorized the Cretaceous landscape. Hope you enjoyed and learned something today. ;)
Monday, September 14, 2009
Next, I want to talk about the main curiousity of you readers, the Future. So, I answer "What's next?" for the blog. Well, I'm not sure. I find it difficult to be making commitments and then School snatching me from the web. I know I said I'll be covering the topics, you all voted on in the Poll, and I will. I also wanted to tell you of a commitment I told Dr. Andrew Farke, the Open Source Paleontologist. He had the idea of a collaborative effort to write a paper on the Evolution of Ornithischian posture....or something to that extent. :P Those who participate in the research will be listed as the authors of this paper going up for Plos One. It's excellent, though I am still vague as to how I will participate. (Hopefully, I will cover it in the next post. Sorry. :P) I know it has something to do with posting some research here. Hmm....Sorry readers, I'll be sure and ask him, and then I'll let you know, next post.
Other than that, that's what will happen in the next few posts. Although, if you follow me on Twitter, then you'll know I will be still announcing when posts are up and the subject of the next one, but not the date, so I don't break any promises. In fact, just like tomorrow, it's up in the air. So, until next time, take care and see you Next Post!!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The classic Charles R. Knight painting of the Tyrannosaurid, Dryptosaurus (a.k.a. Laelaps, as this taxa was known by at the time of this painting.) Thanks, Brian Switek, of the Science Blog, "Laelaps," for having the original site for "Laelaps," still on the blogosphere (In truth, I stumbled upon this, thanks to Google Images.)
Friday, September 11, 2009
God Bless America!!!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Now that you guys know what it is, let me tell you all WHY this post was written. Geological themed Magazine "Earth" just gave this new blog, their FIRST MAJOR Publicity in PRINT!!!! Featuring Interviews with Craig Dylke and Peter Bond and sample pieces from ALL the artists mentioned!! :D
Again, Congrats to them and ALL of their Hard Work as they earned it!! Since I KNOW it's ALMOST impossible to find in bookstores, they have a website here WITH the Exact Article! Now, you don't have to take MY word for it!! Click on the link and see for yourself!!! :D
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I don't know if you can see that clearly but you can kind of get a glimpse of me on the right with my good friend "Dinosaur George" Blasing's Official T-shirt that I purchased on-line months ago and the co-worker, who is obviously a dwarf compared to me, thanks to height gene I got from my grandfather. With a character like her, the trip was never boring (And if she IS reading this post, I meant that in a good way.).
After that little photo shoot, we attempted to head into the museum, thanks to the kind gesture from a guy who told us the Arch was STILL open! Talk about Luck!! I had assumed it would be closed but I think I have proven God exists as EVERYTHING that I have done has gone right, even when I read otherwise that WOULD have been otherwise.
Anywho, the entrance to the Museum was much like going through Airport security only much more lenient. The procedures were basically the same without the awkward checks and undressing as they make you do at the Airport security. Once inside, we attempted to purchase our tickets and head into the Arch....if the line wasn't SO long! The expression on my faced can only be described with the acronym "WTF?!" and with my trademark "Holy Cretaceous!!" Get the picture? Instead, in addition to exploring the museum , we saw an old mid 1960s documentary on the construction of the Arch, which they play everyday of the year since the opening of the museum. It was either that or the IMAX. The Documentary wasn't boring, but it wasn't the most fun thing to do at the time, and it WAS fascinating and it helped time pass, though the effect we wanted with the lines, was a miniscule change. We, then proceeded to get in line, which took hours and we got to learn more about the Arch as we waited.
However, before we stepped into the agonizingly long line we took a picture in a replica of the car you ride in on your way up. I want to show you these pictures so you get an idea of what you ride in on your way up to the top:
As you can see, it was worth the wait. This can also be seen on my Deviant Art page. This Gorgeous picture is quite breathtaking and I hope that those who have NEVER been to the Arch and/or up to the top, I highly reccomend you do so. It is worth seeing and a memory you'll probably never forget! I know I NEVER will Forget! Neither will you!
That's it for these posts! I hope you enjoyed and my next posts will be on the results of the Poll that you all have voted for, so I thank you again, readers, for taking the time to do so! This blog is really for you rather than for me. Again, thank you very much. And, if you are wondering about the next part of the title, I am, simply, referring to the fact I left St. Louis the Next Day and my second visit to the St. Louis Science Center before I left for home. Again, I hope you enjoyed, and the next time I speak to you again, readers, will be on my next lesson!
Next: A Lesson Equivalent to the K-T Extinction or....maybe....Permian!!
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Yes! I thought, giddy with excitement! I was almost there and it wasn't long before I would get to meet "her." The "Lizard Queen" was right inside the Center and I was only a few minutes away!
Not long afterwards I made it!
This place is Gargantuan and just one picture doesn't do it justice, and neither does two. I had finally made it, hot, perspiring and down right exhausted, yet I had made it. My first glance at the building was somewhat shocking! This center was gargantuan and I Still hold my mouth agape to this day, just looking at a picture of it. These two images are of only two-thirds of the whole building and the interior does the size justice and gives one the feeling of insignificance and inferiority, yet "Sue" was inside and I wasn't about to stop there in front. I came too far to stop then, so I ran inside, and my mouth was still agape and I stared stupidly in disbelief at the lobby.
Like Sci-Port, of Shreveport, Louisiana, USA, the Center had this HUGE contraption in the lobby like the Sci-Port contraption on steroids. And over to the left of the Admissions booth (Fortunately, the regular exhibits were FREE, and the "Sue" exhibit was only $8.00!!) was the most amazing model of a Tyrannosaurus rex fleshed out head I'd seen in a long time:
In case you can't read the sign, it basically says this was made in 1999 for National Geographic and it is a one-third scale model of "Sue's" skull, fleshed out with the EXACT proportions. Quite amazing!!
This museum has decent exhibits that is definitely worth checking out and worth telling, but I must get to the MAIN reason I was there! The Paleontology exhibits.
First, the "Sue" exhibit! Here are a few of the pictures of the exhibition here:
A few pictures of "Sue," the "Star" of this show! As you can see, "she" and I have met and I think "she" is gorgeous!!!!!! ;) That's enough for now, I'll be posting them periodically here as Artwork of the Day posts and they will be on my Deviant Art page, though honestly, I am getting tired of this series and I must wrap this up. The St. Louis Science Center IS, however, a cool place to visit and the the last day of my trip, I returned with a shorter time to get there, and saw a Planetarium show. Other than that, nothing else.
NEXT: THE ARCH AND MY EXODUS, THE ST. LOUIS SERIES FINALE STAY TUNED!!!!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The sign was at the entrance to this important garden for the Gate-Way Arch, commemorating the Lewis And Clark expedition across the Louisiana Purchase.
This was taken on the VERY top step in the entrance in front of the Capitol. It's quite a sight and it really fits that it was built this way. It's a good place to think and appreciate the efforts of two amazing men! :) One of whom, I'm related to....can you guess which one? You get points for accuracy not random stupid comments. ;) Come on...don't be shy.
A Brief History of the Memorial:
This Arch was one of the most amazing engineering feats ever constructed. It was chosen as the simplest shape to represent our (being the United States) expansion west, hence the name of the Park. The Arch was first constructed in the early '60s and remains one of the world's tallest monuments.
At the end of the day....
I sat in one of the benches for a few hours, then decided to head back to the hotel, instead of explore more of Downtown and attempt to make my way around. It was a decent temperature, yet one that would not take long before it becomes excruciating. So I headed back and sat in the hotel room for the rest of the afternoon, reading my Summer Reading book: The Things They Carried by: Tim O'Brien, which is a Fantastic novel by the way, and watching a little TV.
Sorry, there wasn't much to this post, but after the Second Day, things got more interesting and....shall we say "Blog-worthy."
Stay Tuned, Readers!!! There's More to Come!!!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
For those who don't know WHY I went on this trip, I went, though it was a Business trip for my Dad, to spend Father and Son time together like he did with his dad. He has such fond memories of doing this with his father, that he wanted to share it with me. In fact, it was a good idea especially since I graduate from High School in June of 2011. Not much time left, I know.
We flew from Louisville by Southwest Airlines straight shot. One thing about the Louisville airport, is that it's not your average airport. Talk about at least two stories filled with art of all kinds lining the walls and ceiling!
We landed in the St. Louis airport in about an hour's time and we quickly obtained our luggage and headed for the bus terminal to the rental car shop and, no, it was not Enterprise. After the hasty, yet limited, choice of vehicles (They were all Mini-Vans and SUV's, so really there was almost nothing to choose from readers.), I managed to pick a bright red mini-van and we were on our way to the Hotel. A Hampton Inn, to be more specific as my father had points there. It was a nice, 6 or so story, Hotel with a nice furnished lobby that was really spacious and the feeling of an expensive inn, somewhat like the Radisson or Marriott. The Hampton Inn was right across the City Park from the GateWay Arch with a nice casual Irish pub attached to it called Tigin's. The service was perfect and the people were extremely friendly everywhere I went. I must have a charm or something. Believe me, readers, I was, and still am, in disbelief as you are. The lobby was divided into two separate floors: The Lower Lobby where the Continental Breakfast was served and the main Lobby where you check in. There was also an office where one can check e-mail and catch up on any projects if one were on business. That is where I sent the majority of my e-mails. Hey! I wanted to stay in touch with a few of you guys...and to plan where I would be going in St. Louis while my Dad was working. After work, he and I with a co-worker who happened to come along would hang out and go to Dinner. While he would work, I would explore St. Louis and ride the Metro to the two main attractions I have pictures for, though that's another post. Each post will be about a certain day of the trip on each day this week. So, please, look for them! That's pretty much what happened other than checking in and eating out.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Cretaceous Dromaeosaurid, Deinonychus antirrhopus borrowed from the web as I can't upload my own pictures yet, as per the reason explained in the post. The Artist is written on the picture, or if you can't read it, the artist is Robert F. Walters from the site here: http://www.ansp.org/museum/dinohall/deinonychus.php or the Academy of Natural Sciences website!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Suchomimus tenerensis ambushed by Sarcosuchus imperator (Literally, "Super Croc"). I had actually first seen this painting as tall as a wall in the excellent "Super Croc" exhibit in the basement of the Union Terminal in Cinncinatti, Ohio (ironically, not in the Natural History Museum part of the building...which is to the right of you as soon as you walk in.) Sadly, it was only a Special Exhibit. I wish you, readers, could have seen it.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
First of all, it turns out, that I have some Summer Reading to do, in addition to some responsibilities here, like unpacking since I JUST got home today (More specifically, I got home about 4:30 pm.). Believe me this is NOT my idea of fun. My definition of FUN is hanging out with you all and NOT working. Sadly, this is just a dream, but I'll be a professional Vertebrate Paleontologist soon enough so not to worry. In the meantime, I'll be doing some research for my Fossil Facts. so they'll be returning, hopefully.
In addition, I'm accompanying my Dad to St. Louis, Missouri on his business trip! So, while he's at work (By the way, he's the President of his Company Now!!), I'll be hanging out in the hotel room doing my Summer Reading for my Advanced Junior English class (Only got 4 weeks left so wish me luck!) and in the afternoon, hanging out with him and see St. Louis. My dad did this with his dad and he had such fond memories of it that he decided to do this, probably because I'm almost out of High School and am almost a legal adult! Anywho, I'm really excited and this means I won't have time to blog! Plus, I won't even have a computer with me even IF I did somehow find the time. So, Now you know.
I let the forum members of Dinosaur Home know that I will be absent and the site will be left in the capable hands of the Administrators, so it all works out nicely!
However, when I DO get back from St. Louis, I'll go into blogging overdrive because of my absence, complete with Pictures!! So Stay Tuned for that Readers!!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Burrowing Dinosaurs?- Fossil Evidence Shows that some small Ornithischians Burrowed to Escape Polar Winters
Did they actually Burrow?
Well....that's what the fossil record seems to tell us. In the Polar regions of the Earth (In Alberta, Canada, and as far south as Australia), several remains of small Ornithischian Dinosaurs ("Bird-hipped," mainly referring to the majority of herbiverous dinosaurs) have been found in what looked to be burrows. The scientists who played a prominent role in the research of Dinosaur migratory patterns of the Polar regions, Eric Snively and Now, the Hypsilophodont, Leaellynasaura was only known from fragmentary bones from that region, but, now, we seem to have a more complete picture of life at the Polar regions during the Cretaceous.
Measurements of burrows from Alberta, Montana, USA, and Australia suggest their occupants, though possibly temporary, were small Hypsilophodontids roughly around the same size as Leaellynasaura (and the same size as their contemporaries.) Of course, what does this mean?
Eric Snively, of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, with David Varrichio of Montana State University in Bozeman, theorize that, though they were selectively adapted to wait out the chilling Polar, Cretaceous winters, they couldn't stay their year round because, as evidence also suggests, the burrows were made in soil that was deposited by flood waters, indicating the risk of flood.
As new evidence comes to light, more insight into the life and behavior of the Dinosaurs becomes available. That's the beauty of Paleontology. One day, perhaps, we'll find complete vertebrate fossils in Oceania and Antarctica and gain MORE insights into their behavior.