Friday, July 31, 2009

Heading Home...Just Later Than Supposed To....

This post will be brief, readers, and, hopefully, a paragraph. This post is the same message as one of my tweets at the right-hand side of the blog, in case you haven't checked it out already. I'm sorry to say that my posts will be delayed yet again, as well as my flight home, which also unfortunately happens to be the cause. :( Normally, I don't use emoticons in posts; however, this is a time where it is the only way to express how I'm feeling at the moment....and the fact that this is a short post. Please do not misunderstand me. I don't want to misconstrue any information regarding the situation. I am not aware of any weather problems at home right now, but I DO, in fact, understand there is a valid reason, and I hope that you guys can understand me right now. How am I delayed, you ask? Well, my, or rather, our (meaning my dad, me, and the co-worker that is accompanying us because, this was a business trip.) flight was supposed to be around 7:30, but now we are delayed ONE hour, meaning (in case some of you don't feel like doing any BASIC math.) our flight leaves at 8:30 instead. It's disappointing as we are flying into Louisville, KY around 9:30, then we have a One hour drive home, not to mention the time zone change...and that's IF it all goes according to plan. I really can't afford this delay, let alone another one. So, please pray for me guys....or wish me luck, if you are NOT religious. Either way, the posts will have to wait until tomorrow. Again, sorry guys.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Return Of The Raptor!

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: or the Academy of Natural Sciences website!

As much as this sounds like a hit action film or suspense novel, it's not, readers! I'm simply letting you know when I'll be returning to Kentucky and what will happen. For starters, let me explain why there have been NO posts despite the fact I've been using the Hampton Inn's computer. First of all, it isn't mine, and I have no intention of "hogging" all the time on the computer for lengthy posts. So, it's check my e-mail, do the occasional blog scan, maybe make a quick comment and log off. And, because it isn't mine, I can't upload pictures, which makes these posts that are coming soon worthwhile. Sorry to say you guys have to wait until I return with pictures, several blog posts about it. Then, I will also talk about the four topics in the poll at the top of the page in whatever order you guys see fit. So, remember to vote (And, yes, I have extended the time so I can give everybody the chance to vote because I'm such a nice guy, right? ;)). So, please vote! I shouldn't have to tell you twice, and I hate asking you to vote when i put up a poll like this. Remember, these polls are for you.

I understand my frequent absences and the fact I don't post as often as I should. I'm sorry, and I know it's difficult to know when I am here. Fortunately, I am one of those considerate readers who tend to comment on what I read so I can give feedback from those of you who read this blog. So, try to look for me on your blogs and, you'll know I'm still here on the blogosphere and, if I'm not posting , you'll figure it's for whatever possible reason. So, again, to let you all know, I will be back this weekend, so you can expect a posting frenzy this weekend. So, Watch For It!!!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Artwork of the Day #8!!!!!

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

Countdown to Junior Year- 4 More Weeks and a Lot Going On

Well, I'm back home in Kentucky, and I must say, readers, this Summer Break has gone by too quick! I'll miss my mom and will see them again this Christmas, and, hopefully, Thanksgiving. Sorry for the lack of posts. As the weeks went by, I would get busy, and often not find the time to post. This is what I wanted to talk to you, readers, about. As school approaches, my life will get busier and busier (sp?) until school starts and then it'll be a repeat of last year. So, let me tell you all where I'll be.

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

Interestingly enough, Naveed of Naveed's Realm, sent me an article from News Scientist, an on-line science magazine (Well, that was obvious! Now forgive me for wasting your time with this obvious information.) about findings of small Hypsilophodontids in burrows in Australia (And even in Canada, mainly Alberta.)...sound familiar? It should because this was covered in my First Fossil Fact and even a Paleo Fact by Traumador the Tyrannosaur over at the Tyrannosaur Chronicles. Well, despite the fact that I was only correct in describing the Cretaceous world and, basically regurgitating what I'd heard in a Walking with Dinosaurs episode (which is exactly what I did! Thankfully, Traum was kind of enough to give me some help and kindly correct me about this information. Hopefully he'll read this post, because I, personally, think he would be interested to see this new research and see that BBC and I may have been correct after all. Huh....Who knew?). Orginally, my first Fossil Fact was basically to supplement Traumador's well-researched, knowledgeable and well-written Paleo Fact. Now, there is actually fossil evidence to suggest such a thing, though the behavior of the Leaellynasaura as organized as they were is still speculation. Anywho, it's about time I stop here with this Introduction and begin with the details of the finds.

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.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dinosaurs To Live Again?

Dinosaurs have captured the imagination for centuries since their disappearance 65 million years ago. Since then, the media has attempted ressurected this amazing group of animals and their environment through films, novels, encyclopedias, kids books, scientific journals, etc. Who wouldn't want to see them up close and personal? Now it might be possible. New techniques in genetics brings back the hope of seeing these great animals alive again.

The novel Jurassic Park suggests that one can extract dinosaur DNA from mosquitos fossilized in amber. In fact, one geneticist attempted to do just that...or rather using a slightly different method and from a relatively younger mosquito. The result was an apparent DNA strand, yet when it was attempted by others, people gave up when they got no DNA , leading to the idea that maybe the DNA was a contaminant from the scientist. Thus, diminishing the hope of resurrecting these fantastic animals.

However, Dr. John R. Horner has another idea, if you recall from my Wired article post. If you DO recall, he mentions that modern birds have the same genes as the avian-theropods (Coelurosaurs, mainly). They're just turned off or slightly modified. In fact, these "old-dogs" can learn new tricks. Experimenting with these genes (more specifically, these hox genes, or genes that make up the body plan of an organism. Hox genes correspond to a specific body part.), is Horner's former student Hans Larsson notices that as an chicken embryo develops, the embryo has about 16 vertebrae in their tails and then it shrinks to about 4-5 vetebrae in their tails. Larsson then attempts to see if he can keep the gene active longer than usual. In fact, it works. He not only succeeds in keeping the gene on in the chicken, he manages to extend the tail about 3 more vertebrae. Developmental Biologist Mathew Harris has managed to cause a bird's feet to develop downy feathers like the Dromaeosaurs would've had and the Chinese breed of chicken the silky bird. Harris and his mentor found that a chicken mutant was starting to develop embryonic teeth. Suddenly, Horner's idea of retro-engineering of birds into theropod dinosaurs seems possible.

However, it's not as easy as it sounds. Not only do they have to identify the particular genes, but they have to find the right mix of chemicals to start the fertilization process and to create the enzymes needed to control the genes as in what genes are turned on/off and when. Despite this setback, Horner and Larrson believe that at the rate at which we're decoding genomes and the rate at which the science of genetics is racing, we may be able to retro-engineer dinosaurs (mainly theropods) from modern birds within this century. Jurassic Park? Probably not. Living theropod dinosaurs or something like it? Yes!

Author's Note: Information obtained from the Discovery Channel documentary: "Dinosaurs: Return to Life?"

Author's Note: Wondering about the bird wings and the fore-limbs of Dinosaurs? I believe that at the rate at which Genetics is racing, we may able to find the gene that keeps the fingers separate and the arm long and capable of grasping prey and find the right enzymes and chemicals (with the right mixture, of course.) we could keep that gene turned on. Like I said, sounds easy, right? Well, easier said than done fits this situation. However, it will happen within this century I believe and you may see a theropod walking around in a zoo before you kick the bucket. That's the deal with the fore-limbs of the bird embryos and the theropods.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Me And The Houston Museum Of Natural History

It was vacation time again and I thought it was time to take a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural History as mentioned on my Boneyard post, if you recall. Yep and now I wanted to put my Paleo knowledge to the test and enjoy the exhibitions. Despite the fact, the museum was holding special exhibits, I could only choose one thing to do, sadly. I chose the permanent exhibits as I could not see "Leonardo" like I hoped. At least I enjoyed the the regular exhibits just fine, though I do not have pictures of everything, sadly. I do, however, have pictures of my visits to the Paleontology Hall.

First, let me tell you the layout of the museum, so you can get an idea of where we were in the Museum (Trust me, you'll enjoy the pictures much better if you know where I was). When we first entered the building, we entered a spacious lobby with the Ticket Counters, the Planetarium, which seemed to have interesting programs playing that day, the IMAX theater, which happened to be in 3-D (and in association with one of their new IMAX films, they had giant, life-sized inflatable sharks all around the lobby with a large life-sized inflatable whale shark on top of the roof near the entrance. Unfortunately my mom wasn't feeling well and we were celebrating her birthday too (which was a few days before, but I was staying with my Grandma's before she came down to stay with us and take me back that weekend, 4th of July weekend to be exact.), and encountered the longest line I had ever seen in my entire life!!!! It stretched about half way across the lobby (and, believe me, readers, it was a long line! If I had any photos of the lobby, you would see what I'm talking about, which I don't.) And, on the right were the entrances to the main part of the museum (starting with the Paleontology Hall ) and then, farther down, was the Gift Shop with, which had the most unusual thing in the most unusual place, which you'll see what I'm talking about in a few moments, so, please, bear with me. As soon as we purchased our tickets, we bypassed the crowd and entered the main exhibit hall (the Paleontology Hall), of which we saw an impressive display of fossils from the Paleozoic on the right with illustrated murals on the wall with fossils of the flora and fauna of each particular period. They had Trilobites as big as a man's torso, Crinoids, and, reaching the Permian, they had, what seemed to be the fossilized remains of an amphibian or reptile. And, on the left, (assuming your entering from the lobby), the Mesozoic begins, with specimens of the major animal groups, from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, somehow skipping the Triassic period. Here is a sample of what I saw when I was there:
As you can see, it's me in front of a Dromaeosaurus fossil. Theropod tracks on the back of a theropod (Tyrannosaurus rex , I think...or Dromaeosaurus) mount next to a nest beneath the glass.

Me in front of a Triceratops horridus skull.

Those are a sample of the Paleontology Hall at the Museum. If you want to see the rest of my pictures, shoot me an e-mail and I'll be happy to show them to you. In fact, let me explain the rest of the layout of the Muesum. Above the Paleontology Hall where you can see the Edmontosaurus adult and Juvenile next to a Tyrannosaurus rex cast skeleton from a specimen from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana. From up on the balcony on the second floor, you can still see the Diplodocus carnegiei and Quetzocoatilus (sp?). Up on the second floor is the Gem Gallery as I like to call it where you head into dark corridors with illuminated cases of beautiful gems and minerals. There's also the Halls of Texan and African Wildlife where, in the glass cases are stuffed animals (no, not the toys, I mean, dead animals) and displayed them in recreations of their natural habitats. Downstairs, is the local Mummy and they have a King Tut exhibit where they have the room built like the tomb, though the decor and treasures are gone. The "crack" in the wall has a creepy illumination of wildlife and the middle of the room is a Huge "table" where Tut laid in the tomb, except he's obviously not there and the computer was inside showing CT images of the corpse. There's even CT scanning of Tut's skeleton the visitor can manipulate. It's interactive. With the Mummy, there's a number of amulets and mummified animals in the nearby case. As you can see, the Houston Museum of Natural Science/History is pretty cool. I recommend you visit it at least once the next time your in Houston, TX, USA. It was also the home of "Leonardo," if you recall, temporarily.