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.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
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 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.