Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fossil Fact #9!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like the previous post, I am short on time for posting, so let's go ahead and get started. This one is a continuation of covering the topics voted on in the poll on the right-hand side of the blog. The Ninth Fact is covering the Tyrannosauridae. This group should need no introduction and this post will be in the same format as the last one and the others for that matter, obviously.  So, let's begin!

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:

NEXT: The Ceratopsians-Champions of Defense and of the Cretaceous!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fossil Fact #8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that I actually have the time to post, it's time to finally cover the topics that you, readers, voted on in the poll, in a series of Fossil Facts. Considering the amount of time that has past since the last Fact, I felt this was overdue and I did promise these lessons when I had the chance. Interestingly enough, it was the idea and support from my "friends" over at Dinosaur Home, to, not only do a special Fact over on their blog, but make this Fact  a reality. And, even more exciting, is the updated Post edit/Creation page, as I like to call it.

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

Some Thoughts About The Blog

As the title says, this post is just some self-evaluation about this blog. For those who have been here since I started back in October of '08, you all know about the quality, you all know the changes that have happened on this blog within ONE year of it's genesis. Those who have JUST came across this blog, I say "Welcome!" My point? There's none, really, other than just reflection as this blog is approaching it's First Birthday! I find it hard to believe I have been on the Paleo Blogosphere for nearly a year, and, already, I have managed to obtain 11 followers, a feat which takes some bloggers some time to get started. Now, I am not trying to gloat, but I am impressed with myself. Aside from that, the people I've "met" and the things I've learned, are nothing short of spectacular. This has been a fantastic opportunity, and one not easy to do. I feel fortunate to have such fantastic guidance on this site, despite my shortcomings (Those who know me, know what I'm referring to all too well, lol.).

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

Artwork of the Day #10!!!!!!!

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

A Day of Epic Proportions....(Memorial for 9/11)

It was on this day, September 11, eight years ago that the United States had suffered one of it's greatest tragedies. The Terrorist hijackings led by the Murderous Osama Bin Laden,in representation of Al Quaeda (Spelling?), destroyed, not only the World Trade Center in New York City, and a fraction of the Pentagon, but we suffered the greatest losses of all....the lives of hundreds of people, including the brave fire fighters who stepped up to the challenge and sacrificed themselves for us. This post is meant to remind us as a nation to set aside our petty differences just this once and have a moment of silence and remember those whose lives were lost. I encourage all of you stop what you're doing for one minute out of your day, and remember. Please take a moment of silence.............


Okay, if you HAVE taken this moment of silence, you may leave and proceed with your day. I feel this day needs to be treated with more respect than I saw today. Sadly, no one at school even gave a care about it, which just upsets me and ticks me off. Days like this should NOT be ignored and taken into consideration at how fragile life is and what it means to be a Nation....and more importantly what it means to be HUMAN!!!

God Bless America!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Artwork Of The Day #9!!!!!!!

Apatosaurus/ Brontosaurus by: Joe Tucciarone. This large Jurassic Herbivore was, probably, THE most famous Sauropod in the eyes of the public. Why the name difference? Back in the mid 1800's during the Great Dinosaur Rush with Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, E.D. Cope discovered incomplete, disarticulate remains of a large sauropod and named it Apatosaurus. Years later, O.C. Marsh, found the remains of a MORE complete Sauropod and named it Brontosaurus. Since the public knew what this Sauropod looked like, it gained the fame. However, it wasn't until years later when Paleontologists realized they were the same animal and, in according to something I like to call Nomenclature Hiearchy, since Apatosaurus was published first, the name changed and Brontosaurus became an obsolete genus. There you go! A fact few, "Non-paleo," people knew about. For those who did NOT know this, Cool Fact, huh? ;)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

School Has It's Grip On Me Again- Final Post For Awhile (Hopefully Until This Weekend)

Unfortunately, school finally has it's grip on me this week! Ugh...I was wondering when it was going to be and, sadly, right when I got back my blogging streak from January! I'm pretty annoyed as homework has me by the throat and I will not be able to blog until probably this weekend, which sucks! Sorry, readers!! This is my crucial year and I can't just slip on by and blog more than do homework! :P This is the MAIN year that colleges will look at!! So, since Paleontology IS my dream, this is part of it as the first step in my Paleo Quest. I thank you all for reading and your patience! Don't worry, you all can still find out what's going on with me in between posts...or have you forgotten my Twitter account which you can follow here or read them on the right-hand side of my blog under "The Tweets Of A Raptor." That's it and I'll talk to you again on Friday!!! :) So, until then, Take Care!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Congrats To Art Evolved!!!!

For those who do not know what Art Evolved is, let me elaborate on what it is first. Being the first time I have truly and officially mentioned it, I feel you, readers, deserve to know! Art Evolved is, in addition to being one of the newest Paleontology themed blogs on the Science blogosphere, a blog created for the sole purpose of Paleo Art. Every month or so, Art Evolved hosts a gallery as a "Time Capsule" with a particular focus in mind (i.e. The Sauropod Gallery, that I am about to finish drawing for and finally submit it, that closes on November 1st, so those who are interested after this post, you have until then to submit them to for posting.). Art Evolved was founded by two Key members of the Canadian Theatre Troup: Prehistoric Insanity Productions, Craig Dylke and Peter Bond, and is contributed by a host of some the World's BEST Amateur and Professional Artists alike including: The Flying Trilobite: Glendon Mellow, Sean Craven, Raven Amos, Traumador the Tyrannosaur (Yes, even him....on occasion), University, Trilobite Mad, Marek Eby (The author of Burgess Shale themed comic strip "Walcott's Quarry," which I must say is hilarious and very witty as well as his blog,, British Taxonomy student Mo Hassan of the Disillusioned Taxonomist, as well as insane Paleo nerd and Science Teacher, Zachary Miller of Anchorage, Alaska (When I mean, insane, I mean he is truly a wild, young, and VERY enthused Paleo enthusiast much like myself...or very UNlike myself....hmm...I'm not sure which, lol! Sorry, couldn't resist a little joke.) and Japanese-British Paleontologist Manabu Sakamoto of the popular blog "Raptor's Nest," as well as Rachael Revelle, Nima Sassani, and Angie Rodrigues, among others, that, I'm sure will appear after this bit of publicity, which I will get to in a moment. As probably inferred, the Galleries are OPEN to anyone interested in submitting by the Deadline (Again, E-mail ALL entries to be submitted to the next gallery, must submit their work to by November 1st, 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

The Arch-Revisited And The Lewis Exodus (St. Louis Post: Day 4, FINALE)

The St. Louis Posts FINALLY come to a close! Hallelujah!! I don't know about you, readers, but I am glad to finally be finished with this series. No more Broken Promises and I can finally give myself more leash and post when I say I'm going to. How's that? I, truly, am satisfied with this being the final post in the series and I can proceed with my life! However, before we begin, I feel I must sincerely apologize for the lack of quality of that last post. That post, thanks to Life, was not completed until around midnight or so. As odd as this might be, let me explain that my mind was exhausted and I could have been out at any moment. Thus, I had to complete it at any cost, so I can keep my word. Anywho, this post won't nearly be as long as the other one because of the few pictures that are about to be uploaded. (Yes, that was also a reason for the late completion of that previous post.) Let's get started!

The night before me and my father had to leave, I talked him into going into the Arch once more before it closed. Skeptical, as I thought it would close much earlier than I read on-line, my dad and I hesitated for a second and took this picture of me and the accompanying co-worker:

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:

Puts things in perspective, doesn't it. Here is the view of THIS (My SECOND) visit to the Top of the Arch:

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!!

Stay Tuned!!!