STL Science Center

STL Science Center

22 March 2018


I have been pretty sick this week and missed a lot of the week because of it. Rather than saying we will continue next week or I will scrunch all of the Apatosaurus material I have into today and tomorrow, I would like to remind everyone that we have discussed Apatosaurus before around here. The link to the search for Apatosaurus is here. Enjoy looking through a few years of old entries and seeing what kind of information has been doubled up on at different times!

19 March 2018

Movie Overload

Apatosaurus appears in hundreds of movies, feature length documentaries, animated shorts, and television format documentaries. If we consider Brontosaurus involvements in these categories the number of mentions, glimpses, and outright featuring roles of the sauropod in scientific media is well above hundreds. The first animated dinosaur, in fact, is an Apatosaurus (modeled after what was then called Brontosaurus actually, but until the argument over synonymy plays out we will keep these animals together) named Gertie. The Gertie film is the third mass-released animated film and most everyone has seen it in total or at least in part. This and other Apatosaurus videos were shared on this blog in 2013. Apatosaurus, more specifically Brontosaurus before the lumping event of the 80's/90's (more on this history later), was the inspiration for the animated dinosaur Littlefoot from The Land Before Time.
More recently Apatosaurus was used as the model for one of the protagonists of the Disney movie The Good Dinosaur. This is not the most recent featuring role of Apatosaurus though. That most recent role is one of its saddest as a movie screen dinosaur. Jurassic World's Apatosaurus herd was on screen for only a few moments and mostly consisted of dead dinosaurs. However, the behind the scenes building of the physical Apatosaurus head is pretty awesome to watch. I would go far enough to say astounding. I cannot get enough of it.
One of my favorite old, and therefore a little weird and not correct, videos that I saw a number of times growing up (and found online, lucky you folks) is the 1980s Golden Book Video featuring Fred Savage called Dinosaurs! A Fun-Filled Trip Back in Time. In retrospect, a ludicrously 80s video that has an Apatosaurus in it and contains live-action, claymation, and cartoon dinosaurs. That video can be found on YouTube here.

18 March 2018

Same Game Plan

Last week's series of videos worked very well for Sunday Facts, so I am doing the same thing today. We have two videos from the same sources as last week (I'm A Dinosaur and Story Bots). There is also a video from The Dinosaur Club that is the kind of video I would love to have the time to produce myself for this page or my own use in outreach. One thing that I have noticed watching all of these videos (both weeks) is that you will definitely find different interpretations of Apatosaurus in terms of illustration and placement of some anatomy (nostrils in the first two videos). Some of this is influenced by the skull misidentifications mentioned yesterday. Remember that the skull of Apatosaurus was originally thought to be close (or maybe exactly) like that of Camarasaurus and Brachiosaurus; sauropods that have nostrils high on the dorsal surfaces of their skulls. Unfortunately someone (it is the Story Bots video) consulted the wrong information regarding nostrils. This should not ruin your day though.

I'm A Dinosaur

Story Bots

The Dinosaur Club

17 March 2018

A Contentious Sauropod

The name Apatosaurus ajax is not very debated on its own, but it does have a history that includes the incorporation and the "re-splitting" of the genus Brontosaurus . The genus Apatosaurus also contains the referred species A. louisae, which is a second species within the genus but may or may not contain a third species, A. laticollis; presently A. laticollis is considered a junior synonym of A. louisae as described by Tschopp et al. 2015. A large number of Apatosaurus species have been assigned or reassigned since Marsh's initial 1877 description of the "deceptive lizard". Marsh did not have a complete specimen of course, the skull was unknown and confused with that of Camarasaurus until A. louisae was discovered in 1909 with a complete skull, but his description remains one of the first accurate descriptions of a sauropod dinosaur and therefore the world's official, scientific, introduction to some of the largest dinosaurs that we know today.
©Dmitry Bogdanov

14 March 2018

Anatomical Wonders

Velociraptor has some amazing anatomy. The dinosaur had theropod characteristics as well as a number of avian characteristics. Velociraptor has a number of interesting and unique characteristics that are both avian and dinosaur, or are entirely unique to Velociraptor. That anatomy has garnered a lot of attention from a lot of artists, scientists, and the general public, as we know. There is an entire scene about its feet in the original Jurassic Park movie. Before the feathers became the big news about Velociraptor it was the toe claw that everyone was intrigued by. The hollow bones of Velociraptor have also made the news a number of times because of their similarity to the bones of birds. I have to plug an artist as we are talking about a lot of anatomy here to finish up this post. Rushelle Kucala works mainly in markers, colored pencils, and digital finishing points and she is very obviously a serious student of paleontological anatomy. I would love to post some of her work on Velociraptor here, but instead I encourage everyone to increase traffic on her site, using Velociraptor as the gateway at the link here.

13 March 2018

Furculae and Descriptions

Possibly because of the bird-like characteristics of Velociraptor and also possibly because of its fame from both well-known fossils and the popular sphere, there are a lot of articles written about Velociraptor. These range from descriptions of new material, the skull in particular, and even the furcula (referred to in the title and portions of the article as a "wishbone", most likely to appeal to a wider audience). There are also descriptions of the feathers that we now know are associated with Velociraptor remains; as this dedicated study of the quills of the dinosaur shows. Personally, I am always interested in what kinds of clues we have to indicate behaviors or at least what kinds of inferences people have made about behaviors from their interpretations of characteristics of discovered remains and characters associated with those remains. This is why papers that investigate relationships between Velociraptor and its prey and how Velociraptor may have hunted that prey are intriguing to me. These papers by Hamilton, et al. and Finney, et al. model Velociraptor (and some other animals) hunting strategy using complex mathematical modeling and computer algorithms; they are a little intense, but the models in action and the results are both interesting.

12 March 2018

Dinosaur Planet

I apologize for this YouTube user's odd placement of the video, but here is a Discovery documentary entirely about a Velociraptor told as a story.