STL Science Center

STL Science Center

31 January 2011

I'd love to just show documentaries this week, but I HAVE to include clip below from 1 Million Years BC. There are two episodes of Jurassic Fight Club that feature Ceratosaurus, but I'm going to treat us to one we haven't watched, not last week's Camarasaurus one ( Unfortunately it's not a direct copy, so the sound is crappy. I think Ceratosaurus is slowly gaining more attention as time goes on, which is a good thing for the animal. More light on how it lived will interest more people and hopefully give us even more information about how it lived and how it survived in that world.

30 January 2011

Family time on Sundays with Ceratosaurs

Ceratosaurus fact sheet, to begin with, as always. Additionally, there are some good coloring opportunities waiting this week both online and offline. There are also family game time opportunities here with card games and video games. That's a difficult game to get your hands on these days though. If you've got a really dino-hungry person in your life, Ceratosaurus has been "lucky enough" to be considered acceptable for toy manufacturing by the demanding public. The dinosaur Toy Collector's guide features the model below on its website.

 The "dinotoyblog" features this Ceratosaur and the entry is authored by the Dr. Smith who volunteered his Camarasaurus for last week's edited pencil drawing. He contributes there frequently as he created the blog.

29 January 2011

Ceratosaurus in images.

Ceratosaurus has appeared, despite his Giovanni Ribsi-esque background character stature in the world of dinosaurs, in many different types of images. We know there are paintings. There are always paintings of dinosaurs and for Ceratosaurus this is no exception with many brilliant examples existing from a multitude of spectacular artists. 
There are also old stop motion movie Ceratosaurus. Those big clunky models that always have crazy erratic movements and are featured in movies with cavemen. One of the poor guys even gets speared in a movie I remember from childhood, and that Ceratosaur was just looking for a caveman sandwich!

There are CG versions in video games, dinosaur documentaries, all over really.
There are, of course crazy old paleontologist's pencil drawings as well. These 18-19th Century pencil drawings always amaze me. They're funny, but they're also a sign of their times and despite the comical nature of them, typically, they were the height of scientific understanding, which makes them fantastic in their own right.

28 January 2011

Happy Friday Ceratosaurus!

This week we will be working with Ceratosaurus. Jaime Chirinos, who painted the picture above (with minor adjustments by Jenn for fun!) is updating the painting and keeping me informed, so I'm going to post the edits as I receive them in this blog, the first of which is below. It has a very dusky tone that, for the moment almost makes the Ceratosaurus a shadowy figure. This should be an awesome week with a nimble and somewhat smaller predator than the apex predators we've seen in the recent past.

 Ceratosaurus was a much smaller animal than its contemporary predatory amigos. Allosaurus was about twice to almost three times their size, making a confrontation between the two very dangerous for Ceratosaurus. Translating this into predation tactics it's fair to say Ceratosaurs were probably not taking on dangerous animals of size (Camarasaurus or Brachiosaurs as examples) or weaponry (think Stegosaurus here) without the help of another one or more animals. More than likely Ceratosaurs found their niche preying on other small nimble animals of their day such as the occasional mammal and Dryosaurus sized dinosaurs. 

Ceratosaurus was named for the small horn on its nose which, for all intents and purposes is more likely than not, a hood ornament to show how awesome a Ceratosaur was. I can think of some better hood ornaments on predators (Carnotaurus anyone?) but Ceratosaurus looks like he'll shape up to be an awesome subject to study this week.

27 January 2011

Pop Culture Thursday

Poor Camarasaurus! Not a huge pop culture icon. One of the most common animals of the later Jurassic and barely any mention in movies, books, and children's shows! Then of course, when all else fails, there's always a toy. Pleo is the big name in Camarasaurus toys these days!
 However, there are still the free form toys of our youth:

and there are statuettes:

26 January 2011

Gilmore, finder of skeletons

Oramel W. Lucas found scattered bones in 1877 that turned out to belong to Camarasaurus and sold them to Edward Drinker Cope. However, it was not until 1925 that a complete skeleton was found by Charles W. Gilmore. Gilmore worked with the Smithsonian Institute for a good portion of his life, from 1903 until his death in 1945, was a curator of fossil reptiles and mounted the world's first Triceratops skeleton. He worked with a good deal of Sauropods, so his discovering the first complete Camarasaurus isn't really much of a surprise.

25 January 2011

Article Tuesday

Article Tuesday: Today I have portions of articles, mainly. The first is from a 2005 book called Thunder Lizards. The second is an article about the gregarious and age related behaviors of sauropods. The final article is the first page of a 1958 article about the braincase of C. lentus ( More articles have been written about Camarasaurus species, however, they simply aren't available online. This is unfortunate, but the three we have are good sources of information.

24 January 2011

Camarasaurus the star!

This video, narrated by John Goodman, shows us some feeding habits as well as explaining and showing an x-ray of the bone structure of Camarasaurus. Continuing on that trend we have a video modeling the skull of Camarasaurus from Dr. Lawrence Witmer's lab at Ohio University.

Additionally,there is this episode of Jurassic Fight Club. Now, until today I haven't watched this, ever. I have heard mixed things about the show, though most of what I've heard is negative, you can decide yourself. This episode features a few different animals, but Camarasaurus does factor into the program after part 1.

23 January 2011

Today we can't sit back and color, because there simply aren't any coloring pages anywhere it seems! We can review some facts with the kids in our world ( and we could even play out a scene with them thanks to the toys that exist ( Too bad about the coloring though!

There are also books to be shared with the family such as the two below, available on Amazon:

22 January 2011

Art and Camarasurs

Camarasaurs are beautifully rendered animals all over. The pencil drawing from yesterday is great, the painting below by Raul Martin, fantastic! 


There are other paintings  


and even life sized sculptures that cost a mere £28,000 or $50,000 (

21 January 2011

New week, new animal!

Pencil drawing courtesy Dr. Adam Smith (

When thinking of a new animal of the week I thought of this guy. Who is he? Well the nostril placement, which is quite accurate, narrows this lumbering cow down to two general choices (unless you're as into dinosaurs as most of us are and know that the more popular choice would have higher nostrils), one of which we've studied already. We studied, previously, the Brachiosaurs. The other choice, which we will study this week is the genus Camarasaurus!

Camarasaurs are large sauropods found throughout the Morrison formations in Colorado and Utah. In the late Jurassic era these animals were the giraffes of their day. Their principal predators were most likely packs of Allosaurus, as these animals were rather large and hard to take down and, in fact, a pelvis from Dinosaur National Monument in Utah bears evidence of an Allosaur attack. The type species for this genus is C. supremus, so many of our entries this week may fall back on this animal.

20 January 2011

Popular Culture and the Gallimimus

Jurassic Park helped to put Gallimimus in our faces but what other parts of pop culture has this docile looking omnivore pervaded? For starters, custom toy making fans of the old cartoon Dino-Riders have fit a harness onto a Gallimimus and made their own toy, how's that for invading pop culture? Our guy is on the left hand side. There are also game references, such as Zoo Tycoon and the Jurassic Park games, of course, as well as Spore:

In addition, there's also art work,but we could go on forever looking at the artwork. There are also the numerous mentions of the animal in literature, fiction and non-fiction alike.

19 January 2011

Halszka Osmolska: A True Lady of Polish Paleontology

Halszka Osmolska was born in Poznan on Sept. 15 1930. Between the years 1965 and 1970 in the sands of the Mongolian Gobi she and her colleagues pulled many different fossils from their resting places in the desert. One of these was our dinosaur this week, Gallimimus bullatus, which she described to the world with her companions. During the last 20 years she helped co-edit the tome sized compendium The Dinosauria with Weishampel and Dodson. In return for her years of work she has been honored by various societies including the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and by having four fossilized animals named after her. Unfortunately she has left the living world behind as of March 31 2008, a true loss to the Mongolian dinosaur community and paleontology as an entire science.

18 January 2011

Gallimimus news

The first article I've found for Tuesday is pretty much a summation of what we know about Gallimimus. ( The second article ( is head written by Halszka Osmolska and presents the new species Gallimimus. The article is fairly long at 93 pages, but is a must read if you're interested in Gallimimus.

Osmolska is co-editor of the tome-like book The Dinosauria along with Peter Dodson and David Weishampel. She is one of the most famous Polish paleontologists to have lived and described many animals from the sands of the Gobi desert. Sadly, she died in 2008 at the age of 77, but her work on extinct animals, including the highly descriptive article above, has enhanced our world of dinosaurs immensely.

17 January 2011

Movie Monday

The Gallimimus doesn't have a whole lot of film credit to its name. The one scene anyone can recall to mind is from Jurassic Park ( They don't feature heavily in documentaries, however, and so movie Monday is fairly sparse. There's also this slowed down animation of the running gait which is good to watch if you're into studying running speeds (

Unfortunately, there isn't much known about the diet in the form of concrete evidence. I assume that someday there will be and then our friend the Gallimimus will start making it into more documentaries. There aren't too many documentaries discussing running gaits and those that do exist feature trackway evidence or discuss animals like T. Rex. That's another way Gallimimus could make it into documentaries, if people began to find more trackways. Until either vast amounts of stomach contents or highly visible and clear trackways come into the scientific light, we'll just have to make do with a lack of dinosaur documentaries featuring Gallimimus.

01 January 2011

The Land Before Time

The Land Before Time, while a quintessential movie for children and dinosaur lovers alike, has many flaws in portrayal and is also a deeply involved societal critique. First and foremost it has to be noted that the flaws are only apparent to the dinosaur lovers, not the children, and thus the lessons learned by the story stand as typical good morality and ethical lessons as seen in other Don Bluth films such as An American Tale. I'm going to do my best here but I claim no mastery of the subject and that should allow anyone to feel free to counter any arguments I make to encourage healthy debate. Any non-healthy debate such as "told you so's" and "I'm right you suck" will certainly be ignored and deleted.

The Time of The Land Before Time

The time represented seems to follow the Cretaceous end of the Mesozic and extinction of the dinosaurs type theme, however, this calls into question a majority of the cast list. Littlefoot appears to be an Apatosaurus, Cera is clearly a Triceratops (hence the clever name), Duckie is a Saurolophus, Petrie is a Pteranodon, and Spike is a Stegosaur while the main villain, the "Sharptooth" is a Tyrannosaur. Pteranodon, Triceratops, Saurolophus, and Tyrannosaurus are all Late Cretaceous animals (as are the Pachycephalosaurus that show up in the film). Apatosaurus and Stegosaurus are Mid to Late Jurassic dinosaurs and would not even exist when the others lived. In addition there is a Dimetrodon, a Permian Era (before the dinosaurs) predator long extinct, and a Sauropelta named Old Rooter who would have been extinct by the Middle Cretaceous. From the child perspective these are some of our favorite dinosaurs together romping across the country. From an enthusiast stand point it's just wrong despite its fun cartoon side.


As an Apatosaur Littlefoot is only vulnerable to the world until he outgrows a city bus, which takes a little more than five years. After this his natural enemy, the Allosaur, begins to have trouble taking him on and will adapt to hunt in packs if he really wants to take down Littlefoot. However, in the movie a Tyrannosaur tries to make him a finger food from about a month old until he reaches the sanctity of what will become a cartoon Neverland thanks to the insipid sequels that mutilated the masterpiece that was The Land Before Time. Littlefoot is the epitome of a stand up fellow. He has courage to a point, smarts, a strong heart, and he never gives up on his friends. He rescues them from tarpits after the fool of a Triceratops trudges on without regard to the safety of her "friends" and comes up with a plan, in the end to smash in the head of one of the world's all time greatest predators with a giant frickin' boulder. All this after leading his friends across uninhabitable terrain with only the knowledge of two landmarks and the direction to go towards where the "great circle touches the land" which he was told by his mother whom, coincidentally, Littlefoot sees murdered in cold blood by the Tyrannosaur (which leaps like a Dromaeosaur onto her back) and whom he sits with as she fades into glory.


Cera's false bravado endangers everything around her whether it's insects, her friends or herself. She lies so much no one believes her about the resurrection of the Sharptooth, who may not have woken from his coma had she not rammed his face with her puny horn, and then claims that she's superior to the natural leader (Littlefoot) on account of knowing this one lie was, in fact, truth. Cera leads her friends into traps and leaves them behind as she sees fit, thinking herself to be the fittest and therefore worthy of survival at the price of others; very Darwinian but not very humanitarian which is why she, in the end, loses the reigns of leadership once again to the Apatosaur. Her bravado takes her into clear danger when, after abandoning her friends, she is attacked by three Pachycephalosaurs. Why they attack her no one knows as they are herbivores and will get nothing from her death, but it happens and she is rescued, lo and behold, by Littlefoot and her friends. Upon seeing this she promptly runs and sulks like anyone would but comes back in the end to save the day with her hard head. Some of Simba's rant in the elephant graveyard was clearly borrowed from Cera's character.


Duckie is optimistic. Duckie is a great swimmer. Duckie is comic relief. Duckie is a girl (this surprised me when I realized it as a child). Duckie is the first animal in the history of Earth to be diagnosed as ADHD. Repetitions of her classic "Yep, yep, yep" when I was little and had gotten the Duckie hand puppet at Pizza Hut drew the ire of countless adults. Duckie was there to pick up Littlefoot and give him a new purpose and was there at the end willingly becoming the bait for Littlefoot's crazy plan. She was the best swimmer after all and her expertise in the water was what was needed at the time. In addition she saved Spike countless times from eating himself to death in harrowing conditions after she found his egg (which should have been a fossil by then). Duckie also gave Petrie a reason to overcome his fears and take to flying, as he saved her from the Tyrannosaur. Duckie was just an all around motivational character.


What could be worse than a bird afraid to fly? I thought that growing up and Petrie, a Pteranodon afraid to fly, answered that question. Petrie was the cowardly lion of his day. He wanted to be strong and tough, offering to guard the priceless treestar, but morbidly afraid of his own fears. His greatest moment came when Littlefoot appointed him to whistle, without asking if Petrie could whistle and nearly ending a plan in disaster on account of this, to signal the prime time to push the boulder. When the boulder wouldn't budge and Duckie had to come up to try to get away the Tyrannosaur was right there, trying to get a tiny snack but the gallant Petrie, blown skyward by T-Rex breath, suddenly found his wings and dove to the rescue of Duckie.


What can't we say about Spike? He eats everything from roots to his nest. He is clearly the last remnants of the cold blooded dumb dinosaur theories. However, he is strong and fiercely loyal to both Littlefoot, though he follows Cera out of pure laziness and ease of path, and Duckie. At the end of the movie Duckie even adopts Spike as a brother. The true strength of Spike, however, is in his hidden abilities. He is truly motivated by his belly and his loyalty, and through these he shows his ingenuity, in pushing Littlefoot farther up the tree to get food than Littlefoot had intended, and his strength of character, in allowing Petrie to yank on his nose in the tar and the laughs he had at Cera when the group fooled the Pachys and scared Cera out of her wits. In ways he's like Lenny and Duckie is his George, and in other ways he is Silent Bob and Duckie is Jay.

Minor Characters

Who let in the Dimetrodon? Seriously!
Old Rooter. Old Rooter is only in the movie for about three minutes but in that one character there was so much potential for a mentor of Miyagi, even Yoda, proportions! Littlefoot falls on his back and he grumpily asks what the fuss is about. When he learns about the death of his mother and realizes he witnessed it Rooter gives an eloquent and heart warming or wrenching speech, depending on how you take it, about the great circle of life (Disney stole this speech for sure and paraphrased in the form of Rafiki). He then slinks off quietly and leaves Littlefoot to his own devices. I don't know what the discussion was concerning Old Rooter, but he could have easily become a mentor for the remainder of the movie. He could have even gone out like Obi-Wan to save Littlefoot from the Tyrannosaur!

In Conclusion

This is still one of my favorite movies. However, it was interesting to sit back and analyze it for the first time as an adult. The movie, if it were a modern realistic drama, would have ended with Littlefoot in a hospital pining over his mother's death before his eyes, but it was a cartoon about hope and friendship in unlikely places. As such, it was a genuine gem in its genre and unfortunately inspired many sequels which involved singing and dancing dinosaurs. By then I had moved on to Jurassic Park, however, and I'm okay with that.