STL Science Center

STL Science Center

31 March 2011

Popular thought surrounding Edmontosaurus?

Pop culture has been kinder to some dinosaurs than others. Edmontosaurus, unfortunately, doesn't have much that helps it stand out. It has that duck bill, sure, but it doesn't have an astounding crest, horns, giant claws, fearsome teeth, or a tail that looks more like a whip. It is the equivalent of a giant prehistoric cow. How can the general public get excited about a cow? The answer is that it doesn't, not really. There are not mounds of documentaries starring Edmontosaurus, though Jurassic Fight Club features one prominently but they don't make much of a stir otherwise in that world. They don't feature in any movies really either. There are toys and books that mention them however. Sometimes toys aren't 100% accurate, but who can complain about this guy:

30 March 2011

The discoveries and namings of Edmontosaurus.

Oh more bone wars stories on discovery day! The first described remains that may belong to Edmontosaurus were named Trachodon atavus in 1871 by E D Cope. The first well-supported species of Edmontosaurus was named in 1892 as Claosaurus annectens by O C Marsh, collected in 1891 by John Bell Hatcher from the late Maastrichtian-age Upper Cretaceous Lance Formation of Niobrara County Wyoming. Since that time Trachodon and Claosaurus have been renamed. The name Edmontosaurus itself comes to us from Lawrence Lambe (the guy they named Lambeosaurus after) while finding skeletons and skulls in Alberta, Canada in 1917.
Lawrence Morris Lambe (1863-1919)

29 March 2011

Another version of evidence and an article.

Edmontosaurs is mentioned in a number of articles. I found one good one. First, though, I thought I'd keep up the Anatotitan/Edmontosaurs debate. In the book I'm reading, The Dinosauria, there is a page in the Hadrosaur section that has a skull from E. saskatchewanensis and A. copei one above the other, respectively. It makes for a much better comparison than my previous graphic. However, the species shown before was E. annectens, not E. saskatchewanensis. This may cause alarm or a call that they are not the same, but the skull of E. annectens is very much like E. saskatchewanensis.

The extreme difference in general shape top to bottom at the rear of the skull, the angle of the nasal-frontal slope to the beak, the shape of palatal bone's top which juts into the nares on the Anatotitan, shapes of orbital and supratemporal fenestra, downward curvature on the lateral sides of the premaxilla, and the overall length of the skull make me feel confident in my earlier statement that Anatotitan is not the same animal as Edmontosaurus though, as I said before, is probably very, very closely related. I am aware that an argument for top to bottom compression of the Anatotian skull could very well make a case for the differences noted above, however, I do not believe that this is a likely scenario.

The article I found and mentioned before is about creating a 3-D model of an Edmontosaurus skull to enable a mastication experiment to test theories on how Hadrosaurs chewed. It is filled with great illustrations and is a very interesting and intriguing read, even if it is a little technical. Skim it at least, it's worth it!

28 March 2011

Short movie Monday

Movie Monday is going to be a short entry day. The only video I know of that features Edmontosaurus is an episode of Jurassic Fight Club. The sound quality is awful, because someone taped it off of a television with a camera, but it gives you a look at what an Edmontosaurus would do in danger when alone (which is basically nothing!). I found two parts of the episodes and have put both below for you to gander at.

27 March 2011

Edmontosaurus and our inner child.

I just wanted to do a short entry today. Really it's going to be short because I have mostly links and only one picture to share anyway. The first link is to everyone's favorite kid related fact page at Dinosaurs for Kids. The second is for Enchanted Learning which has facts as well as coloring. The third link is just for coloring though. You can color online to save a tree or you can print it out to have loved ones and kids, or yourself, decorate the fridge and walls with artwork!

26 March 2011

Edmontosaurus: The Visual Evidence.

Last Saturday I posted skulls of Anatotitan, at the top here, and Edmontosaurus for visual comparison. Here is that picture again:
As I noted before, the Anatotitan skull is thinner at the base of the skull and the bill is curved more downward. Could this be a younger Edmontosaurus trait? It has been suggested that Anatotitan is a synonym for Edmontosaurus, so this could be a reality. However, Edmontosaurus is an older species by approximately 5 million years though cohabited with Anatotitan for about the last 2.5 million years with Anatotitan outlasting Edmontosaurs for the last 0.5 million years of dinosaur rule. The timeline does not suggest that synonyms could be too far fetched at all, though my gut feeling is that Anatotitan and Edmontosaurus were at most synonymous at the genus level yet different species still; like coyotes and wolves. I get this feeling because of where they have been found. Edmontosaurus is a Canadian and American dinosaur having been found from Alberta, Canada to South Dakota as well as specimens unmentioned in literature I have found, and therefore suspect, findings of sacral and caudal vertebrae, metatarsal, and femoral bone chips found in Tennessee; again, supposedly. Anatotitan, however, are found only in South Dakota and Montana in Hell Creek formations in both and Lancian formations in South Dakota. Here are a few pictures of the suspect fossils in their display in Memphis, Tn.:

One thing we would have to look at closely would be the two skeletal structures of Edmontosaurus and Anatotitan. These I will leave off with today and let the reader make their own judgments of the skeletal structures of these two animals.
Anatotitan copei
Edmontosaurus annectens

25 March 2011

A break from the cycle

Today, this week, we're breaking with our tradition just this once! If you remember there are some who believe Anatotitan is a synonym for Edmontosaurus. So we're going to look at the other side of that coin this week. I present to you Edmontosaurus:

3 species recognized and two possible synonyms exist for this genus. We'll explore them all.

24 March 2011

Very short today :(

I think I covered almost all of pop culture this week for Anatotitan. The only thing I didn't mention that I can think of, though I showed a clip, is the portrayal of Anatotitan in Walking with Dinosaurs. Only the movies and only the final episode, but it was still there.

23 March 2011

Discovery of Anatotitan

The holotype, or specimen on which the genus is based, was a complete skull and most of a skeleton collected in 1882 by Dr. J. L. Wortman and R. S. Hill for famous American paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope. A second mostly complete skeleton (AMNH 5886) was found in 1904 in Hell Creek Formation rocks at Crooked Creek in central Montana by Oscar Hunter, a rancher. Potential second species A. longiceps was first added to Anatotitan by George Olshevsky in 1991. Mr. Olshevsky runs a Dinosaur Genera List here.

22 March 2011

Anatotitan in the news?

Anatotitan is one of those dinosaurs that, when I sit to find articles, I just can't seem to find anything. The problem is, it seems, that Anatotitan is just too bland for anyone to study extensively lately. Sure there were studies when they first found it and people have written papers that are concerned with Anatotitan, they just haven't put them up on any of the sites I regularly check to find articles about the week's dinosaur. Even Google's scholar option turned up nothing useful. It's amazing considering that we know articles have been written, even relatively recently actually considering one of the authors of the Edmontosaurus synonym paper I have met in the flesh not six months ago! So if anyone runs into any good papers on Anatotitan please share with everyone. It would do us all a world of good!.

21 March 2011

Pink Palace

The Pink Palace Museum in Memphis is on the struggling end of putting together a dinosaur exhibit. Part of that lies in the fact that I am sure it's not the most popular tourist destination in Memphis. It does address a good chunk of the world and it does include the natural world including the history of the natural world and dinosaurs. I attempted to put together my first shots at panoramic photos (albeit not the greatest first attempt, but okay) and you can find these below.

The coloring on the Dilophosaur tail gives away the change in angles a lot more than the Mososaur, but you can tell with that too since I left the edges in.

What really struck me though, was this:
Just to the right of this image is a dinosaur family tree in which it clearly, and correctly, shows Triceratops sitting atop the Ceratopsian branch on the Ornithischian side of the dino family tree. So why, then, does this image show Triceratops possessing a saurischian hip? My plan is to contact the museum and make them aware of this. I could have done it when I was there but I did not see one curator, administrator, or otherwise in charge looking person. I'll keep everyone updated on how this turns out. Just so you can see that I'm not making this up:

Anatotitan of the silver screen!

Anatotitan eaten by T-Rex? We have that.

Anatotitan family relations? We have that too. Anatomy of an Anatotitan? What do you know? Anatotitan is that silent little character in documentaries that you always see but never notice. These clips highlight their involvement. Sadly, they're quite short also!

20 March 2011

Anatotitan is just a large rubber ducky

 Anatotitan: Duck Billed Bath Toy?

I'm just kidding, that toy isn't that specific, it's just a rubber ducky in Oriental Trading's dinosaur rubber ducky package. My wife decorated our friends house with them for my birthday though. Anatotitan coloring sheet? Yes I have one! It's actually pretty awesome. There is also our favorite fact sheet  and a couple of toy reviews today. One by the Dinosaur Toy Collector's Guide and the other by the Dino Toy Blog. Overall, this is a dinosaur you can surely share with the youngin's.

19 March 2011

A Giant Duck!

Bill of the Duck!

Anatotitan means "Large Duck." Why does it mean Large Duck? Have a look at its skull above! There are other Hadrosaurs out there too. How can we tell the two species, which come from six nearly complete specimens with complete skulls, from the other Hadrosaurs? There aren't any Anatotitan in this picture, but check out a small helping of the diversity of Hadrosaurs:
The Hadrosaurs closest in skull shape to Anatotitan species is Edmontosaurus. Recall that some authors think that Anatotitan may be a synonym for Edmontosaurus. The skulls may give us a good reason why this is so. Check it out for yourself:
That's Anatotitan at the top and Edmontosaurus at the bottom. They are quite similar aren't they? The squamosal and quadrate are certainly different though. These are bones that make up the back of the skull. If you look at them the curve of the back of the skull is certainly different but perhaps compression over time makes up the reason that the Anatotitan skull looks so much thinner top to bottom than Edmontosaurus. We will have to keep looking at evidence!

18 March 2011

Now featuring:

© Tuomas Koivurinne 2000, Ink on paper

This week we shall venture into the very Late Cretaceous forests of South Dakota and Montana in search of one of the last great Hadrosaurs: Anatotitan. This week's profile picture is an older work from Tuomas Koivurinne. Anatotitan was one of the last Hadrosaurs to evolve and roam the forests and plains of the Late Cretaceous. Anatotitan's genus includes two species: A. copei  and A. longiceps. Some authors have equated A copei to Edmontosaurus as a synonym. We shall see what makes Anatotitan who Anatotitan is and later on, when we discuss Edmontosaurus, we can decide if we agree.

17 March 2011

Oviraptor in popular culture

Oviraptor in popular culture has hit every market by now. The character to the left is from a book, a video I posted Monday was from the Spore game, plus there are the documentaries I mentioned and the toys I shared. There are plenty of other places to look for pop culture references to Oviraptor. For now, watch this montage of images:

16 March 2011

Finding Day

Oviraptor philoceratops was discovered by Roy Chapman Andrews and described by Henry Fairfield Osborn. We could make a long list for every member of the Oviraptor family, but these two will do for finder day!

I'm hoping in the future to be able to devote more time to discussing the lives of the discovery makers.

15 March 2011

Oviraptors in the news

To open, a paper about nesting habits in ovarptorids, which is something we're all interest in when it comes to dinosaurs. Everyone wants to believe dinosaurs had some kind of parenting value don't they? See what this paper says. This second pdf file is a beauty from 1924 which describes not only O. philoceratops but also Velociraptor mongoliensis and Saurornithoides mongoliensis. This paper has what we now know are many inaccuracies, but at the time the science contained in it was very viable. It makes for a very interesting article overall. Also, here's an Oviraptor for your entertainment today:

14 March 2011

Video Monday

There are two videos from Dinosaur Planet for movie Monday which fit our needs of describing and showing O. mongoliensis. The videos do not make a differentiation between O. philoceratops and O. mongoliensis, however, O. mongoliensis skulls have a more definitive crest than O. philoceratops which is more like that presented in the videos below. The third species they mention is Ingenia yanshini. Since I don't own the videos and they aren't on youtube I can't paste them directly in here; no embedding feature on the site they're on.
Oviraptor video #1
Oviraptor video #2

13 March 2011

Oviraptors love to get colored

Oviraptor loves children! Actually, since the discovery that the eggs found with the first Oviraptor are Oviraptor eggs, yes, they do love children! However, they also are available to help many human children! I linked my favorite kid-centered fact page above. There are also toys to be had. I've included just the link to the Dino Toy Blog because they really analyze the toys like scientists and it's fairly interesting.

Also, look at all the coloring sheets!

12 March 2011

Oviraptor in images

Some of the best images come from the best artists, of course!

Raul Martin

Julius Csotonyi, as examples. However, there's a debate about the looks of Oviraptor. Did they really sport a crest like those shown in the great art of Csotonyi and Martin? Charlie McGrady has taken a look at both sides of the argument by presenting Oviraptors as having a crest in males but not in females and juveniles. His work on the subject can be found here. Also, you can look at this parenting picture and let me know who to credit, because I don't know who it belongs to. It's a wonderful study in what we now believe to be a wonderful parenting instinct belonging to Oviraptors.

Also, because I love exposing Tuomas Koivurinne's art (mostly because it's wonderful stuff and he deserves the exposure) here's a great painting that adds some feathering to the body of our hero this week:

11 March 2011


Today is Friday! Friday means we switch gears and start looking at a new animal. The new animal for this week is a theropod with a crest on its head, debatable, but we'll exam that, and a pretty sleek body design. Its name means "Egg thief lover of ceratopsians." We proudly present: Oviraptor philoceratops
Copyright belongs to Michael Kline at He is a fabulous children's illustrator and author and this picture is just exactly something I would alter myself and laugh at all day long (if you've seen any of my edits you know this).

10 March 2011

Another short pop culture entry.

The world of popular culture does not like Nothronychus--- yet. At the moment When Dinosaurs Roamed America and some toys are the only high quality popular culture references which Nothronychus has made it into. Sadly that makes for a short popular culture entry for this rather curious herbivore. Only one model has gotten popular at all still also.

09 March 2011

Discoverers and namers.

Discovered around the time that Zuniceratops was found in New Mexico, Nothronychus ilia were originally thought to be part of Zuni crests until fully unearthed by James Kirkland and Douglas Wolfe. N. mckinleyi was named in 2001. Shortly afterward an older heavier built Nothronychus was unearthed. This one was named N. graffami, after the discoverer, by Lindsay Zanno et al. in 2009. I found a nice short interview with Dr. Zanno for today's highlight.

08 March 2011

On the discovery of N. graffami.

Article day and I found a very descriptive article on N. graffami. This paper came out in June of 2009 describing the newly discovered Therizinosaurid and discussing the interesting new role of this herbivorous Theropod in the mix of what was once considered an entirely predatory line of dinosaur families. Also, there is this handout from the previously mentioned Arizona Museum of Natural History display on Nothronychus.

Therizinosaurs, like many other Cretaceous North American dinosaurs, share ancestry with other families of dinosaurs in Asian soil. If one were to trace the coelurosaur lineage back we could find that therizinosaurs, tyrannosaurs, dromaeosaurs, aves, troodontids, and ornithomimids are all related to a common ancestor. Ornithomimids have been questioned as omnivorous in the past eating plant and small animal/insect matter, however, Therizinosaurs are the first (to my knowledge at least) coelurosaurs to be assumed to be entirely herbivorous. The June 2009 article addresses this interesting twist in theropod evolution in a scientific manner and is worth listening to the arguments of it.

07 March 2011

Home videos and ancient New Mexico.

Movie Monday includes, again, When Dinosaurs Roamed America. If you recall the Zuniceratops week Nothronychus and a raptor meet one another in the early Cretaceous forest of New Mexico near the Zuniceratops herd. I have also found someone's home video of a tour around a displayed Nothronychus skeleton which gives us some nice views we don't always see looking at pictures online.
In the future I predict that the taste for the bizarre in popular culture will cause more documentaries to mention Nothronychus and probably even some mention in more popular literature or a nod in a Hollywood production someday. Until then our friend Nothronychus is going to remain a little camera shy.

06 March 2011

Nothronychus for the wee little masses

Somehow Nothronychus has managed to be an interesting enough dinosaur to get into three of the four kid reaching dinosaur media. You can play with one after you get it on Amazon or your local quality toy stores, of course

you can color one

and you can learn some facts about them with the kids around you. I think kids would find the facts presented that way a lot easier to handle than the giant paragraphs I would use. It's been a hectic weekend, but I may need to go back and add to Friday's entry, or I can wait until Tuesday to write in an enormous entry on its facts for everyone. I think I'll do it Tuesday.

05 March 2011

Images of bizarre dinosaurs

Nothronychus, both species, have a fairly similar body shape. Basically they look like ground sloths. With feathers, according to most interpretations. The one below is one of the typical configurations. 

Skeletal models are also present for one of the species, N. mckinleyi.

I also found this somewhat charming poster for the Arizona Museum of Natural History. I'd love to go see this exhibit if I had the time and means to travel to Arizona and go to the AMNH.

04 March 2011

Meet the Nothronychus

Nothronychus is a genus of rather bizarre Therizinosaurs. There are two species in this genus which is actually a group of herbivorous Theropods derived off of the Maniraptoran clade. It's not every day that you see a group of plant eaters descended from omnivorous and carnivorous beginnings! They're also quite odd looking with and without the artistic impressions of skin scales and feathers. They almost look like ground sloths, to be honest.

03 March 2011

Small pop culture entry.

Utahraptor, like many theropods, has taken almost no time to become a popular culture icon. Documentaries have started using Utahraptors as have toy companies, book publishers, and even online comics.

02 March 2011


James Kirkland, Robert Gaston, and Donald Burge discovered Utahraptor in 1991 in Grand County, Utah, within the Yellow Cat and Poison Strip members of the Cedar Mountain Formation. James Kirkland is currently Utah's state paleontologist. Mr. Kirkland is on the left in this photo below.

Robert Gaston is running a successful fossil replica business. You can find his store online here. I haven't found much at all about Donald Burge. Anyone that can share any information is welcome to help us all out!

01 March 2011

Articles on Utahraptor.

So, for news day I'm trying to get in touch with a guy that has a lot of papers put up so as to get a copy of Kirkland's initial naming and description paper on Utahraptor. Until that time all I have to offer is another Kirkland headed paper on dinosaur quarries in Colorado and Utah which mentions Utahraptor. It's not a bad article to read, but the naming paper will be awesome to get a hold of!

I now have a copy of Kirkland et al's paper introducing and describing Utahraptor. It's a great version of it too if anyone would like to read it.