STL Science Center

STL Science Center

30 November 2011

The Man of Lambe

When Lawrence Lambe began studying dinosaurs the field was filled with what would become some of the greatest names in the business. Marsh, Brown, Cope, Sternberg, Parks, von Huene, von Lilienstern; all of them were working away at some point during Lambe's life. Lambe was no small name himself in the field by the time of his nature imposed retirement; he worked right up to the last few months of life on an animal called Panoplosaurus, an ankylosaur. During his life Lambe named many now well known Canadian dinosaurs including Styracosaurus, Chasmosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Euoplocephalus, and Edmontosaurus. Lambe also found aquatic life including one of the most widely found Cretaceous crocodiles, Devonian fish, Paleozoic corals, (which he wrote a book on that you can preview here) and even Tertiary insects. Lambe was a true renaissance man of paleontology. It is small wonder then that an animal which he studied for twenty years but never named was then named for him shortly after his passing by William Parks. Thus we have Lambeosaurus lambei. Canada itself even went so far as to name an island after him in Ontario; see Lambe Islands.

29 November 2011

Lambeosaurus Papers

Many thanks must go out this week to David Weishampel who keeps almost all of his own papers well displayed and hosted online through Hopkins Medical's faculty sites. Two of his papers concerning Lambeosaurine nasal cavity construction and an acoustic analysis of potential Lambeosaurine noises, which, if readers remember we saw another version of this study from Weishampel done with Corythosaurus crests. The two papers having to do with Lambeosaurs look at that interesting nasal cavity construction as well as the noise which the crest may have potentially made. Anyone interested in the living behaviors of dinosaurs would more than likely find these two articles very interesting.

Two interesting papers about Asian Hadrosaurs have also surfaced today. One of these is from 2003 and names a Russian dinosaur as an Asian ancestor of Lambeosaurs. The skeleton, found in Far Eastern Russia, is described as the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in Russia and the most complete Lambeosaurine outside of North America. This is not the first skeleton outside of North America to be described as being a Lambeosaurine skeleton. Those honors belong to a skeleton found in Kazakhstan in the 1960's by Roshdestvenskty. This skeleton was briefly discussed in the 1968 paper and origins of lambeosaurines as well, though not in the great detail given to them in the 2003 paper.

Lambeosaurus continues to be a popular dinosaur in Hadrosaur circles and we can expect more papers over the years I suspect, which will be of great use to the paleontology community. These papers, though, provide a good look at the crest and, perhaps, the origins of the Lambeosaurs that we know of from North America in the more distant past of Asia.

28 November 2011

Lambeosaurus in Motion

When one looks up Lambeosaurus and tries to find documentaries, one does not find them. They just aren't posted online. Discovery has nothing, nor does any of its subsidiaries, PBS has Dinosaur Train but we saw the extent of their videos yesterday. So, with nothing to really share on this movie Monday, I leave you a link to a video that's exploding with cuteness instead:

A song about the lambeosaurus from James Baker on Vimeo.

27 November 2011

Places for kids to learn

I've got a bit of stuff to share today. First and foremost, our normal learning links are back in operation again today at KidsDinos and Enchanted Learning. Lambeosaurus is quite popular on the coloring circuit as well. Here are a few of the coloring pages you can use online and offline:
Give this guy the credit he asks for if you display your coloring from his page please.

And of course Dinosaur Train helps us teach the kids once again with both Dr. Scott and the actual animated segments of the show as well.

26 November 2011

The Many Heads of the Lambeosaurus

©Nobu Tamura
Lambeosaurus is a genus consisting of four recognized species. These four species possess four different crests. The crests are similar, but contain enough differences that the species can be told apart by looking at the different crests as well. In part, these could and may very well be male, female, and age differences that make some of the crests so radically different and, in certain cases, this has been accepted as the standing fact of the matter.

These crests are mainly quite distinctive from other hadrosaurs. However, two of the species, L. laticaudus and L. magnicristatus, had head crests strikingly similar to the one sported by Corythosaurus. The difference in those species being the size of the crest (L. magnicristatus) and an additional spur of bone (L. laticaudus) in the Lambeosaurus crest which protrudes backwards at the bottom of the crest. Other than this one anomaly the crests of Lambeosaurus are quite unique. A Corythosaurus, for example, had forked nasal processes while the Lambeosaurus has vertically stacked nasal processes in its crest. This difference between vertical and forking nasal processes in the crest is oftentimes the only way to tell the juvenile skeletons of the two genera apart as the crests have been shown to grow into their distinctive shapes as the dinosaurs aged.

For the most part the crests are rectangular in shape with varying sizes of bone spurs jutting back over the neck of the animals. These crests, as stated before, have vertically stacked nasal processes inside of them rather than the forked passageways that are typically found in many hadrosaur crests. The sizes and other differences in crests in what appear to be identical species has led to some speculation on differences between male and female and has certainly led to the fairly universally held belief that the animals had to grow into their crests, which only makes sense really when one thinks of how little space there would be in an egg for that crest. The growth of the crest may have been fast or it may have been slow, there's no telling at this point for certain, though theories do abound.

or no fingers?

The crests, like other hadrosaurs, were almost certainly used for vocalization. This vocalization could of course be warnings, greeting, threats, and perhaps even casual conversation (I tend to hold a "fantastical" idealism for the idea that animals converse the same ways you and I do just in their own form of language). Another important aspect of life that this vocalization more than likely held was that of identification purposes. Beyond vocalizing the crests themselves in coloration and size were probably good indicators of individuality as well as the likelihood that the ones with the healthiest and prettiest looking crests were ready and willing as well as strong mates.

One healthy and eligible bachelor, coming up.

25 November 2011

And in Walks a Lambeosaurus

Lambeosaurus (Lambeosaurus lambei- type species), named after Lawrence Lambe, the prolific Canadian paleontologist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was actually discovered by Lambe twenty years before its name was appropriated. Lambe spent some of that time studying the remains before moving on to other dinosaurs, such as the genus Edmontosaurus which he coined, and described and named his last dinosaur, Panoplosaurus, shortly before his passing in 1919. Four years later William Parks, another Canadian paleontologist, published the name and description of Lambeosaurus in honor of the recently deceased Lambe.

Lambeosaurus is a highly distinctive genus of hadrosaur. The crest which the genus typically possesses follows a general pattern of looking, in profile, like a great dome extended upward from the forehead arching up to the back of the skull in its furthest rearward reaches. Lambeosaurus was a rather large hadrosaur in even its smallest species, of which four are recognized as valid animals. The remained of the body of Lambeosaurus is of the typical hadrosaur arrangement from the wide short tail to the almost hand-like gracile forepaws and the dental batteries on the forward ends. Locomotion was both bipedal and quadrupedal in Lambeosaurs and the bipedal running motion of the animals was probably, aside from the sonic abilities to warn the heard of predators, the number one defense against predatory dinosaurs. Unlike many dinosaurs capable of quadrupedal browsing and bipedal running, the fifth finger on the forepaws of Lambeosaurus was somewhat less limited in its range of movement and seems to have possessed the ability to manipulate objects through simple grasping, as if it was a very primitive non-opposed thumb. Digits 2, 3, and 4 made up the hindpaws, as in most hadrosaurs and other dinosaurs at this time.

Tomorrow: Crest talk.

24 November 2011

Liliensternus, Star of...

I'll make today quick so everyone (in America) can get to their football and turkeys. Liliensternus has done a lot of a slightly popular dinosaur. First and foremost is the work in the live action Walking with Dinosaurs which we saw on Monday briefly. Liliensternus' costume is shown in this behind the scenes clip:
Also, Dinosaur King has used Liliensternus in its video game. Unfortunately, it looks just like a Dilophosaurus and therefore, just a tiny bit silly.
As always, there's also a "Liliensporenus" as the video is titled:

23 November 2011

The Dragon of Germany

Found in the 20's by Lilienstern, Liliensternus was not named and described until 1934 by Friedrich von Huene. Huene and Lilienstern both were German paleontologists of the early 20th century, Lilienstern also working in the late 19th century a tad, who were well known in their native land and not unheard of in other scientific circles. Liliensternus, therefore, was accepted by the community after Huene described the animal, but it faced a significant problem. Lacking a good portion of the skull, no one was entirely sure where the animal fit in the theropod family tree. Certainly it was a very early dinosaur, Late Triassic at the latest, and it possessed traits which caused it to bridge a gap, figuratively of course, between some slightly more advanced theropods and some slightly less advanced theropods (these being animals that were amongst the first animals recognized as dinosaurs and not large lizards). Where should Huene place the animal in terms of its family then?

Believing, at the time, as paleontologists did, that the ceratosauria and coelophysid families were of the same primitive stock and noticing that Liliensternus had significant traits of both groups, Huene placed Liliensternus in the ceratosauria, which at the time also included the coelophysid animals of the Late Triassic. Therefore, Liliensternus was placed in a group of animals which typically had some sort of fancy hood ornament and it was thus assumed that Liliensternus must also have one. Nearly 60 years later the family lines were redrawn and Lilienstenrus is now considered not a ceratosaur, but a coelophysid; and early gracile theropod with no hood ornaments. The skeleton up to the head certainly plays out this gracile model quite well and we therefore now have a new family system for Liliensternus which seems to fit very well.

22 November 2011

The Papers Say...

Liliensternus lacks in article space. There is just nothing really there for other folks to read. I wouldn't read some of the things out there that just barely mention it if I wanted to read only about Liliensternus. I'm sad to report that there really is not anything worth mentioning today. The original papers naming Liliensternus are not available anywhere online. The papers that named it into the new lineage of families, not available. The only paper available that has anything to do with Liliensternus directly is a paper about phylogeny in the Ceratosauria. It's a good paper and it talks about Liliensternus a fair amount, but it's still not only about Liliensternus. Enjoy reading it anyhow today and for those of you who don't read over the holidays, Happy Thanksgiving. Those of you that do, check back tomorrow, same time, same channel.

21 November 2011

This first video for movie Monday is a clip from the live action Walking with Dinosaurs show. The person who uploaded the clip did a good job given the lighting and noise of such a production. I say job well done to to person. The second clip is a generic tribute to Liliensternus, but it's enjoyable.

20 November 2011

Liliensternus and Kids

Liliensternus, aside from having a difficult to say name, does not seem to get along with kids for other reasons. Mainly these reasons are the relative obscurity of the dinosaur in comparison to its more famous compatriots. Bearing that in mind, there are only two child friendly source of information to share today, no child related videos, and no coloring sheets either. It is a sad day indeed for children everywhere when the dinosaur they are studying has very little child friendly website space in this world. All I have to share with you happy kids today is the Dinosaur King encyclopedia of dinosaurs from the card game.

19 November 2011

Liliensternus Images

 Liliensternus is a very gracile looking dinosaur. It is also a very early dinosaur as it came about in the Late Triassic. Images of the animal sometimes do not come out like we imagine they would, as happens with almost all dinosaurs considering that the artist's impression is quite important in developing the image. Typically this is due to the wide arrangement of interpretations of the skull crests of Liliensternus. Most illustrations show the crest in mundane colors as well, which, given the fact that the most probable use for a crest of that shape, size, and absence from the actual skull (The fact that an entire skull has not been recovered, to my knowledge, does hinder this debate) was courtship and mating or displays of aggression, seems a little strange because, if used for the most likely purposes, the crest should look like it does in the live show of Walking with Dinosaurs (see below).

The fact that the only displayed Liliensternus I have ever seen lacks any ridges over the eyes is open to debate about the validity of that assertion, that it lacks a ridge. Originally Liliensternus was placed within the Ceratosaur family along with Ceratosaurus, Dilophosaurus, and Coelophysis. This has since been changed and now the coelophysids (Coelophysis, Liliensternus et al) and the dilophosaurids (Cryolophosaurus, Dilophosaurus et al) have been moved out of the Ceratosaur family and given their own separate families. If artists go by the old family lines, crests would certainly be expected as many of their fellow family members possessed crests (e.g. Dilophosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, Ceratosaurus). In the new family lines Liliensternus is a part of the coelophysids, Late Triassic dinosaurs who did not possess any cranial ornamentation that we have so far discerned. Therefore, in the modern familial organization, a skull crest makes little and almost no sense in Liliensternus, but it does remain.

©Mihai Dragos
 Another  issue that many illustrations have that I question, personally, with the new family lines is a very Dilophosaurus like configuration of the mouth as well as the eyes. It doesn't make it bad art or interpretation, it's just something that does not really mesh well with the current familial orientation with Coelpohysis. Coelophysis, for example, is typically depicted with a slender face that is even, not pitted like a Dilophosaurus and does not have a crook in its maxillary bone but possesses a straight (or close enough) bone from the front to the back of the mouth. In the old family lines the eyes may have been in a more pitted face with a slight crook in the jaw like taht found in Dilophosaurus maxillary. The example to the right is a perfect example of the older family lines style of illustration and even has a very Dilophosaurus like head crest as well which certainly accentuates the older family lines.

 This version of Liliensternus, I have decided, is about the most "modern" in terms of the family lines. It has the un-debated body type we have looked at in every image as well as a very early dinosaur hand configuration. The thing that makes it truly "modern" is the head. There are no crests and the face is much more Coelophysis like in construction. This head is much, much more like the head of the animal we would expect in its current placement in a family which does not sport crooked maxillaries, head crests, or deeply pitted fenestrae. Let me know how you feel about the modern vs traditional image debate!

18 November 2011

Executive Dinosaur Decision

Somehow I am still working within the confines, not necessarily that I have to but I want to, of a list I wrote in May of animals that this blog would cover. The fact that I have a list, which by the way is still about ten weeks from completion not counting this week of dinosaurs, is, I think, pretty fantastic. When it comes time to fix up a new list I'm going to have to go over the old one and any entries I haven't looked at in forever and make sure I don't redo any dinosaurs; with so many in the world of paleontology it's easy to forget after nearly a complete year on this blog and a year and three months on Facebook what dinosaurs I have already discussed. At any rate, and without further ado, the Dinosaur of the Week: Liliensternus.

Liliensternus liliensterni (not highly original, I know) is a Late Triassic predator of the Coelophysis family. A basal theropod, Liliensternus was named in 1934 in central Germany for the German paleontologist Hugo Ruhle von Lilienstern who found the original remains in 1922 - 1923. The fossils of Liliensternus remained in the castle museum of Lilienstern at Bedheim until 1969 when they were moved to the Humboldt in Berlin.

Liliensternus was a small long dinosaur at approximately 17 feet long but only estimated to weigh around 280 pounds. It's main large prey was probably Plateosaurus. It could have dined on many of the small mammal-like reptiles and lizards amongst other small creatures roaming the Triassic landscape. The most notable feature of Liliensternus is certainly its skull ridges along the nares, pre-frontal, and a small portion of the frontal itself. Otherwise, Liliensternus is a very stereotypical looking dinosaur.

17 November 2011

Places we Have not Looked

There are few things we haven't seen in relation to Maiasaura. I tried to save some of the best pop culture invasions of Maiasaura for today, but many have leaked out over the course of the week including some of the videos on Monday, Sunday's coloring and other such things, and even Saturday's images. Here's an image that hasn't been seen yet:
I like it. Also, we haven't looked at any Spore videos, and there are a good handful of quality created creatures.
Just as an example

Then there are all the toys that are available online. There are plush toys
and there are small plastic dinosaurs also (more views at
 and even this guy from Dinosaur Train

16 November 2011

Discovering a Discoverer

Until now we haven't had cause really to talk about Jack Horner's past. I haven't really stopped to talk about him either because this blog is much more about the animals than the people. However, it being Wednesday and the original point of Wednesday being to introduce us to the discovery process and the people who did the discovering, I shall do a little of that.

Horner is, let me do some math, 65 this year. A healthy 65 I imagine since he's still chugging along in his profession. He has made many discoveries and named a good handful of animals and also had some named after him at the specific level. He supposedly never finished his bachelor's (one cannot believe everything on the internet so I take it with a grain of salt) but I don't know if that is expressly true because I have never had the pleasure of speaking with him (since he never emailed me back when I was looking at colleges last year- I'm not bitter though that sounds it). Horner also spent some time in the Marines during Vietnam before coming back to the world and going back to his love of science and dinosaurs. becoming prominent around the same time as Dale Russell and Robert Bakker he is sometimes seen as the nemesis of one or the other, but, let's face it, not one of the three is an evil scientist to the other two as superheroes, so when people pit them against one another it's just kind of silly.

Jack Horner's first big time breakthrough came with the discovery of Maiasaura and its nests which he describes himself in a video which I have posted here before. His description of the initial find is that basically he got a call from the lady, Laurie Trexler, who found the initial remains to come check out some rocks she had found and was selling in her store and one turned out to actually be a baby dinosaur. Neat story actually. Maiasaura's discovery is one of those strange stories in science, but it was really that simple as well. The rest is history as Horner and his crew spent the next couple of years unearthing what amounts to an enormous dinosaur herd's entire spawning ground.

15 November 2011

Maiasaura in Ink

Maiasaura articles. They exist and many of the earliest ones were written by Jack Horner. He and I don't always see eye to eye. That's okay; there's always room for disagreement, debate, and even total rejection of another person's theories and beliefs, it's part of being human I think. Regardless, Jack Horner wrote the first really in depth papers about Maiasaura because he did the first in depth research into Maiasaura. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that these articles cannot be found on the internet save in JSTOR, which I do not have an account under, and in their original published version with the JVP, which has literally dozens of content safeguards and warnings meaning that, though I can retrieve articles from old JVP editions because I have joined the SVP, I cannot share them without gaining a lot of permissions and hosting them somewhere. I can, however, send the readers to the abstracts.

Horner, in these two papers, is identifying and studying Maiasaura history, so both of them are about the bones and not necessarily the inferred traits that have been communicated in other ways like interviews and those old documentaries that are playing hard to get with me. One of them specifically, the earliest one, is about bones in the skull and the position of Maiasaura within the Hadrosauria. The other is only about a decade old and discusses histology of long bones. It also makes mention of the growth cycle of Maiasaura and how this plays into the study. David Wilkes has also written a paper dealing with bone studies of Maiasaura, though his is apparently, I cannot read the whole paper, about the locomotion of the animal based on studies of the bones.

14 November 2011

Video Difficulties

Maiasaura, outside of the videos from yesterday and Spore videos, is not featured online in any videos that came from documentaries. The lack of documentaries is most likely attributable to the fact that the documentaries in which this dinosaur would have appeared were in the late 1980's and early 90's. At that time only video cassettes existed and thus many of the programs have not or never will make it to the internet, sadly for all of us people looking for those videos.

13 November 2011

Playing with the Children

Maiasaura being famous for its care of its progeny would, one assumes, lead to many child friendly websites and everything for Maiasaura; knowing how people like to build off of things which appeal to kids and their parents and what else could the way a kindly mother dinosaur would I figure this must be true. It turns out, it is fairly true. There are my usual fact sites like KidsDinos and Enchanted Learning (which also has the only coloring page I could find dedicated directly to Maiasaura) but then there are other ones like this one from the Children's Museum of Indianpolis which is quite well organized and has some rather good information.

There are also books like Maia: A Dinosaur Grows Up, one of my favorite books ever when I was growing up that has since been pretty much relegated to the basements of every library in the world it seems. Maiasaura has, also of course, made its way to children's cartoons like Dinosaur King (geography, science, and nonsensical kid's cartoon time, including dancing dinosaurs, all in one fell swoop!) and, thankfully, Dino Train, which I swear is one of the best science shows on television for kids these days has an episode dedicated to the Maiasaura. The episode should be called "The Overprotective Mom," not "The Good Mom" but, hey, whatever!

12 November 2011

Photos of Mom

Maiasaura have a ton of illustrations that show them being a mother. Someone said they were good mothers and suddenly every artist in the world had to show a dinosaur and its babies. That's all well and good, but we are not going to focus on the mothering aspect of this dinosaur all day long. So, to get the mothering illustrations out of our systems, here's a few to gander at:
©Keiji Terakoshi

©Nobu Tamura
Please don't misunderstand, the aspect of child rearing in these dinosaurs is one of the most important finds in paleontology in years. However, I want to look more at the dinosaur itself today. It looks like such an inconspicuous and even an almost boring animal; like a large dinosaurian cow. One such picture of this animal looking nice and docile is in the portrayal here by Nobu Tamura. The juvenile beside the adult in this illustration is just as cow like in its appearance and, the thing is, is that this is the normal way a plain hadrosaur like maiasaura would have looked. They were very plain herd animals with little to no ability to defend themselves from predators other than with their size and numbers.

©Todd Marshall
There isn't anything wrong with it, I just find it humorous. The maiasaura could certainly have gotten an attitude though. Everyone gets angry, including docile dinosaurs. They just get a few tons of angry and storm and screech very loudly, like Todd Marshall's Maiasaura here. I've always liked Marshall's dinosaurs and I like this one because you can sense the alarm and almost imagine the honk and scream of warning that this individual is certainly roaring out to the rest of the herd. The only thing I thought looked really odd or funny or something when I first saw this was that the back foot of this dinosaur is absolutely enormous compared to the front feet and even the rest of the body. I think it may be perspective, but I also think that maybe this foot is just not proportional to the animal, and that does happen.

©Tuomas Koivurinne
The final illustration I want to look at today is a painting. Acrylics to be exact. The dinosaur is very exactly, precisely, and wonderfully rendered here in both the foreground and the background and the markings on it are fantastically simple, just like the animal, which is exactly the way I would imagine it. The detail that really makes me smile in this painting, however, is the addition of the birds. Just like a water buffalo or a rhino in our current day and age, this Maiasaura has become the roosting spot for a pair of small birds which are quite advanced actually. I think today is just a day to sit back and relax and watch the Cretaceous cows interact with the Cretaceous birds...

Apparently I forgot to hit post yesterday...

11 November 2011

One Good Momma

Maiasaura. Made famous by Jack Horner over the past thirty years and the subject of one of my favorite books for children. Hadrosaur. Horner named and described the dinosaur and attributed the name, meaning "caring mother lizard", to the discovery of the dinosaur in postures which the dinosaur seemed to be exhibiting care for and protection over the eggs. The site and surrounding area has since been dubbed Egg Mountain. This is some of the best proof for dinosaur care of eggs and young alike so far discovered.

Maiasaura was a Hadrosaur with very little to no natural defensive abilities that was mostly quadrupedal, though partially bipedal as well. Herd mentality and, possibly at times, the thick muscular tail are the only things that could have saved Maiasaurs from the teeth of their contemporaries like Daspletosaurus, Troodons, Chirostenotes, and other small predators which probably loved when a 10,000 member herd forgot to watch a baby Hadrosaur for a moment. Not being able to walk right away due to possessing incompletely formed legs at birth made the babies highly vulnerable to predators and, while a herd of Maiasaura would be daunting, someone had to lay their eggs on the outside rings of the herds and a quick darting predator like a Troodon was probably not against eating on the run. More to come on the Good Mother over the next week.
©Keiji Terakoshi

10 November 2011

Everyone's Favorite Bird Mimic

The popularity of Ornithomimus is amazing! This dinosaur is literally everywhere. Did you want a book? How about reading some or most of one of those books online instead of buying it and glossing over it in the store? Maybe that's not your thing. Maybe you like three dimensional stand alone puzzles. If not, would you like a plush dinosaur for keeping yourself company on stormy nights when you just need a good hug? As a bonus it appears that he is ready to play the piano:
If that's not the kind of toy you look for, maybe you like sturdy plastic Ornithomimus toys. Dinosaur Train obliges us with that.

Perhaps you just want to play a game with Ornithomimus?
If you don't like them breeding on their own like they did in that guy's game, perhaps you can control their breeding yourself, like this gentleman did:
I like when kids make up dinosaur songs myself, like young Milo:
The quality of the songwriting may be debatable by some people out there, but he's young and he loves dinosaurs and his passion is certainly evident in his music. Also, why are blinkers so loud in videos taken in cars but barely audible when driving in your own car? I bet Milo's seen this Dinosaur Train episode about Ornithomimus:

09 November 2011

Naming a Species

Ornithomimus has a difficult past. There are many reasons for this. The most prominent reason is the number of specimens that have gotten confused with other animals in the past and the arguments that surround the confusion of naming animals. Regardless, the first species, the type species was named by Marsh in 1890. He named this first species Ornithomimus velox based on a partial foot and hindlimb found in 1889 near Denver, Colorado. Velox is Latin meaning swift. Marsh turned around in the same year and named two more species of Ornithomimus: O. grandis and O. tenius. These species both consisted of fragments that would later be assigned to tyrannosaurid remains. Two years later he named another Hatcher discovery from Wyoming O. sedens and then, not a moment later, named another animal from a different set of fragmentary evidence calling it O. minutus.

Marsh had made things confusing at the gate for these quick animals by naming three species on three fragmentary sets of remains. To be honest, Marsh was a prolific name giver and had been at his trade for a good while. He was confident and, like many later 19th Century scientists, was caught up in the romance of discovering an ancient world. Lawrence Lambe, who had been studying animals in Canada for years as well named a sixth species about 14 years after Marsh's naming whirlwind had settled down calling his remains O. altus. Henry Fairfield Osborn corrected Lambe a decade later by reclassifying the remains as Struthiomimus remains. Between 1920 and 1933 four more scientists would name or rename at least 6 different animals as Ornithomimus species, one of which was O. edmonticus, a one of the only three accepted species names (though one is questioned). It seemed as if the Ornithomimus craziness started by Marsh would never end!

Along came Dale Russell. In 1967 Russell added two more Ornithomimus from the ranks of Struthiomimus and it seemed as though the naming craze was back for the old dinosaurs. However, after a five year period of research and study, Russell came back with proof and research that showed how Struthiomimus and Ornithomimus could be, once and for all, accurately placed and named. His morphometrical study showed that the two genera could be separated based on statistical differences in a few proportions of the skeleton. Struthiomimus and Ornithomimus could be differentiated and accepted as two separate and valid genera. Confusion still remained about remains within the genera and many of the names of the past became invalid and seen as synonyms or tossed out completely. In 1979 the final species was added after renaming Leidy's 1868 New Jersey tibia pair from Coelosaurus antiquus to Ornithomimus antiquus. In 1997 this was reconsidered as an elder synonym to both the velox and edmonticus species and in 2004 was proclaimed defunct by David Weishampel.

08 November 2011

Articles on Ornithomimus

Ornithomimus has been studied for a number of years at this point. Therefore, a good amount of research comes up when it is searched for on the internet. The only problem I've had is finding quality links. This is the problem every week I believe, though, and we cannot force everyone online to have quality links on their pages sadly. Instead, I have one article I can link to and two good articles that can be found in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology if you have the ability to get into it through Taylor and Francis or BioOne.

The article that can be linked comes to us from McGill University's Rui Tahara of the Department of Biology. The 2009 thesis is about the cranial pneumaticity of Ornithomimus edmonticus. Cranial pneumaticity is a phrase which means that the skull has spaces in the bones for air to fill. Birds have skeletal pneumaticity in that their body is populated with air sacs within the different bones. Humans also have some pneumaticity in their skulls, where our sinus cavities are specifically. Tahara's 2009 thesis explores the evolution of cranial sinuses in Ornithomimus and how they are representative of birds cranial sinuses as well using CT scans and 3D reconstructions. The information is well outlined and detailed and it is clear that some thought and quality research have gone into the reconstructions presented. Overall, well worth reading.

The two articles found in the JVP are an updated and co-authored version of Tahara's thesis with his advisor Hans C.E. Larsson and a totally different article about new material found in Mongolia attributed to a derived ornithomimosaur. The Larsson/Tahara paper has the same title as above. The article on new material can be found here. I will attempt to read it today and have a summary drawn up this afternoon about that article. In looking just now I realized that this second article is open access at the moment, so if anyone reads it before I can get a chance to, please feel free to summarize along with me!

07 November 2011

Running In Stereo

Actually, running in triplicate. There is not much of a presence of Ornithomimus in the greater documentaries of the time. They are present, though, in three episodes of Prehistoric Park which was a pseudo-documentary of sorts. The show did have some solid science but also had some speculation that may have seemed rather odd, such as having the Ornithomimus only happy to feed in a pond. The first episode they appear in is called T. Rex Returns. The subsequent episodes are called A Mammoth Undertaking and Dinobirds. I'd suggest watching them for fun more than exactly totally solid science; it was a fun show if not fantastically real. The best videos on Youtube cannot be embedded, but there's a good one below here:

06 November 2011

Ornithomimus and Children

Either kids love Ornithomimus or she's just a simple enough dinosaur that they get taught about her all the time. I haven't really decided, however, there are multiple entries today. Our favorite fact sites both deliver for us today along with a few others. I have links for KidsDinos, Enchanted Learning, and Kids Dig Dinos ready for today. All three have some of the same information but it is not always presented the same, which is nice. Additionally, they all have their different images which they use to show off the dinosaurs and its nice for the kids to see different versions of the dinosaurs.

Additionally, we have two color on the internet pages for Ornithomimus today both presented to us by Page one is a left facing dinosaur who looks a little perturbed and page two is a right facing dinosaur who is clearly out for a little stroll of leisure. Last, but certainly not least, we have the old fashioned print and color pages. First, to go with the Enchanted Learning facts we have their diagram of the dinosaur with labels and all. Not very pretty I admit, but it has facts on it and that's important. The second page is from the KBears site I have referenced a few times. This Ornithomimus is very lizard like, but that's not necessarily a bad thing either. Check it out here.

05 November 2011

Stripes and Spots in A Blur

Today I wanted to focus on the camouflage schemes usually assigned to animals like Ornithomimus. We have seen the general shape of the bird mimics when we looked into Gallimimus and, to be perfectly honest, nature did not mess up a good thing between Gallimimus and Ornithomimus; it worked and nature stuck with it as the species evolved into what we now recognize as each animal and that is quite all right with me. Really in its simplicity the body shape and tuning of the bird mimics is quite beautiful because it produced a large but sleek and speedy runner with balance and power that, I'm just betting here, had good fine motor skills as well once it stopped in what appear to be fairly dextrous hands.

Anyhow, enough about that, bring on the markings! I'm starting with the black and white image because, for one, it's a fantastically well drawn dinosaur. Two, the markings we see are quite typical of dinosaurs of any kind here. I don't want to say that the illustrator, a very nice young lady from Germany, has done a half thought out job because she gave the animal typical markings when, in fact, this drawing is wonderful, so please do not misinterpret. I use this drawing as our baseline merely because it is what we come to expect in dinosaur camouflage from years and years of seeing this marking set of camo on animal after animal in both professional and amateur illustration and this piece just happens to be one of the best drawn examples and I like it quite a bit on that account. The first picture, above in the opening paragraph, is by a totally different artist, who I cannot find the name of, of course, but is basically a color version of our friend's illustration here.

©Keiji Terakoshi

The other type of marking we see an awful lot of in dinosaur illustration is the one to two color solid setting of white abdomens and green to brown backs. Again, there is nothing wrong with this form of markings on the dinosaurs, especially since we have no idea what the colorings of all dinosaurs were and this is certainly a plausible interpretation given that not all living species today have extremely intricate camouflage and they seem to do just fine without it. The minimalist approach may even have been the simplest form for nature to take and succeed with, which means, for all that we know, that this may have been a very successful and prominent color scheme in the Late Cretaceous when Ornithomimus was roaming the plains and forests. Either way, though, this color scheme is still very effective and looks very presentable on our dinosaurs here.

As the sun goes down I hide expertly!(?)
The next color scheme I found on representative illustrations of Ornithomimus was this horizontal stripe version which, I must admit I am fairly intrigued by because I would not have thought about an animal like Ornithomimus having such a color scheme. Typically when I think of horizontal stripe I think of skunks and on those crazy polecats that serves more as a warning of what the skunk is than it does as a camouflage, though admittedly we know it does serve both purposes to an extent. The stripes here in the first image are not exactly stripes, more like bands of horizontal color, but the same purpose is served as bands as there would be in linear and parallel stripes, so I see them as the same idea.
I look like a caracal domestic mix, the coolest of cats,
or a fawn... caracal sounds better
The purples and reds make me wonder what sort of flora the dinosaur would be hiding in or, perhaps, it is more supposed to appear as a trick to blend in with the setting sun. Could it be that in this illustrator's mind the dinosaur was hunted by a predator who emerged for nocturnal hunts around sunset and thus the color scheme needed to match the sky in the setting sun because that was the time when both animals were active at the same time the most? An interesting theory, but could it be proven? Sadly I think not, not without some form of time machine anyhow. The second image has more of the striping, or banding if we want to be accurate I suppose, but this camouflage is definitely more geared toward a life of hiding in and around trees and the edges of forest like a deer. Nothing wrong with that at all and probably fairly accurate to the life style of Ornithomimus. I imagine that in searching for vegetation, bugs, potentially eggs, and maybe even small lizards to eat, the Ornithomimus probably spent a lot of time at the edge of the woods or, perhaps, just inside the woods but still close enough to open land to use its speed in escape.

Ahh, the postal service, such vivid colors.
I would never disagree with the need for the postal service (though some would but really, who wants to lose it and have to pay UPS and FedEx for all of our simple letter deliveries... or Netflix?) but I have to question their expertise in stamp production sometimes. Flashy dinosaurs are probably best for selling a stamp that costs 32¢ to begin with, but I am not sure at all what sort of landscape the illustrator, or inker perhaps, of the Ornithomimus stamp was thinking that this dinosaur would be standing in. Purple is okay for animal colorings and markings, in moderation or a purple rich environment (like our sunset idea above), but considering the background colors of this stamp are entirely green would Ornithomimus not have stood out like a giant yellow and purple Scooby Snack to every predator within eyesight? I just cannot endorse this color scheme with that background no matter how I try to level with it.

04 November 2011

Another Runner

We have successfully navigated and finished our month on Cenozoic/Pleistocene mammals. It was a good month with a lot of knowledge unearthed and, upon looking back, I realized I had no idea where I should be in the list of dinosaurs I constructed last February. However, I have found my place and am ready to start back into things. Time to start back on those running dinosaurs that are always compared to birds, the Ornithomimids, more specifically this week, Ornithomimus.

Ornithomimus means "bird mimic" which is why its genus was chosen as the root for the family and subfamily names to begin with. The small toothless beak, like that of its cousin Gallimimus, indicates a potentially omnivorous diet for this fast running dinosaur; though this is still heavily debated just like it is for Gallimimus. Overall an Ornithomimus would have looked a good deal like an ostrich with a long tail and probably would have had a similar attitude not because they're related directly to ostriches, but because they would have filled a similar niche in the environment and curiosity about the surroundings and defense of territory would lead to a similar attitude most likely.

There are three species of Ornithomimus- O. edmontonicus, O. velox, and O. antiquus(?) named by Sternberg, Marsh, and Leidy respectively and in the reverse order of their naming chronologically. Dale Russell did some prominent work with the animals during the 1970's as well and this will be discussed later. However, Marsh's 1890 classification is still in use today despite any work done since then on the animals.

03 November 2011

Popular Culture

In popular culture Castoroides actually manages to beat Camelops by a mile. While both appear in books, and sometimes in the same book, page 155 of The Cenozoic Era: Age of Mammals for Castoroides and page 114 for Camelops, Camelops does not appear as toys, in videos, documentaries, or anywhere else notable in popular culture. Castoroides, however, shows up in at least one documentary which we saw on Monday. Additionally, Native American tribes from Canada to Massachusetts to the Carolinas still hold myths about giant beavers which more than likely goes back to the fact that the ancestors of these tribes probably encountered the giant beavers when their people initially settled into the Eastern Americas. Given this, it seems likely that some of these myths may not have started out as myths and may have, in fact, been begun as embellished stories or, perhaps a long time ago, been completely true accounts of giant beaver encounters. The myths and supposed modern day sightings are so abundant still that cryptozoologists have placed reports of giant beavers, mainly the variety called "Ogopogo" in British Columbia, Canada, alongside reports of Bigfoot and other animal mysteries.

02 November 2011

Finding Recently Extinct Animals

It's always fun to hear about cave painting and legends involving Ice Age mammals. There are myths that state that the giant beavers still exist and cryptozoologists have even gone looking for them. Camelops, as well as the beavers, have been depicted in a few cave paintings in the past. The first actual skeletal specimen of Castoroides was found in 1837 in an Ohio peat bog however, not swimming through a secluded lake. Camelops has been found in a Wal-mart parking lot, amongst other sites all over the Western United States and most prominently in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. From cave paintings to physical tar and peat recovery of fossils for these two animals, well, not in Florida; a Castoroides skull was pulled from a phosphate quarry in Florida.

01 November 2011

I Delayed

I wanted to find a good article today so I delayed, and delayed, and delayed It didn't work very well on account of the fact that it just clearly is not going to magically rain Camelops or Castoroides papers, articles, or scholarly research in the next few hours. There was a paper I was interested in and thought I could read through fairly easily. Unfortunately it was no longer hosted despite being linked. Checking later, however, I realized there was a hosting for it somewhere, and this made me very happy.

The article is entitled On the Possible Utilization of Camelops by Early Man in North America. Hearing that there were once camels of any sort in North America my first reaction was something to the tone of "why do we not still have camels OR horses natively in North America?" (horses having gone extinct natively on our continent around the time the camelids did). How could man not have learned to domestic them and utilize their potential to maximize man's? I always wondered this and the fact that someone has gone back, though it was 1983 when this paper was published, and contemplated and discussed what man may have done in terms of interactions I was very intrigued to read about. I do not at all advocate the idea of advancing mankind at the expense of the indigenous fauna but it seems to me that the camels could still exist naturally on our continent had they been raised and bred to aid mankind just as dogs, cats, cattle, and even the reintroduced horse have. I don't think I'll give away any of the discussions this article explores, but should anyone wish to discuss it, leave some comments.

There was a second Camelops paper entitled Problems in the nomenclature of North American Pleistocene camels as well. I admit that I did not read this paper, however, the 1992 Finnish article by Walter Dalquest examines not only Camelops but four other genera of North American Pleistocene camelids and the difficulties in identifying and naming the camelids accurately and without significant confusion.

I found one Castoroides article that I very much wanted to read but could not find a full copy of. The article was about Castoroides remains found in Arkansas, which, being where I now live, I have a great interest in. I would love to stumble upon a great big Castoroides skull sometime when I'm out taking photos, but I doubt I will any time soon. For interested parties that article's front page can be found on JSTOR at the following link: Castoroides ohioensis in Arkansas.