Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dinosaur National Monument Free to Campers This Winter

Dinosaur National Monument park officials announced this week that the Split Mountain campground in Utah will remain open throughout the winter, according to AP and other media reports.

Three additional campgrounds at the monument will also be open, but only the hardiest of hikers can attain them due to snowfall levels.
DNM spokesperson Carla Beasley warned that even the Split Mountain campground is particularly cold during the winter months owing to its proximity to the chilly Green River. Cold air tends to settle at the river, which usually remain in the entire area at teeth-chattering temperatures.

However, if you are an experienced camper, the news is good for dinosaur enthusiasts.

The National Park Service states, "Dinosaur fossils can only be noticed on the Utah side of the park. The chief exhibit wall of dinosaur fossils is closed due to significant life, health, and safety issues, but a temporary visitor center is open. Also, few fossils can be seen by hiking 3/4 mile from the temporary visitor center."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Questioning the Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Theory

New research challenges the thought that the asteroid impact that killed the Dinosaurs also sparked a global firestorm.

Scientists modeled the consequence that sand-sized droplets of liquefied rock from the impact had on atmospheric temperature. The asteroid is thought to have gouged away the Chicxulub crater on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

Formerly it was thought that the falling spherules, as the tiny rocks are called, heated up the atmosphere by several degrees for up to 20 minutes — hot enough and long enough to cause whole forests to spontaneously burst into flames.

As evidence for this, scientists pointed to what appears to be carbon-rich soot from burned trees exposed in the thin band of debris dating back to the impact some 65 million years ago, a shift in geologic time called the K-T boundary.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Add Venom to Arsenal of Dinosaurs on the Hunt

Some dinosaurs, it is identified, were ferocious creatures — using claws, jaws, teeth, horns or even tails to subdue their prey.

But did some make use of poison, too?

A group of paleontologists has found evidence to imply that at least one dinosaur, the birdlike raptor Sinornithosaurus, was venomous. It perhaps used its poison to stun small birds or other prey, the researchers write in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sinornithosaurus, which was about 3 feet long and lived 125 million years ago, was described in 1999 based on fossils discovered at the Liaoning Quarry in northeastern China. The original description noted some unusual features, with grooves in the teeth and a duct running along the base of the teeth.

David A. Burnham of the University of Kansas and Enpu Gong of Northeastern University in Liaoning and colleagues have now interpreted those features, and a cavity in the skull not previously described, as evidence of a venom delivery system similar to that found in some living lizards.

Monday, December 28, 2009

'Queen of the Dinosaurs' dies in Scotts Valley


When Peggy Thompson's husband Larry died in 1965, she was in her early 40s, raising 3 small children and running a Scotts Valley nursery school.

If that weren't enough of a burden to carry from day to day for a new widow, she also had a different role to play.

She was the Queen of the Dinosaurs.

Peggy Thompson, who died Dec. 14 at the age of 86 at her home in Scotts Valley, was the owner and operator of one of the more unusual businesses in the extensive history of Santa Cruz County. It was called Lost World, and it was a Scotts Valley tourist attraction that featured 25 to 30 enormous, realistic, life-sized models of various different Species of Dinosaurs, some of which could be seen by drivers — many of whom were definitely startled out-of-towners — on Highway 17.

The entrance to Lost World was on Scotts Valley Drive, and featured a huge animatronic tree that served as the park's entrance, close to a T-rex looking out over the turret of a castle. The park also featured what was formerly known as the Tree Circus, a grove of trees meticulously grafted into the kinds of whimsical shapes never found in nature. The Thompsons bought the Tree Circus from its creator, Axel Erlandson, renaming it the Enchanted Forest, keeping Erlandson as a hired caretaker.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dentists might have saved dinosaurs!

If the dinosaurs had dentists to take care of their teeth, they would have been possibly alive today.

At least, this is the picture that is rising out of a new research by scientist of David Varricchio and colleagues.

Infectious diseases can be transmitted by touching ,sneezing, or biting each other on the face, a habit that may have driven the dinosaurs to extinction through the transmission of a protozoan parasite.

This led the scientists to realize that a protozoan parasite was to blame for the diseased jawbones seen in many tyrannosaurid fossils.

The parasite’s modern-day equivalent, which infects birds, eats away at the jawbone and can cause ulcers so ruthless that the host starves to death.
Living in the jaw, the parasite may have been transfered from one dinosaur to another dinosaur during head biting.

According to Jacqueline Upcroft, a member of f1000 Biology, “This organism generally infects pigeons, doves, turkeys and raptors, causing necrotic ulceration in the upper digestive tract,” and in extreme cases it can fully pierce the bone.
The similarity of the fossilized jawbones and modern-day samples imply that the parasite was deadly enough to kill infected dinosaurs.

“This may not have been an segregated situation but may have occurred en masse and led to the Extinction of the Species,” said Upcroft.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Teeth Suggest Dinosaur Was Venomous

Well-preserved fossils of a feathered dinosaur that exist about 124 million years ago — along with certain aspects of its teeth and skull — imply that the turkey-sized creature was venomous.

Sinornithosaurus was unearthed in China and first described by scientists about 10 years ago, but the telling details of the creature’s cranial anatomy are just now being described, says David Burnham, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

The majority of the teeth in each side of the creature’s upper jaw have grooves that run from the base of each tooth to the tip, a characteristic seen in some of today’s venomous reptiles. A huge triangular depression on the creature’s upper jawbone — a feature not previously reported in other dinosaurs or their relatives — probably held venom-producing glands, Burnham and his colleagues report online December 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Venom curving from those glands probably pooled in reservoirs at the base of each grooved tooth until the dino bit its prey, Burnham says.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dinosaurs come to the Waukegan Public Library

Volunteer Mitch Siegel of Waukegan helps assemble a T-Rex dinosaur skeleton as the Waukegan Public Library gets prepared for the "Dig the Dinosaurs" display, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Early Learning Center.

With the scratching sounds of a prehistoric jungle echoing overhead, visitors to the Waukegan Public Library's Early Learning Center are now being welcomed by a smile much toothier than they are accustomed to meeting.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of opening the ELC, the Waukegan Public Library renovated its ELC facilities for three days and reopened them on November 15 with a new look and feel, gathering dinosaurs into nearly all facet of the space with "Dig the Dinosaurs."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Flesh-eating dinosaur find fills gaps in history

Scientists in the US have unearthed the fossilised bones of a meat-eating dinosaur the size of a large dog which they say could fill in the gaps about the early evolution and global migration of a group of animals that ruled the land for 170 million years.

Tawa hallae lived about 230 million years before and was found in a quarry in northern New Mexico. It owns anatomical features that link it with other dinosaurs living much further south in what is now South America.

Researchers say Tawa bears the idea that the dinosaur lineage evolved in the southern part of the supercontinent Pangea. Successive waves of migration from that region resulted in a diverse variety of dinosaurs spreading to other parts of the giant continent, which later split into numerous separate continents.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Meet "Antonio"- A New Italian Dinosaur


According to Fabio M. Dalla Vecchia, who precede the project, Antonio is noteworthy on many counts. Dalla Vecchia, a researcher at both the the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Institut Català de Paleontologia told Discovery News that this dinosaur:

• is only the 2nd ever dinosaur species named in Italy
• is the most complete medium to large sized dinosaur ever originate in Europe
• might be one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons in the world
• be evidence for the first time what close relatives to duck-billed dinosaurs looked like in detail

Tethyshodros insularis imply "island dweller hadrosaurid dinosaur of Tethys."

Tethys was an ocean that splited Africa from the Euro-Asia continent during
dinosaur times. The new dinosaur species survived on a small island in the western part of this ocean 70 million years ago. Dalla Vecchia utters that this was an unusual spot for such an animal, comparable to an elephant being found in the Bahamas today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Good Dentistry May Have Saved The Dinosaurs

Infectious diseases can be spreaded by sneezing, touching, or – for Tasmanian devils – biting each other on the face, a habit that may have driven the dinosaurs to extinction through the transmission of a protozoan parasite.

Jacqueline Upcroft, a member of f1000 Biology, draw attention to the 'paleobiological detective work' of David Varricchio and colleagues published in PLoS One. This led them to figure out that a protozoan parasite was to blame for the diseased jaw bones seen in many tyrannosaurid fossils.

The parasite's modern-day equivalent, which infects birds, eats away at the jawbone and can stimulate ulcers so severe that the host starves to death. Living in the jaw, the parasite may have been passed from one dinosaur to another dinosaur during head biting.

Upcroft said, "this organism generally infects pigeons ,doves, turkeys and raptors, causing necrotic ulceration in the upper digestive tract," and in extreme cases it can fully penetrate the bone.

The similarity of the fossilized jawbones and modern-day samples suggest that the parasite was deadly enough to kill infected dinosaurs. Furthermore, as Upcroft notes, "this may not have been an separated situation but may have occurred en masse and led to the extinction of the species."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

3D modelling recreates dinosaur running

Did four-legged dinosaurs gallop like a horse, run similar to an ostrich or hop like a kangaroo? All three have been suggested, but with only fossils to go on it's a tricky puzzle to solve.

That's why Bill Sellers, a computational zoologist at the University of Manchester, UK, has developed a innovative technique for simulating dinosaur movement and working out which gaits they most likely used.

Sellers and his team used a laser scanner to produce a 3D computer model of the skeleton of an Edmontosaurus, a type of hadrosaur or "duck-billed" dinosaur, and added virtual muscles to make it move. Fossilisation does not safeguard a dinosaur's muscles, but educated guesses about how they worked can be made by studying animals alive today, such as ostriches.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bones show early divergence of dinosaur lineage

The early evolution of dinosaurs, in the late Triassic period, is fuzzy, to say the least.

Paleontologists recognize that the first dinosaurs emerge about 230 million years ago, but fossil evidence is so spotty that it is unapparent where and when the major lineages — theropods, sauropods and ornithischians — began to diverge.

Some excellent 215-million-year-old fossils unearthed in Ghost Ranch, in northern New Mexico, are aiding to clarify things. The bones, of a theropod that the discoverers have named Tawa hallae, offer strong support for the idea that the major lineages diverged early in dinosaur evolution in the part of the supercontinent Pangea that is now South America.

“What Tawa does is it helps intimate the relationships at the base of dinosauria,” said Sterling J. Nesbitt, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas and lead author of a paper in Science describing the find.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dinosaurs originated in South America

Bones found out in a New Mexico quarry indicate that the first dinosaurs appeared in what is now South America, with some migrating northward into the US as the continent began to split apart.

The 213-million-year-old fossils of prior unknown carnivorous dinosaur Tawa hallae include several of the best preserved dinosaur skeletons from the Triassic Period.Tawa was about six feet long - the size of a large dog, but with a much longer tail.

"If you have continents splitting separately, you get isolation," said lead author Sterling Nesbit of the University of Texas at Austin. "So when barriers develop, you would anticipate that multiple carnivorous dinosaurs in a region should correspond to a closely related endemic radiation. But that is what we don’t see in early dinosaur evolution."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dinosaur fossil fills gaps in evolutionary knowledge

Scientists have unearthed the fossilised bones of a meat-eating dinosaur the size of a large dog which they believed could fill in the gaps about the early evolution and global migration of a group of animals that take over the land for 170 million years.

The dinosaur, called Tawa hallae, lived about 230 million years ago and was originate in a quarry in northern New Mexico. It hold anatomical features that link it with other dinosaurs living much further south in what is now South America. Researchers said that Tawa bear the idea that the dinosaur lineage evolved in the southern part of the supercontinent Pangea. Successive waves of migration from that region resulted in a diverse variety of dinosaurs spreading to other parts of the giant continent, which later on split into several separate continents.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dinosaurs on steroids: The Copenhagen conclusion

The global financial disaster and the threats of climate change are symptoms of the same cause.
That cause is the dinosaur-like structure of economies that grew out of the Industrial Revolution and evaded the cost of fixing heavy pollution of smokestack industries by exporting them around the globe to others keen to get rich too.
The mirrors and smoke model that makes money and pretends waste disappears has now turned full circle, and come up against itself at the Copenhagen climate change conference.
The enduring meeting of 192 parties will be the first time all nations, side-by-side, have had to face the truth that there is nowhere left to pollute - and nowhere else to borrow from.

Until now science has seemed esoteric compared to the pragmatism and rationality of the market. Every time a new disaster occurred, the same mantra was chanted: "markets will adjust".

Well, the markets adjusted dreadfully in September last year, and economists' solution for the US is to print 8 billion $100-paper bills.
Climate change can be a more disastrous market adjustment. Catastrophic geographic situations cannot be papered over with money. That financial accounting has become unhinged from the real economy is already obvious

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Walking With Dinosaurs robot stolen from Mexico show

A remote-controlled dinosaur robot worth about 100,000 Australian dollars (£55,600) has been stolen from a Walking With Dinosaurs show in Mexico.

Staff observed the 1.5m tall robot was missing after the show closed on its opening day in Guadalajara on Friday.
The Australian show based on the BBC series has explored worldwide and been seen by more than four million people.
"Only in Mexico! How it occur we don't know," said the show's spokesman, Karla Arroyo.
It is the first instant an exhibit has been stolen from the show, she added.
The theft did not end the show going ahead.

Computer graphics
"Everything went on as usual," said Ms Arroyo.
She said the stolen robot was the least expensive from the show - some measure up to 13m and cost up to 1m Australian dollars.
The show originated in Australia, where it first opened in Sydney's Acer Arena in January 2007.
Ten species are symbolized from the 200 million-year reign of the dinosaurs. The show consist of Tyrannosaurus rex and the Stegosaurus.
The UK tour sold more than 500,000 tickets prior this year and has now moved to Europe.
The Walking With Dinosaurs TV series, which used animatronics and computer graphics to portray the prehistoric animals, was broadcast 10 years ago.
The series took two years to make.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Did Caterpillars Starve Dinosaurs to Death?

Flanders noticed the “Age of Dinosaurs” as a time when food was unlimited. The planet was clothed with lush forests providing an all-you-can-eat buffet to herbivores and thus plenty of food on the go for predatory dinosaurs. The herbivores distended themselves with plants and the carnivores kept the populations of herbivores in check, as so the “circle of life” kept cycling on.

But what if something destabilized this cycle? Flanders projected that two factors, working together, utterly changed the dinosaur’s world. The first was the evolution of seed-producing plants. Flanders envisioned the world of the dinosaurs as one carpeted in ferns and archaic plants, and these new variety of plants provided ample food for caterpillars.

As a result of his explore in agricultural science Flanders was well aware of the damage caterpillars could do to plants if their populations were left unchecked. The insatiable hordes could quickly denude an entire forest of its foliage, thus depriving other herbivores of food. This is just what happened at the closing stages of the Cretaceous, Flanders argued. The caterpillars were too numerous and multiplied too quickly, consuming all the plant food before the herbivorous dinosaurs could get any for themselves. And as the herbivorous dinosaurs died out, so did their predators, leaving behind only small reptiles such as crocodiles and turtles that found their food by different means.

Going Where the Dinosaurs Roamed in the United StatesExperts urge 'Westward Ho!' for finding the best dinosaur treasures

Experts urge 'Westward Ho!' for finding the best dinosaur treasures

The gigantic brachiosaurus, the deadly and fierce tyrannosaurus, the nimble and fast velociraptor.
Millions of years ago, long before humans existed, these creatures - and many others like them -- wander the earth. We visited some of the territory where dinosaurs roamed in what is now the United States.

Morrison Formation, is a group of rock layers that is prime territory for dinosaur fossils. It is centered in the western U.S. states of Wyoming and Colorado. We start our exploration for the dinosaurs of North America at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center.

Malcom Bedell is a investigator at the center. His excavation team is digging up what he is pretty certain is a fossilized diplodocus - a large plant-eating dinosaur -- but it is slow and time-consuming work.