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Places to See Real Dinosaur Tracks

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Places to See Real Dinosaur Tracks

At one point, this whole lousy planet was covered in dinosaurs of all sizes and descriptions. These days, if we want to see evidence of dinosaurs, we can go for a walk with a pair of binoculars aimed at the trees, or just spend some time scoping out a bird feeder.

And although it’s widely accepted that today’s birds are avian dinosaur descendants, part of the allure of the dinos of yore is their size and variety … and the fact that they’re not around anymore. That may be true, but there are nooks and crannies all over the globe where you can find evidence of the once-kings, straight out of Deep Time. Fossilized dinosaur tracks and footprints abound.

The Dinosaur Ridge in Jefferson County, Colorado, plays host to many fossilized prints. DANIELLE BEDER/GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

Dinosaur Ridge, Morrison, Colorado

Around 150 million years ago, during the late Jurassic, what’s now central Colorado was a beach. These days you can see the tracks and skeletal remains of hundreds of ornithopod and theropod dinosaurs — including the long-necked Apatosaurus, armored Stegosaurus, and carnivorous Allosaurus — that used the beach as a freeway.

Dampier Peninsula, Australia

The largest dinosaur print we know about can be found at a site called Walmadany, off Australia’s western coast. Twenty-one species cavorted here during the Cretaceous period, including the owner of a 5.5-foot-long (1.7-meter-long) sauropod track that belonged to an animal so immense a giraffe’s face could probably only reach its withers.

Among the world’s longest dinosaur trackways are those left by a Titanosaurus at the Cal Orck’o site near Sucre, Bolivia. Over millions of years what was once level ground has become a near-vertical wall. TONY WALTHAM/ROBERT HARDING/GETTY IMAGES

Parque Cretácico, Cal Orck’o, Bolivia

Once, nearly 70 million years ago, a baby Tyrannosaurus rex and a herd of long-necked sauropods ranging from 26-65 feet (8-20 meters) long made their way across a vast, muddy flat. Now this mudflat is a 300-foot (90-meter) vertical wall inside a rock quarry, covered with more than 5,000 tracks representing eight species and more than 450 individual dinosaurs. It’s the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the world; you can find it in Bolivia’s Parque Cretácico.

Denali National Park, Alaska

The theropod tracks found in Denali National Park aren’t particularly interesting in and of themselves, but thousands of herbivorous hadrosaur tracks in the park provided scientists with evidence that dinosaurs might have lived year-round in polar latitudes.

Staffin Beach, Island of Skye, Scotland

We don’t generally think of dinosaurs being great parents, but it’s possible Scotland’s own “Dinosaur Island”has evidence of just that. The small prints left by ornithopods around 170 million years ago seem to tell the story of a parent being followed by several juveniles down the shoreline of a lake.

Check out the following images for a few more places around the globe you can visit to see dinosaur footprints.

When construction on a dam spillway began, workers discovered dozens of dinosaur tracks in Utah’s Clayton Lake State Park. NATHAN MURPHY/ATOMIC LLC/FLICKR/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Footprints of a dinosaur are visible in the rocks of Sangjokam Park, South Korea, and in the nearby Goseong Dinosaur Museum. TOPIC IMAGES INC./GETTY IMAGES
Dinosaur tracks continue to be discovered every year. These Allosaurus footprints were unearthed near Dinopark in Munchehagen, Germany, in 2015, and were found near Diplodocus footprints which paleontologists dated to the the upper Jurassic period, around 140 million years ago. ALEXANDER KOERNER/GETTY IMAGES

A Peek into What to Expect for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Friday, November 17, 2017

Jurassic World (2015) brought home a massive $1.6 billion paycheck, which is good considering it has all those carnivorous mouths to feed. Many of those same mouths will return for the inevitable sequel next year, officially titled Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Here are just a few of the important details regarding casting and plot.

Obviously the key actors from the first movie, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas, will return as Owen and Claire. There’s also an early shot of a new character, a young girl revealed via Instagram photo. But the important thing is, Blue (the raptor) is expected to reprise her role as herself for the movie. Which brings us to the question of the plot.

What is Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom going to be about? Colin Trevorrow, director of the first movie, promised that it won’t just be more of the same – dinosaurs chasing people around. “I don’t think that bigger, better dinosaurs or bigger, more epic-in-scope action sequences are what people are necessarily looking for.” Instead, Trevorrow hinted at a possible moral theme. The first Jurassic World showed us that man and dino are capable of getting along with some effort… a lot of effort. Perhaps we’ll get to see where that path leads us.

Trevorrow has another upcoming movie to direct (Star Wars), so he’s handed the prehistoric reigns over to AI Bayona for this one. And both have confirmed that this second installment will be much darker and more frightening than the last. Frightening from a human perspective, not from an oh-no-I’m-going-to-be-eaten one. They also spilled that the Jurassic World saga was planned as a trilogy, so there’ll also be a third movie after this one.

jurassic world

Now, let’s talk numbers. Budget numbers. There’s a two, a six, and about seven zeroes, in that order. In other words, $260 million. Holy indominus rex, a dino-sized budget for a dinosaur movie. Fans of ancient lizards can expect returns from that starting on June 22, 2018, in the U.S. when Fallen Kingdom hits theaters on our shores.

Male Woolly Mammoths More Often Fell into Natural Traps

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Male Woolly Mammoths More Often Fell into Natural Traps

An international team of researchers led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History has discovered that fossilized remains of woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) more often came from males than females (69% versus 31%). The scientists speculate that this skewed ratio exists in the fossil record because inexperienced male mammoths more often traveled alone and got themselves killed by falling into natural traps that made their preservation more likely.

“Most bones, tusks, and teeth from mammoths and other Ice Age animals haven’t survived,” said senior author Dr. Love Dalen, from the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

“It is highly likely that the remains that are found in Siberia these days have been preserved because they have been buried, and thus protected from weathering.”

“Our findings imply that male mammoths more often died in a way that meant their remains were buried, perhaps by falling through lake ice in winter or getting stuck in bogs.”

For the study, Dr. Dalen and colleagues generated genomic data from 98 bone, tooth, and tusk samples collected at various locations throughout Siberia.

They then used these data to determine the sex of the mammoth specimens.

“We were very surprised because there was no reason to expect a sex bias in the fossil record,” said first author Dr. Patrícia Pečnerová, also from the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

“Since the ratio of females to males was likely balanced at birth, we had to consider explanations that involved better preservation of male remains.”

The findings suggest that woolly mammoths lived similarly to modern elephants, with herds of females and young elephants led by an experienced adult female.

In contrast, the authors suspect that male mammoths, like elephants, more often lived in bachelor groups or alone and engaged in more risk-taking behavior.

“Without the benefit of living in a herd led by an experienced female, male mammoths may have had a higher risk of dying in natural traps such as bogs, crevices, and lakes,” Dr. Dalen said.

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.


Patrícia Pečnerová et al. Genome-Based Sexing Provides Clues about Behavior and Social Structure in the Woolly Mammoth. Current Biology, published online November 2, 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.09.064


Prehistoric ‘Rat’ From Dinosaur Era Was Oldest Human Relative

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Prehistoric ‘Rat’ From Dinosaur Era Was Oldest Human Relative

Fossil remains of two rat-like creatures understood to be the oldest known ancestors of humans have been discovered in Dorset.

The small furry animals scurried in the shadow of the dinosaurs 145 million years ago.

Scientists believe they can draw a direct evolutionary line from the ancient mammals to people living today.

Two teeth belonging to two different species were sifted out of samples of Cretaceous period rock collected from exposed cliffs near Swanage.

Dr Steve Sweetman, from the University of Portsmouth, said his “jaw dropped” when one of the university’s undergraduate students asked him to look at the specimens.

He said: “The teeth are of a type so highly evolved that I realised straight away I was looking at remains of Early Cretaceous mammals that more closely resembled those that lived during the latest Cretaceous, some 60 million years later in geological history.

“In the world of palaeontology there has been a lot of debate around a specimen found in China, which is approximately 160 million years old. This was originally said to be of the same type as ours but recent studies have ruled this out. That being the case, our 145 million-year-old teeth are undoubtedly the earliest yet known from the line of mammals that lead to our own species.”

The area where student Grant Smith found the teeth is known as the Jurassic Coast because it has produced so many dinosaur fossils.

Both the ancient mammals were probably nocturnal, Dr Sweetman and co-authors reported in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

One was likely to have been a burrower that ate insects and the other larger creature may have consumed plants as well, the researchers believe.

Dr Sweetman added: “The teeth are of a highly advanced type that can pierce, cut and crush food. They are also very worn which suggests the animals to which they belonged lived to a good age for their species – no mean feat when you’re sharing your habitat with predatory dinosaurs.”

The animals are believed to be direct ancestors of most mammals living today including creatures as diverse as the blue whale and pigmy shrew, as well as humans.

One of the species has been named Durlstotherium newmani, after Charlie Newman, landlord of the Square and Compass pub in the village of Worth Matravers close to where the fossils were discovered. The other has been named Durlstodon Ensomi.

Mammals Were Nocturnal Until Dinosaur Extinction, Then Emerged Into Daylight

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

With enormous predators like Tyrannosaurus rex skulking around in the daytime it is not surprising that the first mammals chose to live under the cover of darkness.

In fact, a new study, from University College London has found that our ancestors did not emerge from the shadows until after the dinosaurs became extinct, around 66 million years ago.

Before then, all mammals were nocturnal, sleeping in the daytime and hunting or foraging at night, new data suggests.

Researchers used computer algorithms to analyse details from 2415 species of living mammals to reconstruct the activity patterns of their ancestors.

The ancestors of gorillas were the first mammals to become diurnal, which is why their eyesight is so good

They found that following the comet strike which killed off the dinosaurs, mammals shifted to an intermediate stage of mixed day and night living, before primarily venturing into the daylight.

“We were very surprised to find such close correlation between the disappearance of dinosaurs and the beginning of daytime activity in mammals, but we found the same result unanimously using several alternative analyses,” said lead author, doctoral student student Roi Maor of UCL.

The team found that the ancestors of gorillas and gibbons were the first to give up their nocturnal activity, a discovery which fits in with the fact that their descendants – which include humans – are the only mammals that see well in daylight.

Their vision and color perception is comparable to those of diurnal reptiles and birds – groups which never left the daytime.

“It’s very difficult to relate behavior changes in mammals that lived so long ago to ecological conditions at the time, so we can’t say that the dinosaurs dying out caused mammals to start being active in the daytime,” added co-author Professor Kate Jones.

“However, we see a clear correlation in our findings.”

Ancestral reconstruction is the extrapolation back in time from measured characteristics of individuals, or species, to their common ancestors.

For example, if  a mammal had long fingers and its sibling also has long fingers  it is likely that a parent had long fingers.

The research was published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.



Sunday, November 12, 2017


Nyctosaurus is an extravagant Genus of Pterodactyloid Pterosaur. Pterodactyloids were the types of Pterosaurs that usually had small tails if any, and normally lacked teeth. Nyctosaurus have lived 85 million years ago during the late Cretaceous.

The first fossil evidence of Nyctosaurus was discovered in 1876 by Othniel Charles Marsh in the Smoky Hill River dig site in Kansas and since has undergone several taxonomical revisions as most every organism does.

Size of a mature, crested specimen (green) compared with a human

The name Nyctosaurus means “Night Lizard” or “Bat Lizard” since the wings of Pterosaurs are more like the wings of Bats than any other flying organism. In most respects Nyctosaurus is quite similar to Pteranodon, only much smaller and perhaps more specialized due to it’s large decorative head-crest. Nyctosaurus grew to a wingspan only 6-6 1/2 feet but it’s large crest was nearly as long as one of it’s wings and over 3 times the length of the skull! That must have been hard to maneuver at times. Nyctosaurus is also the only Pterosaur that has lost it’s clawed wing fingers. This means that it couldn’t have gripped surfaces and climbed like other Pterosaurs; it couldn’t climb tress or rocks and would have had to have hopped or flown to move over uneven surfaces.

It has been hypothesized that the large crest could have sported a membrane of skin between the two spurs and acted almost like a rudder, but so far, there has been no physical evidence of a membrane found to support it, although soft tissue does not always fossilize.

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Welcome to Gondwana: A Dinosaur Treasure Trove

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Welcome to Gondwana: A Dinosaur Treasure Trove

After the supercontinent Pangaea separated into the smaller supercontinents of Laurasia and Gondwana, evolution became dependent upon specific conditions of climate and habitat.

The dinosaur “collective” fragmented, leaving dinosaurs to evolve in isolated groups and develop traits distinctly different from their sundered cousins on other landmasses.

During the 19th century, naturalist Charles Darwin began speculating about the relationship between living and fossil species while developing his theory of natural selection and “descent with modification,” to explain why some species became extinct while others evolved.

But no one paid much attention to geology’s role in biological evolution until 1910, when geophysicist Alfred Wegener, curious about why identical plant and animal fossils were being found on separate continents, realized that the outline of the east coast of South America fit against the lower west coast of Africa like pieces in a massive jigsaw puzzle.

It was as if the two continents had once been joined — an insight later confirmed by modern geology.

Africa, the first landmass to separate from Gondwana, supported Cretaceous Period dinosaurs like Suchomimus, a three-ton, bipedal predator with a skull resembling a contemporary crocodile’s. It was also home to Nigersaurus, whose wide, flat, vacuum-cleaner-nozzle-shaped mouth was packed with 50 teeth each in its upper and lower jaws, making it perfect for gobbling low-growing plants. Each tooth position held nine replacement teeth, meaning that Nigersaurus replaced 80 to 100 teeth each month — without missing a single meal.

Meanwhile, in South America, Giganotosaurus roamed the badlands of what is now Argentina’s Patagonia region. Perhaps the largest land carnivore that ever lived, this 43-foot-long, 13,200-pound behemoth comes alive at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science special exhibition “Ultimate Dinosaurs,” where visitors can manipulate special screens to see what a creature’s skin and facial coloration might have looked like in “real life.”

T-Rex’s Short Arms Could Have Been Used For Slashing

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A paleontologist believes that the T. rex’s short forearms may have had more vicious purposes than previously thought. More than just grasping prey or mating, it’s possible the T. rex used the sharp claws to viciously slash its prey.


Grasping, Sex, Or Evolutionary Remnant?

Scientists still do not have a consensus as to the definite purpose of the T. rex‘s fairly short forearms. It’s a pretty defining feature of the prime predator, but experts still aren’t sure what the creature may have used it for. Some scientists believe that perhaps the claws were useful in grasping their prey, in pushing themselves up from the ground, or even to hold on to their mates when mating.

However, the current belief is that the short forearms may simply be a remnant of evolution, quite like wings on modern flightless birds. Some even believe that the short forearms were something of a compromise during evolution to make way for their large heads and necks.


Short But Vicious Arms

Steven Stanley, a paleontologist from the University of Hawaii in Maui, presented his findings at the Geological Society of America in Seattle. He believes that the T. rex may have used its claws for close-contact slashing, leaving its prey with deep slashes. Stanley states that similar to other dinosaur species, the T. rex possibly mounted on its victim or grasped it with its jaw while it repeatedly inflicted deep slashes in quick succession.

“Why should T. rex not have engaged in this activity?” asked Stanley.

Supporting this theory are the bones of the T. rex itself, with strong albeit short arm bones and ball-and-socket joints that allow it to move in various directions. What’s more, through the course of evolution, the T. rex lost one of three claws, leaving the remaining two claws with stronger slashing powers.


Short Reach And Stronger Jaws

Other scientists are skeptical of the hypothesis, stating that the T. rex’s arms are too short, and that the T. rex would have to practically push itself onto the other animal in order to cause a substantial slash. At that odd position, then the T. rex wouldn’t be able to use its powerful jaws to make a more effective attack.

That said, they agree that the T. rex’s forearms may have been bigger before it atrophied during the course of evolution where the powerful jaws took over as its prime weapon. However, Stanley believes that despite being atrophied, the forearms may still have had more function than just for mating, other minor purposes, or as a pre-evolution reminder.


On Isolated Madagascar, Even Prehistoric Evolution Was Unique

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Head restoration of Masiakasaurus knopfleri (Ceratosauria, Theropoda) by Lpanzarin.

More than 70 million years ago, the world’s fourth-largest island separated from Gondwana.

It has remained a loner ever since.

Situated off Africa’s southeastern coast, Madagascar’s continued geographical isolation means that today, about 80 percent of its wildlife — which includes zoologically primitive primates and hedgehog-like insectivores — is found nowhere else in the world.

That same isolation also greatly affected the evolution of Madagascar’s Cretaceous Period dinosaurs, bizarre creatures that included Masiakasaurus knopfleri, a predatory theropod or meat-eater that stood just 30 inches high, sported strange-looking, forward-pointing teeth at the front of its mouth, and was discovered by a team led by David W. Krause, senior curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Equally unusual was Majungasaurus crenatissimus, a 4,400-pound, cannibalistic predator with a taste for sauropod flesh and “arms” — forelegs too small to have been useful for feeding or hunting.

Perhaps such limbs were a feather-covered factor in attracting a mate, says Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at DMNS. He discovered the fossilized Majungasaurus skull and neck bones housed at the museum as part of its Madagascar Paleontology Project and displayed in the special exhibition “Ultimate Dinosaurs.”

Other oddities include rahonavis, the smallest Cretaceous Period dinosaur found thus far on Madagascar. Although this theropod probably had feathers and might have been capable of flight, rahonavis wasn’t a direct relative of birds, the living descendants of the dinosaurs. It might, instead, have been a genuine link between small theropod dinosaurs and “true” birds.

And then there’s Simosuchus, a stubby, blunt-snouted, and rather cute (to me, at least) creature that turned out not to be a dinosaur at all, but a land-dwelling, plant-eating crocodilian completely unlike any modern crocodile.

Amazing Goonies Easter Egg Discovered in Jurassic Park

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Amazing Goonies Easter Egg Discovered in Jurassic Park

Steven Spielberg has had a legendary career. When all’s said and done, it’s quite possible he’ll be considered the greatest filmmaker who ever lived, if he isn’t already. Jurassic Park is unquestionably one of his most beloved directorial achievements and Dennis Nedry, the man responsible for the park’s disaster, is one of his more interesting supporting characters. Now, a new fan theory points out that, quite possibly, Dennis Nedry was paying homage to The Goonies in Jurassic Park.

This theory comes to us from Twitter user Shawn Robare. He took a look at the various outfits that Dennis Nedry, played by Wayne Knight, wears throughout the movie. It turns out that they just so happen to line up pretty remarkably with several members of The Goonies, which just so happens to be a movie that Steven Spielberg produces. Here’s what Robare had to say about it when he made his discovery.

“Guys, GUYS, is Dennis Nedry homaging the Goonies in Jurassic Park?!"

When we first meet Dennis Nedry, he’s sporting a Hawaiian shirt that, when looking at it side by side, closely resembles what Chunk (Jeff Cohen) is wearing in The Goonies. Later on, we see Nedry wearing a grey jacket before heading off to steal the dinosaur embryos he needs to get paid. This very closely resembles the Member’s Only jacket Mouth (Corey Feldman) wears in the movie. Lastly, after Nedry has the embryos in the famed Barbasol can, he’s seen sporting a yellow raincoat. Again, looking at it side by side, this shares an uncanny resemblance to what Mikey (Sean Astin) wears in Goonies.

There’s no shortage of Jurassic Park fan theories online. But this one, as far as we can tell, hasn’t even been brought forward prior to Shawn Robare bringing it up on Twitter recently. It could be pure coincidence, but it’s uncanny when looking at it together like this. It’s also possible that Steven Spielberg, or producer Kathleen Kennedy, who also worked on both movies, was just having a little bit of fun. Now, does this theory have any deeper meaning? Probably not. It’s likely just a fun callback, that nobody noticed for more than twenty years, to one of Spielberg’s other classic movies.


The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner, was released in 1985, just eight years prior to the release of Jurassic Park. So, at the time, Goonies was much more fresh in everyone’s minds. Perhaps that’s why Dennis Nedry was paying homage to Chunk, Mouth and Mikey. Or maybe he wasn’t paying homage and it’s just someone connecting dots that aren’t really there. Unfortunately, given Corey Feldman’s recent sexual harassment allegations, The Goonies has been present in people’s minds for less than favorable reasons. In any case, this is a pretty fun theory. You can check out the side by side images, courtesy of Shawn Robare’s Twitter, for yourself below.

Goonies easter egg found in Jurassic Park


Read more: 22 Jurassic Park References in Jurassic World