What Parents Need To Know About Jurassic World's 'Battle At Big Rock'

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Battle At Big Rock is a new short film directed by Colin Trevorrow and written by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael. The setting of the film takes place one year after the events of the last Jurassic World film in Big Rock National Park. In Battle at Big Rock, dinosaurs now live in our world. One night while camping by the fire, a family has a very close encounter with dinosaurs and survival is the only option. The film stars: Andre Holland (A Wrinkle In Time, Selma), Natalie Martinez (Ugly Dolls, The Crossing) Melody Hurd (Fatherhood), Pierson Salvador (Blindspot, Deception) as well as Ethan Cole and Nathan Cole.


Battle At Big Rock gets it right on many fronts. While the short film centers on a diverse family that includes children of young ages, it still includes suspense, thrill, dinosaurs and even some educational context about dinosaurs. Not only is the family in this film ethnically diverse, they are a blended family. The family includes an African-American dad play by Holland and Hurd as his extremely intelligent, precocious daughter. His wife or partner, played by Martinez is Latinx and has a son from a previous relationship that is Latino, and to round out the beautiful, blended family is a multiethnic baby that is result of their current union. It’s refreshing to see on screen families that look like real life.

There are elements of this film that may be scary for younger audiences. For example, there’s a scene where dinosaurs knock over the family camper while the family is still trapped inside and have to figure out a way to escape. There’s another intense moment when a baby dangles in mid-air while still locked into their feeding chair. I would recommend this film for ages 8 and up. However, it’s definitely not for the little ones.

In keeping with the Jurassic World franchise, the dinosaurs look extremely real. Dinosaur lovers will love this short film. Not to mention that one of the family members in the short appears to be a mini-expert on naming dinosaurs as well as understanding their characteristics and habits, which could serve as a great source of inspiration for younger dinosaur enthusiasts.


From Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Jurassic World immerses audiences of all ages in a new era of wonder and thrills where dinosaurs and humankind must learn to coexist. Jurassic World is more than a film franchise. At every turn, this film series delivers a larger-than-life destination for exploration, discovery, and epic adventure. Dinosaurs live again and they live in Jurassic World.

Watch and share the all new-short film BATTLE AT BIG ROCK, directed by Colin Trevorrow, written by Trevorrow and Emily Carmichael which premiered exclusively on FX September 15thand is available at and on

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios ( Universal Studios is part of NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.


Jurassic World's Short Film Copies The Lost World's Biggest Moments

Thursday, September 19, 2019

If three important moments in Jurassic World's short film, Battle at Big Rock, looked familiar, that's because they already happened in a previous Jurassic Park movie. These scenes appear to be copied from the second installment in the franchise, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Universal's eight-minute short film, Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock, takes place one year after the events of the last movie, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which saw the entire dinosaur population that was left alive set free into the wild. The short film addresses Fallen Kingdom's cliffhanger ending by giving viewers a taste of what happens when humans are forced to coexist with dinosaurs. Starring Andre Holland and Natalie Martinez, Battle at Big Rock centers on a family who are camping out in an RV in Big Rock National Park. However, the family camping trip takes a bad turn when dinosaurs arrive on the scene.

Battle At Big Rock: Jurassic World's Two New Dinosaurs Explained

What transpires in the eight-minute short seems to come directly from The Lost World: Jurassic Park. In Battle at Big Rock, an Allosaurus attacks the family's RV and, due to his large size, is able to tip it over. Just when it looks like the family's vacation is about to come to a grisly end, one of the children uses a crossbow to wound and scare away the Allosaurus. Both are key moments in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The 1997 movie featured a famous scene where two T-Rexes attacked a trailer - with the main characters still inside - and knocked it off a cliff. Later in the movie, a young girl, Kelly, saves Jeff Goldblum's character from a raptor by kicking it.

The comparison to The Lost World doesn't end there. The end-credits of Battle at Big Rock recreates another moment from the movie by showing a child being chased by a pack of Compsognathus. This event in the original film is what the sets up the plot of The Lost World. The inclusion of not one, but three pivotal scenes from The Lost World shows that director Colin Trevorrow was intentionally paying homage to a fan-favorite film and one of two movies in the franchise to receive the Academy Award for "Best Visual Effects".

In a way, Battle at Big Rock feels less like a sequel to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom or a prequel to Jurassic World 3, and much more like a spiritual sequel to The Lost World. This is part of what makes Battle at Big Rock the best of Jurassic World. If Battle at Big Rock is a sign that the franchise is prepared to look to older Jurassic Park films for inspiration in creating well-crafted, scary moments and good characters, then things may be looking up for Jurassic World 3.


Looks Like Jurassic World 3 Is Beginning Filming Soon

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Following the release of Colin Trevorrow’s Battle at Big Rock short film, many of us are extra excited to see what the director has in store for audiences with Jurassic World 3. We have a long time to wait though because the sequel to last year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and the third film in the Jurassic World franchise isn’t set to arrive in theaters until 2021. It’s on the way though and it looks like Jurassic World 3 is actually beginning filming soon.

According to HN EntertainmentJurassic World 3 is expected to shoot at the legendary Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. This would be a return for the franchise, as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom also shot scenes at Pinewood Studios UK, as have other entries in massive franchises, including Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerNo Time to Die and Eternals.

This report is unconfirmed as of yet and should be taken with a grain of salt until we hear more. But if accurate, this could be a sign that the pieces are being put in place to go before cameras. With the production locking in its filming locations, it seems that Jurassic World 3 could be ramping up its pre-production process so that it can begin filming in the near future.

Jurassic World 3 settled on a release date before Fallen Kingdom had even hit theaters and all signs are looking good that it will actually hit that release date. And after the events of Fallen Kingdom and the taste we got of things to come in Battle at Big Rock, there is a lot to look forward to in Jurassic World 3.

With the dinosaurs being released on the mainland at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, this threequel could have an entirely new dynamic than what we’ve seen before from this franchise. Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow has promised Jurassic World 3 thankfully won’t have dinosaurs attacking cities and that it will be a celebration of the entire franchise.

To that end, there is a hope shared by many fans and vocally championed by actress Bryce Dallas Howard, that Jurassic World 3 see the return of the actors from the original Jurassic Park. Jeff Goldblum appeared briefly as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Fallen Kingdom, but as of yet we haven’t seen Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler or Sam Neill’s Alan Grant.

We don’t know if the original trio will be returning for Jurassic World 3 yet, but with all the talk surrounding the possibility, it certainly seems likely. With Jurassic World 3 potentially shooting soon, hopefully we’ll begin to hear more about the story and perhaps some casting news as well.

Jurassic World 3 is directed by Colin Trevorrow and written by Trevorrow and Pacific Rim Uprising’s Emily Carmichael. Jurassic World 3 opens in theaters on June 11, 2021.


Every Dinosaur In Jurassic World: Battle At Big Rock

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A lot of dinosaurs make an appearance in the new short film Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock. The short picks up from the ending of last year's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, with the dinosaurs that once populated the park now roaming freely among humans. Colin Trevorrow, director of 2015's Jurassic World, returned to helm the new film, which was filmed in secret and given quite a surprise release on Sunday evening.

The short is obviously intended as a kind of interstitial between Fallen Kingdom and its upcoming sequel, which is set to be released in 2021, and Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock was released online at quite short notice. In just eight minutes, Battle at Big Rock is a great Jurassic World movienot only delivering a more modern chapter in the series but also setting high expectations for what the next film has in store with the premise of dinosaurs now co-existing among humans.

Audiences had previously been given a glimpse at that very scenario during the T-Rex's San Diego rampage in the climax of 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park. However, the ending of Jurassic WorldFallen Kingdom promises a much more in-depth exploration of the idea of humans now sharing the world with dinosaurs in the franchises future, with a returning Ian Malcom ominously intoning "Welcome to Jurassic World" as the dinosaurs gain their newfound freedom. Battle at Big Rock clearly aims to offer fans of the series a small taste of what's in store for Jurassic World 3, and despite its short running time, the film manages to incorporate a wide range of different dinosaurs into its story. Here are all the dinosaurs that appear in Battle at Big Rock.


The primary antagonist of Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock, the Allosaurus lived during the Jurassic period approximately 150 million years ago. A predator like the famed T-Rex, the Allosaurus first appeared in Jurassic World (albeit only via Holoscape). Despite the destruction of Isla Nebular, there were still some Allosaurus living on the island, where they're among those captured and taken to the mainland U.S. in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The Allosaurus is ultimately among the dinosaurs freed at the end of Fallen Kingdom. That very same Allosaurus wanders into a camping ground in Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock and preys upon a family of Triceratops, along with a human family camping in the forest.


The Nasutoceratops lived during the late Cretaceous period, and was only discovered as a species back in 2013, where it was found they lived in what's now Utah. Similar to the Triceratops, although smaller in size and with horns on the side of their head, Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock is the movie debut of the Nasutoceratops, and true to what we know they're peaceful herbivores who don't pose any sort of threat to the humans. Unfortunately, that makes them a target for the Allosaurus, who attacks the two we see in the short film.


Most of the dinosaurs in Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock appear during the end credits, beginning with Compsognathus, better known by their nickname of "Compys", who lived during the Jurassic periodAlthough the tiniest dinosaurs in the series, they are nevertheless among the deadliest, and play an especially prominent role in The Lost World, first being seen attacking the daughter of a wealthy family that's stumbled onto Isla Nublar unaware that the island is populated with dinosaurs. Later in the film, their full viciousness is shown when they attack and devour Dieter Stark alive in a loose recreation of John Hammond's death in Michael Crichton's first Jurassic Park novel. The Compys would also appear in Jurassic Park III and Fallen Kingdom, and make a return to the Jurassic Park series during the end credits of Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock, chasing a terrified little girl through her backyard in a clear homage to the opening of The Lost World.


Stegosaurus lived during the late Jurassic period and has appeared in every film in the franchise since The Lost World, where they are the first dinosaurs encountered by Ian Malcom and the main human characters of the story upon their arrival on Isla Sorna. Stegosaurus may be an herbivore, but it also won't hesitate to defend its young, as Malcom's girlfriend Dr. Sarah Harding swiftly learns after unintentionally frightening one of the infants of the family. The Stegosaurus is also among the species of dinosaurs set upon the world at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and appears during the end credits of Battle at Big Rock, casually strolling alongside a cliff side highway and causing a shocked motorist to veer off the edge, all of it captured on his mounted cell phone.


Though Parasaurolophus has never been one of the more prominent dinosaurs of the franchise, it has appeared in every film in the series since The Lost World. Living during the late Cretaceous Period, this horned herbivore has never directly killed any humans in the series, but it makes a notable appearance in Jurassic Park III. While Dr. Grant and the other human characters are fleeing a pack of pursuing Velociraptors, they find themselves also dodging the heavy feet of a family of Parasaurolophus after the dinosaurs are suddenly frightened by the fleeing humans. Compared to other dinosaurs seen in the short, Parasaurolophus makes a more innocuous appearance during the end credits of Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock, calmly drinking from a river as a group of fisherman watch in awe.


The first aquatic dinosaur to make its debut in the series, Mosasaurus lived during the Cretaceous period, and was among the most heavily marketed new dinosaurs in Jurassic World. Though the land-bound nature of the story did somewhat limit its involvement, it made several flashy appearances leaping out of the water to snatch its prey, and arguably stole the finale Jurassic World, emerging from its underwater home to devour the rampaging Indominus Rex. Mosasaurus would later appear in the opening of Fallen Kingdom, breaking loose from its own captivity after eating some investigating humans, and later preying on a group of surfers during the closing minutes of the movie. The Mosasaurus makes another show-stopping appearance during the end credits of Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock, leaping from the depths of the sea with its jaws agape to feast on a shark that itself had just snatched up a seal.


Living during the Cretaceous period, the Pteranodon serves as the flying predator of the Jurassic Park franchise, first appearing in the closing scene of The Lost World and later playing a major role in Jurassic Park III. In that film, after discovering they've stumbled into a large bird cage, Dr. Alan Grant and his traveling companions find themselves fighting for their lives against a family of carnivorous Pteranodon that occupy the cage.  The Pteranodon also plays a major role in Jurassic World, where they are seen terrorizing visitors to the park, and later being among the dinosaurs now living among humans at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Having appeared in every movie in the Jurassic Park series save for the first, the Pteranodon returns during the end credits of Battle at Big Rock, swooping in to snatch a dove freed a split second earlier during a couple's wedding.

With the abundance of dinosaurs that the film manages to incorporate in under ten minutes, Battle at Big Rock clearly points to Colin Trevorrow and Universal laying their cards on the table for the next film in the series to explore the premise of dinosaurs now co-existing among humans to its fullest potential. Fans of the Jurassic Park franchise will have to wait until the next chapter of the series makes its grand debut in June 2021 to see the full repercussions of the ending of Fallen Kingdom play out, and Trevorrow has also made clear that Jurassic World 3 won't have dinosaurs terrorizing major cities as audiences might be expecting. In the meantime, however, Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock gives fans quite an exhilarating sneak peek at what that world shared by dinosaurs and man will look like.


Palorchestes Azael: Wombat Ancestor Weighed 2,000 Lbs.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Palorchestes azael. Credit: Hazel Richards (2019)

When we think of marsupials (carrying young in a pouch) they are small and cute (opossum, wombat) to a little more menacing (kangaroos in boxing gloves) but nothing like Palorchestid marsupials, an extinct group of Australian megafauna, who were large, had strange tapir-like skulls, and large claws.

Over the course of their evolution, palorchestids grew even larger and stranger. Using limb proportions as a proxy for body size, these authors estimated that the latest and largest of the palorchestids weighed over 2,000 lbs. Furthermore, their forelimbs were extremely muscular and were likely adapted for grabbing or scraping at leaves and branches.

Uniquely among known mammals, the elbow joints of the largest palorchestids appear to have been immobile and fixed at roughly a 100-degree angle, so that the arms served as permanently flexed food-gathering tools.

This study provides the first formal description of limb morphology in palorchestid marsupials and reveals a group of giant herbivores that probably filled a niche no longer occupied in modern Australian ecosystems. Fossil remains are still missing for certain parts of the palorchestid body, such as the shoulders and wrists, but the authors are hopeful that more material may be found in existing museum collections.

The authors note, "This study has allowed us for the first time to appreciate just how huge these mega-marsupial palorchestids were, while also providing the first comprehensive view of a strange limb anatomy unprecedented in the mammalian world. This research reveals yet more about the diversity of unique large marsupials that once roamed Australia not so long ago."


Victoria, Second-Most Complete Tyrannosaurus Rex Skeleton, Set to Go on Display

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

(Credit: Animism Studios for IMG)

Move over, Sue. You've got competition.

Victoria, the second most complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex, has finally gone on display after paleontologists first discovered the remains of the massive dinosaur six years ago.

Initially discovered in South Dakota in 2013, researchers spent several months carefully excavating Victoria's 199 bones. Eventually, her 66-million-year-old fossils were taken to Victoria, British Columbia (the town for which she was named) to allow researchers to further study and ultimately, restore the skeleton.

(Credit: IMG)


“The discovery of Victoria has provided the paleontological community with a tremendous amount of new information,"  said lead paleontologist Heinrich Mallison in a statement provided to Fox News. "The various insights gleaned from her unique and groundbreaking pathologies will be the subject of research for years to come.”

Victoria is estimated to have been between 18 and 25 years old when she died, not quite fully grown, though still able to breed. Researchers noted the skeleton is nearly 40 feet long and the T. rex was estimated to be approximately 10.5 tons or 21,000 lbs. at death.

Scotty, the world's largest T. rex, was discovered in Canada earlier this year. Found in Saskatchewan, the dangerous dino was estimated to be 42 feet long and weighed 19,400 pounds.

The T. rex was bitten on her jaw by another dinosaur (presumed to be another T. rex), which caused an infection and may have led to her death, Mallison added. “From a bite on her jaw that led to an unusually widespread infection to an absorbed tooth in the maxilla, it is clear she overcame many rivalries and injuries in the struggle to survive as an apex predator,” he said in the statement.

Victoria is the second most complete skeleton behind the aforementioned Sue; she was discovered in August 1990 and is widely considered to be roughly 90 percent complete.


Victoria will initially be displayed at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix from Nov. 17 until May 25, 2020. From there, the T. rex skeleton will go to museums around the world.

The exhibit will also offer 3D projection mapping, holograms and interactive video, allowing visitors to see what Victoria's life might have been like during the Cretaceous period, 66 million years ago.

“The discovery of Victoria is truly remarkable and really changes our understanding of the species,” said John Norman, managing director for IMG Exhibitions, which created the display, in a separate statement. “Through Victoria the T. rex, we’re providing visitors with an in-depth look at the life of the Tyrannosaurus rex and expanding upon existing knowledge to create the most exciting, engaging, and holistic dinosaur exhibition to date.”



Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock Changes the Franchise Forever and Fans Are Impressed

Monday, September 16, 2019

Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock, Short Film

The new Jurassic World short film Battle at Big Rock has finally premiered on the FX Network, offering fans their first look at the future of the franchise following the release of dinosaurs in the latest movie. And while there's a long wait until the premiere of Jurassic World 3, we finally know how the release of dinosaurs has affected the world at large — and it is not good. But the short film itself? It seems to be a hit, getting people excited for the new movie.

But before we get to the reactions from the fans, let's break down the short film itself. Here's what happens in Jurassic World: Battle at Big RockSPOILER WARNING!

Newscasters remark that there have been dinosaur sightings, as well as the report that there's the first dinosaur born on US soil. As Ian Malcom said, life finds a way. Some of the new dinosaurs include the Triceratops-looking Nasutoceratops, with a parent and a child invading the campsite looking for food. A carnivore called the Allosaurus also invades, looking to prey on the young dinosaur for an easy meal.

But another larger Nasutoceratops comes to their aid, fending off the carnivore. And while the observing family thinks all is well, the sound of their own crying child lures the dinosaur to attack them. The Allosaurus attacks the RV, knocking them over and making the family black out. But as the carnivore attempts to eat their youngest child, the parents manage to rescue the boy and escape. The Allosaurus is driven away by the couple's daughter shooting a crossbow at their eyes.

While the short film ends surveying the chaos of the attack, the credits are interspersed with scenes of how dinosaurs are affecting the country at large, from traffic jams to home invasions to ruined weddings.

It's obvious that director Colin Trevorrow has big plans for how the world will be affected after Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and he's remarked that this is the movie he's always wanted to make.

But what do you think? Was Jurassic World: Battle at Big Rock as good as you might expected?


Battle At Big Rock: Jurassic World's Two New Dinosaurs Explained

Monday, September 16, 2019

Jurassic World's short film Battle at Big Rock introduced two new dinosaurs to the franchise, the Allosaurus and the Nasutoceratops. Neither dinosaur has ever appeared in any Jurassic Park or Jurassic World movie. The short film is directed by Colin Trevorrow, the director who brought the franchise back into relevance with 2015's Jurassic WorldJurassic World was the fourth installment in the series and the first since Jurassic Park III in 2001. With an astounding worldwide box office gross of $1.6 billion, Jurassic World was a huge critical and commercial success.

Universal Pictures followed up with a sequel in 2018 with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, with J.A. Bayona as the director and Trevorrow credited as a writer. Trevorrow will be back to direct the third film in the series, which is tentatively titled Jurassic World 3 and set for a 2021 release. It was recently confirmed that Trevorrow secretly directed the first live-action short film in the franchise, Jurassic: World: Battle at Big Rock, which was released on FX. The cast includes André Holland, Natalie Martinez, Melody Hurd, and Pierson Salvador. The entire film was shot in five days in Ireland.

The eight-minute short picks up one year after the cliffhanger ending of Fallen Kingdom, which saw all the dinosaurs get set free, forcing humans to coexist with dinosaurs. Battle of Big Rock follows a family of four whose camping trip at Big Rock National Park is interrupted by an encounter with dinosaurs. Trevorrow revealed in an interview with Collider that the events of the film will introduce two new dinosaurs to the franchise, the Allosaurus and the Nasutoceratops. Here's what you need to know about the two newest additions to the series.


Nasutoceratops titusi by Román García Mora

A much smaller relative of the Triceratops, the Nasutoceratops is a somewhat new finding in the paleontology community. Discovered in 2013, this large dinosaur lived in southern Utah during the Cretaceous Period. Unlike the Triceratops, the Nasutoceratops' horns grow out to the side, like a bull. Trevorrow has likened the dinosaur to a "Texas Longhorn". Since the Nasutoceratops was a peaceful herbivore, didn't posed a major threat to the family featured in the short film.



During the late Jurassic period, the Allosaurus was at the top of the food chain. The two-ton dinosaur, which had a length of about 32 feet, was one of the largest dinosaurs in the Jurassic era. With a mouth full of serrated teeth, the Allosaurus most likely fed on large herbivores. Injuries and broken bones found in excavations indicate the Allosaurus didn't just pick on helpless prey; it's quite possible that the Allosaurus frequently picked fights with other large and dangerous dinosaurs, like the Stegosaurus.

Though the Allosaurus is a famous species of dinosaur, this will be the first time an adult Allosaurus has been featured in the franchise, however, cloned versions of the dinosaur did appear in Fallen Kingdom. According to Trevorrow, the juvenile Allosaurus in Fallen Kingdom is returning in Battle of Big Rock as a fully-grown predator. The Allosaurus set its sights on the human characters when they are on the park, which is its new domain.


Paleontologists Are Trying to Understand Why the Fossil Record Is Mostly Males

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Woolly mammoths in a mural at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. CHARLES R. KNIGHT/PUBLIC DOMAIN

One theory is that reckless young bison and mammoths got into more trouble.

FOR ANCIENT MAMMALIAN MEGAFAUNA—FROM BROWN bears to bison and more—death was something of a boy’s club. At least that’s what you might conclude from the vaults of natural history museums around the world, where the majority of fossilized mammal specimens come from males.

This has less to do with misogyny than with prehistoric herd distributions, sex-specific causes of death, and a slew of other factors that influenced where and how large mammals tended to die, according to a study published September 3 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia first identified this strange trend after analyzing ancient DNA in specimens in their own collection, according to Graham Gower, a genomic programmer and a coauthor of the study. There are a few ways to sex an ancient bone. If you’re lucky enough to have a whole bone, such as a skull, the size, shape, and dimensions might differ between male and female. In the case of fragments, researchers might have to dig into DNA for the number of X-chromosome sequences, Gower says. But usable DNA is scarce in most specimens that old. From approximately 20,000 samples, Gower says, the researchers got usable DNA from 5 percent.


After analyzing seven samples of ancient bison bone for another study, Gower noticed most were male. This puzzled him, so he asked a colleague if he could look at her samples. By the time he got up to 25 or 30, the bias was clear. “Seventy-five percent of them were male,” he says.

A fossilized bison from Pleistocene New Mexico. JAMES ST. JOHN/CC BY 2.0

Later in 2017, researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History published a paper in Current Biology confirming the bias Gower had seen. Led by biologist Patrícia Pečnerová, the researchers sexed 95 sets of mammoth remains and found that a surprising 69 percent were males. Like Gower, Pečnerová’s team did not set out to study sex discrepancies in fossil collections. They were working on a larger project on the genomes of woolly mammoth populations to learn more about how the animals behaved and socialized in the last 60,000 years before their extinction.

The researchers were stunned by what they saw. No one had expected to find so substantial a bias in the fossil record, as there were no indications that the ratio of females to males in mammoth populations was unbalanced at birth. They figured it was more probable that young male mammoths were much more likely to travel solo, away from the wisdom and protection of matriarchal herds, similar to the way elephant societies function today. In other words, these male mammoths—young, reckless, foolhardy—were just more likely to get into some kind of trouble and die, from getting stuck in a pit to running afoul of hunting humans. Luckily for paleontologists, some of these death sites—bogs, crevices, lakes—are pretty good at preserving remains. “They were more likely to do silly things, like die in tar pits,” Gower says.

“In this type of research, there is some inherent level of speculativeness because we have to put together different types of evidence and find the most parsimonious explanation,” Pečnerová explains in an email. “We cannot go out and observe how extinct species behave and how they live.”

When Gower’s team read the Current Biology paper, they decided to dig deeper. They expanded the scope of species to include brown bears. Gower and his fellow researchers sexed the remains of 186 Holarctic bison and 91 Arctic brown bears.

A woolly mammoth on display at the Natural History Museum, Vienna. MONIKA ĎURÍČKOVÁ/CC BY 2.0

They found 75 percent of bison fossils in such collections were males. This wasn’t a surprise, based on what Pečnerová had theorized about mammoth herd behavior, since bison social structure similarly isolates young males. “By [the mammoth] anology, some of the male bison are going off and doing stupid things,” Gower says, adding that the researchers were not able to test for age to further support the theory, but he hopes to in the future.

Among the brown bear populations, two thirds were male, and this was a little more surprising. Bears don’t herd. “In America, you might observe a group of brown bears in Yellowstone congregating around a garbage bin, but they’re usually on their own,” Gower says. They would have to consider other behavioral differences that might explain the discrepancy. The researchers theorize that males had much larger ranges than females, so they died across a wider area and range of environments, which in turn made their fossils more easily discoverable by humans. The sex discrepancy thinned out for specimens collected at higher altitude, where food is more scarce and females subsequently have larger ranges. Pečnerová says she was surprised by these findings, as bear populations tell a very different story than do mammoths and steppe bison. “However, if you give it more thought,” she says, “it makes perfect sense.”

The researchers also counted male and female specimens in the online databases of four of the largest natural history museums in the world: the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Natural History Museum in London, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and the Royal Ontario Museum. These specimens were collected some time during the past hundred years, mostly through hunting and trapping.

They found the same bias in all but a few mammalian orders, with bats, sloths, and anteaters among the exceptions. All three of those had more females than males. In the case of the bats, the researchers theorize the bias may be due to collections that derive from single roosts. During certain parts of the year, a roost might be occupied by maternity colony, an all-female group of bats in various stages of birthing, nursing, and weaning their pups. The largest modern bat maternity colony in the world roosts in Texas’s Bracken Cave and produces millions of pups each year. In the case of sloths and anteaters, the jury’s still out.

A cave bear from Pleistocene France. JAMES ST. JOHN/CC BY 2.0

The researchers all toyed with another theory: Were collectors decades ago just more likely to seek out larger, more impressive fossil trophies, which would tend to show a preference for males? This kind of bias is clear in modern ornithological collections, where flamboyantly plumed male birds vastly outnumber their more modest female counterparts. According to Gower, sexual dimorphism—significant anatomical differences between male and female individuals of a single species—is apparent in the skulls of ancient beasts such as mammoths and bison, so it’s possible that male remains were more desirable finds. But analysis of the number of samples that display clear sexual dimorphism didn’t offer clear results.

While these biases certainly generate interesting theories about Pleistocene behavior (and modern human behavior), they create very real problems for science based on museum collections. These specimens are one of the largest sources of data for understanding the anatomy, variability, diet, range, and more of long-extinct animals. And if that’s the case, much of what we know about these creatures comes from a population that’s not reflective of reality. Accordingly, the paper suggests that, when possible, museum curators should choose specimens or seek more balanced collections to represent both sexes, as well as a range of localities, ages, and time periods.

Until then, it’s a lonely world for female mammoth, bison, and brown bear fossils.


Jerry Adams, the Man Who Had a Life-Size Dinosaur in His Garden Dies at 58

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Jerry Adams’ front garden in Cwmbran, the life-size dinosaur is quite an attraction for the people about. (Source: Ben Black/Twitter)

Jerry Adams used to take the 15ft beast to events for people to see it.

The man who bought a life-size dinosaur and put it in his garden has died.

Jerry Adams installed the 15ft tall beast in his front garden in March this year after Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves decided to auction it off for charity.

The giant Allosaurus quickly became a star attraction after its arrival at the property in Cwmbran and Mr Adams even used to take it to events up and down the country for people to see.

But sadly on Thursday, August 29, the 58-year-old suffered a heart attack before dying the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Jerry Adams bought the 15ft dinosaur after Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves auctioned it off for charity (Image: Samantha Adams)

His wife Lesley and their five daughters have paid tribute to Mr Adams who they say was a "phenomenal" man and their "hero".

His daughter Samantha Adams, aged 35, said: "He was a good person who accepted everyone for who they were and he didn't judge anyone.

"When you'd come through the door you were treated the same as everyone else.

"For me he was my inspiration and he taught me that nothing was ever that bad in life and that it would always be sorted.

"He meant the world to us. He was our hero."

The 58-year-old installed the dinosaur in his front garden in Cwmbran (Image: Samantha Adams)

Mr Adams had five daughters, Rebecca, Leanne, Samantha, Abigail and Tamar, and 12 grandchildren and in his spare time was an avid off-road motorbiker.

"Other families were brought up with rugby and football but with us it was motorbikes," Samantha added.

"He would take part in the Weston beach race every year and he would ride for fun.

"Dogs were a big part of his life. He rescued two this year, Merlin and Bear. He fostered dogs that had been abused and he would rehabilitate them.

"When it came to the dinosaur he saw on the news that they were auctioning it off and found it online and bought it.

"He was like a kid in a sweet shop when he won it. When my mother saw it she said 'what is that in the garden? I didn't think it would be that size'."

Mr Adams used to take the dinosaur around with him to big events around Wales so that people could have their picture with it.

His daughter said that he "loved speaking to people and seeing them having their photos with it".

His wife Lesley was shocked at the size of the dinosaur when it appeared in their front garden (Image: Samantha Adams)