nandi's blog

Use This Map to Find Out Which Dinosaurs Lived in Your Area

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Like many children, I went through a dinosaur phase. The idea that instead of people, these giant lizard monsters roamed the earth both terrified and intrigued me. So when my teacher told us that dinosaurs lived in our area too, I needed to find out more. This primarily involved digging holes in the woods looking for dinosaur bones, then finding said holes a few weeks later and trying to convince myself they were actually dinosaur footprints. (Deep in my heart, I knew the truth.)


But that was all before the internet. Kids today have access to all kinds of dino and other information with a few clicks, including this map that shows which dinosaurs lived in your area. Here’s how to use it.

How to use the dinosaur map

First of all, credit for this map goes to California paleontologist Ian Webster, who is also behind a number of other interesting tech projects. Using the map is pretty straightforward. Enter your hometown (or any area you’re interested in exploring) and get ready to learn some facts. The map defaults to 240 million years ago, but you can change that via the drop-down menu at the top of the page. You can also select a specific period through the drop-down menu on the right, from the “first multicellular life” all the way through “dinosaur extinction.”

Directly under the box where you entered the name of a place, you’ll find a few examples of the dinosaurs and other early creatures that lived in the area, based on the fossils found in the region. Another fun feature is to take it all the way back to 750 million years ago, and see where on earth your city was geographically located. Then as you change the dates to get increasingly more recent, you’ll get a look at how continental drift worked and how we ended up in our current locations on the planet.

Aside from being a useful teaching tool, Webster also designed the map to be fun, he told CNN:

“It is meant to spark fascination and hopefully respect for the scientists that work every day to better understand our world and its past,” he said. “It also contains fun surprises, for example how the US used to be split by a shallow sea, the Appalachians used to be very tall mountains comparable to the Himalayas, and that Florida used to be submerged.”

Consider this your new internet distraction. You’re welcome.


Scientists Reconstruct Body Dimensions of Megalodon

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Paleoartistic reconstruction of a 16-m megalodon scaled against a 1.65-m human. Image credit: Oliver E. Demuth.

A 16-m- (52.5-foot) long megalodon had a head 4.65 m (15.3 feet) long, a dorsal fin 1.62 m (5.3 feet) tall and a tail 3.85 m (9.4 feet) high, according to a study led by researchers from the University of Bristol and Swansea University.

The megalodon (Otodus, or Carcharoclesmegalodon), the largest shark that ever lived on Earth, ruled the oceans between 23 and 2.6 million years ago, during the Early Miocene to the Pliocene.

This prehistoric monster was a top-level predator that fed on whales and other marine mammals.

It had a cartilaginous skeleton and was therefore poorly preserved with exception of its teeth, but paleontologists believe that it looked a lot like the extant great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), only far larger.

University of Bristol researcher Jack Cooper and colleagues used a number of mathematical methods to pin down the size and proportions of the megalodon, by making close comparisons to five ecologically and physiologically similar extant species: the great white shark, the shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus), the longfin mako shark (Isurus paucus), the salmon shark (Lamna ditropis) and the porbeagle (Lamna nasus).

“The megalodon is not a direct ancestor of the great white but is equally related to other macropredatory sharks such as the makos, salmon shark and porbeagle shark, as well as the great white,” said corresponding author Dr. Catalina Pimiento, a researcher from Swansea University, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution and the Paleontological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich.

“We pooled detailed measurements of all five to make predictions about the megalodon.”

“Before we could do anything, we had to test whether these five modern sharks changed proportions as they grew up,” said senior author Professor Mike Benton, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol.

“If, for example, they had been like humans, where babies have big heads and short legs, we would have had some difficulties in projecting the adult proportions for such a huge extinct shark.”

“But we were surprised, and relieved, to discover that in fact that the babies of all these modern predatory sharks start out as little adults, and they don’t change in proportion as they get larger.”

“This means we could simply take the growth curves of the five modern forms and project the overall shape as they get larger and larger — right up to a body length of 16 m,” added Jack Cooper, a Ph.D. student at Swansea University.

The team’s results suggest that a 16-m-long megalodon likely had a head round 4.65 m long, a dorsal fin approximately 1.62 m tall and a tail around 3.85 m high.

This means an adult human could stand on the back of this shark and would be about the same height as the dorsal fin.

“The reconstruction of the size of megalodon body parts represents a fundamental step towards a better understanding of the physiology of this giant, and the intrinsic factors that may have made it prone to extinction,” the researchers said.

The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.


J.A. Cooper et al. 2020. Body dimensions of the extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon: a 2D reconstruction. Sci Rep 10, 14596; doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-71387-y


Jurassic Park: 10 Scenes That Became Memes

Friday, September 4, 2020

Jurassic Park is one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time and a number of scenes have inspired some of the internet's funniest memes.

Jurassic Park has been apart of people's nightmares since 1990 after Michael Crichton wrote the book revolving around the cretaceous period coming alive in modern-day. After the global success of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park in 1993, the tale continued with five movies and another (Jurassic Park: Dominion) coming in 2021.

With the franchise surpassing $1 billion at the ticket office, the fandom has only grown in size. Fans can't help themselves but post their favorite memes on Reddit, proving that dinosaurs from millions of years ago can create great social media content in 2020.

10 - Nice Park Job

The SUVs shown in Jurassic Park made fans envious. The logo, the colors, and the ruggedness of it all made viewers want to turn in their car and get something like this instead. Sadly, the SUVs didn't stay in good shape because the dinosaurs in the first film beat them up pretty good.

The attraction went awry and the T-Rex pushed the SUV off the road and into the trees. Sadly, Time was stuck in the car and wasn't able to get free until Dr. Grant came to the rescue.

9 - What If!

Just imagining that there could be a universe where dinosaurs and humans roam the same land is mindblowing. Perhaps there's a universe where dinosaurs are the main predators and humans have to stay alert in order to live.

If there is a park out there with living, breathing dinosaurs as the attraction, would it go as horribly as the movies did, or did the creators learn a thing or two from the movies? Fans can picture themselves saying "Clever girl" to the inevitable raptors they see as a shoutout to the quote from Jurassic Park.

8 - G2G!

Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom introduced us to brand new characters and a new storyline. Franklin Webb was a systems analyst turned social media guru. Working alongside Owen, Claire, and Zia, Webb tried to track and rescue Blue and the other dinosaurs from Dr. Henry Wu.

Using his image in this meme along with Bryce Dallas Howard's is perfection. Dating someone who hates the Jurassic Park franchise is a tough pill to swallow.

7 - Better To Be Early Than Late

There are a lot of ups and downs in the Jurassic Park movies. As dangerous and ferocious as dinosaurs are, no one wants to see them killed in a horrific way. Although they're all CGI and computer-animated dinosaurs, they're still viewed as animals.

In Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, a volcano erupts and forces everyone to evacuate from the island. With minutes to get to safety, the last thing they see are dinosaurs being engulfed by flames. Seeing the Brachiosaurus cry for help before coming to its end was gut-wrenching. 

6 - You Can't Top The Original

These comparison memes are all done in jest and are oddly relatable. Téa Leoni did a fantastic job in Jurassic Park III but it's hard to compare her to the goddess who started it all, Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler. Some say that Jurassic Park didn't need any sequels — the original movie was good as is and didn't need a continuation. But Michael Crichton did such a wonderful job with his storytelling that fans wanted more.

Téa Leoni as Amanda Kirby was an intriguing and loving character but you can't compare her to a badass like Dr. Stattler.

5 - Rex, Meet Jurassic Park

This Photoshop is so well done that it takes the brain a second to realize what's happened here. Rex from the Toy Story franchise is one of the most popular dinosaurs in film. He deserves his own spinoff.

There's Barney, Little Foot, Blue and co from Jurassic Park, and Rex from Toy Story. Unlike the T-Rex from Jurassic ParkToy Story's Rex is much more inviting and loving. If he saw. Dr. Grant standing there, he'd greet him with a hug instead of killing everyone he loves.

4 - Name A Sadder Moment In Cinema. We'll Wait

The ending of Titanic was devastating. Not only was this based on a real-life tragedy but why didn't Rose let Jack on her boat? She watched him freeze to death and then dropped him to the bottom of the ocean as soon as he became (literal) dead weight.

It was a traumatizing love story. However, in a completely different genre of film, Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom had an equally devastating moment. Watching the Brachiosaurus stare off at the humans making their getaway from the island while it was being swallowed by lava was dreadful.

3 - Forever Nightmare Fuel

It doesn't matter how peaceful your dream is or how many happy shows you watched before bedtime, some way or another, a dinosaur will make an appearance in your dream if you're a diehard Jurassic Park fan.

Rexy popping up out of nowhere and ruining your tranquil night of sleep is enough to wake you up in a cold sweat! She's one of the most powerful dinosaurs in the franchise and could easily scare a person in the dead of night and wake them up.

2 - Jurassic Park Is Female Forward

Writers, directors, producers, and beyond need to take note: Jurassic Park is more female-forwarded than people think. Before realizing that the dinosaurs in the park had the same genetics as frogs—which allowed them to switch gender over time—the park intended for all their dinosaurs to be females.

With an all-female park, scientists wouldn't need to worry about mating, over-populating, cross-breeding, and the like. Females ruled the world on this South American islands! Sadly, there was a severe lack of judgment with science when it came out that dinosaurs could be both male and female.

1 - Open If You Dare

Gunnar Eversoll was the auctioneer in Fallen Kingdom. With brilliant dinosaurs worth millions of dollars, Mr. Eversoll was excited to be in his element selling something no one else has done before.

Sadly for Mr. Eversoll, a faulty situation in an elevator led to the end of his life after an Indoraptor mauled him to death. This meme pokes fun at popular Google searches and the inevitable death of Mr. Eversoll.


Was Kimberella a Precambrian Mollusk?

Friday, September 4, 2020

We will now take a closer look at the famous fossil organism Kimberella, which is a typical member of the Ediacara-type biota (Muscente et al. 2019), especially from the White Sea assemblage (Gehling & Droser 2013Droser et al. 2017). It provides the widest range of morphological detail for any Precambrian organism. Even though it was initially described as a jellyfish, it was later identified, by Fedonkin & Waggoner (1997), as a mollusk-like bilaterian animal. This reinterpretation has been widely adopted and is found in most subsequent publications.

Kimberella indeed represents the strongest case for a bilaterian animal from the Ediacaran era. This is important because it would not only provide a minimum age for the earliest origin of Bilateria but would also predate the Cambrian explosion of bilaterian animal phyla as a kind of “advance guard” (Fedonkin & Waggoner 1997Fedonkin et al. 2007bStearley 2013).

A Calibration Point

Some scientists even considered the identification of Kimberella as a mollusk-like bilaterian animal sufficiently secure to use it as a calibration point for the minimum age of the crown groups of Metazoa, Eumetazoa, Bilateria / Nephrozoa, Protostomia, and Lophotrochozoa in molecular clock analyses (Fedonkin et al. 2007bBenton et al. 2015). Based on the work of Benton the influential Palaeontologia Electronica’s Fossil Calibration Database even has Kimberella as calibration point in the mollusk clade.

Because of the enormous importance of this crucial taxon for evolutionary biology, I reviewed for this article series every single paper that was ever published on it or even only discussed it, so that this synopsis and bibliography should even prove to be useful for experts, as nothing comparably comprehensive and up to date exists anywhere else.

The Prevailing Hypothesis

The hypothesis of a molluscan affinity of Kimberella is still prevailing in the technical and popular literature on Ediacaran biota (e.g., Bottjer 2002Fedonkin 2003Fedonkin et al. 2007bSeilacher 2007Trusler et al. 2007Stöger et al. 2013Schrödl & Stöger 2014Vinther 2015).

Peter Godfrey-Smith (2016), who wrote about Kimberella as the possible earliest mollusk in his bestselling book Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, is quoted by McMenamin (2018) with the following remarkable statement: “One of my correspondents expressed concern that I was perpetuating a dubious interpretation of Kimberella as a mollusk; for another, Kimberella-as-mollusk is crucial to the interpretation of early bilaterian evolution.”

In addition, eminent intelligent design theorist Stephen C. Meyer has acknowledged in his seminal book Darwin’s Doubt (Meyer 2013) that Kimberella could be an Ediacaran bilaterian animal and maybe even a mollusk. This was considered by other ID proponents as maybe too generous (Evolution News 2016). Let’s see what the published evidence says and follow the evidence wherever it leads.


Paleontologists Find 110-Million-Year-Old Wood-Boring Trace Fossil

Friday, September 4, 2020

Apectoichnus lignummasticans. Image credit: Melnyk et al, doi: 10.1017/jpa.2020.63.

A team of paleontologists from the University of Alberta has found the fossilized tracks of a marine wood-boring organism that lived approximately 110 million years ago (Cretaceous period).

Trace fossils are biologically produced sedimentary structures that include tracks, trails, burrows, borings, fecal pellets, and other traces.

Also known as ichnofossils, they represent behavior instead of the preserved remains of specific organisms.

“Trace fossils are the fossilized evidence of the activities of past life,” said Scott Melnyk, a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta.

“They are very useful to interpret environmental characteristics of Earth millions of years ago.”

“The marine origin of these fossils, for example, provides evidence that the shallow sea that covered much of Western Canada — the Cretaceous Interior Seaway — extended into west-central Saskatchewan roughly 100 million years ago.”

The new trace fossil was found in a core from a wellbore near Bushy Lake, west-central Saskatchewan, Canada.

Named Apectoichnus lignummasticans, it came from the lagoonal deposits of the Lower Cretaceous Sparky Formation.

The fossil is similar in many respects to modern borings in wood that are produced by marine isopods, such as Limnoria lignorum, for feeding and refugia.

Apectoichnus lignummasticans is unique in that it is only the third wood-boring trace fossil associated with marine environments,” Melnyk said.

“This is only the second time in 20 years that a University of Alberta graduate student has named a new trace fossil,” said Professor Murray Gingras, also from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta.

“The fossils are similar in many respects to modern borings in wood by marine isopods — this was a remarkable find and a testament to the importance of our students’ work.”

The team’s paper was published in the Journal of Paleontology.


Scott Melnyk et al. A new marine woodground ichnotaxon from the Lower Cretaceous Mannville Group, Saskatchewan, Canada. Journal of Paleontology, published online August 17, 2020; doi: 10.1017/jpa.2020.63


One Awesome-Sounding Jurassic Park 3 Scene Got Cut Thanks To Being Too Expensive

Friday, September 4, 2020

When you think of Jurassic Park III, odds are you think of the image above, a talking raptor on an airplane. The scene is without question the most famous from the film, especially when you're talking about how the Jurassic Park sequels simply don't live up to the majesty of the original film. However, it's possible that, had things gone a little differently on the set, we'd all be thinking of something a little different when we think of Jurassic Park III because the ending was going to include a scene that we know would have been impressive since we eventually saw it in another movie.

In a recent interview with Jurassic Park Outpost, Shelly Johnson, cinematographer of Jurassic Park III, explained that the original plan for the ending of the film would have included a sequence where a Pteranodon attacks a helicopter. That may sound somewhat familiar, as a similar sequence ended up in Jurassic World. According to Johnson...

At one point, I’m not sure if it was written or not, there was a big discussion and some illustrations of a Pteranodon attacking a helicopter, like a big helicopter, a black Hawk. And when they fly away at the end of it they were going to attack and pick their way through the windshield, kind of like they did with the little helicopter in part four.

The fact that the scene ended up in Jurassic World likely isn't too shocking considering the fact that Steven Spielberg, who has acted as producer for the entire franchise, apparently really loved the idea of the scene back when it was part of Jurassic Park III, and that likely hadn't changed for Jurassic World. It seems that in the end, Jurassic Park III just became too big, and thus, too expensive, and the decision was made to cut the scene back then. Johnson continues...

We were kind of waiting for it because as they fly out, that’s where it was. The last thing was this attack and they had to get out of it. And it ended up getting cut because of the expense, everything, you’re at the end of the movie now. And that was the sequence we had least worked out, where everything else we had sets for and had worked it out and it just didn’t seem like it was going to be viable.

Jurassic Park III had some pretty famous production troubles that included the planned script being tossed out just before filming was set to begin. As such, a lot of the movie was put together on the fly. Even though this sequence existed as a concept, nobody really knew how it would fit into the actual story of the film as that was all being put together at the time. As such, Jurassic Park III didn't really have a plan for how to shoot the sequence and it so it was cut.

Maybe if things had gone differently we'd think of this scene when we think of Jurassic Park III and not talking raptors.


Jurassic Park: Lost World's "Five Deaths" Explained (& Are They Real?)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Fans of Jurassic Park want to know what the history of Isla Sorna is, and whether the Las Cinco Muertes Archipelago is real or a fictional creation

Do the Jurassic Park franchise's Five Deaths actually exist? Since 1993, viewers have been desperate to know more about the Las Cinco Muertes Archipelago, the quintet of islands that play host to the prehistoric attractions of the Jurassic Park movie series. Fans of the franchise have wondered, from the release of Jurassic Park through to 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom about the real-world history of the islands and whether The Five Deaths are actually real or a fictional creation invented for the film.

The Jurassic Park source novels by acclaimed author Michael Crichton reveal much of the lore behind this location. But most of what viewers learn onscreen comes from the 1997 sequel The Lost World which, like 2001’s Jurassic Park III, is mostly set on Isla Sorna. The original Jurassic Park is set on the mountainous Isla Nubar, which is said to be located 120 miles (190 km) west of mainland Costa Rica. The teardrop-shaped island is leased to Richard Hammond, but by the time the first of the Jurassic Park sequels came along, the action had shifted to Isla Sorna, within the Five Death islands.

So are the islands real? Unfortunately for fans of the series hoping to give these idyllic Central American locations a visit, the Five Deaths islands are a fictional creation. The archipelago islands were an invention that Crichton - who also wrote Westworld - came up with whilst writing the original Jurassic Park novel. Luckily, the fact that the islands are fictional means they come with a rich and interesting backstory. Named after a native myth in which one unfortunate warrior was forced to pick between various execution methods, the individual islands themselves are named after each of these methods.

The lesser-known islands which rarely figure into the plots of the franchise are Isla Matanceros, Isla Muerta, Isla Pena, and Isla Tacano. This quartet of less pivotal locations is named after the gruesome fates of burning, drowning, crushing, and beheading respectively. The most important island of the five deaths, however, is the infamous Isla Sorna, named after the fate of hanging, stand the primary location for the first Jurassic Park sequel. In the film and novel, InGen is said to own Isla Sorna, whilst the company only has a 99-year lease on Isla Nublar and as a result of this discrepancy, InGen released dinosaurs from their cages during Hurricane Clarissa and allowed them to roam free on Isla Sorna to increase the odds of their survival. They didn't just survive, they thrived.

That’s how the island ended up home to the countless free-range dinosaurs that are encountered in 1997's The Lost World. The island was used as an industrial scale breeding ground for dinosaurs who would later be shipped to Isla Nublar, which explains the even more diverse range of species present in the sequel. The later Jurassic Park III sees the action of the franchise return to Isla Sorna, which plays host to the original film’s hero Alan Grant in this installment. It’s in this third film that viewers discover the island includes an aviary, which is home to a mutated pterodactyl species. By the time 2015’s franchise reboot Jurassic World rolled around, viewers were given no new clues as to the state of Isla Sorna. However, in the film’s 2018 sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it’s revealed that Isla Sorna remains a restricted location, meaning dinosaurs likely still roam free throughout the small island. Unfortunately for the potential for even more Jurassic Park sequels, the other four islands had no ties to InGen and house no dinosaurs at all.


Jurassic Park: 10 Unpopular Opinions (According To Reddit)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Jurassic Park franchise is generally thought of as a fantastic series (with one exception) but fans will disagree on pretty much anything.

In 1993, Michael Crichton's novel Jurassic Park became a big-screen motion picture. Starring Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum, prehistoric fans watched as John Hammond showed off Isla Nublar — an island designed to be 65 million years old. With Hammond's financial backing and brilliant scientists, they were able to bring dinosaurs back from extinction.

The success of Jurassic Park was instant and an entire franchise was created. The Lost World followed Jurassic Park in 1997, then came Jurassic Park III in 2001, Jurassic World in 2015, and finally Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018. With a sixth film, Jurassic World: Dominion, coming out in 2021, we're taking a look at 10 unpopular opinions by fans on Reddit.

10 - Lost World: Jurassic Park Was *GASP* Good

Jurassic Park: The Lost World was the second movie in the franchise. It followed the first movie nicely but offered a new cast alongside Jeff Goldblum. Julianne Moore starred as Dr. Sarah Harding, Ian Malcolm's paleontologist girlfriend, but even her star power wasn't enough to make this movie as good as the first. As it happens with sequels, the writers tried too hard to make this movie an action-packed novelty. However, there was one fan on Reddit who thought The Lost World was "great" and got "undeserved hate" from viewers.

9 - Owen Grady Is Boring

For 2015's Jurassic World, Chris Pratt signed on as Owen Grady — a Navy Seal turned ethologist. In the movie, he can be rather off-putting to his ex-girlfriend Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) but he's the only one who can handle the velociraptors with commands.

In fact, after Indominus rex escapes its enclosure, it's up to Owen to essentially save the entire park with the help of the control room. There's not a second in the movie where Owen is on the sidelines, however, one fan found him "one of the most boring characters in all the movies."

8 - Spinosaurus Is Cooler Than Indominus Rex

The Spinosaurus makes an appearance in Jurassic Park III, which starred Sam Neill, William H. Macy, and Téa Leoni. According to the movie, the Spinosaurus was one of the largest dinosaurs during the cretaceous period and was never meant to become a species at the park. Its arrival stumped those at InGen and the characters were trying to escape it while looking for Cooper.

The Indominus Rex, on the other hand, appeared in Jurassic World. It was created by Dr. Henry Wu and ended up causing havoc on the entire park after camouflaging into the background. However, the Indominus Rex lost its battle after being eaten by the Mosasaurus. Saying one is better than the other are some fighting words.

7 - The Raptors In The First Movie Were The Worst Looking

It's been said time and time again that the CGI in Jurassic Park doesn't look as awful as it should. For being released in the late '90s, the dinosaurs shown look incredibly vivid and horrifying. It doesn't look like fake monsters that ruin the authenticity of the movie as time goes on.

And while CGI and graphics have only gotten better in the franchise, fans can't help but marvel at the raptors in the first film. Except for one fan, however. According to Reddit, "The [first] movie's raptors are the worst looking dinosaurs of the entire saga," they attested.

6 - The Movies Are Better Than The Book

Michael Crichton is the man behind the Jurassic Park franchise. After publishing the book in 1990, he found fame and success just three years later when the first movie came out. The books were written in incredible detail and explained the science and thought process behind creating a park with living, breathing dinosaurs as the attraction. The book clearly explains everything in great detail that they just skimmed over in the movies. In short, the novels are award-winning works of genius that took more time than the movies. And yet, one fan believes the movies trump the books.

5 - Laura Dern Didn't Do A Good Job

Actress Laura Dern played the incredible Dr. Ellie Sattler, a paleontologist. Without Ellie's knowledge and understanding of the cretaceous period, who knows if she, Dr. Grant, and co. would have made it off the island alive. Dern came back again for Jurassic Park III and will make an appearance in 2021s Jurassic World: Dominion. And as incredible as Dern did, a fan didn't think Dern did a good job in the franchise. According to Reddit, "She overacts a lot."

4 - Jurassic Park Is The Worst Of The Bunch

It's hard to compare movies in a franchise that differ from each other, have different actors, and span almost 30 years. However, Reddit turns comparing films into an art form. One noted that the first film was the worst of the bunch, which is contradicting to IMDb's scores. On IMDbJurassic Park has the highest rating out of all the films (an 8.1). The lowest score in the franchise belongs to Jurassic Park III with a 5.9.

3 - The Kitchen Scene In JP Was Unconvincing

One of the most terrifying scenes in cinematic history is when Tim and Lex are chased into the park's cafeteria by two raptors. They're fighting for their lives while trying to out-smart a prehistoric animal that they've never dealt with before. While the raptors are communicating with each other, Lex and Time are quietly crawling around the kitchen trying not to make a sound. But when a raptor catches the sight of Lex, the hunt is one. But according to a Twitter user, they thought the kitchen scene was "boring" and they turn off the movie when it gets to that part.

2 - One Fan Liked Nick In The Lost World

There's a discussion on Reddit about The Lost World's Nick (Vince Vaughn) being the franchise's dumbest character. It appears not many people liked Nick Van Owen's stupidity and maliciousness. It's because of him that all the dinosaurs escaped their cages where trouble eventually ensued. However, not every fan saw him as a bumbling idiot who was photographing the entire experience. One fan said that they "really liked" Nick's character regardless of how hated he is in the fandom.

1 - The T. Rex In San Diego Was Cool

In The Lost World, some dinosaurs are captured and brought back to America for a new attraction in San Diego. But as always, some escape once they're in California and run amuck around the city. Seeing a massive Tyrannosaurus Rex storm through San Diego's streets was intriguing but also a far shot from reality. Some fans hated how fae away The Lost World got from the original. But one fan, in particular, noted that the "T. Rex wreaking havoc in San Diego" was one of their favorite parts!


Climate Change Drove Mastodons to Migrate Vast Distances Back and Forth Across North America

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Warren mastodon, which was the first complete American mastodon skeleton found in the United States, on display in the Paul and Irma Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History. Credit: D. Finnin/ © AMNH

New ancient DNA study finds that Northern mastodon populations were less genetically diverse and more vulnerable to extinction.

New research suggests that American mastodons were avid travelers, migrating vast distances across North America in response to dramatic climate change during the ice ages of the Pleistocene. The study, conducted by an international team of scientists and published  in the journal Nature Communications, also reveals that mastodon populations that headed northward to the Arctic during warm periods were less genetically diverse, making them vulnerable to extinction. The findings could be useful for modern conservation science.

“Today, you might think that it’s great to see animals like brown bears in northern Canada and the Arctic islands, well beyond their historical range. They are obviously benefitting, just like these mastodons did for a time, as a result of natural climate change,” said Ross MacPhee, a senior curator in the Museum’s Department of Mammalogy and one of the authors on the study. “But that benefit can be very limited. It’s important to realize that what we might think is beneficial change at one level for some species is not necessarily all that good for others.”

Mastodons, which belong to a group closely related to modern-day elephants and extinct mammoths, were among the largest living land animals on Earth at the time, roaming from present-day Alaska and the Yukon east to Nova Scotia and south to Central Mexico. The species went extinct about 11,000 years ago along with other large mammals such as mammoths, sabre-toothed cats, and giant ground sloths.

Mastodon fossils discovered previously in northern climates indicate that the species likely had a large range, but scientists remained in the dark about when these migrations happened and whether mastodon populations took repeated trips or only went once. To find out more, the researchers reconstructed complete mitochondrial genomes from the fossilized teeth, tusks, and bones of 33 mastodons. The results show that the animals traveled extreme distances in response to warming climate conditions and melting ice sheets, from warmer environments to the northernmost parts of the continent.

The Warren mastodon, which was the first complete American mastodon skeleton found in the United States, on display in the Paul and Irma Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History. Credit: D. Finnin/ © AMNH

The Pleistocene, which began about 2.6 million years ago, was one long roller coaster ride–cold glacial periods interspersed with warmer periods during which ice sheets would retract. During these warm “interglacials,” previously frozen regions grew new forests and wetlands that provided new food sources for animals like the mastodon, enticing them northward.

“These mastodons were living in Alaska at a time when it was warm, as well as in Mexico and parts of Central America. These weren’t stationary populations. The data show there was constant movement back and forth,” said evolutionary geneticist Hendrik Poinar, director of the McMaster University Ancient DNA Centre and an author on the study.

The researchers suggest that examining how different ecologically adapted Pleistocene megafauna responded genetically and ecologically to such climate transitions can provide valuable information on how climate change is affecting modern-day species in the north.

“It’s really interesting because a lot of species presently, like moose and beaver, are rapidly expanding their range northwards by as much as tens to hundreds of kilometers every century,” said Emil Karpinksi, lead author on the study and a graduate student at the Ancient DNA Centre and the Department of Biology at McMaster University.

The scientists also analyzed the genetics of the “pioneer” populations that made it to the north, finding that their genetic diversity was very low.

“That is always a danger signal for vertebrate species,” said Grant Zazula, an author on the study and paleontologist with the Government of Yukon. “If you lose genetic diversity, you are losing ability to respond to new conditions. In this case, they were not up there long enough to adapt to northern conditions when they cycled back to cold.”

Reference: “American mastodon mitochondrial genomes suggest multiple dispersal events in response to Pleistocene climate oscillations” by Emil Karpinski, Dirk Hackenberger, Grant Zazula, Chris Widga, Ana T. Duggan, G. Brian Golding, Melanie Kuch, Jennifer Klunk, Christopher N. Jass, Pam Groves, Patrick Druckenmiller, Blaine W. Schubert, Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales, William F. Simpson, John W. Hoganson, Daniel C. Fisher, Simon Y. W. Ho, Ross D. E. MacPhee and Hendrik N. Poinar, 1 September 2020, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17893-z

The study was a collaboration between scientists across Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Australia and was based on specimens donated from museums and research institutions across North America, including the American Museum of Natural History.


Jurassic Lacewings Mimicked Lichen to Hide from Predators

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Ecological reconstruction of a 165-million-year-old lacewing mimicking a lichen that existed during the same time period. Image credit: Xiaoran Zuo.

Paleontologists in China have unearthed the fossil evidence of a mimetic relationship between two species of moth lacewings and the co-occurring fossil lichen Daohugouthallus ciliiferus. The discovery, described in a paper in the journal eLife, predates modern lichen-insect associations by 165 million years, indicating that during the mid-Mesozoic Era, the lichen-insect mimesis system was well established and provided lacewings with highly honed survival strategies.

Many modern insects mimic other organisms or use camouflage to hide from predators. For example, some animals mimic lichens, which are formed from algae and fungus, and grow almost everywhere on Earth, from the Arctic to the desert.

The most iconic example of an insect mimicking a species of lichen is the peppered moth.

During the industrial revolution, darker colored moths were better at surviving. But when the revolution ended and pollution levels declined, species of lichen began to re-emerge and increase the survival of paler moths.

Yet, it is unclear how and when insects first evolved this ingenious survival strategy, as distinctive examples of insects mimicking lichens are missing from fossil records.

“As lichen models are almost absent in the fossil record of mimesis, it is still unclear as to when and how the mimicry association between lichen and insect first arose,” said lead author Hui Fang, a Ph.D. student in the College of Life Sciences and Academy for Multidisciplinary Studies at Capital Normal University.

“The key to answer this question is to find early examples of a lichen-like insect and a co-occurring lichen fossil.”

The lichen-mimicking lacewing Lichenipolystoechotes ramimaculatus and Lichenipolystoechotes angustimaculatus and fossils of the contemporaneous lichen Daohugouthallus ciliiferus: (A) photo of part of Lichenipolystoechotes ramimaculatus, with a lichen mimicking forewing pattern; (B-C) photos of the lichen thallus Daohugouthallus ciliiferus, thallus segment in (B) and entire thallus in (C); photos (A-C) are at the same scale; (D) photo of a nearly intact lichen thallus of Daohugouthallus ciliiferus; (E) photo of Lichenipolystoechotes angustimaculatus with a lichen mimicking wing pattern; (F) box scatter plots of measurement data displaying lower and upper extremes, lower and upper quartile, median and average (in the blue dotted line) of branch widths of Lichenipolystoechotes ramimaculatus’ forewing pattern and thallus branch widths of lichen Daohugouthallus ciliiferus separately (black, red and green dots represent measurement results of branch pattern widths of lichen-mimicking lacewing and thallus widths of the two lichen specimens, respectively); (G) part of the wing pattern of Lichenipolystoechotes ramimaculatus, with irregular wing spots; (H, I) portion of the thallus of Daohugouthallus ciliiferus, with irregular spot-like punctiform pycnidia; the dark arrows indicate the spots on wing of Lichenipolystoechotes ramimaculatus and thallus of Daohugouthallus ciliiferus. Scale bars – 5 mm in (A-E) and 1 mm in (G-I). Image credit: Fang et al, doi: 10.7554/eLife.59007.

Fang and colleagues discovered deposits at the Daohugou 1 locality of Inner Mongolia in northeastern China that showed the 165-million-year-old lichen mimesis.

The samples involved two species of Lichenipolystoechotes, a newly-described genus within the moth lacewing family Ithonidae, resembling the co-existing lichen from the Middle Jurassic epoch.

The researchers documented this mimetic relationship by describing structural similarities and detailed measurements of the lacewing and lichen.

Their results suggest that when the lacewings, named Lichenipolystoechotes ramimaculatus and Lichenipolystoechotes angustimaculatus, rested in a lichen-rich habitat, a near-perfect match of their appearances would assist the insects’ concealment from predators.

“Our findings indicate that a micro-ecosystem consisting of lichens and insects existed 165 million years ago in northeastern China,” said senior author Dr. Yongjie Wang, also from the College of Life Sciences and Academy for Multidisciplinary Studies at Capital Normal University.

“This adds to our current understanding of the interactions between insects and their surroundings in the Mesozoic Era, and implies that there are many more interesting insect relationships awaiting discovery.”


Hui Fang et al. 2020. Lichen mimesis in mid-Mesozoic lacewings. eLife 9: e59007; doi: 10.7554/eLife.59007