Ankylosaurus through the Ages

I saw a post up at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs today – did you know Ankylosaurus could fly? The original Sinclair World’s Fair Ankylosaurus was being lifted by crane from the Houston Museum of Natural History as the museum undergoes expansion and renovations.

This got me thinking about a talk I gave for the Alberta Palaeontological Society annual meeting last March: “My ankylosaur is a big dumb tank! Ankylosaur reconstructions in the scientific literature and popular media.” I talked about why ankylosaurs are reconstructed in certain ways, both accurate and inaccurate. Darren Naish at Tetrapod Zoology has been talking about memes in palaeontological illustration, and how certain wacky reconstructions and poses pop up again and again. I think this is perhaps especially well illustrated by several ankylosaur taxa and today I’d like to talk about Ankylosaurus.

Brown 1908. The Ankylosauridae, a new family of armored dinosaurs from the upper Cretaceous. AMNH Bulletin 24:187-201. Continue reading

Ice to Meet You

Several weeks ago, I talked about the Antarctic dinosaur Cryolophosaurus. As Phil and Eva’s Antarctic adventure winds down, I thought it was high time to write a little bit about another Antarctic dinosaur, Glacialisaurus.

This is not Glacialisaurus, but it is still awesome. Ice sculpture competitions like Ice on Whyte are one of the winter benefits of living in the frozen tundra of Edmonton. And this year, there were several teams from China participating! Continue reading

On the Presence of Female Palaeontologists in the Popular Media

Last week I did a bunch of interviews with many different media outlets about a new paper I had published. One of the most interesting was a conversation I had with CBC Radio Edmonton’s show Radio Active, which aired on Friday evening. You can listen to it here.

I was asked not just about the pterosaur, but about what it is like to be a female palaeontologist and how the media exposure may affect the career of a scientist just starting out. What I thought was interesting was that the interviewers both before and during the Radio Active show noted that most people don’t really associate palaeontology with women, and that dinosaurs seem to be more for boys. I found this a bit surprising because whenever I go out and do activities with younger kids, ALL kids love dinosaurs, regardless of gender. But it got me thinking again about women in palaeontology, and in particular, where are the female palaeontologists in the popular media? Continue reading


This Christmas break my family decided to trek down to Pompeii to visit the ruins and Mount Vesuvius, something that I have wanted to do for a long time. If you’ve ever taken an introductory geology class, then you’ve probably heard the story of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, as it is used to illustrate several concepts about volcanic eruptions. The 79 AD eruption began with a Plinian eruption, where a large column of ash extends high into the air, as far as the stratosphere. The term “Plinian eruption” is derived directly from the 79 AD Vesuvius eruption – Pliny the Younger was one of the first people to describe a volcanic eruption in detail. There are many examples of Plinian eruptions from the last few decades – Mount Pinatubo in 1991, Mount St. Helens in 1980, and most recently, Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. After a day of Plinian-style eruption, several pyroclastic flows covered the cities of Pompeii, and, in particular, Herculaneum. Like many other volcanos, Mount Vesuvius is found at the intersection of two plate boundaries. The African Plate is subducting (diving down) beneath the Eurasian Plate, and as this occurs, melted rock moves up towards the surface and eventually erupts from the volcano. Continue reading