— Royal Ontario Museum (@ROMtoronto) 3 June 2017
David and I had a wonderful time chatting about Zuul with probably about 300 people over the course of the evening. Palaeo lab technicians Ian Morrison and Brian Iwama created a beautiful mounted cast of Zuul‘s skull and jaws (so the original could remain safe and sound back in our collections spaces) – it’s so good you can hardly tell it’s not the original fossil! Continue reading
Hello blog friends! Today I’m excited to announce an exciting new project with Tom Holtz and Lindsay Zanno that we want YOU to be part of! We’re editing a new edition of the excellent pop sci book The Complete Dinosaur, published by Indiana University Press. Like the previous two editions, this book will feature the latest and greatest in dinosaur palaeontology in a format that should be accessible to nonspecialists. This time around, we’re seeking input from future readers on what you would really love to know about dinosaurs! We’re bringing a little bit of citizen science and crowdsourcing to this edition, and we hope you’ll join us in making this one of the most exciting dinosaur books out there.
Head on over to the Complete Dinosaur, 3rd Edition website and take our short survey! We’ll be posting updates on the book’s progress as we go, so you can also follow the #completedino3 hashtag on Twitter and follow myself, Lindsay Zanno, and Tom Holtz for more. If you’d like to help us spread the news on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, in classes or presentations, feel free to download and share our social media images at this Google Drive link.
Just a quick update today, consolidating some video and audio interviews I’ve done over the past few months! Here’s Zuul again because why not!
Friends, there’s a new ankylosaur today! Meet Zuul crurivastator, the Destroyer of Shins, an ankylosaurine dinosaur from the Judith River Formation of Montana, published today at Royal Society Open Science. Zuul is known from an amazingly complete skeleton with preserved soft tissues and an absolutely killer tail club. Head on over to the official ROM Zuul site for photographs, illustrations, videos and more, and follow #DinoZuul on Twitter for updates from me, David Evans, and the Royal Ontario Museum.
Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family is a traveling exhibition all about everyone’s favourite prehistoric predators, showcasing some classic dinosaurs and new discoveries. It’s currently hanging out at the Waterloo Region Museum just outside of Toronto, and I had a chance to check it out a few weeks ago when David Evans and I were invited to give an orientation to dinosaurs to the museum’s staff and volunteers. Here’s a quick photo tour of some highlights from this visit!
Storytime! When I was an undergraduate student at Dalhousie University, BACK IN THE DAY, I spent my summers making slides of rocks brought up by drills from offshore Nova Scotia and identifying and counting coccoliths (or, nannofossils). One of my supervisors for these projects was Dave Scott, a micropalaeontologist who also taught me invertebrate palaeontology at Dal. One day, unprompted, Dave offered up the fascinating personal tidbit that he hated seals, and when pressed for some kind of explanation for hating such a universally beloved animal, explained that it had to do with his time spent on Sable Island many years ago. Sable Island is a ridiculous, giant sand dune that is, hilariously, part of Halifax despite being located 300 km away in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s inhabited by feral horses, about 5 human beings, and seals, and that’s about it. Why did Dave hate the seals on Sable Island? “One hissed at me.”
Are you a palaeontologist interested in incorporating phylogenetic comparative methods into your research? Would you like to increase your toolkit of hypothesis-testing analyses for fossil-related questions? There’s a pretty good chance you’re going to need a time-calibrated phylogenetic tree. And to get one, you’re going to need to try your hand at R.
If you’re new to R programming or phylogenetic comparative methods, it can seem like a pretty steep uphill battle to learn some of these techniques, especially if you don’t feel like you got a great grounding in programming or statistics as an undergrad. Nevertheless, there are great resources out there for learning the basics of moving around in R (I like this one but I also just google things a lot), and good resources on phylogenetic comparative methods and statistical methods in biology. Today I’m going to do my best to make a bit of a tutorial for an important R package, paleotree (David Bapst), which will make magical time-calibrated trees for you that you can then use for all kinds of wonderful analyses. Continue reading
Zoos, aquaria, and natural history museums all showcase amazing biological diversity in their exhibits, but after years of visiting both kinds of institutions across the globe, I’ve noticed that zoos emphasize different messages than natural history museums. Natural history museums are great at telling the story of evolution, and explaining the science behind evolutionary biology, through exhibits based on palaeontology and biodiversity. Museums do a great job of explaining the role of extinction in shaping diversity in the past, and modern exhibit renewals are often doing a great job of linking changes in Earth’s history to the changes we see around us today.