Readers of this blog will not be surprised to know that I find ankylosaur tail clubs quite interesting. I’ve been lucky to get to study their biomechanics and whether or not they were plausible weapons, how their morphological variation helps us identify different species, and how they evolved in a stepwise manner, with the stiff handle evolving before the enlargement of the osteoderms at the tip of the tail. Occassionally it’s good to step back and just think about how *weird* it is that ankylosaurs modified their tails in this fashion, and how weird it is to have a weapon on the tail. Continue reading
Fans of the Biodiversity Heritage Library and their amazing work making valuable old zoological manuscripts freely available online might have seen that they now have an absolutely exceptional Flickr site. It’s got thousands of beautiful old zoological and botanical illustrations and is an absolute joy to browse through. I came across this book, Die vergleichende Osteologie, CH Pander and E d’Alton, published from 1821-1838 as a series of folios dealing with different parts of the animal kingdom, albeit with some quirky taxonomy compared to today. It’s a pretty cool old example of an art style that’s frequently used by palaeontologists today, ie. silhoutted skeletons showing the soft tissue outlines around the bones. I’d love to know how common this kind of illustration style was at the time! Here’s just a couple of samples of some of my favourites, but there’s many more in the book, so go check out the Flickr page!
Pangolin! (Manis crassicaudata) Continue reading
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting around Spain with my good friend and colleague Dr. Angelica Torices – after all the time we’ve spent together in Canada, it was high time for me to make the trek across the pond and visit her on her home turf! I was part of a lineup of speakers for Dinosaurios 2.0, a public symposium about new techniques in palaeontological research.
It’s a New Paper Day today! Go check it out at the new open access journal FACETS!
An alternate title I kicked around for this paper was “Victoria thinks about Ankylosaurus for a while: What does she know? Does she know things?? Let’s find out!”, because in the end this represents lots of little odds and ends about the most famous of ankylosaurs accumulated since about 2008 until they felt like they gelled enough to make a proper paper out of. In this paper, Jordan Mallon and I tackle some of the more frustrating aspects of Ankylosaurus: what does this animal really look like, what’s up with its weird giant skull, and how did it live?
Here’s a copy of the World’s Fair Ankylosaurus at the Royal Alberta Museum before the museum’s move to the new building – I know it’s partner the Corythosaurus has moved to Jurassic Forest, but I’m not sure where this guy is winding up! Maybe he’ll be at the new RAM?
I wanted to end this science literacy week book series on a bit of a different note. I’ve covered some amazing books about how to do good science, what it’s like to be a scientist, and some compelling real life science stories. But I’d be remiss in not acknowledging a huge source of science inspiration for a Past Victoria, in the form of nearly endless science fiction and science fantasy novels. I was, and still am, a pretty avid sci fi reader, and am particularly drawn to stories of evolution on other worlds, and where evolution might take us next. Continue reading
For today’s Science Literacy Week entry, I’m featuring the work of one of my favourite comic artists, Abby Howard!
As a vertebrate palaeontologist, I spend a lot of time thinking about extinction. So for today’s Science Literacy Week highlights, I wanted to talk about books about extinction – not ancient extinctions, but modern biodiversity crises. Two authors that have deeply affected me on this topic are the late Farley Mowat, an iconic Canadian author, and perhaps surprisingly, Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame. Continue reading