Inside Scolosaurus

Welcome back friends as I continue to catch up on the last few months of goings-on. It’s been a busy time here at Chez Ankylosaur! Exciting things are afoot – last week I handed in the first draft of my first book (coauthored with David Evans)! Provided all goes well, expect to see our new book all about Zuul published by the Royal Ontario Museum Press in December 2018, coinciding with the opening of a new Zuul exhibit at the ROM! In other book news, I published a review of Steve Brusatte’s The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs in Science a few weeks ago. And I’d also like to give a shout-out to Brian Switek’s recent article about the challenges still facing women in palaeontology – I provided some comments along with many of my female colleagues and I think this is an important read.

With those updates out of the way, let’s talk about Scolosaurus! In early May I flew across the pond to attend the Sexual selection: patterns in the history of life conference hosted by the Royal Society – Darren Naish summarized the meeting nicely at Tetrapod Zoology. I stopped in London for a few days to visit the Natural History Museum and study the holotype of one of my favourite ankylosaurs once more.

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A Palace for Pachyrhinosaurus

The last two months could safely be called the Spring of Travel, with me hopping on an airplane to somewhere new almost every other week it seems. It’s time to start catching up on some of this fun travel before any MORE happens, so let’s take a trip out west to Grande Prairie, Alberta!

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DinoLand USA

Work’s been busy and posting’s been light around here while my head is down in a bunch of research projects, developing a Zuul exhibit and writing a Zuul book! But then I took a vacation last week with my husband and my parents and my sister and my brother-in-law, and we went to Disney World because we’re all huge dorks, and we had a great time. I thought I’d share some pictures from the hilariously on- and off-point DinoLand USA at the Animal Kingdom. Enjoy!

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Where did all the tail clubs go?

Today is a New Paper Day! This time, we’re talking about the evolution of tail weapons!

(Two Ankylosaurus duke it out with their tail clubs. (c) Jack Mayer Wood, used with permission)

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

The Skeleton in Silhouette

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

Dinosaurios 2.0!

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.

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So you think you know Ankylosaurus

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?

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