Evolution at the Zoo: Prehistoric Park Edition

A few months ago I wrote a bit about how zoos incorporate evolution into their exhibits, including examples where extinct species are featured through dioramas or life-size replicas. The San Diego Zoo does a great job of highlighting recently extinct mammals in its Elephant Odyssey exhibit, and today I wanted to share one more example along similar lines – the Prehistoric Park at the Calgary Zoo.

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A Wrinkle in Time

Back in June, after hanging out in the Coal Age Galapagos for a few days, I spent a bit of time at some old haunts elsewhere in Nova Scotia. The Bay of Fundy is a pretty great place because you only have to drive a little ways in any direction to have totally new rocks with different and exciting fossils. If you pass through Parrsboro, you’ll find the Fundy Geological Museum – the home base for my first dinosaur dig experience back in 2004, but with a fresh facelift since I last visited 10+ years ago. Continue reading

The Coal Age Galapagos

The sea cliffs at Joggins, Nova Scotia are a thing to behold – kilometers of gently inclined, layer-cake geology recording thousands of years of a Carboniferous coal swamp’s ebb and flow. It’s a hugely important place scientifically and historically, as it influenced Lyell’s ideas about stratigraphy and geology, and Darwin’s ideas about evolution. It’s often called the “Coal Age Galapagos” because its significance for understanding Carboniferous palaeoecology was akin to the Galapagos for Darwin’s work. It is a cool place to visit, and I got to join Hillary Maddin‘s team from Carleton for a few days earlier this June! In the photo above, Hillary is pointing out some of the lycopod trees that remain upright in the cliff. Follow her arm and you’ll see a great example at about 1:30 underneath the top shadowy layer. All told, we saw about 25 of these along the cliffs during our time there. Continue reading

The Mysterious Fathoms Below

Meet Blue, one of nine blue whales that perished in thick sea ice off the coast of Newfoundland in 2014. Two of these whales washed ashore, and the ROM team salvaged the body that landed at Trout River. After years of preparation, Blue’s skeleton is now part of an amazing exhibition all about the biology, history, and conservation of whales. After a great video introduction to Trout River, and stories about how the ROM collected such a massive specimen, we’re treated to a dramatic view of Blue’s real skeleton. In the background, huge video projections of living blue whales swim by. Continue reading

Zuul makes an appearance at #FNLROM!

Zuul made its first public debut at the ROM last week for the DinoNite Friday Night Live!

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

The Complete Dinosaur!

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.

There is no Dana, only Zuul

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.

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I got all my rexes with me

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!

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