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

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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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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Your Project is Good Enough for a Talk

I’m back from yet another whirlwind week of conferencing, since the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting (this year in scenic Salt Lake City) just wrapped up last weekend. I’ll share some photos of the conference and welcome reception at the Utah Museum of Natural History soon, but today I’d like to talk a bit about who is giving talks at SVP and how we can increase speaker diversity. I hope you will share this with your colleagues and students! Continue reading

Save Mongolia’s Dinosaurs!

Hello blog friends! Today I’d like to highlight an important funding campaign that needs your help: Save Mongolia’s Dinosaurs! This campaign is organized by Bolortsetseg Minjin and Thea Boodhoo through the Institute for the Study of Mongolian Dinosaurs; you may have encountered Bolor’s name during the episode involving the Tarbosaurus auction in New York a few years ago, as she was the palaeontologist who initiated the investigation around the provenance of that specimen. Her actions helped lead to the repatriation of that specimen back to Mongolia. She does important work and is a palaeontologist you should know and support!

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Ankylosaur Fight Club

Pseudoplocephalus has a new home! WELCOME!

Over the many years I’ve spent thinking about ankylosaurs, I’ve amassed a not insubstantial collection of ankylosaur stuff. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is that when ankylosaurids are shown wielding their tail clubs as weapons, they are almost always fighting some kind of tyrannosaur (but usually Tyrannosaurus, of course). Are there any illustrations that show ankylosaurids fighting anything different?

Back in January I asked my Facebook friends and Twitter followers to look in their homes for ankylosaurs fighting things and to let me know what they found, and now, blog readers, I am asking the same of you! Find some ankylosaurs fighting something and either tweet it to me (@VictoriaArbour) or leave a comment below!

Here’s what the preliminary results from my January request look like! (And yes, there was one example of an ankylosaurid tail clubbing a human.) The data I get from all of you will help me develop hypotheses for better understanding the selective pressures that led to the evolution of tail weaponry in ankylosaurs. Have at it!

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