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

Advertisements

A Geology Road Trip through North Carolina: Part 3, Barrier Islands

Well it took way longer to get to the third and final part of this little post series, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re moving ‘internationally’ while preparing for a conference. C’est la vie! Let’s get to it:

North Carolina’s coast is almost completely framed by a series of barrier islands called the Outer Banks. In a sense, NC gets *two* coastlines – the coastline opening onto the sounds enclosed by the barrier islands, and the coast that opens onto the angry angry Atlantic Ocean.

20151121_154308

Continue reading

Burgers and Hot Dogs

Sydney Mohr is a friend and colleague of mine whose art you will have seen in the news lately, if you are inclined to read about ankylosaurs. She’s done amazing reconstructions of two ankylosaurs for me in the last year – Ziapelta and Gobisaurus – and so I asked her to take a few minutes and tell us about her process for creating her palaeoart. Also this way I get to show off more of her drawings, so yay!

Sydney decided that this Gobisaurus was named Burger, and that seemed fine with me. Continue reading

Chaoyang Geopark


During the Flugsaurier Symposium I went on a field trip to Liaoning Province, which was a great opportunity to see different parts of China and visit Jehol group outcrops and museums. We first visited the Chaoyang Fossil Bird Geopark, which included a museum, in situ exhibits, parks, and lots of interesting statues. This is Nurhachius, an istiodactylid pterosaur from the Jiufotang Formation. The model has too many teeth, but he’s still pretty fun.


One of the best parts of the visit was this great in situ display exposing Jehol Group rocks. It had fairly good descriptions of the geology, and even marked on faults and other interesting features. Fossils discovered during the excavation were left in place, and included Cathayornis, Shenzhouraptor, and lots of fish.


Inside the museum proper were literally hundreds of Liaoning fossils of every sort – insects, plants, fish, turtles, champsosaurs, theropods, birds, pterosaurs – the list goes on and on. Here’s just a single display case showing off various fossil birds – I think they are all Confuciusornis, but may be mistaken.


It was easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fossil material in the geopark. After we finished in the museum we entered the fossil forest full of enormous petrified stumps. Incredible!

The museum and geopark had a few glitches – some specimens were mislabelled or in the wrong hallway, and there may have been a few ‘plussed’ specimens on display – but it was a really cool place that certainly has a lot of potential if a few of these errors are fixed up. Continue reading

A dinosaur visits the Dinosaur Visitor Centre.


Just as we were packing up to leave for the weekend last Friday, lab manager Yun found this little friend in the lab’s garden. I am not sure exactly what sort of bird it is, but it what somewhat like a merlin or small peregrine falcon. It let us walk up almost right to it, which made us think it was injured in some way. At one point it flew off a little bit, so we knew its wings weren’t broken. It had been raining all day and clearly this guy had gotten pretty soaked. Continue reading