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

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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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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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