Archive for the ‘Dinosaurs’ Category

New Cousin to the Velociraptor Discovered in China

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Liaoning Province in China is known for the substantial amount of dinosaur fossils that’ve turned up in the dirt there. Over the years everything from insects to fish to plants have been discovered in such detail that even skin textures have been left behind in the rock.

Now it appears that a new feathered dinosaur that is cousin to the Velociraptor can be added to the long list of discoveries there.

The new dinosaur with a ridiculous name to try and pronounce, Zhenyuanlong suni, stood at about 5 feet tall, had wings too short to allow them to fly and some of the most complex feathers seen on a dinosaur up to this point. The feathers’ complexity is clearly visible on the rock that the near-complete skeleton has been found in and resemble the feathers of today’s eagles.

Professor Junchang Lü from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences’ Institute of Geology:

“The first feathered dinosaurs were found here and now our discovery of Zhenyuanlong suni indicates that there is an even higher diversity of feathered dinosaurs than we thought. It’s amazing that new feathered dinosaurs are still being found.”

It’s also hugely terrifying to think of these semi-flying, feathered 5 foot dinosaurs tracking you down to feed their young.


The Dream is Alive! We May be Able to Clone a Murderous T-Rex After All!!!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Two years ago a research paper about the longevity of DNA crushed the hopes and dreams of a generation who grew up believing we one day might be able to clone blood-thirsty, human-devouring dinosaurs. Scientists determined the half-life of DNA, the rate at which it degrades by half, at around 521 years in a best case scenario. This meant that after about 8 million years there would be effectively no DNA left. Which is 60 million years too short for hopefully gleaning any useful T-Rex DNA.

Science and pop culture bloggers were quick to point out that this meant the Jurassic Park idea popularized by Michael Crichton could never possibly work. As the Jurassic World trailer became available, nerds around the globe have reminded us this is an impossibility, along with making pedantic comments about crane flies and feathers.

At the time of the first research paper’s publication, I wrote an article on Weird Things pointing out how we could still make badass dinosaurs without original DNA and suggested that nature throws curveballs and the research paper on DNA half-life may not be the end of the story.

Hold on to your butts.

Science is never settled.

Nature finds a way (maybe).

A few years ago Dr Mary Schweitzer, a palaeobiologist at North Carolina State University, who sawed open a T-Rex bone at Jack Horner’s encouragement (they couldn’t fit it on a helicopter) discovered soft-tissue inside the bone after decalcifying it. This lead to the discovery of cells common to egg-laying birds and blood vessels.

Last year, curious about the process about what lead to the preservation, she and her team working with a group led by Mark Goodwin, a palaeontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted some experiments using fresh ostrich blood and found a process that could occur in nature where DNA would be preserved much, much longer than the half-life research paper indicates.

Using this information, they went back to the original T-Rex samples and used a stain to test for DNA and found surprising results: Evidence that indicates the presence of DNA. It turns out 521 years may not be an absolute. DNA preserved in certain conditions or in certain parts of the body may last millions, maybe tens of millions of years longer.

To be sure, if this is DNA, it’s twisted up into tiny little knots and may be impossible to read. But given the advance of technology, I wouldn’t rule out future developments.

It’s also important to consider that trying to find DNA in fossils that old has only been attempted by a few people. Most paleontologists are afraid to even crack open bones, let alone subject them to these kinds of tests.

Schweitzer’s original discovery of soft-tissue in a T-Rex totally caught the scientific community off guard. Her work with Goodwin suggests that there could be many more awesome surprises awaiting us.

So if any nerd tries to tell you cloning dinosaurs is impossible, tell them to step back. We don’t tell mother nature her rules.

Andrew Mayne is the star of A&E’s Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne and the author of the best-selling thriller, Angel Killer.

(Me touching an actual Tyrannosaurus fossil in Jack Horner’s lab at the Museum of the Rockies)

Ancient Sea Creature Brain Discovered in China

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


That’s the name for a bucket of strange insect-like creatures with terrifying pincers that crawled around on the ground billions of years ago and ate other, not-as-scary insect-like creatures with only semi-terrifying pincers that crawled around on the ground billions of years ago.

Chinese scientists have recently discovered the fossilized brain tissue of a group of animals called Lyrarapax unguispinus, a fun group of nasty creatures that have no modern day relatives save for a much smaller worm that isn’t quite as terrifying found in the tropics.

Dear scientists…just keep working on the cute, furry woolly mammoth. These don’t need to come back.


[Washington Post]

50 Prius-Sized Wombat Fossils Discovered in Australia

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Wombats are like the koala’s derpy ground-dwelling brother. They’re harmless, adorable and just keep their noses to the ground without being a bother to anyone. They’re about the size of a small, fat, over-inflated dog/gopher hybrid that like to build extensive burrows and tunnels.

Almost 200,000 years ago they were still cute and adorable and liked to create burrows with one small difference…

Wombats used to be about the size of a Prius.

In a remote part of the outback in Australia, almost 50 prehistoric mega-wombats called Diprotodons have been discovered in what’s being called a ‘graveyard’ for these giant animals.

As researchers uncover more of the site, the conditions of what brought the animals together in one place is becoming clearer…and creepier.

Also found at the site? The bony back-plates of a massive ancient crocodile and the teeth of an 18-foot-long venomous lizard called megalania.


Awesome! Hear the Sounds of Dinosaurs!

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

In the movie, Jurassic Park, sound designer Ben Burtt tried to create what he thought prehistoric beasts might’ve sounded like when they walked the Earth. Using currently existing animals and a little exaggeration, no one will ever forget the sounds Uncle George’s sound guru created.

Now an art installation in France created by Marguerite Humeau is bringing us as close as we may get to what they might have actually sounded like and it’s pretty awesome to hear.

Titled ‘Proposal for Resuscitating Prehistoric Creatures’, the exhibit displays the recreated vocal chords of three different prehistoric animals: the entelodont, known as the ‘hell pig’, the mammoth imperator and the ambulocetus, known as the ‘walking whale.’

Because the vocal chords are made of soft tissue, Humeau has spent years working with researchers in various fields from throat specialists to engineers to paleaontologists to get everything in order to recreate as accurately as possible. Humeau also gathered data on these particular animals current ancestors: an Asian Elephant for the mammoth, dolphins and harbors porpoises for the ‘walking whale’ (which is pretty damn frightening to consider this whale had ridiculous teeth…and it walked) and a wild boar for the ‘hell pig’ (again…frightening).

Using foam, similar soft materials and an enormous amount of data collected over several years about these animals, Humeau stated:

“I’m not only recreating a shape, but also the data that has disappeared — we’ll never be 100 per cent sure this is accurate,” Humeau told Wired Magazine UK. “But when I heard it roar, it felt real.”

Why are you still reading this? Press play and listen to what it might’ve sounded like 50 million years ago when a ‘hell pig’, a ‘walking whale’ (again…a walking whale..with freakin’ teeth) and a mammoth just casually strolled the planet.


Asteroid that Killed Dinosaurs Also Seeded the Universe with Life

Thursday, April 12th, 2012
asteroid dinosaurs life seed.jpg

The big rock from the sky that crashed into Earth and proved an extinction level event for our dinosaur pals could also seed life on a far off planet. The meteorites launched into space by the impact carrying the ingredients for life itself have since spread across our solar system and far beyond.

A new table estimating the trajectories of the rocks provides many surprises, according to Ray Kurzweil’s blog. For example, it would take a trillion years for the Earth ejecta to spread the size of the Milky Way.

But most awesomely…

The probability is almost 1 (close to certain) that our solar system is visited by microorganisms that originated outside our solar system.

To tie this together with a post yesterday, this means that our ejecta could bring life to other planets and some point there might be a scientist there warning of our fearsome existence. Yes, my friends, WE ARE THE SUPER GENIUS SPACE DINOSAURS!

[KurzweilAI Blog]

Vampire Pterosaur?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

In 2002, scientists published the discovery of a new pterosaur from Inner Mongolia named Jeholopterus ninchengensis. The wingspan was less than three feet and it probably weighed between 5 and 10 lbs. In 2003, David Peters published The Chinese vampire and other overlooked pterosaur ptreasures in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology where he posited the physiological attributes of Jeholopterus made it a prime candidate for drinking blood from the backs of sauropods.

“In this analysis, Peters reconstructed the skull, observing elongated teeth akin to like pliers, a fortified palate able Jeholopterus to deliver a swift blow and powerful blow, a possible mechanism by which the teeth could be locked into place after a strike. Additionally, Peters observed a horse-like tail possibly used to swat away small insects.

The pterosaur seemed to have the ability to deliver a strong blow, plus it had fangs — and a method to lock the fangs into another animal after striking. All these features led Peters to suggest Jeholopterus latched onto the backs of sauropods and lapped up blood from fang wounds. Peters doesn’t offer any reasons for vampiric behavior — he simply offers it as a physiological possibility.”

Many paleontologists are not fans of this theory based on many reasons, but I think a vampire pterosaur would be awesome.


Animatronic Dinosaurs Roam Australian Museum

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

If you don’t scare the children how will they learn?

[Yahoo! News]

One Fingered Dinosaur Discovered

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

A new alvarezsauroid dinosaur (Linhenykus monodactylus) with a single finger has been discovered in Mongolia in about 80 million-year-old rock and was recently described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The earliest carnivorous dinosaurs had five fingers, although only four were actually functional. Many later meat-eaters had only three, and evolution left the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex with only two. Now researchers have unearthed the first known dinosaur with only one finger.

The research team has suggested that these finger arms could have been used for digging. Read the entire article here.

[ScienceMag via Gizmodo]

T-Rex Was Even More Terrifying Than Initially Thought

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

According to an new study, we might have underestimated a T.rex’s foot speed by up to 45%. New computer modeling shows the beast’s massive tail is indicative of more powerful leg muscles than we’d previously given him credit for.

Also, scientists like to say funny things:

T. rex’s athleticism (and its rear end) has been given a makeover by University of Alberta graduate student Scott Persons. His extensive research shows that powerful tail muscles made the giant carnivore one of the fastest moving hunters of its time.

As Persons says, “contrary to earlier theories, T. rex had more than just junk in its trunk.”

At least he didn’t say badonkadonk.

[Science Daily]

Intelligently Created Dinosaurs [Weirdest Places]

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Everyday this week…Brett Rounsaville brings us the Weirdest Places to Visit in America.

What’s the weirdest movie you can think of from your childhood?

That’s right, Peewee’s Big Adventure.

Now what’s the weirdest scene you can recall from that movie?

Yep, Peewee talking about Simone’s “big but” while sitting inside a giant dinosaur. (Shut up about Large Marge already.)

That giant dinosaur is one of two built by, Claude Bell, a caricature artist at Knott’s Berry Farm who also owned the Inn across from them on I-10 near Cabazon, CA. It took him eleven years to finish the giant Apatosaurus and he died before he finished the Tyrannosaurus. (Their names are Dinny and Rex BTW.)

Now, here’s the weird part. (Because it’s not weird that a caricature artist spent a quarter of his life building a 150-foot long concrete dinosaur on a lark. Or that it has found its way into popular culture via a faux children’s entertainment film directed by a crazy haired genius. No. The weird part is…)

After the guy that sunk his entire life into two dinosaurs (complete with frescos explaining evolution in their bellies) died, the two guys that bought the property, Benjamin S. Carson, M.D. and Dr. Michael Egnor, turned it into…wait for it…a creationist museum!

(Because nothing says intelligent design like two giant lizards that were apparently so poorly designed that they couldn’t survive the 6000 years since the world has been created.)

You can now pay five dollars to visit the creationist museum in Dinny’s belly and purchase toy dinosaurs with labels that say, “Don’t swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution.”


Want to discuss creationism versus evolution? Roadside attractions vs theme parks?  How about Peewee’s Big Adventure versus Big Top Peewee? Well then, that’s why god invented the comments section!

Heavy Metal Dinosaurs Are Finland’s Newest Children’s Music Sensation

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Ladies and gentleman, meet your new favorite band, Hevisaurus:

The band was born when a flash of lightning and witches’ spells revealed, cracked and brought to life five metal dinosaur eggs buried deep in a mountain 65 million years ago — around the time most other dinosaurs became extinct.

Or so goes the “official” creation story of the long-haired reptiles in spiked bracelets and black leather billed as the world’s only Jurassic metal band.

In reality, the idea hatched in the mind of drummer Mirka Rantanen, 38, a veteran “headbanger” who has played with numerous bands including the Finnish power metal group Thunderstone.
“For years and years you seriously try, and then you toss up this one crazy idea, and everyone gets excited,” said a bemused Rantanen in an interview.

It all started a few years ago when Rantanen attended a children’s concert with his own kids, now five and 11.

“What if I started making music for kids?” he thought. “What if it was heavy metal, since that’s what I’ve been doing for 25 years?”

Did you watch that video? Jesus Christ, seriously. How epic is that power ballad?!?!?

Find their more rocking anthem AFTER THE JUMP…

[Yahoo] (more…)