I was only able to watch a small portion of the BBC documentary 'Frozen Planet' last night, but I watched a sea lion chase a penguin in crashing waves, then on the water's edge, then onto a beach. As both animals lumbered around, with the sea lion catching then losing the penguin twice before finally killing it in its third attempt, Sir David's velvety voice announced,"Never have the roles of hunter and hunted been played with so little skill." Brilliant!
Image courtesy of The Week Ltd.
I was able to visit Rhoetosaurus brownei at the Queensland Museum collections facility today! It's an iconic sauropod from the Middle Jurassic Hutton Sandstone near Roma in south-central Queensland. All my childhood dinosaur books had images of Australian dinosaurs such as Rhoetosaurus, Minmi and Muttaburrasaurus, including this famous picture of a cast of the femur from Rhoetosaurus. As one of my colleagues is studying this specimen at the moment, I was able to re-create this image!
Left: From Longman, H. A., 1927. The Giant Dinosaur- Rhoetosaurus brownei. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, Vol IX, Part I.
Right: Author with Rhoetosaurus brownei femur cast. Photo by Jay Nair.
I've enjoyed tutoring Evolution at UQ for the past semester. Thanks to all my students who had to put up with a new tutor getting used to teaching for the first time! It felt like I was thrown in the deep end, but I'm pretty sure I managed alright. I'd be interested to find out how my students fare in the upcoming exams...
If you're still wondering what my project is about exactly, or what taphonomy involves, watch this video and imagine that the whale is a dinosaur, and that it's in a river system, not the ocean! This is only part of what my project involves: I'm also interested in how the carcass is buried, and how it is fossilised.
I do really love Mendeley (the reference/citation manager), but I wish it had more choices when it comes to designating document types. I have a geological survey map I want to cite in my confirmation document, but any document type I designate requires an entry in the 'author' field!! And when I just add in "Geological Survey of Queensland" as the author, it lists it as (First Name, Surname) "Queensland, Geological Survey of".
I'm sure I'll figure out a way around this, and its not super crucial at the moment, just a tad annoying.
UPDATE: A colleague suggested a very simple fix for this, simply putting a comma at the end of "Geological Survey of Queensland", and leaving a blank space for the 'first name'. Works like a charm :D
You can't wish for better preservation than this unnamed, 135 million year old juvenile theropod from Bavaria. Not only is the skeleton 98% complete, but there are also traces of skin and possible proto-feathers. This amazing specimen was unveiled in the Bavarian paleontological and geological collections (BSPG) in Munich, Germany last week.
Can't wait to see the taphonomic analysis for this guy! Arching back of the neck normally suggests sub-aerial exposure/dessication, which would explain the preservation of skin/proto-feathers. But how did it remain undisturbed before burial and fossilisation? We shall have to wait and see...
The new juvenile theropod under UV light. Photo by Helmut Tischlinger.
First, read this hard hitting piece of journalism about giant sea monsters that made bone puzzles and left no trace of their existence behind. Except for the bone puzzles. And I'm being sarcastic.
My response is something along the lines of this:
Taphonomic studies have already been completed for this site, and even though there may not be an obvious answer to the arrangement of skeletal elements (although I'm hardy surprised that the vertebrae have been preserved in a row, gosh how unlike vertebrae is that!?), it doesn't mean that imaginary 'kraken' taxa should be created to fit the bill. I think it's embarrassing to all other palaeontologists that this 'palaeontologist' is spouting pseudoscience in the guise of true scientific research.
Not huge, but I just realised that if you get a PhD in Philosophy, then technically it's a doctorate of philosophy in philosophy. Studying the problems, theories and ideas of problems, theories and ideas. A degree in studying the problems, theories and ideas of Palaeontology is enough for me thank you very much!
Which brings us neatly to my next topic: philosophy in science. I've just started reading "Paleontology: A Philosophical Introduction" by Derek Turner, and so far I'm really enjoying it! I think that a refresher course on why we do what we do in science, especially the anthropomorphic dimension (species concepts, I'm looking at you!) is very important at this early stage in my research career!
About the author
Dr Caitlin Syme is a palaeontologist who recently finished her PhD at The University of Queensland, studying the taphonomy (preservation state) of fossil non-avian dinosaurs, crocodiles and fish from the Winton Formation, Queensland, Australia. Think forensic science or CSI for fossils, and you're on the right track!
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