Tuesday, 25 February 2014

From the Vaults Pt.2

Hadrosaurs are, quite simply, awesome. As a theropod man this may appear to be somewhat contrary but to anybody who spends time with the fossils of these remarkable animals, there is only a true appreciation of these wonders of nature. And their skulls, whether hadrosaurine or lambeosaurine, are magnificent.

The unkind epithet "Cows of the Cretaceous" is both undignified and is yet complimentary as it is easy to imagine great herds of hadrosaurs sweeping across the Late Cretaceous landscapes consuming vast amounts of vegetation. The well documented and super efficient jaw mechanism is a beautiful piece of evolved engineering although, I believe it fair to say, is still not fully understood and very much under appreciated by those who consider hadrosaurs mere theropod fodder.

I have come into contact with various hadrosaur skull bones that need preparation over the last few years and am now very familiar with them. I have three dentaries and one maxilla still to prepare (when time permits) and there are other bones in the cue but I am particularly fond of the jugal and quadrate. One quadrate, in particular, is exceptional and would come from a very large hadrosaur indeed. The predentary is another interesting bone with its castellated rim so perfect for nipping off fronds of vegetation.

The various crests of lambeosaurines are equally impressive and the range of ontogenetic and morphological extremes is fascinating and just what function they perform has long been debated although it is generally accepted that they were most likely used for intraspecific communications of some sort.   

The rest of the animal is pretty impressive as well - an ability to walk on both four and two limbs, to be able to rear up, and all supported by a magnificent framework of tendons and, lest we forget, an animal that exhibited a great deal of parental care that enabled hadrosaurids to proliferate throughout the Late Cretaceous.

Hadrosaurids deserve all the attention they receive and the sheer amount of fossils they left behind, including entire growth series from egg to adult, make them an appealing subject for research for any aspiring dinosaur palaeontologist.

Friday, 7 February 2014

From the Vaults Pt.1

Unfortunately, my increased workload is making blogging regularly somewhat difficult right now but just to keep things ticking over I will post some bits and pieces from time to time. This time I am glad to provide some cool images for the palaeoichnologists amongst you. Palaeoichnology has always been a fascinating discipline and is one of those branches of palaeontology that is certainly on the up as it increasingly benefits from digital technology.

Late last year a couple of us attended the Jehol-Wealden International Conference on the Isle of Wight and part of the conference entailed a field trip to visit some of the more famous fossil sites on the island. At Hanover and Brook we were very lucky to see many of the famous large dinosaur footprints and casts in situ - and very impressive they were too.  

It was great to discuss tracks with track specialist extraordinaire Martin Lockley, of the University of Colorado, and you could not fail to learn. So here are some of the track images from the day - enjoy!