Walking With Dinosaurs — The Live Experience

I had the distinct pleasure of going to Walking With Dinosaurs — The Live Experience when it was in Las Vegas today. All three of us were queued to attend but Ian balked at going into the arena. The far end of the auditorium was mocked up to look like a giant set of sharp-toothed jaws and he would have none of it.

I have to say, it was a great show that surpassed any of my embedded notions of what it was going to be like. It was a little short of recent scienific speculation, but not really (as an example, the raptors were not feathered) as I can live with that and the show was long on spectacle. Even with some of the obvious signs of mechanization, I found it easy to suspend my disbelief and just go along for the ride. I mean, when the Brachiosaurus’ head is up where the basketball scoreboard usually is in the roof of the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV, my first thought was, “That’s a big freakin’ critter.” So, they had me engaged…

The show is really great fun and not just for kids, IMO. One caveat, if you do have a youngster who balks a bit at things that are a little overwhelming be somewhat wary, however. My six year old has a bit of a challenge not suspending his belief and has a history of reconnecting with the small mammalian ancestor nestled near his brain stem when confronted with a roaring life sized realistic mechanical dinosaur. You can see it in his little eyes when the T. Rex at the local Natural History Museum roars.

The larger T-Rex is this show is big (yes, life-sized!) and the roar is really impressive. Enough so that he would not have been able to suppress his flight reflex. But then, we have a diagnosis that goes along with all this. Your mileage may well vary as there were a lot of four year olds that were coping fairly well. Mostly.

links for 2007-01-30

Dinosaurs Identified in Southern Nevada

Pretty neat, though some may be curious why it takes Montana State to come down here and do the work when there are (supposedly) several institutions devoted to such and similar investigations already present in southern Nevada. Yes, I can imagine why you might wonder that, you clever wonderer about such things you… Yes, these are the people who eliminated a previous position of mine (and others) because they did not have anything for me to do. Now they are touting how wonderful it is to do research and find things.

Well done, Mr. Bonde, et. al, well done.

DINOSAUR DISCOVERY Las Vegas Review Journal
Fossil remains are first for Nevada

A fierce 6-foot-long raptor once roamed what is now southern Nevada about 100 million years ago based on fossilized dinosaur remains, the first ever documented in the state, found northeast of the Las Vegas Valley.

“This is the first dinosaur stuff [a technical term only real scientists are allowed to use –ed.] described in the state of Nevada from a time period not well-known in North America,” said Josh Bonde, of Fallon, the Montana State University researcher who found and documented the fossilized remains over the past year.

Bonde, a 26-year-old graduate student at Montana State University-Bozeman, will announce the find today with officials from Springs Preserve and the Nevada State Museum when they unveil plans for a new museum building that will house some of the newly found fossils at the preserve, near U.S. Highway 95 and Valley View Boulevard. (…)

Petrified remains of at least five types of dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period were uncovered and recorded during a series of shallow digs and prospecting ventures beginning in March 2005 through this summer. (…)

The fossils include a femur from a 6-foot-long, meat-eating dromaeosaur, commonly known as a raptor or running lizard of the genus Deinonychus. (more)

Please pardon me while I retire to my corner and mutter dark things about former employers.

Vacation Report

OK, don’t forget that there is a difference between ‘save’ and ‘publish.’ So I guess I’ll write a bit of something here. More with some linkage in the morning.

Ian and I inside Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park
It was 50°F inside the cave. Niiiiiicccce. For a variety of reasons this park had the coolest temperatures of our trip. It never got about the mid-90s and the nights were wonderful.

At the San Rafael Swell in central Utah
It felt like it was 20,000°K. Hotter than blue friggin’ blazes. Actually, it was something like 117°F…

The 4Runner (“Shiva, the SUV Destroyer of Worlds” cf. Dave Rogers) turned up a milestone of its own…

Five ‘5’s… If we’re playing poker and you call with this hand, there’s liable to be some raised voices.

Dinosaur is Dead Ringer for Potter Dragon

Heh, I love it! via garret.

Dinosaur is dead ringer for Potter dragon [Times Online UK]
A new species discovered in the US has been named Dracorex hogwartsia, much to the delight of the author J. K. Rowling.

“The 66 million-year-old dragon-like monster has been given the title Dracorex hogwartsia because it resembles the kind of fantastical creature encountered by the teenage wizard.

The nearly complete skull of the previously unknown dinosaur was found by three friends during a fossil-collecting trip in South Dakota. (…)

Robert Bakker, a well known paleontologist [sic, it’s a BBC article –ed.], agreed that the new beast would not look out of place in a Potter book. “Honouring an author with a species name is rare. But it should be done more often,” he said. “The creature is a very special dinosaur that seems at home in a Harry Potter adventure. It was a plant-eater, about as heavy as the warhorse of a medieval knight. (more)”

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis where they had a big unveiling on May 22, 2006. Hey, Bakker was there too! (He’s on their advisory board.) Ohhh, he is sporting a heretofore uncategorized cowboy hat as well… And the Museum has t-shirts.

The new species flummoxes old theories. The combination of a flat forehead and a multitude of spikes and lumps have never been seen before. Dracorex hogwartsia is an exceptionally advanced species.

“This feeds the pachycephalosaur family tree to the wood chipper,” noted Bakker and Dr. Robert Sullivan, another member of The Children’s Museum’s Scientific Advisory Board of Paleontologists. Fierce debates have raged about whether the pachys butted each other, but since no good neck bones had been found, conclusive evidence was lacking. The Children’s Museum Paleo Lab personnel scored a [C]retaceous triumph when they pieced together four nearly complete neck vertebrae for Dracorex hogwartsia. Special anti-twist joints and enlarged muscle attachments seem to show that these dinosaurs indulged in violent kinetic exercises. “They were head-bangers!”

According to the museum’s Scientific Advisory Board, “Children’s museums don’t find new species. That’s for the “adult” institutions. But The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis combines first-rate scientific exploration within a kid-friendly environment. [Inside Indiana Business]


via about every page I’ve visited in the last day – Chris Locke interviews Ian Clarke at FEED.

John at View from an Iowa Homestead posted my little ‘dance with vacuum cleaner and dog’ from times past. Thanks John.

[BBC] Ice Age star map discovered.

A prehistoric map of the night sky has been discovered on the walls of the famous painted caves at Lascaux in central France. The map, which is thought to date back 16,500 years, shows three bright stars known today as the Summer Triangle. A map of the Pleiades star cluster has also been found among the Lascaux frescoes. And another pattern of stars, drawn 14,000 years ago, has been identified in a cave in Spain. According to German researcher Dr Michael Rappenglueck, of the University of Munich, the maps show that our ancestors were more sophisticated than many believe.

Very cool. We’re dealing with fully modern Homo sapiens now, this is separate from the Neanderthal vs. ‘modern’ discussion.

I land very squarely in the ‘do not underestimate or assume what humans can accomplish’ camp. Others do not. Just because these folks are pre-literate (as far as we know) doesn’t mean that they didn’t notice the world around them. I’d be surprised if there weren’t depictions of the night sky in places like Lascaux and Altamira.

Of course just because we do see these things in antiquity doesn’t mean they were calculating the precession of the planet’s axis or the re-entry trajectories for their spaceships. thanks for the pointer garret.

The Smithsonian has been around for 154 years, as of today.

A couple from UniSci:

Evidence Suggests Birds Did Evolve From Some Dinosaurs.
“The popular notion that birds evolved from dinosaurs has come under assault recently with the discovery of fossil evidence of a feathered reptile that pre-dates birds.”
The September issue of Discover magazine (which doesn’t seem to be on the web yet) has a great article on this evidence, along with some very interesting artist’s visualizations of feathered Therapods.

First Intelligent Pebble Helps Probe Erosion, Flooding.
“British scientists claim to have created what they believe is the world’s first intelligent pebble. The smart stone has been developed to help researchers understand more precisely the processes which can lead to coastal erosion or river flooding.”
I’d love to see some ‘smart pebbles’ used to study desert peidmonts as well as the formation of desert pavements and cryptobiotic soils. I suspect the time intervals involved might be too extended …

Good morning!


I’ll see you all tomorrow. I’m actually going to walk away from the computer and histograms, contingency tables and who knows what else, and go recreate, be social, and talk to people face to face. I don’t know if you remember the Far Side cartoon of ‘Early vegetarians returning from the hunt’ with a group of spear brandishing hunters bearing a giant carrot on their shoulders into camp. No? Anyway, I’m going to head to Boulder City where Kelly & EG live and rendezvous with a bunch of other Archaes, grad students of the geological and archaeological persuasion, Bluegrass fans, Dead Heads, Buddhists, Pagans, lapsed Catholics, and probably a few who are pretty normal, and we’re going to barbecue, talk, laugh, and have a great time I’m sure. I’ll be the one dragging the giant carrot. OK … just walk away from the computer … NOW

He who hesitates is lost. The last time I did a whois and checked on rager.org and rager.net, they were still available. Today I see that MailBank is sitting on those as well.

Thanks Jeff, I just wanted to be sure … I’m constantly reminded with how easy-going folks are in the weblog community It is a group thing …

You can get a lot of thinking done behind the wheel. garret begins that process of recovering those thoughts and insights and lets us in on a couple of things that he wants to share. Good stuff, thanks …

… how can a metropolitan area retain local flavor and accommodate national chains? is there a way to make high-speed rail service more cost-effective, to eliminate the overabundance of truck traffic on the interstates? the noise in metropolitan areas! my ears ring. on and on … the mind percolates. there has to be a way to modernize, to approach our future with enthusiasm, but with space for the aesthetic, the human, the child.

many things crossed my path. it’d take me a year to get ’em all sorted and in logical order for presentation. my grandmother gave some tennessee down-home wisdom for keeping bugs off of plants …

Matt reminds me of some things about Cope and Marsh I had forgotten, the gun battles and back stabbing treachery — over fossils. I’m looking for a good general text on Paleontology now. I smell a story being written … What we have around the blivet hacienda is dated: Principles of Paleontology by Raup and Stanley (Freeman 1978), The Practical Paleontologist by Parker (Bernor, editor) (Simon & Schuster 1990), Fossils and the History of Life by Simpson (Scientific American Books 1983) and lots of popular books by Horner, Bakker, Lessem, and others. For the more current stuff there’s the class notes and journal articles, in boxes, filing cabinets, milk crates, and stacks and stacks and stacks. It seems a personal quest, to exemplify a career studying stratigraphy by creating one of your career … God help us when we move. Oh sweet Mother, I forgot about the stuff in the garage. Matt, I’ll have to look further (farther?) for a good text …

I noticed pointers to some good resources at G E N E H A C K:weblog:

A couple bibliography related links, jake, a database of journal names and abbreviations, and dblp, a bibliography database resource. Both culled from recent discussions on the Pybliographer mailing list.

Reading up on Manila and trying things out …


Alexandra DuPont Interviews William Gibson [Ain’t It Cool News]. Great interview. He actually got to talk about his writing.

Oklahoma throws out textbook evolution disclaimer

A requirement by Oklahoma’s textbook committee that state science textbooks include a disclaimer against evolution has been thrown out, a spokesman for the state’s attorney general said Thursday.

Now if my home state, Kansas, would follow their lead. From CNN

From the "Bye bye, Miss American Pie" dept:
February 3, 1959 – a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, claimed the lives of rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. "the day the music died"

Huge dinosaur’s neck bones unearthed in Texas. from CNN