first i finally got to check out the melbourne museum's fossil hall which based on some of the previews and build up was sure to be a treat after an otherwise great museum.
second i was finally going to find out what the BIG surprise my boss had gotten for me. though she hadn't said it, i expect it to be a little reward for my pulling off the museum quest. again this was just my thinking (which due to lack of grey matter has been known to be faulty) and not based on anything, but what else could it be?
wandering into the entrance to the fossil hall i was greeted by a very impressive display. three aussie pliocene residents. the GIANT monitor lizard megalania, the flightless ratite genyornis, and (just out of the photo) the big mammal diprotodon.
i really like the huge monitor lizard megalania, but to be fair i just kind of have a soft spot for them varanids...
their first dinosaur was (somehow... though i'm not sure why i feel this way) appropriately from alberta. it was a partial hadrosaur, but as it was the complete rear end of one there was no way of knowing what type. which is no doubt why they were able to secure it for their museum, as we have more than enough miscellaneous duckbills cluttering up our collections and storage areas in alberta!
from here you end up entering the main hall which is where the mounts are...of course sitting at the base of the dinosaur skeleton area was none other than my boss ms. rhonwyn. she had a wicked mischievous smile on, and looked like she'd been waiting eagerly for my arrival.
"typical. you come right when," ms. rhonwyn said mock disappointed. she paused on the when clearly thinking of wording that wouldn't give anything away. "your surprise wanders off."
well that already was a surprise. my surprise could wander... what was it? i was expecting a present of some kind. this sure didn't sound like the average present to me...
"oh well. this way you can enjoy the dinosaurs while i go track, your surprise, down," ms. rhonwyn picked herself up off the bench. "hopefully will only be a couple of minutes." just like that ms. rhonwyn was off again.
the suspense caused me to stand and wait for several minutes. had i a bigger brain maybe i would have wasted the chance to check out what was bound to be my favourite part of the museum. fortunately with my goldfish length attention span i got bored waiting, and started to explore the hall around me. man was it worth it!
immediately my attention came to the magnificent skeleton of my very closely related asian cousin tarbosaurus. it had been a long time since i'd seen a tyrannosaurid skeleton in person. unlike the living ones which i don't get along very well with... on account of their being everything from mean to just pure JERKS!... i find the skeletons tend to agree with me more, and not say mean things to or about me.
the only problem with not having seen a skeleton in a long time was it instantly reminded me of the one t-rex skeleton i used to spend a lot of time with... my mommy... i missed her heaps. it was getting close to two years since i'd been fired from the tyrrell and last seen her...
mamenchisaurus i'd already seen a skeleton of in vancouver.
tsintaosaur was a first for me, but sadly a diminished let down first... the museum had made a key mistake of not updating their mount.
(Production Note: Skeleton by Gregory Paul)
when tsintaosaur was originally found it had a weird bizarre unicorn style horn/crest on its head, but this was odd and unique for a hadrosaur crest. many scientists couldn't believe that such a thin spike could occur naturally on a duck bill.
as there was only a single tsintaosaur skull known for a long time, there was only a single reference for this dinosaur. based on this lack of material a few palaeontologists looking at this weird crest came to the conclusion that it must have been a broken piece of skull bone that bent up in a weird way after the animal's death.
obviously this theory was put forward at around the same time that melbourne was having the mount made. the result being the melbourne tsintaosaur doesn't have its horn like crest, and the sign states as a fact that it was simply a broken bone looking like head ornamentation.
embarrassingly for them (now anyway with me looking at it) a second skull was found somewhat recently that also funny enough had the horn like crest. meaning that in reality this hadrosaur had a funny long pipe of bone sticking out of its forehead!
now i'm not saying it is bad for scientists to come up with new ideas, and re look at oddities in the fossil record and not take them at face value. just if you're going to do that make sure that if you're a museum don't state in your signage that this theory is fact, and/or than leave it in after its been disproved.
because the sign i'm looking at states the broken skull bone thing as non questionable, and though it explains their tsintaosaur's skull lack of crest, it is kinda silly in face of two tsintaosaur heads with the horn now.
a simple re-do on the text of the sign telling this story of science would make the problem go away, and turn it into an awesome lesson in how science is always trying to best examine the world around us!
finishing off the asian skeletons was a gallimimus. though is it just me people of the web wide world or is this ostrich mimic's neck look too short to you?
ruining the asia theme (not sure why there's plenty of dromaeosaurs from asia!) was a deinonychus. though it may have thrown off the theme, i still appreciated it as embarrassing as it sounds people of the innerweb... i'd never seen a deinonychus skeleton before!!! it as impressive as all the books and movies are saying.
those were just the centre piece skeletons. some of the real treasures of the melbourne museum were in the cases and cabinets surrounding the mounts.
australia has a nice selection of ammonites for example. i knew they had some. no idea this many (and these were just the museum quality ones in their collections!!!).
also lots of other water critters like fishys, crabs, , and other water invertebrates. in fact looking at this case i realized that the melbourne museum was home base to Dr. John Long one of my all time favourite palaeontologists! he writes awesome books most of which i owe or am in the processing of ordering. it was from his book that i got so much info on new zealand's dinosaurs. too bad i couldn't have arranged to meet him...
they also had a nice icythosaur cast (i think from europe, but i misplaced the pic of the sign i took)
the coolest section was this small kinda hidden away wall display. probably 50% of the museum's visitors never appreciated the significance of this little corner. in here was a huge selection of southern australia's mesozoic fossils!!!
now i'm intending on doing a big palaeo FACT! post about these critters, so don't be too upset if i breeze through them now. i'm just not with my Dr. Long books right now, and i kinda want to tell you about ms. rhonwyn's surprise right now, and palaeo FACTs would slow this post down.
here's a preview of what i'll be sharing with you later on though people of the innerweb.
this is one of the coolest right here. the jaw of koolasuchus the giant crocodile sized amphibian of australia's cretaceous. i've been a huge fan of these since the spirits of the ice forest episode of walking with dinosaurs.
right here were the ACTUAL fossil bones of leaellynasaura the antarctic hypsilophodont.
to help you out visualize what these bones look like articulated (that's fancy science talk for bones together as they went in the living animal) there was a nice cast skeleton to the side for reference.
i've seen hypsilophodonts before, but never one this famous or cool. again i'm planning a whole palaeo FACT on these guys later, but they were amazing. they were a dinosaur that actually survived in sub zero temperatures!
anyways rounding out the whole hall hovering by the ceiling of the far end was a model pteranodon. after having seen my first skeleton of these guys just a few weeks ago in auckland it was nice to see a model one of these guys (even if i'd seen a ton of them before).
so as you can see it was a really cool fossil hall. i'd do more palaeo FACTs in this post, but i was a little rushed in checking out the place, and had to take pictures of the signs to read later. cause remember how this exploring started with ms. rhonwyn running off to "find" my surprise.
well she did, and let me tell you i was SURPRISED!!!from behind me as i started to look at (hence no pictures of them... which is fine their boring anyways) the prehistoric mammals came ms. rhonwyn's voice. "traumador there's someone i'd like to 'introduce' you too," the way she said introduce so mockingly had me very curious as i turned around.
there stood ms. rhonwyn trying to keep a straight face. "traumador the tyrannosaur i'd like you to meet..." she pointed her hand to the giant figure standing behind her...
"lillian the albertosaur!!!" she said as a big grin broke through her attempt at seriousness. "or have you met already?" ms. rhonwyn winked at me...
i could feel my jaw drop to the floor (or at least my chest cause my jaw actually hit something!). i seriously could not imagine this as my surprise... that alone ever happening...
well okay that was a lie because i of course just a little while ago did imagine running into lillian again.
its just i've learned the hard way through life these last two years since my down fall at the tyrrell that there are NO second chances...
yet here was one standing right in front of me... people of the web wide world what does one do in these sorts of situations?!?