fossil of the weekend! #16

a pleisoaur skull from the albertan oil sands, on display at the royal tyrrell museum.


something top secret

since i've sort of ventured away from posting about my own adventures on the blog the past few weeks (because i've been smack dab in the middle of said adventures mind you!), i thought this would be a great chance to get an announcement out of the way.

my good buddies at prehistoric insanity have asked me to remind you that...

1. time is running out to get in your horned dinosaur entry for the first ART Evolved gallery. details are here. they would like all entries by march. 1st... which is only a few days away!

2. they wanted me to elude to the fact there is a HUGE mega top-secret surprise that they will be coinciding the launch of the gallery with... oops, i guess i didn't elude to it so much as told you. still i wonder what it is?!?

i gotta run and get my submission ready. can't wait to see yours up there!


palaeo challenge results...

well i've just returned from the field (a little later than i'd hoped, but you know how intense discovery can be!).

looking over the challenges, i think it is safe to say that they were challenges. i made them too hard, and for that i applogize. with my brain the size of a peanut i forget that things i know aren't automatically known by others.

though not to worry people of the innerweb. i'll cover the answers of these challenges in my chronicling my fieldwork, as i ran into all these things along the way!

the only challenge where someone was close was challenge 3. for this one professional palaeontologist Dr. Adam Yates was really close considering he knows nothing about alberta's geology. so i'll be contacting him about his prize...

raptor lewis did a great job summarizing lost quarry hunting in his guess for challenge 1, but missed one thing in his list. sadly it was the one correct answer, but he gets a shout out for having paid such close attention to the lost quarry post! because for the most part he only really missed one thing.

anyways thanks for trying, and this is by no means the last time you'll be seeing of these challenges.


fossil of the weekend! #15

the skull of the placoderm (armoured fish) dunkleosteus at the royal tyrrell museum.


my cousin of the week #5

an australian magpie in auckland.



okay last CHALLENGE while i'm out in the field trying to find lost quarrys of francis slate.

i saved up a hard one for the finale of this the first round of challenges... time to prove you have a bigger brain that me!

above is a nice picture of the badlands, with a rather ugly green line (added by me in paint to the photo) running along the top. there is a key difference between the layers above and below this line.

now before you take a guess... i'm sure some of you are thinking it must be the KT boundary!... there is a difficult catch. i only want to know what is special about the top layer... which is hint right away. it is only a single layer above the green line, compared to many many below it!

the layers below the line are of the horseshoe formation, and contain the sorts of dinosaurs and other fossils you'd expect to find in those rocks. however the rocks above it are not from the horseshoe canyon formation, and the horseshoe are the only cretaceous layers around drumheller (where this photo was taken!).

how can you explain this layer as per the law of superposition?!?

next the really hard part, and a prize winning answer if you can get it (there is a prize for this part if you can get it). how is the source of this single top layer (possibly) responsible for my finding fossils in the bottom layers, as the bottom layers came before it?

(this is not a trick question! the bottom layers were laid down before this top one for the record. somehow this layer explains why i today can find fossils in this area).

double good luck to you, and be sure to check back on feb. 21st when i get back and figure out who got this one and the first two challenges right!


taste of nature #3 bison

a bison (aka american buffalo) on a farm on the prairies of alberta.



alright so as you know i've headed out into the field (thus this auto post... remember i won't be back till the end of next week).

though i am trying to find the lost quarrys of francis slate, i'm just as likely to stumble into all sorts of other cool things here in the badlands.

and stumble i have! well checking around the bottom of a hill i catch glimpse of this spot.

it got me REALLY excited, and hopeful that i was on the edge of a big discovery...

what did i see in the photo that got me really excited? why did seeing these get me excited? and what was i hoping that the thing(s?) i saw were indicating might be close by?

leave your answer in the comments to this post, and check back on feb. 21st when i get back in from the field and announce who was right and who was well... uh less right.

good luck!


fossil of the weekend! #14

a parasaurolophus skull at the american museum of natural history in new york. just for dinorider.


my cousin of the week #4

an american magpie.


taste of nature #2 pronghorn

a pronghorn antelope i saw on the prairies around drumheller.



okay here is the first ever tyrannosaur chronicles Palaeo CHALLENGE!!!

the idea is to test your palaeontologic know how and thinking skills. hopefully everyone is a winner!

so your first problem...

i am out in the badlands currently trying to find this lost quarry of francis slate. one of my main clues/tools for finding this lost quarry of his is this photograph.

there is possible problem with this photo that, if i forget to take into account, will lead to my not recognizing this spot. even if i'm standing right on top of it!

what COULD be the problem with the photograph, and what is the easy solution i should make sure to do, so i don't fail at my quest?

good luck! leave you answer and solution in the comments to this post, and check back on feb. 21st when i get back in from the field and tell you who got it right!


setting out! (the lost quarry part 1)

so it was settled in my mind.

i was going to find out more about this mysterious francis slate, an early adventurer from the great canadian dinosaur rush, who found my egg nearly a 100 years ago yet left it in the ground for some reason!

darren tanke had taught me everything i needed to go out and find slate's lost quarrys. so i was set and ready to get started

though it took darren some convincing that i was up to the task of tracking down the elusive slate. afterall darren, the master of lost quarry locating, had been unable to track down francis after nearly a decade. however, darren was a man with a day job and lots of other things to discover.

i on the other hand was a tiny dinosaur with nothing better to do for my time here. if not look for this man with a connection to my past, i'd just end up bumming around my old hometown another month. which was getting old.

no, instead i could focus my energies on nothing but digging up the trail of this elusive fossil hunter, and who knew maybe make some cool new things along the way...

darren had empowered my on my hunt of slate's lost quarrys by giving me copies of what few photos of the man we had. out some 22 of his field reports (almost the ONLY records of this man's existence), only 5 were from work around drumheller, and as i was stuck in town that's where i'd be looking.

here they were:

this one from 1913. a picture from the geologic survey's records, one of the few photos of slate not taken by his own field team, you can tell as his field assistant eli hexton is taking a photo in the picture... his photo of the scene has since disappeared. it is a nice view into how all the rest of these old photos came to be though!

according to the field report of slate's, this was a site after some reconnaissance digging revealed a bonebed with at least 4 "albertosaur type" dinosaurs present. this wasn't just a claim. francis had counted the left femurs. there were four of them!

this was at the top of darren's list. as a new tyrannosaurid bonebed would help new light on the building evidence of pack behaviour in my family.

i had few details to go on with this one. other than it was somewhere in proximity to a coal mine. which didn't help in the drumheller section of the valley there were 8 of them... but i had some ideas how to narrow this down!

this the FIRST of francis slate's field reports ever, from 1912, when he was tailing both barnum brown and the sternbergs during the year they were both in drumheller.

according to the attached field report, slate found what may by a horned or duckbilled dinosaur here. whatever it was he describes a sharp protrusion coming off the skull.

i have a slight clue where this was. the fossil was pointed out to eli hexton by some coal miners walking along the trail to work (you can see the path on the left in the photo). hexton in this picture is in turn pointing it out to slate. i just need to figure out which coal mine this might be near...

another from 1912, but 3 weeks after the last report. in this slate discoveries a "radically" new form of ceratopsian which he pointed brown and the american museum of natural history crew to, and he says they collected... based on this it might be the quarry for the type specimen of anchiceratops...

i have next to no clues on this one.
the last of the 1912 photos. this is one of only instances we know slate to have collected something himself... the weird part he doesn't tell us what it is though...
francis merely states that he is collecting "a specimen of unfathomable importance" for posterity sake. what it was or where it ended up though we have no idea. darren is hoping he might have left some of the fossil behind that we can use to unravel this mystery.

sadly there are contradicting clues on where this is. he at one point or another says the site is near the star, the north american, midland, and/or the atlas 3 coal mines in his description. those mines couldn't be further apart. covering the entirety of the drumheller section of the valley. it was almost like he was deliberately hiding this spot!

my last photo is a big one in francis slate history, from 1917. it records slate's last known field action. he would die about 2 weeks after this picture was taken.

what is curious about it is that slate states in the photo he is directly attempting to track down a "diminutive tyrannosaurid dinosaur". yet he is clearly looking across a valley with binoculars, which wouldn't help look for fossils in the hills far away. i think he mislabelled it, and this is him scouting for good outcrops.

no clues again...
despite the odds against me, i'm feeling optimistic. i have yet to make a big find while out in the badlands, and they say for every 200 hours someone is out in the field they'll make a significant find. i'm at just over 300, so i'm way over due! meaning a slate quarry should make up the interest i'm owed...
so i hit the tyrrell to stock up on a few minor supplies, and look over some maps of the area.
on my way out of the museum i had the most unexpected run in... while heading through the staff only corridor i rounded the corner to come face to face with none other than...
professor paradigm!!!
upon seeing the other we said in unison... it was the weirdest thing ever, it was like we had one voice for a second... "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!?"
we'd both last encountered in melbourne, and it hadn't been pretty. he'd been a major bully and fired the girl of my dreams lillian from her job... i'd vowed i'd try to avoid this guy at all costs. as he was bad news.

i could tell he was going to ask me a million questions, and frankly i had a few for him. how the heck was it we both ended up at the tyrrell museum only a couple months after both being in australia? i knew he was very much wanting to know the same thing.
"of all the... what are you doing..." he said clearly working through my unexpected presence out loud. however before he could finishing asking his question the most unusual thing happen.
the professor was paged over the museum intercom... which is normal for tourists in the public galleries, we send messages to them all the time on that side of the museum. very rarely did people get paged in the staff only end of the building... and to the director's office?!?
if it wasn't paradigm, who kind of scares me, i'd have thought he was in big trouble. however knowing paradigm i wondered if it wasn't the director who was in trouble!!! it had to big for them to be calling in a big shot like paradigm to talk to the big boss of the whole museum...
never the less i didn't have to worry about it then, as the encounter ended as quick as it started. "if you'll excuse me," paradigm sounded like he was formally excusing me. adding to this sense, he turned back as he walked away. "for today."
it was an ominous note in a way, but i didn't care. he couldn't effect me here that much. like say he'd done to lillian. i was just a visitor, and one who was going to be scarce for a while...
for as of right after i publish this post people of the innerweb, i set off into the badlands to search out francis slate...
so i won't be around for about 2 weeks. i aim to be back in on feb. 20th, and will update on my expedition then. in the meantime enjoy a series of autoposts i've set up to entertain, and at time test, you.
have a good one people of the innerweb without me, and wish me luck!!!


one of the greatest dinosaur halls ever! (new york part 3)

well today was a huge day... though not for me.

for who you might ask? and why would i bother telling you about someone else's big day?

well partially because i am funding their whole effort, and their two very important beings to me (one dinosaur and the other human) i thought it'd be worth mentioning.

after talking to peter bond and eee-mailing lillian the albertosaur, i was getting kind of anxious about them getting to their goal of the american museum of natural history in new york city.

well as of this morning, i can stop worrying. peter gave me a call telling me they'd arrived safe and sound...

more to the point, they were in the perfect spot for lillian to trying and work her way back up to stardom.

not that the american museum of natural history (AMNH from here on in... man that is a lot of typing in the long version!) is an easy place for a dinosaur to stand out in! the place has many many of them, and their some of the most spectacular specimens and exhibits in the world!

right away when you first step in the door you are greeted by the colossal mount of a barosaurus rearing into the air defending its young from a marauding allosaurus.
lillian joked that she is glad that our kind (the tyrannosauids) didn't really have to hunt prey of this magnitude.

of course the prime attraction for dinosaur fans are the TWO dinosaur halls... which as impressive as they are, only make up a tiny part of the HUGE whole of the AMNH. as peter and lillian only gave me pics of the dino hall that's all your going to see here today. if you go to visit the AMNH expect to see a LOT more than just this though!

you'll not the lovely apatosaurus (or brontosaurus... i personally like brontosaurus more, but that's the bakker fanatic in my talking) skeleton mount behind lillian and peter. sadly this is the only good photo of it they sent me. apparently it is so big it's hard to photograph.

peter's plan was for lillian to have a similar role here in the AMNH's dinosaur halls to the one she used to have at the royal tyrrell. she'd be the vivus-dinosaur making the rounds so that people could see a living dinosaur. not a common thing at most museums.

the best part being that the AMNH doesn't currently have a resident dinosaur for lillian to have to compete with!

while lillian was breaking into this new role, a very pleased peter (than again when isn't he pleased come to think of it?) wandered the hall and took some pictures of the residents to show me.
man oh man, it is like my dinosaurs of alberta post on display! sooooo cool.
a big part of why alberta's dinosaurs are so iconic and famous is their being on display in this musuem for almost a hundred years (some have been here 98 years!!! since they were first found in the great canadian dinosaur rush...).
so first off the dinosaur beside peter in the picture above is barnum brown's rather lovely styracosaurus found in 1915. darren tanke relocated this guy's quarry in 2006 and has found that brown left behind much of this skeletons skull (a lot of this particular skeleton's skull is reconstructed with plaster). so it may get a move over soonish with this new material.

a very cool specimen to see is this panel mounted centrosaurus. if you recall this was part of the case study of darren's i took you through to see how he finds lost and mystery quarrys. very cool to see it is still on display. found in 1914 by brown, if you don't recall that particular detail.

rounding off the albertan ceratopsians here is barnum's anchiceratops from 1912.

one of the most spectacular nodosaurid remains yet found, this edmontonia was found in 1915 by brown, but did not receive its current name till much later.

also on display are barunum's first ankylosaurus from montana, and his much nicer alberta one.

one of the most important historic skeletons on display is that of saurolophus. this is THE first complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in canada by brown in 1911.

they also have a some lovely lambeosaurus skulls.

they also have the first complete corythosaurus found, that also had a large portion of it covered in skin impressions (just out of view of the camera in this picture sadly!). it was found by brown in 1912.

also on display was this enigmatic duckbill here. initially it was thought to be a small species of hadrosaur that they called procheneosaurus, we now know this was a juvenile lambeosaurus (though a couple scientists are pushing corythosaur... but most think lambeo).

wrapping up the first dinosaur hall tour (the ornithischia hall) peter included photos of two of the more impressive NON albertan dinosaurs on display. though funny enough both have been found in alberta, these ones are from the states.
this includes the classic triceratops. peter should be smiling. that is the exact skelatal mount that appeared in all my favourite dinosaur books as a hatchling!

they also have this pair of nice anatotitans, though there is a chance these are just a pair of slightly bigger skulled edmontosaurus.

in the theropod hall is barnum brown's 1914 response to his boss henry osborn requesting brown to try and find more small theropods for the AMNH. man did brown deliver. only a fossil hunter of his legendary calibur could go out and meet a specific request like this. most of us just stumble into things. not say i'm going to find an X today, and go find it!
brown was the man!

here is a medium sized gorgosaurus found by levi and charles sr. sternberg in 1917. they tried to sell it to the british, but when they didn't want this specimen, the AMNH purchased it. originally thinking it was a new species it was named after the sternbergs, which i thought was rather sporting of brown. as the sternbergs were his main competitors during the dinosaur rush.
we now today recognize this as simple a juvenile gorgosaurus.

there is also this rather impressive mount of an adult gorgosaurus.

finishing off peter's photo tour of the AMNH's saurischian gallery was him posing with barnum brown's famous tyrannosaurus rex. the first ever found, in montana if your wondering where.
i was thankful to peter for taking me on this tour. keeping it mind this is only the alberta highlights (with a few extra american dinos peter thought were cool). the AMNH has tons more dinosaurs in this hall, and of course again a TON more all in one building. if your in the area it is a must goto.
sadly i won't be around there anytime soon. so i'm just going to have to enjoy peter's photos, and hope that lillian invites me to visit her someday.

speaking of lillian, peter sent this as a concluding photo. lillian interacting with a visitor to the museum. bond assures me that lillian has been a hit in her first day, and that he is going to try to negotiate with the AMNH to keep her on full time.

i can only hope he is successful. so i wait with some anticipation to hear good news from new york.

hopefully this plan of mine will see lillian made real happy, and i will finally make an impression in her heart...

a dinosaur that never sleeps... (new york part 2)

i get lots of eee-mail these days, and though i don't normal post most of it, i thought this would be a virtual exchange you the people of the innerweb might like to read.

it's an eee-mail from lillian the albertosaur!
hello traumador?

i can't not be sure you are seeing this. i do not understand how this human letter projecting box works...

it has been a few months since i last saw you. i just wanted you to know i miss you very much. especially given the only company i currently have is so. well, unpredictable.

do not get me wrong. i appreciate what you did for me, but this peter human is very full on. though it can be motivating at times, the fact his enthusiasm and determination doesn't cease can be a little off putting sometimes.

be that as it may, peter has so far done what he set out to do. that is bring us to new york city. here he hopes to get me a job at the american museum of natural history.

new york is very different from anywhere else i've been to. it is big. much bigger than even melbourne, which i thought was a large human gathering. new york has many more humans, more than i imagined could be in one place. i can't not even begin to describe the smell of so many of them at once! [we tyrannosaurs have one of the best senses of smell known in the animal kingdom]

new york has been living up to its nickname, a city that never sleeps! as there are no hotels or accommodations that will allow me to stay in them, peter and i have been forced to wander around town till tomorrow morning till the museum opens. yet we are not the only ones wake here.

awesome to hear from you lillian!

no problems reading you on the "letter projecting box", or as the humans call it a puter. i got your eee-mail just fine.

glad you and peter are making progress. i have noticed he is cheerful all the time too. just one of his quirks i guess. no harm has ever come from being positive though has it?... actually come to think of it i've never looked that up.

i wish i could check out new york! though the potential of smelling millions of people at once doesn't sound entirely fun.

how have you been finding not being able to sleep in new york? what have you guys been doing to occupy the time?

why you would want to come to such a concentration of mammals i do not understand, traumdor.

i do find it interesting though that there is plenty to keep us occupied despite the fact it is dark. it has always struck me that humans lack the drive to do anything in the night. unlike those of us who are true hunters. i have always felt alive at night, as though prey might be at hand in the gloom. it is nice to have finally found a place i can act up on my instincts.

not that it is anything like nighttime here. with the number of light orbs they have around this place it is almost as bright as dusk or dawn!

the peter human has been keeping us on the move. he says it'll help not only keep us awake, but generate interest. as of such he has had me parading up and down the streets of this city. which somehow feels wrong.

maybe it is the eerily flat "ground", the sky being blocked out by giant cubes, or the fact i'm completely surrounded by mammals on foot or in wheeled moving containers. this place has me weirded out.

despite this, the one thing i do appreciate while journeying around this city. is that most of the humans are completely unmoved by the sight of me. normally they cower or act in panic. here they simply act like i'm curiosity as opposed to the bringer of doom. even their enforcers barely responded to me. anywhere else i've been outside of a museum these enforcers would have been trying to cordon me off.

i guess that's to be expected. new york has seen a lot of stranger and scarier things than you...
bad guys of every variety including super villians, not to mention the action and super heroes that fight them all. they've had many many run ins with aliens. all manner of scary things have haunted that city too zombies, vampires, and ghosts (though they also have the real ghostbusters there, so its all good!). even my main man godzilla's little mutant cousin romped through there once.

what are you going on about?!?

i do not understand this nonsense you're going on about.

oh sorry. just a bunch of stuff i saw in some documentaries on the TV.

point is based on what i've seen of new york, typically you don't have much to worry about. even if things get hairy and the city is destroyed, they seem to rebuild it every time... in the amount of time it takes for the end credits to segue into the evening news! can you believe that!

it must be nice to be in a place where people aren't terrified of dinosaurs. now i really want to go. i'm looking for such a place!

i find i miss you less talking to you again on this puter box. i hope it is merely the meaning of your words is lost as they travel the world. or is that you truly are so stupid?

this place has been perfectly safe. for me in any case. peter human has had some frightful moments when he was approached by darkly clothed mammals. he claims everything "was just peachy", but i could smell the fear he was emitting. i wonder are these stealthy humans predators of some kind?

if so, it is good to see they know their place in the food chain. for they left peter human alone when i'd stand over him.

there is only a few more hours before morning and the museum opens. peter human is hoping they'll let me sleep somewhere within, and he can find his own sleeping territory.

i hope you are finding something worthwhile in drumheller. i miss our old home, and very much wish we could trade places. that way you could visit your precious dinosaur "friendly" city, and i could return to a place where we can at least exist.