looming doom... the OH-lympics are on!!!

i won't lie. i'm kind of angry people of the web wide world...

angry at the one guy i thought i could trust... my special talent agent peter bond.

i'd given him money to take lillian the albertosaur around the world and try to reclaim her lost fame... i didn't give it to him to fund these dinosaur OH-lympics of his! i currently have nothing left. meaning i'm stranded here in canada!

peter assures me that if these OH-lympics are a success i'll not only make my money back, but a lot more... which is fine and dandy, assuming he is right... but how often do things work out in my life?!?

meaning my only hope of getting back to new zealand is to go ahead with these crazy games of peter's... otherwise i'm doomed.

although speaking of doom, i have to say the start to these games are turning out to be very scary!!!

peter took aside the whole of team canada, which consisted of myself, norman a. centrosaurus, and lillian to tell us about the first event. immediately we dinosaurs could all tell something epic was about to go down. literally go down too! as looming behind peter was the first venue of the dinosaur winter OH-lympics...

this first game was something called ski jumping... which no, unlike its name does not mean you're trying to train a ski to leap or something (uh not that that's what i thought it was at first or anything...).

no apparently, in this human sport, the skis are strapped onto you and you jump off of a giant tower which only serves the purpose of being there for people with skis strapped on them to jump off of! how crazy is that?!? to my human readers, seriously what is going through your heads when you come up with these crazy "sports"?

(i guess i should mention that the giant tower has a ramp attached to it... making the jump a bit more interesting than a straight down plunge... i guess)

than came the tense moment, when we were going to decide who was going to jump off the big tower... there was good news in this, only one of us would have to do it. the bad news was that one of us would have to do it...

there was no way i was going jump off that tower!!! sadly for me my other two teammates had the same stance on the topic as i did...

"come on now team canada!" peter tried to rally us. "we need to show the world who the best is, and we can't do that if you're all too afraid to even step forward to the challenge."

"he thinks the jumping is the challenging part," norman muttered aloud for us all to hear.

"i'm more worried about the landing myself," i pointed out.

lillian rather than focus on the choosing issue, asked peter a very pointed, and frankly good question. "why are you telling us all this and selecting one of us now? can't this wait till we're up on the tower at least? when we can see exactly what we are doing."

"YEAH!!!" me and norman piped in together. it was a good point, why weren't we at the top of the tower?

"well my canuck-osauruses," peter cautioned. "the price we pay as the host team, is that unfortunately during events i won't be able to be your acting coach."

this didn't phase us as much as i think peter wanted it too. he'd been expecting a big gushing or something. however the lot of us just looked at each other unsure why this was a big deal... of course, none of us had ever participated in any sports before. we were going to find out all too soon why having a coach is a good thing.

with our lack of concern about his absence, peter pushed things back to selecting our ski jumper.

"i only have two skis," peter outlined. "so i need a biped to jump."

norman let out a sigh of relief. me and lillian nervously looked at each other. though i just knew that peter was going to select me. between me and lillian (norman to come to think of it) i was the most adaptive and human like out of the lot of us. if one of us was going to stand a chance of making this jump alive it was me.

which is why i was completely thrown for a loop when peter said. "now as the point of this sport is to travel the furthest, i'm reckoning weight will be the most important factor of the skier. so lillian as coach i'm picking you."

phew! i thought for a moment. then it hit me... i may not have been plunging to my doom, but the girl of my dreams about about to!!!

before i could speak up in protest, peter started to take off away from the ski jump. "okay gang, break a leg... oh right, don't do that! make canada proud and bring us home a gold instead!"

bring back some metal ore? what did that have do with speeding off a tower on two planks of wood?

before he was out of sight peter added. "oh and while the events going on, tune into channel 299 and let me know how i do."


so while lillian is potentially learning why tyrannosaurs weren't the direct relatives of birds, peter would be doing what exactly?

to be continued: with leaping lizards!


fossil of the weekend! #66

stupid innerweb! i had this post all set to go up for this weekend... as i was going to be busy with the first OH-lympic event (working on the post as we speak!). here was what you should have gotten this weekend...

a cast of the cool transitional Tiktaalik, not a fish but not quite an amphibian. a "missing link" if you will, not that that term is used anymore... as this guy probably isn't directly related to amphibians but rather an off shot from the lineage. yet he still gives us an insight into what this transitionary form sort of looked like!


Backyard Dinosaur #1

i've been a bad little dinosaur. i haven't been keeping up with my cousin of the week feature. not just for a little while. for a whole four months!

so rather than be dishonest about keeping up with that project, i'm going to reboot it into a new format. after hearing a talk by Dr. Scott Sampson, i've been really enamoured with his concept of birds being "backyard dinosaurs". so that's what i'm going to call my bird feature of the week from now. (as for my encounter with dr. sampson, stay tuned it's coming up in the olympics!)

our first backyard dinosaur is this little downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). i found it due to the rhythmic taps its beak made on the telephone pole , as it tried to bore through the dead wood to get at some insect or insect larva borrowing inside.

(as a big part of dr. sampson's message about backyard dinosaurs is for people to try and discover lessons from nature in our own lives... i'm going to include a small backyard challenge for you each week. if you have a great backyard discovery tell us about it in the comment section!)

backyard challenge:

take 5 minutes one day and watch what sorts of birds come into your backyard and which parts and things in your yard they make use of.

i bet you'll be amazed at how adaptive all those birds are, and just how things in your backyard they make use of. human made or natural! my woodpecker was making heavy use of that phone pole, something we usually take for granted everyday as a people thing, not used by nature at all...


fossil of the weekend! #65

a cast skull of carnotaurus on display at the royal tyrrell museum.


the re-launch of ask a biologist!

who says you can't make a good thing better? (not me anyway :P)

the awesome science folks over on ask a biologist have just revamped their site to better handle and answer your biologic and palaeontologic questions!!!

so be sure to pop over and ask them a question today on their re-debut!


the price i pay...

i forgot how much i liked vancouver.

as far as human cities go this one has to be among my favourites. especially at night...

can you blame me really? it is just so pretty at night.

as much as i would have liked to just linger and enjoy the coloured darkness of vancouver i had business to attend to.

that business being the dinosaur OH-lympics organized by my special talent agent peter bond. he'd summoned a bunch of other dinosaur from around the world and wanted us all to compete against each other in some winter sports...

the problem is i had no idea how or why.

peter organized a meeting to discuss just that. funny enough he picked the same place where we first met, and i signed him on as my special talent agent...

i immediately complained how peter hadn't given me any notice before committing me to these "OH-lympics" of his. "traum, baby when you're dealing in the world of talent and fame you have to be ready to react to opportunities in an instant," he tried to assure me.

"what about the opportunities in new york?" i demanded.

"ah yes, new york," peter paused, as he seems to a lot, and after moment. "though new york was defiantly chance for lillian to regain her status as a museum attraction. it would have been just that, regaining. she'd have been nothing more than she was before. lillian would be just another dinosaur in a museum. these olympics could very well catapult her to a whole new level of stardom and fame. besides you were getting nothing out of our being in new york."

i was getting lots i thought! i was giving the girl of my dreams happiness and a chance at the life she'd always wanted. through that i was hoping i'd gain a lot more. her heart namely! not that these OH-lympics were hurting that plan, i had to hand it too peter. if anything this put me in position to collect on my winnings if they were to be had!

that and it would be nice if things were to go my way too!

good now that i had that rant out of my system time to get to these OH-lympics.

peter outlined how he was hoping to run several events for us dinosaurs. some of them i'd heard of like ice hockey and uh... okay ice hockey was the only one i'd heard of. i am a canadian dinosaur afterall :P

some of these other ones though... figure skating, whats that? the skinniest on the ice wins? cross-country skiing, man why couldn't he have organized that in a nice small country like new zealand? canada is way to big to ski across! ski jumping sounds silly. even i know that skis aren't alive or have legs capable of jumping! curling just sounds like we're all going to get sick tummies! bob-sled takes the cake as the sport that sounds the most ridiculous! none of us dinosaurs are even named bob, why not dino sled or saurus sled... oh wait sledosaurus!
peter then grabbed my glass and clanged his own into mine... i'm not sure why. he called it a toast, but i KNOW that happens to be a breakfast with bread (something i would never have! it would make my carnivorous tummy upset). "here's to the olympics!"

still not sure what this had to do with breakfast toast, i asked. "where's to them?"

"what?" peter asked me back.

"you said 'here's to the OH-lympics', but that doesn't make sense. they're not here now, and you didn't give me proper directions to where they're going to be," i pointed out, not sure why this was confusing peter... though i guess if he always gives bad directions like that he might not understand my problem.

peter just laughed. "good one, traum," i just blinked. "okay never mind," peter dismissed the whole conversation. "moving on then."

i saw a good point to bring up something i'd wanted to say in relation to the OH-lympics. "it sure was nice of the city to let us host the games here," i complimented our large host. "you must have asked them really nice."

peter chuckled confidently. "nothing says please like several thousand dollars."

i paused thinking about that for a second. "where did you get that much money?"

"from you of course," peter pointed out.

"WHAT?!?" i yelled.

people from all over the restaurant started to look at us really funny. "finish your drink, and calm down!" peter instructed me as he looked frantically around worried about all the probing eyes.

as i angrily chugged on my vanilla cola, peter anxiously sipped on his drink, a metro something or other. i'd given peter permission to fund a world tour for him and lillian. i hadn't given him permission to use my money for funding big sporting events!

i didn't have that much money to begin with... just a museum security guard's meager savings.

peter finally finished, and more to the point was comfortable that no one was watching us argue anymore. "look big guy, i know it sounds like a lot of money, but you can't make money if you don't spend money."

"i wasn't wanting to make money!" i stated. "i just wanted you to make lillian famous again!"

"not want to make..." peter couldn't believe his ears.
"what have i been paying for?" i wondered outloud.

"nothing much," peter started. "just the application of a event to the city, renting the venues, insuring the venues, the flights for all the competitors and their coaches, renting a TV studio and equipment, oh speaking of which i'm going to need to buy a suit for when i am doing the play by plays, hiring an artist to make the games logo, and..." he looked up to my glare. "well you get the idea traum."

"how much do i have left? " i demanded.

peter looked sort of sheepish. "not much."

"how am i supposed to get back to new zealand and my job?!?"

"ah now there you have nothing to worry about," peter tried to calm me down. "see with all the marketing tie ins i'm hoping this will generate we'll see you getting double your investment back out of this little venture," i didn't look convinced. "come on traum, with all big name museums i'm drawn into the games how can we not make a mint?"

i just looked away overwhelmed. a tiny part of my tiny brain had wondered if it was a good idea to give peter total access to my money... now i knew!

noting my concerns peter tried to summarize. "look traum, i know this looks like it was a waste of your money, but i assure you i've only spent money where it was absolutely needed! from here on in we won't spend anymore unless it is absolutely necessary!"

i'd paid for the whole thing to happen, but for what reason? simply to make back what i'd spent on it in the first place! there was no guarantee with all these other dinosaurs around me and lillian would come out as the stars of the whole thing. more to the point, what did peter consider absolutely necessary spending?

as if to answer my question fireworks broke out on the harbour! oh man, i better not be paying for those too!!!

peter noticing my anxiety. "oh yeah, i forgot about those."

what am i going to do people of the innerweb?... especially now that we were in the thick of it all. i couldn't pull the plug now can i?

next: preparation for the first event!


fossil of the weekend! #64

a large ammonite on display at the royal tyrrell museum. this particular specimen exhibits the rather unique preservation known as ammolite. this is only known to occur in ammonites fossilized near the northern rocky mountains.

the photo doesn't do it credit, this shell actually refracts the whole light spectrum rather like a CD or DVD. very pretty and cool! these particular shells (coming from a common and well understood species) are mined for use in jewelry. due to its beauty and abundance in the province, ammolite is alberta's official gemstone.


the final team... or is it?

well today certainly wasn't panning out how i'd envisioned it...

i'd actually nearly had a real romantic date with lillian! of course right at the last minute everything had gone weird... not wrong mind you (i was this close to a nose nuzzle!) just weird.

for you see, our special talent agent peter bond had finally organized his big plan for us finding fame here at the OH-lympics. he'd called in a bunch of other vivus-dinosaurs from various museums from around the world, and wanted us all to compete against each other. the problem is that all those other dinosaurs showed up right in the middle of my date!!!

as all the other dinosaurs were in teams of 3 representing different parts of the world (china, the united states of america, gondwana, and australia) this left me and lillian with the obvious questions of what team were we on, and with who else?

so the two of us went hunting for our talent agent in hopes of tracking down some answers to these open questions...

as we walked lillian told me the best thing i'd heard since i'd arrived here in vancouver. "i had a lovely afternoon traumador."

"really?" i responded in anticipation. lillian nodded (a human trait she'd picked up from her years as a museum attraction... theropods don't naturally nod in agreements). i had to ask. "would you like to do it again when we get a chance?"

"yes," she definitely stated. though added a moment later. "if peter gives us a chance."

though it wasn't the best joke ever we both chuckled...

then it dawned on me, just like that i had another date with lillian! were we "going out" now? i had no clue... partially as i had no clue what that meant, i'd just heard it on TV a lot when the people on it were dating a lot. which doesn't make sense! i'd already gone out with lillian. didn't that mean we were just going out again?

we were quickly getting closer to where peter told us to meet him, and a strange but familiar smell built in the air. unlike during our date, both me and lillian could tell you the source of this smell, as our instincts started our mouths watering a bit...

there was a ceratopsian nearby!... and a human too, but our tyrannosaurian instincts picked up the horned dinosaur first. on the beach earlier we hadn't recognized the other dinosaurs smells immediately as most of them were completely foreign to our prehistoric albertan instincts.

as we came around the corner the question of who our teammate was got answered. standing with peter was my childhood friend norman a. centrosaurus!!!

this was a welcome sight, for in all the craziness that was my trip to calgary, i hadn't managed to properly say good bye to norman as i'd promised i would. cool, with him on my team i'd get to visit with him a whole bunch more!

norman honked a greeting at us (or just me, i'm not sure), which i did my best to return (my tyrannosaurid throat is just not designed for the noise. i have enough trouble with english!). this caused lillian to look at me really funny though...

peter not noticing lillian's sudden hostile stance happily greeted us. "ah good, the rest of team canada has arrived!"

well that ended all the wondering, and it all made sense. ignoring that me and lillian had effectively been exiled from the country, the three of us were all canadian dinosaurs originally. better yet we'd all grown up in the same town!

not that we'd all gotten along back in those days... which was appearing to be a problem now!

peter started blabbing on about our "game plan" for the dinosaur OH-lympics... which if i caught it all right (i was heavily distracted as you'll see) entailed us winning, and not much else in line of a plan...

however had he been paying attention behind him, our team was not off to a very good start. lillian started growling at norman rather aggressively. norman being a ceratopsian instinctively responded with threatening snorts.

oh crud! i'd totally forgotten this facet of lillian. despite not wanting to join the pack of the primordial feather, she was still a pretty pure tyrannosaurid when it came down to it. like most other vivus-theropods, lillian has a real disdain for "prey" animals, and ceratopsians and hadrosaurs are at the top of her dislike list. meaning she was viewing norman as a dinner on legs, and not an equal worthy of being on a team with her!

as for norman he is pretty impartial about the whole theropod vs. none theropod issue, having hung out with me and zendin throughout his childhood. in fact me and him owe a lot of our outcast status to our tolerance of each other. however if you are hostile to norman than his stubborn ceratopsian tendencies boil to the surface, and he'll quickly take a disliking to you. which was just what had happened between him and lillian!

peter ended his little peep talk on the most ironic line he could have picked! "so here's to a united team canada. let's smoke the rest of the world!"

a united team... man, peter couldn't have been further from the reality of our members right now. even if he'd tried. sure i could get along with either one of them perfectly fine. lillian and norman on the other hand were already close to mortal enemies!

go canada go? oh man...

next: the costs of OH-lympics!


let the games begin...

my special talent agent peter bond has been up to a lot for these OH-lympics of his!

there i was minding my own business (and trying to woe lillian) on the beach of west vancouver, when suddenly (exactly) a dozen other dinosaurs showed up here in vancouver?!?

the progress i'd been making with lillian instantly came to a halt, and the two of us were suddenly confronted with the mystery of all these other vivus-dinosaurs. they clearly hadn't been here in town the whole time unknown to us, as vancouver doesn't really have anywhere with dinosaurs, such as a museum. so they'd clearly all just arrived, but why?

pretty quickly we both learned all these dinosaurs had specifically been summoned by peter, and been told to find us here at the beach. all so the "winter games" could begin in the next couple of days.

this sounded really stupid to me (and i'm the saurian with a brain the size of a peanut!), what winter games? peter had brought me and lillian here for the OH-lympics, why were all these dinosaurs here to play some silly games.

i very quickly got the answer to this question. it turns out the OH-lympics are just a fancy word for playing games... why no one had bothered to tell me it that way is beyond me. its not that complicated!...

apparently the human OH-lympics had just ended, and as of such peter had organized his dinosaur winter games to start right now when everyone would be starting suffering "OH-lympic withdrawal" (whatever that means?).

i was informed that in addition to all of us dinosaurs be expected to play a bunch of games, we were also expected to do so on teams. normally humans apparently competed on behalf of their country of origin... however peter had some slight troubles getting dinosaurs from the same modern countries for his games...

part of this was that peter had been contacting museums that were known to have a lot of vivus-dinosaurs under their care. as most museums in the world don't have many of us living dinosaurs in their collections, this left peter with a pretty limited list. of those museums that did have a few vivuses kicking around, peter quickly found that many had collected their dinosaurs from different countries than where the museum itself was based. meaning that he had trouble putting together proper OH-lympic teams from some institutions...

the a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_vdMpbAB0DRI/S7NeNxeSENI/AAAAAAAANZQ/JxstGXlap2c/s1600/team+gondwanna+intro+pip.jpg" though not all of them. for example direct from the beijing institute of vertebrate paleontology and paleoanthropology (IVPP) came...


china we learned had been the only country in the world with a single institution with a big enough collection of vivus-dinosaurs to field a team from a single country! apparently they had been spoiled for choice, but had decided to send their team of 3 (all the teams were 3 saurians we learned) of a pinacosaurus, psittacosaurus, and a tsintaosaurus. the whole lot struck me as a little gruff, but they were plant eaters confronted with two of their ancestral predators... relatives of their prehistoric nemesis tarbosaurus no less!

their human coach seemed a nice enough fellow though (all the teams of dinosaurs were accompanied by a human). he friendly tried to explain parts of peter's plans... at least those parts he knew. it was becoming clear bond was the only one with full knowledge of what was going on.

besides the IVPP the only other museum that had been able to field its own singular team was the chicago field museum... however there was a slight catch with this team. unlike the american museum that had sent them, the dinosaurs on this team were from all over the modern globe. however in prehistory they could all gave been said to be from the same general region...


chicago's team was representing the long split up southren super continent of gondwana. this had once been made up of antarctica, south america, africa, australia, india, and new zealand. of course the three chicago dinosaurs couldn't possibly be from all six of these modern continents, but it turned out they were all from africa or south america.

this team didn't seem to get along very well. despite their human coaches rather chipper example. the giganotosaurus openly (if you read theropod body language like me and lillian instinctively do) viewed her teammates with disdain, and the small heterodontosaurus clearly was uneasy being forced in such close proximity to two drastically bigger theropods. only the spinosaurus seemed to be enjoying the situation, but i think he was more looking forward to the games than being with his teammates...

if there was a team that looked like a truly organized and together team it had to be...


the only problem with this real professional attitude on the part of both the dinosaurs and coach, was that they were looking at all the rest of us kind of hostilely.

peter hadn't found any one museum in the united states able (or willing) to send all 3 dinosaurs needed for an american team. he did find however that several museums of the mid west were willing to each send a single dinosaur to the games.

so we ended up with a montanan einiosaurus, a wyoming stygimoloch, and a coloradoan stegosaurus. despite their geographic separation (and geologic too come to think of it!), the lot of them all seemed to know each other quite well. i guess their museums are all on good terms with each other or something.

team america was certainly seeming quite the united front for when we got the games underway. i just hope they were here to have fun...

which brought us to the last obvious team, which if america was super team-like, than this team certainly was not!


at first we didn't notice the team from down under, as they were behind all the others scattered. at least at first. you see, the two smallest members had run off from their larger more serious team mate. as the two of them chased each other around the large muttaburrasaurus trailed behind trying to discipline the two of them.

it wasn't till they started wrestling and the mutta caught up and yelled at them, that me and lillian really notice them. (muttaburrasaurus have a very loud call on account of that big chamber on their nose... it is hard to miss one "yelling")

of all the dinosaurs so far gathered the two small australian team members were the only ones i'd previously met. these were of course who i'd met in australia a couple years ago. despite the deafening bellows of their large muttaburrasaur team mate the two obviously kept horsing around with each other... good to see somethings don't change, uh i guess.

i didn't dislike the leaellynausauras, but i wasn't overly excited at seeing them again. however i suddenly was rather happy when i saw who the australian coach was!

it was my boss ms. rhonwyn! before she knew it i'd launched a mega hug on her.

"calm down there big guy!" ms. rhonwyn pleaded, somewhat out of breath due to my strong hug around her wind pipe. despite my tiny arms, they are quite powerful. i need to remember that next time i hug someone! oops.

i was very excited to see her, as it had been a long time since i'd be to work (for some reason :P). though before i could catch up with her it suddenly dawned on me. "you're not a sports coach!"

"no," ms. rhonwyn replied back somewhat confused as to why i'd made the link with her and a coach.

"all the other teams have coaches for these games," i answered urgently.

"are you kidding," ms. rhonwyn dismissed. "we're all just representatives from our museum or institution who've tagged along to make sure your friend mr. bond doesn't put any of our vivus fossils into harms way with these games of his."

on that note, ms. rhonwyn clearly knew some of the other "coaches", as the chinese tender eagerly waved and called a greeting in chinese. ms. rhonwyn responded back in the same language, i have to keep remembering her speciality is in chinese culture not dinosaurs! she'd been to china several times, and i'd wager she knew the chinese coach from one of these trips.

than something occurred to me. "what team are me and lillian on?" i more thought aloud than ask of ms. rhonwyn.

"you'll have to take that up with your 'coach'," ms. rhonwyn answered much to my surprise. "mr. bond assured us that he was fielding a team. you were on the roster last i checked."

i blinked. peter had mentioned nothing about this to either me or lillian, and the games by all accounts started tomorrow! if me and lillian were going to be part of them and become famous (as part of peter's plan) we were going to need a third team member!

who could peter have contacted? more to the point what country could me and lillian represent? we were two exiled tyrannosaurids... there weren't too many more of those kicking around...

next: the home team!

fossil of the weekend! #63

the mounted cast skeleton of my aunt black beauty (a tyrannosaurus rex, of course) at the royal tyrrell museum. in anticipation of their upcoming 25th anniversary display!