fossil of the weekend! #71

as part of peter's new promotion of both the dinosaur winter games, and us dinosaurs in it, he took us across george's straight to victoria for a special appearance at the royal british columbia museum. the post on this, dare i say, misadventure is coming up soon, but thought i could start previewing the museum through its fossils here on the weekends...

you're first sneak peek of the RBCM is this rather lovely belemnite. belemnites were very similar to squid (which they were closely related too) but had much harder "guards", aka inner shells, which is what you see here. due to these harder shells belemnites fossilize quite easily (at least this particular part of them).

the belemnites evolved during the devonian period, and finally went extinct in the cretaceous. they reached the height of their success in the jurassic and cretaceous.


backyard dinosaur #2 (delayed)

okay, enough is enough traumador! this is the second time this year i've let my weekly dose of birds fall behind. the OH-lympics have been tying me up a lot more than i thought they would!

so again on with my revamped bird segment. all focusing on scott sampson's concept of "backyard dinosaurs".

this time around i spotted this rather pretty great blue heron (Ardea herodias) while wandering around vancouver harbour.

today's backyard dinosaur challenge is try to spot a bird everywhere you go... i think you'll be pleasantly surprised to find our avian friends are ever present (unless your a deep sea driver or an astronaut :P)


down under the mail delievery

well the dinosaur winter OH-lympics had started with something of a bang! literally.

our first event, the ski jump, had ended rather dramatically. with the gondwannan athlete, sansom the spinosaur, crashing into the crowd rather than land his jump properly. in good news no one was seriously hurt. in bad news a few people were somewhat hurt.

i was letting my special talent agent peter bond deal with all the consequences of this, but a few people were already starting to complain about the possible dangers of our other upcoming sporting events.

it was all starting to give me a headache. especially since my future was so tied into these OH-lympics (in the form of ALL my money!!!).

i needed to get away from it all for a bit and get some fresh air. i decided to mail some stuff back to my people in new zealand (at least those that weren't here at the OH-lympics already!).

as i made my way to the post office though, i ran into some old acquaintances. the australian leaellynasauras boom and rang. knowing the two of them, their team had sent them out to get fresh air, unlike my choosing to go! not that i minded run into them. it was nice to see a familiar face. especially ones who didn't dislike me or one another!

"g'day traumador," boom enthusiastically greeted me.

"hello traumador!" rang followed up with.

"hi guys," i greeted back, but didn't stop walking. i really wanted to get my stuff in the mail.

"mind if we join you?" rang asked. "yeah we're pretty bored," boom explained.

"sure," i said. the company would be nice. as we walked i realized i needed to be polite. "congratulations on your win at ski jumping rang."

"oh it was nothing at all really," he pretended to be modest. i recall these two little hypsilophodonts weren't all that self contained. answering my suspicion boom added. "apart from being better than all the other dinosaurs of the world!"

it was true. the tiny leaellynasaura had trounced every other saurian ski jumper (apart from america's bronko the stygimoloch), even the girl of my dreams lillian the albertosaur. yet this wasn't in the "spirit" of the games that peter had told us about (not that i get what a ghost had to do with winter, sports, or when you combine the two together!?!). peter told us the games were about friendly competition.

telling boom and rang this, they both chuckled. "man you really will believe anything people tell you," rang told me. "though not to worry, mate. it's one of the reasons we like you!"

they thought the point of the games was to beat everyone else, period! which i didn't think was all that nice. i tried to rain on their parade a bit. "well you know that canada is the favourite at these games right?"

"oh," boom started, finished by rang. "yeah?"

"that's what my coach peter said!" i stated proudly.

both looked at me a moment expecting me to crack a punchline or something. when i didn't both started to laugh, again! "traumador," rang laughed. "traumador," boom said, finishing the classic line of "traumador, traumador" i was used to getting when wrong. "that coach of yours needs to do a bit of reading, mate," rang stated.

"why?" i asked cautiously, suspecting i was about to walk into some sort of mental trap.

boom answered. "cause he's thinking about the human winter games." rang jumped in to finish the thought. "if he'd looked up where australia was back in the cretaceous compared to canada, he'd know aussie would be the fav." boom looking at me challenged. "but i reckon you already know what we mean."

"oh man," i thought out loud realizing what they meant. peter had been so busy planning the games, he had just grabbed what he knew about the human winter games and applied them to our dinosaur competition.

the leaellynasauras were right. back in their native time period of the cretaceous 106 million years ago their homeland of australia was one step short of the antarctic circle. meaning they were among the closest to winter dinosaurs we know of. canada during my time 65 million years while about as north as it is now (though a bit further west globally speaking), i wasn't from the north end of it. meaning i was not from as cold a place, and that these two would far better adapted to these winter conditions.

that was going to make the games a bit more interesting. peter was acting like team canada was a shoe in to win. now we had at least one major competitor. which was fine by me, except i got the feeling that canada needed to win a bit for me to get all my money back from these OH-lympics!

not that my money would be the issue today.

no, today's problem was a lot bigger, at least in person...

it seems like everything is bigger at the OH-lympics, and the post office didn't want to get left out of that. their new OH-lypmic edition mail box was huge!

which was cool to look at. however it was impossible for me to put my mail into!

boom and rang taking at look at it were very excited. "crikey!" rang said. boom finished. "that's what i call a post box!"

"a 'post box'?" i exclaimed. "its more like a giant uh,... box... box. how do i get my mail in there?"

"it is simple," boom boasted. i looked at the two of them like they were nuts. "watch and learn my theropod friend," rang informed me. "this is how you drop off the mail."

grabbing my letters from me, the two tiny ornithopods suddenly starting bouncing up the mail box. before i knew it my letters were up at the top and in the box. boom and rang made it look easy... if you were a tiny reptilian ninja gymnasts!
returning to the ground rang complained. "you don't have anymore mail for us?" boom added. "yeah that was fun!"

this was the last time i was listening to peter. team canada was in SO much trouble! team australia's dynamic duo alone just conquered a mail box none of the rest of us could have touched (well the top of of... except maybe the spinosaur, but he'd have had to be on tip toes).
despite all that, it was fun hanging out with boom and rang. i just wasn't looking forward to competing against them. which was coming up soon!
to be continued...


fossil of the weekend! #70

a wall mounted cast of gryposaurus at the royal tyrrell museum. there are a few bits of skin impressions around this skeleton, can you spot them all?


fossil of the weekend! #69

a cast skeleton of Euoplocephalus and a (crazy!) pursuing Albertosaurus, at the royal tyrrell museum.


fossil of the weekend! #68

a rather nice (though slightly crushed) skull of albertosaurus, on display at the royal tyrrell museum.


leaping lizards... the ski jump!

[Production Note: Our apologies to a number of people of flickr. We have "borrowed" all the pictures with a ski jump in this post from various people on flickr. However due to the installation of some new software on our PIP computer, the bookmarks for these were all lost. If you are one of the photographers who took these shots we will take down any of these shots if you wish, but please take the spirit of fun we've used them for in mind (and we are making no money off of any of them)]

it was finally the beginning of my special talent agent peter bond's grand scheme... the dinosaur winter OH-lympics.

i wish i could say i was excited about the games, as games are supposed to be fun aren't they? instead i was looking at the prospective of losing all my money if the games "failed".

even worse the first "game" didn't look all that fun to me. not one bit, and i'm looking at it right now!!!

lillian was a bit more than nervous about this ski jumping of peter's. so like any good (wannabe) boyfriend i accompanied her up to the top of the tower to look down the ramp she'd be zooming down in under an hour...

to say it was scary would be understating it, people of the innerweb. it was downright terrifying, and i wasn't even the one having to go down it.

lillian in proper tyrannosaurian fashion acted like she wasn't afraid. "this isn't much higher than a coulee in the badlands." she weakly dismissed. only i could see through her lie, being a tyrannosaur myself. her mouth was slightly a gap, a tell tale signs all was not well with her.

i decided to leave it though. in my experience most tyrannosaurids (apart from me) can get very testy when you question their bravery and other such nonsense. in my experience if you're scared, its best to just let it out. otherwise you'll do silly things later anyway (at least if you're me again).

i wished lillian good luck as the other competitors started to show up. it was time for me to head to the back of the tower as a non-jumper. lillian didn't respond to me, and just kept starring down the ramp before us. i didn't blame her for the rudeness this time. i'd be pretty wrapped up in the moment if i was in her claws.

however i was about head up to the observation deck, lillian turned and called after me. "thank you for coming up with me traumador. the company was very nice before... well you know."

as much as i stood to lose from these OH-lympics, one bright side of the whole affair was starting to emerge. i was starting to make considerable gains with the girl of my dreams...

taking my seat waiting for the event to start, suddenly a number of TVs set up on the ski jump turned on. a rather catchy jingle starting playing as a very familiar voice began to speak.

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to a special public access cable, channel 299.5, presentation. Tonight we bring you the debut of a sporting event of geologic proportions... the first ever Dinosaur Winter Games!!!

As the music cranked to epic levels the screen cut to two broadcasters... well people pretending to broadcasters... and i could see why the voice was familiar.

I am Peter Bond...

my talent agent introduced himself, but than paused. silence followed.


Oh right sorry, and I am Gus Richards.

Peter's co host finally introduced himself.

You didn't say how stressful this would be when we went to live. Just look at that little "on the air" light blinking...

Not NOW Gus!

Oh right sorry ladies and gentlemen. This is my first gig on TV, and I'm a little nervous.

Nothing the good folks at home *cough* need to know about Gus!

So here we are coming at you live from beautiful Vancouver, where the conditions are perfect today for our first Olympic event, the Saurian ski jump.

Another pause.

Ahem ahem!

Ah, yes Peter... where, uh. Five teams from around the worm... no sorry world are about to compete for... hmmm the gory. Oh, glory of being the best Dinosaurs of all time... in winner sport.

That's winter sport!

Sorry man, its hard to read your hand writing! Couldn't you have typed that up or something before hand!

gus suddenly realized yet again he'd embarrassed himself on TV and looked blankly at the camera. peter clearly muddled himself by his co anchor's nerves pressed on in typical chipper bond fashion.

The first team to take to the air today is team Australia.

That's right Peter. Today Australia will be represented by Rang the Leaellynasauras.

Indeed, as today all our Prehistoric teams are only allowed to field only one athlete to compete in the Ski Jump. Though rest assured folks, we have plenty of team sports coming up later in the games!

We now go live to the ski jump, where Rang is about to make the first jump of the day...

we all held our breath, as the little aussie dinosaur confidently, and frankly bravely pushed himself down the ramp. if i had to guess i'd say he was completely unphased by the prospect of shooting down the giant tower at break neck speeds, flying off high in the air, and soaring across hundreds of meters!

What a beautiful jump!

You sound surprised Gus.

I am actually. I figured this would just be a joke that played out as a horror show.


I mean I was expecting more... suspense than this.

HAHAHA yes. Back to our Australian jumper.

Based on all the ski jumping I've ever seen I'd say Rang is doing quite well. Won't you agree???

Absolutely. He is showing excellent flying position.

I believe in ski jumping they call it form.

Exactly what fantastic form our little friend from down under is showing!

What would you place Australia's chances at Peter?

We're not expecting the Aussie's to be the strongest contender in many of these events. With the ski jump in particular I believe the Australian coach has made the mistake of picking one of her lightest team members. A number of the coaches opted for their biggest and heaviest Dinosaurs, as they should be propelled faster and further.

The grace and agility we're seeing in the air won't be a factor then you don't think?

Of course n...

Rang finally came to the ground, way near the bottom of the hill...

One hundred metres?!? As I was saying before Gus, I totally believed that Rang's grace and ability...


Yes agility were going to be key factors in a successful jump!


Anyways what was your expert opinion on that jump Gus?

Expert? Well having watched the odd round of ski jumping in the past, I'd say for a first jump, 100 metres is pretty good! It sets the bar high, and shows that Australia may just be a contender in these winter games after all!

That remains to be seen, Gus. As several teams coming up have fielded their true heavy weights into the competition. If Rang weighing in at a mere 10 kilograms can jump 100 metres, let's see how far a multi ton beast can go!!!

Next up we have your very own team Canada's Lillian about to make the jump.

You mean all of Canada's don't you.

No I mean it is your team. Isn't it.

HAHAHAHAHA *whispered* I was going to try to keep a lid on my coaching status. We're supposed to impartial right *resuming normal volume* So team Canada's coach looks like he was wisely chosen his largest biped for the jump. Let's she how she does.

the moment of truth came, as lillian braced herself for launch. i could barely watch as she pushed off and propelled down the ramp!

within a matter of seconds lillian was sky bound! you know for a mutant multi ton relative of a bird, lillian was doing pretty good at showing her lineage to avians... you know without the feathers, or flapping, or properly flying.

There can not possibly have been a more intimidating... errr I mean spectacular sight ever seen coming down a ski jump hill. A Tyrannosaurus Rex...

Albertosaurus Gus. An Albertosaurus. *whispering* Trust me she gets a little grumpy if you mix it up, and a you won't know the difference between an Albertosaur and Tyrannosaur when their grumpy if you follow me!

Sorry an Albertosaurus, majestically flying through the air.

Oh and she is about to make her landing! How far will team Canada make it with Lillian's 2 ton bulk propelling her.

What an upset! Despite her considerable weight advantage, Lillian comes in at only 67 metres! Putting Team Canada in second on only jump number 2!

That can't be...

What's that Peter?

I could have sworn she'd be a clincher being so heavy, and... Oh I'm sorry. Like I was saying Gus, that can't be the start that Team Canada was looking for here in the first game.

We next come to Team China, who are clearly going to want to get ahead of at least Team Canada with Lillian's considerably shorter jump than Team Australia's Rang.

Indeed Gus. Now the Chinese coach has opted for a different tactic of ski jumper than the other big weight teams such as Canada and Gondwana. Despite having the choice of two potentially large jumpers, China has opted for their most compact big Dinosaur Lao-Gui Meng the Pinacosaur. The theory being that a more condensed heavy animal will be propelled that much further.

An interesting strategy. Well it won't take too much, apart from a good jump, to probably out do Canada's 67 metres. Though to catch up to current front runner Australia's 100 might prove a bit more difficult.

Well we're about to find out, as Lao-Gui takes to the air!

An excellent start to the jump too...

You know I was wrong about Lillian's jump. What we are now watching now has to be the most unique ski jump EVER!

Indeed who would have guessed something so bulky as an armoured Dinosaur would look so graceful in the air?

For those who were wondering Lao-Gui name in Chinese means Ancient Turtle.

I wasn't Gus, but I guess after today no one will be able to say Loud Gway is an old fart after today.

Actually Peter, in her native China the turtle is seen a being of great wisdom and patience. So I don't think the name would carry the same demeaning nature it does here in North America. That and you said her name wro...

So like I said I don't think anyone will make fun of our flying turtle again.

Oh no! but what a short lived time in the air! Landing at the mere 1 metre mark!

It would appear China's plan on using its most compact heavy weight has completely backfired! As Lao-Gui lands within a moment of taking off. What a shame for Team China, who now take third.

Sadly a very easy to out do third though Peter.

Indeed Gus, and I think the Americans are keen to seize it too! Team America has opted for a light weight jumper much like Australia.

Yes only this one has a heavy something or other. Starting with a k?

That would be head, Gus. It says head.

Look dude, you're hand writing isn't that good.

The American jumper, Bronko the Stygimoloch, weighing in at about twice the weight of Rang may present Australia with their real first challenge to their first place jump. Only unlike the truly light weight Leaellynasauras, Bronko's head is made of dense armoured bone. Possibly giving him a little more propolution, and the edge to victory.

Or we might see a combination of both Rang and Lao-Gui's jumps.

How would that work? The best and the worst jumps put together, what we'd get the medium jump?

Hey don't look at me. This commentator thing is hard. I just said it is it seemed a natural connection.

Well we'll find out if this is the unlikely combination Gus predicts, or if the Americans are about to make Dinosaur Olympic history!

I didn't predict...

Shhhhh Bronko is taking off!

And a good take off so far.

Bronko is making this look easy. Even more so than Rang from Australia did.

Indeed, perfect form up there. However I can't help but notice Bronko is holding his head very oddly.

I see what you mean Gus. It would appear our Pachycephalosaur is using his very heavy head to steer to a greater degree than our previous jumpers.

Oh and it looks like it is going to pay off for our hard headed American jumper!

Bronko still hasn't touched down as he passes the 70 metre mark... now the 80!... Oh my the 90... and Bronko will come down on the 96 metre mark! A mere 4 metres from first place!!!

That must be real frustrating to Team American.

Yet to jump into second place, that isn't too bad.

Indeed, putting our standings currently at Australia in first, America in second, Canada in third, and China in fourth. However our last jumper of the day from Team Gondwana could very well change all this.

That's right Gus, as Team Gondwana is taking heavy weight ski jumping to its extreme! Both Team China and Team Canada fielded Dinosaur jumpers who weighed a "mere" 2 tons. Gondwana's Sansom the Spinosaur comes in at a whopping 8 tons! Meaning we'll really get to see if there is anything in sending such huge jumpers down our hill today!

Indeed Peter. So far we've seen that the lighter and more agile jumpers have had the most like in gliding down the hill. Our heavy weights however have both had different problems. In the case of China it was too much weight and their jumper simply fell out of the air right away. Canada on the other hand had a descent jump, but that weight just didn't propell their jumper enough to beat the light weights from gliding past.

However if a 2 ton Albertosaur can shot 67 metres, will a 8 ton Spinosaur go that much further?

We are about to find out, as here goes Sansom!

Nice form in the initial take off. I don't know, Gus, based on the speed and air this massive theropod has so far, I'm thinking Australia and America could be in trouble.

I'm agreeing Peter. Though Sansom isn't gliding gracefully, his weight is carrying him like a cannon ball. I think his target is gold too!

Oh but what is this?!?

We're seeing Sansom experience some trouble midair!

What's happening?

I think the wind is catching the giant sail on Sansom's back! Oh no and it is blowing Gondwana's jumper off course...

Sansom is coming down the finally stage of the hill, but he is looking really out of control ladies and gentlemen!

This is going to be close folks! Currently he has just passed the 90 metre mark, meaning if he can land this Sansom will clinch victory for Team Gondwana...


Sansom has landed in the audience... Thank goodness I required those release forms with ever ticket!

Oh this is terrible. Not only does Team Gondwana come in last for not landing, but now its jumper and many spectaters could be seriously hurt...

We're getting reports that Sansom, apart from a hurt ego, has managed to pick himself up and is okay.

Hows that Peter?

It appears uh... several patrons broke his fall.


Indeed Gus.

Well there you have it. Team Australia wins the event, the United States comes in second, and Canada comes in third.

So be sure to tune in later this week as our coverage of the first ever Dinosaur Winter games continues! In the meantime I have some free tickets to give out to some mad squished people!

wait are those people going to be mad at me for funding the OH-lympics?

peter has now repeatedly assured me no one was permenantly squished from having the full grown bull spinosaur land on them. does that mean they were temporarily squished then? how can you be temporarliy squished?...

To be Continued:
With more events. So like the commentators said stay tuned!


fossil of the weekend! #67

a rather lovely original skull of a champsosaur, the "crocodile lizard" which is the perfect name for this critter. despite its crocodilian appearance, champsosaurs were a type of lizard like reptile that independantly reentered the water and evolved very similar characteristics to crocs. a perfect example of convergent evolution, where two animals living the same life style tend to evolve similar (but yet subtley different) means of living that same life.