Palaeontology Predictions 2015 – So How Did We Do?

Looking Back on our Palaeontology Predictions for 2015

Lots of people are looking ahead and making New Year resolutions in early January, but for team members at Everything Dinosaur who are discussing the list of predictions for what we think is going to happen in palaeontology and related fields over the next twelve months, time to look back and re-visit our list of predictions for 2015.  Each year, just for a bit of fun, we try to second guess what news stories we will cover on this blog, can we predict dinosaur discoveries, new fossil finds, trends in model collecting and so forth?  Some years we can be quite successful, other years we end up way off the mark.

Here is the list of our 2015 palaeontology predictions with notes as to how well (or how badly) we did:

The 2015 Palaeontology Predictions

  1. It’s a “Jurassic World” – a big year for dinosaur movies
  2. Metallome Research Provides Fresh Fossil Insights – identifying elements in fossils
  3. Stegosaurus into the Limelight – lots of research on the Stegosaurus genus
  4. “Good Day” to Aussie Dinosaurs – more Australian dinosaur fossil discoveries
  5. More Insights into Human Evolution – genetics leads the way when it comes to understanding our origins
  6. A New Chinese Pterosaur – new flying reptile discovery from China
  7. Everything Dinosaur social media – targets and more targets on our social media platforms
  8. Malaysia Firmly on the Dinosaur Map – further dinosaur discoveries from Malaysia in 2015
  9. New species of Horned North American dinosaur Announced – further additions to the ceratopsids predicted
  10. Fossil Finding is Child’s Play – child in the UK will make an important fossil discovery

It is quite an eclectic list, one year on let’s see how we did…

“Jurassic World” – we confidently predicted that this film from Universal Studios – a re-boot of the “Jurassic Park” franchise would do really well and surprise, surprise we were not wrong.  The film which had its premier in June put dinosaurs very much on the map once again and introduced prehistoric animals to a whole new generation of dinosaur fans.  Such was the impact of the movie that the “bad girl” of the film – Indominus rex ended up at number three in our annual compilation of the top ten prehistoric animals of the year.  The “Good Dinosaur” was not included in our palaeontology predictions list, not all dinosaur themed movies are a guarantee of cinema success it seems.

A “Good Year” for Dinosaur Movies (Not Including the “Good Dinosaur”)

Top film in terms of global box office receipts.

Top films in terms of global box office receipts (millions of USD)

Picture Credit: Universal Studios with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

“Jurassic World” was officially the top grossing film in 2015 with box office sales in excess of $652 million dollars, although we expect to see the new Star Wars film overtake it in next two days or so.

Metallome and Stegosaurus – not too bad with these two either, back in June we reported on work from Manchester University that is helping scientists to understand the biological processes of long extinct creatures thanks to research undertaken in the field of biometal preservation.  Stegosaurus did step into the limelight, this time thanks to London Natural History museum which published the first of a succession of studies, on their fantastic Stegosaurus stenops exhibit.  Other articles on Stegosaurus written by our team members this year focused on those iconic plates.

To read more about biometals: Dinosaur Chemical Ghosts

Stegosaurus steps into the spotlight: Sophie Weighs in at 1.6 tonnes

How to tell the boys from the girls when it comes to Stegosaurs: Did Boy Stegosaurs Have Bigger Plates than the Girls?

 Australian Dinosaurs and Human Evolution – we had to wait until December for a new dinosaur genus, but the wait was worth it as sheep-sized Kunbarrasaurus ieversi was erected following an in-depth analysis of skull material formerly assigned to Minmi paravertebra.

Australia’s Newest Dinosaur – Kunbarrasaurus

Kunbarrasaurus ieversi of the Cretaceous (Australia).

Kunbarrasaurus ieversi of the Cretaceous (Australia).

Picture Credit: University of Queensland/Australian Geographic

As for our prediction related to human evolution, specifically the unravelling of the oldest genome known to date from the likes of the Max Planck Institute, we were a little off target with this one, plaudits in 2015 to the brilliant work behind Homo naledi, another hominin from South Africa.

To read about H. naledi South Africa’s Latest Hominin Discovery

A New Chinese Pterosaur and our Social Media Targets – again, a bit of a mixed bag this one, we reported on dinosaur discoveries from China, notably a new leptoceratopsid and an oviraptorid, but we did not feature any new Chinese Pterosaur discoveries on this blog in 2015.  We were as accurate with this prediction as all those model making companies which insist in putting teeth into their Pteranodon replicas.  As for our social media targets, they deserve a separate blog article all of their own but in summary:

  • School Blog Articles – target missed (boo)
  • School Blog Downloads – just about hit target (hooray)
  • Facebook “Likes” – so proud of smashing this target (a big thank you to all our Facebook fans) – (huge hooray)
  • Twitter – more tweets, followers target reached, but we are not following as many other feeds as we predicted (would you believe half a hooray)?
  • Youtube Videos – let’s just say this needs more of a focus in 2016 (down with the “Good Dinosaur” when it comes to this one…)
  • Pinterest – we have had a very busy year with our pins! (hooray)

Malaysia Firmly on the Dinosaur Map and New Species of North American Horned Dinosaur – after reporting on Malaysia’s first dinosaur back in 2014, we confidently predicted that more dinosaur fossils from that country would be reported on this blog in 2015.  Sadly, we did not receive any press releases, or papers related to Malaysian dinosaurs.  This is one prediction we got wrong.  Time to cheer ourselves up with the good news that unsurprisingly, there were a number of Late Cretaceous horned dinosaurs announced in 2015, two immediately spring to mind, for further information:

Regaliceratops: A Right Royal Rumble

Wendy Sloboda is honoured with new horned dinosaur: Wendiceratops pinhornensis from Canada

A Cast of Wendiceratops on Display in 2015

A reconstruction of the dinosaur's skeleton.

A reconstruction of the dinosaur’s skeleton.

Picture Credit: Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada)

Fossil Finding is Child’s Play – oh dear, despite meeting lots of young dinosaur fans last year, we did not report on any new notable fossil discoveries made by a young person in the UK.  No marks here, but honourable mentions to undergraduate Student Sam Davies who found more pieces of the new Welsh Theropod dinosaur: “Lucky” Welsh Find! and to Everything Dinosaur team members who helped out at a school’s science conference and invited children to go on an indoor fossil hunt: Celebrating Science with Blackpool Schools

To read the article in which we set out our 2015 palaeontology predictions: Palaeontology and Fossil Predictions for 2015

We will publish our list of palaeontology predictions for 2016 shortly.

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