Predictions for the Year Ahead – 2009

With the New Year, it is often a good time to consider what changes, developments and news stories we might expect over the next twelve months.  For scientists involved with studying ancient life and attempting to piece together our knowledge of pre-history, 2009 will no doubt be filled with exciting discoveries and new developments.  The staff at Everything Dinosaur have compiled a list of predictions, attempting to predict what the next year will bring.  We have had our “thinking caps” on as we worked in the office over the holidays and we have put together a short list of what we think will be some of the news stories and events over the next 12 months or so.

This time is being regarded as a “golden age” for palaeontology.  New parts of the world are being explored and with the advancement of techniques such as electron microscopy and CAT scans we can gain much more information from the fossils already found.

Here in no particular order are our predictions for 2009:

* Walking with Dinosaurs Tour to be  UK Sell Out

The British leg of the stage show Walking with Dinosaurs kicks off in the late spring with the tour visiting a number of venues around the UK.  The huge animatronic dinosaurs are sure to be a big hit, with the clever use of robotics and CGI creating a unique experience – sort of putting the “historic” into “prehistoric”.

* Marine Reptile fossils to be found on England’s “Jurassic Coast”

After the landslide between Charmouth and Lyme Regis back in the late spring of 2008 a lot of debris was left scattered all over the beach.  Indeed, team members at Everything Dinosaur had helped with a beach clean up just a couple of days before the landslip.  However, some new strata was exposed and although not quite prime fossil hunting sediment, we predict that the landslip and winter storms will have led to the exposure of new fossil marine specimens.  Expect to hear about the finding of Ichthyosaur, or Plesiosaur remains from the “Jurassic Coast”.

* Darwin to make a Big Impact in 2009

2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, a lot of events are planned to commemorate the work of this scientist and thinker.  The author of the “Origin of Species”, will no doubt be hitting the headlines over the next twelve months or so.

* New Feathered Dinosaurs to be found in China

With so much work going on in China, it is very likely that many new fossils will come to light.  With expeditions working continually in Szechuan and Henan provinces a number of dinosaur discoveries can be expected.  However, we turn our attention to northern China and predict that a new, early Cretaceous feathered Theropod will be named and described in the coming year.

* Everything Dinosaur to Reach 550 Products in the Range

Having just worked so hard to ensure all the Christmas orders for dinosaur toys and games had been despatched, we return to work to be told that Everything Dinosaur is going to be bigger and better than ever.  A number of projects are in progress at the moment, by the end of the year Everything Dinosaur will have increased its range of dinosaur models, dinosaur books, toys and all sorts of things.  Could 550 product lines be online by the end of 2009?

* New Species of Ceratopsian to be named and described in North America

Although it is difficult to imagine how American scientists are going to be able to compete against the likes of the Chinese, the Argentine and Korea when it comes to grabbing dinosaur headlines, the announcement of the discovery and description of a new species of horned dinosaur would put the palaeontological spotlight firmly on them.

* Further insight into Arboreal and Forest Environments with new Fossil Discoveries

The chances of a large animal becoming fossilised if they live in a forest or jungle habitat are extremely rare.  For a start, the acidic soil of these environments would slowly dissolve any bones so a carcase would have little chance of preservation even if it was buried quickly.  However, re-classifying existing museum collections and new expeditions to more remote parts of the world could perhaps yield more information on the ancient ecosystems of forest environments.  Who knows perhaps a dinosaur the specialised as a tree climber?

* Everything Dinosaur Web Log to exceed 100,000 page views per Month

The Everything Dinosaur web log or blog, has been going since May 2007, something like 540 articles on prehistoric animal discoveries, palaeontologists and all things dinosaur have been written so far.  Readership has grown steadily since the blog’s inception.  We try to inform, write in an appropriate style and to educate.  As a result of our continuing efforts we could break the 100,000 page views per month threshold sometime in the next few months.  Quite an achievement for these “dino buffs”.  We continue to commit a lot of our time to researching and writing articles, perhaps by the end of this year we could have something like 850 written up and published.

* Dinosaur Fossilised Nest Found

As far as scientists know, all dinosaurs were egg layers, indeed all dinosaurs were ground nesters, so we predict that more fossilised nests will come to light in 2009.  Such fossils are (like all dinosaur fossils), extremely rare, after all they stopped being made 65 million years ago.  However, somewhere in a sandstone strata we predict that more dinosaur fossil nests will be uncovered.

* More information on the “Ascent of Man”

Hominid fossils are very special indeed.  Scientists have very little evidence of our own ancestry, in fact, a colleague of mine recalls being told that if you gathered together all the human body fossils that had been formed in the last million years or so, they could all fit comfortably into a transit van.  Despite the lack of data from the fossil record, with the progress on the human and Neanderthal genome projects we expect to see a couple of the blanks in our own family tree beginning to be filled in.  After last years article on red-headed Neanderthals, we expect the DNA unravelling scientists who specialise in genetic engineering to come up with one or two other surprises about our own species.

So there you have it, the collective predictions from members of Everything Dinosaur.  Like most predictions and forecasts, statistically we are not more likely to be correct than if you got monkeys to pull ten suggestions written on separate pieces of paper out of a hat.

Forecasting is a tricky business, just ask any economist.  Not many saw the financial meltdown and the collapse of a considerable portion of the western banking system, if they did they certainly kept quiet about it.

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