Looking Back at How Our 2014 Predictions Turned Out

After the mince pies, time for a slice of humble pie as we review how our palaeontology and dinosaur predictions made last year turned out.  At the start of each year, team members at Everything Dinosaur get together, usually whilst completing the company’s annual stocktake and put forward suggestions about the sort of news stories and articles that this weblog will feature over the following twelve months.  It is just a bit fun, but the debate can be quite lively at times.  So one year on, let’s take a look at what we predicted and how things turned out.

Here is the list of the ten predictions we made (published on 2nd January 2014):

2014 Predictions

  1. Storms around the UK’s Coasts will Lead to a Number of Vertebrate Fossil Discoveries
  2. Further Insights into the Genetic Make Up of Hominins and The Relationship between Other Hominins and H. sapiens
  3. Trailer for Jurassic Park IV to be Released
  4. Polar Exploration Leads to Fossil Find
  5. Three-Dimensional Printers Come of Age
  6. New Species of Mammal (probably a rodent discovered in South-east Asia)
  7. Arthropod Study Leads to Further Evidence for the Common Ancestor of Spiders and Scorpions
  8. Everything Dinosaur to Develop a New Dinosaur Workshop/Teaching Website
  9. Further Evidence for Feather-like, Filamentous Integuments to be Found in the Ornithischia
  10. Where will Everything Dinosaur Be in Terms of Social Media by the End of 2014?  Setting Targets

To see the article we wrote back in January 2014 about our predictions: 2014 Predictions

1). Storms around the UK’s Coasts will Lead to a Number of Vertebrate Fossil Discoveries

There were a number of important fossil discoveries concerning marine reptiles, particularly those related to the Ichthyosauria or their ancestors.  Significant fossil discoveries were made in China and Chile and indeed, the very wet and stormy weather of the winter may have contributed to vertebrate fossil discoveries made around Britain’s coasts.  Back in April we reported on the discovery of a juvenile Ichthyosaur at Lyme Regis (Dorset) and just recently we wrote an article all about the “Penarth Ichthyosaurus”, a fossil discovered by an amateur collector.

The Excavated Remains of the “Penarth Ichthyosaurus”

Penarth's very own prehistoric monster.

Penarth’s very own prehistoric monster.

Picture Credit: Jonathan Bow

This specimen from South Wales is almost complete, making it a remarkable find, although we have to admit it was spotted in September, long after the winter storms had supposedly done their work.

2).  Further Insights into the Genetic Make Up of Hominins and The Relationship between Other Hominins and H. sapiens

One of our most popular blog articles of last year (it made our top ten most popular web log articles list), discussed the research into the Neanderthal genome that demonstrated that some of diseases of modern humans could be traced back to our Neanderthal ancestry.  So much research is currently being undertaken in this area of science, that we confidently predict that more insights into our ancestry and other hominins such as the Denisovans will be published this year (one for our 2015 predictions list we think).

To read the article: Study Suggests that some Diseases in Modern Humans are Linked to Neanderthal DNA

3).  Trailer for Jurassic Park IV to be Released

Just like our second prediction, this one was a bit of a no brainer.  “Jurassic World” is due to be premiered in June 2015 and it is going to be one of the biggest films of the year (there will be a lot of competition, Star Wars, Avengers, Terminator movie etc.)  The trailer was due to released in December 2014 but in the end it was brought forward and Everything Dinosaur put up an article about the trailer on November 25th.  Everything Dinosaur is expecting “Jurassic World” to have a big impact on this blog site as well as other aspects of our business.  For example, the main protagonist in the film Diabolus rex, the genetically modified hybrid dinosaur, made it into our top ten list of most popular prehistoric animals of 2014 which we published a few days ago.

To read the article featuring Diabolus rexEverything Dinosaur’s Top Ten of Prehistoric Animals 2013 (Part 1)

Jurassic World Official Trailer

Video Credit: Universal Studios

Expect a second “Jurassic World” trailer to be released as part of the Superbowl coverage.

4). Polar Exploration Leads to Fossil Find

There were a number of important fossil discoveries made in the extreme latitudes over the last twelve months.  In March 2014, Everything Dinosaur published a number of articles featuring dinosaur discoveries that had been made in the high Arctic.  A description of a new type of pygmy tyrannosaurid certainly generated a lot of debate.  This new member of the Tyrannosaur family, Nanuqsaurus hoglandi, was very probably feathered and the discovery supports the theory that at least in the far north during the Late Cretaceous a complex ecosystem flourished.

An Illustration of Nanuqsaurus hoglandi

Potentially a very, shaggy coated Tyrannosaur!

Potentially a very, shaggy coated Tyrannosaur!

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The publicity surrounding the description of “Polar Bear Lizard”, allowed us to reminisce over the naming of Cryolophosaurus twenty years ago and to write an article about the most northerly dinosaur fossil discovered to date.  That honour goes to a bone from a duck-billed dinosaur found on Axel Heiberg Island, part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

5).  Three-Dimensional Printers Come of Age

Prices of printers came down and more museums and universities started to use this technology.  When linked to powerful CT scans remarkable insights into fossils, often ones still trapped in a matrix of rock, can be made.  However, prices falling to such a level that many schools and academies could access this technology did not occur in 2014.  There was some work into the motor skills and brain function of the Dinosauria as we predicted, but not as much as we thought.  Back in October 2014, we wrote a short piece highlighting the research into Pachycephalosaur sensory function, three-dimensional images had provided an insight into the sense of smell of these dinosaurs.

To read about the Pachycephalosaur research: Nosing Around a Dinosaur’s Sense of Smell

6).  New Species of Mammal (probably a rodent discovered in South-east Asia)

Well, we did write about a new species of slender nosed crocodile from Africa, but there was no blog article about a new mammal species being announced.  Not one of our most accurate predictions.

7).  Arthropod Study Leads to Further Evidence for the Common Ancestor of Spiders and Scorpions

We fared a little better with this prediction.  Some amazing research conducted by those clever people at Manchester University/London Natural History Museum and the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin), led to a computer model of a walking 400 million year old Arthropod being generated.

To read more about this study: Ancient Creepy-Crawlies Resurrected

In addition, thanks to the beautifully preserved Arthropod specimens that form part of the Chengjiang Biota (China), scientists were able to gain insights into the development of invertebrate nervous systems.  There was even a paper published all about the brain of a Cambrian super-predator.

Research into Understanding Anomalocarids (Lyrarapax)

The grasping claw on this specimen can clearly be seen.

The grasping claw on this specimen can clearly be seen.

Picture Credit: Peiyun Cong

Further information: Describing the Cardiovascular System of a Cambrian Arthropod

Further information: The Brain of the World’s First Super-Predator Studied

8).  Everything Dinosaur to Develop a New Dinosaur Workshop/Teaching Website

In late August, this prediction came true when team members launched a special website dedicated to helping teachers, museums and educationalists to teach about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric life.  The website went live on August 26th, just in time for the start of the autumn term and the major roll out of the new curriculum in England.

Dinosaur Workshops and Teaching about Dinosaurs in Schools

Everything Dinosaur aims to help teachers, museums and home educators.

Everything Dinosaur aims to help teachers, museums and home educators.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Since the site went live, several thousand school children have benefited from the free downloads and teaching resources that we supply.  Our outreach work with school visits continues at a pace and January 2014 is likely to be our busiest month to date in terms of school visits.

9).  Further Evidence for Feather-like, Filamentous Integuments to be Found in the Ornithischia

Our ninth prediction concerned feathered dinosaurs.  Over the last few years the debate as to whether members of the Dinosauria had feathers has moved on.  Most palaeontologists now believe that a number of different dinosaurs were feathered and that filamentous integumental coverings, the fore-runners of true feathers were an evolutionary trait of the dinosaurs.  However, the discussion is now more about which types of dinosaur were feathered.  In July, we wrote an article on the implications of the discovery of a one metre long basal Ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia.  It may have been small, but the paper published on Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus may just have been one of the most significant papers on vertebrate palaeontology published all year.

A Small but Very Important Dinosaur

Feathered dinosaur down amongst the horsetails.

Feathered dinosaur down amongst the horsetails.

Picture Credit: Andrey Atuchin

The article can be found here: Did All Dinosaurs Have Feathers?

10).  Where would Everything Dinosaur be with Social Media Targets?

Social media is certainly bigger than ever.  Sales of smart phones and other clever devices reached unprecedented levels in 2014 and they are set to continue their spectacular growth over the next few years. The number of smart phones and other devices in the world was estimated to have reached 1.9 billion by some analysts.  Traditional pc sales and desktop devices continues to decline and there is much more “surfing on the go” as we like to refer to it.  Everything Dinosaur set itself some ambitious targets in terms of Pinterest pins, Tweets and Facebook likes in 2014.  We will write a separate article on how we did when it came to reaching these targets.  Importantly, we remain committed to replying to every email, question, request for information that we receive and this will remain core to our business this year as well.

All in all, not a bad performance in terms of predictions, some turned out to be more accurate than others.  We will publish news about our predictions for 2015 shortly, let’s see how we do this year.

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