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/Famous Figures

Important and influential figures in science or from other related areas concerning dinosaurs and prehistoric animals.

8 05, 2017

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

By | May 8th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Sir David Attenborough 91 Today

Happy birthday Sir David Attenborough!  Sir David Attenborough is ninety-one years’ young today.

Many Happy Returns Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough has inspired so many.

Although not as active as he was, Sir David continues to take a great interest in natural history and science projects around the world and today, we at Everything Dinosaur take time out to honour this naturalist and broadcaster who has done so much to raise the profile of the natural world.

Over the last twelve months or so, Everything Dinosaur have published a number of articles inspired by Sir David.  For example, back in August, we wrote about a pocket-sized marsupial lion that had been named in honour of the English broadcaster: Attenborough’s New Kitty.

More recently, in March of this year, we wrote about the naming of a new species of Silurian Arthropod that had been also be named in Sir David’s honour: Newly Described Silurian Fossil Honours Sir David Attenborough

Our very best wishes to you Sir, we hope you enjoy your birthday.

3 02, 2017

Many Happy Returns Gideon Mantell

By | February 3rd, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|1 Comment

Happy Birthday Gideon Mantell

February 3rd, is the anniversary of the birth of Gideon Mantell, one of the early pioneers of the science of palaeontology.  It was Mantell who named Iguanodon, the second genus of dinosaur to be erected (1825), although at the time, the Order Dinosauria had itself not been established.  Throughout much of his working life, Mantell had a bitter rivalry with Sir Richard Owen.  Owen attempted to undermine a lot of Mantell’s research and he even took the credit for some of Mantell’s insights, however, these days, most scientists appreciate the contribution made to the nascent study of ancient life made by this Sussex doctor and amateur geologist.

Gideon Mantell – A Pioneer in the Study of Ancient Vertebrates

Gideon Mantell.

Gideon Mantell (1790-1852).

Estimating the Size of Iguanodon

Gideon Mantell did much to fire the public’s imagination for prehistoric animals and monsters from the past.  He spent as much time as he could, often at the expense of his own medical practice, studying the strange fossilised bones and teeth that were being found in quite surprising numbers in the local Sussex quarries.  Mantell is famous for identifying the fossilised, leaf-shaped teeth of a plant-eating prehistoric animal.  He compared the teeth with the dentition of a living iguana, a lizard that had recently been brought to London from Barbados (1824).  He was struck by how similar the fossil tooth was to the tooth of the living reptile, but the fossil tooth was much bigger.  The tooth study led Mantell to erect the genus Iguanodon (iguana tooth).  Just how big was this extinct prehistoric reptile?  To calculate the size of Iguanodon, Mantell compared the ancient bones to the bones of, what he thought at the time was its living relative, the iguana lizard.  As the scapula (shoulder blade) was twenty times bigger, this and other comparative measurements led Mantell to state that Iguanodon must have been around twenty times the size of a five-foot iguana.  The fossil reptile, therefore could have been approximately 100 feet long.

An Early Illustration of the Dinosaur Iguanodon as Depicted by Mantell

Early reconstruction of an Iguanodon.

Early sketch of the dinosaur Iguanodon, depicted as huge lizard-like creature.

The thought of such a huge beast fascinated the Georgian public and academics alike.  Our fascination with dinosaurs had begun.

Of course, Mantell’s simple linear scale was incorrect, even the largest iguanodontids were only around nine to ten metres in length.  Still sizeable, but not the thirty metre plus leviathans that Mantell had envisaged.  In addition, extensive revisions to the Iguanodon genus and the Iguanodontidae family has led to the change of the holotype for this species from the isolated teeth and partial remains identified by the Sussex doctor.  The original holotype material (assigned to Iguanodon anglicus), consisted of teeth and fragmentary bones.  The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) ruled in 2000 AD that the type species be changed to the I. bernissartensis with the new holotype IRSNB 1534, a much more complete specimen which was part of a treasure trove of Iguanodon fossils (at least thirty-eight individuals) discovered in a Belgium coal mine in 1878 and studied by Louis Dollo.

A Fossilised Dinosaur Tooth (Iguanodontidae)

Dinosaur fossil tooth (iguanodontid).

A fossil teeth assigned to the Iguanodontidae.

A memorial has been erected to Gideon Mantell, it is located in the village of Cuckfield, near Haywards Heath (West Sussex, England).  It was from Cuckfield that many of the fossil remains of the Iguanodon were discovered.  Dr Mantell received a sandstone block that contained an array of dis-articulated Iguanodon bones. This huge block of stone is on exhibit at the London Natural History museum, it has been nick-named the “Mantell-piece”.  Happy birthday Gideon.

4 01, 2017

Goodbye Dippy

By | January 4th, 2017|Dinosaur Fans, Everything Dinosaur News and Updates, Famous Figures, Main Page|2 Comments

Farewell to “Dippy the Diplodocus”

Today, Wednesday 4th January, is the last day that the Diplodocus replica, affectionately named “Dippy” will be on display at the Natural History Museum, London.  The twenty-one metre plus plaster cast fossil exhibit will be dismantled starting tomorrow, part of preparations to turn this iconic dinosaur skeleton into a touring exhibit for the museum.

The Last Day for “Dippy” on Display at the Hintze Hall (London Natural History Museum)

Diplodocus skeleton on display.

“Dippy” the Diplodocus.

Picture Credit: Press Association/Matt Dunham

The Diplodocus skeleton has graced the Hintze Hall since 1979, but the museum authorities have decided that “Dippy” must make way for another skeleton, a massive female Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus).  The Blue Whale has been housed at the museum since 1891, the whale skeleton, actual bone, has been part of the vertebrate collection for longer than the Diplodocus replica.  The unfortunate whale was injured by a whaler and subsequently beached at the mouth of Wexford Harbour (Ireland), it was acquired by the museum and it has been on display in the Hall of Mammals, but it will soon be taking centre stage and welcoming visitors at the Cromwell Road entrance.

An Artist’s Impression of How the New Blue Whale Exhibit Will Look

Blue Whale Exhibit 2017.

The proposed Blue Whale exhibit for the Hintze Hall.

Picture Credit: Casson Mann

Not the First Whale Exhibit to Grace the Hintze Hall

The Blue Whale, the largest exhibit of its kind (as far as Everything Dinosaur team members are aware), is not the first huge whale to grace the Hintze Hall.  In the late 1890’s a Sperm Whale skeleton (Physeter macrocephalus) was located in a central position in the spacious gallery.

A Generous Gift from Andrew Carnegie

“Dippy’s” story began in 1898, when construction workers building a railway in Wyoming, discovered the spectacular fossilised bones of a Diplodocus.  Scottish-born millionaire and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, got to hear about it and he acquired the 150 million-year-old fossil bones with a view to making the Diplodocus the centrepiece for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).  During fossil preparation and reconstruction of the mounted skeleton, American palaeontologists noted a number of anatomical differences between the Carnegie specimen and the original holotype Diplodocus material that had led to the erection of the genus back in 1878.  This meant that the Wyoming Diplodocus acquired by Mr Carnegie was a new species, the specific epithet Diplodocus carnegii was established, the trivial name honouring the Scottish-born industrialist.

King Edward VII viewed a sketch of the Diplodocus skeleton whilst visiting Andrew Carnegie in Scotland.  The King remarked how he would very much like to see a similar exhibit at the British Museum (the formal name for the Natural History Museum, London).  Carnegie wanted to indulge the King and he commissioned a plaster cast replica, one of ten replicas of the original fossil material that were eventually created.  The Diplodocus replica was sent to London in January 1905 and it was formally unveiled at the museum on May 12th that year.

The Diplodocus Exhibit circa 1905

Diplodocus Exhibit circa 1905.

The Natural History Museum Diplodocus prior to its unveiling 1905.

Picture Credit: Press Association

An Evolving Diplodocus Skeleton

For many decades, the 292 individual bones that make up the Diplodocus skeleton were kept in the same anatomical position.  Although, our understanding of Sauropod anatomy has increased enormously since “Dippy” was first mounted.  Two major revisions have occurred over the last fifty years or so.  Firstly, the head has been raised and the snout of the dinosaur points forward.  In the picture below, the head is dipped and the snout is pointing towards the floor at around a forty-five-degree angle.  Ironically, in the 1905 photograph above, the head is in a position more akin to the modern interpretation of the head posture of a diplodocid.

“Dippy” on Display in a Museum Gallery

The Diplodocus on display.

The Carnegie Diplodocus replica on display.

Picture Credit: Trustees of the Natural History Museum

In 1993, a second major revision took place.  The tail of the dinosaur was raised off the ground and given a more “whip-like” appearance to demonstrate a greater range of movement.  Research, in conjunction with a lack of tail drag marks in Sauropod fossil tracks, had shown that these dinosaurs walked with their tails held out behind them.  The tail raised off the ground helped to counterbalance the head and neck.

“Son of Dippy”

It is a sad day for many fans of dinosaurs, to see the removal of “Dippy” from the Cromwell Road entrance to the museum.  However, once cleaned “Dippy” is embarking on a nationwide tour in early 2018 and plans have been announced to exhibit a bronze replica of the iconic dinosaur in a newly landscaped area outside the museum.  This replica, which will be created using the original display, has already been nick-named “Son of Dippy”.

Future visitors to the London Natural History Museum will be able to get their “Diplodocus fix”, but for the moment, we bid farewell to the Diplodocus replica, an exhibit that has been seen by an estimated 90 million visitors and one that has inspired generations of palaeontologists.

8 05, 2016

Happy 90th Birthday Sir David Attenborough

By | May 8th, 2016|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

Happy 90th Birthday Sir David Attenborough

On this day in 1926, the English naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough was born.  Today, we celebrate Sir David’s (he was knighted in 1985), ninetieth birthday.  His contribution to our understanding of the natural world has been immense.  He can now add the title of nonagenarian to his array of awards and accolades.  On behalf of everyone at Everything Dinosaur we would like to wish Sir David “many happy returns”.

Happy Birthday Sir David Attenborough

Happy 'Birthday Sir David Attenborough.

Happy ‘Birthday Sir David Attenborough.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur with images from the BBC

Today, a lot of media outlets will be paying tribute to the body of work with which Sir David Attenborough has been associated.  He has been a part of so many people’s lives and documented our rapidly changing world.  Through his eyes and his narration we have seen and heard about this remarkable ecosystem that we are very much a part of, but sadly, most of us have lost touch with.

In the office over this weekend we have been sharing our thoughts about some of the amazing programmes, many of which were ground-breaking documentaries that this stalwart of British broadcasting has worked on over a BBC and programme making career that extends to more than six decades.  Some of us remember watching a programme called “Fabulous Animals” which was broadcast in the mid 1970’s and (if we recall correctly), was shown during the summer holidays.  In this series, David (not to be knighted for another ten years or so), explored stories relating to mythical creatures such as mermaids, griffins and the Loch Ness monster.  These programmes have not been seen by any of us for half a lifetime, but we can recall the enthusiastic presenter explaining and enthralling us with tales of these astonishing creatures.

Life on Earth (1979)

The documentary series “Life on Earth” was to follow, a joint venture between the BBC and Warner Bros/Reiner Moritz Productions, a thirteen-part documentary series that charted the story of life and evolution.  This seminal and highly influential television series was to form the basis of a body of work that, in our opinion has not been surpassed.

A Fascination for Fossils

As a young boy growing up in the county of Leicester, Sir David was passionate about fossil collecting, an enthusiasm he still has, although sadly with dodgy knees and a pacemaker, his days of clambering over rocks in search of petrified evidence of ancient life might be behind him.  Nonetheless, as a presenter and narrator he has still played a pivotal role in enthusing the next generation of budding palaeontologists and fossil collectors.

Sir David Discusses Trilobites with Professor Richard Fortey

Sir David Attenborough discussing Trilobites with Professor Richard Fortey.

Sir David Attenborough discussing Trilobites with Professor Richard Fortey.

Picture Credit: BBC

Over the next few days the BBC will be showing a number of programmes and documentaries that celebrate the work of this much admired naturalist and broadcaster and last week it was announced that Sir David’s first foray into television “Zoo Quest” was to be broadcast in colour for the first time.

Attenborosaurus

Sir David has been honoured on numerous occasions and has a number of living and extinct species named after him as well as a polar research vessel.  For example, back in 2008, when Sir David was a sprightly eighty-two year old, Everything Dinosaur reported on the discovery of a placoderm fossil in Australia that showed evidence of viviparity (live birth).  The animal was named Materpiscis attenboroughiA Fishy Tale Indeed and fans of marine reptiles will know that the Pliosaur Attenborosaurus conybeari honours Sir David and the 19th Century English geologist William Conybeare.

The CollectA Attenborosaurus Model

Named in honour of Sir David Atttenborough.

Named in honour of Sir David Attenborough.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To purchase a model of Attenborosaurus (Attenborough’s lizard): CollectA Attenborosaurus model

From all of us at Everything Dinosaur, happy birthday Sir David.

19 04, 2016

Congratulations to Palaeontologist Dean Lomax

By | April 19th, 2016|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Honorary Scientist at The University of Manchester Wins Award

Palaeontologist Dean Lomax, an honorary scientist at Manchester University has been awarded the prestigious Edward Forbes Prize by the Palaeontographical Society.  This annual award aims to encourage young palaeontologists (or those within ten years of completing their doctorate), and it recognises Dean’s contribution to the advancement of our knowledge about life in the past.  Established in 1847, the Palaeontographical Society promotes the publishing of monographs on British fossils as well as supporting taxonomic research into British fossil faunas and floras through its own research fund.

Dr. Paul Barrett (President of the Palaeontographical Society) Presents the Award to Dean

Dr. Paul Barrett congratulates Dean Lomax on his award.

Dr. Paul Barrett congratulates Dean Lomax on his award.

Picture: courtesy of Dean Lomax

It has been a busy twelve months for Dean, at the moment he is in the United States ready to start work on examining the fossils of a new dinosaur, but the Edward Forbes Prize was awarded to Dean principally in recognition for his work on a Jurassic marine vertebrate specimen that once resided in one of those places where one would least expect to make a scientific breakthrough concerning ancient sea creatures – Doncaster, located in the heart of South Yorkshire.

South Yorkshire’s Fossil Heritage

Doncaster may not readily spring to mind when it comes to Mesozoic fossils but a specimen of an Ichthyosaur thought to be replica residing in the collection of the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery caught Dean’s attention.  The sub-adult, “fish lizard” turned out to be a new species and this led to Dean co-authoring a scientific paper on Ichthyosaurus anningae last year.  The trivial name honours Mary Anning, the 19th Century Lyme Regis-based fossil collector, who coincidently died the same year that the the Palaeontographical Society was founded.

To read more about the discovery of Ichthyosaurus anningaeNew Ichthyosaurus Species Honours Mary Anning

This is not the first time that talented Dean has had his research recognised by his peers.  Dean has recently received a multitude of awards, including the Marsh Award for Palaeontology (November, 2015), The School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science (SEAES) Postgraduate Research Student Excellence Award (University of Manchester) – Best Contribution to Society for 2015 (November, 2015) and the Gold Medal (G.J. Mendel Award) – Set for Britain 2015 (March, 2015).

Dinosaurs of the British Isles

Readers of this blog, may already be quite familiar with Dean’s work.  Last August, he appeared in the two-part television documentary “Dinosaur Britain”, that explained the role of these islands in the history of dinosaur research.  The programmes were largely based on the highly acclaimed book “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” by Dean Lomax and Nobumichi Tamura.

If you have missed out on this excellent book all about British dinosaurs, it can be found here: Purchase “Dinosaurs of the British Isles” Courtesy of Siri Scientific Press

Dean Has Written a Book All About British Dinosaurs

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

A comprehensive guide to British dinosaurs over 400 pages.

Picture Credit: Siri Scientific Press

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“Congratulations to Dean Lomax, it is always a pleasure to see that research is recognised in this way.  Palaeontology is blessed with a myriad of young, dedicated researchers just starting out on their careers and we predict exciting times ahead for Dean and his contemporaries.”

We suspect that Professor Edward Forbes himself, a palaeontologist and ardent supporter of the nascent Palaeontographical Society, would approve of Dean winning the award, after all, Professor Forbes spent much of his life studying the marine biology of the British Isles and he would have been very aware of the Ichthyosaur research undertaken by Conybeare, Georges Cuvier and Richard Owen.

8 03, 2016

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2016

By | March 8th, 2016|Educational Activities, Famous Figures, Main Page, Press Releases|0 Comments

A Blue Plaque for Mary Douglas Leakey (1913 – 1996)

Today, is International Women’s Day (March 8th), a day for recognising the role of women in our culture and society.  Within the scientific community the struggle for equality still continues, although it has drastically improved since the time of Mary Anning, Marie Stopes et al.  However, only last year, a Nobel Laureate, Sir Tim Hunt caused a substantial row when speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul (South Korea) stating that girls in the laboratory, in his opinion caused trouble.

We at Everything Dinosaur, don’t wish to enter into that particular debate, whether or not biochemists should insist on gender-segregation in the laboratory, but instead, we choose today to nominate one distinguished London born scientist for a blue plaque.  Mary Douglas Leakey (1913 to 1996), made an enormous contribution to our understanding of human evolution.  Along with her husband Louis, Mary proved that the cradle of mankind was Africa and she made some very notable scientific discoveries including a beautifully preserved specimen of a Proconsul Miocene Ape during an expedition to Lake Victoria in 1948.  Her most famous fossil discovery, is perhaps the Laetoli hominin footprints that are believed to be around 3.6 million years old.  In addition, without her meticulous research a number of other hugely significant fossil finds would not have been made and she almost single-handedly documented and mapped out the sequence of stone tools found at the Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania.

The Remarkable Mary Leakey’s Centenary was Celebrated in a Google Doodle in 2013

Celebrating the role of women in science.

Celebrating the role of women in science.

Picture Credit: Google

The Leakey Foundation and other notable institutes continues the research began by Louis and Mary Leakey and with a recent press release from English Heritage stating that only 13% of all the blue plaques in London are dedicated to women, Everything Dinosaur has today contacted English Heritage to propose that Mary Leakey be honoured.

It is now twenty years since the death of Mary, before a person is considered for a blue plaque at least two decades must have elapsed before a proposal can be put forward.

On International Women’s Day it seems fitting to add our voice to those who have called for this remarkable woman to be honoured with the provision of a blue plaque.

23 11, 2015

Renowned Palaeontologist Jack Horner Will Join Chapman University as Presidential Fellow

By | November 23rd, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page, Palaeontological articles|0 Comments

John “Jack” Horner to join Chapman University (California)

John R. “Jack” Horner, one of the world’s leading experts in palaeontology, MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and inspiration for the character of Alan Grant in the “Jurassic Park” movies, will join Chapman University in Orange, California as a Presidential Fellow, beginning in the autumn of next  year . He retires on June 30th, 2016 from a distinguished thirty-three year tenure as Regents Professor of Palaeontology at Montana State University and curator of palaeontology at the Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, Montana).

John “Jack” Horner – To Join Chapman University

A new appointment for the distinguished palaeontologist.

A new appointment for the distinguished palaeontologist.

Picture Credit: Chapman University

Commenting on the appointment, Dr. Daniele Struppa, Chancellor and President-designate of Chapman University stated:

“I am delighted to announce that Jack Horner, one of the most creative living scientists, will join us as a Presidential Fellow in the next academic year.  We are not hiring Jack for our acclaimed film programme, nor for a palaeontology programme – we don’t have one – but rather for his unconventional and extremely successful approach to creativity and learning.  It is his ingenuity and his sense of curiosity and wonder that he will bring to Chapman as we continue to re-think the meaning of education and how students learn.”

For Horner, as he will be seventy when he takes up the appointment, the warmer climate in California might have helped tip the balance.  He will most certainly be missed after his remarkable career in Montana.  Everything Dinosaur reported on his retirement announcement back on the 18th of this month: Jack Horner Announces His Retirement (Well Almost)

With his tremendous energy and enthusiasm, he will be taking on a number of new challenges.  Speaking about his new role, he explained:

“I’m coming to Chapman because of its strong commitment to nurturing curiosity, inquisitiveness and creativity in all aspects of academia,  I very much look forward to helping Dr. Struppa and his staff create an integrative educational environment that accepts all learning styles.”

Looking Forward to the New Challenge

Last month, Horner spoke at Chapman University’s first annual Dyslexia Summit: Strength in Cognitive Diversity, where he recounted his inspirational life story.  As a child with undiagnosed dyslexia, he struggled in school and later dropped in and out of college, attending the University of Montana for seven years.  Although he never completed a formal degree, the University of Montana awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in 1986 due to his astonishing list of achievements in the field of palaeontology.

Among other ground-breaking accomplishments, Horner and his teams discovered the first evidence of parental care in dinosaurs, extensive nesting grounds, evidence of gigantic dinosaur herds, and the world’s first dinosaur embryos.  Horner’s “outside the box” thinking skills led him to ask why no one had thought yet of slicing open fossilised dinosaur eggs – and the result was the discovery of the delicate embryos, fossilised in place.  He was a leader in the now-widely-accepted theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, social creatures more like birds than cold-blooded animals like lizards.

Helping to Popularise the Study of the Dinosauria

Horner has named several new species of dinosaurs, including Maiasaura, the “good mother reptile.”  Three dinosaur species have been named after him.  He has published more than a hundred professional papers, eight popular books and fifty popular articles.   His book “Digging Dinosaurs” was lauded by New Scientist magazine as one of the two hundred most important science books of the 20th century.

Horner was the technical advisor for Steven Spielberg on all four movies in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, including this past summer’s global hit “Jurassic World”.  He also helped inspire the lead character Alan Grant, portrayed by actor Sam Neill in the first and third films.

Awarded the famed MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 1986, Horner has received many other honours and awards.  Most recently, in 2013, he was awarded the Romer-Simpson Medal, the highest honour given by the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, for his lifetime of achievement in the field.  Earlier this year, he was recognised as one of the world’s top twenty-four scientists by Newton Graphic Science magazine.

Everything Dinosaur acknowledges use of the press release from Chapman University as supplied by Mary Platt (Director of Communications and Media Relations) in the compilation of this article.

19 11, 2015

The Overlooked Halticosaurus (Liliensternus)

By | November 19th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Liliensternus liliensterni – Late Triassic Predator

Roaming the lowlands and flood plains of what was to become western Europe some 210 million years ago was the lithe and agile predatory dinosaur Liliensternus (Liliensternus liliensterni).  Measuring some six metres in length and weighing more than two and half times that of a male African lion (Panthera leo), this was a formidable dinosaur, very probably the apex predator in the region.

A Scale Drawing of the Dinosaur (Liliensternus liliensterni)

Liliensternus Dinosaur Drawing

Liliensternus Dinosaur Drawing

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

This Late Triassic Theropod was named and described by the German palaeontologist Friedrich von Huene in 1934.  However, he had originally named this dinosaur Halticosaurus liliensterni.  The genus name translates as “nimble lizard”, as von Huene wanted to draw attention to the long, legs and relatively lightweight body.  Liliensternus was imagined as a speedy, agile hunter.  The trivial name honours the German scientist Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern who over his lifetime built up a vast collection of Triassic aged fossils from Europe.

Relatively few models of Liliensternus have been produced but CollectA have a good quality one within their not to scale “Prehistoric Life” series.  The long tail and those powerful legs really give the impression of an agile dinosaur.

The CollectA Liliensternus Model

The CollectA Liliensternus dinosaur model.

The CollectA Liliensternus dinosaur model.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view the CollectA “prehistoric life” model collection available from Everything Dinosaur: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models and Replicas

The “Rühle collection” was amassed over Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern’s lifetime, where the huge collection of Mesozoic fossils could be housed became an issue between East and West Germany, part of the fall out that occurred with the division of Germany after the World War II.  Finally, the matter was resolved amicably and the majority of the specimens are now part of the vertebrate fossil collection of the Berlin Museum of Natural History.  Scientists from all over the world have found the collection an invaluable resource as it provides one of the most comprehensive collections of Middle to Late Triassic vertebrate fossils known in the world.  Although, not a professional palaeontologist (Hugo Rühle von Lilienstern was a military surgeon by training), it is fitting that this amateurs contribution to our understanding of the fauna and flora of Triassic Europe has been acknowledged by the naming of a dinosaur.  In fact, when one considers Halticosaurus liliensterni as well as Liliensternus liliensterni it is a very rare honour indeed to have the same dinosaur named after you twice!

18 11, 2015

Jack Horner Announces Retirement (Well Almost)

By | November 18th, 2015|Dinosaur and Prehistoric Animal News Stories, Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures|0 Comments

Jack Horner Calls it a Day

Jack Horner, one of the world’s most famous palaeontologists, has announced his retirement from the post of Curator of Palaeontology at the Museum of the Rockies after thirty-three years in the post.  John “Jack” Horner, the Regents Professor of Palaeontology at Montana State University has enjoyed a sparkling career having been thrust into the scientific limelight with the discovery of Maiasaura (M. peeblesorum) and the implications on dinosaur nesting behaviour and how dinosaurs raised their young which subsequently arose.

The Very Influential Jack Horner

Palaeontologist John "Jack" Horner.

Palaeontologist John “Jack” Horner.

Picture Credit: Montana State University

The scientist who advised on the Jurassic Park franchise and is credited with being the inspiration behind the character Dr. Alan Grant (at least in part), will not be hanging up his geological hammer just yet.  Although he is retiring from some of his commitments, he has lots of other projects which are going to keep him busy well into his seventies.

Commenting on the announcement of his retirement, the Professor stated:

“I can assure you that I’ll not be slowing down any time soon.  I will be pursuing a number of projects, including helping another museum amass a large dinosaur collection and finishing a couple more books.  I also have a very exciting project that I’m not yet ready to announce.”

Jack Horner’s official retirement date is June 30th 2016, just shortly after his seventieth birthday.  Montana State University intends to hold a special public event on the campus to celebrate the Professor’s contribution to vertebrate palaeontology.

Shelley McKamey, (Executive Director of the Museum of the Rockies) stated:

“Jack and his team of staff and graduate students have amassed the largest collection of dinosaur fossils from the United States.  He opened the science of palaeontology to the general public and sparked the imagination of countless aspiring palaeontologists.”

Professor Horner, has championed the theory that dinosaurs were warm-blooded, he has also courted controversy in his rich and varied career, playing a pivotal role in the Tyrannosaurus rex “scavenger versus hunter” debate.

The discovery of “Good Mother Lizard” – Maiasaura, in the late 1970’s brought about a complete revision of theories relating to dinosaurs and their parenting strategies.  Jack Horner and his colleagues demonstrated that some dinosaurs provided extensive parental care (Maiasaura young were altricial – incapable of feeding themselves).

Maiasaura – Described by Jack Horner and Robert Makela in 1979

"Good Mother Lizard"

“Good Mother Lizard”

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

Long-time collaborator and University of California, Berkley professor Kevin Padian, wrote:

“It is difficult to imagine someone who, rising from such considerable obstacles, has achieved so much, given back so much to the profession, stimulated so much new investigation and supported so many younger colleagues and students.”

The search to replace John “Jack” Horner has started in earnest, however, finding a replacement with the same charisma and with the same high regard in this field of scientific endeavour is going to prove difficult.

Everything Dinosaur is grateful to Montana State University for the compilation of this article.

17 11, 2015

Mysterious Token Linked to Mary Anning

By | November 17th, 2015|Dinosaur Fans, Famous Figures, Main Page|0 Comments

Could Metal Disc Found on a Lyme Regis Beach Once Have Belonged to Mary Anning?

A small, round metal disc about the size of a ten pence piece has been identified as having once been the property of Dorset’s most famous resident Mary Anning.  The object may have lain buried for more than two hundred years on a Lyme Regis beach very close to where Mary found fossils of marine reptiles and Pterosaurs.

A Picture of Mary Anning (left) and the Small, Metal Disc

Did this once belong to Mary Anning?

Did this once belong to Mary Anning?

Picture Credit: Lyme Regis Museum with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

The discovery was made by sixty-nine year old Phil Goodwin, a key metal detectorist who has explored the beaches surrounding the Dorset town on numerous occasions turning up such exotic finds as musket balls, old coins and a bayonet that dates from the time of Napoleon.  Experts at the Lyme Regis Museum, which is situated on the site of Mary’s home close to the sea-front at Lyme Regis, have identified it as a metal disc probably given to Mary by her cabinet maker father.

On one side of the disc the words “Lyme Regis” and “Age XI” – eleven can be clearly made out.  On the reverse, Mary’s name is stamped into the disc, along with the date 1810 in Roman numerals.

Mary Anning Disc “Mary Anning 1810”

Stamped on the disc are the words "Mary Anning and the year 1810 marked in Roman numerals.

Stamped on the disc are the words “Mary Anning and the year 1810 marked in Roman numerals.

Picture Credit: Lyme Regis Museum with additional annotation by Everything Dinosaur

Speaking about his serendipitous find, Mr Goodwin stated:

“I had been there about an hour or so picking up Victorian coins and musket balls when I saw something different.  It didn’t look like a coin so I rubbed it between my fingers to clean it up and read what it said.  I saw the name and date, but it didn’t mean much to me at first.  Then I showed it to a friend who said it could have belonged to the famous fossil hunter Mary Anning.  Imagine, what are the chances of that?”

Did This Disc Really Belong to Mary Anning?

The disc could have been stamped out by Mary’s father, perhaps as a birthday gift as Mary reached eleven.  He would certainly have possessed the tools and the skills required to complete this fiddly task.  However, the disc looks in remarkable condition and as we at Everything Dinosaur can testify, the tides regularly scour the beach and if the disc had lain on the beach for more than two hundred years, then surely it would have been washed away.

Mr Goodwin and those who believe that the retired antiques dealer really has unearthed an object that once belonged to Mary Anning, explain the disc’s condition and its presence on the beach as Mary could have dropped the disc on the cliff above the beach during one of her many fossil hunting trips.  Alternatively, it could have been thrown out and ended up in the local rubbish dump.  A Victorian rubbish dump is slowly being exposed in the area of the Church cliffs to the east of the town and the frequent rock falls often deposit Victorian bottles and other debris onto the shoreline.

David Tucker Proudly Displays the Metal Disc

David Tucker, the Director of Lyme Regis Museum with the Anning token.

David Tucker, the Director of Lyme Regis Museum with the Anning token.

Picture Credit: Maisie Hill

The disc has been put on display at the Lyme Regis museum, the picture above shows the Museum’s director David Tucker proudly showing off, what might be a link to arguably,  the most famous female fossil collector in the world.

Historians and archivists consulted by the Lyme Regis museum are convinced this disc was once a gift given to Mary Anning.  The disc is very similar to the metal circles used by Georgian craftsmen to attach handles to drawers and other pieces of furniture.

Richard Anning

Mary’s father Richard, passed away in November 1810, six months after his daughter’s eleventh birthday.  He had been in poor health for some time.  It is quite a romantic thought to consider that this small disc was a token of affection presented to Mary by Richard, who knew that he did not have long to live and that he, her father would not see another birthday for his daughter.

Commenting on the discovery, David Tucker stated:

“He [Richard Anning] had a long term illness and she was his only surviving daughter, he would have had the tools around the house.  If he knew he wasn’t going to live long, it just seems like the kind of thing a dad would do.  We’ve discounted the idea it could have been made later as a souvenir once she became well known, as it’s rather basic and crude.”

Sadly, Richard Anning would never know of his daughter’s fame.  Mary Anning spent most of her time exploring the beaches and cliffs of Lyme Regis and nearby Charmouth.  She and her brother had a remarkable record of important fossil finds.  Mary and Joseph (her brother), found the fossilised remains of an Ichthyosaurus, the first to be scientifically studied and described.  Mary also discovered a wonderfully well-preserved Plesiosaurus specimen and in 1828 the UK’s first example of a Pterosaur.

Recently a New Species of Ichthyosaurus was Named In Honour of Mary Anning

A new species of Ichthyosaurus.

A new species of Ichthyosaurus.

Picture Credit:  Dean Lomax and Judy Massare

To read about this new Ichthyosaur discovery: New Ichthyosaurus Species Honours Mary Anning

The beaches of Lyme Regis attract thousands of fossil hunters every year, although visitors do have to be mindful of tide times and the risk of rock falls from the dangerous cliffs.  One of the best ways to follow in Mary’s footsteps is to take a guided fossil walk, for details of such walks: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks

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