T. rex Autopsy (Sorta)

T. rex Autopsy (Sorta)

Hi everyone! This is just a quick post, but I thought I might share an interesting experience I had today…

As some of you may know, the Dinotopia exhibition which had been shown for the past few months ended on May 25th. Our awesome museum volunteers and staff handled the paintings, leaving the fossils. Getting the fossils down to the collections room safely was my job, as well as the job of a few other very helpful and kind people.

However, there was one item we didn’t quite know how to fit into our geology and fossil collection room, and that was Mr. T the Tyrannosaurus rex. Mr T. is a cast of the skull of AMNH 5027, and although he isn’t as heavy as the real fossil, it’s still a task to carry Mr. T’s disassembled skull down a flight of steep, short stairs and through a doorway. The reason we had little space for Mr. T was due to the fact that we had lent him to another museum where people presently working had basically no idea on where Mr. T came from or whom he belonged to. Thanks to them for being such good sports about the whole thing and really helping us out! During the time Mr. T was away, the museum’s collections grew, and shelf space shrank. Oh well, when life give you lemons, am I right?

Mr. T's upper half.
Mr. T’s upper half. Photo by the author, 2015.

Two of our amazing volunteers brought the skull proper, and the rest of us were left with the lower jaw, which can easily be disassembled into two pieces. Mr. T. is a terrific cast of AMNH 5027 and really shows the skeletal anatomy of Tyrannosaurus’s skull in detail.

Mr. T's lower jaw disassembled. His head is in the distance. Photo by the author, 2015.
Mr. T’s lower jaw disassembled. His head is in the distance. Photo by the author, 2015.

After we arrived in the collections room, our space issue became even more apparent. After a long debate on where the skull should go, a shelf top was chosen. We still have to tie it to the wall (which we’re planning to do tomorrow), but it’s in a safe place and will be completely A-OK, so never fear!

Thar He Lies! Don't worry, there's foam under the skull. Photo by the author, 2015.
Thar He Lies! Don’t worry, there’s foam under the skull. Photo by the author, 2015.

We also got this really nice cast of one of Mr. T’s teeth. Check this out!

What big teeth you have! Photo by the author, 2015.
What big teeth you have! Photo by the author, 2015.

Mr. T was the last to go back into the collections room, but don’t worry, as we have a whole lot planned for our fossil collection in the near future.

Dinotopia: The Fantastical art of James Gurney opens, continued

Dinotopia: The Fantastical art of James Gurney opens, continued

Today was the official opening of the new exhibit I helped to create. I showed some people around, giving tours and information, and I hope some of the kids which I gave a tour to got something out of the experience of seeing real life dinosaur bones! Here are some more pictures of the exhibit:

A footprint of Eubrontes giganteus, which was probably made by Dilophosaurus wetherelli
A footprint of Eubrontes giganteus , which was probably made by Dilophosaurus wetherelli

The footprint above is a cast of a footprint from Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. It belongs to the ichnogenus Eubrontes giganteus, which is probably the track of a Dilophosaurus wetherelli. These predators grew up to 23 feet long and weighed up to 1.3 tons. That’s one huge dilophosaurid!

Footprints from the Connecticut Dinosaur trackways. In Green: Podokesaurus In Purple: Anomoepus In tan: Batrachopus
Footprints from the Connecticut Dinosaur trackways. In Green: Podokesaurus
In Purple: Anomoepus
In tan: Batrachopus

The tracks above belong to Podokesaurus (outlined in green), Anomoepus (outlined in purple), and Batrachopus (outlined in tan). Podokesaurus (ichnogenus is Grallator) was a small Coelophysid dinosaur that roamed the northeast around 175 million years ago, the same time as Dilophosaurus. It was a small, slender theropod dinosaur which could probably reach a maximum size of 6 feet in length and 90 pounds in weight. Anomoepus was a small ornithopod dinosaur (probably heterodontosaurid) which may have fallen prey to both Dilophosaurus and Podokesaurus. Batrachopus was a small crocodyliomorph (either a protosuchian or an aetosaur, as I depicted it) which scurried around the Connecticut river valley at the same time as the dinosaurs I mentioned above.

A view of the first room: Pictured are from left to right: A femur and tibia of a juvenile Corythosaurus, A Placenticeras meeki, and a partial Tylosaurus proriger mandible
A view of the first room:
Pictured are from left to right: A femur and tibia of a juvenile Corythosaurus, A Placenticeras meeki, and a partial Tylosaurus proriger dentary

The Corythosaurus casuarius partial leg exhibited is that of a juvenile, which was previously known as “Prochenisaurus“.The Placenticeras meeki exhibited lived in the Western Interior Seaway alongside Tylosaurus proriger.

Some fish from the green river formation. The large fish(Miloplosus labracoides) had not been examined since Leidy first described it! The other two fish are Priscacara liops and Knightia alta.
Some fish from the green river formation. The large fish(Mioplosus labracoides) had not been examined since Leidy first described it! The other two fish are Priscacara liops and Knightia alta.

Some animals which I prepared for the exhibit, such as the Mioplosus pictured above, had not been seen by human eyes since they were gifted to the museum by Joseph Leidy! In fact, when me and the curator of collections pulled the crate the fish was stored in off the collection shelf, we saw Leidy’s signature. The Knightia, as well as some other fish, had the signature of Othiel Charles Marsh written on the item description on the back of the fossil! These are some real cool specimens if you are intrested in the history of paleontology as a science.

Anomoepus and Batrachopus tracks
Anomoepus and Batrachopus tracks

These fossil footprints were made by an Anomoepus who decided to take a rest. If you enlarge the image, you can clearly see the mark made by the back of the pelvis as well as the tail imprint, which is represented by a small patch of discolored mudstone. Batrachopus also makes an appearance in the upper right corner of the slab.

Overall, it was so much fun prepping the fossils and creating the illustrations which would accompany them in the actual exhibit. Remember, If you are in the Stamford CT area, consider checking out the exhibit at the Stamford Museum. And thanks for reading!!

Dinotopia: The Fantastical art of James Gurney opens!

Dinotopia: The Fantastical art of James Gurney opens!

Last night, the exhibition I have worked on for 6 months finally opened. Here are a few pictures:

An assortment of teeth and jawbones. From bottom to top: Mastodon(Left) Megacerops (Right) Tyrannosaurus Megalodon(Left)  Merycoidodon(Right)
An assortment of teeth and
jawbones. From bottom to top: Mastodon(Left) Megacerops (Right)
Tyrannosaurus
Megalodon(Left)
Merycoidodon(Right)

Here is a view of the main hall:

In foreground: Dinosaur Tracks from the Jurassic of Connecticut In background: Tyrannosaurus skull cast, AMNH 5027
In foreground: Dinosaur Tracks from the Jurassic of Connecticut
In background: Tyrannosaurus skull cast, AMNH 5027
Close up of AMNH Tyrannosaurus rex skull cast
Close up of AMNH Tyrannosaurus rex skull cast

We decided to name our skull cast Mr T! The curator of collections came up with that one, so if you don’t like the name, don’t take out your anger on me (I’m just kidding)! If you are in the Stamford CT area, please come over and view the exhibit! The pictures here were taken before the hall was opened as I want to respect people’s privacy. Thank you for your understanding (I also wanted to get good pictures for you guys).

And The Exhibit Opens…

And The Exhibit Opens…

Hi guys! Just a quick post here! As you may know from previous posts on this blog, I have been working with the Stamford Museum and Nature Center to revamp their fossil collection. I also have the amazing duty of being the resident paleontologist. This spring, from February 14 to May 25, the museum will showcase some pieces from it’s fossil collection alongside the work of the artist James Gurney. So if you are in the Stamford CT area, please visit and enjoy the exhibit! I will post updates on this project to keep you all informed. Thanks for reading and this week’s Paleonews will be posted either tomorrow or Wednesday. Thanks for reading.

Triassic Connecticut and the Purple Dilophosaur

Triassic Connecticut and the Purple Dilophosaur

Recently I have had the honor of working with The Stamford Museum, prepping their fossils for an upcoming exhibit featuring the art of James Gurney (you should really check this guy out!!). Being in CT, the museum has acquired a vast collection of local fossils (Connecticut river valley, Peabody Museum specimens, etc.), and the curator has commissioned me to create murals of the animals in their collections. Right now I am working on the Triassic CT mural, which showcases a Dilophosaurus (Eubrontes giganteus), two Anomoepus (Heterodontosaurid, maybe?), a prosauropod dinosaur (presumably Ammosaurus or a close relative), Podokesaurus, and a Phytosaur. What is awesome about this project is that I get to work with fossils which were dug up ages ago. I mean some of this stuff has not been relabeled since the time of Leidy or Marsh. Crazy! Some of the stuff they have even has been written on by Leidy or Marsh!! As a self-proclaimed paleonerd that just blows my mind!! Anyways, I hope everyone had a great holiday season and I will be back with more later! Thanks for reading!