STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 June 2016

Tributes of Dinosaurs

Compsognathus, as popular as the dinosaur is, does not feature heavily in any documentaries or movies. The video we showed yesterday is one of the more blatant and obvious videos that exists for the dinosaur. There are also tribute videos though. These are set to music and show images of the dinosaur, but not a great deal of information is really shared. If learning is your main goal, the WizScience video is the way to go today:

26 June 2016

Compy Facts

Compsognathus is well known and relatively popular with dinosaur lovers. Their small stature makes them somewhat of an enigma to people that expect dinosaurs to be giant lumbering animals or even giant energetic animals. Everyone has the ability to learn something new about these animals regardless of any preconceived notions or lack thereof that one might have. A number of sites have jumped on the fact sheet train for Compsognathus and we benefit from this significantly because we have multiple outlets from which to learn about this tiny dinosaur. There are straightforward fact sheet pages like About and Enchanted Learning. There are also pages written more as essays than strings of facts. These are similar, but may be of more interest to higher level readers. These are pages like the revamped and more vibrant Kids Dinos (still home of the illustrated timeline and nifty maps) and DK's Eyewitness website. There is also this video, which we shared last time we discussed Compsognathus on fact day:

25 June 2016

Old Friends... In Space

This is the last full week of June for blog purposes. The cosmonaut dinosaur for this month is the popular and previous discussed, at great length, Compsognathus longipes. The "elegant jaw" dinosaur was a small animal whose remains were recovered in continental Europe. The orange and green silhouettes in the scale drawing presented here are from France and Germany respectively. The remains of these French and German animals are the most extensively known and most complete skeletons attributed to Compsognathus. There have been random feet and legs attributed to the species from time to time; Sinosauropteryx, from China, has been described at least once as a species of Compsognathus. The beauty of the two skeletons is that both are complete and even integument is preserved in the fossils. The German specimen has been described as having fatty deposits preserved along the abdomen. The German specimen preserves this level of detail because of its exquisite limestone base. The French specimen is also encased in a limestone base but did not preserve integument with the level of precision that the German fossil has. There is more to discuss in the preservation of the animals and a lot more that has been inferred and hypothesized from these remains. It will be a full week of discussion to be sure.

24 June 2016

Charlie's Shield Lizard

Scutellosaurus was a small lizard possessing dermal scutes. Many illustrations of Scutellosaurus are similar to one another for many reasons. These reasons include the small size of the animal and the prominent use of an almost sheet-like layer of dermal scutes lining the back of the animal. These scutes feature heavily in many illustrations, in fact. As one of the defining features of Scutellosaurus' lineage the scutes are important enough that this distinctive feature of the animal is acceptably pronounced in illustration. Statuary is not different at all. The statues of Charlie McGurdy are life sized and the artist strives for realism as far as is possible with fossil taxa. The Scutellosaurus piece is bipedal and well defined; however, it also appears to suffer from the common dinosaur restoration problem of extremely tight skin. Regardless, the statue is well constructed and reasonably accurate, as far as we can be in recreating the fossil animals of the past.

22 June 2016

Walking Around

Two legs or four?Larger, later, thyreophorans are always illustrated as walking on four legs because of their immense size. There are temporary exceptions to this rule, however, as Stegosaurus is often portrayed rearing up up on two legs to get at the leaves on tall fern trees that it appears to have difficulty getting to otherwise. This is not walking, of course, but should be noted as an exception all the same. The basal member Scutellosaurus, like many basal taxa, appears to have had the ability to walk bipedally and could have been facultatively quadrupedal. This is something we commonly see in basal taxa of dinosaur families that eventually reach enormous sizes. There are many reasons that this kind of morphological occurs. Most often, as in this case, it is partly because of the small size of the basal members of the eventually enormous taxa. Scutellosaurus started off as one of those extremely small taxa and this may explain entirely why it appears to have been mostly bipedal. This could also be an artifact of the known skeletal elements.
©Jaime A. Headden

21 June 2016

Pride of Arizona

Papers are written on a regular basis about dinosaurs from many different regions and specific states. Not many of the dinosaurs that we have discussed here include reference to Arizona. There are a few, but of those, Scutellosaurus is one of the most prolifically written about. These papers do not include the description paper but many papers from that long ago (almost 35 years ago) have not made their way to the internet and electronic hosting still. We do not expect they will be any time soon, however, there are still a number of other important papers that can be read about Scutellosaurus online. These include redescriptions of new material that is attributed to the dinosaur discovered approximately 16 years ago. Rosenbaum and Padian maintain the position of Scutellosaurus and attribute the new material to the dinosaur despite the incompleteness of the previously described skeleton. Other papers mention but do not feature Scutellosaurus. There are papers on herbivory in dinosaurs and descriptions of the thyreophoran family. Finally, it is important to note that Edwin Colbert revisited his original description and discussed Scutellosaurus in the Third Annual Fossils of Arizona Symposium. The original restoration is presented again in the portion of the paper discussing Scutellosaurus. It is an informative skeleton but the description of the material is more useful for understanding the animal. The visual helps of course.

20 June 2016

Scutellosaurus' Other Videos

The major video showing Scutellosaurus was shared yesterday because it was oriented and aimed directly at a younger audience; older folks that enjoyed it were not wrong to enjoy it at all. There are other videos online that feature some form of the dinosaur Scutellosaurus but they are not highly informative or well animated. One video is a ten second clip from a video game but the second is much more interesting. The second is a small statue from Florida's Dinosaur World which is a small park of dinosaur statues and animatronics. The statue is most interesting because it appears life size, meaning that it could disappear easily in the ferns, much like the actual Scutellosaurus dinosaur. The statue itself is not much to look at and is not accurate beyond size really, but it is still an interesting piece of art.