Saturday, April 18, 2015

Died This Day: William Arkell

Arkell (June 9, 1904 - April 18, 1958) was an English paleontologist who was an authority on Jurassic ammonites and their environments. He wrote Jurassic Geology of the World (1956), which critically reviewed the information dispersed throughout the world's enormous literature on the world's Jurassic stratigraphy.

He made numerous contributions to knowledge of the Jurassic stratigraphy, and gradually stabilized many stratigraphically significant zonal assemblages. In 1946, his "Standard of the European Jurassic" advocated a commission formulate a code of rules for stratigraphical nomenclature. image From Today In Science History:

Quirks & Quarks Interview: Live Birth in Mosasaurs

Click here to listen to Bob McDonald interview Aaron LeBlanc from the University of Toronto talk about his research that's supports the idea that mosasaurs gave birth to live young in the water, just like modern whales.

Born This Day: Noble Johnson

“Meanwhile, the light-skinned Noble Johnson (April 18, 1881 – Jan. 9, 1978) was heavily made up for his role as the village chief [in 1933's, KING KONG]—he was a leading black actor of the era (known as “America’s premiere Afro-American screen star” in the black press) and therefore worth the extra consideration. Johnson, an ex-cowboy, horse trainer, and boxer, had quite a resume before portraying the Chief of Skull Island.

He was a student of all aspects of movie making from directing to distribution, and instrumental in the 1916 formation of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, created to produce what were called “race movies.” Johnson left the company after it had released three films, rumored to have been “encouraged” by Universal to do so or lose any opportunity for parts at the bigger studio.

Johnson - a childhood friend of Lon Chaney - portrayed a variety of ethnicities in his long career; one of the few black actors of Hollywood’s early era to be allowed any diversity in roles.” From Kong Is

Friday, April 17, 2015

Premiered This Day (1981): Caveman

Directed by Carl Gottlieb and starring Ringo Starr, this film is probably best known for introducing Starr to his future wife, Barbara Bach. Famed Animator Jim Danforth oversaw the creation of the dinosaurs.

A more interesting film with overtones of The Creature From The Black Lagoon (0:57) is Island of the Fish Men, also starring Bach.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Premiered This Day: Women of The Prehistoric Planet

Written and directed by Arthur C. Pierce, and starring the perennial C-list actor John Agar (who had his own Prehistoric Theme Park!), this is just about as bad as it gets.

Died This Day: Wallace Beery

Wallace Fitzgerald Beery (April 1, 1885 – April 15, 1949) was an American actor who appeared in more than 250 films in over 36 years. At 16 he ran away from home and joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant elephant trainer, but left two years later, after being clawed by a leopard.

His career spanned the transition from silent movies to the talkies. He won an Academy award in 1931 for his starring role in The Champ, becomeing one of Hollywood's top stars in the 1930's. The hard-drinking Beery was implicated in the beating death of Ted Healy, the original leader of the Three Stooges. Beery is presented here for his starring role as Prof. Challenger in the 1925 movie, The Lost World.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Herb Trimpe, R.I.P.

The Incredible Hulk © Marvel Comics

Artist Herb Trimpe passed away on April 13, 2015, at the young age of 75 years. A giant of an artist, he worked mostly at Marvel and was known as most readers favourite Hulk artist. He drew more then a few dinosaurs and had a long run illustrating Marvel's Godzilla book back in the 80's.

Mark Evanier has a nice piece on Herb here

Llallawavis scagliai, a New Mesembriornithinae 'Terror Bird'

A new Mesembriornithinae (Aves, Phorusrhacidae) provides new insights into the phylogeny and sensory capabilities of terror birds. 2015. Degrange, F.J., et al., JVP

A new species of South American fossil terror bird called Llallawavis scagliai ("Scaglia's Magnificent Bird") is shedding light on the diversity of the group and how these giant extinct predators interacted with their environment. The new specimen also reveals details of anatomy that rarely preserve in the fossil record, including the auditory region of the skull, voice box, complete trachea, bones for focusing the eye.

Terror birds, or phorusracids as they are known scientifically, were carnivorous flightless birds up to 3 meters (10 ft) in height with tall hooked beaks. These birds were the predominant predators during the Cenozoic Age in South America. PR

Monday, April 13, 2015

Died This Day: Amanz Gressly

Gressly (July 17, 1814 - April 13, 1965) was a Swiss geologist and paleontologist who was a pioneer, and regarded by some as the founder, of paleogeography. He is known for his work identifying stratigraphic facies (“aspects de terrain”) recognizing lateral regional variations in the character and fossil content of rock strata resulting from the environmental differences at the time of original deposition.

He wrote Observations Géologiques sur le Jura Soleurois on his studies of facies (a term he coined) he found in the Jura Mountains. His fossil collection had 25,000 specimens. He was appointed as an assistant to Louis Agassiz at Neuchâtel. The dinosaur Gresslyosaurus (Platyosaurus) was named in 1857 to honour him. From Today In Science History

Ocean Acidification & the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction

Ocean acidification and the Permo-Triassic mass extinction. 2015. Clarkson, et al. Science

Art by Basil Wolverton
Changes to the Earth's oceans, caused by extreme volcanic activity, triggered the greatest extinction of all time 252 million years ago that wiped out more than 90 per cent of marine species and more than two-thirds of the animals living on land.
Abstract[edit]: Ocean acidification triggered by Siberian Trap volcanism was a possible kill mechanism for the Permo-Triassic Boundary mass extinction, but direct evidence for an acidification event is lacking.

In the latest Permian, increased ocean alkalinity primed the Earth system with a low level of atmospheric CO2 and a high ocean buffering capacity. The first phase of extinction was coincident with a slow injection of carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean pH remained stable. During the second extinction pulse, however, a rapid and large injection of carbon caused an abrupt acidification event that drove the preferential loss of heavily calcified marine biota. PR

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Died This Day: Edward Drinker Cope

Art © Mark Schultz
"What truly assured Cope's (July 28, 1840 – April 12, 1897; above right) place in the history of paleontology and even eclipsed his science was his bitter feud with Yale University paleontologist O.C. Marsh (above left).

What began as a friendly rivalry in the late 1860s, broke out into all out war in 1872 and then raged on until Cope's death in 1897.

Both Cope and Marsh were recipients of family fortunes and they used their wealth to discover new fossils and to reconstruct ancient life. This scramble literally propelled American science into the forefront of paleontology."
Read about Cope HERE.

Combat & Cannibalism in Tyrannosaurs

Pre- and postmortem tyrannosaurid bite marks on the remains of Daspletosaurus (Tyrannosaurinae: Theropoda) from Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada. PeerJ 3:e885

Image by Luis Rey

A new study documents injuries inflicted in life and death to a large tyrannosaurine dinosaur. The paper shows that the skull of a genus of tyrannosaur called Daspletosaurus suffered numerous injuries during life, at least some of which were likely inflicted by another Daspletosaurus. It was also bitten after death in an apparent event of scavenging by another tyrannosaur. PR

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Life Birth in Mosasaurs

Pelagic neonatal fossils support viviparity and precocial life history of Cretaceous mosasaurs. 2015. Field, et al. Palaeontology

Illustration by Julius T. Csotonyi
Paleontologists now believe that mighty mosasaurs -- which could grow to 50 feet long -- gave birth to their young in the open ocean, not on or near shore.
In their study, Field and his colleagues describe the youngest mosasaur specimens ever found that were previously been thought to belong to ancient marine birds. Field and Aaron LeBlanc concluded that the specimens showed a variety of jaw and teeth features that are only found in mosasaurs. Also, the fossils were found in deposits in the open ocean.

"Contrary to classic theories, these findings suggest that mosasaurs did not lay eggs on beaches and that newborn mosasaurs likely did not live in sheltered nearshore nurseries." PR