Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Flying away again...

I arrived in Ulaanbaatar last Saturday and am heading out to the Gobi Desert tomorrow morning. I’ve got a few blog posts that will appear while I’m away, but emails and facebook will be on hiatus until I return in late September.

However, I will leave you with a few palaeo notes and photos before I disappear for four weeks. During the Flugsaurier Symposium Scott and I had the opportunity to go on a field trip to Liaoning province to visit Jehol group outcrops and museums. Yesterday I posted a few photos of the Chaoyang Geopark. Today I’ve got some pictures of the Sihetun Fossil Museum and Darwinopterus field locality.

Outside the Sihetun Museum was this great expanse of Jehol Group outcrop. We all got to try cracking open some rocks, and many conchostracans and insects were found.

The Sihetun Museum had several very nice Psittacosaurus specimens, like this rather squashed fellow.

A particular treat of the trip was to visit the locality where Darwinopterus was collected, in the middle of a bunch of corn fields. It was interesting to see how Jehol rocks are typically quarried – the farmers find a productive level and then tunnel into the hillside. Unfortunately, this isn’t a very safe method for collecting.

I leave you with a final photo of my fine fangly friend Zhenyuanopterus, a huge boreopterid pterosaur from the Jehol.

Take care everyone and I’ll see you in September.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chaoyang Geopark

During the Flugsaurier Symposium I went on a field trip to Liaoning Province, which was a great opportunity to see different parts of China and visit Jehol group outcrops and museums. We first visited the Chaoyang Fossil Bird Geopark, which included a museum, in situ exhibits, parks, and lots of interesting statues. This is Nurhachius, an istiodactylid pterosaur from the Jiufotang Formation. The model has too many teeth, but he’s still pretty fun.

One of the best parts of the visit was this great in situ display exposing Jehol Group rocks. It had fairly good descriptions of the geology, and even marked on faults and other interesting features. Fossils discovered during the excavation were left in place, and included Cathayornis, Shenzhouraptor, and lots of fish.

Inside the museum proper were literally hundreds of Liaoning fossils of every sort – insects, plants, fish, turtles, champsosaurs, theropods, birds, pterosaurs – the list goes on and on. Here’s just a single display case showing off various fossil birds - I think they are all Confuciusornis, but may be mistaken.

It was easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fossil material in the geopark. After we finished in the museum we entered the fossil forest full of enormous petrified stumps. Incredible!

The museum and geopark had a few glitches - some specimens were mislabelled or in the wrong hallway, and there may have been a few 'plussed' specimens on display - but it was a really cool place that certainly has a lot of potential if a few of these errors are fixed up.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A long list of dragons.

Lots of Chinese dinosaurs often incorporate the word ‘long’ into the genus or species name – Banji long (an oviraptorid), Beishanlong (an ornithomimosaur), Dilong (a tyrannosaur), Guanlong (another tyrannosaur), Mei long (a troodontid), Qiaowanlong (a brachiosaurid), Shaochilong (a carcharodontosaurid), Tianyulong (a heterodontosaurid), Yinlong (a ceratopsian), and Xiongguanlong (yet another tyrannosaur). I’m sure I am missing some, but you get the idea. China loves their dragons. Growing up I was a huge, huge fan of dragons of all sorts (perhaps resulting from my love of dinosaurs), and so it was really excellent to see so many varieties of Chinese dragons during my stay in Beijing. Here’s a few of my favourites and where I found them.

Turtle dragon at Bei Hai Park.

Hoofed dragon at the Summer Palace.

Classic imperial (five-toed) dragon at the Forbidden City.

Blue ceramic dragon at the Temple of Heaven.

Tapir dragon at the Ming Tombs.

As an aside, I know there are also many dinosaurs incorporating the Latin word for dragon (draco) into their names, such as Draconyx (an iguanodont), Dracopelta (an ankylosaur, hooray!), Dracorex (a pachycephalosaur), Dracovenator (a basal theropod), and, what is quite possibly my most favourite dinosaur name ever, Pantydraco (a prosauropod/basal sauropodomorph). Does anyone know of other dinosaur genera or species incorporating the word for dragon from other languages?

*also, did you get the pun in the title of this post?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chinese Food Adventures

My food adventures did not end when I left Korea – I have had many opportunities to try new things while in Beijing in Liaoning province, and have added several new meats to my ‘animals consumed' list, including donkey, pigeon, and crocodile. Here are a few of the more memorable dishes that Scott and I tried.

Thousand year egg is an egg that is buried in clay and lime and left to sit for several weeks. The yolk turns a dark greenish-brown, and the white becomes a brown jelly. It looks awful, but it mostly just tastes like egg, surprisingly.

All the guidebooks say you have to try Peking duck while in Beijing, so we did. It’s really tasty! Slices of crispy duck are brought out on a little duck platter (and sometimes the head is thrown in, just for fun as well), and you wrap up duck, leeks, cucumber and sauce in a little flatbread. Quite nice!

At a little street market off of Wangfujing Street, we saw lots of interesting things for sale, including skewered scorpions and starfish. The scorpions on these skewers were still alive and wiggling away...

We were not brave enough to try these.

Another real treat was this delicious spiced garfish!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Name that specimen, IVPP edition.

The IVPP’s public galleries are quite a lot of fun, and Scott and I spent a lunchtime wandering around. We saw many famous fossils! Can you guess the identity of the following close-ups? Answers at the bottom!







1. This scaly appendage is the lobe-fin of a preserved Latimeria.
2. A delicious meal of Psittacosaurus can be found inside Repenomanus.
3. This friendly fangly smile is that of the pterosaur Haopterus.
4. The delicate toes and feathers of Microraptor.
5. The perfectly placed plastron of Odontochelys.
6. A Pachyrhinosaurus wannabe, the nose of the rhino Coelodonta.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

China #2

I Climbed the Great Wall!

China #1

Scott and I have arrived in Beijing - and the first thing we did was go over to Dino Dino Dream Park near Olympic Stadium (in fairness, it was late in the day and still open, and we knew how to get there).
Dino Dino Dream Park was both ridiculous and well done. There were some very nice animatronic dinosaurs, but sometimes in somewhat ridiculous poses. The Wuerhosaurus was trapped in a cage!
The IVPP lent some very nice mounts to the park consisting exclusively of Chinese dinosaurs. As such, there were many dinosuars I have never seen on display before, which was very cool.

I liked the presentation of active mounts near packing crates from the IVPP, in front of either a nice life restoration of the animal or a large photot of the field locality. In particular, I really liked the nice pair of Psittacosaurus.
Also, *heart*.