Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Paleofest 2015 report

For the first time in my life, I was able to attend Paleofest on the weekend of March 14. Paleofest is an annual celebration and gathering of paleontology fans and experts at the Burpee Museum in Rockford, Illinois. Paleontologists gather from all over the world to give talks, while children engage in interactive, educational play with museum docents and visiting scientists. I had been aware of this event for three years and especially wanted to go to last year’s event on the Cenozoic. This year it was all about the Triassic, a period of reptile diversity and evolution, and the emergence of the first mammals and dinosaurs as the ecosystems of the world revived from the Permian extinction.

The talks took place downstairs, in the main classroom of the museum below all the other exhibits. There was a substantial crowd, and I wasn’t the only representative from the Field Museum’s volunteers to attend. Only visitors wearing the event badges were allowed in, and I paid $85 for the full weekend.  The talks were attended by people of all ages, and both genders were well-represented. It was genuinely inspiring to see how diverse the appeal of paleontology is.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exciting news about Jurassic World and its newfound paleontological accuracy

Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been privileged with no less than four fossil finds that came out just in time!  To see the significance, we’ll have to go back 20 years.  You see, in 1993, the film Jurassic Park came out. Michael Crichton’s book featured Velociraptor, and he based his depiction on Deinonychus. Spielberg, wanting something even more intimidating, increased the size of his raptors. The scientific community scoffed at this obvious error, but found themselves dumbfounded when, as the film came out, Utah Paleontologist James Kirkland found a dromaeosaur of that impressive size! Utahraptor brought Hollywood’s Raptor come to life! 

So, it is with great joy that I reveal that similar things have happened this year, coinciding with this summer’s release of Jurassic World!  Yes, once again, life has imitated art! Turns out that the writers of this film were prescient, thanks to their rigorous dedication to scientific accuracy. The papers are not published yet, so I can’t say the discoverers, but I can describe the names and bones found!