- Scott Hartman
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Friday, September 30, 2011
9:08 PM | Posted by Scott Hartman
Ok, time for a quick anatomy lesson: Despite what you may have heard, bird knees do not bend backward. Nor, in fact, do the knees of any tetrapod perform this trick. Given the role of the knee in locomotion, it's not even clear how such a reversal could evolve after the initial "knee bend" direction was settled upon several hundred million years ago.
Why bring the anatomical equivalent of a fairy tale? Well, it's a fairly common misconception. So common, in fact, that it was recently enshrined by none other than Scientific American. So let's see if we can clear this up after the break:
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
12:58 PM | Posted by Scott Hartman
It's my pleasure to introduce the newest member of the troodontid family: Talos sampsoni. Named for paleontologist Scott Samspon, Talos was described by Lindsay Zanno and others in the wonderful open source journal Plos ONE. Talos is the first troodontid to be named from the Kaiparowits Formation of Utah, making it about 76 million years old. Cross-sections of the long bones suggest that the animal was between four and six years old, and while it hadn't stopped growing, it appeared to be reaching reproductive age at a smaller size than it's close relative Troodon. Of note is that the specimen had a bone in its second toe that was injured and partially healed. Since it appears to have been injured from violent trauma, it's consistent with with the idea that the "switchblade" toe was used in a way that could result in such an injury (presumably either attack or defense). Also, since the rest of the foot shows no indication of the sort of limping or other adjustments you see from a prolonged foot injury, it also reinforces the idea that troodontids walked with the second toe off the ground (as shown above).
Thursday, September 15, 2011
12:52 PM | Posted by Scott Hartman
If you watched Episode II of Dinosaur Revolution, you may have laughed at this Ornitholetes, who I'll refer to as Ichabod. This may seem like an odd scene to pick for a scientific discussion, but I think it actually has something useful to teach. Also, I'm partially responsible. I should be clear, the story idea was not mine (that's above my pay grade), but it's something that was run by me, and I did not try to shoot it down (and still wouldn't).
Why? I think it's reasonable.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
11:54 AM | Posted by Scott Hartman
Just a quick note, for those looking forward to the last two episodes. They will be showing tonight on Discovery Science at 9 and 10pm (check local listings).
Thursday, September 8, 2011
2:46 PM | Posted by Scott Hartman
One of the projects I've worked on the last two years was Dinosaur Revolution - although for most of that time it had the working name "Reign of the Dinosaurs" - which is still how I think of it in my head. I'm sure I'll get over it.
Two of the episodes aired this last Sunday(September 4th) and the last two air
The reason I bring this up is over my long association with the project I've developed a new appreciation for how difficult it is to get anything on TV, let along maintain a specific scientific or artistic vision. That might actually make for a good post or two. But first I want to open this up for discussion.
So, who saw it, and what did you think? Some of you commented on Google+ - feel free to cut and paste your response over here if you want (or else come up with something even snazzier to say). I'll talk more about the experience, and the challenges, in the days to come.