Friday, January 18, 2008

Its a Dino-World Out There


Today I've been thinking a lot about Dinosaurs. Maybe its because this weekend we took a rather disappointing trip to the National Geographic Society's Explorers Hall in D.C. and saw a small exhibit on Nigersaurus, the dino tauted as "Africa's Long Necked Fern Mower". Maybe its because I'm pretty much always thinking about Dinosaurs, or trying to think up dino-games one could play in construction sites ("You be the Paleontologist! I'll be the Dinosaur Bone!").


Heres some Dino-fun facts from almost an entire days worth of gleefully scowering the internet:


Although Dinos weren’t officially “discovered” until the 19th Century, there are references to "dragon" bones found in Wucheng, Sichuan, China (written by historian Chang Qu) over 2,000 years ago; these were probably dinosaur fossils (silly Chang Qu).


Can you imagine finding a giant bone before the idea of “dinosaur” existed? What a trip. After that there were plenty of folks finding bones but the word “dinosaur," meaning "terrible lizard," was not coined until 1842 by the British paleontologist Richard Owen. Thats how these cute little dino's got such a bad-velociraptor-rap.


Owen teamed up with an Artist/Sculptor, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, to create a dino park South of London where you can still see sculptures of dinos as Owen first imagined them. They weren't uber-accurate, but cool none-the-less. He threw a big party full of London socialites and they ate dinner in the belly of one of the sculptures.

A handful of years after Owen had his dinosaur party in London, William Parker Foulke found the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton in 1858 in a marl pit at Haddonfield, New Jersey.

People have been speculating that dinosaurs still exist in some form since these bones first started popping up. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “The Lost World” published in 1912, dinosaurs are discovered in South America still roaming around in modern times.
Clearly the world got all wrapped up with dino-fever when Jurassic Park came out in 1993 helping us imagine the dystopia we could create if we used Dino-DNA to bring dinosaurs back.
Additionally, people still think that The Loch Ness Monster might be a “left over” dinosaur and there are reports still coming out of Africa about possible dinosaurs roaming the Congo in Africa.
People just love dinosaurs because they are so different from our understanding of what is natural. Dinosaurs are a crazy, fictional, fairy tale that is actually real.


I love Dinosaurs, and I love even more that DC has its own dinosaur, the Capitalsaurus. You might be asking, MeanJean, are you for real? Hells yes, I’m for real. There's even a street named after it in Southeast Washington: Capitalsaurus Court, at First and F Streets, S.E. This is where the first dinosaur fossil to be found in Washington, DC was unearthed in 1898. 100 years later, it was named the Official Dinosaur of the District of Columbia. Yes. Like a law.


According to USA Today, plenty of Dino tracks have been found in the suburbs of D.C—not so far from where I live! I feel like I, too, could find a dino track walking home from the Metro one day. Maybe even a bone. Heck, I think I could maybe find some last remaining dinosaur creeping around in the shadows behind Rite Aid or Starbucks. A Silverspringasaurus perhaps. Or a Meanjeanasaurus. Or a Kittyasaurus. Yeah.

In other sort of recent Dino-news:

A dinosaur Graveyard found in Spain might contain links to extinction answers...
A mummified dino found in North Dakota has lots of skin, muscle and tendons scientists haven’t really seen before...
A species of dino found in Montana might be the link between dinos that roamed Asia and those from North America ...
Its even cooler that there really is proof that Dinosaurs evolved from birds.

Modern folks have only known about Dinosaurs for about 150 years, can you imagine how much else there is to learn? What happened to them? (Its like CSI: Dinosaurs)

1 comment:

courtney said...

OH MAN, extinction clues?! If they can find out why dinos are extinct, why can't anyone find my daddy-o?