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December Dinosaur Digest

From guarding cars to stomping around New Jersey, dinosaurs have been prominent in this week's headlines

smithsonian.com

http://youtu.be/9_gW2xFp8Wk

New discoveries, historical tidbits and paleo-pop are all regular features here at Dinosaur Tracking, but there is far more dinosaur news out there than even this blog can cover. This week, especially, has seen a flurry of new research and dinosaurs in the headlines. I’ll be getting to some of the new papers during the remainder of this week and next, and here’s a rundown of recent dinosaur happenings.

Guard dinosaur: Need to leave your car unattended for a while? Why not employ a dinosaur to stand guard. That’s what an owner of a crashed car did in Clothiers Creek, Australia. Granted, the plastic Tyrannosaurus may not have been as frightening as an actual trained theropod, and the efficacy of toy dinosaurs as deterrents is unknown at this time, but it’s better than nothing.

Giants From Abroad: Last weekend, Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute opened the exhibit “Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs.” Among the featured guests, most being skeletal reconstructions of dinosaurs from Argentina and Mongolia, are the relatively small ceratopsian Psittacosaurus and casts of the immense sauropod Argentinosaurus. The exhibit also has a local hook: dinosaur aficionado and Philadelphia resident Don Lessem organized the traveling display.

Jersey Dinos: Pennsylvania isn’t the only East Coast town to be visited by dinosaurs. Earlier this month, New Jersey residents got a preview of Field Station: Dinosaurs, a temporary animatronic dinosaur park plunked down in the wetlands of Secaucus and due to open in May. (See the video above for footage from the press conference.) Early reports state that the park will include 31 robotic dinosaurs scattered across a path through the Jersey swamp. I hope some of New Jersey’s own dinosaurs make an appearance. Tyrannosaurus is an undisputed fan favorite, but I would love to see the garden state’s own tyrannosauroid, Dryptosaurus, on display along with the state dinosaur, Hadrosaurus.

Pleo, Take 2: Robotic dinosaurs aren’t just growling, jerking monsters of roadside prehistoric parks. In recent years toymakers have been trying to encapsulate dinosaur attitudes in home versions of the prehistoric creatures. Among the latest is Inu, a baby sauropod that looks like the next iteration of the previously released Pleo toy. With these little mechanical dinosaurs, at least you don’t have to worry about the complicated dietary needs of a real, fast-growing baby sauropod.

An Adventure How Many Years in the Making?: Jurassic Park IV will happen eventually. We have been hearing that for years now, and the series’ scientific adviser Jack Horner has even dropped a few hints about the plot. (Pssst… the genetically-modified dinosaurs may be altered even further to become true monsters). Now Steven Spielberg, the director and producer behind the series, has reaffirmed that the movie is on his to-do list, although who knows when the movie will actually make it to screens. Just remember what I said, Mr. Spielberg: We need feather-covered raptors this time. And please, please, avoid the family drama schtick of your other dinosaur project, Terra Nova.

Oh, to be a Dinosaur Hunter: Finally, the “Kids Post” section of the Washington Post has a profile of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s own paleontologist Matthew Carrano.

About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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