More Than One Way to Skin a Dinosaur: At Archosaur Musings, David Hone posts a photo of a nicely preserved piece of dinosaur skin on display at the Geological Museum of China. Hone speculates it’s from a Psittacosaurus. However, the specimen lacks scientific value since we don’t know what part of the body it came from: “We can probably rule out the soles of the feet and the head but after that it could be leg, tail, back, even belly. This is important as, of course, there are significant variations in skin patterns not just in modern reptiles but birds too and also in dinosaurs.”
Peer Pressure: The Open Source Paleontologist points us toward this intriguing article in PLoS ONE: “Does Publication in Top-Tier Journals Affect Reviewer Behavior?” According to the authors, when ecologists act as peer-reviewers, evaluating whether other scientists' reports should be published in a scientific journal “their reported rejection rates recommended for manuscripts increases with their publication frequency in high impact factor journals.” (Translation: They get too full of themselves.)
Toying Around: Bob’s Dinosaur Blog has begun compiling reviews of dino-themed toys: “Be assured that all reviews are based on hands-on examination of the merchandise in question.” For instance, parents will be delighted to know that the 20-inch foam T-Rex sold by Animal Planet is not only realistic-looking but “huggable.”
Rent-a-Cop: Paleochick has an update on the closure of the University of Wyoming’s Geological Museum. (See also Brian Switek’s recent post.) The good news: The university has decided to keep the museum open part-time. The bad news: The only staff member will be a security guard, as opposed to, say, an actual curator. A letter to the Wyoming newspaper, The Casper-Star Tribune, declares: “Simply turning the lights on and staffing the museum with the equivalent of Paul Blart the mall cop—someone who will have no training in paleontology, nor the knowledge and ability to maintain the collections— is not enough…A closed geological museum is a travesty. A crippled museum is an insult to the public.”
(Memo to Ben Stiller: I think you’ve found the plot for Night at the Museum 3)
Don’t Tread On Me: Canadian artist Peter Bond expresses his patriotism by creating this very cool Peterosaur-themed flag.
Do-it-yourself: “Have you ever been discussing phylogeny online and wished there was an easy way to make a readable cladogram?” asks Mike Keesey at his blog, A Three Pound Monkey Brain. (Dude, you totally read my mind!) Well, that wish is now fulfilled: Keesey, a noted dinosaur illustrator and website developer has created a new tool, “Text Tree Maker,” that makes it easy to create cladograms (a diagram that depicts relationships between organisms—such as an evolutionary tree).
Trilobites of the World, Unite! The Marxist revolution is alive and well in the Cambrian era. Would this count as a “class struggle” or a “phylum struggle”? (That’s a taxonomy joke, folks.)