Skip to main content

DinoBase, 1 year anniversary coming up!

Well, it's almost a whole year since the launch of the new DinoBase. The actual one-year anniversary for the relaunch is the 17th of April (see here for my post on the launch day last year). I'm sure most of my readers are already aware, DinoBase is an online resource hosted by the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol which I just happen to be the administrator of. The main feature of DinoBase is as the name suggests, its online database of dinosaurs. Visitors can search for dinosaurs using a number of search criteria such as genera, species, author, or year of description. I'll just go through the basic search function here.

Let's say we want to search for Tyrannosaurus rex but can't be bothered to spell out the whole name so we type in "tyranno".

Now we click on "search" and DinoBase will return the following list:

Note that DinoBase returns all records alphabetically, so the first few are the ones of interest, in this case, Tyrannosaurus bataar and Tyrannosaurus rex. Now to view the record we don't want to click on the dinosaur names because that will research the database under a new search criterion, i.e. the name you just clicked as the new keyword, so we want to click on the magnifying glass icon to the right of the names. When you place your cursor over it, a little pop-up comes up with "View Record".

Now we can view the information as a new window. Incidentally, Tyrannosaurus bataar is listed twice once as Tyrannosaurus and again as Tarbosaurus. This is due to a glitch in the system that doesn't let me delete entries so it stays for the moment. The only solution around this problem is to state its synonymous situation and redirect the user to the correct name, i.e. Tarbosaurus bataar, though I'm sure some people would prefer Tyrannosaurus bataar...

We do try to keep the information up to date as possible but currently there are only two of us doing data entry and management on the side (as we are both students) so there is a bit of a limit. New entries are stored on the waitlist until approved by myself - which is quite harsh as we need size data for taxa that is known from a single you can imagine why I'm reluctant to just approve every single new entry - I want to get as much as an accurate size estimate as possible, motly because information on DinoBase is supposed to be "academically approved".

Some of the entries will have pretty pictures like this one for T. rex. But a lot of them don't so if you're reading this and you're an active palaeoartist and want to use this chance to promote your dinosaur reconstructions, then please do contribute. We are always looking for good images of minor or rare dinosaurs!


Popular posts from this blog

R for beginners and intermediate users 3: plotting with colours

For my third post on my R tutorials for beginners and intermediate users, I shall finally touch on the subject matter that prompted me to start these tutorials - plotting with group structures in colour.

If you are familiar with R, then you may have noticed that assigning group structure is not all that straightforward. You can have a dataset that may have a column specifically for group structure such as this:

B0 B1 B2 Family
Acrocanthosaurus 0.308 -0.00329 3.28E-05 Allosauroidea
Allosaurus 0.302 -0.00285 2.04E-05 Allosauroidea
Archaeopteryx 0.142 -0.000871 2.98E-06 Aves
Bambiraptor 0.182 -0.00161 1.10E-05 Dromaeosauridae
Baryonychid 0.189 -0.00238 2.20E-05 Basal_Tetanurae
Carcharodontosaurus 0.369 -0.00502 5.82E-05 Allosauroidea
Carnotaurus 0.312 -0.00324 2.94E-05 Neoceratosauria
Ceratosaurus 0.377 -0.00522 6.07E-05 Neoceratosauria
Citipati 0.278 -0.00119 5.08E-06 Oviraptorosauria

The difference between Lion and Tiger skulls

A quick divergence from my usual dinosaurs, and I shall talk about big cats today. This is because to my greatest delight, I had discovered today a wonderful book. It is called The Felidæ of Rancho La Brea (Merriam and Stock 1932, Carnegie Institution of Washington publication, no. 422). As the title suggests it goes into details of felids from the Rancho La Brea, in particular Smilodon californicus (probably synonymous with S. fatalis), but also the American Cave Lion, Panthera atrox. The book is full of detailed descriptions, numerous measurements and beautiful figures. However, what really got me excited was, in their description and comparative anatomy of P. atrox, Merriam and Stock (1932) provide identification criteria for the Lion and Tiger, a translation of the one devised by the French palaeontologist Marcelin Boule in 1906. I have forever been looking for a set of rules for identifying lions and tigers and ultimately had to come up with a set of my own with a lot of help fro…

The fundamental problem with the Star Wars franchise

The sequel Star Wars Trilogy (so far Episodes VII and VIII) has been getting a lot of hate on the internet. While I think most of the hatred is just dreadful and ridiculous (like “Social Justice Warriors” taking over and making Star Wars too diverse and featuring too many strong female characters? Get out of here!), there are some legitimate criticisms, that I can relate to.

One such criticism is, that the new trilogy (especially The Last Jedi) effectively undoes the ending of The Return of the Jedi - in some ways rendering the struggles and sacrifices of the Rebel Alliance meaningless. As a viewer who watched the original trilogy conclude with the death of the Emperor, I presumed that the Empire came to an end, and with it the end of tyranny. I presumed that democracy would be reinstated in the form of a New Republic and the reconstruction of a New Jedi Order with Jedi Master Luke Skywalker at the helm. Peace is restored and all is good. I think that’s a nice ending.

But then the new S…