Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Oily Plateosaurus

` Hi, all! I've been having a great day so far and I just thought I'd tell you about it. It's really warm and sunny right now, as usual, although this morning it was cool and humid. Shortly after I woke up, Lou Ryan called me from his cell phone to tell me that he was at a donut shop right across the street.
` I got dressed and headed out the door to find that he was approaching the steps to walk me over. Then he bought me coffee and a doughnut and we talked until he had to leave for work.
` So, that was nice. Unfortunately, coffee tends to drain all my energy, so I'm not feeling so perky right now. Yesterday, though, we got up at six and did karate. That kept me awake all day. And, you'll never guess who I ran into on my way upstairs to the internet station just now: My friends Jason and Andie, and Cosie-Mo (on Jason' s shoulders), who have just returned from the desolate Canadian rock they've lived on since around New Year's! (Oh, and I forgot to take a picture of them, even though I had my Crappy Digital Camera right in my hands!)

` Anyway, just thought I'd reproduce a news article I can no longer access on the Nature website without paying money. Totally for free, however, this is the bootleg copy:

Published online: 26 April 2006; doi:10.1038/news060424-5
Geologists dredge up dinosaur from the deepCore from the ocean floor may hold rare plateosaur find.
Jacqueline Ruttimann

The crushed bit of bone, about 4 centimetres across, looked like plant matter to some geologists.

Jørn Hurum has hit a scientific jackpot twice. First by finding a dinosaur bone in an oil-drill core sample found off the North Sea, and then by being able to identify the dinosaur from that one tiny sample."It really was a lucky draw," says Hurum, a palaeontologist at the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum in Norway."

It is rare for any ocean drilling to encounter macrofossils," agrees geologist John Tarduno, from the University of Rochester, New York, adding that most core samples do yield some microorganisms and marine plant life. But not dinosaurs. Even if a ship were to park directly above a dinosaur skeleton it's still not a sure thing that it would actually dig a bit up, as the drill bits on these kinds of trips are typically just ten centimetres in diameter. "It's like finding a needle in 10 haystacks," says Hurum.

The curious sample was found in 1997 by two geologists who were drilling into sandstone reservoirs along the Snorre field in the North Sea in search of oil. In one of the cores, pulled up from 2,615 metres below the seabed, they found a four-centimetre-wide hollow circular structure embedded in the brown sediment. No one was sure what it was; some geologists thought it was a piece of plant.

Freak show
Find all our stories about dinosaurs here.

Discouraged, the geologists kept the fragment to themselves for a while and showed it to inquisitive graduate students. The fragment was eventually passed down in 2003 to Hurum, who immediately thought it looked just like a hollow bone from a meat-eating dinosaur. Hurum took it to one of his colleagues, who happened to be working with such dinosaur bones, to see whether there was a match.

A microscopic examination of the bone showed that it looked very much like that of a Plateosaurus. "The specimens matched completely," Hurum says. "You usually can't identify a dinosaur from a small sample." But in this case, he says, the match is so good that he is sure of the identification. He can even tell that the bone fragment probably comes either from the lower arm or lower leg bone.

Others aren't quite so confident about the precise identity of the rare find; some palaeontologists say it is hard to pin down an exact species from microscopic structure studies.

The Plateosaurus was a prevalent dinosaur species in Europe 210 to 195 million years ago, at the end of the Triassic period. During this period, Greenland and Norway were connected by land and there was no North Sea.

The Plateosaurus would have stood about ten metres long and weighed up to four tonnes. Three plateosaur skeletons have been found in Greenland and several throughout Europe. But this is the first piece of a Plateosaurus to be found in (or at least near) Norway.

Published online: 26 April 2006; doi:10.1038/news060424-6

` Well, isn't that a lucky find? I must be getting onto other internet business now. No time to write anything original, as usual. Later!


Galtron said...

Something about the title just bothers me... The Oily Plateosaurus? The Oily Plateosaurus what? Catches the worm?

Sounds like a good name for a pub, though! "Meet me at The Oily Plateosaurus!"

S E E Quine said...

` I'll bring that up to 'Brewmaster Burkhardt' the next time I talk to him!

Aaron said...

An Oily Plateosaurus gathers no moss?

monado said...

Greased Plateosaurus race!

Galtron said...

So do you ride the greased and un-mossy plateosaur....

Like a hammer hits a cantaloupe! said...

Andie and Jason!


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