Dinos for Geeks

There’s been a lot of cool news for dinosaur lovers lately.

The most bizarre story is about an extinct lizard called Saniwa ensidens that had four eyes.

Here’s Why an Ancient Lizard Had 4 Eyes (Laura Geggel, Live Science)

There are also some massive 170 million year old dinosaur footprints from the Jurassic period that have been discovered on Scotland’s Isle Of Skye.

Huge Dinosaur Footprints Discovered on Scottish Coast (Michael Greshko, National Geographic)
A sauropod-dominated tracksite from Rubha nam Brathairean, Isle of Skye, Scotland (Paige E. dePolo, et. al., Scotish Journal of Geology)

That’s cool news for dinosaur lovers, but it’s not all that geeky.

Before we dive into the really geeky stuff, check out this 360° video from the American Museum of National History in which Mike Novacek describes how Roy Chapman Andrews led an expedition to the Gobi Desert back in the 1920s.

You can find out a ton more about the expeditions and dinosaurs in general on the American Museum of National History YouTube Channel series Dinosaurs Explained.

That’s probably the kind of methodology that you think of when you think about paleontology. Paleontologists do still use those traditional field methods, but they also use some fairly geeky technology these days. Here’s a video in which paleontologist Ken Lacovara explains how his field uses laser scanning and 3D modeling.

Here’s an even geekier video and related story from Mashable about how the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is scanning and printing fossils.

Hold a T-Rex Bone in Your Bare Hands, Invites Smithsonian (Eric Larson, Mashable)

Doesn’t all that talk about 3D dinosaur parts make you just itch to see a complete one?

Here’s a 360° video in which paleontologist Dr. Ken Lacovara “shows” us a giant dinosaur called Dreadnoughtus while he explains how it was discovered. If you have a powerful computer, change the quality setting on the video to 1080s for a more impressive experience.

This wasn’t the first neat 360° video about dinosaurs. Over a year ago Sir David Attenborough worked with BBC One to make this 360° video to introduce the biggest dinosaur ever discovered. Again, increase the video quality for a better experience.

The BBC also published a website with more backstory about the project. If you follow the link, be sure to also click the tabs for more information.
BBC Taster Attenborough 360 (BBC)
Here’s another story about the project.
Sir David Attenborough set to reveal the biggest dinosaur ever to walk the planet in upcoming BBC show (Doug Bolton, The Independent)

These lovely educational videos probably make you crave some hyper-realistic, high-end Hollywood dinosaurs. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (IMDb) is going to be released in June, so there will be some in theaters soon!

In the meantime, here are some 360° videos to hold you over.

Finally, I saved the geekiest stuff for last. If you crave realistic extinct creatures, how about some real ones? Impossible, you think? Not necessarily! De-extinction is a real thing that is being actively explored, and while true dinosaurs are still far fetched, species that only went extinct within the last 500 years or so are not all that far out of reach.

Here’s a recent video and news story about the state of the art in resurrecting extinct species as well as the complex pros and cons of doing so.

The increasingly realistic prospect of “extinct animal” zoos (Christine Ro, BBC)

Find out more about fossils and dinosaurs