Real life cowboy Clayton Phipps rides the Montana Badlands with a shovel and a GPS device hunting for dinosaur fossils. Along with his partner, former flooring salesman Mark Eatman, he has made some of the biggest amateur finds in recent years.
A T. rex tooth worth $10,000.
A Stygimoloch (that he calls a horned, ‘freaky critter’) that went for $100,000.
And the famous dueling dinosaurs which are expected to fetch $7 million at auction in Manhattan.
He credits his success to his keen fossil hunter’s eye, honed over the years to spot anomalies in the Hell’s Creek landscape. He can pick out a lump of black rock that turns out to be a piece of ankylosaur armor and in his home dino-lab he spends hours using X-Acto knives, debonder and a dentist’s microblaster to remove the rock and dirt around the specimen.
Whether you’re a former ranch-hand or a flooring salesman, keep your eyes open when you’re in the field—that next big find could be at your feet.
Check out the full story at: http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/the-dinosaur-cowboy-20140224
(Photograph by Jose Mandojana)
Recent research at Lund University in Sweden has revealed the true colors of several marine dinosaurs. Since soft tissue usually isn’t fossilized we don’t often catch a glimpse of the colors that ancient reptiles displayed. But new techniques involving chemical traces in the rocks surrounding fossils, high-energy particles and electron microscopes have brought the prehistoric rainbow to life. Researchers studied the remains of a giant turtle, a mosasaur and an ichthyosaur and found ovoid pigments that suggest the lizards were black—perfect camouflage for the lightless depths of the ancient oceans.
Check out the full story here:
The gloves are off!
Dr. Nathan Myhrvold, mathematician, physicist, amateur fossil hunter and former chief technology officer at Microsoft says research on dinosaur growth and lifespans done more than ten years ago was flawed. He reviewed and applied new statistical methods to the original data used by Dr. Gregory Erickson professor of anatomy and paleobiology at Florida State University. And Myhrvold says, Erickson’s work contains major mistakes. To Myhrvold the data shows that dinosaurs grew much slower than Erickson suggested, and they lived a lot longer.
Check out the article here: http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/18/5226082/nathan-mythvold-says-dinosaur-researchers-made-serious-errors
(Image: Black Hills Institute of Geological Research Inc and Katie Busch/CK Preparations)
Two Late Cretaceous dinosaurs—a tryannosaurid and a triceratops relative—that died while locked in mortal combat were fossilized together in the same piece of Badlands rock. And recently they were put up for auction to private collectors by Bonham’s Auction House. Dubbed perhaps the most complete skeletons ever found in North America, the two fossils were expected to sell for between 7 and 9 million dollars—but the bids topped out at $5.5 million.
That turns out to be great news because rather than going into private hands and perhaps never being seen again, the fossils will now be offered for sale to “scientific homes.”
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In recent years bandits on motorcycles have been descending on dig sites in Asia to steal ancient and important finds while paleontologists sleep. The dinosaur fossils are hastily removed and carried off into the night.
Through an underground network of fences and middlemen the fossils are smuggled out of the country and sold to private collectors.
The cost to science and our understanding of prehistory is incalculable.
Check out this great look at the burgeoning Jurassic crime spree:
Cage outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for the 67-million-year-old T. Bataar skull at auction in 2007. But it now seems the biggest prehistoric skull ever found was provided by Eric Prokopi—a real life Time Eater.
Prokopi is currently facing 17 years in jail for stealing fossils from the rich beds of China and Mongolia, and selling them to private collectors—removing them from the light of science forever.
It doesn’t seem Cage or DiCaprio knew where the skull came from at the time—but the practice of collecting these great finds is in itself preventing paleontologists from properly examining finds and hurting our understanding of the great beasts.
More info here:
Paleontologists in Utah have discovered a previously unknown relative of T. Rex that is 10 million years older than scientists thought possible. The 24-ft-tall predator known as Lythronax argestes—or ‘King of Gore’—was covered in scales and feathers, and had ‘banana-sized meat cleavers’ for teeth.
What’s even more important is that paleontologists figure there are 1 million acres of cretaceous rock yet to be surveyed in the area—rock that is likely to produce many more new species of dinosaur.
Check out the article here: