In our ninetieth episode, we had the pleasure of talking with Dr. John Scannella, interim curator on the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.
To study extra in regards to the museum, try our video in half 4 of our #EpicDinosaurRoadTrip.
Episode 90 can be all about Byronosaurus, a troodontid that lived in what’s now Mongolia.
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On this episode, we focus on:
- The dinosaur of the day: Byronosaurus
- Troodontid dinosaur that lived within the late Cretaceous in what’s now Mongolia
- Michael Novacek discovered the bones in 1993 as a part of an American Museum of Pure Historical past expedition to the Gobi Desert
- In 1996, a second specimen (cranium) was discovered about 5 mi (8 km) away from the primary specimen
- Mark Norell, Peter Makovicky, and James Clark described Byrononsaurus in 2000
- Varieties species is Byronosaurus jaffei
- Species title honors Byron Jaffe (his household supported the Mongolian Academy of Sciences-American Museum of Pure Historical past Paleontological Expeditions)
- Holotype was a partial skeleton with a partial cranium
- Holotype cranium was 9 in (23 cm) lengthy
- Two skulls of younger, probably newly hatched people had been present in 2009 and known as Byronosaurus (initially regarded as Velociraptor)
- The 2 younger hatchlings (or embryos near hatching) had been present in a nest of oviraptorid eggs (an oviraptorid embryo was present in one of many eggs). Might be there as prey of the grownup oviraptorid or be a nest parasite, the place Byrononsaurus grownup laid eggs within the Citipati nest
- Very bird-like
- Troodontids have unqiue skulls, with intently spaced enamel, and a variety of enamel. Additionally sickle-claws, and really sensible, with eager senses
- Byronosaurus didn’t have serrations on its enamel (most troodontids do have serrations on their enamel), and is most just like Xixiasaurus (additionally didn’t have serrations on enamel, mentioned in episode 84)
- Tooth had been needle-like, good for catching small birds, lizards, and mammals (and just like Archaeopteryx)
- Had a extremely developed sense of odor (useful in looking)
- Byrononsaurus confirmed there was variety in Asian troodontids
- Troodontidae is a small group of maniraptorans
- Small and really bird-like (one Troodontid, known as Sinovenator, is similar to Archaeopteryx)
- Some scientists have prompt Troodontidae had been ancestors of birds, however most imagine it was dromaeosaurs
- Troodontid genuses embrace Saurornithoides (Mongolia), Troodon (North America), and Sinornithoids
- Different troodontids embrace Borogovia (named after Lewis Carroll poem) and Zanabazar (named after Mongolian non secular determine), and Mei
- They’ve plenty of enamel and intently spaced enamel in decrease jaw
- Lengthy legs, giant curved claw on second toes that retracts when it runs (just like dromaeosaurids, however smaller)
- Troodontids have sickle-claws and excessive EQs (very sensible)
- Good listening to
- Ears had been asymmetrical (one increased than the opposite, just like owls), so might have hunted like owls, utilizing listening to to find prey
- Some might have been omnivorous although most had been most likely carnivorous
- Some troodont fossils present they roosted like birds (Mei), and helps concept that they most likely had feathers
- Enjoyable truth: One of many largest issues that fossils can have after they’re excavated is named pyrite illness. Pyrite, also referred to as idiot’s gold, is a mineral made from iron and sulfur and if a fossil types within the presence of these components pyrite crystals can truly type contained in the fossils. At first this isn’t an issue, since changing bone with minerals is what fossilization is all about. But when it’s uncovered to water and oxygen it might oxidize (principally rust) and when it oxidizes it expands and might principally shatter the fossil it’s in. This began occurring to the Triceratops on the Smithsonian museum in Washington DC so that they took it down to raised preserve the fossil. In keeping with the AMNH the answer to forestall the issue is to maintain humidity under 45% (you could discover hygrometers in museum shows for that reason. And as soon as injury begins bringing the humidity under 30% may also help.
For many who might choose studying, see under for the complete transcript of our interview with Dr. John Scannella:
Garret: We’re joined this week by Dr. John Scannella who has a Bachelor’s in geological sciences from Rucker’s and a PhD from Montana State College, MSU, in Earth Science. And the Museum of the Rockies was based again in 1957. It has probably the most dinosaur fossils of any museum within the state and doubtless the U.S.—they declare the U.S. however I’m skeptical—together with the world’s largest T-rex cranium and several other distinctive Triceratops, and John is the interim curator whereas they get a alternative for Jack Horner.
You probably did a TedX speak on Triceratops. Is that your favourite dinosaur?
John Scannella: I suppose so. I kinda should. Triceratops I suppose I’ve spent the final ten years working with Triceratops so I really feel like Triceratops is the dinosaur that I do know the very best. Like from morning to nighttime I get up and I’m with Triceratops and Triceratops so Triceratops. However earlier than Triceratops I suppose once I was slightly child I had this kids’s e book about dinosaurs, and you understand how the storyline in kids’s books about dinosaurs is often the identical. You begin off within the Triassic and you then meet Allosaurus and Brontosaurus, after which Triceratops reveals up and he fights with T-rex after which all of them die. However on this one there was like an additional bonus web page with this dinosaur that was in none of my different books, and his title was Gorgosaurus. And he seemed just about like T-rex besides he was standing within the rain like roaring, and he seemed superior. And I used to be like that’s a cool dinosaur. So Gorgosaurus was my favourite. I suppose I nonetheless kinda like Gorgosaurus however I don’t work on Gorgosaurus in any respect. It’s only a actually cool dinosaur and if it ever stood and roared within the rain I believe that may be fairly cool.
Garret: So it’s your favourite principally due to one actually cool piece of paleo-art.
John Scannella: Principally. Nicely I imply there’s cool Gorgosaurus fossils on the market too and you realize plenty of cool science has been completed on it. So for very totally different causes there’s Gorgosaurus and there’s Triceratops.
Sabrina: How’d you find yourself specializing in Triceratops?
John Scannella: Once I got here out to Montana State College I informed Jack that I used to be all in favour of learning dinosaur evolution and form of these massive image questions of how dinosaurs developed, and Jack informed me that if that’s what you need to give attention to then you must work with an animal that we now have a variety of. And the animal that we now have probably the most of right here on the museum is Triceratops. So Triceratops is superior as a result of it’s so widespread that you could actually get into a few of the deep questions on variation in dinosaurs and the way they could have modified as they grew up from infants to adults and the way they could have modified over geologic time, issues that you could’t actually do with dinosaurs in case you have like one specimen. Like you’ll be able to have a phenomenal skeleton of a specimen and know all types of thrilling issues about it, however you are able to do much more when you’ve 100 of one thing
Garret: Yeah, is sensible. Once we talked to Jack Horner he mentioned his favourite was Maisaura partly due to that, as a result of he had a variety of them so you could possibly inform these particulars. Cool. So since you’ve so many fossils and I’ve heard that you just’re form of nearly out of house if not out of house the place do all these fossils come from and the place you gonna put new ones?
John Scannella: Nearly all of the fossils listed below are from Montana. There’s a number of type simply across the fringes form of like in Wyoming however most of them are from Montana and we now have a variety of them. So one of many cool issues about proper now on the Museum of the Rockies is that we’re truly I believe subsequent week going to begin constructing the brand new curatorial heart for the humanities, which is a giant growth of the museum for the historical past and pictures collections. And principally that’s gonna open up an enormous quantity of latest house for paleo. In case you went into our paleo collections now it is extremely practically full, however this may add 9 thousand sq. toes I consider further house for paleo collections, so we’ll be capable of proceed gathering large quantities of fossils from Montana.
So within the meantime we’ve needed to form of decelerate the gathering, and I believe it’ll be a few 12 months projected earlier than that’s up. However within the meantime it’s gonna be kinda cool as a result of we’re gonna be increasing and it’ll be superior to get extra dinosaurs coming in.
Garret: Cool. So within the meantime do you do extra like lab work and stuff like that?
John Scannella: Nicely I imply it’s not like there’s nothing to do within the meantime. There’s nonetheless jackets and jackets that haven’t been ready, so we’re making ready jackets, some which were sitting round for fairly some time. And also you open an outdated jacket and you may nonetheless discover tremendous cool stuff inside it. So it’s been an excellent time frame to form of I suppose focus a bit on that and open up a few of these jackets and manage issues a bit. After which we’re going to be heading again out into the sphere truly in a number of weeks, so slowly ramping up the sphere program once more, and we’ll be off and working fairly quickly so it’ll be fairly cool.
Garret: Good. So that you talked about Jack Horner, and I might most likely guess based mostly on being skilled partially by him, however would you think about your self a lumper or a splitter?
John Scannella: I suppose I’d be thought of a lumper in case you needed to divide it into simply these two issues. I labored with Jack on the Triceratops and Torosaurus work, the synonymy of Triceratops and Torosaurus. Yeah so I imply I don’t suppose I’ve break up something personally, however we did suggest that Torosaurus is the mature progress stage of Triceratops, and that Nedoceratops is a transitional progress stage between Triceratops and Torosaurus. So in case you think about that lumpy then…
Garret: It’s fairly lumpy.
John Scannella: Yeah, yeah. So I suppose that may put me within the lumpy class.
Sabrina: We’ve additionally had individuals say they had been center of the street.
Garret: Yeah you don’t should be laborious left or…
John Scannella: Oh I didn’t know that there have been greater than two choices.
Garret: It’s extra thrilling this manner. Yeah I believe in case you write a paper about eliminating a species…
John Scannella: Yeah I believe that form of, I imply in case you acquired, I couldn’t say that I’m a splitter then I suppose proper?
Garret: What’s the response to that entire Triceratops–Torosaurus been like? The place do you suppose it’s at? Are most individuals accepting it? Is it nonetheless a controversial…
John Scannella: I believe it’s nonetheless thought of to be controversial by a number of individuals, however it’s been a variety of enjoyable to suggest the speculation as a result of we proposed that Torosaurus is the mature progress stage of Triceratops, after which there’s quite a lot of researchers who say no they’re separate taxa, however it’s been form of a terrific scientific expertise to undergo the method of proposing the speculation after which the speculation is challenged, proper, and it’s a must to discover extra proof to go together with the speculation, or it could possibly be falsified, and the opposite researchers like Andy Farke, have you ever met Andy Farke?
Sabrina: Nope, not but.
John Scannella: Andy is improbable, however Andy thinks that Torosaurus and Triceratops are separate taxa. And he wrote his first paper, a paper the place he mentioned that, and he despatched it to me earlier than it was revealed so I might touch upon it and get again to him about what I thought of it, which was like a extremely cool factor to do as a result of it wasn’t like out of nowhere this paper got here out attacking the speculation. So we now have actually good communication going backwards and forwards about our concepts about issues and we share concepts on ceratopsian dinosaurs. We truly gave a chat collectively in Boston in regards to the speculation of Triceratops and Torosaurus, whether or not they’re the identical factor or various things. So it’s a extremely cool relationship I believe between researchers the place it’s not like you realize actually…
John Scannella: Yeah like antagonistic and it’s very pleasant and I believe it’s the way in which that science needs to be. I imply right here’s a speculation, there’s proof to help it. Let’s see if we are able to falsify it. To this point I don’t suppose it’s been falsified, however there’s actually plenty of papers going round which have offered proof that they are saying would recommend that it’s not so, however I believe it’ll commute for at the least a while earlier than somebody goes out and finds a child Torosaurus, which…
Garret: That’s most likely the one simple approach to falsify…
John Scannella: That I believe can be the simplest approach to do it, I imply in case you discovered slightly child Torosaurus with horns curving backwards as they do in juveniles and actually spiky epis on it and like you realize an unambiguously small juvenile Torosaurus, that may be superior. As a result of then we might know, and that is what I mentioned once I was working with Andy on our presentation. We’re not involved about being proper, you realize, as scientists. It’s not like Torosaurus is Triceratops, I should be right. It’s we need to know what these animals had been actually like and what their world was like, and so right here’s an concept and let’s see the way it goes. If it’s falsified then it’s falsified.
Garret: Yeah, that’s an effective way to have a look at it. That’s precisely the way in which science needs to be.
John Scannella: I believe so. Yeah, however I nonetheless suppose that they’re progress phases of a single, and I believe that there’s good proof, histological proof and so forth to help that, however I’m positive there’ll be further papers with proof in opposition to that and proof for it, so it’ll be cool to see the backwards and forwards.
Sabrina: How lengthy has Huge Mike been on the market, the T-rex? Nicely okay, what’s the story I suppose? How did he get the title Huge Mike?
John Scannella: I imagine he’s named after a former president of the college, however Huge Mike is a bronze statue of the Wankel T-rex MOR 555 which just lately went out on mortgage to the Smithsonian for 50 years. So I believe beginning in 2019 in case you exit to the Smithsonian you’ll be seeing the nation’s T-rex, which is, was MOR 555, Huge Mike. In order that they’re one and the identical. That’s kinda cool.
Sabrina: That’s cool.
Garret: Yeah we’re enthusiastic about that opening up.
John Scannella: Me too.
Sabrina: After which there’s the exhibit Tyrant Kings, and once I was studying the outline of it I used to be stunned it mentioned it was one of many few, or this is without doubt one of the few museums which have a T-rex on show.
John Scannella: I believe it’s one of many few museums that has the precise fossils of a T-rex mounted versus a solid.
Sabrina: Oh okay, that’s cool.
John Scannella: Yeah, yeah that’s, I believe it’s a extremely nice exhibit as a result of you’ve mount of Montana’s T-rex standing there, after which behind it there’s form of this glass case of Tyrannosaurus rex progress, which matches from the smallest identified T-rex cranium on this planet all the way in which as much as the biggest T-rex cranium, they usually’re each MOR specimens. So the most important one is MOR 008 which was discovered a long time in the past. It was one of many first specimens right here on the museum, and I suppose it was in like hundreds of items and it was pieced collectively over an extended time frame earlier than it was lastly put collectively, and once they measured it when it was put collectively they realized that it was actually massive.
After which the smallest one, Chomper, was simply found in 2010 by my former roommate Lee Corridor. And in order that’s actually cool to have Chomper over there too. After which every little thing in between going from B-rex, after which there’s the solid of the Wankel T-rex, after which Montana’s T-rex is all in there. It’s cool to have the ability to see all of them subsequent to one another.
Garret: Yeah that’s tremendous cool.
Sabrina: Do all of them have names? You talked about a few of the names however…
John Scannella: There’s Chomper, after Chomper there’s Jane which is a Burpee specimen, so it’s a solid of the cranium of Jane. After Jane is B-rex. After B-rex is I imagine Montana’s T-rex MOR 980, after which after that’s the Wankel T-rex which is gonna be on the Smithsonian, after which after that’s MOR 008 the actually massive one. I hope I’ve that proper.
Garret: You even have an exhibit proper now on Triceratops that’s related proper, the place it goes from the youngest all the way in which as much as, do you’ve a torosaurus on the finish?
John Scannella: We’ve got an grownup Triceratops.
Garret: Previously referred to as…
John Scannella: Yeah, it goes from the smallest identified Triceratops specimen is a College of California Museum of Paleontology Berkley specimen which was described in 2006 by Mark Goodwin and colleagues, and its cranium I suppose might just about slot in your hand. After which on the other finish you’ve the toro specimen which is in regards to the dimension of my automotive. So it actually reveals the scale vary, after which we now have a bunch of progress phases in between there, and much more in collections as effectively along with what’s simply on exhibit.
Sabrina: There’s additionally a burrowing dinosaurs exhibit.
John Scannella: Oh sure, Oryctodromeus, that simply went up two years in the past I believe. One of many cool issues in regards to the displays right here is that they’re at all times altering to attempt to sustain with all of the analysis that’s happening right here. So in case you got here right here a 12 months in the past or I suppose simply over a 12 months in the past the brand new T-rex exhibit wouldn’t be there. A 12 months earlier than that the Oryctodromeus wasn’t there but. I’m positive in case you come again in a 12 months there’ll be one thing new that isn’t right here now. So we’re at all times including issues and switching issues round. So Oryctodromeus the burrowing dinosaur which was described by Dave Varricchio and colleagues a number of years in the past is on exhibit, and you may look into the burrow and see little juvenile Oryctodromeus and there’s the grownup up prime and there’s the burrow, it’s fairly cool.
Sabrina: Yeah we spoke to Anthony J. Martin about it.
Garret: In all probability a 12 months in the past.
Sabrina: In one of many earlier episodes, yeah. That’s cool. Is that, that’s the one one which’s been found we all know for positive burrowed proper?
John Scannella: Yeah, the one one I imagine revealed within the literature of being in a burrow.
Garret: Yeah, present in its personal burrow I believe was the important thing, as a result of they discovered burrows however you by no means know what made it except you discover the animal in it. Cool.
Sabrina: Because the curator for now, you bought any massive plans but? I imply it’s been an entire week so…
John Scannella: Huge plans, I suppose we’re going to be engaged on some new displays, conserving the displays altering and displaying analysis that’s been occurring right here, highlighting some cool research which have occurred within the current previous. Proceed having specimens ready so we are able to study new issues, coordinating with researchers from totally different establishments, college students, and others, and simply producing extra analysis concerning one in every of my favourite dinosaurs, Triceratops, after which additionally different Montana dinosaurs and simply persevering with to carry details about Montana’s dinosaurs to Montana and the remainder of the world.
Garret: Cool. New displays are at all times good. Do you do a variety of updating of displays too, or is it often they’re being changed at such a price that you just don’t have to do an excessive amount of.
John Scannella: I imply there’s been some updates like textual content updates however largely we simply form of change them out with a more moderen exhibit if that is sensible.
Garret: Cool, yeah. You guys do a good quantity of training outreach stuff too. Are you concerned with any of that stuff?
John Scannella: I’m concerned in as far as speaking to high school teams and issues like that, and college students. […] (00:15:06) does so much with academic applications with native faculty teams, and that’s nice as a result of I imply that’s, particularly for dinosaurs I imply that’s how I first met dinosaurs is my first journey, effectively I suppose first it was a visit to the library to learn kids’s books about dinosaurs, to see Gorgosaurus standing within the rain. after which a visit to the American Museum of Pure Historical past in New York, which is improbable and it’s one in every of my earliest recollections is my household taking me to the museum, and my mother says that I ran as much as the Apatosaurus and tried to hug it. I believe I used to be about three or 4 years outdated. I don’t do not forget that however I’d should take her phrase for it. However that’s like an age the place for some motive you’ll be able to actually join with dinosaurs. I don’t know if it’s since you’re so small they usually’re so massive. So it’s nice to at all times see plenty of faculty kids coming by means of the halls on the museum right here.
One of many cool issues is the brand new T-rex exhibit of Montana’s T-rex, and it’s form of posed prefer it’s turning a nook. Proper, it’s you stroll down a hallway and also you flip to your proper after which there’s this t-rex coming at you. So what I love to do generally is my spouse and I prefer to go sit upstairs proper at that time, and also you see little children coming down the hallway after which they flip and there’s similar to this blood-curdling scream as a result of the T-rex is correct in entrance of them, and it’s like, however then there’s like a joyful laughter as a result of they’ve seen T-rex. The opposite day there was slightly child within the exhibit corridor who was attempting to speak with the t-rex making actually essential snarling noises. He was pointing at it and snarling and he was ready for a response. And I simply occurred to be strolling by means of and I used to be like it is a magical second. It was actually cool.
Garret: That’s nice. Cool. In order that they managed to pose the T-rex though it’s been useless for sixty-something million years that it truly kinda sneaks up on you.
John Scannella: Form of. I imply it’s form of positioned, you’ll see if you go upstairs. You stroll down a corridor and it’s oh, there it’s. Hey.
Garret: That’s cool.
Sabrina: So in case you hear any screams later…
John Scannella: Sure, adopted by jovial laughter.
Garret: Having so many fossils do you’ve simply paleontologists galore? What number of paleontologists are there on the museum?
John Scannella: On the museum? There’s about half a dozen individuals within the paleo workers. I imply there’s the executive director of paleo, there’s the curator, Ellen Lamm who does the histology lab, preparators, so there’s a number of individuals.
Garret: After which are there much more which might be at Montana State that work with the museum?
John Scannella: For instance Dave Varricchio is over at MSU and we work very intently with Dave. I imply Oryctodromeus is largely a part of his analysis. Yeah so it’s kinda like an extension nearly to have further paleontologists on campus which is kinda cool. Ya and so college students going to MSU have a terrific alternative in the event that they’re all in favour of dinosaurs notably as a result of they’ve what’s happening over on campus, after which they’ve the Museum of the Rockies proper right here and it’s one of many largest collections of dinosaurs, North American dinosaurs on this planet. So it’s a extremely good spot if you wish to examine dinosaurs. That’s why I got here right here.
Sabrina: Additionally because you talked about earlier about your spouse and he or she is a geologist, and also you guys had a marriage right here and it was dinosaur themed which is superior.
John Scannella: Yep, we acquired married within the Corridor of Horns and Tooth. Which was nice.
Sabrina: It was nice?
John Scannella: Yeah.
Garret: Do you guys nonetheless go on digs collectively ever?
John Scannella: Oh yeah, yeah, yep. We like dinosaurs. It’s fairly cool.
Garret: Do you’ve any upcoming tasks?
John Scannella: Area work sensible we’re gonna be heading again out within the subject in a number of weeks most likely working with some extra Triceratops simply you realize as a result of.
Garret: As a result of they’re there.
John Scannella: Yeah, effectively I imply they’re there they usually’re superior and it’s essential. Each specimen of Triceratops is essential for examine factor variation and all that. I’m additionally working with an undergraduate scholar named Jack Wilson on horned dinosaurs from the Two Medication formation. In order that’s a bit totally different from Triceratops. And actually Triceratops is cool as a result of you realize learning the variation inside a lot of specimens so you’ll be able to apply a variety of that to different dinosaurs and different animals. That’s why I say that Triceratops is kind of like a mannequin organism for learning evolution and variation in fossil animals so we are able to apply a few of the issues we’re studying by means of work with Triceratops to different animals. So I’m truly beginning to work on a challenge with Dale Hanson who works on mammals right here on fossil Oreodont which could be very wildly totally different from dinosaurs and it’s like new territory for me.
Garret: What’s that, Oreodont?
John Scannella: It’s like in case you think about like a cross between a pig and a sheep form of from the Cenozoic.
John Scannella: Yeah so that is new. However there’s a variety of them they usually have variation and see what we are able to find out about that. In order that’s form of thrilling and new.
Garret: Yeah, that’s cool.
John Scannella: Yeah.
Sabrina: What else would you need to share in regards to the museum?
John Scannella: In all probability the museum is actually concerned with attempting to carry Montana to the world. Like bringing the world to Montana and bringing Montana to the world is like one of many objectives of the museum. So one of many methods we do that’s by means of the displays which might be continually altering to mirror the analysis that’s happening right here. But additionally we’re working, at the least the previous couple of years have been working with our sister institute in Japan, Mifune Dinosaur Museum. So we truly ship fossils from Montana to Japan and workers from paleo right here go to Japan with the fossils they usually assist prepare the workers there in how you can work with fossils. So Montana dinosaurs are being ready in form of a viewing lab in Japan, after which they’re getting the expertise of working with the fossils and the individuals in Japan can see Montana fossils. After which they arrive again right here they usually’re ready so it’s form of actually cool that method. So I believe the methods of partaking the general public in Montana’s pre-history is without doubt one of the cool issues.
Garret: Yeah that’s cool.
John Scannella: And one of many cool issues about being the interim curators of paleontology is that my work with Jack largely and the opposite graduate college students listed below are centered on form of transitions all through both progress in Triceratops or by means of the evolution of Triceratops, and now I suppose in case you look again by means of the historical past of the Museum of the Rockies, because the interim curator between Jack Horner and whomever will be the subsequent curator it’s form of a transitional stage that I’m in proper now. In order that’s form of, I believe that’s kinda neat.
Sabrina: Yeah it’s. Nicely thanks a lot for speaking with us.
John Scannella: Positive, you’re welcome.
Sabrina: It’s been enjoyable.
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