Jun 19, 2008

Wishing I had owned a camera sooner!

Though I'm not a real palaontologist (and sadly never will be) on occasion due through my time at the Tyrrell I've been exposed to stuff that the majority of palaeo people haven't been yet (though hopefully they will be soon).

Recently over at Manabu Sakamoto's blog the Raptor's Nest there's been some discussion about ceratopsians (here and here) that have hit on Pachyrhinosaur growth rates. Now I was unaware of this, but nobody at the Tyrrell has published on the amazing material they've dug up at Pipestone Creek.

Back in 2005 I had the opportunity to see the amazing series of a dozen or so skulls (most being composites of various incomplete bits and pieces, but still pretty good matches) that chronicled most of the age ranges of Pachyrhinos. I was given a personal briefing/lesson on the specimens by either Darren Tanke or Mark Mitchell (I think it was Darren, but I can't remember, and BOTH have been so kind to me over the years with sharing their incredible knowledge). The true crime and tragedy was I didn't own a camera at the time, and didn't manage any pictures. NOOOOOOO!

I did manage a "spare" (not that I bowl, but the term is appropriate) of managing some photo's in 2006 when I finally got a camera. Peter Bond and I managed an impromptu photographing session through the Tyrrell's collections. In our snap shot rampage I got a couple pictures of just some of these Pachyrhino elements. However due to the limited time of our access, and the specimens being put away into storage these were the only images of the series I got.

I'll try to contact Darren Tanke for further info on it.

Here is the best photo I have of various lower jaw elements of the series.

I think at some point they were thinking about putting some of the material on display, and had this excellent sculpt made up. As to whether it was going into the new ceratopsian display or not I have no idea (from my memory the ceratopsian display was only imagined in LATE 2005, after the success of the Dinosaur Park symposium, to accompany the 2007 ceratopsian symposium). Last time I was at the museum in early 2008 this was not in the public gallery (at least to my knowledge. Sadly it was a rather quick visit).

Of course this adult skull (cast on the left, original fossil on the right) isn't unique, but shows the excellent preservation and condition of the Pipestone material.

Since one of the Raptor's Nest posts is on the new Albertoceratops...

Here's the photo I took of it in Jan from the Tyrrell's new ceratopsian display.


Mambo-Bob said...

Awr...sweet! You know, I've never really seen a real skull of a Pachyrhinosaurus, not in person nor in a photo...I've seen reconstructions and lateral-view drawings but nothing in the orientation of your photo. Of course, there's gotta be some medio-lateral compression going on but even then, I never thought Pachyrhinos had quite slender-looking skulls. Is the nasal horn blade-like as supposedly in Albertaceratops or is it some kind of a flat buttress?

BTW, thanks for linking to Raptor's Nest! :)

Zach said...

It's more of a buttress, and may have been covered by a horny substance similar to what you see on bison/musk ox horns. In the Alaska material, the buttress extends from the rostrum to right in front of the eyes. Also note that in some specimens there is a "unicorn horn" in the middle of the frill.