The Doom Chicken and a World Record

I’ve been to Dallas Fort Worth International airport often, and frequently passed in front of the giant furcula statue installed in terminal D. Today, while dropping someone off, I looked at it and began to daydream about if that were to belong to monster-sized chicken off a belligerent nature, exactly what size would the whole animal be and what kind of carnage it could inflict on a major city before being brought down by the military (and subsequently being used to serve up the most epic chicken nugget feast in the history of the universe). Then it suddenly occurred to me that this giant furcula statue may well be the world’s largest sculpture of a single osteological element of a dinosaur.  I wonder if this has occurred to anyone else or if anyone out there know of any larger sculptures representing a singular dinosaur bone?

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World Dinosaur Valley Quarry pt. 5: Lots of Lufengosaurus

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The museum is filled with tons (literally) of Lufengosaurus specimens. Labelled varyingly as L. huenei, L. magnus, and L sp. These all probably represent different onotgenetic stages of L. huenei.

 

 

CIMG0770 L1
A semi-exploded Lufengosaurus skull.

CIMG0771L2

 

 

CIMG0878 L4
Smallish specimen of Lufengosaurus huenei

 

 

CIMG0881 L5
A mid-size Lufengosaurus displayed next to a curiously posed Sinosaurus triassicus

CIMG0882 L6

 

 

CIMG0896 L7

 

 

CIMG0902 L8a
As awesome as this huge mount looks, I noticed that the hips  had to be seriously dislocated to get it into this position.

As a result of my trip to this  museum my mental image of Lufengosaurus has been emended from “smallish”  to “huge-ish.” Some of these things were massive

A Visit to the World Dinosaur Valley Quarry pt. 2 Sinosaurus triassicus

The World Dinosaur Valley Museum had several mounted skeletons of the interesting theropod, Sinosaurus triassicus.  Up until a few days ago, this critter was stuck with the erroneous moniker, Dilophosaurus sinensis.

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Sinosaurus triassicus
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Sinosaurus triassicus cranium

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A nice view of the occipital region of S. triassicus
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Mandibles of S. triassicus
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Mounted Sinosaurus triassicus with a very small portion of the museum’s Lufengosaurus specimens in the background (more on those later).

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This specimen with seemingly reduced crests caught my attention. Not sure if this was the result of sexual dimorphism, ontogenetic variation or an artifact of preservation. As this critter was about the same size as the other specimens, I don’t this variation was due to ontogeny. The specimen was mounted more than a couple of meters overhead, so it was impossible to get a better look at it. I’d greatly appreciate it if anyone familiar with the specimen could tell me more about it.

Suppon: my first up-close enounter

Suppon aka Pelodiscus sinensis
Pelodiscus sinensis submerged.

While doing some night herping near Fukuoka, Japan last year, I found this young Pelodiscus sinensis, Chinese Softshell or スッポン (Suppon), submerged near the shore of a large pond/small lake.  I’ve encountered these a few times before in the wild; however, this is the first time one permitted me to get within a few meters without bolting.  Actually, this one allowed me to get so close with the camera, I wondered if I was being set-up for a finger-nipping.

Giant Salamander Hunting: Day 4 “BOOYA!”

Again we woke up about 5:30am.  My injured foot was really painful. I wasn’t sure if the tenderness was from it being crushed or from a developing infection but this had to be the last day of the hunt. However, I managed to convince my partner to allow me to continue searching for a few more hours before packing up and trying to get back to civilization.

When we got to the river, the water had receded further and was much more clear. Apparently the storm from the first day of the trip had impeded our search to a greater extent than we had realized.

We decided to go back upstream, noodling for the cryptic critters. I really felt miserable but I still had to smile a bit when we came across the toad we’d met the day before, in a still zen-like manner, sitting on the same in rock in the same position we last saw it in.

By 8:45 I became a bit nauseous and felt like I had a fever. It was definitely time to quit and try to find some medical treatment. Very reluctantly I began heading back to the tent.

At 9:24am, when we were about 1 minute from the camp site, right at the point we would be exiting the river, I saw it as my partner walked right past it. It wasn’t under a rock nor was it in a shadowy pool. It looked like a flabby brown infant as it was crawling right out in the open and straight towards me! I momentarily thought I was hallucinating.  Finally, Andrias japonicus!

BOOYA! Andrias japonicus: The Japanese Giant Salamander

After directing my partner’s attention to it and some unintelligible happy yelling on her part, we sat and observed it for the next half hour as we basked in its cryptobranchid-ey awesomeness until it got swept out of sight by the current. I’d wanted to see one of these critters in-situ ever since I was 10 years old. The locals’ previous discouragement and repeatedly telling us it couldn’t be done made this find all the more sweet.*

Time for a post-giant-salamander-finding nap, then it's time to seek proper medical treatment.

*about 35% as sweet as an epic otter-skin tunic