Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Graduate Program at Museum


The American Museum of Natural History is now offering its own graduate degree program. Read more about it here or watch some interviews with several of its current students here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

One Last Effort to Find Eskimo Curlew

Scientists look for surviving Eskimo curlew birds
By Yereth Rosen ANCHORAGE, Alaska Thu Jun 23, 2011 6:34pm EDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Federal scientists are on the lookout for the Eskimo curlew, as they work to determine if the elusive shorebird last seen two decades ago still exists.

The said it is seeking any information about the Eskimo curlew, a tundra-nesting bird once abundant over the skies of North and South America, which was nearly hunted into oblivion by the mid-20th century.

The agency, which made its announcement in the Federal Register on Wednesday, will review whether the bird should continue to be classified as endangered or formally designated as extinct.

The last sighting confirmed by the Fish and Wildlife Service was in Nebraska in 1987, said Bruce Woods, a spokesman for the agency.

An unconfirmed sighting -- of an adult and a chick -- was recorded in 1983 in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Woods said.

The Eskimo curlew population once numbered hundreds of thousands, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. It is the smallest of four species of Western Hemisphere curlews, and is known for its long migration route from Arctic tundra breeding grounds to wintering lands in South America.

But the birds died off in drastic numbers due to overhunting, the loss of prairie habitat that was converted from grasslands to agriculture and the extinction of a type of grasshopper that made up much of their diet.

Most were gone by the beginning of the 20th century, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Despite its scarcity, the Eskimo curlew is well-known to bird lovers.

It was the subject of a classic short novel, "Last of the Curlews," that chronicled the life of a lonely Eskimo curlew waiting on the tundra for a mate and, finding none, flying solo on the long fall migration. The 1954 book was adapted into a children's movie in 1972.

The wildlife inquiry, to be conducted by the service's Alaska scientists, is the first such formal review of the Eskimo curlew under the Endangered Species Act, Woods said. The bird was listed as endangered prior to passage of the act. such reviews are typically completed within 12 months.

Brendan Cummings, senior attorney with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, said he hopes the bird continues to be listed as endangered and not written off as extinct.

Continued listing will cost little and could help protect far-north habitat home to other birds and wildlife, he said.

"While I have my doubts, I think it would be premature to close the coffin lid on the species," Cummings said.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Greg McCune)

Photo: Eskimo Curlew specimen, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, photo by Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Discovery Channel Venturing into World of Dinosaur Comics


Discovery's "Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators" comic coming in May

Free Comic Book Day was this past weekend and the Discovery Channel and Silver Dragon Books used it as an opportunity to market their upcoming new one-shot comic, "Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators."

"Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators" seems to be a comic-version of the BBC's "Walking with Dinosaurs" in that there are no people in the comic whatsoever; unlike the recent IDW "Jurassic Park" series.

Several dinosaur comics have come out over the years that focus solely on dinosaurs in "natural settings". These have included Jim Lawson's "Paleo," Ricardo Delgado's "Age of Reptiles," Steven Bissette's "Tyrant," Marvel Comics "Dinosaurs: A Celebration!"

Unlike Delgado's "Age of Reptiles," Discovery's "Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators" uses printed narration to help tell the story, identify the animals, and provide additional educational information.

In addition to the upcoming dinosaur comic, Discovery and Silver Dragon books will also be releasing a comic about titled "Top 10 Deadliest Sharks."

You can preview the Free Comic Book Day sampler by clicking here.

In addition to their Discovery Channel dinosaur comic, Silver Dragon Books is also launching a more sci-fi oriented book title "Dino Strikeforce" in the fall. From the initial art it appears to be something in the same vein as "Dinosaurs for Hire" and "DinoSaucers".

Look for "Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators" at your local comic shop on May 25th.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Youngest Juvenile Tyrannosaur found


Immature skull led young tyrannosaurs to rely on speed, agility to catch prey
New study suggests range of feeding strategies for juvenile, adult predators

ATHENS, Ohio (May 9, 2011)—While adult tyrannosaurs wielded power and size to kill large prey, youngsters used agility to hunt smaller game.

“It’s one of the secrets of success for tyrannosaurs—the different age groups weren’t competing with each other for food because their diets shifted as they grew,” said Ohio University paleontologist Lawrence Witmer.

Witmer is part of an international team of scientists from Japan, Mongolia and the United States that analyzed the youngest and most-complete known skull for any species of tyrannosaur, offering a new view of the growth and feeding strategies of these fearsome predators. The 70-million-year-old skull comes from a very young individual of the Mongolian dinosaur species known as Tarbosaurus bataar, the closest known relative of T. rex.

The analysis of the 11.4-inch skull, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, revealed changes in skull structure that suggest that young tyrannosaurs had a different lifestyle than adults.

“We knew that adult Tarbosaurus were a lot like T. rex,” said lead author Takanobu Tsuihiji, a former Ohio University postdoctoral fellow who is now a postdoctoral researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. “Adults show features throughout the skull associated with a powerful bite…large muscle attachments, bony buttresses, specialized teeth. The juvenile is so young that it doesn’t really have any of these features yet, and so it must have been feeding quite differently from its parents.”

The skull was found as part of an almost complete skeleton, missing only the neck and a portion of the tail. Based on careful analysis of the microstructure of the legs bones, co-author Andrew Lee of Ohio University (now at Midwestern University) estimated that the juvenile was only 2 to 3 years old when it died. It was about 9 feet in total length, about 3 feet high at the hip and weighed about 70 pounds. In comparison, Tarbosaurus adults were 35 to 40 feet long, 15 feet high, weighed about 6 tons and probably had a life expectancy of about 25 years, based on comparison with T. rex.

“This little guy may have been only 2 or 3, but it was no toddler…although it does give new meaning to the phrase ‘terrible twos,’” said Witmer, Chang Professor of Paleontology at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We don’t know to what extent its parents were bringing it food, and so it was probably already a pretty capable hunter. Its skull wasn’t as strong as the adult’s, and would have had to have been a more careful hunter, using quickness and agility rather than raw power.”

The different hunting strategies of juveniles and adults may have reduced competition among Tarbosaurus and strengthened their role as the dominant predators of their environment.

“The juvenile skull shows that there must have a change in dietary niches as the animals got older,” Tsuihiji said. “The younger animals would have taken smaller prey that they could subdue without risking damage to their skulls, whereas the older animals and adults had progressively stronger skulls that would have allowed taking larger, more dangerous prey.”

The late Cretaceous environment offered plenty of options for prey.

“Tarbosaurus is found in the same rocks as giant herbivorous dinosaurs like the long-necked sauropod Opisthocoelicaudia and the duckbill hadrosaur Saurolophus,” said Mahito Watabe of the Hayashibara Museum of Natural Sciences in Okayama, who led the expedition to Mongolia in 2006 that uncovered the new skull. “But the young juvenile Tarbosaurus would have hunted smaller prey, perhaps something like the bony-headed dinosaur Prenocephale.”

The juvenile skull also is important because it helps clarify the identity of small, potentially juvenile specimens of other tyrannosaur species previously found.

“The beauty of our new young skull is that we absolutely know for many good reasons that it’s Tarbosaurus,” Witmer said. “We can use this known growth series to get a better sense of whether some of these more controversial finds grew up to be Tarbosaurus, Tyrannosaurus or some other species.”

Other authors on the article include Khishigjav Tsogtbaatar and Rinchen Barsbold of the Mongolian Paleontological Center; Takehisa Tsubamoto, Shigeru Suzuki and Yasuhiro Kawahara of the Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratories; and Ryan Ridgely of the WitmerLab at Ohio University. The research was funded by grants to Tsuihiji from the Japan Society of Promotion of Science and to Witmer and Ridgely from the U.S. National Science Foundation. The field work was supported by the Hayashibara Company Limited, Olympus, Mitsubishi Motor Company and Panasonic.



Image above: Skull of a 2-year-old juvenile Tarbosaurus, a Cretaceous tyrannosaur from Mongolia. The skull is represented by a photograph (lower right), a drawing (center), and a computer rendering with rock removed based on CT scanning (top left). Courtesy of the Hayashibara Museum of Natural Sciences and WitmerLab at Ohio University.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sniffing out history

ATHENS, Ohio (April 13, 2011) – Birds are known more for their senses of vision and hearing than smell, but new research suggests that millions of years ago, the winged critters also boasted a better sense for scents.

A study published today by scientists at the University of Calgary, the Royal Tyrrell Museum and the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine tested the long-standing view that during the evolution from dinosaurs to birds, the sense of smell declined as birds developed heightened senses of vision, hearing and balance for flight. The team compared the olfactory bulbs in the brains of 157 species of dinosaurs and ancient and modern-day birds.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, dispute that theory. The scientists discovered that the sense of smell actually increased in early bird evolution, peaking millions of years ago during a time when the ancestors of modern-day birds competed with dinosaurs and more ancient branches of the bird family.

“It was previously believed that birds were so busy developing vision, balance and coordination for flight that their sense of smell was scaled way back,” said Darla Zelenitsky, assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary and lead author of the research. “Surprisingly, our research shows that the sense of smell actually improved during dinosaur-bird evolution, like vision and balance.”

In an effort to conduct the most detailed study to date on the evolution of sense of smell, the research team made CT scans of dinosaurs and extinct bird skulls to reconstruct their brains. The scientists used the scans to determine the size of the creatures’ olfactory bulbs, a part of the brain involved in the sense of smell. Among modern-day birds and mammals, larger bulbs correspond to a heightened sense of smell.

“Of course the actual brain tissue is long gone from the fossil skulls,” said study co-author Lawrence Witmer, Chang Professor of Paleontology at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, “but we can use CT scanning to visualize the cavity that the brain once occupied and then generate 3D computer renderings of the olfactory bulbs and other brain parts.”

The study revealed details of how birds inherited their sense of smell from dinosaurs.

“The oldest known bird, Archaeopteryx, inherited its sense of smell from small meat-eating dinosaurs about 150 million years ago,” said Fran├žois Therrien, curator of dinosaur palaeoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and co-author of the study. “Later, around 95 million years ago, the ancestor of all modern birds evolved even better olfactory capabilities.”

How well did dinosaurs smell, especially compared to modern animals? Although scientists haven’t been able to make an exhaustive comparison, Witmer noted that the ancient beasts most likely exhibited a range of olfactory abilities. T. rex had large olfactory bulbs, which probably aided the creature in tracking prey, finding carcasses and possibly even territorial behavior, while a sense of smell was probably less important to dinosaurs such as Triceratops, he said.

The team was able to make some direct comparisons between the ancient and modern-day animals under study. Archaeopteryx, for example, had a sense of smell similar to pigeons, which rely on odors for a number of behaviors.

“Turkey vultures and albatrosses are birds well known for their keen sense of smell, which they use to search for food or navigate over large areas,” says Zelenitsky. “Our discovery that small Velociraptor-like dinosaurs, like Bambiraptor, had a sense of smell as developed as turkey vultures and albatrosses suggests that smell may have played an important role while these dinosaurs hunted for food.”

If early birds had such powerful sniffers, why do birds have a reputation for a poor sense of smell? Witmer explained that the new study confirms that the most common birds that humans encounter today—the backyard perching birds such as crows and finches, as well as pet parrots—indeed have smaller olfactory bulbs and weaker senses of smell. It may be no coincidence that the latter are also the cleverest birds, suggesting that their enhanced smarts may have decreased the need for a strong sniffer, he said.

Other authors on the article include Amanda McGee, a graduate student at the University of Calgary, and Ryan Ridgely, a research associate in the WitmerLab at Ohio University. The research was funded by grants to Zelenitsky from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and to Witmer and Ridgely from the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Contacts:

1. USA (Eastern time zone): Lawrence Witmer, (740) 593-9489 and (740) 591-7712, witmerL@ohio.edu.

2. Canada (Mountain time zone): Darla Zelenitsky, (403) 804-4998, and (403) 220-8016; dkzeleni@ucalgary.ca; Fran├žois Therrien, (587) 777-4548, francois.therrien@gov.ab.ca.

Photo: Bambiraptor skull, Children's Museum of Indianapolis, by Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Vulnerability of Museum Collections

Unfortunately, museum specimens are occasionally misplaced or accidentally destroyed, which means the loss of valuable information. All too often, however, specimens are stolen by people who have gained access to museum collections.

In his book, Curse of the Labrador Duck, Glen Chilton details how at least one specimen of a Labrador Duck was stolen from a diorama at the American Museum of Natural History. Additionally, many other museum specimens were lost or destroyed in Europe during WWII.

This recent news story illustrates how susceptible museum collections can be for individuals with unscrupulous intentions. On the positive side, the culprit behind this crime was caught and sentenced. On the down side, his actions has resulted in the loss and destruction of many valuable specimens and information that can never be regained.

Museums have to be cautious about who they allow access to their collections, but as the story above illustrates, even with certain security protocols museum specimens can still be vulnerable.

Photo: Stachyris speciosa, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, photo by Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Parrot Pigments Preserve Plumage!

Colourful parrot feathers resist bacterial degradation

Biology Letters. 23 April 2011 vol. 7 no. 2 214-216

Edward H. Burtt Jr, Max R. Schroeder, Lauren A. Smith, Jenna E. Sroka and Kevin J. McGraw

Abstract

The brilliant red, orange and yellow colours of parrot feathers are the product of psittacofulvins, which are synthetic pigments known only from parrots. Recent evidence suggests that some pigments in bird feathers function not just as colour generators, but also preserve plumage integrity by increasing the resistance of feather keratin to bacterial degradation. We exposed a variety of colourful parrot feathers to feather-degrading Bacillus licheniformis and found that feathers with red psittacofulvins degraded at about the same rate as those with melanin and more slowly than white feathers, which lack pigments. Blue feathers, in which colour is based on the microstructural arrangement of keratin, air and melanin granules, and green feathers, which combine structural blue with yellow psittacofulvins, degraded at a rate similar to that of red and black feathers. These differences in resistance to bacterial degradation of differently coloured feathers suggest that colour patterns within the Psittaciformes may have evolved to resist bacterial degradation, in addition to their role in communication and camouflage.

Photo: Rainbow Lorikeet by Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography

Monday, April 4, 2011

Update on TV Dinosaurs

So it appears that Steven Spielberg's new TV series, "Terra Nova," has pushed the premier back from summer to fall. One rumor suggests that the delay may be due to the fact that animators need more time to work on animating the dinosaurs in the show.

On a positive note, Angie Rodrigues, of Art by Angie, provides us with a link to view a preview of the Discovery Channel's anxiously awaited new documentary series, "Reign of the Dinosaurs." Rodrigues was one of the artists working on the series. You have to watch the demo-reel clip to see several short clips from the series, but it is well worth it. Following the "Reign of the Dinosaurs" clips are several short clips from a previous Discovery Channel series, titled "Monsters Resurrected."


Hopefully both "Terra Nova" and "Reign of the Dinosaurs" will be on track to view later this year. If they're on TV during the same time period we might have quite a bit of mainstream dinosaur overload like we haven't seen since Jurassic Park first appeared in theaters.

Lost Art of the Museum Diorama

I've recently begun reading a relatively new book, by author Jay Kirk, titled "Kingdom Under Glass."

The book details the life and work of taxidermist and artist Carl Akeley who created some of the most memorable habitat dioramas in museums like the American Museum of Natural History and the Chicago Field Museum.

Reading about Akeley's life and work reminded me of my visits to the old Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and how much I enjoyed their dioramas.

The art of the classic diorama, featuring taxidermied animals, is somewhat of a lost artform.


Many museums (or science centers) are moving, or have already moved, away from static displays to more "interactive" exhibits, which often involve levers and buttons and lights and sounds. While these newer exhibits push agendas and encourage museum-goers (mostly children) to explore and to make learning "fun", they don't allow for the quiet study, curiosity, and introspection that the classic dioramas encouraged. Good dioramas often stimulated your imagination so that you could almost see the animals moving.


Some museums still utilize dioramas, but rarely with taxidermied animals. Often newer dioramas utilize animal sculptures, which are less realistic and convincing then their taxidermied predecessors.


The taxidermied specimen in a good diorama was only part of the overall art of the exhibit. Another major component was the background or habitat depicted in the diorama. These components skillfully and realistically reconstructed the habitat that a specimen was found in when it was alive. Some artists, like John Agnew and Sean Murtha, have successfully kept the art of the museum diorama background alive. In John's case his works have even appeared in the habitat exhibits of zoos.

If you want to check out some of Carl Akeley's dioramas, without having to travel to Chicago or New York, check out the book, "Windows on Nature" or check out the website of the American Museum of Natural History.


Mountain goat diorama at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Photo by Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crowdsourcing as a way of taxonomic identification for museum specimens


An interesting article about the use of social networking resources, like Facebook, to rapidly identify specimens collected in the field.

Many museums have unidentified specimens sitting on shelves waiting to be seen and studied. It will be interesting to see how social networking resources will transform the field of taxonomy and systematics and improve the utilization of museum collections.



Photo: Panay Striped-Babbler (Stachyris latistriata) by Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Super Moon

No Comment Necessary...


Photo: Super Moon photographed March 19th, 2011. Copyright Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dinosaurs coming to Ohio's Kings Island


Kings Island theme park in Mason, Ohio announced today the opening of a new exhibit for the park called Dinosaurs Alive!

It's touted to be one of the largest outdoor dinosaur exhibits with over 60 life-sized animatronic dinosaur reconstructions.

One of the main attractions will be a dinosaur nicknamed the Ruyang Yellow River Dinosaur (Huanghetitan ruyangensis), which is considered one of the largest sauropod dinosaurs in Asia and lived during the Cretaceous Period. The description of this dinosaur, described in 2007, was based on partial skeletal fragments.

In addition to the life-sized dinosaurs, families will be able to uncover dinosaur fossils in a dinosaur dig pit, control the movements of certain dinosaurs, and visit a gift shop.

While the animatronic dinosaurs in the exhibit do not represent the most accurate depictions of dinosaurs, they do attempt to present the science of paleontology which will be a positive contrast to the Creation Museum not far away in northern Kentucky and the pending Ark Encounters park.

The Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit is built by the same company that built the traveling Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit that the Cincinnati Museum Center hosted in 2009. It was considered one of the museum's most popular and well-attended traveling exhibits and it should be equally popular at the Kings Island location.


Photo: Dilophosaurus from Dinosaurs Unearthed exhibit by Casey Tucker/Wild Auk Photography

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tyrannosaurus as obligate scavenger?

A new paper in Plos One, from researchers at the Montana State University Museum of the Rockies, once again suggests that Tyrannosaurus rex was primarily a scavenger. The hypothesis has been around for some time and was originally put forth by Dr. John Horner, one of the authors on the new paper.


There has been much back-and-forth about whether T. rex was primarily a predator or scavenger. Just a month ago another study suggested that T. rex had to be a predator based on competition with smaller predators. (you can read a good critique of that paper here)


I am an arm-chair paleo-enthusiast so I don't know all of the intricacies of these studies. Likewise I don't really care whether T. rex was stricly a predator or scavenger (personal opinion is that it probably did a little of both as opportunities presented themselves). However, this new study raises a few questions for me.

Paleontologists have worked very hard to establish a well-supported relationship between dinosaurs and birds and yet the researchers in the paper use the mammal predator-prey relationships of the African Serengeti ecosystem as a model for comparison. While we know that dinosaurs were probably warm-blooded to some extent, their metabolic systems are not fully understood and they may have achieved that warm-bloodedness in a manner unlike mammals and more comparable to birds, or a metabolic system between that of more primitive archosaurs, like crocodilians, and modern birds. As a result, it seems to me that modern predatory birds may be a better model for understanding the context of predator-prey relationships and inferring feeding behavior.

I'm sure others have more questions regarding the methodology and conclusions of this paper. At any rate, any good research paper should generate as many questions as it addresses. While I doubt there will ever be a conclusive determination made regarding the feeding behavior of Tyrannosaurus rex, this and other future papers will generate new ways of thinking about fossil evidence.

photo: T. rex vs. Triceratops photo by Casey Tucker, Wild Auk Photography

Collections Matter

One of the big problems facing many collections-based facilities, like museums and libraries, is the limitation of space as collections grow. Some institutions realize the value of their collections and work to create greater storage space. Other institutions, often led by short-sighted leaders not familiar with collections-based work, often simply begin discarding parts of their collections to make space.

Two recent news items illustrate the importance of preserving collections materials.

First, the Washington University library has recently announced the discovery of quite a few of Thomas Jefferson's books. The books are thought to have been sold to settle Jefferson's debts, but could contain important personal writings of the former president that might provide more insight into him.

Second, as part of a move to a new location the Grant Museum in Great Britain has re-discovered a number of valuable specimens that had been misplaced over the years. However, the most significant discovery was that of a partial skeleton of the extinct Dodo (Raphus cucullatus). The bones were mistakenly thought to be crocodile bones.

Mistaken identification of significant museum specimens occurs regularly. For example in one museum a pair of bird specimens thought to be Ivory-billed Woodpeckers were discovered to actually be a pair of the even rarer Imperial Woodpecker.


In situations where institutions begin to clear out their collections to make room they run the risk of discarding potentially valuable specimens that could later be identified by more experienced and knowledgeable researchers. Fortunately in the examples above, expert researchers were able to identify the specimens and preserve them for future generations to benefit from.


ADDENDUM: since this posting the following story appeared in Cincinnati.






Photo: female Imperial Woodpecker by Casey Tucker, Wild Auk Photography

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ontogeny reconfirms Phylogeny

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny is a saying put forth by Ernst Haeckel to describe how the process of development in vertebrate embryos mirrors the evolutionary process that vertebrates have undergone through history (e.g. a human embryo goes through stages where they resemble fish, tadpoles, etc.). While Haeckel's original hypothesis is not what exactly happens, it has been shown that closely related organisms undergo similar developmental processes.

A new study out of the Department of Developmental Biology and Neurosciences, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Tohoku University may help resolve a long-standing debate on the development of digits in the hands of birds and dinosaurs.
The debate and the findings of the new study are well-reported in an article from ScienceNOW.

Given the plethora of additional evidence supporting a dinosaur origin for birds, hopefully this is the final nail in the coffin for the argument that birds originated from more basal archosaurians.
Photo: Archaeopteryx manus

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2011--Year that Dinosaurs Returned to Mainstream

2011 is shaping up to be the year of the Dinosaur in the media.

First is the continuation of IDW's "Jurassic Park" comic book series with "Devils in the Desert". The art, which is by comic legend John Byrne, is much better than last year's "Redemption" series. "Devils in the Desert" has received at least one very positive review. IDW is also publishing collections of the original TOPPS Jurassic Park comics from the 1990's.

Additionally, this month Image Comics is publishing a one shot comic titled "Tyrannosaurus Rex."

In January Dark Horse Comics released Ricardo Delgado's "Age of Reptiles" Omnibus, which collects all three "Age of Reptiles" series into one collection.

Later this year FOX broadcasting will be releasing "Terra Nova" from Steve Spielberg. It looks a little like "LOST" meets "Jurassic Park" meets "Avatar". It will be interesting to see how much current dinosaur science is incorporated into this show and how much is left to creative license.

The event that many dinosaur fans are looking forward to is the Discovery Channel's "Reign of the Dinosaurs" which involves many of the great dinosaur artists including Ricardo Delgado and David Krentz.

Later this year, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Archaeopteryx lithographica, Germany is releasing a commemorative Euro coin.
As the above media items are released throughout the year, it will be interesting to see what else is put out there (toys, models, games, books, videos, etc.)

Photo by Casey Tucker--Sauropods escaping from Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Sculpture by Brian Cooley