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Paleoaerie provides professionally vetted information on Arkansas fossils, evolution, and the nature of science, as well as educational techniques and tools to teach them to educators of all types, their students, and the public at large. The site serves as a portal to web resources and provides periodic essays on evolutionary topics, book reviews, and notifications of events in and around Arkansas. Dinosaurs will play a prominent role due to their enormous popular appeal and can serve as a jumping off point to discuss a variety of biological topics.

dinofootWhy Paleoaerie? AERIE stands for Arkansas Educational Resource Initiative for Evolution. But talking about evolution without talking about fossils is somewhat like talking about teaching without ever seeing the inside of a classroom. Arkansas is not known for an abundance of fossils, but we actually have a diverse array of fossils, from microbes and plants to crinoids and trilobites to mastodons, mosasaurs, and yes, even dinosaurs. The study of fossils of course, is known as PALEOntology.

The image to the right is of the only known dinosaur found in Arkansas, as seen at the Arkansas Geological Survey.

The site is currently under construction and will be greatly improved and expanded as we progress. If you have any questions, suggestions, or would like to be kept informed about progress on the website, you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@paleoaerie), or send an email to paleoaerie@gmail.com.


7 Comments

  1. julie grant says:

    I have quite a few fossils I have acquired from my property in northern arkansas recently what is the best way to get help identifying them?

  2. paleoaerie says:

    Probably the best way would be to take some of them to a professional that could help you. If you are not too far from Little Rock, you could ask to see Angela Chandler at the Arkansas Geological Survey, Drs. Renee Shroat-Lewis or Jennifer Scott at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, or Joe Daniel at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. There are also Drs. Celina Suarez, Peter Ungar, and Walter Manger at UA Fayetteville. If you are closer to Conway, you could see Dr. Ben Waggoner at the University of Central Arkansas.

    But even before you go see them, you might try the Arkansas Geological Survey’s website, http://www.geology.ar.gov. Check out their fossil section and see if you see anything that looks similar to what you have. You may also want to try the Kentucky Geological Survey website. They have a very good fossil identification page that may be of use (http://www.uky.edu/KGS/fossils/fossilid.htm). You can also feel free to contact any of us through email and send us pictures. It is often very hard to identify fossils through pictures, but it might be a start.

    There are also several rock clubs around that may have people that are knowledgeable. There is one club in Cherokee Village that may have someone that can help.

    Good luck and let us know what you find!

  3. Hello Paleoaerie,
    I would greatly appreciate it if you would check out my theropod hunting strategy theory at http://tinyurl.com/gm7hp8m.
    Thanks,
    Patrick

    • paleoaerie says:

      It’s an interesting hypothesis. I don’t think it correct though. It is possible that T.rex and other theropods were ambush hunters. I fully expect that some theropods were. I can also see them crouching next to a tree and holding still to camouflage themselves. Most animals track movement more so than shape or color, so that is plausible. But the biggest problem is the head facing up. It puts a severe constraint on his eyesight, which would be detrimental. Their eyes were not as mobile in their sockets as mammalian eyes, so they would need to move their heads more to see. I think shifting one’s head from a vertical position to a horizontal position while turning the head at the same time would induce enough vertigo that by the time the tyrannosaur overcame it, the prey would be too far away.
      The stance is also biomechanically difficult. They may have been able to get into that position, but it entails bending their back in a manner contrary to its normal use, which would have made it very uncomfortable to hold for long. As I am sure you are aware, a hunter that is sitting in a very uncomfortable position is not going to be still enough to be effective.

      There is another big problem that you discuss on your website, but I think would have been more detrimental than you expect. When you are hunting, you are facing away from the tree, you don’t face towards it. As a human hunter, you have the advantage that you need not charge the prey to kill them. In that position, the theropod would have to step away from the tree and turn before it could even begin an attack. This is going to slow it down to the point most prey would be long gone. For a theropod, they are going to want a stance in which the prey is towards their front and they can make that initial lunge towards the prey, which a treeosaur could not do. As for the high tree stands, they are up there to be out of the normal field of view of the herbivores. It would not really matter too much what it looked like up there. Provided the tree had no buttresses along the side to impede motion, I could see a tyranosaur propping itself up on a tree, basically leaning on it, and using trees for cover, but not facing fully toward it as your stances indicates.

      If this strategy worked, we would see more predators using it, but we don’t.

      The sweet spot for vibrations in the tree is an interesting idea. I expect it would change on the diameter of the tree, and to a lesser extent, the type of tree. It would be interesting to know if those vibrations were magnified in the branches and if they were of sufficient level to be felt. I doubt that an animal’s foot steps would create sufficient vibrations to detect in a tree, but it might. We would also need to know how far away the vibrations could be detected. If they could only be detected within a short range of the tree, it wouldn’t be of any use, as they would already be within line of sight.

      One last thing, on your website, you mention the many unanswered questions paleontologists have about tyrannosaurs, yet on your video, you claim that paleontologists rarely admit they don’t know something about them. Considering that paleontologists will be happy to go on and on about what we don’t know as well as what we do know, that comment on the video is completely wrong and comes across as insulting to everyone in the field. If we thought we already knew everything, there would be no need for further research. Most people don’t like to admit when they are wrong or they don’t know something, but I honestly think paleontologists and scientists in general tend to be better about admitting when we don’t know something better than the average person since there is so much in paleontology that we don’t know.

      Even if this is wrong (which I have by no means proven that it is wrong, just why I think it unlikely to be true), keep up the thinking and exploring you are doing. One thing that most people do not appreciate about science is that probably 90% of the hypotheses that are thought up turn out to be wrong. The important thing is to not get so wedded to an idea that one can’t give it up when the data indicates one should, but to learn from them and continue altering your ideas, refining them, and working on it until you get it right.

      • Hi,
        Thanks for your quick response. I do appreciate your feedback and that you took the time to read my entire website. You do make a lot of good points. I have heard some of them before from other scientists and dinosaur enthusiasts. I just want to clear one thing up … the words that I use in my opening intro and video are identical and say “readily admit” … not “rarely admit”. I think that you heard the word wrong. Paleontologists that have reviewed my website so far did not mention anything about that word in my video. I do respect your opinion of my idea even though I’m still optimistic. Thanks for the positive remarks about me keeping up the exploring!

      • paleoaerie says:

        Ah, thanks for the clarification. I take back what I said then. I have a cold plugging up my sinuses, so my hearing is not quite up to snuff. I apologize for my error. Good luck with your further inquiries and explorations!

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