A Peek Into The Past: Massospondylus Embryos!
This is a 190 million year old Massospondylus embryo found in South Africa. Due to their delicate nature, embryos do not generally fossilize. This fossil, along with the rest of its clutch (see above), are 1 of only 3 examples of dinosaur embryos currently known to science.
This fossil represents what is believed to be a soon to hatch Massospondylus. The neck, legs and head size, point to the dramatic change they under go during life. For example, as babies, these dinosaurs would walk on all fours, while as adults they walk primarily on their hind legs (check out the Julius Csotonyi image above). The lack of developed teeth also seem to indicate that hatchlings would be dependent on their mother for food and safety for the beginning stages of life.
- ROMKids: Massospondylus Moms & Dinosaur Babies!
- Globe & Mail: Team led by ROM scientist unearths oldest dinosaur nursery
- Wikipedia: Dinosaur Eggs
- Massospondylus image: The BRILLIANT Julius Csotonyi.
- All photos: Kiron Mukherjee.
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: April 20th, 2014.
The Giant Eggs Of The Elephant Bird & Ostrich
The huge egg on the left belongs to the extinct Aepyornis (the legendary elephant bird) and is believed to be the largest ever bird egg. In fact, the egg of an Aepyornis can hold the volume of up to 160 chicken eggs! The smaller, but still sizeable, egg on the right belongs to an ostrich, the living record holder. An ostrich egg can fit the volume of upwards of 24 chicken eggs. In comparison, the smallest bird egg belongs to the bee hummingbird of which 4700 of their eggs would fit into an ostrich’s.
The penny gives you an idea of the size of these huge eggs. Up until the discovery of the eggs of the dinosaur Hypselosaurus (which is still up for debate), Aepyornis eggs were the unchallenged largest eggs ever attributed to a land animal.
- The Telegraph: David Attenborough and the mystery of the elephant bird
- Learn more about ornithology from ROM scientist Mark Peck on Twitter!
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: April 19th, 2014.
Fun times at the ROM. The ticket sales men made my day when he told me I got in free on Tuesday’s because of my post secondary education. Then I went to sonic boom! and found a Tegan and Sara cd that I was missing for a steal of a deal. Its been an awesome day so far:) I hope everyone has had a great day tonight.
This is pretty much a greatest hits of some of the best natural history specimens we have on display!
More information on Free Student Tuesdays HERE!
Palaeo in the Wild: How Palaeontologists Go To The Bathroom
Just about everything a palaeontologist brings into the field also has to leave with them. The grey bins at the bottom are used not only to haul fossils out of sites like the Burgess Shale but also human waste. This makes it VERY important to label your bins.
This washroom tent will be used this summer by our invertebrate palaeontology team as they search for new fossils describing the diversity of the world’s earliest life in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia.
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: March 23rd, 2014.
The Cow Under The Museum
Sometimes when you make a museum, you find something worthy of belonging in it underneath.
This cow bone was unearthed while building the Museum, on the side closest to Bloor. Though not significantly old, it’s wonderful that the construction staff had the foresight to keep it, as the bone provides a unique look into the past of our bustling metropolis.
Written by @kironcmukherjee. Last update: March 17th, 2014.
Daggers of Luristan
In museum circles the region of Luristan in the Zagros Mountains of Iran has a long association with the antiquities looted from tombs there in the 1920’s and 30’s. These objects seem to be primarily from the Early Iron Age (circa 1000 BC - 750 BC), and comprise an array of distinctive objects that include horse bridles and other equipment; fittings possibly associated with chariots; and an array of weapons, primarily of bronze. These “Luristan bronzes" flooded the market for a while, and some archaeologists also excavated in the region to give the finds some context. However, most of the material associated with Luristan is based on the attribution of dealers. This includes two interesting weapons in the ROM collection.
The first of these is a bronze short sword or dagger (ROM #938.35) which bears a cuneiform inscription in Akkadian saying that it belongs to Marduk-shapik-zeri, “King of the World.” Marduk-shapik-zeri (which means “Marduk the outpourer of seed”, Marduk being the great god of Babylon). Marduk-shapik-zeri was king of Babylon from about 1082 to 1069 BC, so the weapon will have the same date. The association with Luristan is therefore entirely due to the dealer’s attribution, it being acquired from the noted dealer Dikran G. Kelekian in 1938. Conceivably the weapon was taken to Luristan as a diplomatic gift or as booty in subsequent centuries.
The second object seems more reliably associated with Iran, although it is actually made of iron, not bronze. The iron dagger (ROM# 931.19.10) was purchased from Sotheby’s in 1931, and apparently ninety of this style are known, although none are from a specific site. The ROM’s object provides a major contribution to our knowledge of these daggers, however, as it has been radio-carbon dated using accelerator mass-spectrometry to 1044 plus or minus 60 years BC (since the date is of the carbon in the object derived from the wood used to smelt the object, the date of the object would probably be 15 years later). Like most iron in this period, it is generally low carbon, but it is very heterogenous with higher carbon areas, essentially being “steel”, the alloy of iron and carbon.
So here we have two objects made in the same general area, at about the same time, for what seems to be the same purpose. So why is one made of iron or steel and the other is bronze? It is a common misconception that iron or steel is functionally superior to bronze. The quality of the iron or steel is an important consideration and these early irons are not of the quality of later steel anyway, but even so tests of bronze against iron weapons have shown that the iron is not actually superior to a well-made bronze weapon. The advantage of iron over bronze is the economy of the material itself. Bronze is made of copper and tin, two relatively rare materials - especially tin, which may even have been imported from Britain in this period. Iron is a relatively common material, and once the process of smelting it had been developed, it was possible to supply much more metal for use in weapons and tools. Hence bronze weapons would have continued to be produced as long as people could afford them!
A further interesting aspect of these weapons is how they were used. Daggers are held in a number of specific ways which dictate to a certain degree how you fight with them. The dagger of Marduk-shapik-zeri has a distinct grip that looks odd at first, but when you hold it your hand naturally takes on the “fencer’s” grip, with the forefinger and thumb settled into the embayments in the grip. The iron dagger is quiet unwieldy in this grip, as has been mentioned by other authors, but in fact it works very well in the “ice-pick” grip, which I would associate with fighting against heavily armoured opponents.
- ROM #938.35, the dagger of Marduk-shapik-zeri, 43.6 cm long (ROM Photography)
- Detail of inscription on ROM #938.35, the dagger of Marduk-shapik-zeri (ROM Photography)
- Iron dagger ROM# 931.19.10, 40.3 cm long (ROM Photography)
- Detail of iron dagger ROM# 931.19.10 (ROM Photography), showing bearded heads which were made separately and then forged onto the main piece. These daggers are thought to be high-status items, the pinnacle of the metal workers craft at the time.
- Robert Mason is a ROM archaeologist. See his previous posts HERE. Follow him on twitter HERE.
- Original post found HERE.
- All images by ROM Photography.
Post by Robert Mason. Last updated: April 7th, 2014
#REgenerationtour: The Tropical Spice Garden
By Emile Watanabe, 10 years old
During my stay in Penang, Malaysia I met a nice boy named Ian Minton. He is traveling the world with his family just like me. We met him through a Facebook group that my mom is connected to called Families on the move. He is from Texas, USA . We went to The Tropical Spice Gardens with him and his mom.
Malaysia is very well know for its spices because the British and Dutch explorers and traders brought many incredible spices to the country. Here are some things about spices, plants and herbs that we learned at The Gardens.
- Tumeric (a type of orange coloured ginger) is used as dye for the orange robes of the monks in India.
- The Pandan Leaf is used in Asia to make a sweet dessert with cream. I had one in Thailand and it was really good!
- Stevia, a local plant, is used as a natural sweetener for tea, coffee and other drinks. You can also make delicious desserts with it. Our guide let us taste it and it was really tasty!
- Citronnella is a lemony smelling plant that is used for bug repellant all over Malaysia. Unlike lemongrass, cirtonnella is a herb and is not edible.
- Lemongrass is a lemony plant just like citronnella but is used for cooking soups and stir frys. It is believed to fight cancer cells and it’s used to lose weight when put in a tea. We learned that locals smash the leaves to make a dish more flavourful.
- Bamboo, the pandan leaf, wheat and rice are all part of the grass family.
- There are at least 1000 types of bamboo. We saw green, golden, black and fishing pole bamboo.
- The Palmae is one of the largest growing palm trees in the world.
- Torch ginger is the only ginger the Malays use although there are approximately ten types of ginger.
- Follow the rest of the #REgenerationtour HERE!
- Anthony’s (Dad) blog on the environmental mission: www.the-regeneration.com
- Rose’s (Mom) blog shares the family experience on the road:www.yolomomonthego.wordpress.com
- You can also follow Emile on Instagram @emiwata15!
- Check out the rest of our #ROMKidsGoesWhere series HERE!