Episode 400: Michael Benton and Hateg Island. Michael Benton joins us to discuss Hațeg Island, dwarf dinosaurs, new techniques in paleontology, and more
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Michael Benton, paleontologist and professor of vertebrate paleontology in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. He has written over 400 scientific papers and more than 50 books, about a wide range of topics, including animals in the Triassic, extinction events, and the Hateg Basin. His most recent books are The Dinosaurs Rediscovered and Dinosaurs: New Visions of a Lost World.
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The “dinosaur of the day”: Hațeg Island
- Hațeg Island was a large island in the Late Cretaceous located in the Tethys Sea, between Laurasia and Gondwana. It’s known for its basal dwarf dinosaurs, as well as one very large apex predator (that’s not a dinosaur, but could be just as terrifying).
- Some of the dinosaurs include:
- “Struthiosaurus” transilvanicus
- Of course, we can’t talk about dwarf dinosaurs and Hațeg Island without mentioning the Baron Franz Nopcsa, a wealthy man with many interests who pioneered a lot of dinosaur analysis and theories, and was one of the first people to look at more than just the bones of the dinosaurs, like the biology of dinosaurs.
- Two main sources for this episode:
- Traveler, Scholar, Political Adventurer: The memoirs of Franz Nopcsa (not really about his work on dinosaurs, but interesting about his life)
- Benton, Michael J.; Csiki, Zoltan; Grigorescu, Dan; Redelstorff, Ragna; Sander, P. Martin; Stein, Koen; Weishampel, David B (2010). “Dinosaurs and the island rule: The dwarfed dinosaurs from Hateg Island”. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
An elephant species that migrated to several Mediterranean islands may be the inspiration for the Cyclops of the Odyssey.
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