In our 95th episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Noble, author of Articulating Dinosaurs and associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University. You can follow him on twitter @ArticulateDinos.
Below is one of the illustrations from the book, Jennifer Ross’s key exhibit planning diagram, which shows an example of “articulation.” According to Brian, it translates between and articulates the life of Maiasaura specimens, and the life of stories the museum would use to draw in its publics (spectacle).
Going up you see the labels for each of the display sections (from working lab to the Cretaceous period).
Going to the right you see the biogeographic / paleontological story of the specimen.
Going to the left you see the audience-oriented stories: Henrietta, her family, her distant relatives, her neighborhood.
Episode 95 is also about Vastatosaurus rex, a fictionalized version of T-rex from the 2005 version of the movie King Kong.
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In this episode, we discuss:
- The dinosaur of the day: Vastatosaurus rex
- Vastatosaurus rex is not a real dinosaur, but rather a fictionalized version of T-rex, had T-rex continued to evolve and live after the Cretaceous
- Vastatosaurus appears in the movie King Kong, both the original in 1933 and later versions, and is an antagonist to Kong
- It’s a predator that lives on Skull Island, and is more than 20 ft (6 m) tall and 50 ft (15 m) long
- Weighs more than T-rex, but is pretty fast (can run up to 25 mph at short distances)
- Probably grew bigger than T-rex because of large prey in its environment
- Also didn’t have much competition from other predators
- Had a large, thick head and a leather-like hide that protected it from injury
- Had a large mouth and large, peg-ike teeth that were constantly replaced
- Used its head to fight, and many had scars and abnormal bone growths
- Somewhat smart
- Very strong and durable, with a lot of stamina, and was well-matched against King Kong
- Even though they were heavy, they were agile and could leap onto prey or enemies
- Like Indominus rex, bullets don’t seem to affect it
- Shorter teeth than T-rex, but had a bite force stronger than T-rex and could shatter bones
- Had sharp claws and a good grip, but had short arms, which did not bode well against King Kong’s long arms
- Didn’t have as good a sense of smell or vision as T-rex
- Had narrow, short rib cages and a big gap in between the ribs and hips, which gave it a lot of flexibility
- They have 3 fingers instead of 2 (like T-rex), which it uses as a thumb
- They have big feet
- Also sometimes they worked together and hunted in packs
- Very territorial, so they don’t often hunt together
- They mark their territory with urine and protect it by roaring
- They hunt prey by ambushing them. They usually go for smaller animals because it’s less risky
- Adult Vastatosaurus have black scales
- Fun fact: Willis O’Brien created the stop-motion dinosaurs of King Kong (and King Kong himself). But O’Brien was making dinosaur films long before King Kong. He made a film called The Dinosaur and the Missing Link in 1915 (18 years before King Kong) that features a sauropod killing the titular “missing link” and the stop motion animation is really pretty good. This was one year after Gertie (the first keyframe drawn animation), and they used clay instead of the more complex rubber over skeleton, but it is definitely worth watching. It’s on Wikipedia and YouTube.
This episode was brought to you by:
The Royal Tyrrell Museum. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is located in southern Alberta, Canada. One of the top paleontological research institutes in the world, the entire museum is dedicated to the science of paleontology. It’s definitely a must see for every dinosaur enthusiast. More information can be found at tyrrellmuseum.com.
For those who may prefer reading, see below for the full transcript of our interview with Brian Noble: