A Review of Last Year’s Predictions (2011)

Whilst working on other projects over the Christmas break the team members at Everything Dinosaur have been putting together a list of palaeontology predictions as to what they think might be some of the news stories and blog subjects that will be covered in 2012.  However, before we get out our crystal balls, start reading tea leaves or indulge in a little palmistry, perhaps we should review the predictions we made twelve months ago to see how we did.

Palaeontology Predictions

At the beginning of 2011, we published a list of seven predictions, let’s kick off the New Year by seeing how we fared, perhaps we ought to stick to the day job.

To see the full list of our 2011 predictions: New Year Predictions 2011.

Well, let us start with something positive, we did suggest that a new genus of horned dinosaur would be named and described.  In fact, a number of ceratopsians were scientifically described last year, part of a trend over the last three years or so that has seen a whole range of new additions to that group of dinosaurs that includes Triceratops and Styracosaurus.  Four weeks or so since we published our New Year article the first of a number of ceratopsians was announced – the mighty Titanoceratops, one of the largest of all the horned dinosaurs described to date.

To read about Titanoceratops: Time of the Titans – Titanoceratops.

A number of new horned dinosaurs have been named over the last twelve months, for example, Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum and the remarkable Spinops sternbergorum, in what proved to be another bumper year for ceratopsian discoveries.

A Model of the Horned Dinosaur Genus Spinops

PNSO Duke the Spinops dinosaur model.

An illustration of a Spinops (horned dinosaur model). The PNSO Duke the Spinops dinosaur model.

Continuing in a positive vein, we did finally manage to get another Everything Dinosaur trilobite fossil hunt organised.  A special, highly fossiliferous site was chosen in the middle of the beautiful Welsh countryside and everybody on the trip managed to find a fossil.  The day was showery but nobody minded, as we all got stuck into examining the Ordovician aged strata. We even managed to have a picnic on a huge boulder that had fallen out of the quarry face, it was a tailor made picnic table.

A Successful Fossil Finding Expedition

Terrific trilobites.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

So far, so good on the predictions front, but our luck would not last.  We suggested that a new genus of dinosaur would be named and described from South Korea.  The Cretaceous-aged strata of South Gyeongsang Province in South Korea has proved to be a rich hunting ground for palaeontologists and team members at Everything Dinosaur have been busy working on the introduction of a model of the recently discovered Koreaceratops (CollectA) but we did not publish a news story last year about any specific new dinosaur discovery.   This does not mean to say that South Korean palaeontology has been left out of the headlines, last Summer, for example we wrote a brief article about the discovery of large bite marks that had been identified in dinosaur fossil bone.  These are the largest bite marks ever found on such body fossils.  It is fascinating to think what kind of creature could have left such marks.

To read more about this: Longest Bite Marks Ever Found in Dinosaur Fossil Bone.

We also predicted that there would be features and news stories on our blog about Neanderthals.  Well, there were a large number of hominid related stories published last year.   Team members covered, insights into primitive cooking methods, studies into the origins of human aggression and empathy, plus articles that helped to explain how our own species may have been better adapted to certain environments than other human species: Our Critical Advantage over H. neanderthalensis – Spring Loaded Heels.

We certainly covered a lot of ground (no pun intended given the subject matter of the link above), when it came to hominids.  Perhaps the highlight for us, in terms of the study of early human evolution came with the publishing of more papers on the remarkable discoveries concerning Australopithecus sediba.

Scientists working at the Witwatersrand University in South Africa have made some amazing fossil finds, discoveries that may shed further light on our human ancestry.  A number of hominid skeletons have been studied, dating from approximately 1.9 million years ago.  A new genus of ancient ape-man has been established – A. sediba and it is likely that more skeletons will be discovered in future.

To read more: Fresh Insights into Human Evolution.

The Everything Dinosaur web log (this blog), celebrated its fourth birthday back in May 2011.  Today, we are writing our 1,654th article.  Over the last four years or so, we have written on prehistoric animal discoveries, palaeontologists, extant creatures,  and all things dinosaur. Readership has grown steadily since the blog’s inception.  We try to inform, write in an appropriate style and to educate.  We greatly appreciate all the comments and feedback we receive and we reply to every query or question that is sent our way.  Back at the beginning of 2011 we predicted that we would pass the landmark of 150,000 page views per month.  Unfortunately, with the migration of the blog from Tucows to WordPress, the page views data is not available to us any more.  We will have to probe our new Google analytics package a little more, but when we left Tucows, the Everything  Dinosaur blog was just on the cusp of breaking through the 150,000 page views per month.  We were so close, however, we cannot claim success with this prediction as we do not have the statistical data to indicate that the 150K barrier was broken.

We would welcome feedback and ideas on how best to measure the “reach” of our blog efforts, as always any comments would be gratefully received.

We fared slightly better with our prediction that 2011 would see another new marine reptile discovery from the Jurassic coast of Dorset.  Brandon Lennon, a Lyme Regis based fossil collector and all round good guy came up trumps for us when he sent us pictures of a new discovery of plesiosaur bones that he had made.  We promise to keep readers updated on this progress to collect more of the skeleton from the mudslips that occur on this part of the Dorset coast.

Brandon “brandishing” his Plesiosaur Bones

Exciting plesiosaur fossil discovery.

Picture credit: Brandon Lennon

No doubt Brandon will be out in January looking for more amazing finds, if you are in the Lyme Regis area, next year (lucky you), we suggest contacting Brandon and participating in one of his organised fossil walks.  These walks really are the best way to explore this part of the Jurassic coast.

To contact Brandon: Lyme Regis Fossil Walks with Brandon Lennon.

 Our final prediction for 2011, concerned the trend in fossil thefts.  We confidently predicted that this sorry trend would continue.  Sadly, we have been proved right and there have been a number of articles published by us in the last twelve months regarding stolen fossils.  There has also been a number of incidents of what we term “fossil vandalism”.  Sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), being targeted and many fossils removed, for the purpose of profit, either selling direct to a private collector or for putting on auction websites.

Important Fossil Sites Being Ransacked

“Fossil vandalism”.

Picture credit: Scottish National Heritage

The article we wrote on the ransacking of a Jurassic aged fossil site on the Isle of Skye proved to be the most popular news story published on the Everything Dinosaur web log in 2011.  Unfortunately, with the high value of fossils and the current economic climate we can only see this sad trend continuing and we urge all fossil collectors to report to the authorities if they witness any such activity.

To read more about the Isle of Skye incident: Attack on the Jurassic.

Everything Dinosaur’s top ten list of web blog articles  written in the year 2011: Top Ten Most Popular Everything Dinosaur blog articles of 2011.

 So there you are, a mixed bag of results.  We got some things right, whilst with our other predictions we were off the mark.  I suppose we won’t be taking a tent on the end of Blackpool pier and changing our occupations, well not in the foreseeable future at least.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s award-winning website: Dinosaur Models and Gifts.

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