Do you know that every week one new dinosaur species is discovered? That is, in this age of dinosaur fever, 50 previously unknown dinosaurs are discovered each year. NSRRC organizes popular science lectures on dinosaurs on the morning of June 25, 2016. Popular lectures were given by Dr. Zhou Zhonghe (director of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China), Dr. Xu Xing (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, China), Dr. Yao-Chang Lee (NSRRC), and Dr. Chun-Chieh Wang (NSRRC).
Xu tells the interesting story of how a dinosaur evolved to a bird. It has always been a hot topic whether birds were involved from dinosaur ancestors. In recent years, the half-dragon-and-half-bird fossils have shown that dinosaurs are not extinct! They evolved into birds flying all around the world. Among the discovered 170 dinosaur species, more than 60 are discovered by Xu. Xu is thus honored as “King of dinosaur”.
Zhou, on the other hand, is a world famous paleornithologist and one of the discoverers of “Confuciusornis”. His research findings provide new evidence for the “dinosaur-bird evolution theory” and the “arboreal hypothesis”. Zhou illustrated why the function of feathers is to attract mates instead of flying. He also explained how the modern toothless birds evolved from the toothed forefathers.
Lee showed how synchrotron light re-presents the collagen of dinosaurs which live 100 million years ago. In 2013, Lee collaborated with an international team and disclosed the secrets in a dinosaur embryo using IR Microscopy. This research was even selected as the cover of Nature and later selected as Image of Year 2013 by Nature. “During one million years, the soft tissues of dinosaurs went through Hematite concretion and Carbonate concretion and might stand a chance of being preserved. These will be very useful for understanding further the physiological function and the genetic codes of dinosaurs.”
Wang discovered that the unique internal structure of mantle dentin between the enamel and dentine of the carnivorous dinosaur functions like a damper using Transmission X-ray Microscopy at the NSRRC. He shared with audience that Tyrannosaurus had a maximum bite force of 6000 kilograms, which is equal to the weight of the African elephant, the largest mammals on land. This amazing but tiny shock absorber structure helps to bear such heavy weight and keep the teeth safe. This inherency kept them on top of predators for 165 million years.
During the event, Paleowonders Mineral and Fossil Museum exhibits several dinosaur models, including Stegosaurus Stenops, Triceratops, Allosaurus sp., Oviraptor sp., and Ceratosaurus. Well-known paleontologist Timothy D. Huang also presents his personal fossil collection of Hadrosauridae, Lufengosaurus and dinosaur eggs. This informative and exciting event is open to the public. It gathered about 350 adults and kids for a half day at the NSRRC.