Science generally makes things better. It reveals new facts about our daily lives and the universe we breathlessly hope to explore. It deepens our understanding of the world around us and reveals mysteries which have puzzled mankind for centuries. Science helps us to solve the most important problems of our day as well as prevent those which may occur in the future. Science makes the impossible, possible. Science is awesome.
Science is also making me mad. As science evolves and improves researchers can do things never thought possible. They can refine prior understandings and discover new understandings. The evolution of science and technology constantly reveals new information. More accurate information. But that new information is not always better.
This is what a Velociraptor used to look like:
This is what it looks like now:
Now a team of scientists has revealed what is purported to be the most accurate depiction of a dinosaur ever created. The depiction is of a Psittacosaurus specimen constructed from a complete skeleton from one of the world’s best preserved fossil deposits in China. In order to reconstruct what the specimen looked like when it is living the team,
“fired a laser at the specimen to highlight fluorescent materials (calcium phosphate) remaining preserved from the animal’s scales.Under an electron microscope, they confirmed the presence of melanosomes: the structures that store pigments in cells and tissues. From there it was a case of photographing the whole fossil and mapping the pigment patterns from the squished Cretaceous dinosaur on to a three-dimensional model. This is where paleoartist Robert Nicholls came in.
“The reconstruction is the culmination of around three months’ work, from detailed drawings to finished fibreglass model. Nicholls created a steel frame and bulked it out using polystyrene and wire mesh, before sculpting the surface in clay:.“This is where the subject finally comes to life,” he explains, “by adding all the skin details such as scales and wrinkles, and beaks and horns.” A master mould was made from this sculpture, allowing Nicholls to make fibreglass models ready to be painted.
“To examine countershading (camouflage) in their Psittacosaurus, Nicholls created a second, plain grey model without pattern. This “blank” was placed outside, first in overhead strong sunlight, then in diffuse light, and photographed to examine how light and shadow fell on the body.
“The images of the “blank” model in diffuse light matched perfectly with the skin pigments revealed in the Senckenberg fossil. The countershading told Vinther’s team that Psittacosaurus lived in a closed light environment, such as under a forest canopy.”
This long, tedious process revealed this:
This is what is was believed a Psittacosaurus looked like:
How is this better? Pretty soon there won’t be any more killer dinosaur movies because they all look like this: