Paleo-powered pictures for everyone on Sept. 24: Bakker’s back with a big book of dinosaurs

Our esteemed curator of paleontology, Dr. Robert T. Bakker, is back in town and on campus at HMNS Tuesday, Sept. 24 for a very special book signing and lecture.

Coinciding with the release of his brand new picture book, The Big Golden Book of Dinosaurs, Dr. Bakker will lead a lecture in the Giant Screen Theatre, to be followed by a book-signing session at the Museum Store.

From the Google

Among the topics to be addressed during the lecture with Dr. Bakker’s inimitable enthusiasm are: Was T. rex a slow-footed stumble-bum? (No!) Were tyrannosaurs devoid of any gentle, nurturing gestures? (No way!) Were gigantic meat-eating dinos ticklish? (You bet!) Could you out-run an angry charging triceratopsine? (Don’t even try.)

Kid-friendly dino activities will be available throughout the Grand Hall prior to the lecture, beginning at 5 p.m. For more information or to book your tickets in advance, click here!

Why James Delgado > James Cameron: See a real underwater explorer speak April 12

James Cameron’s got nothing on Dr. James Delgado. Although the multimillionaire and filmmaker made a historic dive Monday to a depth of 35,576 feet, it’s Delgado who headed up the historic excavation of the R.M.S. Titanic – the inspiration for that other guy’s most famous film.

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On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking in April 1912, new images were released in the April 2012 edition of National Geographic that depict the entire wreckage for the first time in a single frame.

For the first time ever, the boat’s full expanse is photographed at its resting place more than 2 miles beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

Although the images look as though they were shot from a distance, the ocean depths are far too dark to light the wreck powerfully enough – and doing so would be dangerous to the ship’s remains. Instead, the images were assembled mosaic-style by experts at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and took months to complete.

To create an accurate image of the full wreckage, researchers layered optical data on top of sonar images gathered from an exhibition in 2010 that is widely regarded as the most extensive research and recovery trip to date. During that trip to the wreck site, the eighth since its discovery, three robots circled the boat using side-scan and multibeam sonar to capture hundreds of images per second.

Titanic | James Delgado appearance

Delgado, the chief scientist for the excavation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Director of Maritime Heritage, told the National Geographic the reconstructed images were “a game-changer.”

“In the past, trying to understand Titanic was like trying to understand Manhattan at midnight in a rainstorm – with a flashlight.”

Delgado will be at HMNS on April 12 to discuss expeditions to the wreck site and the technology that has made such imaging possible.

In addition to discussing his own historic visit to the ocean floor, Delgado will outline options for the Titanic’s future preservation.

To reserve tickets, click here!

Flashpoint of Empires – The Archaeological Rediscovery of Jamestown

Today’s post is written by Amy Potts, the HMNS Director of Adult Education. 

One of our country’s most important historical cities was lost.  But, Jamestown has been re-discovered -thanks to archaeologist Dr. William Kelso!

Dr. Kelso will be giving a lecture on his Jamestown discoveries at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Wednesday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m. The lecture is co-sponsored by Archaeological Institute of America – Houston Society with support from Thompson & Knight Foundation. Following the lecture Dr. Kelso will sign copies of Jamestown, The Buried Truth. For tickets and more information, click here.

Dr. Kelso began directing excavations on Jamestown Island at the behest of Preservation Virginia.  Jamestown’s incredible rediscovery lies in the correction of a historical myth previously thought to be true – that the site of the original Jamestown settlement of 1607 had washed into the James River long ago. The archaeologists used primary source material to estimate the location of the fort on Jamestown Island, such as the Zuniga Map, created by a Spanish spy of the same name, and the accounts of original colonists, such as William Strachey, Captain Ralph Hamor, and John Smith.

Dig Site with Dr. William Kelso
Dr. William Kelso

Upon analysis of these sources and other buildings, the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists discovered the postholes of the original fort; discoloration in the soil left the evidence of the palisades and bulwarks that once formed the fort wall. After expanding the dig, the archaeologists were able to validate that the Jamestown Fort had only begun to wash into the James River, but was instead covered inadvertently by a Confederate earthwork during the American Civil War. Throughout this excavation, the team discovered evidence of fort buildings, artifacts, and the remains of settlers.

The discovery of a well within the limits of the Jamestown fort is important due to the artifacts found in the well.

Wells that had stopped providing (or never provided) drinkable water were frequently filled in with the refuse of daily life, which gave the archaeologists the opportunity to look at a concentrated collection of stratified artifacts. Tobacco pipes, pottery sherds, and combat armor all help date the excavation site to the early 17th century, giving even more support to the positive identification of the fort.  In this case, curator Beverly Straube was able to substantiate evidence regarding the professional work done by the original settlers. Goldsmiths, bricklayers, masons, perfumers, tailors, fishermen, coopers, blacksmiths, glassmakers, carpenters, and tobacco pipe makers are among the dominant professions for which there is archaeological evidence.

William Kelso, one of America’s foremost historical archaeologists specializing in early American history, serves as the Director of Research and Interpretation for the Preservation Virginia Jamestown Rediscovery project. Previously, Kelso served as director of archaeology at Colonial Williamsburg’s Carter’s Grove, Monticello, and Poplar Forest, as well as Commissioner of Archaeology for the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. During his time at Monticello, he was one of the first to make early colonial slave life the focus of archaeological research. Dr. Kelso earned a B.A. in History from Baldwin-Wallace College, an M.A. in Early American History from the College of William and Mary, and a PhD in Historical Archaeology from Emory University.

Titanic and Today

April 14, 2008: Ninety-six years ago this evening, the temperature in the North Atlantic had just dropped below freezing while the RMS Titanic steamed toward America at 22 knots, racing through the calm cold water, heedless of iceberg warnings.

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The Arctic, today.

The captain and crew knew far less about ice and Arctic conditions than we do today. If they had, could this tragedy have been averted?

So many factors contributed to the tragedy: the temptation to set a transatlantic crossing record in calm seas, the lack of binoculars in the crow’s nest, the radio room’s focus on sending passenger messages, the Captain’s preoccupation with running out of coal, the unusual conditions in the North Atlantic and the lack of sunspots – the list of factors goes on and on.

But perhaps the most significant was the news article labeling the RMS Titanic an unsinkable ship.

If the improbable is called impossible, it becomes inevitable!

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This video features photography of the ship, news coverage of the tragedy,
the discovery of the wreckage and photos of survivors – and people who
were not as lucky.

And there are other factors – after impact, sinking might have been avoided and more passenger could have been saved – but the poor decision-making continued. This is a story with many lessons to be learned.

On Monday night, April 14, Museum visitors can experience the Arctic today and the Titanic’s fate a century ago.

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Chris Linder, researcher and photographer
from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Chris Linder, researcher and photographer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has spent the last year near the Poles and will take you on his Arctic and Antarctic adventures. His images of research expeditions during the International Polar Year will show what we now know about the Poles and how we are learning more.

His story will highlight Arctic changes and their potential effects on global climate change and our ability to avoid the “icebergs” currently in our path. After his presentation, you will experience the Night of the Titanic in immersive full-dome video.

Please join us for this very exciting and thoughtful evening.

Consider it a date with destiny!