This was a great year for dinosaurs. Dreadnoughtus, "Jar Jar Binks," and a swimming Spinosaurus all made headlines — and 2015 could hold even more surprises.
It wasn't always like this. From 1984 to 1994, there were about 15 new dinosaur species named per year. This year, nearly one species was discovered every week.
"We're absolutely in a golden age of dinosaur discovery," David Evans, who oversees dinosaur research at the Royal Ontario Museum, told NBC News. "It is probably a better time to be a dinosaur paleontologist now than any other time in the last century."
The 'Jurassic Park' effect
When it comes to finding dinosaurs in the dirt, paleontologists are using the same tools that they were 30 years ago. Satellite images might give them a better view of dig sites, but for the most part the process has not changed much.
So why are there so many dinosaur discoveries these days? More people are looking for them. Evans estimates that the number of dinosaur paleontologists has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years.
Every paleontologist interviewed for this story pointed to one catalyst for the paleontology boom: Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster "Jurassic Park."
"It put the most lifelike, scientifically accurate dinosaurs ever on the big screen," Evans said. "That helped the public moved beyond the classical view of dinosaurs as slow, dim-twitted creatures."
Famed Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner admits he has a special affection for the film. He served as scientific adviser for the original "Jurassic Park" and was the inspiration for Dr. Alan Grant, the movie's protagonist. He also consulted on the upcoming "Jurassic World" starring Chris Pratt.
"'Jurassic Park' attracted an incredible number of people to the field," Horner told NBC News. "I'm hoping that we put together something cool with 'Jurassic World' that people will really like and get more children interested in paleontology."
Increased interest led to increased paleontology budgets for museums and universities, Evans said. That has made a big difference in places like China and Argentina, relatively unexplored areas where a new generation of paleontologists has unearthed most of the recent headline-grabbing discoveries.
"The number of dinosaur researchers is much higher now than in the '90s," Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland, told NBC News. "Anytime you are exploring a region and a slice of time that hasn't been sampled before, chances are that everything you are finding is new."
2014 and beyond
Some of the biggest discoveries of the year were not new species. Instead, they were more complete fossils of dinosaurs the scientific community knew very little about.
Take Spinosaurus, a massive carnivore that was even bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex. While its teeth indicated it ate fish, scientists were divided on whether it roamed the land and water looking for prey.
This year, the matter was settled. A new paper showed that the dinosaur's unique body structure — tiny hind limbs, dense bones, crocodile-like receptors in its snout — was best suited for the water and caused it to waddle on land.
"That was probably the most significant find of the year," Horner said.
There were other big discoveries in 2014. Dreadnoughtus fossils discovered in Argentina belonged to a creature that measured 85 feet (26 meters) long and weighed about 65 tons (59 metric tons), or about as much as a dozen elephants.
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With both my girls going home early, I had enough of the night to myself to really make it an enjoyable evening, without cutting short on night rest. Just past nine thirty now, and I just finished watching one of my absolute favorites: Steven Spielber...
To paraphase Gigolo Joe, the lover robot from Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence: "Let's combine ... Chemistry with ... Affections". Some would call them afflictions, but that is just their limited self speaking. Nope, Chemistry class today, actually Chemistry 101: States of Life. And to jive things up, I'll even throw in some classy free music to go with it, totally off charge!
From our days in highschool, we all remember the states of matter:
These are straight from Wikipedia, which mentions a host of other more specialized states, but let's keep it simple for now. We will just restrict ourselves to Gaseous, Liquid and Solid, with a brief outing into plasma. My main theory is this, that states of matter are not restricted to chemistry alone, and that we could very well recognize States of Life, or States of Manifestation. Looking at the above diagram, and Knowing what I Know Now, I claim that:
Lust is the Solid state of Life
Love is the Liquid State of Life
Knowing is the Gaseous state of Life
Oneness is the Plasma state of Life
How's that for starters? Perhaps that is why the most spoken language across the world refers to both the science of Chemistry and the Attraction between people as Chemistry? Was it this realization that made Iggy Pop explode into creativity with his hit called Lust for Life?
Lust is (like a solid) usually a case of fixed relationships, even though actual reactions may still create alternate connections. Point is, people hardly ever make life changes because of just lust. Because the moment they do, their heart start melting, and Lust turns into Love! Conversely, when Love turns sour but the need for relationships pulls again, we tend to freeze right out of Love, back into Lust.
Now Love can be hot, but only upto a certain point. After that, it becomes so volatile that relationships no longer work. Yes, you got it right. You may have thought of swingers as a lesser breed, but actually they have transcended the need for more or less stable relationships. That does not mean their Love is any weaker than yours!
To illustrate the state of Mind that goes with this state, called liquid, just listen to Robbie Valentine's Megaman, from the incredible album called the Magic Infinity:
As we go up in the world of states, freedom for the individual particles becomes ever greater. One may fall back from Knowing or Love to Lust, but the attraction remains. How many of us wished they had what it takes to be a free agent, interacting in this field as if nothing could hurt them? Now I'm not talking conspiracy here, because no man or group of men has been intentionally plotting to keep us from ascending. Basically, it is just essential Set Theory: us all being 'limited' subsets of anything, it stands to reason we are unique and hence not the same. Thus the common part of us is BY DEFINITION smaller than most of us individually. And interactions tend to keep us fixed. Solids need no container to contain themselves, but liquids do, just like gases. The same goes for Lusters, Lovers and Knowers.
For the third state, the gaseous one, I've chosen Donna Summer's the State of Independence. Just turn her on (if you dare) while I wrap up this little number....
And then there's the fourth state, the Plasma state. Call it Oneness, Spirituality, or anything you like. This is the state where Chemistry becomes moot, because as you remember that is where the molecules split into their atoms, thus becoming available again for the dance of manifestation, back into Chemistry, just for the Rush of it! And that is the final musical finale of today: I knew it was going to be a Rush song, but never in a million years figured it would be a song called Subdivisions, which I'd never even heard.....
One last thing: you may have noticed that there are no state transitions from either solid or liquid straight to plasma. In hindsight, that make perfect sense: since free will is the prime directive in this cosmos, you having expressed relationships as your wishes will not be wrenched free from them. Only when you consciously decide that your love is unconditional, and thus given while expecting nothing whatsoever in return, will you become hot enough to reach the gaseous, and through it, the plasma state. Now don't you run off to get a divorce, because that is not the way to go. That is not unconditional Love, but withdrawal of Love, and that will get you nowhere fast! Just keep sending the love, and pretty soon you'll notice you won't fall in love any more unless it is with the All. But just like two gas molecules may choose to travel in the same direction for a while or longer, their relationship is openended. Love sets free, does not try to bind or contain.