Saturday, 6 December 2014

Meet a Paleontologist - 27 Nov 2014

It's not common here to meet a paleontologist, and Prof. Dr Masatoshi Sone was the first one. We're so glad there was a public talk at the National Museum following the discovery of two dinosaur fossils in Pahang. We've only a superficial knowledge of dinosaur and paleontology before. What's surprising is that our neighbour, Thailand is 40 years ahead of Malaysia in paleontology study. It also has a big dinosaur museum in Kalasin. Peninsular M'sia also shared similar ancient sediments like those in Thailand.  But the study here is still at its infancy, and explorations have only started since 2012. So, with the discovery of two fossils within a year in Pahang, there's hope for more research in this area. That's good news to us, it means we have more opportunities to meet these experts and share their findings in this field.

First dinosaur fossil found in Pahang in Feb, 2014. Exact specie not identified yet but it belonged to a carnivorous dinosaur of the Spinosaurid group. This was the 3rd Spinosaurid fossil found in this region, 1st being in Thailand and 2nd in Laos. It's a different sub-group specie as compared to the giant Spinosaurus found in Egypt. We also learnt that Spinosaurus was in fact the biggest ever carnivorous dinosaur, and not T-Rex.

Second fossil found in Pahang in Nov, 2014. A herbivorous dinosaur of the Ornithischian group. This is the latest discovery so very little is known at this point. Ever wonder why we found only dinosaur teeth so far, and not the skeletons? A dinosaur has > 100 teeth per lifetime, and it's common that the teeth broke off as the dinosaur fed. So, it's more likely to find the teeth rather than bones.

Learning about dinosaur from an expert was so much more alive and relevant than just reading from books. Dr Masa was frank to tell us that there's nothing glamourous about being a paleontologist. He has to work hard and long hours in very challenging environment in the forests and remote areas. For aspiring young paleontologist and geologist, his two cents was to be curious. Well, curiousity led us to this talk, and that's a baby step!

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