Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Brazilian Titanosaur and the Future of Dinosaur Infographics

Yesterday on the Dinosaur Mailing List, Dr. Tom Holtz of the University of Maryland - a familiar face to viewers of most of the recent dinosaur documentary series - linked to a Brazilian news website's story about a new titanosaur. Its head is intact, a rare and significant occurance when a new sauropod is discovered. Certainly, a notable story worth reporting.

The problem is, the paper describing it has not been published yet. In fact, it's not even been accepted yet. This is a faux pas on the reporter's part, and to his credit he has publically apologized to the authors of the paper. Because of this, I'm not going to write much about it, and I'll wait until the paper has been published.

So why post at all? As part of the story, the website in question featured a set of interactive infographics. Check them out here. These are probably the best infographics I've ever seen attached to a dinosaur story. It's simply fun to use them, to mouse over and see what information pops up or what skeletal features are highlighted. The illustrations for the "Dinosaurs of Brazil" tab are beautifully done, and can be reshuffled by size, time of discovery, and geological age. On top of that, mousing over a particular dinosaur displays a small map with the region of Brazil where it was discovered.


Screencap of the "Dinosaurs of Brazil" tab. Images copyright Estadao.com.br

Another tab called "The Story of a Fossil" looks, at first glance, to be a simply "layer cake" geological diagram with a friendly sauropod stopping for a drink at a lake or river. Clicking an arrow icon on the right-hand side moves you forward in time to see the dinosaur scavenged by theropods, buried, and fossilized.

Extremely, superlative-defyingly cool. This is exactly the sort of stuff I want to see more science graphics do.

2 comments:

  1. That's a fantastic bit of interactive work.

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  2. Was disappointed to hear the story wasn't released as it was intended, but lived the info-graphic. I, like yourself, hope that we see more like it in the future.

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