February 25, 2024

Science: Researchers are happy with the online buzz around the Ursaur photo

According to the researchers, the species called Stenocranio boldi lived approximately 300 million years ago, before the dinosaurs.

Keystone

Short legs, a stocky build and a large mouth that seems to be smiling: a depiction of a prehistoric dinosaur discovered in Rhineland-Palatinate has caused some joy on social networks.

In the past few days, some users have created images using it, or so-called memes. Among them was comedian Sebastian Hotzo (“El Hotzo”), who has 1.4 million followers on Instagram. “Mr. Lindner, spend 100 billion in private assets and we have to build a Jurassic Park in Helgoland and clone 100 of these bastards,” he wrote.

Last week, the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin published a study depicting the animal that lived about 300 million years ago. The museum commented on several users' Instagram posts on Monday with the words: “Possibly the oldest meme in the world!”

More serious facial expressions are impossible

When asked on Tuesday, paleontologist and artist Frederick Spindler, who created the illustration, was only too happy to respond. “I think it's good that the paleo world and the online world are intertwined,” the 40-year-old told German news agency DPA. The 3D reconstruction process was all about showing key features. He couldn't change the expression on his face: “I can't make the animal look more serious. It's a bit like a dolphin, it can't look serious.”

Spindler said that he himself was looking for similar animals, but he actually knew little about amphibians and was asked by scientists as an artist.

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Familiarity with the term Ursaur

Although comments are already asking about Stenocranio's fan elements, Spindler isn't thinking about it much yet. “A little bit of internet hype that deviates from the paleo scene should not be exploited.” The primitive dinosaur is also expected to disappear from timelines again within a few days.

Spindler said he's simply glad that the term primitive dinosaur is better known and now has a face, so to speak. As the Berlin Museum explained last week, there is no connection to dinosaurs. Rather, it is a common collective name for four-legged animals in ancient times. The fact that it is not a dinosaur is also important for Berlin researcher Florian Weitzmann, who participated in the study: Stenocranio boldi is also not a reptile, as is often incorrectly assumed.

SDA