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  • March 25, 2011
  • 10:58 AM

The Tyrannosaur Tooth Toolkit

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

When I was in elementary school, I was told that mammals and reptiles could easily be told apart by their teeth. Mammals had a full, enamel-covered toolkit in their mouths—incisors, canines, premolars, and molars suited to different tasks—while reptiles had only one kind of tooth. The dental differences were presented as one of the ways [...]... Read more »

  • March 24, 2011
  • 01:58 PM

Night of the Nuralagus rex

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Giant bunnies are not scary. MGM learned that the hard way with the 1972 schlock film Night of the Lepus. No amount of fake blood or artificial saliva could turn those rabbits into real monsters, and the brief moments when actors in bunny suits attacked their co-stars looked like some kind of “Meet the Easter [...]... Read more »

Quintanaa, J.; Köhler, M.; Moyà-Solà, S. (2011) Nuralagus rex, gen. et sp. nov., an endemic insular giant rabbit from the Neogene of Minorca (Balearic Islands, Spain). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 31(2), 231-240. info:/10.1080/02724634.2011.550367

  • March 22, 2011
  • 10:33 AM

Finding the Family of Acrocanthosaurus

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Allosaurus has one of the dullest names in all of paleontology. The famous dinosaur’s moniker simply means “different reptile”—a bit of a letdown for one of the top predators of Jurassic North America. Early on, the name fit well—Allosaurus was a very unusual dinosaur compared to other large, predatory species—but since 1878 bone hunters have [...]... Read more »

  • March 21, 2011
  • 09:33 PM

From the Editor’s Desk: The Environmental Impacts of Tsunamis

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

Figure from UNEP: These images show a combination of a rocky, hilly headland along with a small river delta and swampy coastal strip. A low-lying wetland area connects the northern and western ocean fronts. An integration of natural and agricultural ecosystems operating prior to the tsunami combined rice cultivation, and fish/shrimp ponds, alongside natural delta mangrove . . . → Read More: From the Editor’s Desk: The Environmental Impacts of Tsunamis... Read more »

  • March 21, 2011
  • 02:25 PM

Repost: The Pelican’s Beak – Success and Evolutionary Stasis

by Laelaps in Laelaps

I am a relatively infrequent airline traveler, and so packing for distant assignments and trips always presents me with an organizational challenge. Clothes, equipment, and supplies must be tracked down and stuffed into my cheap luggage, with frequent checks of the TSA website to ensure that I can unpack and repack my carry-ons with a [...]... Read more »

  • March 21, 2011
  • 10:47 AM

Oxalaia: Brazil’s New, Giant Spinosaur

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Paleontologists have not found much of Oxalaia quilombensis. A fragment of the snout and a portion of the upper jaw are all that is known of this dinosaur. Even so, those two parts are enough to know that Oxalaia was one of the peculiar predatory dinosaurs known as spinosaurs, and a giant one at that. [...]... Read more »

KELLNER, A.; AZEVEDO, S.; MACHADO, A.; DE CARVALHO, L.; HENRIQUES, D. (2011) A new dinosaur (Theropoda, Spinosauridae) from the Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Alcântara Formation, Cajual Island, Brazil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 83(1), 99-108. info:/

  • March 19, 2011
  • 08:18 AM

Famine and Epidemic Anthrax, Saint-Domingue (Haiti), 1770

by Michelle Ziegler in Contagions

Earthquakes have brought devastation on the Port-au-Prince region many times in the last 300 years. The 1770 earthquake was stronger and relatively as destructive as the 2010 quake (Ker, 2010). It also was centered near Port-au-Prince and to the west of the city.   Ship captain accounts of the earthquake in the Boston Evening-Post from 9 [...]... Read more »

  • March 18, 2011
  • 04:01 PM

Canada Water Week: Climate Change in British Columbia

by Matthew Garcia in Hydro-Logic

In support of Canada Water Week (14 - 22 March) I pledged to Water Canada that I would post an article on the status of hydro-electric projects in the western province of British Columbia (BC), including the potential impacts of climate change on the operation of current facilities and the feasibility of planned projects.  I may range a bit beyond that planned topic, however, with some more ... Read more »

Milly, P., J. Betancourt, M. Falkenmark, R. Hirsch, Z. Kundzewicz, D. Lettenmaier, & R. Stouffer. (2008) Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management?. Science, 319(5863), 573-574. DOI: 10.1126/science.1151915  

  • March 18, 2011
  • 10:14 AM

Bite Marks Tell of Tussling Ichthyosaurs

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

The prehistoric world was intensely violent. So I believed when I was a kid, anyway. Almost every book I read or movie I saw about now-fossilized creatures showed them as ferocious monsters that were constantly biting and clawing at each other. I spent hours with plastic toys and mud puddles reenacting these scenes myself, never [...]... Read more »

Zammit, M. and Kear, B.J. (2011) Healed bite marks on a Cretaceous ichthyosaur. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. info:/10.4202/app.2010.0117

  • March 17, 2011
  • 04:41 PM

Doing the Haplomastodon Breakdown

by Laelaps in Laelaps

African elephants are sturdy beasts. They don’t break down easily. After death, elephant bodies become temporary islands of intense activity – providing nourishment to scavengers from hyenas to beetles – and the same was true of prehistoric elephants.
At Águas de Araxá, Brazil, a resort hotel sits on top of an ancient elephant graveyard. Construction workers [...]... Read more »

ARROYOCABRALES, J., POLACO, O., LAURITO, C., JOHNSON, E., TERESAALBERDI, M., & VALERIOZAMORA, A. (2007) The proboscideans (Mammalia) from Mesoamerica. Quaternary International, 17-23. DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2006.12.017  

FERRETTI, M.P. (2010) Anatomy of Haplomastodon chimborazi (Mammalia, Proboscidea) from the late Pleistocene of Ecuador and its bearing on the phylogeny and systematics of South American gomphotheres. Geodiversitas, 32(4), 663-721. info:/

  • March 17, 2011
  • 09:50 AM

Always Brontosaurus to Me

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

During the latter half of the 1980s, when I was just becoming acquainted with dinosaurs, “Brontosaurus” was just on its way out. A few of my books depicted the lumbering dinosaur, and a few museums still had the wrong heads on their skeletons, but the images of slow, stupid Brontosaurus were slowly being replaced by [...]... Read more »

BRINKMAN, P. (2006) Bully for Apatosaurus. Endeavour, 30(4), 126-130. DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2006.10.004  

  • March 16, 2011
  • 07:00 AM

A Blanket of Mucus

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

You are fish.  The guy above is your enemy, a Gnathiid isopod, a vicious parasitic relative of a roly-poly.  Your defense?  You cough up enough loogies to coat yourself in a protective layer of joyous mucus.

Of course you are not a fish and fish don’t need to cough 1,000′s of thick loogies.  If you were a parrotfish . . . → Read More: A Blanket of Mucus... Read more »

Grutter, A., Rumney, J., Sinclair-Taylor, T., Waldie, P., & Franklin, C. (2010) Fish mucous cocoons: the 'mosquito nets' of the sea. Biology Letters, 7(2), 292-294. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0916  

  • March 14, 2011
  • 10:41 PM

National Groundwater Awareness Week

by Matthew Garcia in Hydro-Logic

Last week (6 - 12 March) was National Groundwater Awareness Week in the United States.  Did you notice?  Were there lots of events and celebrations in your area, public agencies and private water companies getting out to spread the word, giveaways and picnics (weather-permitting) and frivolity and whatnot in honor of groundwater? Did you tell your neighbors and friends about... Read more »

Rodell, M., Velicogna, I., & Famiglietti, J. (2009) Satellite-based estimates of groundwater depletion in India. Nature, 460(7258), 999-1002. DOI: 10.1038/nature08238  

Amelung, F., D.L. Galloway, J.W. Bell, H.A. Zebker, & R.J. Laczniak. (1999) Sensing the ups and downs of Las Vegas - InSAR reveals structural control of land subsidence and aquifer-system deformation. Geology, 483-486. info:/

  • March 14, 2011
  • 08:39 PM

The Lost Cowbird of Térapa

by Laelaps in Laelaps

“One of the penalties of an ecological education,” the conservationist Aldo Leopold once wrote, “is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” This is true for the students of prehistory as much as ecologists. Nature has never been in a static balance – change is the overwhelming theme – and the scars of [...]... Read more »

Oswald, J., & Steadman, D. (2011) Late pleistocene passerine birds from Sonora, Mexico. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 301(1-4), 56-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.12.020  

  • March 14, 2011
  • 01:05 PM

Is an Atlantic Tsunami Possible?

by David Berreby in Mind Matters

A lot of people know that New York City sits on fault lines (and that the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant is above the intersection of two active seismic zones), all of which makes it entirely possible that the city could suffer a catastrophic earthquake. But I thought at least I and my fellow ...Read More
... Read more »

  • March 12, 2011
  • 05:24 PM

Why earthquakes and eruptions are rarely linked

by Tuff Cookie in Magma Cum Laude

The geoblogosphere – and the rest of the news – have been buzzing with information and discussion about the recent M8.9 earthquake in Japan. Despite being a country that is relatively well-prepared for events like these, even Japan couldn’t withstand the power of such a quake and the resulting tsunami, and they will need help. Please consider donating to a relief organization such as the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, …... Read more »

  • March 11, 2011
  • 10:02 AM

Restoring Nedoceratops: Gored by a Horned Rival?

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

What is Nedoceratops? That depends on who you ask. The single known skull could represent a transitional growth stage between Triceratops and Torosaurus head shapes in a single species of dinosaur, or it might be a unique species of horned dinosaur that lived alongside its better-known relatives. The suggestion that Nedoceratops was truly a Triceratops [...]... Read more »

  • March 10, 2011
  • 10:36 AM

Tapeworms, Trematodes and Other Dinosaur Pests

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

In one short section of his book Parasite Rex, science writer Carl Zimmer asked a simple question: “Did tapeworms live in dinosaurs?” There is no reason to think they didn’t. Both the living descendants of dinosaurs (birds) and their crocodylian cousins harbor tapeworms, Zimmer pointed out, and so it isn’t unreasonable to imagine monstrous, prehistoric [...]... Read more »

Wolff, E., Salisbury, S., Horner, J., & Varricchio, D. (2009) Common Avian Infection Plagued the Tyrant Dinosaurs. PLoS ONE, 4(9). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007288  

  • March 10, 2011
  • 07:13 AM

Deep-sea additions to the Nematode Tree of Life

by Holly Bik in Deep Sea News

Sometimes I am stunned by the vastness of the internet, as well as the brief 15-nanoseconds of fame that go along with most of its content. The other day I discovered the ‘Charlie the Unicorn’ videos on YouTube, after (ironically?) having a conversation with a real three-dimensional human.
I was excited by this hilarity and went . . . → Read More: Deep-sea additions to the Nematode Tree of Life... Read more »

  • March 9, 2011
  • 09:43 PM

Unraveling the Nature of the Whorl-Toothed Shark

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Reconstructing the anatomy of prehistoric sharks isn’t easy. With few exceptions – an exquisitely-preserved body fossil here, some calcified bits of skeleton there – teeth make up the majority of the shark fossil record. When those teeth come from a relatively recent species with close living relatives, it is not difficult to imagine what the [...]... Read more »

Eastman, C. (1900) Karpinsky's Genus Helicoprion. The American Naturalist, 34(403), 579. DOI: 10.1086/277706  

Mutter, R.J. and Neuman, A. (2008) Jaws and dentition in an Early Triassic, 3-dimensionally preserved eugeneodontid skull (Chondrichthyes). Acta Geologica Polonica, 58(2), 223-227. info:/

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