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  • May 13, 2011
  • 10:00 AM

Repost – The Fightin’ Ibis: Xenicibis and Evolution’s Arrow

by Laelaps in Laelaps

What comes next for evolution? This seems like a simple question. Every day we are learning more about the history of life on earth, and we would expect that, over 150 years since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, the life of the past could be used to extrapolate the trajectory of evolution’s [...]... Read more »

Nicholas R. Longrich, and Storrs L. Olson. (2010) The bizarre wing of the Jamaican flightless ibis Xenicibis xympithecus: a unique vertebrate adaptation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. info:/10.1098/rspb.2010.2117

Osborn, Henry Fairfield; Brown, Barnum. (1906) Tyrannosaurus, Upper Cretaceous carnivorous dinosaur. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 22(16), 281-296. info:/

  • May 12, 2011
  • 10:20 AM

The 5-Million Year All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

by Jennifer Frazer in The Artful Amoeba

About 250 million years ago in what is today the vast backwater of north central Siberia, the Earth coughed forth an unimaginable quantity of lava over 1 million years. The liquid rock was a low-viscosity, thin stuff (for lava), so instead of forming a field of towering volcanoes it oozed out into endless plains. Covering [...]... Read more »

  • May 12, 2011
  • 10:00 AM

Repost: Tully’s Mystery Monster

by Laelaps in Laelaps

To say that paleontologists can’t make heads or tails of the Tully Monster would be untrue. The claw-tipped proboscis on the front end and the arrow-shaped rear fins at the posterior end can be easily identified in complete specimens. Beyond that, though, this 300 million year old invertebrate remains one of the most vexing fossil [...]... Read more »

Chen, J., Huang, D., & Bottjer, D. (2005) An Early Cambrian problematic fossil: Vetustovermis and its possible affinities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1576), 2003-2007. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2005.3159  

Ralph Gordon Johnson, Eugene S. Richardson. (1969) The Morphology and Affinities of Tullimonstrum. Fieldiana: Geology, 12(8), 119-149. info:/

  • May 11, 2011
  • 10:00 AM

Repost – Bears and Bamboo: The Fossil Record of Giant Pandas

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Where do giant pandas come from? Of course, the proximal answer involves a male and female panda – and maybe some panda porn, if life in captivity dampens the mood – but I’m not talking about that. What I’m wondering about is the evolutionary origin of these bamboo-eating bears.
Until recently, there was little to be [...]... Read more »

  • May 10, 2011
  • 12:56 PM

A quick video about the environmental chemistry of carbon dioxide

by csoeder in Topologic Oceans

I find some dry ice and hilarity ensues. Veron JE, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Lenton TM, Lough JM, Obura DO, Pearce-Kelly P, Sheppard CR, Spalding M, Stafford-Smith MG, & Rogers AD (2009). The coral reef crisis: the critical importance of Marine pollution bulletin, 58 (10), 1428-36 PMID: 19782832... Read more »

Veron JE, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Lenton TM, Lough JM, Obura DO, Pearce-Kelly P, Sheppard CR, Spalding M, Stafford-Smith MG, & Rogers AD. (2009) The coral reef crisis: the critical importance of. Marine pollution bulletin, 58(10), 1428-36. PMID: 19782832  

  • May 10, 2011
  • 10:00 AM

Repost: Facing Homotherium

by Laelaps in Laelaps

[Author's Note: This week I am driving west with my wife and our three cats to our new apartment in Salt Lake City, Utah. Packing prevented me from writing up anything new, so I'm featuring a few posts from the recent past. I'll be back to regular blogging next week!]
When craftsman Ken Walker decided to [...]... Read more »

ANTÓN, M., GARCÍA-PEREA, R., & TURNER, A. (1998) Reconstructed facial appearance of the sabretoothed felid Smilodon. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 124(4), 369-386. DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.1998.tb00582.x  

Gould, S. (1997) The exaptive excellence of spandrels as a term and prototype. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 94(20), 10750-10755. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.94.20.10750  

REUMER, J., ROOK, L., VAN DER BORG, K., POST, K., MOL, D., & DE VOS, J. (2003) LATE PLEISTOCENE SURVIVAL OF THE SABER-TOOTHED CAT HOMOTHERIUM IN NORTHWESTERN EUROPE. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 23(1), 260-262. DOI: 10.1671/0272-4634(2003)23[260:LPSOTS]2.0.CO;2  

  • May 8, 2011
  • 04:52 PM

Some Echinoderms Will Never Grow Up

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

Not your typical Echinoderm. This female specimen of a Xyloplax seastar was collected along the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the coast of the state of Washington; it measures less than a quarter-inch (4 mm) and shows brooded embryos Some of us never grow up.  In fact I am writing this now in . . . → Read More: Some Echinoderms Will Never Grow Up... Read more »

  • May 5, 2011
  • 12:15 AM

Swarms of tasty cicadas don’t help the birds — what gives?

by Hannah Waters in Culturing Science – biology as relevant to us earthly beings

Every thirteen years they come. After over a decade underground, they build burrows to the earth’s surface and emerge in synchrony, clawing and crawling up through the soil, rip their skins down the back and are reborn as adults. And after a month, they will be dead, whether consumed by the animals awaiting their arrival [...]... Read more »

Koenig, W., & Liebhold, A. (2003) Regional impacts of periodical cicadas on oak radial increment. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 33(6), 1084-1089. DOI: 10.1139/X03-037  

Lehmann-Ziebarth, N., Heideman, P., Shapiro, R., Stoddart, S., Hsiao, C., Stephenson, G., Milewski, P., & Ives, A. (2005) EVOLUTION OF PERIODICITY IN PERIODICAL CICADAS. Ecology, 86(12), 3200-3211. DOI: 10.1890/04-1615  

  • May 4, 2011
  • 11:50 PM

The many faces of earthquake triggering

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

Can large earthquakes beget more large earthquakes? It’s an easy question to ask, but much more difficult to answer. Depending on the distance from, and time since, the initial earthquake, the processes that may result in ‘seismic triggering’ are very … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • May 4, 2011
  • 01:35 AM

Osama bin Laden, sasquatch and human biogeography

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

Science has a post on their website about a little study (Gillespie et al. 2009) that came out a couple of years ago that applied some key biogeographical principles to provide a prediction of where Osama bin Laden might have been hiding. The paper was discussed in Scientific American when if first came out, but now has received a ton of attention because the authors' predicted hiding place for ... Read more »

  • May 1, 2011
  • 02:30 AM

Neanderthal use of coal

by Julien Riel-Salvatore in A Very Remote Period Indeed

A little while ago, someone contacted me asking if there was any evidence that Neanderthals had ever used coal. This is an interesting question, and one about which there is only little available information. In fact, there is almost no evidence of Neanderthals using coal, but the proof that does exist is very intriguing. The single instance comes from the Mousterian site of Les Canalettes, ... Read more »

  • April 29, 2011
  • 10:57 AM

That sinking feeling: CO2 emission after fen drainage substantial

by Petter Hedberg in The life of a PhD student in the land of mosquitoes

A new paper by Leifeld et al. 2011 calculates the amount of carbon lost from a temperate peatland after drainage. A convenient method of estimating the amount of carbon lost has previously been to assume that it is roughly 50% of the total amount of volume lost, but the authors show that this can vary a lot even within the narrow climate zone of their study in Switzerland. After drainage, water goes out, and the ground subsides.... Read more »

  • April 28, 2011
  • 07:27 AM

Artifacts... in Space!

by Kristina Killgrove in Powered By Osteons

A parrel bead from the Mary Rose warship goes up with the Endeavour shuttle launch.... Read more »

L. Bell, J. Lee-Thorp, & A. Elkerton. (2009) The sinking of the Mary Rose warship: a medieval mystery solved?. Journal of Archaeological Science, 166-173. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2008.08.006  

A. Millard, & H. Schroeder. (2010) 'True British sailors': a comment on the origin of the men of the Mary Rose. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(4), 680-682. info:/

  • April 27, 2011
  • 08:14 PM

In Life’s Race, Tapirs Took a Slow and Steady Pace

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Why are there tapirs in southeast Asia? They seem out of place. Out of the four living tapir species, three inhabit the lush forests of Central and South America, making the Malayan tapir of Myanmar, Thailand, and Sumatra a strange outlier.
Alfred Russel Wallace – the 19th century naturalist who independently developed the idea of evolution [...]... Read more »

DeSantis LRG, MacFadden B. (2007) Identifying forested environments in Deep Time using fossil tapirs: evidence from evolutionary morphology and stable isotopes. Cour Forsch Inst Senck, 147-157. info:/

  • April 27, 2011
  • 02:26 PM

Pre-Columbian raised field agriculture: a review

by Umberto in Up and Down in Moxos

A new paper on raised field agriculture was published on line last week in the journal Ecological Engineering. The title, “Ecological engineers ahead of their time: The functioning of pre-Columbian raised-field agriculture and its potential contributions to sustainability today”, is a bit misleading. You would think it is just another paper claiming that the re-habilitation of raised field agriculture will provide means for sustainable, highly productive, flood/drought proof, politic........ Read more »

D. Renard, J. Iriarte, J.J. Birk, S. Rostain, B. Glaser, & D. McKey. (2011) Ecological engineers ahead of their time: The functioning of pre-Columbian raised-field agriculture and its potential contributions to sustainability today. Ecological Engineering. info:/

  • April 26, 2011
  • 07:27 PM

Metagenomics: Transforming our understanding of oceans

by Holly Bik in Deep Sea News

If you’ve ever talked to me in person for more than 5 minutes, I’ve probably mentioned the !#$%*ING AWESOMENESS of high-throughput sequencing.  Frankly, I’m a bit obsessed.  If my life were an SAT analogy, it would be Dr Bik:Sequencing platforms as Teenage Girls:Twilight.  My gorgeous Illumina never sleeps (runs 2 weeks straight for . . . → Read More: Metagenomics: Transforming our understanding of oceans... Read more »

Gilbert, J., & Dupont, C. (2011) Microbial Metagenomics: Beyond the Genome. Annual Review of Marine Science, 3(1), 347-371. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-marine-120709-142811  

  • April 26, 2011
  • 06:02 PM

Acts of God or Acts of Man?

by Jan Husdal in

Do we ever learn? How come we humans knowingly and willingly put ourselves and our critical infrastructure in harm's way time and again? Instead of living with and adjusting to natural hazards, we turn them into natural disasters, by our own doings and short-sighted decisions. [ ... ]... Read more »

Sieh, Kerry. (2000) Acts of God, Acts of Man: How Humans Turn Natural Hazards into Natural Disasters. Engineering and Science, 63(4), 8-17. info:other/

  • April 22, 2011
  • 12:05 PM

The earth has music for those who listen

by Laelaps in Laelaps

As Stephen Jay Gould once put it, we have an earful of jaw. The small, sound-conducting bones of our inner ears – the incus, malleus, and stapes – got their start as jaw bones in our distant ancestors, and the modification of bits of jaw into intricate ear components is one of the classic examples [...]... Read more »

  • April 22, 2011
  • 12:00 AM

Tides & Earthquakes

by Mika McKinnon in GeoMika

A literature review of studies concerning of tidal pull triggering earthquakes.... Read more »

Emter, D. (1997) Tidal triggering of earthquakes and volcanic events. Tidal Phenomena, 293-309. info:/10.1007/BFb0011468

Heaton, T. (1975) Tidal Triggering of Earthquakes. Geophysical Journal International, 43(2), 307-326. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.1975.tb00637.x  

Heaton, T. H. (1982) Tidal triggering of earthquakes. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 72(6A), 2181-2200. info:/

Shlien, S. (1972) Earthquake-Tide Correlation. Geophysical Journal International, 28(1), 27-34. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.1972.tb06108.x  

  • April 21, 2011
  • 05:55 PM

The Oldest Toothache

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Edward Drinker Cope was not exactly known for his sunny disposition. One of the key players in the “Bone Wars” of the late 19th century, his long-running feud with fellow bone sharp Othniel Charles Marsh is the stuff of scientific legend. The two former friends tussled over everything from fossil sites to the naming rights [...]... Read more »

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