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  • July 13, 2011
  • 03:39 AM

Less than 1% of Amazonia is made of Terra Preta. Is that enough?

by Umberto in Up and Down in Moxos

I’ve just read a review written by William Balée (2010) about the book ‘Amazonian Dark Earths: Origins, Properties, Management’. Balée considers that the discovery of Terra Preta is proof that people in pre-Columbian Amazonia, rather than adapting to environmental conditions, ‘created’ the environment they inhabited. This allowed the development of complex societies in the region regardless of environmental constraints (such as poor soils, floods, lack of protein...). People overcame........ Read more »

William Balée. (2010) Amazonian Dark Earths. Tipit´ı: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America. info:/

  • July 12, 2011
  • 05:57 AM

Anemones Fight Back Against Their Opressors

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

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From van der Meij and Reijnen (2011) Fig. 1 a–e The unsuccessful attempt of an edwardsiid sea anemone to feed on a Nembrotha lineolata. f A non-responsive Phyllidia ocel........ Read more »

  • July 8, 2011
  • 10:37 AM

Kentrosaurus Had a Formidable Swing

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

In one of my favorite bits of fossil terminology, the spiked tails of stegosaurs are known as "thagomizers." Get hit with a tail like that and you'd be turned into an instant shish kebab... Read more »

Mallison, H. (2011) Defense capabilities of Kentrosaurus aethiopicus Hennig, 1915 . Palaeontogia Electronica. info:/

  • July 8, 2011
  • 10:21 AM

Repost: South America Gets Two More Sabercats

by Laelaps in Laelaps

[Author's Note: I'm out in the field at Dinosaur National Monument this week, but when I come back next Tuesday I'll be hosting the paleo blog carnival I started way back when - The Boneyard. I've picked sabertooths as the theme for this edition, but feel free to send me any paleo posts you would [...]... Read more »

  • July 7, 2011
  • 12:01 AM

Forests and Water, part 2: Razing Arizona...

by Matthew Garcia in Hydro-Logic

As I post this, the 2011 Wallow Fire in the the Apache National Forest in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico (pictured in part 1) has become the largest wildfire in Arizona's history (~540,000 acres) and is finally under a significant level of containment. The Wallow Fire was started, it seems, by people; it was fueled, however, by an ongoing southwestern drought and nearly a century of forest and wildlands mismanagement that have left massive quantities of vulnerable tinder in place. ........ Read more »

  • July 6, 2011
  • 03:17 PM

To Visualize Dinosaurs, Scientists Try Paint-by-Numbers

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

Now that we know some dinosaurs had down or feathers instead of the scales we used to imagine, there are intriguing new questions to be answered. Did forest-dwelling species use patterned feathers for camouflage? Did other dinosaurs use flashy colors for communication or courtship, like modern birds do? Using new imaging techniques, scientists are beginning to color in their dinosaur outlines. In previous studies, researchers have scoured fossils of dinosaurs and early birds for melanosomes........ Read more »

Wogelius, R., Manning, P., Barden, H., Edwards, N., Webb, S., Sellers, W., Taylor, K., Larson, P., Dodson, P., You, H.... (2011) Trace Metals as Biomarkers for Eumelanin Pigment in the Fossil Record. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1205748  

  • July 6, 2011
  • 10:46 AM

Has a Tiny Tyrant Been Dethroned?

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

A 2009 discovery of a new tiny tyrant has been called into question by a recently released study... Read more »

  • July 5, 2011
  • 04:11 PM

The Tertiary: Birds, Whales, Humans and Climate Change

by Marc in Teaching Biology

For PDFs of this entire talk series, click here! [17.62MB rar file with 6 PDFs] In this talk, the lack of structure that I mentioned earlier is very apparent, as we go through three not-directly-related topics. First, we will look at two select examples of vertebrates that underwent spectacular changes in the Tertiary. Second, we [...]... Read more »

Uhen, M. (2010) The Origin(s) of Whales. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 38(1), 189-219. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-040809-152453  

Thuiller, W., Lavergne, S., Roquet, C., Boulangeat, I., Lafourcade, B., & Araujo, M. (2011) Consequences of climate change on the tree of life in Europe. Nature, 470(7335), 531-534. DOI: 10.1038/nature09705  

  • July 5, 2011
  • 10:15 AM

Nectocaris: What the heck is this thing?

by Laelaps in Laelaps

On May 27th, 2010 paleontologists Martin Smith and Jean-Bernard Caron announced that they had found a spectacular solution to one of the fossil record’s long-running mysteries. Since its description in 1976, the 505 million year old fossil Nectocaris pteryx from British Columbia’s famous Burgess Shale had vexed scientists. Known from a single specimen – appearing [...]... Read more »

  • July 5, 2011
  • 07:51 AM

The truth, the hole truth…

by thesoftanonymous in the.soft.anonymous

In October 2009, an otherworldly cloud formation appeared over Moscow. The Sun (the newspaper, not the yellow ball in the sky) promptly announced the appearance of a ‘mystery UFO halo’ and, before too long, internet message boards were awash with … Continue reading →... Read more »

Heymsfield, A., Thompson, G., Morrison, H., Bansemer, A., Rasmussen, R., Minnis, P., Wang, Z., & Zhang, D. (2011) Formation and Spread of Aircraft-Induced Holes in Clouds. Science, 333(6038), 77-81. DOI: 10.1126/science.1202851  

  • June 29, 2011
  • 10:58 PM

The Ocean Mood of Saturn

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

From Wikimedia Commons: Dramatic plumes, both large and small, spray water ice out from many locations along the famed "tiger stripes" near the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Original source: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute Sixty two moons orbit Saturn.  The sixth largest of these at just 300 miles in diameter is Enceladus named after . . . → Read More: The Ocean Mood of Saturn... Read more »

  • June 28, 2011
  • 10:20 PM

The Origin of Modern Biodiversity: Coevolution of Flowers and Insects

by Marc in Teaching Biology

For PDFs of this entire talk series, click here! [17.62MB rar file with 6 PDFs] This talk is split into two major parts: the first will look at the general fossil record of insects, and the second will introduce the flowering plants and their interactions with insects. Due to the constructive feedback received in the [...]... Read more »

Rust, J., Singh, H., Rana, R., McCann, T., Singh, L., Anderson, K., Sarkar, N., Nascimbene, P., Stebner, F., Thomas, J.... (2010) Biogeographic and evolutionary implications of a diverse paleobiota in amber from the early Eocene of India. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(43), 18360-18365. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1007407107  

Friedhelm Eichmann. (2003) Aus dem Leben im Bernsteinwald. Arbeitskreis Paläontologie Hannover, 31(4), 89-94. info:/

  • June 28, 2011
  • 04:49 PM

Mesozoic Vertebrates

by Marc in Teaching Biology

For PDFs of this entire talk series, click here! [17.62MB rar file with 6 PDFs] We will now look at the aftermath of the P-T Extinction on terrestrial vertebrate life, in other words look at what the vertebrates of the Mesozoic were like. The most famous representatives are, of course, the dinosaurs, so we will [...]... Read more »

Sander, P., Christian, A., Clauss, M., Fechner, R., Gee, C., Griebeler, E., Gunga, H., Hummel, J., Mallison, H., Perry, S.... (2011) Biology of the sauropod dinosaurs: the evolution of gigantism. Biological Reviews, 86(1), 117-155. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2010.00137.x  

  • June 27, 2011
  • 04:35 PM

Update: Christchurch aftershocks

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

As the aftershocks of the Darfield quake continue, where do the future seismic dangers lie? Continue reading →... Read more »

  • June 27, 2011
  • 04:08 PM

Bloodsport in Australopithecus africanus?

by zacharoo in Lawn Chair Anthropology

A few months ago in a post about the ilium and cannibals, I relayed a quote by Dr. Raymond Dart who was the first to recognize (and name) the hominid genus Australopithecus, back in 1925. I'd also mentioned that he was described [in a reference that escapes me] as "blood-thirsty." This macabre descriptor came to mind again, as I'm reading his (1948) description of the MLD 2 mandible, of a juvenile A. africanus from Makapansgat cave in South Africa (figure is from the paper):"[Individuals represe........ Read more »

Dart, R. (1948) The adolescent mandible of Australopithecus prometheus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 6(4), 391-412. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1330060410  

  • June 25, 2011
  • 04:22 PM


by Marc in Teaching Biology

For PDFs of this entire talk series, click here! [17.62MB rar file with 6 PDFs] Due to the inherent time constraints of having to compress what is usually a semester’s worth of knowledge into 4.5 hours, we will now move away from the oceans permanently and look at the rest of the history of life [...]... Read more »

  • June 24, 2011
  • 01:18 PM

When a tree falls in a stream, there’s always something around to make use of it.

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

Allochthonous may have some obscure usage related to rocks, but in ecology, allochthonous material is a major concept that underpins thinking about nutrient cycling and food web dynamics. In its most general definition, allochthonous material is something imported into an … Continue reading →... Read more »

Vannote, R., Minshall, G., Cummins, K., Sedell, J., & Cushing, C. (1980) The River Continuum Concept. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 37(1), 130-137. DOI: 10.1139/f80-017  

  • June 23, 2011
  • 08:00 PM

Forests and Water, part 1: Where there's smoke...

by Matthew Garcia in Hydro-Logic

Global climate change and regional drought, coupled with population growth and traditional forest resource management policies, have led to land cover changes and resource challenges across the southwestern U.S. Scientists, researchers, and natural resource managers seek to understand the hydro-ecological impacts of climate variability while the needs of the community, the spread of invasive species, and the threat of catastrophic forest fires persist...... Read more »

Swetnam, T.W., & J.L. Betancourt. (1998) Mesoscale disturbance and ecological response to decadal climatic variability in the American southwest. Journal of Climate, 3128-3147. info:/

Radeloff, V., Hammer, R., Stewart, S., Fried, J., Holcomb, S., & McKeefry, J. (2005) THE WILDLAND–URBAN INTERFACE IN THE UNITED STATES. Ecological Applications, 15(3), 799-805. DOI: 10.1890/04-1413  

Seager, R., Ting, M., Held, I., Kushnir, Y., Lu, J., Vecchi, G., Huang, H., Harnik, N., Leetmaa, A., Lau, N.... (2007) Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America. Science, 316(5828), 1181-1184. DOI: 10.1126/science.1139601  

Adams, H., Guardiola-Claramonte, M., Barron-Gafford, G., Villegas, J., Breshears, D., Zou, C., Troch, P., & Huxman, T. (2009) Temperature sensitivity of drought-induced tree mortality portends increased regional die-off under global-change-type drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(17), 7063-7066. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901438106  

van Mantgem, P., Stephenson, N., Byrne, J., Daniels, L., Franklin, J., Fule, P., Harmon, M., Larson, A., Smith, J., Taylor, A.... (2009) Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States. Science, 323(5913), 521-524. DOI: 10.1126/science.1165000  

Barnett, T., Pierce, D., Hidalgo, H., Bonfils, C., Santer, B., Das, T., Bala, G., Wood, A., Nozawa, T., Mirin, A.... (2008) Human-Induced Changes in the Hydrology of the Western United States. Science, 319(5866), 1080-1083. DOI: 10.1126/science.1152538  

Pierce, D., Barnett, T., Hidalgo, H., Das, T., Bonfils, C., Santer, B., Bala, G., Dettinger, M., Cayan, D., Mirin, A.... (2008) Attribution of Declining Western U.S. Snowpack to Human Effects. Journal of Climate, 21(23), 6425-6444. DOI: 10.1175/2008jcli2405.1  

Marlon, J., Bartlein, P., Walsh, M., Harrison, S., Brown, K., Edwards, M., Higuera, P., Power, M., Anderson, R., Briles, C.... (2009) Wildfire responses to abrupt climate change in North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(8), 2519-2524. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0808212106  

Williams, J., Jackson, S., & Kutzbach, J. (2007) Projected distributions of novel and disappearing climates by 2100 AD. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(14), 5738-5742. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0606292104  

Adams, D., & Comrie, A. (1997) The North American Monsoon. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 78(10), 2197-2213. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0477(1997)0782.0.CO;2  

  • June 21, 2011
  • 01:09 PM

The oceans rise, even as they decline... so long, fish!

by Madhu in Reconciliation Ecology

Two interesting, alarming reports this week about what's happening (no small thanks to us) to the dominant habitat on this watery planet. First, that habitat is becoming even more dominant: a paper...

... Read more »

Kemp, A., Horton, B., Donnelly, J., Mann, M., Vermeer, M., & Rahmstorf, S. (2011) Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015619108  

  • June 21, 2011
  • 12:28 PM

The oceans rise, even as they decline... so long, fish!

by Madhusudan Katti in a leafwarbler's gleanings

Two interesting, alarming reports this week about what's happening (no small thanks to us) to the dominant habitat on this watery planet. First, that habitat is becoming even more dominant: a paper in PNAS meticulously reconstructs global sea-levels over the past two millenia to show that the oceans have been steadily rising, in concert with climatic changes, and that their rise has accelerated in recent years. This figure ought to worry you:

Meanwhile, though........ Read more »

Kemp, A., Horton, B., Donnelly, J., Mann, M., Vermeer, M., & Rahmstorf, S. (2011) Climate related sea-level variations over the past two millennia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1015619108  

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