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  • April 4, 2011
  • 12:38 PM

Is the current plan for seeking evidence of life on Europa on this ice?

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

Europa is a moon of Jupiter, the smallest of the four Jovian moons discovered by Galileo in 1610. Juipter has 63 objects circling it that are called moons, though only eight of them are "regular" in their orbit and other characteristics. The rest are bits and pieces of clumped up matter that were probably captured by Jupiter's big-ass gravitational field, and have irregular orbits, i.e., they go the wrong-way around the planet, or are not in the solar plane, etc. Read the rest of this post... ........ Read more »

  • April 1, 2011
  • 12:15 PM

A Tale of Germanic Chieftains and Deep-Sea Corals

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

Arminius The year is 9CE. Fourteen years later Pliny the Elder will be Pliny the Newly Born. Cai Lun will invent paper one hundred years later.  In Northern Germany a storm unleashes on 30,000 Roman soldiers under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus.  Varus’s most trusted advisor, Arminius, was the son of a . . . → Read More: A Tale of Germanic Chieftains and Deep-Sea Corals... Read more »

  • April 1, 2011
  • 10:14 AM

A New Giant Tyrant, Zhuchengtyrannus

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

“While 2010 was celebrated as the year of ceratopsians by many,” paleontologist Dave Hone wrote at Archosaur Musings yesterday, “it should not be overlooked the huge number of tyrannosaurs that have cropped up in the last year or so.” He’s right. For a long time Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus, Daspletosaurus, Tarbosaurus and, of course, Tyrannosaurus made up [...]... Read more »

Hone, D.; Wang, K.; Sullivan, C.; Zhao, X.; Chen, S.; Li, D.; Ji, S.; Ji, Q.; Xing, X. (2011) A new tyrannosaurine theropod, Zhuchengtyrannus magnus is named based on a maxilla and dentary . Cretaceous Research. info:/10.1016/j.cretres.2011.03.005

  • March 30, 2011
  • 08:51 PM

South America Gets Two More Sabercats

by Laelaps in Laelaps

How does one go about selling a sabercat skeleton? This was the question the Argentinean naturalist Francisco Javier Muñiz asked Charles Darwin in a letter sent on August 30, 1846.
Almost one year previously, in the pages of the Gaceta Mercantil, Muñiz published a detailed description of a nearly-complete saber-toothed cat skeleton. The article’s title proclaimed [...]... Read more »

  • March 30, 2011
  • 11:09 AM

Watch Out For That Thagomizer!

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Stegosaurus had a formidable tail. Studded with four long spikes, this dinosaur’s business end would have given Allosaurus and other Jurassic predators plenty of incentive to keep moving. But do we have any evidence that Stegosaurus really used its tail this way? Among paleontologists, the four-spiked tail of Stegosaurus is called a “thagomizer.” It is [...]... Read more »

Carpenter, Kenneth; Sanders, Frank; McWhinney, Lorrie A.; and Wood, Lowell. (2005) Evidence for predator-prey relationships: Examples for Allosaurus and Stegosaurus. The Carnivorous Dinosaurs, 325-350. info:/

  • March 28, 2011
  • 04:17 PM

unknowns, uncertainties, and obsolesence

by csoeder in Topologic Oceans

Antiscience campaigns often share the characteristic that they complain about the open questions, anomalies, and experimental limitations inscience. Scientists, on the other hand, work hard to resolve these issues. Creationists complain about uncertainties on the chemical origins of life; biochemists generate and test hypotheses, developing useful technology and techniques in the process. (Bullard et al. [...]... Read more »

  • March 28, 2011
  • 12:00 PM

Tiarajudens: Over 265 Million Years of Sabertooths

by Laelaps in Laelaps

The way people have been talking about Tiarajudens eccentricus, you would think that this 265 million year old cousin of ours was unique among herbivores for having saber-fangs. It was not, but it does raise the question of what makes a saber-tooth in the first place.
Tiarajudens was not quite like any creature alive today. Described [...]... Read more »

  • March 25, 2011
  • 08:40 PM

The Bear Otter

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Folks have been all a-twitter about the giant fossil rabbit found on the Spanish isle of Minorca during the past week, but there was another oversized mammal announced in the same issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology that has so far gone unnoticed. About the same age as the behemoth bunny, this other giant [...]... Read more »

  • 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  

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