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  • March 7, 2011
  • 11:12 AM

Tyrannosaurus: Hyena of the Cretaceous

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Of all the organisms scientists have found in the fossil record, Tyrannosaurus rex is the most prominent ambassador for paleontology. No dinosaur hall is complete without at least some fragment of the tyrant dinosaur, and almost anything about the dinosaur is sure to get press coverage. We simply can’t get enough of old T. rex. [...]... Read more »

  • March 7, 2011
  • 12:19 AM

When invasion isn’t such a bad thing…

by John Carroll in Chronicles of Zostera

New species get introduced into novel habitats almost like clockwork in the modern era.  These are termed introduced or exotic species.  Typically, these introductions are the effect of anthropogenic activity.  Sometimes, these species become nuisances – spreading in their new habitats via natural processes, and creating problems for native species.  These nuisance exotics are called invasive . . . → Read More: When invasion isn’t such a bad thing…... Read more »

  • March 4, 2011
  • 01:08 PM

The Long Beat of Rhythmic Sedimentation

by Brian Romans in Clastic Detritus

The history of Earth is recorded in rocks. And the history of events and conditions at the Earth’s surface, including the origin and evolution of life, is recorded in sedimentary rocks. The deposition of clastic sediments (broken pieces of other rocks in the form of sand, silt, and mud) and precipitation of chemical sediments from solution [...]... Read more »

  • March 3, 2011
  • 09:07 AM

Ammonoids Trapped Parasites in Pearls

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Everybody knows how oysters make pearls – a bit of sand or grit slips through the protective barrier of their outer shell, irritating the mollusk’s body, and the invertebrate encircles the invader with shell material. As it turns out, ammonoids — the extinct, coil-shelled cousins of modern squid and nautilus — made [...]... Read more »

  • March 2, 2011
  • 11:55 AM

John Everett, Part VIII: The Conch Loosens

by csoeder in Topologic Oceans

The last part of Dr. Everett’s testimony presents his conclusions. Much of it is simply reiteration ofclaims he has already made, but he also takes the opportunity to thicken the smoke screen just a little bit more. Some parts are mundane: ‘The most important approach [...] is to examine what happened during past times.’ I completely [...]... Read more »

Fabry, V., Seibel, B., Feely, R., & Orr, J. (2008) Impacts of ocean acidification on marine fauna and ecosystem processes. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 65(3), 414-432. DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsn048  

Ken Caldeira. (2007) What Corals are Dying to Tell Us About CO2 and Ocean Acidification. Oceanography, 20(2), 188-195. info:/

  • March 2, 2011
  • 09:37 AM

how to keep your ocean in interstellar space

by Greg Fish in weird things

If you think of a solar system as a stellar family, you should probably be aware that this sort of family is highly dysfunctional, especially in its early years. Planetoids viciously slam into each other, and gas giants can and do throw out smaller, rocky worlds when they settle into eccentric orbits. When the solar [...]... Read more »

Dorian S. Abbot, & Eric R. Switzer. (2011) The Steppenwolf: A proposal for a habitable planet in interstellar space. n/a. arXiv: 1102.1108v1

  • March 2, 2011
  • 08:10 AM

Weed Biology and Climate Change

by A. Goldstein in WiSci

Homeowners detest dandelions, and hikers abhor poison ivy. However, as pesky and unwanted as they often are, weeds’ stubborn resilience makes them well worth studying, especially as climate change affects plant life around the world. To find out more, we interviewed Dr. Lewis Ziska and Dr. Jeffrey Dukes, two editors who worked on the recently [...]... Read more »

James I.L. Morison, Michael D. Morecroft, Lewis H. Ziska, & James A. Bunce. (2007) Chapter 2. Plant Responses to Rising Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Plant Growth and Climate Change. DOI: 10.1002/9780470988695.ch2  

David M. Richardson, & Jeffrey S. Dukes. (2010) 26. Responses of Invasive Species to a Changing Climate and Atmosphere. Fifty Years of Invasion Ecology: The Legacy of Charles Elton. info:/10.1002/9781444329988.ch26

  • March 2, 2011
  • 06:25 AM

In the news this month: seasonal changes in the northern dunes of Mars

by Megan in Rigel

This blog post is a news story from the Jodcast, aired in the March 2011 edition.

Hansen CJ, Bourke M, Bridges NT, Byrne S, Colon C, Diniega S, Dundas C, Herkenhoff K, McEwen A, Mellon M, Portyankina G, & Thomas N (2011). Seasonal erosion and restoration of Mars' northern polar dunes. Science (New York, N.Y.), 331 (6017), 575-8 PMID: 21292976... Read more »

Hansen CJ, Bourke M, Bridges NT, Byrne S, Colon C, Diniega S, Dundas C, Herkenhoff K, McEwen A, Mellon M.... (2011) Seasonal erosion and restoration of Mars' northern polar dunes. Science (New York, N.Y.), 331(6017), 575-8. PMID: 21292976  

  • March 1, 2011
  • 10:28 AM

Debunking the “Dinosaurs” of Kachina Bridge

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

About 65.5 million years ago, the last of the non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out in the fallout from one of the earth’s most catastrophic extinction events. They left only bones and traces in the rock behind. Yet there are people who claim that humans actually lived alongside dinosaurs. Young earth creationists have a habit of [...]... Read more »

Senter, P.; Cole, S.J. (2011) "Dinosaur" petroglyphs at Kachina Bridge site, Natural Bridges National Monument, southeastern Utah: not dinosaurs after all . Palaeontologia Electronica, 14(1), 1-5. info:/

  • February 26, 2011
  • 12:04 AM

Is the yellowstone caldera safe?

by Greg Laden in Greg Laden's Blog

Not long after Yellowstone Park was officially created, a small group of campers were killed by Nez Pers Indians on the run from US troops1. More recently, the last time I was in the area, a ranger was killed by a Grizzly Bear (so was his horse) on the edge of the park. A quick glance at my sister's newspaper archives (Lightning Fingers Liz a.k.a. Caldera Girl has been running newspapers in the region for nearly forty years) shows a distinctive pattern of danger in the Caldera, mainly in relat........ Read more »

  • February 25, 2011
  • 10:36 AM

Flowers, Pine Cones and Dinosaurs

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

When we think about the Mesozoic world, dinosaurs often dominate our attention. They are the stars of countless museum displays and restorations, and everything else about their world just seems like window dressing. When visitors to Yale’s Peabody Museum look at Rudolph Zallinger’s beautiful (if outdated) “Age of Reptiles” mural, their attention is drawn to [...]... Read more »

  • February 24, 2011
  • 08:13 PM

Tide Pool: Cephalopods, Ash, and Sulphur Are to Blame

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

An occasional series where we briefly report 3 new studies and tell you why they are cool!

Heightened biodiversity may make an ecosystem more stabile and robust.  One of the reasons for this is that high biodiversity may create redundant species, i.e. species that serve a similar ecological role in the ecosystem.  A loss of one species may not perturb . . . → Read More: Tide Pool: Cephalopods, Ash, and Sulphur Are to Blame... Read more »

  • February 24, 2011
  • 05:36 PM

Synophalos and the Cambrian Conga Lines

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Compared to other creatures of the Cambrian seas, Synophalos xynos seems rather plain. It was not a living pincushion like Wiwaxia, its body did not resemble a walking cactus like Diania, and it wasn’t a five-eyed, schnozzle-faced enigma like Opabinia. Next to these fantastic forms, Synophalos looks like little more than a peeled shrimp, but [...]... Read more »

Hou, X., Siveter, D., Aldridge, R., & Siveter, D. (2008) Collective Behavior in an Early Cambrian Arthropod. Science, 322(5899), 224-224. DOI: 10.1126/science.1162794  

ANDRZEJ RADWAŃSKI, ADRIAN KIN, AND URSZULA RADWAŃSKA. (2009) Queues of blind phacopid trilobites Trimerocephalus: A case of frozen behaviour of Early Famennian age from the Holy Cross Mountains, Central Poland. Acta Geologica Polonica, 59(4), 459-481. info:/

  • February 24, 2011
  • 09:55 AM

Hadrosaurus Was Real, After All

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Described in 1858, the partial skeleton of Hadrosaurus foulkii was one of the most important dinosaur discoveries ever made. At that time, the few known dinosaurs were represented by a collection of scraps—paltry fragments that allowed paleontologists to reconstruct them first as giant lizards, and then as strange quadrupedal beasts. The elements of Hadrosaurus caused [...]... Read more »

Albert Prieto-Márquez. (2011) Revised diagnoses of Hadrosaurus foulkii Leidy, 1858 (the type genus and species of Hadrosauridae Cope, 1869) and Claosaurus agilis Marsh, 1872 (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Late Cretaceous of North America. Zootaxa, 61-68. info:/

  • February 24, 2011
  • 12:52 AM

The scientist-journalist divide: what can we learn from each other?

by Chris Rowan in Highly Allochthonous

Last week, the journal Nature published two research papers on the effects of human-caused global warming on extreme precipitation events. I’m working on a post on the papers, and they’ve already received quite a bit of attention in the media. … Continue reading →... Read more »

  • February 23, 2011
  • 10:23 AM

Paleontologists Announce “Thunder Thighs”

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

“Brontosaurus” was a great dinosaur name. The great “thunder reptile” of the Jurassic, there was no better moniker for the stoutly-built sauropod. Unfortunately, the name had to be tossed out in favor of Apatosaurus, but a different dinosaur just described by Michael Taylor, Mathew Wedel and Richard Cifelli has what I think is an equally [...]... Read more »

  • February 23, 2011
  • 09:40 AM


by Iddo Friedberg in Byte Size Biology

The authors and editor knew exactly what they were doing with this one:... Read more »

Chau, R., Hamel, S., & Nellis, W. (2011) Chemical processes in the deep interior of Uranus. Nature Communications, 203. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1198  

  • February 22, 2011
  • 12:41 PM

Ancestor Worship

by Laelaps in Laelaps

By the close of 2002, there were at least three contenders for the title of “earliest known human.” There was the 7 million year old Sahelanthropus tchadensis from the Djurab Desert, the 6 million year old Orrorin tugenensis from Kenya, and the 5.6 million year old Ardipithecus kadabba from northeastern Ethiopia’s Afar region. Though very [...]... Read more »

Brunet, M., Guy, F., Pilbeam, D., Mackaye, H., Likius, A., Ahounta, D., Beauvilain, A., Blondel, C., Bocherens, H., Boisserie, J.... (2002) A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa. Nature, 418(6894), 145-151. DOI: 10.1038/nature00879  

McBrearty, S., & Jablonski, N. (2005) First fossil chimpanzee. Nature, 437(7055), 105-108. DOI: 10.1038/nature04008  

White, T., Asfaw, B., Beyene, Y., Haile-Selassie, Y., Lovejoy, C., Suwa, G., & WoldeGabriel, G. (2009) Ardipithecus ramidus and the Paleobiology of Early Hominids. Science, 326(5949), 64-64. DOI: 10.1126/science.1175802  

Wood, B., & Harrison, T. (2011) The evolutionary context of the first hominins. Nature, 470(7334), 347-352. DOI: 10.1038/nature09709  

  • February 22, 2011
  • 10:38 AM

What Do We Really Know About Utahraptor?

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

When it was released in 1993, Jurassic Park turned Velociraptor into a household name. Agile and cunning, it was a type of predatory dinosaur theater audiences hadn’t seen before. But paleontologists knew the movie’s raptors were drawn with a bit of artistic license. For one thing, the dinosaurs had actually been based on the sickle-clawed [...]... Read more »

Kirkland, J.I.; Gaston, R.; Burge, D. (1993) A large dromaeosaur [Theropoda] from the Lower Cretaceous of Uta. Hunteria, 1-16. info:/

  • February 22, 2011
  • 09:30 AM

Might Pleistocene Fido Have Been A Fox?

by Jason Goldman in The Thoughtful Animal

There is a small bit of land, only about a square kilometer, that has added a new wrinkle to the story of animal domestication. This bit of land located in Northern Jordan, just southeast of the Sea of Galilee near the banks of the Jordan River, is home to an archaeological site known as 'Uyun al-Hammam. One key feature of this site, excavated in 2005, is a burial ground containing the remains of at least eleven humans in eight different gravesites. The early humans were buried here sometime dur........ Read more »

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