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  • 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:/

  • March 9, 2011
  • 10:37 AM

Tyrannosaurus Scat

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Tyrannosaurus ate flesh. That much is obvious. The reinforced skull and huge, serrated teeth of the tyrant dinosaur and its kin were not adaptations for cropping grass or cracking coconuts. Both predators and scavengers, the tyrannosaurs must have consumed massive amounts of meat to fuel their large bodies, and paleontologists have been fortunate enough to [...]... Read more »

  • March 7, 2011
  • 07:46 PM

The Hyena Who Saw the Canyon

by Laelaps in Laelaps

“Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?” This question – the title of a review published in last week’s Nature – immediately sparked a flurry of news reports about an impending ecological catastrophe on a scale not seen in 65 million years. We are not witnessing a die-off as severe as any of the [...]... Read more »

M. Antón, A. Turner, M. J. Salesa, J. Morales. (2007) A complete skull of Chasmaporthetes lunensis (Carnivora, Hyaenidae) from the Spanish Pliocene site of La Puebla de Valverde (Teruel). Estudios Geológicos, 62(1), 375-388. info:/

Barnosky, A., Matzke, N., Tomiya, S., Wogan, G., Swartz, B., Quental, T., Marshall, C., McGuire, J., Lindsey, E., Maguire, K.... (2011) Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?. Nature, 471(7336), 51-57. DOI: 10.1038/nature09678  

  • March 7, 2011
  • 06:48 PM

Sperm from Space?

by Kristopher Hite in Tom Paine's Ghost

The interwebs are exploding right now with buzz about a paper published in the Journal of Cosmology authored by a NASA scientist - Richard B. Hoover. The title of the controversial paper published online late last Friday is Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites.

Hoover claims to have found evidence of extra terrestrial life.  

This isn't a new claim.  This evidence comes by microscopic observation of a freshly fractured meteorite that landed on earth in 1864........ Read more »

Hoover, Richard B. (2011) fossils of cyanobacteria in C11 carbonaceous meteorites. Journal of Cosmology. info:/

  • 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 »

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