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  • January 21, 2011
  • 10:03 AM

Pterosaurs Were Born to Fly

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Just a few hours after yesterday’s post on dinosaur embryos went up, another major egg-based discovery was announced, in the journal Science. In October of 2009, paleontologists first described the flying reptile Darwinopterus, a pterosaur that lived in what is now China over 160 million years ago. Since then, multiple other specimens have been found, [...]... Read more »

Lu, J., Unwin, D., Deeming, D., Jin, X., Liu, Y., & Ji, Q. (2011) An Egg-Adult Association, Gender, and Reproduction in Pterosaurs. Science, 331(6015), 321-324. DOI: 10.1126/science.1197323  

  • January 21, 2011
  • 09:33 AM

Scientist In Residence: Danny Richter on Diatoms and X-ray Whosamagidgets

by Dr. M in Deep Sea News

In a recent paper, de Jonge et al used x-ray fluorescence tomography to give us a new perspective on how diatoms put together those phenomenally intricate frustules of theirs. “X-ray whosamagidget” you say? My thoughts exactly. Let’s break it down. First: X-rays. High-energy waves that help doctors see our bones. Check. Second: fluorescence. Fluorescence is light . . . → Read More: Scientist In Residence: Danny Richter on Diatoms and X-ray Whosamagidgets... Read more »

de Jonge, M., Holzner, C., Baines, S., Twining, B., Ignatyev, K., Diaz, J., Howard, D., Legnini, D., Miceli, A., McNulty, I.... (2010) Quantitative 3D elemental microtomography of Cyclotella meneghiniana at 400-nm resolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(36), 15676-15680. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1001469107  

  • January 20, 2011
  • 08:32 PM

Toumai and the Sabercats

by Laelaps in Laelaps

“They fight! And bite! They fight and bite and fight! Fight fight fight! Bite bite bite!”
That’s the theme from “The Itchy and Scratchy Show” – the ultra-violent riff on Tom and Jerry regularly featured on The Simpsons - but it could be easily applied to almost any documentary about prehistoric animals that you care to [...]... Read more »

de Bonis, L., Peigné, S., Taisso Mackaye, H., Likius, A., Vignaud, P., & Brunet, M. (2010) New sabre-toothed cats in the Late Miocene of Toros Menalla (Chad). Comptes Rendus Palevol, 9(5), 221-227. DOI: 10.1016/j.crpv.2010.07.018  

  • January 20, 2011
  • 10:29 AM

Exceptional Eggs Preserve Tiny Dinosaurs

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Baby dinosaurs are hard to find. While the bones of large, adult dinosaurs were often sturdy enough to survive the processes involved in fossilization, the bones of young dinosaurs were small and delicate and have rarely made it into the fossil record. In many cases we just don’t know what baby dinosaurs looked like. Now [...]... Read more »

  • January 17, 2011
  • 12:17 PM

Death Song of an Iceberg

by clark in Now Hear This

Last year, University of Washington oceanographer Seelye Martin and his colleagues reported the discovery of an iceberg graveyard: a previously unreported underwater shoal near the Antarctic coast on which large icebergs occasionally run aground and break apart. One notable victim was B-15A, a Rhode Island-size iceberg that was the largest remnant of a far larger, 1000-foot [...]... Read more »

Martin, S., Drucker, R., Aster, R., Davey, F., Okal, E., Scambos, T., & MacAyeal, D. (2010) Kinematic and seismic analysis of giant tabular iceberg breakup at Cape Adare, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research, 115(B6). DOI: 10.1029/2009JB006700  

  • January 14, 2011
  • 10:00 AM

Eodromaeus Adds Context to Dinosaur Origins

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Tracking the origin of the dinosaurs has been one of the most difficult tasks paleontologists have faced, but since the 1990s, multiple discoveries in South America have provided scientists with a look at what some of the earliest dinosaurs were like. Eoraptor, Herrerasaurus and the recently-described Panphagia are among the oldest representatives of the famous [...]... Read more »

Martinez, R., Sereno, P., Alcober, O., Colombi, C., Renne, P., Montanez, I., & Currie, B. (2011) A Basal Dinosaur from the Dawn of the Dinosaur Era in Southwestern Pangaea. Science, 331(6014), 206-210. DOI: 10.1126/science.1198467  

  • January 13, 2011
  • 11:03 AM

The Tangled History of Connecticut’s Anchisaurus

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

East Coast dinosaurs are relatively rare finds, often because the geological formations in which they rest have been built over. Dinosaurs surely remain to be found under parking lots, housing developments and city streets, and one of the now-lost dinosaur quarries is located in Manchester, Connecticut. During the 19th century the remains of several sauropodomorph [...]... Read more »

  • January 10, 2011
  • 06:02 PM

What Killed the Hominins of AL 333?

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Over 36 years since its discovery in Ethiopia’s Afar Depression, the 3.2 million year old skeleton of Lucy is still the most famous in all of paleoanthropology. Older fossil humans have been found, as have more complete remains, but none have generated the same swell of interest that has virtually turned these Australopithecus afarensis bones [...]... Read more »

Anna K. Behrensmeyer. (1978) Taphonomic and Ecologic Information from Bone Weathering. Paleobiology, 4(2), 150-162. info:/

Anna K Behrensmeyer. (2008) Paleoenvironmental context of the Pliocene A.L. 333 “First Family” hominin locality, Hadar Formation, Ethiopia. GSA Special Papers, 203-214. info:/10.1130/2008.2446(09)

Kruuk, H. (2009) Surplus killing by carnivores. Journal of Zoology, 166(2), 233-244. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1972.tb04087.x  

Reno, P., McCollum, M., Meindl, R., & Lovejoy, C. (2010) An enlarged postcranial sample confirms Australopithecus afarensis dimorphism was similar to modern humans. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 365(1556), 3355-3363. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0086  

  • January 10, 2011
  • 10:39 AM

Velociraptor Table Scraps

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

What did Velociraptor eat? Despite what the Jurassic Park franchise might suggest, the answer is not “tourists and hapless scientists.” Those were in rather short supply during the Mesozoic. Instead, as reported in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology last year, recently found fossils confirm that this famous, sickle-clawed dinosaur fed upon the horned dinosaur Protoceratops. In 1971, [...]... Read more »

Hone, D., Choiniere, J., Sullivan, C., Xu, X., Pittman, M., & Tan, Q. (2010) New evidence for a trophic relationship between the dinosaurs Velociraptor and Protoceratops. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 291(3-4), 488-492. DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2010.03.028  

  • January 8, 2011
  • 07:49 PM

I’ve Been Selected for the Open Lab 2010 Anthology of Science Blogging

by Brian Romans in Clastic Detritus

I am pleased to announce that I’ve been selected as one of the 50 finalists for the Open Lab 2010 compendium of science blogging. I’m absolutely thrilled to be included in this group of talented and enthusiastic communicators of science. Below is the post that will appear in the volume (to be published in [...]... Read more »

  • January 7, 2011
  • 07:36 PM

OpenLab Finalist: Giraffes – Necks for food, or necks for sex?

by Laelaps in Laelaps

Author’s note: Today the finalists for the 2010 Open Laboratory anthology were announced, and I am proud to say that – for the fourth year in a row – one of my posts made it onto the list of winning entries. To celebrate, I have reposted it below.
The entire list of finalists is fantastic and [...]... Read more »

  • January 6, 2011
  • 11:07 AM

Why has this winter been so cold in Europe?

by Andy Russell in Our Clouded Hills

I’ve written a couple of posts recently looking at the cold UK weather in context and how snow forms. What I haven’t done, though, is looked at why it’s been so cold over Europe this winter (as well as last year’s winter). It just so happens that a paper came out in the Journal of [...]... Read more »

V. Petoukhov, & V. A. Semenov. (2010) A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents. Journal of Geophysical Research. info:/10.1029/2009JD013568

  • January 6, 2011
  • 10:30 AM

Where Have All the Sauropods Gone?

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

For the past century, paleontologists have been trying to figure out one of the most puzzling disappearing acts in the fossil record. In both Europe and North America, the Jurassic was the heyday of the sauropod dinosaurs. After the beginning of the Cretaceous period 145 million years ago, however, the number of these dinosaurs dwindled [...]... Read more »

  • January 5, 2011
  • 08:01 PM

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:/

  • January 4, 2011
  • 02:17 PM

Legend of the Killer Storks

by Laelaps in Laelaps

What makes a monster? Godzilla, Medusa, Frankenstein’s monster, Fáfnir, the ALIEN, – all these fictional fiends have disparate origins, attributes, and motivations, but they are tied together by their disregard for what we perceive as the natural order. Each is an aberrant creation – something from an earlier age, or something corrupted – that disrupts [...]... Read more »

  • January 4, 2011
  • 10:26 AM

A Giant From New Mexico: Titanoceratops

by Brian Switek in Dinosaur Tracking

Many unknown dinosaurs await discovery in rock formations all over the world, but some new species are hiding in plain sight. One such animal, described in an in-press Cretaceous Research paper, had one of the largest heads of any dinosaur. As recounted in the study by Yale paleontologist Nicholas Longrich, in 1941 the partial skeleton [...]... Read more »

  • December 31, 2010
  • 10:33 PM

Cowboy Wash Is Not an Easy Place to Live

by teofilo in Gambler's House

If you stand at the Four Corners monument and look in the direction of Colorado you will see Sleeping Ute Mountain dominating the view.  From this direction you are looking at the southwest side of the mountain, and in front of it you see the southern piedmont.  On the right side of the piedmont, though [...]... Read more »

  • December 31, 2010
  • 05:30 PM

Mapping the “Green Sahara”

by Razib Khan in Gene Expression

Guelta d’Archei, Chad. Credit: Dario Menasce. Everyone who is literate knows that the Sahara desert is the largest of its kind in the world. The chasm in cultural, biological, and physical geography is very noticeable. Northern Africa is part of the Palearctic zone, while the peoples north of the Sahara have long been part of [...]... Read more »

Drake NA, Blench RM, Armitage SJ, Bristow CS, & White KH. (2010) Ancient watercourses and biogeography of the Sahara explain the peopling of the desert. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 21187416  

  • December 29, 2010
  • 02:00 AM

The Obama administration sparks a renewed interest in climate change policy

by SAGE Insight in SAGE Insight

The Western Climate Initiative From State and Local Government Review Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the greatest challenges the world will face in the coming decades. Renewed interest from the Obama administration along with continuing regional and local actions have raised awareness among US constituents and their representatives concerning this issue. Policymakers at [...]... Read more »

Warren, D., & Tomashefsky, S. (2009) The Western Climate Initiative. State and Local Government Review, 41(1), 55-60. DOI: 10.1177/0160323X0904100107  

  • December 28, 2010
  • 09:18 PM

A Fistful of Teeth – Do the Qesem Cave Fossils Really Change Our Understanding of Human Evolution?

by Laelaps in Laelaps

A handful of fossil teeth found in Israel’s Qesem Cave, described in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and attributed to 400,000 year old members of our own species in multiple news reports, are said to rewrite the story of human evolution. This discovery doubles the antiquity of Homo sapiens, the articles say, and identify [...]... Read more »

Hershkovitz, I., Smith, P., Sarig, R., Quam, R., Rodríguez, L., García, R., Arsuaga, J., Barkai, R., & Gopher, A. (2010) Middle pleistocene dental remains from Qesem Cave (Israel). American Journal of Physical Anthropology. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.21446  

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