In the incursive preamble we spiroambulated about the corpses of mummified dinosaurs, pickled pelicans, time and a piss-covered pseudo-esker of rock, rock salt and dust. So, what does all of this have to do with experimental taphonomy?
minor musings on the macrocosm
Today I was introduced as an ‘up and coming science blogger’ (paraphrasing there). It was like one of those moments where you pass in front of a mirror, catch a peripheral glimpse and think “wait, is that what I really look like?”
Um, I think I’ll sit this year/epoch out, thanks.
Expect more decontextualized photo-collages…ganked media…wild, instantly retracted neologistics…19th century historiographies…maybe some bug sex. In short, we’re gonna party like it’s 2006.
When I wake up that is. If I wake up before the larvae pupate that is.
So, I won’t waste my time wishing y’all a happy holiday. I converted to animism on I-5 just south of Lodi, beneath a wheeling gyre of White Pelicans. Mahayana blows
Those pelicans then shall be our collective mascot this holy season, their holding pattern a gleaming metaphor for our soul. Which is to say, don’t be surprised if things are pretty quiet around here for the rest of the week.
In the mean time:
- Jennifer Rae Atkins pulled of the astonishing feat of drawing twenty-four mammals in twenty-four hours and in the process raised $800 for Defenders of Wildlife. With the help of several gallons of vanilla DP, she even managed to slam my “diabolical” curve-ball request out of the park. Go check out her awesome work!
- Entomologist, photographer and one-time Davisite, Alex Wild has launched an awesome ant-blog Myrmecos. Wild’s photography is truly amazing and has often made me want to chuck my camera off a cliff. Fortunately, since the camera doesn’t belong to me, there aren’t many cliffs in Davis. His blog may well drive me to lob my laptop into the Interstate though.
- Mechanical insect art by Mike Libby! Crazy…
- Tai’s tales of auspicious animal encounters reveals the patent grayness of my animistic sphere. But I saw an octopus! and cranes! and like, multiple scorpions some of which I held so cut me some slack.
- I was desperately hoping to take up the Schmitz et al. paper in the inaugural issue of Nature Geoscience and the broader issue of the Ordovician radiation and the growing impulse to invoke bolides as a causal agent for all dramatic biotic events… But, well we’re gonna have to wait for that.
So, here’s your homework – “What are the benefits and dangers of applying neoecology notions like disturbance ecology or island biogeography to evolutionary or extinction events in the fossil record?” Write a three to five page review of the issue including at least six primary references and one figure, due January 15th 2008.
okay, we’ll leave it at that, if I haven’t had cause or opportunity to apologize to you in person this year, I’m sorry. There’s always next year!
Well, calling Charles Willson Peale a polymath may be rather generous. Then again, if I had run a failed saddle shop, painted some bossy white dudes, and created the first American Natural History Museum, I think I’d probably feel pretty worthy of the title. Anyway, when was the last time you went to a glass harmonica concert or whatever? [well, knowing microecos readers, it was probably last weekend]
At any rate, before we tossed his geriatric remains from the bell jar, I figured it was worth giving the bloke a proper post. Exhumation of the Mastadon [sic] (1806) (pictured above) remains probably the best American painting to date, though some of Richard Estes’ stuff comes close. That is, of course, ol’ Pealey himself in the jacket and slacks. Much, much more Peale info here.
microecos is a rotting peaty wreck.
I am, of course, a Nor-Cal-ian, and so, a HUGE hyphae fan. Needless to say, this new brevium by Schmidt, Dörfelt and Perrichot, Carnivorous Fungi from Cretaceous Amber, in last week’s Science leaves me deeply stoked.
I mean, come on. Just, try asking most people to name their favorite fossil fungus (no, Ediacarans don’t count). Well, actually we’re still out of luck since the authors don’t hazard a Christening beyond noting that the fossil fungus is unlike modern nematode-trappers. May I humbly suggest:
So, in summary: Nematophagous fungi are A) totally terrifying (if you’re a nematode), E) totally indispensible (if you like eating vegetables), X) totally rad (in general) 4) have a fossil record going back to the Cretaceous. There are awesome diagram-laden websites, movies &c.
Postscript: Just slightly off topic, but anyone unfamiliar (or familar for that matter) with the awesome and terrifying beauty that is Cordyceps should check out this post by Neurophilospher.
postscript to the postscript – formatting issues are now solved. sorta. also var. typos.
Bullet-like pieces of what is thought to be an ancient meteorite shower have been found embedded in mammoth tusks and bison bone.
uh, no comment?
Here’s the scoop from Nature News.
hat tip – Jessica Oster, and sorry I doubted you.
On February 12th, 1809, two visionaries emerged on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Both were cautious, erudite, soft-spoken men who were destined to transform the world in their own way.
In a letter to Asa Gray Darwin, a self-proclaimed supporter of the Union endorsed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation:
Well, your President has issued his fiat against Slavery—God grant it may have some effect.
I don’t know if Lincoln ever picked up the Origin.
I suppose he was rather busy in the sixties. He is reported to have read (and enjoyed) Robert Chambers’ Vestiges. While this proto-evolutionary text was widely derided by the scientific community (including Darwin himself), it did mark a sincere effort to develop a rational history of life that accorded with the fossil record.
Growing up in Kentucky, it’s almost impossible that a young Abe didn’t encounter some of the abundant Paleozoic fossils that litter the state. And, in keeping with my previous rant about our fossilferous infrastructure, the stone which surrounds Lincoln’s tomb is packed with coral and brachiopod fossils.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Lincoln’s most famous address, delivered amongst fields tilled with fallen soldiers, begins with a declaration of historical context. History helps us to make sense of chaos and savagery of modern life. This is also where Karl Marx and L. R. Hubbard fit in.
But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?
She’s a love mummy.
Okay, okay. So we all know that it’s a “seclusion” of embiopterans, a bazaar of guillemonts, a blessing of unicorns etc. But what do you call a group of mummies? Why, a malodor of course! Or, wait maybe that’s skunks (six cents to the first person who can come up with the collective noun for skunks without using Google).
Well, whatever it is we need it what with the announcement of yet another dinosaur mummy. Of course, the use of the term “mummy” to describe these exquisitely well-preserved dinosaurs is something of a misnomer since the mode of preservation here has nothing to do with Egyptian mortuary practices. I only wonder why they didn’t rush the press release out in late October (hint hint to anyone sitting on an unpublished volant cervid).
Given the choice, I’d be rather more excited about a “mummified” crurotarsan, or pterosaur, or amphisbaenid, or oligochaete or, well just about anything besides another hadrosaur but hey, nobody asked me. And, it’s a great excuse to re-run my “Wide-open blood-spattered Trachodon” shown above. I did that with a computer.
If you mistakenly arrived here looking for an intelligent discussion of a breaking paleontological discovery, please accept my apologies. And may I direct you to When Pigs Fly Returns or Pondering Pikaia?
That is all.
I’ll let this crazy picture I snapped at the Elfin Forest last summer stand as a visual metaphor viz-a the sweeping cryogenic field that has enveloped these parts of late. Wait, I guess that’s a mixed-media metaphor?
I’m sorry my writing is so belaboured. And also mawkish. What’re you gonna do?
This lizard escaped by the way.
Next up: MORE VAMPING!
[then a wholesale deconstruction/reanimation of microecos right before your very eyes, sure to be ghoulish experience for all]
Dean Falk and table full of hominin brains. (Photo: Michelle Edmunds)
We’re still stalling on phugoid fliers, not to mention most beautiful bird #5. In the meantime you might care to read up on the latest chapter of tit-for-tat over the putative miniature hominin Homo floresiensis.
As we saw in a previous post, the discovery of H. floresiensis (quickly dubbed as a “hobbit” by the popular press) in the Ling Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores quickly sparked a heated debate. One camp maintained that the remains belonged to a previously undiscovered species of Homo that showed signs of insular dwarfism, a phenomenon seen in a great range of living and fossil island taxa including mammoths, dinosaurs, goats and rails. The opposition retorted that ‘H. floresiensis‘ weren’t a new species at all but plain old ordinary H. sapiens striken with some type of pathology such as microcephaly.
Four years after the discovery, the debate continues to rage. The latest installment is a paper by neuroanthropologist Dean Falk and colleagues appearing in, where else?, PNAS. Falk et al. examined computerized 3-D endocasts of the Ling Bua remains as well as known human microcephalics. Their conclusion: H. floresiensis is a new species and not a microcephalic.
As compelling as the new study may be, it’s quite unlikely to be the end of the debate. Nothing short of some fresh corroborative material, perhaps including some juvenile remains is likely to quell the skeptics. Fortunately, Ling Bua is being re-opened. Rumors of a ‘lower chamber’ at Ling Bua open the door to the emergence of much more interesting details from one of the greatest (for humans at least) scientific puzzles of the decade.
above links will take you to the abstract and the opportunity to request a reprint.
John Hawks’ anthropology weblog has extensive coverage of the H. floresiensis ‘wars’ and a thorough treatment of Falk’s new paper.
Carl Zimmer also has post on the new paper.
I’m not entirely sure why the background has gone fuzzy. Perhaps it has something to do with the dropped shadow.