Archive for the 'carnage' Category

Dinosaurs: children of darkness

15 April 2011

As you may have already heard, research published in this week’s Science, suggests that many dinosaurs were active at night.  You know who else are active at night? vampire bats.  Also, werewolves.  And I was never exactly sure what a warlock is, but I’m pretty sure they run around hexing things at night to. Oh yeah, and hobgoblins. And whatever the hell is going on here.

Point is, dinosaurs were Satanists. Some of them anyway.  Probably.

Not that this comes as any surprise really.  I mean, Dracorex? Mahakala? Balaur? Rapator? Pantydraco?

Just this week brings word of Daemonosaurus chauliodus an Upper Triassic theropod that one can only assume had a penchant for black candles and Aleister Crowley.

Scaphognathus, it seems, was more of a wanabee “goth” than a true child of darkness: note the contrived faux-vegetarianism (with those teeth buddy? who are you kidding?) and the mascara. (Photo: Lars Schmitz hilariously interpreted by BBC News.)

This, <ahem>, “Pterodactyl dinosaur” might just be having a weird reaction to Ambien.

You might be thinking we are fortunate to be rid of these dark hordes.  Guess you haven’t been hanging out with oilbirds lately.

So, um, if you were hoping for a thoughtful analysis of this cool paper looks like you came to the wrong place.

Fortunately lead author (and friend!) Lars Schmitz has his own blog where he lays out the background, methodology and significance of this awesome study.  Go check it out! (After you watch these Sabbath videos).

All hail mighty Ba’al, or whatever.

Grin without a cat (- grin) (+ smile)

27 November 2010

This is what happens when I am amused by modern day marginalia, sorry.

I saw the Felids open for the Nimravids back in the early Oligocene.  It was crazy.  Nobody knew what was going on.  We all came out, tie-dyed, ready to groove to the mellow, mental vibes of Holophoneus. Frankly, we were blazed.  Then there were these crazy cats tearing shit up, pouncing, retracting their claws.  It was nuts.  No one knew what to say.

Anyway though, it seems like everyone is totally into cats these days and hardly anyone (not, of course, to say no one) remembers those crazy psychedelic crusaders, the Nimravids.  But we here, doff our bizarrely elongate post-orbital vaults to the pioneers, to the sparkling technicolor carnivores that were catty before catty was cool.

and here’s the part where I sneak in a Fall clip:

The Last Tapu

23 June 2010

All images from the fantastic collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library

Got to wondering why my four-year-old post about the Huia, a fascinating and sadly extinct bird from New Zealand, was suddenly seeing a deluge of web traffic (well, by microecos standards), broken links and all.

Turns out, a single Huia feather just went to auction in Auckland and fetched NZ $8400 (about $6800 US), setting a new world record for the auction value of a single feather.

Huia feathers were important status symbols among the Maori.  The variation in the number of feathers worn in the hair of the individuals pictured above probably correlates broadly with their social standing, though it is interesting that the number of feathers in the images appears to dwindle with time.  An echo of the Huia’s decline, or a society in peril?  Perhaps a bit of both, certainly the two seem to have something of a common cause in the influx of European invaders, of the two-legged and four-legged variety.

Also noteworthy is that some of the photographs postdate the last confirmed sighting of a wild Huia in 1907.

One suspects the anonymous winner in the recent auction had status on their mind as they cast their bid.  As, I suppose, did their unnamed adversaries that  helped them drive the price up well above the expected NZ $500.  I mean the Huia’s tail feathers have a striking beauty to them, though I can’t help but find them more beautiful when the rest of the bird is attached:

When seemingly deeply vacuous contemporary status symbols like this fetch $10K, $7K for a Huia feather almost feels like an injustice.

But then, I guess that attitude misses the real injustices at work here.

Ours is not to look back. Ours is to continue the crack.

14 May 2010

Our traditionalist is now beginning to worry, but he will grant this one last point pour mieux sauter.  OK, the very first Cambrian fauna included a plethora of alternative possibilities, all equally sensible and none leading to us.  But, surely, once the modern fauna arose in the next phase of the Cambrian, called Atdabanian after another Russian locality, then the boundaries and channels were finally set.  The arrival of trilobites, those familiar symbols of the Cambrian, must mark the end of craziness and the inception of predictability.  Let the good times roll.

This book is quite long enough already, and you do not want a “second verse, same as the first.” I merely point out that the Burgess Shale represents the early and maximal extent of the Atdabanian radiation.  The story of the Burgess Shale is the tale of life itself, not a unique and peculiar episode of possibilities gone wild.SJ Gould Wonderful Life (1989)

Had it in my head, tindered by a typically turgid comment I left over at Jerry Coyne’s blog, to write something about the phantasmic Fezouata fauna. About contingency and determinism and prehistoriography.

The first god had, in his garden, one of these I'm sure. Ordovician marrellomorph from the cover of this week's Nature / Van Roy et al. 2010. A strong contender for my next paleo-ink.

About Wonderful Life and Crucible of Creation. About broken molds and Technicolor films. About checking the guy’s rock record and replaying life’s wobbly mistracked tape.

this is what the late eighties was like

[I biked over the library after Schluter’s talk and grabbed some books.  “That’s a small book,” the librarian remarked about the paperback version of WL, recut into hardback form, “but I’m sure it’s filled with big ideas”]

And about GOBE and rocks from space. About evolutionary anachronism and steampunk anomalocaridids and Schinderhannes. About Chengjiang and Emu Bay and Orsten.

[I Googled.]

About Caratacus and the Ordovices and predictable outcomes. About the Cincinnati arch and Creation Museum atop it. About how those that ignore history are doomed to not worry about it too much, along the way.

[I read.]

And yes about the other big and massively under-celebrated early Paleozoic news this week: Cambrian Bryozoans (!) and Gondwanan echinoderms.

[I typed.]

And ultimately about how, really, all of this maybe shows not so much about the fickle nature of history or the inevitability of intelligence or even about foolish it is to draw deep philosophical lessons from a crappy fossil record.  But that, well, the Earth was a really weird place 550, 450, 250, 50, 5 million years ago and that we have a lot more surprises in store and a lot more to learn.  But we will, in fits and starts, and what we do discover will change our picture of our place in the universe.  Or maybe it won’t.

[I hit delete.]

Because it’s Friday afternoon, and that all sounds pretty damn pretentious and sappy and inconclusive.  Why not throw together a link-heavy meta-post [I thought], then sit back and watch the links decay over the years until all that’s left is an ambiguous smear that’s difficult to make any sense of.

Then I remembered that it’s post a Fall song on your blog day.

Small, Old, Dead Things

9 May 2010

A few weeks ago I shared a trick (I guess the cool kids call these ‘hacks’) that I learned from Alex Wild for getting decent makeshift macro shots with a cell-phone camera. By placing a magnifying lens in front of the camera lens, one can shorten the focal length of the phone camera allowing decent close-up shots of relatively small objects.

Lately the geobloggers have picked up on this technique, not surprisingly as geologists tend to always have a hand lens at the ready, and posted some great closeup shots of, well, rocks. Mountain Beltway started the trend (I guess the cool kids call these ‘memes’), Highly Allochthonous and Looking for Detachment have posted some nice comparison shots illustrating the potential, and limitations, of this technique.

I’ve been playing with this a lot over the last few weeks – mostly with bugs but also getting some nice atmospheric (I guess the cool kids would say ‘pornographic’) floral shots.

Inspired by Callan and co. I decided to turn my lenses toward the various bits of small, dead, old things scattered around our house. My mom asked for a rock for Mother’s Day, so, until I get one in the mail these will have to suffice.

I’m to lazy to ID these right now, so have fun guessing in the comments:

All photos taken with an iphone 3GS and 10x triplet hastings lens.

The Historicity of Ursus

6 April 2010

This photo is not that old, really.

New Evidence Points to Younger Dryas Impact

1 April 2010
Actually, this picture doesn’t have anything to do with the text, but we thought it looked cool. Copyright whomever we stole it from.

The PR office of some university announced the discovery of compelling new evidence that an extraterrestrial impact triggered a pronounced planetary cooling spell known as the Younger Dryas approximately 12.90512 thousand years ago, and ultimately led to the extinction of mammoths and those other things whatever they’re called as well the demise of distinctive Clovis Culture of North America.  Although the Younger Dryas cold interval has been recognized by paleoclimatologists for decades, scientists (well, physicists mostly) have only recently proposed that a comet or asteroid might have been the culprit behind the global cooling.  However, the theory has remained controversial…………………………………………………………….until now.

In a new study published in a scientific journal (you’ll have to figure out which for yourself we don’t “do” citations around here) a global team of experts have stumbled upon a surprising source of compelling evidence for the impact: the absence of compelling evidence.

“The complete lack of solid evidence for an impact at the Younger Dryas is pretty strong evidence that some type of cosmic cover-up has taken place here,” Jones says.  Who is Jones? You probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s an authority on the subject trust me.

“Of course, we can only speculate as to the nature of the super-intelligent space/time faring entities at work here, but I’m going to go with Terminator style robots.  I mean, we’ve seen this kind of thing before.  We’re talking something like Tunguska but times, like, a bajillion.  It was all like ‘sssssheeeew…….KA BOOM!!!!'” according to some other guy who wasn’t involved in the latest research but his e-mail came up when we Googled “comet killed the ice age mammoth dinosaurs.”

That other guy says more research is needed to confirm the non-findings, ” it’s scary stuff man, trippy, scary stuff.  I am SO high right now.”

Source: some press release, I didn’t have time to actually read the paper.

An artist’s depiction of something that almost certainly happened, say scientists.
Okay so actually I just ripped this off from Valin as usual. All Rights Reserved Unforgivable Realness