Archive for the 'dinosaurs' Category

Interview with an owl is an owl is an

4 December 2012

microecos: Hey dude.

Dr. Neil Patrick Kelley: ¿sup?

m.e.: been awhile!

me: no doubt. did that video though.

m.e.: whatcha been up to?

me: finished my dissertation! also, freelance herp ids on the blogs.

m.e.: big ups. and you had a kid right?

me: Yes! She’s a year old already.

m.e.: explains the slow down around here, I guess.

me: Oh. yeah. sorry. Have you seen my Tumblr?

m.e.: um. yeah. how much of that is “you”.

me: depends. sometimes I append lengthy comments to things there, so I “engage” with the “material” at least.

m.e.: I don’t think that’s how Tumblr works. Anyway with the theme you are using you can’t even see that stuff.

me: you’re probably right.

m.e.: so.

me: so….


me: I was thinking though, now that I’ve got that out of the way I can start reblogging in earnest. I mean, resume blogging. Original stuff.

m.e.: well you’ve got the domain so you need to do something with that.

me: Ugh. that sounds like so much work.

m.e.: love “Dust. Wind. Dude.” though. Classic shit.

me: Yeah.

m.e.: can I level with you?

me: of course!

m.e.: I don’t know. I’m not sure that I can get back to that, *level*. What do people even blog about NOW?

me: Shut up, you read 172 blogs religiously.

m.e.: Srsly.

me: You know that blog, Ichthyosaurs: a day in the life?

m.e.: Love it.

me: I did this:

m.e.: Yikes.

me: …

m.e.: Ease up on the distortion. Everyone knows you can’t sing. But you are stomping on your jokes there.

me: Jokes?

m.e.: “Nobody was really sure/If she was a stem-archosauromorph?”

me: zing!

m.e.: I like how you break the rhyme there. Very Sir A. L. Webster. But  breviceps is still in Ichthyosaurus right?

me: I think I meant <i>jancieps</i>. Ugh. how did I pass?

m.e.: Generosity. I don’t think we’re in an html interface.

me: This seems indulgent.

m.e.: which?

mi: right

yo: You’ve still got the 15 valid thalattosaur species to blog about right? Everyone’s waiting.

i: depends how you count, <i>Anshunsaurus</i> is a little volatile … ?<i>Blezingeria</i>

m.e.: Dude. Markup.

me: Dude. Marker’s Mark. RIP:

m.e.: Nobody will watch that. WordPress enforces a strict 1 video embed only policy. To preserve people’s sanity.

me: Good for them. ALL of them.

m.e.: I was going to title the one about the North American species: “North American Scum”

mi: I get it, they’re all so fragmentary. Agkistrognathus is pretty sick though, not nearly enough play in the liberal media.

m.e.: Whooping Cranes nearby. Maybe 10 klicks.

me: Private property. Can’t see them.

m.e.: Good for them. ALL of them.

me: Is the Marker video working now?

But I don’t even *like* tyrannosaurs…

22 May 2012

Drama in real life by the inimitable Valin Mattheis.

I mean, I don’t not like them, but they always seemed bit … gauche you know? Like truck nuts or something. No, no … truck nuts are obviously odious, but for me those bone-crunching Cretaceous behemoths are just, a little much. I mean like speed metal, metal. I mean if that’s your thing, great. More power to you. I’ll stick with my thalattosaurs and Indonesian garage rock thank you very much.

Anyway, so it was an odd weekend.

Late Friday afternoon, moments before leaving to pick up my father and step-mother from the airport I posted a petition at In short, the petition was a response to a letter by the President of Mongolia calling attention to a lot of fossils, including a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus/Tarbosaurus bataar, which went up for auction on Sunday. Soon the petition had picked up a hundred, then five hundred, then, shortly before the sale went forward crossed one thousand signatures. I am not going to reiterate the details of the situation which you can dig into in great detail by checking out the petition page (and you can sign it if you’d like while your there) and by reading Brian Switek’s coverage of the auction and attendant backlash.

I’m not yet convinced that online petitions are worth anything but it seemed like literally the least I could do, aside from doing nothing. Not because I felt a particularly strong personal attachment to the issue of probable looted Mongolian fossils going up for auction. I do think that it is an affront to science and more broadly to the dignity of both land and people to skirt local laws and regulations, rapidly and often recklessly digging up potentially invaluable fossils shipping them overseas and raking in millions by selling them to some overly-wealthy douche who wants a dinosaur for his den or whatever.

But it happens everyday, and I’ve never before been moved to try to get out and effect change on this issue. And I’ll readily admit that things get complex. In the United States fossils found on private land are treated as property of the landowner just like mineral rights and it seems to me that this is not out of keeping with broader U.S. social and legal culture and that’s fine. It’s regrettable when it means that scientifically important fossils are lost to the scientific community, but it’s the law and I accept that. If you have fossils on your land in the U.S. you can build a cabin out of them, sell them to a creationist museum or grind them up and smoke them. Knock yourself out, I guess.

But there is something decidedly different about going to a country that has clear laws in place to protect its fossils and exploiting the inability of that nation to effectively enforce its laws and get rich by ripping off its resources. Sure, maybe Western scientists operated in a similar fashion decades ago, though often minus the “clear laws in place” and “get rich” parts. And sure, maybe you invested thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars to find, collect (steal), transport, prepare and mount your plunder. And maybe if you are sneaky enough to get it out without detection and manage to destroy or obscure any evidence of criminal activity and get your ill gotten gains to another country the actual sale itself might be perfectly legal.  None of these excuses, which appeared in various forms in statements by the auction house and in the fascinating and at times brain-crushingly frustrating comment thread on Switek’s post, make it an ethical thing to do.

As to my prior ambivalent feelings about tyrannosaurs, let’s just say they’re “evolving.”



Anarchy Evolution

16 June 2011

Were there anything that might lure the estivating dwarf that is this blog from its moody slumber, you’d hope that it would be that cosmic alignment of punk rock and paleontology that broke back when Rep. Weiner was still talking hacks and incertitudes, back when Amina Abdullah and Paula Brooks were still legitimate lesbians*, as far as we knew.


Anyway, eff the torpedoes.

I speak of course of Qilania graffini that tasty Cretaceous drumstick (‘n stuff) named fo Greg Graffin, author of a seminal survey of religious attitudes among evolutionary scientists, Evolution, Monism and the Naturalist Worldview, and, I gather, member of some rock and roll band.

I mean, leave it to Jingmai O’Connor, rockstar paleontologist if ever there was one (seriously, check out her website), right?

So what if Greg’s choice of favorite dinosaur is a little less than inspired? And apparently Edaphosaurus is a hadrosaur now, whatever.  Or maybe it’s a mistranscription. Who cares?  None of this matters, people – dude’s got his own freaking dinosaur now so haters can step the eff off.

Not that this kind of thing is without precedent of course:

At last gleams of light have come & I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion that I started with) that I am just not (it is like confessing a murder) that into BR.  They seem so phosphatized. In the grand punctuated equilibrium of punk they are the Lingula, the Limulus. They are, dare I say it, the Polypterus of punk rock.

Forgetting perhaps the great hopeful monster that was Into the Unknown.

But then consider this magical moment from the waning days of the Cambrian explosion, remembering that when this was shot,  some of the paleontologists behind Q. graffini weren’t yet even born.

And if, after all of that, you are wondering what the hell I’m on about:

SHU-AN JI, JESSIE ATTERHOLT, JINGMAI K. O’CONNOR, MATTHEW C. LAMANNA, JERALD D. HARRIS, DA-QING LI, HAI-LU YOU and PETER DODSON. (2011) A new, three-dimensionally preserved enantiornithine bird (Aves: Ornithothoraces) from Gansu Province, northwestern China. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 162, 201–219.

*This blog is not, in fact, an estivating dwarf. Creative liberties have be taken in the name of the greater truth.

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.


2 September 2010

in China.


28 July 2010

Mr. Mojo Risin’

8 July 2010

Bravo Nick.

Still I don’t think Pantydraco can be beat. Prove me wrong people. I dare you.

Hellasaurus is still available as far as I know.

Just sayin’.