Posts Tagged ‘dude’

Minimalism as a trope in Early Triassic cephalopod artistic traditions

10 October 2011

The recognition that Shonisaurus death assemblages preserved in the Late Triassic aged Lunning Formation represent large-format self portraits created by hyper-intelligent Kraken like cephalopods marks the beginning of a dramatic paradigm shift in paleontology. This break-through insight requires cold reappraisal of 200 years of research and a thorough re-imagining of more than 200 million years of evolutionary history. Here, we report surprising evidence that minimalist artistic traditions were already deeply entrenched among cephalopod artists by the late Early Triassic. A single small ichthyosaur vertebrae set in a lime mud matrix confronts the viewer with ambiguous questions about mortality, corporeality, decay and emptiness. Although the precise social context of this work remains unclear, perhaps the single bone was placed in an unusual setting that undermined the “authenticity” of the piece, and underscored the inherent absurdity of art à la Duchamp’s Fountain (1917).

It seems surprising that this abstracted form antedates the highly figurative I, Kraken piece which dates to the earlier late (or perhaps later early) part of the Late Triassic. Assuming this work of understated irony is  a response to bourgeois excess, widely emulated figurative traditions must have been developed by the Permian. Alternatively, perhaps the historical trajectory of of cephalopod aesthetics followed a very different course than that of 20th Century Western societies (human). The identification of  hyper-minimalist tropes approaching the Suprematism of Malevich or the early works of Rauschenburg, could help to better establish the temporal polarity of the evolution of aesthetic movements in Mesozoic (and even Paleozoic) cephalopod art.  Thus particular attention should be paid to works of cephalopod art that show no clear signs of being “made,” whether they be barren bedding planes, massive mudstones entirely devoid of fossils, or even paraconformities.

Learning and Labor

30 September 2011

If nothing else comes of all this ruckus, at least it was a good opportunity to sell some L.L. Bean boots, am I right? Sorry, I kid because I care. Well, not that much. But, like everyone else it seems, I did find Tom Clynes’s profile of Felisa Wolfe-Simon just published in Popular Science simultaneously fascinating and icky. Sort of like a mason jar full of anaerobic mud, I guess. Sure the rotten-egg aroma is off-putting but it also hints at something interesting and, dare I say, other-worldly lurking in the muck.


David Dobbs and Carl Zimmer have each written thoughtful dissections-cum-rejoinders to the piece. And there is little for me to add. But I did want to call your attention to the timeline that Zimmer presents of the bi-polar responses to #arseniclife that played out in parallel online and in cytoplasm-space:

Notice anything missing there? Here, I fixed it:








Say wha?

A Tenrec in My Pants

5 August 2009

I owe you a T-shirt.  I’m sorry.  It’s tough being both a perfectionist and  a procrastinator, terribly difficult to get things done.

Anyway tenrecs get all over the internet now and then, lately now–over at Zooillogix.  Far be it from me not to keep a good thing going, so why don’t we drop a little Afrothere roll call huh?


Check. [them’s Little spikez, Big spikez, Fatty, and Uptown Streaky for those of you keeping track at home]

Elephant Shrew?


“Spitzmaus” (German for shrew) works out literally to “sharp mouse,” which is wholly badical.  But you already knew that.  Anyway to paraphrase Voltaire, hermano here is neither an elephant, nor a shrew.  Nor a sharp mouse.

Golden Mole?

Word is bond.  But not a really a mole. uh, okay. Hyraces?

Yikes.  Nice grill yo.  Moving right along…


Hey, did you hear the one about the bipedal pangolin? Damnit, there’s no time!  Stay focused…

Okay, okay, uh who have we got left?


Well, dudelet I hate to break this to you, but you’re fired.  I mean, extinct.  But whatever, you’ll do.

Alright, I know I’m forgetting someone here.  Think, think…

Oh yeah:

Nicked this one from Crappy Taxidermy which turns out to be the best thing going on the world wide web these days.  You really ought to check it out.

Well, I suppose that wraps things up here.  Pax.

DISCLAIMER: No animals weren’t not not harmed in the making of this blog post.

Tanystrophic Theatrics

21 July 2009

…with apologies to the Theatrical Tanystropheus.  Lots of “work” to keep me “busy” and away from “blogging” this “summer.”  But I did return from Europe with a steamer trunk of full of chocolate, some knives, and a shit-ton of pictures–so I’ll try to post a steady trickle of the latter over the next few weeks.

Ah, Tanystropheus: proof that the Creator has either a sense of humor or a cannabis habit.  Tanstropheus seems to be the only protorosaur that gets any play and generally I’m loathe to reinforce such hegemony, but one must admit the dude is wholly protarded in the best possible sense of the word.

While perhaps a bit out of date–and arguably biomechanically impossible–these diorama reconstructions at least convey to the museum visitor to check it: some crazy-ass critters called this planet home in the past. You can pierce your labrum, or whatever, but basically your species is pretty weakly conventional. Srry.

Telepathic Paramecia Send Thought Beams Through Glass

1 April 2009

paramedium As you might guess, it’s a big day for astonishing discoveries across the blogowebs:

Topping all of these however is the paper by Daniel Fels published today in PLOS One entitled: “Cellular Communication Through Light.”  Fels documents the interactions among different populations of a single-celled ciliate, Paramecium caudatum, seperated by glass.  Because the glass barriers effectively prohibit the transfer of chemical signals, Fels infers that these simple organisms are using a form of weak electromagnetic radiation, so-called biophotons, to communicate.  I’m guessing Rupert Sheldrake is pretty damn excited about this one.

Here’s the abstract:

Information transfer is a fundamental of life. A few studies have reported that cells use photons (from an endogenous source) as information carriers. This study finds that cells can have an influence on other cells even when separated with a glass barrier, thereby disabling molecule diffusion through the cell-containing medium. As there is still very little known about the potential of photons for intercellular communication this study is designed to test for non-molecule-based triggering of two fundamental properties of life: cell division and energy uptake. The study was performed with a cellular organism, the ciliate Paramecium caudatum. Mutual exposure of cell populations occurred under conditions of darkness and separation with cuvettes (vials) allowing photon but not molecule transfer. The cell populations were separated either with glass allowing photon transmission from 340 nm to longer waves, or quartz being transmittable from 150 nm, i.e. from UV-light to longer waves. Even through glass, the cells affected cell division and energy uptake in neighboring cell populations. Depending on the cuvette material and the number of cells involved, these effects were positive or negative. Also, while paired populations with lower growth rates grew uncorrelated, growth of the better growing populations was correlated. As there were significant differences when separating the populations with glass or quartz, it is suggested that the cell populations use two (or more) frequencies for cellular information transfer, which influences at least energy uptake, cell division rate and growth correlation. Altogether the study strongly supports a cellular communication system, which is different from a molecule-receptor-based system and hints that photon-triggering is a fine tuning principle in cell chemistry.

Like all PLOS publications, the paper is open-access and is freely available here:


Fels D, 2009 Cellular Communication through Light. PLoS ONE 4(4): e5086. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005086