Posts Tagged ‘mammals’

Top 10 Bacula of 2010

27 December 2010

Um. Dude, seriously? You want to see ten bacula? Well I can’t help you.  Which is to say, seek help.  Try I guess.  Or, perhaps you could ask Jeeves?

More here.

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 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

Peek II

16 March 2010

Getting excited for this.  In the meantime there’s always this.

WWTD (what would Tufte do?)

16 March 2010

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history. some dude.

We are a dreadfully narcissistic lot.  Perhaps nothing in the Origin has inspired more reflection or revulsion than Darwin’s passing reference to the promise that his ideas had to illuminate the origins of our own species.  Creationists might bloviate about bacterial flagella or blood-clotting proteins, but most are surprisingly willing to concede the fairly obvious genetic relations between, say, camels and llamas separated by two oceans and millions (or in the case of YECers maybe six thousand) years.  They even have a wonky pseudoscience, baraminology, that more or less admits that yes sister taxa have a common origin…up to a point.

But when it comes to one particular species, they invariably draw the line.  Of course as Darwin rightly anticipated, much has been learned in the last century and a half about the origins of our own species–it’s not my intention to review the history of these discoveries here, but I highly recommend Brian Switek’s comprehensive historical analysis as a great place to start.  But while much light has been thrown, perhaps an equal measure of ink has been shed in an attempt to visualize the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens.

Darwin’s own back of the envelope attempt seems, perhaps surprisingly, among the most straightforward of the lot, despite the bet-hedging and scratchouts:

It’s mostly been uphill from there, but often up the wrong the hill.  Like a teenager flexing in the mirror, then agonizing for an hour over a newly discovered blackhead.

I was reminded of all of this by this recent post by John Wilkins that reproduced this figure:

As they go, this diagram is not particularly bad, though as Wilkins notes the form does seem a bit dated.  However, I think that the discussion in the comments to that post reveal why this diagram is perhaps at least as confusing as it is revealing: are those truncated side-branches based on fossil data or just hypothetical?  Is the light brownish region supposed to be denoting some area of uncertainty and if so how?  Is there a 3rd dispersal out of Africa implied?  What exatly do those “?”s mean? (To be fair, I haven’t seen the figure caption which may address some or all of these questions.)

So, here then, gleaned from google are various other diagrams each ostensibly depicting more or less the same events: 5 million years of ape evolution in Africa plus some things that came after.  Feel free to leave your Tuftian critiques in the comments, bonus points for dropping fashionable jargon like “chart junk” “data-ink-ratio” &c.


2 March 2010

Friday night found us trapped on Donner Pass in the middle of a blizzard, hoping our reserves of cold tortillas and dried mangoes would sustain us long enough to avoid resorting to the grisly survival tactics of previous parties.  Fortunately the road re-opened and after navigating some sketchy icy roads we finally arrived at to our weekend destination: a rented cabin in Carnelian Bay on the shore of Lake Tahoe, only 5 hours later than planned.  As soon as we made it through the door we were welcomed by this chap, infamous cousin of the European Rasselbock.

Note the differences in coat-thickness, no doubt an adaptation to the cold Eastern Sierra Nevada winters.  Also importantly, this American is obviously more well-endowed than his European relative.  Just sayin’.

And in case you were worried about legalities, the hunting permit was on full display: