Posts Tagged ‘umm…’

Dude : 0.5 Decades with microecos

4 April 2011

Technically this is called a "cluster-amplexus."

Were this blog a human child its (his?) head would be nearly adult size. Visual tracking would be well developed. Little microecos would be learning to skip and ride a wheeled toy with “speed and skillful steering.” He would be getting a handle on verb tense and object classification. He would get jokes and boast about his accomplishments. We’d be gearing up for kindergarten and shopping for kid-friendly cellular phones.

Of course, if this blog was, in fact, a human child, I would probably be in jail given the last few months of patent neglect, and, anyway, let’s be frank, dubious guardianship up to this point. I mean the standing borderline fugue state you have come to expect from this blog clearly betrays some deep-seated emotional trauma, right?

So yeah, five years.  So many broken links, spoiled references, disintegrating flimsy jokes, curious earnest comments. Half a decade on it seems this blog doesn’t need new content – it needs a freaking curator. And a new domain. And a companion Tumblr.  And a Twitter account. And a Twizzler. And a Bublé. And a Twickle. And some Audioblasts. And some new weekly features that I keep up with for a week, at least. And moar thalattosaurs. And more original music videos:

Maybe I’ll finish that bird meme I started in 2006.

I am five-years old. I am a tree. I impel my rolling steed with speed and skillful steering…


11 November 2010



Yo Gabba Gabba:

Photo from Flickr PixelManiatiK / cc2.0


To wit,


Ligands which contribute to receptor activation typically have anxiolyticanticonvulsantamnesicsedativehypnotic,euphoriant, and muscle relaxant properties. Some such as muscimol may also be hallucinogenic.

…from Wikipedia’s GABAA receptor entry.

I mean. Just sayin’.

OK, back to work.

Cranchid Crankiness

7 May 2010

It seems the Conservative, uh victory?, in the UK is having an effect on the state media already.  Check out this extremely toned-down version of the classic squid/whale/bus chart.  Gone is the blue gradient fill, exaggerated length estimates, hey, even the scale bar has been cleaned up.  And we haven’t lost our scepticism about whether this squid is truly colossal or just ‘colossal’.  It’s a new era of teuthous responsibility I suppose.

Though, not so much with the ‘facts’:

Its large size and predatory nature fuelled the ancient myth of the underwater “kraken” seamonster and modern speculation that the colossal squid must be aggressive and fast, attributes that allow it to prey on fish and even give sperm whales a hard time. “Monster colossal squid is slow not fearsome predator” Jody Bourton BBC April 7 2010

It is not quite clear to me how a squid native to Antarctic waters and discovered in 1925 influenced Medieval European mythology, but, hey, you know, whatever.  I also like the image of Mesonychoteuthis giving Physeter a ‘hard time‘:

“Hey sperm breath–where you going?  Oh, you’re going to eat me?  Ooooh I’m soooo scared…”

To be fair, the general tone of the article is pretty true to that of the new study on which it is based (Rosa and Seibel 2010).  It’s a neat, albeit rather hypothetical paper, that takes what little is known about the anatomy of the world’s largest invertebrate and plugs it into a model based on the relationship between water temperature, body-size and metabolism observed in other squid species.  These parameters suggest that Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni is a cool and calculating cold-blooded killer that ambushes its prey.

Both Rosa and Seibel and the BBC article insinuate that this is something of a surprise, flying in the face of previous theories that Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni was an active predator.  However, it seems to me that a low metabolic rate, with reduced feeding rates and activity patterns, would be the default assumption for an enormous ectothermic invertebrate living in very deep, very cold waters.  It would be interesting to know how the metabolism and activity pattern of juveniles, which start out life only a few millimeters long and generally live in shallower waters, differs from those of 15 m long adults.  Well, interesting to me anyway.

Photo from the awesome Te Papa museum Colossal squid dissection blog

At any rate though, I’m with Arch Anemone on this one.  By the BBC’s criteria, crocodiles, anacondas and bird-eating spiders aren’t fearsome like chihuahuas and dragonflies.  Okay, chihuahuas and dragonflies are pretty fearsome.  But I think a 15 meter long squid lurking in the darkness  just waiting for something to bump into an enormous tentacle lined with swiveling hooks which will drag it down into its snapping beak?  That’s pretty damn fearsome too.

Plus anything that eats Toothfish is worthy of respect.  Unless you call them “Chilean Sea Bass.”  Then you should be ashamed of yourself.

Rui Rosa and Brad A. Seibel 2010 Slow pace of life of the Antarctic colossal squid. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, Published online by Cambridge University Press doi:10.1017/S0025315409991494

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

Conodont Troubles

12 March 2010

Again.  Sorry.  If you don’t get this joke it probably means that you didn’t spend hours today trying to figure out if Neohindeodella germanicus is just a wonky synonym of Nicoraella germanica. In which case you may well have made some better life choices than I, so, well done.

If you were hoping to learn something about conodonts I suggest you start here, which is also where you will probably want to stop.

One of those drawn-out history of science snoozers coming soon, promise.

Hypselorhachis sues National Geographic for Defamation of Character

5 March 2010

In a surprising move, the extinct archosaur Hypselorhachis filed an unprecedented post-mortem lawsuit against the National Geographic Society on Friday.  The enigmatic Triassic reptile was offended by being mistakenly labeled a “dinosaur” in an article that appeared on the National Geographic Website earlier this week (“Dinosaurs Ten Million Years Older Than Thought” March, 3, 2010 National Geographic News).

The focus of the article was the recent description of another non-dinosaur, Asilisaurus, a close dinosaur relative in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature (Nesbitt et al. 2010 “Ecologically distinct dinosaurian sister group shows early diversification of Ornithodira” Nature 464, 95-98doi:10.1038/nature08718).

In a statement released today Hypselorhachis asserts that the passing reference to “an early sail-backed dinosaur” in the caption of an illustration that accompanied the article was, “an underhanded attempt to smear my character and associate me with unsavory elements.”

“I just don’t understand.  They could have called me a ‘ctenosauriscid‘ a ‘poposaur‘ a ‘rauisuchian‘ a ‘pseudosuchian‘ a ‘crurotarsan‘  even an ‘archosaur’ without dragging my name through the gutter like this.  Hell, I would even have been fine with ‘hellasaur.’  But ‘dinosaur‘?  That’s just not right.  Someone has to put a stop to this sort of thing.”

Strange Bedfellows

The crusade has attracted some surprising allies.  Dimetrodon, a sail-backed synapsid from the Permian, has previously accused Hypselorhachis of being an “imposter,” a “total ripoff” and “less-original than Spinosaurus, really.”

Tensions between the two extinct animals flared last summer when Kanye  West interrupted Dimetrodon’s acceptance speech at the “Virgin Teen’s Choice Awards” for the category “Best Backbone.”  West grabbed the microphone saying, “Congratulations D’meet and I’mma let you finish, but Hypselorhachis had the best elongated neural arches of ALL TIME.”

In spite of the rivalry, Dimetrodon defends the merits of the lawsuit.  “As a frequent victim of false-dinosaur defamation, I wholeheartedly support Hypselorhachis on this one.  We non-dinosaurs have to stick together.”  Dimetrodon says that it will donate the proceeds from sales of its popular T-shirt to the Hypselorhachis legal defense fund.

Several pterosaurs and marine reptiles have also voiced their support for Hypselorhachis. National Geographic was not available for comment.

[um. yeah.  sorry.]

Taxidermy tuesday: Lepus cornutus

26 January 2010

Lepus cornutus Zoologisches Museum‎, Zürich Switzerland

Body clothed in a no-cloth robe,

Feet clad in turtle’s fur boots,

I seize my bow of rabbit horn

And prepare to shoot the devil of Ignorance

Hanshan, Cold Mountain Poem 91

Jackalope are a dime a dozen out here in the American West, but I had to go to Switzerland to see a Rasselbock.  Or is it a flightless Wolpertinger?  Or maybe a Raurackl?  Hard to say, really.

Joris Hoefnagel Animalia Qvadrvpedia et Reptilia (Terra): Plate XLVII, c. 1575/1580