Archive for the ‘dinosaur’ Category

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Lumpers, Splitters and Noah’s Ark

19 August, 2010

One of my father’s frequent pithy comments, one of his stock phrases, was, “The world is made up of two kinds of people:  lumpers and splitters.”  And palaeontologists are no exception.  Actually, they may be the definition of lumpers and splitters.

Scientists in almost every discipline are, whether they choose to admit it or not, are natural splitters.  Every (well, almost every) budding palaeontologist is a splitter.  Why?  What better way to get one’s name noticed, to get that elusive grant or, even better, teaching position, than to have your very own genus chalked up on your wall of fame?  This means, of course, that species are sometimes described based upon flimsy evidence.  One of the most famous was Apatosaurus/Brontosaurus.  Othniel Marsh, one of the true giants of early palaeontology, described Apatosaurus ajax based on a very incomplete fossil in 1877.  Then, two years later, he described Brontosaurus excelsus  based on six skeletons and part of a skull.  A quarter century later, the species, which had been split, was lumped back together by Elmer Riggs.  Of course, Brontosaurus is such a beautiful name that we continue to use it, though it is a junior synonym. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Corporate Sponsorship of Palaeontological Research and Education

16 July, 2010
I was sitting on the can last night (too much information?), reading A Guide to Dinosaurs (Brochu, Long, McHenry, Scanlon, and Willis; Fog City Press, 2002), and ran across this image:
Qantassauras
Qantassaurus, from A Guide To Dinosaurs, 2002

 

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SEX!

22 July, 2009

By this time, most of you (at the very least, the six regular readers I have) should know that I am a naturalist.  Which means, of course, that I do not by into the Genesis version of the creation of the world, the universe, life, or the myriad species inhabiting our earth.  And I view evolution as an established fact (it is only called a theory because we do not yet (and probably will never) know all of the exact details regarding every event). 

One of the reasons that I found evolution rather boring in the science classes I took was a neglect of sex.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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(((Girl)))’s New Earrings

6 June, 2009

One of my loves is palaeontology.  Not just dinosaurs, but just about any terrestrial vertebrates.  Sauropods, protosuchi, gomphotheres,  rhynchosaurs, titanotheres, anything.  Apparently, (((Girl))) has at least some of my genes (though she claims to be adopted): Read the rest of this entry ?

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Noah’s Ark Will Be Found. Again. Really.

7 February, 2009

For as long as I can remember, Noah’s Ark seems be found about every other year.  Sometimes they have found the mountain. Sometimes, they have found the actual ark.  The only consistent part of the story is Ararat —  Mount Ararat, or the Ararat Mountains, or the Mountains in Ararat.  Now it would appear that Liberty University has gotten into the act. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Woo Meets Creationism

6 February, 2009

As a kid, I was really into dinosaurs.  I planned to be a palaeontologist.  I tried to picture the world inhabited by the Chinle fauna.  Or the late Cretaceous of Eastern Montana.  I tried to imagine the world if dinosaurs were still around.

As an adult, and looking at my car insurance premiums, I’m real glad that, other than avian theropods, there are no dinosaurs.  Hitting a whitetail is bad enough;  hitting an Apatasaurus would be really bad.  Mountain lions and grizzly bears see humans as possible food;  working a forest fire with Utahraptors in the area would be damn close to suicidal.  Though, Calvin’s dreams of T-Rexes flying F4 Phantoms?  Could be interesting.  (Though it would make Julia’s education a lot easier (and a lot more prosaic).) Read the rest of this entry ?