Thursday, September 1, 2016

Was Lightning a Problem for Tall Dinosaurs?

The other day I came across this question and was shocked that I hadn’t thought about it before.

Everyone knows lightning loves striking tall objects. Many dinosaurs stood 15-20 feet tall, and big sauropods holding their necks upright may have peered down on the world from 40 or 50 feet up! Were they just giant walking lightning rods?

What a great question! Let’s break it down.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

What's New In Paleontology? Highlights from SVPCA 2016. (Part 2)

Last week, paleontologists gathered in Liverpool for the 64th Annual Symposium for Vertebrate Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy (SVPCA). I was unable to attend, mostly because of that big ocean sitting in the way (actually I’ve never been to SVPCA, I’d love to go) but I did get a hold of the abstract book. Lots of great talks and posters this year.

Here, I’ll go through some of my personal favorite highlights from this year’s meeting. I won’t have all the details, since I’m mostly going by the abstracts and not the full presentations, but I will be offering a glimpse into what’s currently happening in the field of paleontological research. 

Part II: Flying and Slithering Reptiles

Monday, August 29, 2016

What's New In Paleontology? Highlights from SVPCA 2016. (Part 1)

Last week, paleontologists gathered in Liverpool for the 64th Annual Symposium for Vertebrate Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy (SVPCA). I was unable to attend, mostly because of that big ocean sitting in the way (actually I’ve never been to SVPCA, I’d love to go) but I did get a hold of the abstract book. Lots of great talks and posters this year.

Here, I’ll go through some of my personal favorite highlights from this year’s meeting. I won’t have all the details, since I’m mostly going by the abstracts and not the full presentations, but I will be offering a glimpse into what’s currently happening in the field of paleontological research. 

Part I: Dinosaurs

Floating Spinosaurus

Let's start with Donald Henderson throwing some big theropods in the water.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Beer Made With 45 Million Year Old Yeast?

The other day I came across a Reddit post entitled: “Beer Made With 45 Million-Year-Old Yeast Found in Amber.”

And I was intrigued.

The link led to an Indiegogo campaign from the Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. aiming to raise money to further their production of beer made with ancient yeast. As the story goes, the idea was born after the “chance discovery of a beautiful amber stone, replete with a 45 million year old leaf, and a single yeast spore – still alive and itching to make beer.”

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tracking the Mighty Sabertooths

This is a modern Tiger print.
By Aiwok, via Wikipedia.
Did you hear about those newly-discovered saber-toothed cat footprints? If not, check it out over at Science (there’s an awesome picture). The tracks are apparently up to 19cm across – bigger than a Bengal tiger’s! They were discovered in Argentina (because some countries have all the luck these days), and presented at a conference in May. These tracks probably belonged to a species of Smilodon, the most famous saber-toothed cats of them all.

Sabertooth tracks are rare, but these aren’t the first. I’ll get more into that later, but first: what exactly is a saber-toothed cat? Are they really cats anyway?