Posted on September 29, 2014 * Comments

Last week on Fossil Friday, I presented you with a biting challenge. Teeth from the Rancho La Brea tar pits that are so common, most people probably could identify this specimen without even looking. What was it? Teeth from a Canis dirus AKA a dire wolf.

From the Prehistoric Wildlife site:

Posted on September 26, 2014 * Comments

Hohlwelt, 1932, via Wikimedia Commons

In part 1, I introduced you to Cyrus Reed Teed (1839–1908), the founder of Koreshanity, which holds that the Earth is hollow and that we inhabit its inner surface.

Posted on September 26, 2014 * Comments

One of the reasons that climate science is so difficult to effectively communicate is because it’s so data rich, and real data is messy. Like, super messy. I once did an experiment that involved running goats on treadmills. The goats had strain gauges attached to their legs so that I could measure relative amounts of different types of stress on the bones as the goats ran. I was expecting the data to match the idealized patterns I had seen in a book. They didn’t. They were a total mess. That’s when I learned that data pulled from the real world is not in any way, ideal.

Posted on September 26, 2014 * Comments

This week’s Fossil Friday may be a little too easy, as it is one of the most common fossils found at the Rancho La Brea tar pits. I’m expecting that the commenters will take a bite out of these teeth with ferocity. What species did they come from?

Posted on September 25, 2014 * Comments

Hohlwelt, 1932, via Wikimedia Commons

Even as I was writing three recent blog posts about flat-earthery—“Voliva!” discussing Wilbur Glenn Voliva, a flat-earther who hoped to be called to testify in the Scopes trial; “The Rim at the End of the World,” reviewing the flat-earth explanation of why the oceans don’t cascade off the planet; and “Taking the Voliva Challenge,” answering three questions that Voliva posed—I foresaw the likely complaint. A flat earth? How pedestrian! Why not discuss a seriously outré view about the shape of the earth? And no, “Dr. Darwin’s Golden Secret,” examining a mysterious reference to Erasmus Darwin in a circular from John Cleves Symmes, the most famous hollow-earther, wasn’t intended to answer that demand. No, when I want a really cockamamie view about the shape of the earth, I know where to look for it: Koreshanity.

Posted on September 24, 2014 * Comments

I could write a “Say What?” blog post about Glenn Beck’s recent rant about the imminent danger of newly airborne Ebola being brought to America by Nigerian prison guards. Not a doctor

Posted on September 23, 2014 * Comments

“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”

―Rachel Carson, “Our Ever-Changing Shore”

Posted on September 22, 2014 * Comments

There are so many things that I love about being a scientist and writing about science. It’s creative, challenging, and incredibly interesting. I mean, where else but in science can it be your job to think about why human males have nipples, or what the heck this weird protrusion on this particular vertebrae in this particular species of whale does? (Yep. That’s what I spent a couple of years thinking about—and I loved it.) But there is one thing I really really don’t like about science: Science can’t prove anything. Now, to be clear, I don’t mind that science can’t prove anything (and actually, I think it’s super cool, as I’ll explain in a minute)—what I mind is that non-scientists think that this means that we scientists don’t know anything, that we are completely unsure and wishy-washy about all of our ideas and conclusions. Not true!

Misconception: Science proves ideas.

Posted on September 22, 2014 * Comments

Last week, I unveiled a fossil jaw from the Eocene, that sure looked like a tapir, but was most definitely not!  It actually came from the genus, Hyrachyus.

From the Encyclopedia of Life: