Posted on December 01, 2014 * Comments

Last week on Fossil Friday, we encountered a little ocean delight and we asked, what’s its genus...and its very lovely common name? The common name should have been obvious. Just look at it—it looks like a flower, and sure enough this organism is called a “sea lily.” 

But what was the genus? Why, it is a Glyptocrinus, of course. Well done, Gerald Wilgus!

Posted on November 28, 2014 * Comments

A fossil!This week’s Fossil Friday is from our Fossil Friend Dan Phelps. He just got the fossil cleaned up recently, and let me tell you, the before and after images are pretty amazing. Maybe if we ask nicely, Dan will post them in the comments below. But in the meantime, can you figure out the genus of this organism? What about its very lovely common name?

Posted on November 25, 2014 * Comments

Ken Ham, via Wikimedia CommonsKen Ham

“In the year 1806 the French Institute enumerated not less than eighty geological theories which were hostile to the Scriptures; but not one of those theories is held to-day.” In part 1, I explained that Luther Tracy Townsend’s Collapse of Evolution (1905) attributes that sentence to “the eminent geologist, Professor Charles Lyell,” but found it, apparently, in Albert Barnes’s The Progress and Tendencies of Science (1840) instead. In part 2, I added that Barnes included a footnote to Lyell’s Principles of Geology later in the same paragraph, which probably misled Townsend into thinking that Lyell was the authority for the claim about the eighty-plus geological theories. And in part 3, I traced the claim instead to Georges Cuvier, who alluded to eighty-plus geological theories in 1806, but conspicuously didn’t describe them as “hostile to the Scriptures.”

Posted on November 24, 2014 * Comments

In last week’s somewhat belated post, I gave a long introduction to this question: What does it take to become a fossil, and what does it take to be found? I made the claim, too, that if you can understand how rare quality fossil finds are, you can begin to appreciate all that we do know and get excited about what we have yet to discover. So let’s get cracking!

Posted on November 24, 2014 * Comments

Last week's Fossil Friday was a beachcomber's delight. According to our fossil friend Gerald Wilgus, these fossils apparently wash up on Lake Michigan to this day.

What is it? Well, I’ll let Gerald supply the answer:

Posted on November 21, 2014 * Comments

This week on Fossil Friday, we are relying on our Fossil Friends once again to keep us out of the gambling hells of Nevada and on the road to fossil salvation. This week’s fossil comes from Gerald Wilgus, who says that size might not matter, but shape is everything when it comes to this fossil! Coming from Michigan but originating in the Devonian, this species is a favorite among beachcombers, Gerald says, as it still washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan to this day.

Posted on November 21, 2014 * Comments

Bust of Georges Cuvier by David d'Angers, via Wikimedia CommonsBust of Georges Cuvier by David d’Angers

I’ve been discussing the following claim, “In the year 1806 the French Institute enumerated not less than eighty geological theories which were hostile to the Scriptures; but not one of those theories is held to-day.” I explained in part 1 that Luther Tracy Townsend’s Collapse of Evolution (1905) attributes it to “the eminent geologist, Professor Charles Lyell,” that I was unable to find it in Lyell’s work, and that I was able to find it, more or less, in Albert Barnes’s The Progress and Tendencies of Science (1840). In part 2, I added that Barnes included a footnote to Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830, although Barnes cited the 1837 Philadelphia edition) later in the same paragraph, which probably misled Townsend into thinking that Lyell was the authority for the claim about the eighty-plus geological theories. But there’s still a loose end. If not from Lyell, then from whom? 

Posted on November 20, 2014 * Comments

Great science teachers don't just inspire some kids to become scientists. They also inspire legions of future non-scientists—bankers and writers and ballerinas—to embrace the joy of discovery, to grasp how science works and understand how to ask critical questions and evaluate evidence.

Posted on November 20, 2014 * Comments

I apologize for missing a Monday post. Last week, I was in Cleveland* for the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) meeting and just didn’t have time to write anything up. So it’s only fitting that I pull from that meeting my inspiration for this misconception post, however belated.

Misconception: Fossils are everywhere. Just dig.

Correction: Fossils are very rare. And you don’t dig; you look.

Posted on November 20, 2014 * Comments

Photo of LEED Gold Great Neck Middle School courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public SchoolsSome say climate change is too hard to teach to kids because it's so depressing...or too controversial...but here’s one school district that has turned that idea on its ear!