Posted on October 06, 2014 * Comments

Last week on Fossil Friday, I gave you a nearly full skull! Surely you could figure this one out in no time.  It was a Borealosuchus sternbergii, an early crocodile.

From the Prehistoric Wildlife site:

Posted on October 03, 2014 * Comments

Tick tock.

This week’s Fossil Friday features the skull of an animal that is a little scary to me—let’s just say I wouldn’t want to come face to face with this fellow. According to my sources, this species was one of the lucky few to survive the K-T extinction.

Posted on October 02, 2014 * Comments

T. T. Martin's stand in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925

What was I maundering about? Oh yes, the Science League of America’s essay contest in 1925, on the evergreen topic, “Why Evolution Should Be Taught in Our Schools Instead of the Book of Genesis,” with a top prize of $50. In part 1, I discussed the contest, its funder the freethought writer William Floyd (who, fifteen years later, attempted to collect $1,000 from the creationist Harry Rimmer for finding scientific errors in the Bible), its judges (including Miriam Allen deFord, the third wife of the Science League of America’s founder Maynard Shipley), and the three winning entries. A fourth entry, which cleverly appealed to the precedent of Jesus’s rejection of tradition to argue for the rejection of the Genesis account, taken literally, in favor of evolution, was published in Shipley’s The War on Modern Science (1927)—but not because it won. Why, then?

Posted on October 01, 2014 * Comments

I don't see any carbon dioxide! By John Snape via Wikimedia Commons

Posted on September 30, 2014 * Comments

In addition to running the Creation Museum in Kentucky, Ken Ham writes a blog. I regularly read this blog because it provides me with a joyful cornucopia of mirth as well as unintentional revelations about how creationists think. Reading it is like eavesdropping on a conversation from an alternate universe.

Posted on September 30, 2014 * Comments

You remember the Science League of America, don’t you? Founded by the polymath Maynard Shipley (shown here) in 1924, it fought antievolution legislation, helped teachers discharged for teaching evolution, argued for evolution in articles and letters to the editor in magazines and newspapers, lectured and organized meetings all over the country, and basically served as “a vast clearing-house and information bureau” with respect to the teaching of evolution—the NCSE of its day, really, which is part of the reason that NCSE’s blog is named in its honor. Additionally, in 1925, the Science League of America conducted a prize contest on the evergreen topic, “Why Evolution Should Be Taught in Our Schools Instead of the Book of Genesis.” And thereby hangs a tale, which Shipley (partly) tells in The War on Modern Science (1927).

Posted on September 29, 2014 * Comments

Quick! What’s the definition of “evolution”? Don’t think, just answer! Got it? Okay. Did you say, “change over time”? I bet that most of you did. It’s the classic, benign definition. But the problem is that it can feed into a classic, not-so-benign, misconception. Which one? This one:

Misconception: Individuals evolve over their lifetimes.

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.