Again with the enigmatic fossils from the Ediacaran! Well, I guess that it’s true what they say: you can take the boy out of the Ediacaran, but you can’t take the Ediacaran out of the boy. (Isn’t that what they say?) In any case, fame and fortune—for suitably small values of fame and fortune—will certainly be yours if you are the first to correctly identify today’s fossil in the comments below.
If you’re a member of NCSE (and if you’re not, why not? You can join our mission here), you recently found in your mailbox the entirely redesigned Reports of the National Center for Science Education (affectionately known as RNCSE). I thought you might like to know the history of this major revamp.
Over a recent weekend I was reading Paul Fatout’s Ambrose Bierce: The Devil’s Lexicographer (1951), a rather dated but still readable biography of the American journalist remembered for his macabre short stories and the compilation of satirical definitions acknowledged in Fatout’s subtitle: The Devil’s Dictionary (1911, originally published under the far inferior title The Cynic’s Word Book ). I was familiar with the broad outlines of Bierce’s life—growing up in the Midwest; serving in the Union Army during the Civil War; moving to San Francisco and taking up journalism, punctuated by a stint in England; engaging in all sorts of literary feuds; compiling a much-too-long and indiscriminate edition of his collected works; and disappearing under mysterious circumstances in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution—already.
From the Ediacaran it came! Identify it in the comments below, and win undying glory!
I wouldn’t say that Evolution—A Menace (1922) struck me, in general, as a tremendously innovative book. Written by John William Porter (1863–1937), the Baptist minister who spearheaded the effort to ban the teaching of evolution in Kentucky in the early 1920s, the titles of its eight chapters adequately indicate its contents: Evolution Defined by Evolutionists, Evolution Contradicts and Subverts Revelation, Evolution Falsely Explains Origin of Life, Evolutionary Origin of Species Untrue and Unscientific, Evolution Advocates the Law of the Jungle, Evolution Fails to Explain Facts of History, Evolution Resurrects Bogus “Missing Links,” and Evolution—The Tree and Its Fruits. And the usual crowd of scientists, scholars, and whackadoodles is assembled to testify to the scientific bankruptcy of evolution, including (to name only cases of misleading quotations that I’ve discussed before) John Tyndall, Charles Lyell, Ernst Haeckel, and “Mr. Ethridge [sic] of the British Museum.”
Friday’s fossil featured fabulous fancy flanges—weird processes at the rib-ends that look like overlapping rubber spatulas. What the heck are they for, and to whom do they belong? The latter is easier to answer: Eryops megacephalus.
Maybe you won’t be reading in the idyllic surroundings pictured by Edmund Leighton—even in the temperate San Francisco Bay Area, despite the data reflected in the last link below, it’s not nearly so balmy here right now—but the variety and depth of this week’s suggested reading will engross you just as much. Or so I hope!