Sunday, February 28, 2010

Time-lapse video from underneath a glacier

How's this for rad:

Pretty slick, huh? It's a clip from some NOVA Special on PBS. Just a neat video to help you make it through the afternoon!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Saddest Trace Fossil In The World

Trace fossils are great sedimentological tools; they can tell us a lot about the local energy conditions, instantaneous sedimentation styles, and substrate conditions, and tend to be controlled by traditionally hard-to-figure-out paleoenvironmental proxies like salinity, light, and nutrient availability. So, seds-oriented folks trying to get some really detailed info about depositional environments tend to go crazy over these arcane little scratches, tubes, and trails found in the rock record.

However, if you're one of the paleontologically oriented sorts, then I reckon trace fossils must be really aggravating, form a biological perspective at least. Oh, sure, you can get some morphological detail out of them, and narrow down the sort of critter that made them, but don't you just hate how damn COY those little fossils are about the trace-maker's REAL identity?

In a few lucky cases, though, the sedimentary record has conspired to give us little glimpses of the tracemakers identity. But man! It's just so sad, isn't it:

The picture above is of the Jurassic Horseshoe crab Mesolimulus walchi, from Germany, along with its very own preserved trail (probably of the ichnogenus Kouphichnium, but I might be wrong). I took these pictures at the AMNH a couple of years ago...and it was under weird museum mood-lighting, so it was a little darker than optimal for picture taking.

Anyway, this poor little fellow was just tooling along the anoxic bottom, trying to find some oxygen, I reckon, when he just gave up the ghost. I mean, look at him there, and the end of his trail, forever entombed in sediment!

The pathos!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Darwin - The Rock Opera

Jumpin' Cats! Check it out: Some Swedish band has put together a rock opera based on Charles Darwin's life and work. AND you can stream it live, off that there internet! The masterpiece is called "Tomorrow, in a Year", and includes tracks titled "Geology", "Epochs", and "Letter to Henslow" badass is that!?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Geology and Beer

Despite what those wine-swilling elitist bastards would have you think, the REAL drink of geologists everywhere is BEER. I have a favorite half-remembered quote from some Victorian mountaineer/geologists who said, to the effect, "Beer never tastes so good as after a hard day of field work". Of course, my apocryphal quote speaks Truth: beer, in the field, after a day of measuring section, or mapping, or tromping up and down hill and valley lugging samples, is something to bring a smile to even the most grizzled of geologists.

Anyway, folks might have seen this before, but it bears repeating. Why Geologists Love Beer is an article from Wired, based around beer-drinking culture and the most recent AGU Meeting in San Fransisco. There's even a little video to watch, but be warned: it'll make you thirsty.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Darwin Day!

Happy Darwin Day, everybody! Celebrate the day by punching a creationists and (if you can) maybe enjoy a little differential reproductive success, you know what I mean, wink wink wink.

Also, here's a link from The Victorian Web with an online edition of Richard Owen's anonymously written "Critique of Darwin's Origin of the Species"; it's an interesting read, mainly on account of it PRETTY much making all the exact same arguments that stupid creationists make today...they just don't learn!

Oh well! Happy Darwin Day!