Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Name-calling sparks dispute over aetosaurs

This is something that has been going on for quite some time and is finally getting a bit more press (national vs. just the vert paleo list!). You can read the the whole article here, as it was presented in Nature today. There are also excerpts below. As I mentioned, this has been going on for quite some time, and it was even talk about in great detail over at Tetrapod Zoology (be sure to read all the comments!) last April. There are quite a few comments from those who have been directly involved in the is case and by some who have been impacted indirectly or who have made observations that are worth noting. You can also read more on the situation here, detailing the time line of events. These are just "one side of the story" but the other side is doing the "no comment" routine, which leaves one to wonder. I leave it to you to decide, but please, do feel free to make as many comments as you like!! :)

Published online 30 January 2008 | Nature 451, 510 (2008) | doi:10.1038/451510a

Fossil reptiles mired in controversy

Name-calling sparks dispute over aetosaurs.

And last July, Jerzy Dzik of the Palaeobiology Institute at the University of Warsaw sent Lucas an e-mail in complaint after Lucas published an article in the Bulletin describing Polish aetosaur fossils3. The article appeared shortly after Lucas had visited the Warsaw Institute, when the fossils were close to being described by scientists there. Such a thing had not occurred in the past 50 years at his institute, Dzik wrote, adding: “Your action was harmful to many young researchers.”

In an e-mail response to Dzik, Lucas blamed the Polish researchers for not being more explicit about their fossil-examination rules, but he did apologize for what he called “a misunderstanding”.

Another article published in the Bulletin by Spielmann and his bosses involves a reinterpretation of an aetosaur called Redondasuchus4. Jeff Martz, a palaeontology doctoral student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, says this reinterpretation — involving bony spikes along the animal's back — failed to properly credit his own similar description in a master's thesis, an act akin to plagiarism.

In a letter of complaint sent in 2007 to New Mexico government officials, Martz, Mathew Wedel of the University of California at Merced and Michael Taylor of the University of Portsmouth, UK, wrote: “It is our strong suspicion the [New Mexico Museum team members] deliberately abused their editorial powers to take credit for observations and insights of Parker and Martz.” Such actions, the letter argues, corrupt the scientific process and harm young researchers. Because Lucas largely edits the Bulletin, he and his team have been able “to mass produce essentially self-published and non-peer-reviewed papers”, the letter claims.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another fun shirt

I think I probably need this one:

"This is the perfect shirt for those of us who rely on spell checker to fix our spelling."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Ethical Treatment of Paleontologists

Do you support the ethical treatment of your paleontologist? If so, visit my friend Jim's site to become a member.

Also check out the new line of ETP wear at Jim's Store!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


My friend Allison sent this to me today. It is a shirt design from Threadless. Its a pretty fun website, with tons of cool shirt designs. Check it out!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Piled Higher & Deeper
Life (or the lack thereof) in Academia
A comic strip by Jorge Cham

In case you have never seen this wonderful comic, I suggest you stop by and check it out. The artist updates at least once a week, if not more, and you can sign up for email updates. Todays comic is, once again, eerily accurate to my current situation: (click on image to enlarge)

Friday, January 18, 2008

New movies for 2008

I am addicted to movies. When I am bored (like now) I like to watch movie trailer to see if there is anything out there to look forward to (since there is not much at the theaters now). Here is what I found tonight, a few that look like they might be worth the $10-15 it takes to go to a movie these days:


1: Strange Wilderness
Cast: Steve Zahn, Allen Covert, Jonah Hill, Justin Long, Jeff Garlin, Kevin Heffernan
Plot: With the ratings dropping for a wilderness-themed TV show, two animal fans go to the Andes in search of Bigfoot.
Genre: Comedy
ReBecca's thoughts: Looks semi-funny.

No date: The Other Boleyn Girl [trailer]
Cast: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mark Rylance, David Morrissey
Plot: A sumptuous and sensual tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in European history, The Other Boleyn Girl tells the story of two beautiful sisters, Anne and Mary Boleyn, who driven by their family's blind ambition, compete for the love of the handsome and passionate King Henry VIII
Genre: Drama / History / Romance
ReBecca's thoughts: Looks interesting. I am always waiting to see if Portman can do anything different than what she usually does. I want to like her but she sometimes comes across as flat and does not convey as much emotion as I would like.


7: 10,000 B.C. [trailer]
Cast: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Omar Sharif, Tim Barlow, Marco Khan, Reece Ritchie, Mo Zinal, Mona Hammond, Joel Virgel Vierset, Suri van Sornsen, Joel Fry, Nathanael Baring, Joe Vaz
Plot: A prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter's journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe.
Genre: Adventure /Drama
ReBecca's thoughts: Awesome looking effects. Hopefully it will have a story line to go along
with them.


4: Nim's Island [trailer]
Cast: Jodie Foster, Abigail Breslin, Gerard Butler, Alphonso McAuley
Plot: Anything can happen on Nim's Island, a magical place ruled by a young girl's imagination. It is an existence that mirrors that of her favorite literary character, Alex Rover - the world's greatest adventurer. But Alexandra, the author of the Rover books, leads a reclusive life in the big city. When Nim's father goes missing from their island, a twist of fate brings her together with Alexandra. Now they must draw courage from their fictional hero, Alex Rover, and find strength in one another to conquer Nim's Island.
Genre: Adventure / Comedy / Family
ReBecca's thoughts: Looks cute. Would probably be even more fun if I were 8. I'll still probably see it.


no date: Made of Honor [trailer]
Cast: Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan, Sydney Pollack, Kadeem Hardison, Beau Garrett, Richmond Arquette, Whitney Cummings
Plot: A guy in love with an engaged woman (his best friend) tries to win her over after she asks him to be her maid of honor.
Genre: Comedy
ReBecca's thoughts: Looks good. My official wedding planning book said it is a popular trend right now to have a guy as your Maid(Made?) of Honor, and vice versa. And to have McDreamy as yours, when your other choice is just some guy with an accent, well....I think we all know how this movie will end (unless it has the popular "real" ending that Hollywood has been into lately, which is where he will just walk away and let her be happy). Predictable. Either way I will probably still go see it.

22: INDIANA JONES!! (need I say more)
Cast: Harrison Ford and Karen Allen are really the only ones that matter
Plot: Who knows! I hope it is good!
Genre: Adventure!
ReBecca's thoughts: Like a moth to the flame, I must go. Will I leave in tears? Quite possibly.


The Dark Knight [trailer]
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall, Nestor Carbonell, Melinda McGraw, Nathan Gamble, Michael Jai White
Plot: Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker, whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker's crimes grow more and more deadly.
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
ReBecca's thoughts: I was really blown away by Ledger in the trailer. Wow, he looks and sounds perfect! He might just steal the show from Bale who did an awesome job as Batman last time. I really do not like comic book movies and the first 4 (3? 5?) Batman movies were pretty bad over all. Batman Begins gave the series another life. Hopefully this can continue that.


You Don't Mess with the Zohan [trailer]
Cast: Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Shelley Berman, Sayed Badreya, Alex Luria, Lainie Kazan, Alec Mapa
Plot: A Mossad agent fakes his death so he can re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist.
Genre: Comedy
ReBecca's thoughts: Looks funny. I am a Sandler fan, and hopefully he can deliver another hit. If it is another Little Nicky, I might start to worry.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall [trailer]
Cast: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Hader, Kala Alexander
Plot: Devastated Peter takes a Hawaiian vacation in order to deal with recent break-up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah. Little does he know Sarah's traveling to the same resort as her ex... and she's bringing along her new boyfriend.
Genre: Comedy / Romance
ReBecca's thoughts: Looks entertaining. It has the guy from "How I Met Your Mother" in it and he is proving to be an alright actor, so I am interested to see what his range is. Not that another romantic comedy shows range, but it could be a good performance. Maybe its just because all the people in the trailer look so warm, running around on the beach when it is 1 degree here (seriously, it really is 1 whole degree right now. Thats it!).

Tiger helps improve world, removes additional 'mammals' from gene pool

Maybe I am just insensitive, but I always seem to side with the animals over the humans, especially in this case. The poor tiger had probably had enough. How would you feel if three drunk/stoned teenagers stood on a fence and yelled at you and after you had lived you entire life locked behind that fence, only to be stared at and pointed at every day. Its to bad humans always feel the need to kill the animal who does something "wrong." Maybe it is the human who is the one acting more irrationally and might just need taken out of the gene pool. I promise I am not trying to be mean here. I know that it sounds cold. I feel sorry for the family that lost one of their love ones. However, I also think it is time the the humans on this planet start to treat the other creatures that live here with as much respect as we would expect from our fellow humans. Or just continue to think that humans rule and ReBecca is just a crazy hippie.

Tiger attack victim admits taunting, police say

Teen attacked by Tatiana reportedly says young men yelled, waved at cat

updated 11:14 p.m. CT, Thurs., Jan. 17, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO - One of the three victims of San Francisco Zoo tiger attack was intoxicated and admitted to yelling and waving at the animal while standing atop the railing of the big cat enclosure, police said in court documents filed Thursday.

Paul Dhaliwal, 19, told the father of Carlos Sousa Jr., 17, who was killed, that the three yelled and waved at the tiger but insisted they never threw anything into its pen to provoke the cat, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle.

"As a result of this investigation, (police believe) that the tiger may have been taunted/agitated by its eventual victims," according to Inspector Valerie Matthews, who prepared the affidavit. Police believe that "this factor contributed to the tiger escaping from its enclosure and attacking its victims," she said.

Sousa's father, Carlos Sousa Sr., said Dhaliwal told him the three stood on a 3-foot-tall metal railing a few feet from the edge of the tiger moat. "When they got down they heard a noise in the bushes, and the tiger was jumping out of the bushes on him (Paul Dhaliwal)," the documents said.

Police found a partial shoe print that matched Paul Dhaliwal's on top of the railing, Matthews said in the documents.

The affidavit also cites multiple reports of a group of young men taunting animals at the zoo, the Chronicle reported.

Mark Geragos, an attorney for the Dhaliwal brothers, did not immediately return a call late Thursday by The Associated Press for comment. He has repeatedly said they did not taunt the tiger.

A call to Sousa also wasn't returned.

Alcohol, drugs found in boys' systems
Toxicology results for Dhaliwal showed that his blood alcohol level was 0.16 — twice the legal limit for driving, according to the affidavit. His 24-year-old brother Kulbir Dhaliwal and Sousa also had alcohol in their blood but within the legal limit, Matthews wrote.

All three also had marijuana in their systems, Matthews said. Kulbir Dhaliwal told police that the three had smoked pot and each had "a couple shots of vodka" before leaving San Jose for the zoo on Christmas Day the affidavit said.

Police found a small amount of marijuana in Kulbir Dhaliwal's 2002 BMW, which the victims rode to the zoo, as well as a partially filled bottle of vodka, according to court documents.

Investigators also recovered messages and images from the cell phones, but apparently nothing incriminating in connection with the tiger attack, the Chronicle reported.

Sam Singer, a spokesman for the zoo, said he had not seen the documents but believed the victims did taunt the animal, even though they claim they hadn't.

"Those brothers painted a completely different picture to the public and the press," Singer said. "Now it's starting to come out that what they said is not true."


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian.
- Robert Orben

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Teenage pregnancy in dinosaurs

Congrats to Sarah and Andrew!!

Dinos sexually mature by 8, research shows

WASHINGTON (AP) -- -- Adolescent pregnancy isn't a modern invention, it occurred in dinosaurs millions of years ago.

Medullary bone, a type of tissue present in modern birds when they are developing eggs, has been found in three dinosaur fossils, researchers report in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The dinosaurs were aged 8, 10 and 18, indicating they reached sexual maturity earlier than previously thought.

In modern birds, medullary tissue lines bones for only a few weeks when they are producing eggs and is then reabsorbed. Finding it in dinosaurs, which are believed to be the ancestors of birds, sheds light on their reproduction also.

Most dinosaurs lived to only about age 30, though some reached 60, the researchers said.

The study was done by Sarah Werning, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and Andrew Lee, also a graduate student at Berkeley when the work was done. Lee is now a postdoctoral student at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"This is an exciting finding, because age at sexual maturity is related to so many things," the students' adviser, said Kevin Padian, a professor of integrative biology and a curator in UC Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology.

Werning said in a statement that pinpointing the age of reproductive maturity "opens up so many complementary avenues of dinosaur research. You can talk about dinosaur physiology, lifespan, reproductive strategies. And you could use this technique to look at all kinds of extinct animals."

The medullary bones examined by Werning and Lee came from the meat-eater Allosaurus and the plant-eater Tenontosaurus. It's also been found in Tyrannosaurus rex, they said.

The research was done by the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, the University of Oklahoma Graduate Student Senate, the Jurassic Foundation and U. C. Berkeley's Department of Integrative Biology.

Lee, A. H. & Werning, S. 2008. Sexual maturity in growing dinosaurs does not fit reptilian growth models. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105, 582-587.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Save Money by Watching the Watts

I found this interesting article today while procrastinating at work:

Save Money by Watching the Watts

By Tom Mainelli, PC World

Monitoring the power that my gadgets suck up, and making a few changes, helped me to be greener--and cut my bills.

P3 International's $21 Kill A Watt power monitoring device (© PC World)

We use a lot of electricity at my house, a drawback to being technology obsessed. In the interest of going at least a little bit greener, I set out to measure (and to reduce, I hoped) the power usage of my various home-office computers and peripherals during a typical workday. What I discovered was, uh, shocking.

To begin my testing, I picked up the Kill A Watt from P3 International, a $21 product that lets you measure the amount of power a given device uses. Then I perused my $75 electricity bill and discovered that the power company charges me roughly 11 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the first 333 kWh we use per month. (I also learned that the price per kWh goes up slightly for the next 100 kWh we use, and then it rises dramatically once we pass the 433-kWh mark--which we commonly do.) Armed with my new gadget and a little pricing knowledge, I headed for the power strips under my desk.

The good, the bad, the insatiable
My company-provided Dell notebook sips responsibly from the power trough, consuming an average of 29 watts while in use and 20 watts with a dark screen (now set to occur after five minutes of inactivity). Standby pulls a mere 1 watt, and powered off it's a perfect 0. When I work at home, I use the notebook to monitor my e-mail, and the screen is dark half the time. I then shut it down after a nine-hour workday. In the end, I'm happy to pay roughly 2 cents a day to run this notebook.

My home-built desktop shows less restraint, drawing an average of 145 watts during typical use (though heavy video-card use can cause that number to spike up to 100 watts higher). In standby the unit pulls 6 watts; turned off, it still draws 3 watts. In the past I rarely powered it down, so I paid about 38 cents per day ($140 per year). Now I set the PC to enter standby mode after 25 minutes, and I shut it down at night, which should cut my cost by roughly half. My savings fall short of those from the Energy Star 4.0-rated "Green PCs" that the PC World Test Center saw recently, but they're a start.

I run two 22-inch flat-panels. One is an Acer that draws 37 watts while in use and 0 watts in standby and off; the other, a Westinghouse, pulls 43 watts while in use, and 1 watt in standby and off. For a nine-hour day with no standby, the cost is 8 cents. By setting the monitors to go dark after 10 minutes of inactivity and by turning off any power-wasting screen savers, I expect to keep my cost here at under $30 per year.

My other two must-run devices are my Scientific Atlanta cable modem (6 watts) and my Netgear router (4 watts). With various devices accessing these 24/7, I'm willing to pay roughly 3 cents per day to run them continuously.

I'm less inclined, however, to feed my Klipsch speakers and HP all-in-one printer continuously. Idle, the printer pulls 12 watts, and even in power-saving mode (or off) it sucks down 6 watts. Worse, the speaker rig draws 16 watts when silent, goes up slightly at moderate volumes, and rises a bit more at concert-level decibels. But the power switch is virtually inaccessible, and I never turn them off.

So I attached a power strip to the underside of my desk--where I can easily access the power switch--and plugged in the printer and speakers. Now both pull 0 watts until I decide to use them.

No change proved particularly difficult--we'll talk about my power-guzzling, always-on home server another time--but every little bit helps. It feels good to be a bit more green, and to save a little green on the power bill.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

My cat sees dead people

So I think either Kelty has finally lost her little kitty mind or else she is seeing ghost or aliens or something...
Her new hobby since we have moved back to Rock Island is to lay in front of the patio doors and just watch the world go by. This is pretty much what she did all summer in Grand Junction as well. The other day she went bonkers when we had a nice squirrel stop by to try and raid the bird feeders (that remain undiscovered by the birds). I had no idea how he got up on the deck in the first place, since I do not live on the ground floor and there are no trees near the deck, but there he was, driving Kelty nuts. It was rather funny to watch him peer in at her, knowing fully well that she could not get him. She chased him back and forth anyway.For the past few nights she keep acting like there is something on the deck (and after dark), but every time I go to look, there is nothing there. I am not sure what she is seeing, but she gets freaked out at times and runs away from the window, and that is when I get nervous. So I hope the place is not haunted and that there are no aliens chilling on my cold deck at the moment....

Friday, January 11, 2008

Here I am.

So, I have finally made the move. You can still access my old blog here, although most of my post will be on this site from now on. Keep your eyes peeled for more randomness.....