Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Off to the Badlands I go

This week and all of next I will be out in northwestern Nebraska doing fieldwork! During the summer, the Geology Department at Augustana College (where I currently work as a Paleontology Research Assistant - for a few more weeks at least) offers a 3-credit course entitled "Fossil Mammals of the Badlands." This 2-week course travels to the White River Badlands of South Dakota and Nebraska to learn about the paleontology and geology of the area. The group camps on Shalimar Ranch, outside of Harrison, Nebraska, and collects fossils on privately owned land. This trip has become a tradition, with the first trip in 1982. This will be my third trip and we have quite a big group this year. I am looking forward to getting out and doing some field work, enjoying the sun (hopefully!) and peace that comes from being in the field. Its always a good way to transition into summer and get my blood flowing again after the long winter. I am looking forward to the camp fires and dusty days of hiking.

This is the beginning of my my gypsy stage. I am moving out of my apartment in the morning, Kelty will be staying in Rock Island while I am in Nebraska, and when I return (the 6th) I will work my last week at Augustana (living out of the car) before heading to Colorado on the 12th! I will be living in western Colorado for good now, no going back to Rock Island. Its going to be a busy few weeks! Hope all of you have a good few weeks. I'll be sure to post some nice field pictures for you all when I get back, but for now you will have to enjoy these from past years ;)

Predator versus prey: Accelleratii incredibus and Eatius birdius

It's the classic scenario between predator versus prey. The never ending struggle for survival which has fueled natural selection between species for eons. It is a noble battle, it is a necessary battle, and it is a lethal battle.

The predator (Eatius birdius) is on the hunt in his quest for survival. He catches the scent of a potential meal. Instantly a cold blanket of calm cloaks the predator, and all of his senses become enhanced, his mind more alert. He slips behind a nearby outcropping, and drops closer to the ground so as not to be spotted by his prey (Accelleratii incredibus). Inside the mind and body of the predator a deadly transformation has begun. His already alert mind becomes more focused on the prey blocking everything else out. His digestive juices, and no small amount of adrenalin, begin pumping, and salivary glands become active. As his bloodlust becomes more intense, a line of drool escapes the confines of the predator's glistening fangs, and runs slowly down its fur and lands on the dirt of the desert floor. He's waiting for the just the right moment to make his attack.

That moment comes prematurely, as a sudden shift in the wind carries the predator's scent to his prey, alerting the prey to the predator's presence. The prey becomes wary, and slowly scans the area for available escape routes. As he scans, he notices a subtle, almost imperceptible motion near a rock to his right. The predator realizes that he has been spotted and there is an preternatural silence for an eternal moment. Then the chase begins! The prey flees relying on its natural defense - its sheer speed - to deliver it to safety. But the predator is prepared, and being naturally cunning makes an adjustment in his strategy.

Suddenly, incomprehensibly, the predator stops and pulls out a box labelled "ACME Rocket Skates". He slips on the skates, and lights a match putting the flaming tip to the wicks of the rockets. The rockets, of course, explode, turning the noble predator into a coyote shaped cinder. The prey returns to gloat over its escape. It stands before the immobile cinder and says "Beep-Beep!" The cinder collapses into a pile of ash with two eyeballs on top.

The eyes blink twice.

The prey disappears over the horizon leading a trail of dust.

Commonly known as Accelleratii incredibus (left) and Eatius birdius (right), other varieties include Fastius tastyus and Apetitius giganticus.

Thanks to Jerry Harris for this one.
See more Warner Brothers skeletals (and one set of Disney characters) here.
Text from here (I wish I had that good of an imagination!)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

USGS Map Locator and Downloader

In the course of work on a new project, a few months ago I discovered that topozone.com is no longer the topozone we knew, but a shoddy paid alternative. This really made me mad! It was great as it was (and free), why change it (other than greed). I tried their free trial, and it sucks.

The work I am doing, and will be doing over the next few months, requires me to use maps and topozone had been a good source in the past. I have been searching for an alternative and found the USGS Map Locator and Downloader yesterday. While I can't just enter UTM's and find a point on a map, its better than nothing*. If anyone out there can suggest a free alternative, it would be appreciated**.

USGS is also offering the GeoPDF Toolbar. "The free GeoPDF Toolbar turns Adobe Reader into a powerful geospatial application that gives users the ability to view, manipulate and update mapping data while leveraging Adobe collaboration capabilities to share information with others in the field and at home base. Geospatial professionals create a map with their GIS and then use Map2PDF to export the data to a GeoPDF file. GeoPDF files can be easily distributed and then viewed and used by anyone with Reader and the GeoPDF Toolbar, a free small-footprint plug-in." Read more here, and download the toolbar here.

*oops, you can after all! My mistake.
** Bill Parker points out TopoQuest.com which is a FREE Topozone alternative. Check it out!

Friday, May 23, 2008

SVP rules on Aetogate

The SVP Executive Committee has posted their official findings into Aetogate. You can read their full statement here (pdf), along with a set of “best practices” in publishing and museum research (pdf) drafted by the SVP Ethics Education Committee. What it boils down too:

  1. the Ethics Education Committee concluded that the Spielmann et al. omission of citing Martz's correct orientation of an aetosaur scute in a figure does not imply plagiarism, but an oversight.
  2. the Ethics Education Committee was not able to resolve the allegations by Parker that Lucas et al. deliberately rushing to publish a new genus name for the aetosaur formerly known as Desmatosuchus chamaensis in favor of either side.
They then give us a list of lessons learned from these investigations.

  1. "Achievement involves not only individual and collaborative discoveries and publications but also support of other workers, especially junior scientists, in one’s scientific community. Overly competitive behavior does not necessarily further our discipline."
  2. "We expect reviews of professional conduct to be unbiased and free of conflicts of interest (real or apparent), regardless of whether they are performed by professional societies, employers or editors." They then go on to state that the review by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science regarding the complains was not handled well did little to help resolve the issue. (please read their specific statement regarding this)
  3. Scientist who work independently on the same material can reach the same concussions.
  4. "...the editorial practices of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin have left the authors vulnerable to the appearance of impropriety."
  5. Lack of communication, especially in this case, only helped to further the conflict.
  6. "...the expectation that theses and dissertations that have not been republished in widely read periodicals will be read by most workers or manuscript reviewers is unlikely to be realized." They then urge students to be more wary of distributing their thesis/dissertation work until publication is underway. They also note that if a worker is aware that a thesis/dissertation has been been written on a particular topic the thesis/dissertation writer should be given a reasonable amount of time to publish their findings.
  7. "Finally, the public posting of opinion and correspondence about these allegations on the Internet has not been helpful to resolving these matters, both in regard to the SVP Ethics Education Committee fairly resolving the matters, but also in that it has potentially polarized and biased the vertebrate paleontology community in a way that jeopardizes fair consideration of these matters as a community." (does this mean I should be keeping my mouth/blog shut about this and not even write this post??? Please advise) :(

Comments/words in bold are my own emphasis, not that of the SVP Ethics Education Committee or that of the Executive Committee.

The review ends with a note that "the Ethics Education Committee and Executive Committee are in the process of evaluating whether to amend and expand the Bylaw on Ethics, so that any future such complaints – if found to have merit – can be acted upon more forcefully."

Official Press release here.
Statement on Allegations.
SVP Statement on Best practices from the Ethics Education Committee regarding research, publication, and museum work.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First Jurassic Ankylosaur track found

Jurassic track unearthed in Cactus Park
The Daily Sentinel

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The rocky outcrops of Cactus Park were a real Jurassic Park some 140 million years ago, home to a wide variety of dinosaurs.

One of them left a footprint that survived the eons to be discovered this spring by Kent Hups, a science teacher at Manual High School in Denver.

Hups unveiled the print on Wednesday in Denver, where he’s showing his students how to make casts of prints such as the one he found.

His ankylosaur print is the first such print of the species from the Jurassic Period and the largest print of any ankylosaur from the Age of the Dinosaurs.

“This is a first in the Jurassic,” said Dr. Martin Lockley, a track expert from the Dinosaur Tracks Museum and the University of Colorado in Denver. “This is not just any old footprint. This is the first and only ankylosaur footprint ever found in the Jurassic — anywhere in the world. It is another tracking first for Colorado.”

Paleontologists have found fossils from Jurassic-era ankylosaurs, but none as large as the one suggested by Hups’ print, Lockley said.

Ankylosaurs were heavily armored creatures believed related to stegosaurs.

Finding the track was “blind luck,” Hups said.

He was searching on land administered by the Bureau of Land Management on Cactus Park this spring when he overturned a rock.

“Holy cow, that’s different,” he said when he saw the imprint, left apparently by an animal waddling through a flood plain or watering hole.

He and a companion hauled the rock weighing about 110 pounds back to their camp and contacted Lockley, who called it “the best track I’ve ever seen” when he got to inspect it.

Lockley, Hups and John Foster, Museum of Western Colorado paleontology curator, and Gerard Gierlinski of the Polish Geological Institute have submitted preliminary findings on the track to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The size of the track suggests a much larger animal than is already familiar to researchers at the Museum of Western Colorado, Foster said.

The print appears larger than one that would be left by the animal unearthed from younger, Cretaceous-era rock at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Rabbit Valley, he said. [Mygatt-Moore is a quarry in the Jurassic Morrison Formation, the reporter made a mistake here]

The rarity of tracks from stegosaurs and ankylosaurs is puzzling, especially in light of the relative abundance of theropod and sauropod tracks, Foster said.

“That’s the thing that’s weird,” he said. “We can’t quite figure it out.”

The Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey in Fruita will get a cast of the print for study.

I had a bad feeling about this........

And this is all I have to say about it....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Professor Henry Jones is denied tenure

I know I have posted this before (way in the past on my old blog), but in honor of this great day (in case your living under a rock, Indiana Jones 4 is out today, and I will be seeing it at 6:40pm), I give you "Professor Henry Jones is denied tenure":

January 22, 1939

Assistant Professor Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr.
Department of Anthropology
Chapman Hall 227B
Marshall College

Dr. Jones:

As chairman of the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, I regret to inform you that your recent application for tenure has been denied by a vote of 6 to 1. Following past policies and procedures, proceedings from the committee's deliberations that were pertinent to our decision have been summarized below according to the assessment criteria.

Demonstrates suitable experience and expertise in chosen field:

The committee concurred that Dr. Jones does seem to possess a nearly superhuman breadth of linguistic knowledge and an uncanny familiarity with the history and material culture of the occult. However, his understanding and practice of archaeology gave the committee the greatest cause for alarm. Criticisms of Dr. Jones ranged from "possessing a perceptible methodological deficiency" to "practicing archaeology with a complete lack of, disregard for, and colossal ignorance of current methodology, theory, and ethics" to "unabashed grave-robbing." Given such appraisals, perhaps it isn't surprising to learn that several Central and South American countries recently assembled to enact legislation aimed at permanently prohibiting his entry.

Moreover, no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist's tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver.

Nationally recognized for an effectual program of scholarship or research supported by publications of high quality:

Though Dr. Jones conducts "field research" far more often than anyone else in the department, he has consistently failed to report the results of his excavations, provide any credible evidence of attending the archaeological conferences he claims to attend, or produce a single published article in any peer-reviewed journal. Someone might tell Dr. Jones that in academia "publish or perish" is the rule. Shockingly, there is little evidence to date that Dr. Jones has successfully excavated even one object since he arrived at Marshall College. Marcus Brody, curator of our natural-history museum, assured me this was not so and graciously pointed out several pieces in the collection that he claimed were procured through Dr. Jones's efforts, but, quite frankly, we have not one shred of documentation that can demonstrate the provenance or legal ownership of these objects.

Meets professional standards of conduct in research and professional activities of the discipline:

The committee was particularly generous (and vociferous) in offering their opinions regarding this criterion. Permit me to list just a few of the more troubling accounts I was privy to during the committee's meeting. Far more times than I would care to mention, the name "Indiana Jones" (the adopted title Dr. Jones insists on being called) has appeared in governmental reports linking him to the Nazi Party, black-market antiquities dealers, underground cults, human sacrifice, Indian child slave labor, and the Chinese mafia. There are a plethora of international criminal charges against Dr. Jones, which include but are not limited to: bringing unregistered weapons into and out of the country; property damage; desecration of national and historical landmarks; impersonating officials; arson; grand theft (automobiles, motorcycles, aircraft, and watercraft in just a one week span last year); excavating without a permit; countless antiquities violations; public endangerment; voluntary and involuntary manslaughter; and, allegedly, murder.

Dr. Jones's interpersonal skills and relationships are no better. By Dr. Jones's own admission, he has repeatedly employed an underage Asian boy as a driver and "personal assistant" during his Far East travels. I will refrain from making any insinuations as to the nature of this relationship, but my intuition insists that it is not a healthy one, nor one to be encouraged. Though the committee may have overstepped the boundaries of its evaluation, I find it pertinent to note that Dr. Jones has been romantically linked to countless women of questionable character, an attribute very unbecoming of a Marshall College professor. One of these women was identified as a notorious nightclub singer whose heart he attempted to extract with his hands, and whom he then tried, and failed, to lower into a lake of magma. Another was a Nazi scholar he was seen courting just last year who, I'm told, plummeted into a fathomless abyss at Dr. Jones's hand. And, of course, no one can forget the slow decline and eventual death of Professor Abner Ravenwood after Dr. Jones's affair with Abner's underage daughter was made public, forcing her to emigrate to Nepal to escape the debacle.

Demonstrates successful record in undergraduate and graduate teaching:

In his nine years with the department, Dr. Jones has failed to complete even one uninterrupted semester of instruction. In fact, he hasn't been in attendance for more than four consecutive weeks since he was hired. Departmental records indicate Dr. Jones has taken more sabbaticals, sick time, personal days, conference allotments, and temporary leaves than all the other members of the department combined.

The lone student representative on the committee wished to convey that, besides being an exceptional instructor, a compassionate mentor, and an unparalleled gentleman, Dr. Jones was extraordinarily receptive to the female student body during and after the transition to a coeducational system at the college. However, his timeliness in grading and returning assignments was a concern.

Establishment of an appropriate record of departmental and campus service:

Dr. Jones's behavior on campus has led not only to disciplinary action but also to concerns as to the state of his mental health. In addition to multiple instances of public drunkenness, Dr. Jones, on three separate occasions, has attempted to set fire to the herpetology wing of the biology department. Perhaps most disturbing, however, are the statements that come directly from Dr. Jones's mouth. Several faculty members maintain that Dr. Jones informed them on multiple occasions of having discovered the Ark of the Covenant, magic diamond rocks, and the Holy Grail! When asked to provide evidence for such claims, he purportedly replied that he was "kind of immortal" and/or muttered derogatory statements about the "bureaucratic fools" running the U.S. government. Given his history with the Nazi Party, I fear where his loyalty lies.

- - - -

To summarize, the committee fails to recognize any indication that Dr. Jones is even remotely proficient when it comes to archaeological scholarship and practice. His aptitude as an instructor is questionable at best, his conduct while abroad is positively deplorable, and his behavior on campus is minimally better. Marshall College has a reputation to uphold. I need not say more.

My apologies,

Prof. G.L. Stevens

Parrot refuses to talk to cops

This is Awesome:

Lost parrot gives vet his name and address [link]

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught -- recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor's roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said.

He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet.

"I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.

"We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we've found Yosuke," Uemura said.

The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years.

But Yosuke apparently wasn't keen on opening up to police officials.

"I tried to be friendly and talked to him, but he completely ignored me," Uemura said.

Congrats Manger & Zach!!

This month Dr.s Walter Manger and Doy Zachry were surprised with a scholarship in each of their names! Dr. Manger and Zach were my advisor's when I was an undergrad at the University of Arkansas. They are truly wonderful teachers, and I learned so much from them! Some of my best memories are during my time spent as an undergrad at the U of AR geology program. I am very happy that these two scholarship could be given (fully endowed as well!) in their names! I only wish I could have been there to see the look on their faces, since the whole thing was a surprise and had been in the works for some time.

"The Walter Manger and Doy Zachry Scholarships will be awarded for the first time next year to students in the [University of Arkansas] geology program. Over eighty alumni have donated to the two funds thus far and more than twenty-five attended the banquet. Should you be interested in making a contribution, please contact either Teresa Center (tcenter@uark.edu) in the Department of Geosciences or Emily Smith (egsmith@uark.edu) in Fulbright College."
more pictures here

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I am a huge fan of fonts! Anything that is different than the normal boring fonts, I love. Now there is finally a site, FontStruct, where you can easily make your own fonts, or snag cool ones others have made (if you have money, which, I do not). From the ReadyMade Blog:

"Want to create your own logo or spice up the header for your blog? Create a personalized font that suits the project perfectly with Fonstruct. The free font-building tool lets you construct custom fonts by arranging geometric shapes inside a grid. The process is a little reminiscent of Tetris, but without the overwhelming feeling that sets in when the pieces start dropping at an impossibly rapid pace.

Once your creations are complete, they’re ready for any Mac or Windows application and can be proudly displayed via widget on your blog. Of course, if Times New Romanis about all you can handle, check out the site’s gallery, where other users’ “Fontstructions”—which carry such names as Structurosa and IronManic—will rock your pre-installed world."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Jurassic Joe and the Cretaceous Crew

Check this site out (thanks for JH for pointing this out) If you live in Australia Jurassic Joe will even visit your school:

Jurassic Joe and the Cretaceous Crew present a collection of songs for children of all ages, in a variety of musical styles. Singalong, dance, count, laugh and learn to the mesozoic sounds of DANGER DANGER DINOSAUR (listen to the MP3 here - really, you should listen to it, seriously)

Danger Danger Velociraptor

Danger Danger Velociraptor
Danger Danger They’ve got the sharp claw
Danger Danger Velociraptor
Danger Danger Rrrraaah!

Look out baby protoceratops
Something moving there behind the rocks
Something in the bushes and the trees
Something hiding there behind the leaves.

Danger Danger Velociraptor…

Back one hundred million years ago
Something had a very dangerous toe
I’m so glad that it’s not here today
I’m so glad that we don’t have to say,

Danger Danger Velociraptor…

Picture from their site

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A detailed description of Desmatosuchus

Description of new material of the aetosaur Desmatosuchus spurensis (Archosauria: Suchia) from the Chinle Formation of Arizona and a revision of the genus Desmatosuchus

William Parker, PaleoBios 28(1):1–40, May 12, 2008

Abstract: A new specimen of Desmatosuchus from northeastern Arizona (MNA V9300) preserves almost the entire vertebral column, the pelvis, and the majority of the armor carapace, allowing for an unprecedented detailed description of the taxon. Articulation and reconstruction of the armor carapace demonstrates that previous reconstructions of Desmatosuchus are erroneous in the orientation and position of the lateral armor. Lateral plates of the anterior dorsal region possess low rounded knobs instead of developed spines. The dorsal flange of the lateral plates of the dorsal region is longer than the lateral or ventral flange making the carapace transversely wider than previously thought. As a result, previous reconstructions articulate the lateral armor not only backwards but also on the wrong sides of the body. Posterior presacral vertebrae are extremely robust and possess fused ribs and the last presacral vertebra has been fused to the sacrum, a character that may be taxonomically useful. A prefrontal bone is also present in Desmatosuchus, contrary to previous descriptions. Reinvestigation of the genus Desmatosuchus suggests that there are only two valid species, D. spurensis and D. smalli. The lectotype of Episcoposaurus haplocerus is referable to Desmatosuchus but indeterminate at the species level, and therefore represents a nomen dubium. Accordingly, D. spurensis is reinstated as the type species of Desmatosuchus and the new Arizona specimen is assigned to this taxon. Acaenasuchus geoffreyi, a purported juvenile form of Desmatosuchus, is not referable to Desmatosuchus.

Friday, May 16, 2008

National Endangered Species Day

12 Species on the Brink of Extinction

By LiveScience Staff

posted: 16 May 2008 06:54 am ET

The Wildlife Conservation Society has released a list of the "Rarest of the Rare," a dozen animals most in danger of extinction.

The eclectic list includes birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Some are well known, such as the northern right whale and Sumatran rhino, while others are more obscure, including Abbot's booby, an ocean-going bird that only nests on Christmas Island.

The animals were highlighted today because it is National Endangered Species Day. They are:

* Abbott's booby: A large black-and-white seabird that breeds on Christmas Island, a remote Australian island in the Indian Ocean.
* Addax: A nocturnal antelope species with long spiral horns, found the sand dunes of the Sahara desert.
* Angel shark: Bottom-dwelling, nocturnal predators once common throughout the Northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean and Black seas, but now critically endangered.
* Bengal florican: A large terrestrial bustard bird native to Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, and India.
* Black-faced lion tamarin: A small primate that sleeps in tree holes dug out by woodpeckers and feeds on insects, fruit, and plants. Discovered on the island of Superagui, Brazil, in 1990, there are now only 400 in the wild.
* Burmese roofed turtle: One of Myanmar’s seven native turtles, once abundant in the major rivers of central and southern Burma, threatened by hunting and egg poaching.
* Dragonflies of Sri Lanka: Of the 53 endemic species of dragonfly found in Sri Lanka, at least 20 are threatened.
* Golden arrow poison frog: An amphibian native to Panama, threatened by a highly-infectious fungal disease.
* North Atlantic right whale: Hunted since the 10th century, only 350 of these slow-moving, 220,000-pound (100,000 kg) cetaceans remain.
* Ricord's iguana: A reptile native to two isolated locations in the arid southwestern Dominican Republic
* Pygmy hippopotamus: A small hippo from the Upper Guinean Forest of Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Sierra Leone.
* Sumatran rhino: Also known as the hairy or Asian two-horned rhinoceros, fewer than 300 survive today in the subtropical and tropical dry forests of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Threats to each species vary widely. In the case of Abbot’s booby, the introduction of yellow crazy ants to Easter Island has severely altered their nesting habitat. Meanwhile, the addax has been severely impacted by desertification of its habitat and overhunting. Other species suffer from diseases, as in the case of the golden arrow poison frog, or poaching for the Chinese medicinal trade, which has reduced the population of Sumatran rhinos to fewer than 300 individuals.

The 2007 World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List revealed a continuing rise in the number of species threatened with extinction. Although only a fraction of all plant and animal species have been evaluated, the number of species listed as threatened stands at 16,306, an increase of 188 species since 2006.

"'Rarest of the Rare' is a snapshot of just a handful of the most critically endangered species that serves to illustrate their plight and inspire the public to join the fight for their continued survival," said Kent Redford, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Institute.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another move: half way there

In case you didn't know already, I am moving (yes, again - #26? Its starting to get fuzzy). Today I was very luck to have several of our geology students from Augustana, plus Allison and Patrick, come over for various amounts of time to help with the loading up. Since, between John and I, we will have alot of things when I get to Colorado, we decided to have a huge garage sale and try to get rid of a bunch of stuff. So I loaded as much of that up as I could as well. U-haul is WAY to expensive of an option right now ($1200 before gas!), so I went with a ReloCube from ABF u-pack that was 8X6X7 (this alternative was $700, they drive and pay for the gas, and it can be stored for a month).

When we first pulled up I was like "no way is all of this stuff going to fit in there." But after 2 hours of the worlds largest tetris game made of boxes we were some how able to get it all in there. Thank goodness for the students who stuck around to help with that part! I would not have been able to do any of this today without their help for sure! Everything but 3 dinning room chairs, an old desk and my bed fit, which is fine, since the latter two were in the garage sale pile anyway. And they found a new home with one of the students anyway, so I didn't have to figure out how to get rid of them, which is an added bonus. The chairs are going to be crammed into the Blazer with the rest of the more important things I own. I will be Colorado bound June 12 after work is over that day. The badlands trip is also quickly approaching, so I will be in northwestern Nebraska doing field work the week and half prior to that. Things are moving quickly and I am sure these next 85 days are going to whiz past!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Journey To the Center of the Earth

I had missed this one. Thanks to Laura for pointing it out! I wonder how many times this movie has been remade now....

3-D Trailer:

Alternate Trailer:

Release Date: July 11, 2008

An exciting adventure based on the classic Jules Verne novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” Journey to the Center of the Earth stars Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy) as a science professor whose untraditional hypotheses have made him the laughing stock of the academic community. But on an expedition in Iceland, he and his nephew stumble upon a major discovery that launches them on a thrilling journey deep beneath the Earth’s surface, where they travel through never-before-seen worlds and encounter a variety of unusual creatures. Journey to the Center of the Earth is directed by Academy Award-winning visual effects veteran Eric Brevig (Total Recall, Pearl Harbor) from a screenplay by Michael Weiss and Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin. The film is a co-venture between New Line Cinema and Walden Media.

Official site

LOL Soda?

I love Jones Soda so I had to share this:
Soda company to put LOLcats on bottle labels

By Daniel Terdiman, CNET news.com
I can has a break?

OK. I love Icanhascheezburger.com, and LOLcats in general, as much as the next guy. Truly. I have spent hours, in aggregate, laughing myself to tears on the site.
Soda company to put LOLcats on bottle labels // Jones Soda is teaming with Icanhascheezburger.com to put LOLcats on bottle labels.  (© CNET)
But when I ran across an item on the site on Tuesday morning announcing that it is teaming up with the trendy micro-soda company Jones Soda to run a contest to put LOLcats labels for root beer and other flavor sodas, I had to ask myself if someone was maybe huffing a little too much catnip..............more

Monday, May 12, 2008

Storm Over Everest

Be sure to check out the new David Breashears documentary "Storm Over Everest" tonight on PBS (9 to 11 P.M. ET; check your local listings for times). I am an Everest, and general mountain climbing junky, so I really love to see these types of documentaries with shots of these awesome mountains. Its just unfortunate that this particular story has so many sad things in it, which have been the topic of numerous books (Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster , Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest, Touching My Fathers Soul, High Exposure, The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest, The Other Side of Everest: Climbing the North Face Through the Killer Storm, Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey, Climbing High: A Woman's Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy, Doctor on Everest: Emergency Medicine at the Top of the World - A Personal Account of the 1996 Disaster, Everest : Mountain Without Mercy...). On May 11, 1996 8 people lost their lives on Everest. This is still regarded as the most deadly year on Everest ever (15 died in total trying to reach the summit that year).

From the press release:

"Everybody always says that the definition of character is what you do when nobody is looking. And when we were up there, we didn't think anybody was looking. And so everybody did pretty much what the inner person, the real them, the exposed them would do.... I got to witness those acts--the good ones, the bad ones. And the individuals that came through, that did well, that were selfless. ... Every one of them to me is a hero...."
- Beck Weathers, storm survivor and author, "Left for Dead"

In May 1996, the world-renowned climber and filmmaker David Breashears was making his third ascent up Mount Everest, leading an IMAX film team, when a swift and ferocious storm unexpectedly hit the mountain, trapping three exhausted climbing teams near the top of the world's highest peak.

In the FRONTLINE special presentation Storm Over Everest, airing Tuesday, May 13, 2008, from 9 to 11 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), Breashears returns to summit Everest and to reflect on that fateful storm that resulted in the deaths of five climbers on the south side of the mountain. Combining breathtaking original cinematography with dramatic recreations of the storm conditions of May 1996, the two-hour, high-definition documentary transports viewers to the slopes of Mount Everest. Interviews with climbers who survived the harrowing ordeal recount the events that occurred--and the decisions that were made--that resulted in seasoned mountaineers losing their lives alongside less experienced climbers drawn to the mystique of Mount Everest.

"The mountain doesn't care whether we're here or not," Breashears says in the film. "Everything it means to us is only what we bring to it. It's what the mountain reveals about us that has any lasting value."

In Storm Over Everest, survivors recount the progress of three separate expeditions up the South Col of Mount Everest--and the near-intoxication some climbers felt as they approached the prized summit on May 10, 1996. "You've gone so far up the mountain, you've come so far from home, and you spent six months preparing for this goal," climber Charlotte Fox says. "There's no way you're going to turn around unless things are really going south."

Go south they did, and quickly. As victorious climbers celebrated on the summit and waited--perhaps too long--for the rest of their parties, an intense storm roared across Mount Everest, transforming what had been a beautiful day of mountain climbing into the ultimate struggle for survival. "Within the space of five minutes, it changed from really a good day with a little bit of wind to desperate conditions, something I'd never experienced the ferocity of before," climber John Taske says.

The expeditions began a frantic descent toward the safety of camp, even as their two experienced guides remained high on the mountain assisting other climbers. Hurricane-strength winds reached 80 miles an hour, and temperatures plummeted to 30 below zero. Then darkness fell. The climbers found themselves hopelessly lost in an unrelenting blizzard--blinded by the wind-blasted ice and unable to find their way back to high camp. "People who have all run out of oxygen, some of them really start collapsing, and those of us who are still able to walk try and pick them up, make them keep walking," recalls climber Lene Gammelgaard. "This is survival."

Storm Over Everest recounts the next pivotal 48 hours, when those in the wind-battered tents wrestled with whether to risk additional lives by attempting to rescue the missing climbers. Taske reflects on a life-or-death decision made in the chaos of the storm--ultimately to leave two climbers where they lay, frozen and barely conscious, one of whom had gone blind. "The decision to leave [them] where they were was not really a difficult decision...," he says. "Here were these other people exposed to phenomenal winds, at least 80 miles an hour, 20, 30 below zero at night. We thought it was kinder to leave them rather than cause them pain, even in a semiconscious state, by dragging them over to where we were. They were basically dead."

In the end, some climbers would miraculously find their way back to camp. Others would be rescued by the heroic efforts of those who risked their own lives by venturing out in the storm to lead them to safety. Five climbers--two of them expedition leaders--would not return."


Borrowed from Magma Cum Laude (a great blog, you should check it out)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Congrats Allison and Patrick

to the newlyweds!!

Dr.'s Allison Beck and Patrick Crawford were married this evening here in Rock Island!

Allison is a professor of Biology (and fellow paleontologist) here at Augustana College. Patrick is a professor in the Chemistry department.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Shared memory: pollinators

Check out my favorite artist, Dan McCarthy's, awesome new print for this month:Sure would make a nice wedding gift for someone ;)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Books part 3: What I might read next

Here is a list of books I plan to read in the near future:

Books part 2: What I am currently reading

Here is what I am currently reading. I have only been reading journal articles lately, as far as paleo things go, so I decided it was time to read an actual book, since I have a backlog of those. I am also reading a new mountain climbing book, which has been really interesting. I typically try to limit myself to no more than two books at a time, just to keep the confusion down.

Bonebeds: Genesis, Analysis, and Paleobiological Significance
by Raymond R. Rogers (Editor), David A. Eberth (Editor), Anthony R. Fiorillo (Editor)
Synopsis: The vertebrate fossil record extends back more than 500 million years, and bonebeds—localized concentrations of the skeletal remains of vertebrate animals—help unlock the secrets of this long history. Often spectacularly preserved, bonebeds—both modern and ancient—can reveal more about life histories, ecological associations, and preservation patterns than any single skeleton or bone. For this reason, bonebeds are frequently studied by paleobiologists, geologists, and archeologists seeking to piece together the vertebrate record. Thirteen respected researchers combine their experiences in Bonebeds, providing readers with workable definitions, theoretical frameworks, and a compendium of modern techniques in bonebed data collection and analysis. By addressing the historical, theoretical, and practical aspects of bonebed research, this edited volume—the first of its kind—provides the background and methods that students and professionals need to explore and understand these fantastic records of ancient life and death.
So far I am really enjoying this book. The book is very well laid out, easy to read and very informative. I have seen many things in it that I plan to work into a project this summer! I was disappointed to find that the supplemental material does not appear to be available on the University of Chicago Press website anymore however (which I brought to the attention of one of the editors, hopefully this will be fixed). And there are a few papers that are not included in the Bonebed Database in the middle of the book (which, other than those absences, is wonderful to have in one place). Has anyone else read this one yet (Brian, weren't you making it through this one)?

No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks
by Ed Viesturs, with David Roberts
Synopsis: For eighteen years Ed Viesturs pursued climbing’s holy grail: to stand atop the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen. But No Shortcuts to the Top is as much about the man who would become the first American to achieve that goal as it is about his stunning quest. As Viesturs recounts the stories of his most harrowing climbs, he reveals a man torn between the flat, safe world he and his loved ones share and the majestic and deadly places where only he can go. A preternaturally cautious climber who once turned back 300 feet from the top of Everest but who would not shrink from a peak (Annapurna) known to claim the life of one climber for every two who reached its summit, Viesturs lives by an unyielding motto, “Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” It is with this philosophy that he vividly describes fatal errors in judgment made by his fellow climbers as well as a few of his own close calls and gallant rescues. And, for the first time, he details his own pivotal and heroic role in the 1996 Everest disaster made famous in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. In addition to the raw excitement of Viesturs’s odyssey, No Shortcuts to the Top is leavened with many funny moments revealing the camaraderie between climbers. It is more than the first full account of one of the staggering accomplishments of our time; it is a portrait of a brave and devoted family man and his beliefs that shaped this most perilous and magnificent pursuit.

I am sort of a armchair mountain climbing junkie. I even climbed my first peak over 14,000 feet this past summer!! I was thrilled to read that Viesturs climbs like me - he takes his time, looks for land marks, and just plods forward (made me feel less freak-like). He is not to proud to say he can't go any further if that is the case (not that is has happened to often in the book so far). I love his mantra “Reaching the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” Of course, that is where the differences between us ends, since if I tried to climb up a 8,000 meter peak my lungs would leap from my chest and never return. Heck, I would probably be hurting at Everest basecamp (even though I would still like to visit it). My ultimate weight loss plan is to just go hang out at Denali basecamp to loose 20 lbs in a month. That would be a fun reality show. But I regress.....Ed's book is very interesting. Its fun to read about a guy from Rockford, Illinois who was the first American to bag all of the 8,000 meter peaks. He has his share of sad stories and made me tear up at least once so far. This is the kind of book I love to read. He can take me away to these far away places and do things that I can only dream about, but his stories and words are so vivid that you feel like you are there with him. I am really enjoying this book so far. It give me something to look forward to everyday and make me look forward to climbing my next 14,000 foot peak (which is pretty hard for me)!

All images are from Barnes & Noble.com.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Your age by eating out

This one is compliments of my cousin. I really get creeped out it when Math actually seems to work and can do weird things like this. I hate math and all its weirdness.......



It takes less than a minute. Work this out as you read .

Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!

This is not one of those waste of time things, it's fun.

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to
go out to eat. (more than once but less than 10)

2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50

5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1758... If you haven't, add 1757.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number

The first digit of this was your original number. (I.e., How many times
you want to go out to restaurants in a week.)

The next two numbers are



Ok, thats just creepy >:-(

Check it out - May Scientiae Carnival: Career paths, perspective, and changing self-image

Check out this months great compilation of career paths, perspective, and changing self-image.
"As a suggested prompt, I asked about how our career goals have changed over the past year, 5 years, or 10 years, and how our views of ourselves have changed in that same time frame. I also asked about how where we are now is different from where we imagined, and what role things outside of science have had in our changing perspectives."

Julia and I contributed (we appear to be the only two female paleontologist that did).

Books part 1: What I have recently finished

I have been meaning to do this for a while. This past year or so has really been the first time in many years that I have been able to read, just to read. For fun even. So here are the books I have recently finished. In blogs to follow will be the books I am currently reading and books waiting to be read.

Where is Joe Merchant?

by Jimmy Buffett
Synopsis: Five years ago, the rock star Joe Merchant committed suicide, yet he keeps popping back into the tabloid headlines like a piece of toast. Spotted everywhere from Cincinnati to Atlanta, the dead guitarist is now more famous than ever. Could he actually be alive?

Where is Joe Merchant? For Frank Bama, the quest to find him is just one more excuse to flee Key West and change latitudes. For Trevor Kane, the hemorrhoid-ointment heiress, it is an attempt to unravel the mystery of her brother's death. For Desdemona, Joe Merchant is another missing link in her communication with space aliens as she tries to build a rocket ship, and for yellow journalist Rudy Breno, Joe Merchant makes better headlines than Elvis.

This was a really fun book! I was sad to finish it! The setting kept me warm through this past winters never ending snow and the story kept me completely entertained. The characters were really colorful and it always felt like I was watching a movie in my brain as I read along. Buffett talked once about turning this book into a movie. In a way, I hope they do. It could be really fun! I would totally recommend this one if you enjoy "cat and mouse" stories set against a tropical background.

The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World
by Carley Roney
Synopsis: Planning for the big day? Here are the most up-to-date answers to all of your questions in the book from the editors of the acclaimed wedding website, The Knot. Overwhelmed by the countless questions and details your wedding entails? Don’t despair! The Knot Complete Guide to Weddings in the Real World takes you step-by-step from your engagement to the big day, from the reception to the honeymoon. Inside you’ll find checklists, worksheets, insider advice, and in-depth sections on: How to personalize your wedding, updated wedding etiquette, Creating a realistic budget, Sneaky cost-cutting tips, Dress shopping advice, Tips for working with florists, caterers, officiants, and others, Invitation wording, Vows and ceremony details, and Unique wedding customs.

I let myself buy one book for the wedding. After an hour in Borders I picked this one for the sheer amount of information that was in it. It has been a good investment, as I have gone back to it many times for advice since I read it front to back in January. I call it my "wedding manual" and it is consulted often. It was a fun read with lots of good information for a variety of people with different taste and budgets. Good book for anyone who is planning to take the plunge.

A Pirate Looks at Fifty
by Jimmy Buffett
Synopsis: In this intensely personal book, popular singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett leaves his barstool in Margaritaville and does some soul searching. The result is a hilarious account of the funny, adventurous odyssey of Buffet's life.

Yet another biography. I was on a bio kick there for a while (I also read George Harrison's bio a year a go). I am a huge Jimmy fan, so this was a nice read for me. I really enjoyed his tales and stories. It was fun to see the winding trail that has been his life. I started this book a year ago and did not finish it until December. It was interrupted by field work and the two books below. It was (luckily for me) the kind of book you could pick up, read a chapter, and then wait a week (or more) before you pick it up again, and not miss a beat. The book was written during his big 50th birthday trip bouncing around the Caribbean and parts of South America, so there are many characters and plenty of flash backs that fill in his past. It was a good read, and I appreciated its form (perfect for the reader with limited time). My favorite memory of reading this book was while sitting on the beach in Negril, it was warm, the ocean was in front of me, and I the sky was blue. It was a perfect moment.

Clapton: The Autobiography
by Eric Clapton
Synopsis: With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life in this poignant and honest autobiography. More than a rock star, he is an icon, a living embodiment of the history of rock music. Well known for his reserve in a profession marked by self-promotion, flamboyance, and spin, he now chronicles, for the first time, his remarkable personal and professional journeys. Clapton is the powerfully written story of a survivor, a man who has achieved the pinnacle of success despite extraordinary demons. It is one of the most compelling memoirs of our time.

Ya. I don't like Clapton as a person much anymore. I appreciate his candor in the book, but this is a guy who has some issues. Sure, I feel bad that his mom (who he thought was his sister growing up) did not let him call her mom. And sure, he had some rough patches and he is an alcoholic and all. But when it comes down to it the guy is a dog. He treated the women around him like crap, especially his wife who he had fought so hard to get. And the story about how he met his current wife (he dated her AND her friend for a while, at the same time) is just bewildering to me. He might be a musical genus, but he is not a common sense genus. He is kind of an clueless, selfish asshole in his personal life, for someone who claims to be shy and reserved! But I give him credit for writing the book himself and facing the wrong he has done. If you love his music, it is worth your time to read (if your into bios). I am glad he seems to be coming to his senses with age.

Wonderful Tonight: An Autobiography
by Pattie Boyd
Synopsis: An iconic figure of the 1960s and ’70s, Pattie Boyd breaks a forty-year silence in Wonderful Tonight, and tells the story of how she found herself bound to two of the most addictive, promiscuous musical geniuses of the twentieth century and became the most famous muse in the history of rock and roll. For the first time Pattie Boyd, former wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, a high-profile model whose face epitomized the swinging London scene of the 1960s, a woman who inspired Harrison’s song“Something” and Clapton’s anthem “Layla,” has decided to write a book that is rich and raw, funny and heartbreaking—and totally honest and open and breathtaking. Here is the truth, here is what happened, here is the story you’ve been waiting for.

I did not really know who Pattie Boyd was until I read George Harrison's bio. I really did not know THE story about the Harrison-Pattie-Clapton love triangle until last summer to even begin with. Then I was curious and her book came out right after I finished his so I just moved right along into it. I was sort of hesitant to read it, thinking it might just be alot of dirt and smut on George Harrison and Eric Clapton; a groupie book. However, it is a really good book from Boyd's perspective of the events going on around her while also reminding one how important it is to not loose one's self in a relationship. How awesome would it be to go through life knowing that you inspired songs like "Something" and "Layla." I thought it was funny to find out that "Wonderful Tonight" was written when Eric was frustrated with her taking to long to get ready for a party. After that I have new lyrics that always go through my head when I hear the song now.

She led an interesting young life in Africa only to move to England as a teenager. She rubbed shoulders with alot of interesting people and I got a nice history lesson on 60s and 70s fashion and music that I did not know that much about before.
The lowdown is that 1) she never stopped loving Harrison and should have stayed with him, 2) she felt bad that she let Clapton seduce her, and 3) alcoholics are bad people to be around. I wish she would have talked more about her time with George, but the book is dominated by her time with Eric and their troubles. It was a very good read and I would suggest it to anyone who might be curious.

All images are from Barnes & Noble.com. Check out their fast and free delivery! (please don't sure me B&N)

Good luck Andy!!

Andy Farke is defending his dissertation on the "Function and Evolution of the Cranial Sinuses in Bovid Mammals Ceratopsian Dinosaurs" tomorrow at 9 AM!!


Andy, myself (right) and fellow paleoblogger Julia (left) at this past years SVP meting.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Taking stock

Alright, I have had a chance to calm down since yesterdays meltdown. I realize a few things:
  1. There is a use for Microsoft Vista after all - I was able to download my figures off the Journal of Paleontology website. When I tried it on my office computer (XP) it would not work, and only let me view them. So this is good. They are not lost. If all goes well I will have my final edits turned in tomorrow (complete with that measurement we talked about Andy!)
  2. Not all is lost on my hard drive. I was looking through my pile-o-disk and I actually DID back up my computer almost a year ago exactly. So less is lost than I feared. I will still be looking into all of your suggestions to get the computer up and running and I think all of you who have taken the time of offer suggestions and comfort. I really do appreciate it!! You have no idea!
  3. We are starting to get our reply cards back for the wedding! Wonderful to be hearing back from folks so soon! Please RSVP by July 1 if you have gotten your invitation in the mail already. We did forget to put that on there.
  4. I have lost weight since last year! (annual doctors appointment today)
  5. I am a very lucky girl! Today is my first year anniversary with John. And he surprised me with my favorite flowers (I never get flowers really), so it was a great surprise! I had been so obsessed with this paper and the meltdown that I had forgotten (bad me, bad me). I am so happy to have a guy that is as understanding as he is and who treats me so well :)
So, things could be far worse than they are.

Scientific Literacy and Sensationalist Journalism

Check out Sarah's post on "Scientific Literacy and Sensationalist Journalism".

Monday, May 5, 2008

Total system failure

So I am having a total system failure as my desk top just had a total hard drive failure. Seriously. Its dead. And Dell wants to charge me $1500 to $2400 to fix it!! Best Buy will fix it anywhere from $250 to $1500. I am freaking out. I have my life on there. My final edits of my paper I was going to submit this week are on there. My wedding plans (and music) are on there. My whole freaking life's worth of pictures is on there. My website is on there everything is on there!!!! OMG, I am freaking out. WHY WHY WHY. I know there are those sadistic people out there who think I'll deserve this and paybacks are a bitch, but ugg, think how you would feel! This sucks.

Any advice out there??

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Text cloud for two of my papers

I have totally ripped off this idea off from Brian over at Clastic Detritus. Check his text clouds out! Since I wrote this (I was delaying posting it, but I guess I'll stop), Chuck over at Lab Lemming and Maria of Green Gabbro have done the same, so on the band wagon I jump. These are based on recent works of mine that are in their final stages of the review process. This first one is a paper I will have in the Ceratopsid symposium book with Andy Farke.

created at TagCrowd.com

This one is based on my thesis work, which I have submitted to the Journal of Paleontology. Since it is still in review I have taken the liberty to remove a few words that might give away to much. Hopefully I can tell you more about this really soon! I am not playing the suck up game as far as any of my former committee members go, as I have deleted any and all references and citations from the list.

created at TagCrowd.com

Update: Since posting this 3 others have followed: Kim at a"All My Faults are Stress Related" (such a great title for a blog!), Chris over at "Highly Allochthonous," and Silver Fox over at "Looking for Detachment"...check them out! :)