Welcome to Superoceras, a blog about science and natural history, slightly biased towards paleontology and zoology, but inclusive of all sciences. Started in October of 2009, my goal is to communicate scientific knowledge (and the occasional piece of nonsense) in an informative and entertaining manner. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, concerns, or criticism at superoceras(at)gmail(dot)com, and follow me on Twitter @Superoceras for all that and more in 140 characters or less!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Clash of the Dinosaur Special and Professional Paleontologist

Man, I really wish that I had actually finished my series on science, education, and the media before now. I keep getting interrupted from writing it, and then something like this happens, which perfectly illustrates why I need to talk about it in the first place. This will be another quick, link heavy post, but bear with me until I can flesh out the bones of my larger post over break.

Matt Wedel over at SV-POW was a featured "talking head" in the recent Discovery Channel documentary Clash of the Dinosaurs, and did not have a very good experience. Essentially, the individuals over at Dangerous Ltd., the production company working on the program edited an interview with Dr. Wedel so that it appeared, on television, as if he agreed with an outdated and falsified notion regarding the "second brain" of sauropod dinosaurs. Dr. Wedel was obsiously very upset at this, as his reputation among his peers and collegues could be seriousy tarnished.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Maryland Dinosaurs!

Sorry for the brief hiatus after Darwin/Thanksgiving week. My final weeks of classes and work were starting to catch up with me, but the good news is that it's almost over and winter break is right around the corner. That means I can put a lot more time into some substantial posts. For now, I just wanted to briefly mention some other exciting news from that week.

On November 7, 2009, the Maryland-National Parks and Planting Commission and the Prince George's County Department of Parks and Recreation opened Maryland's first Dinosaur Park just south of Laurel, MD. The park is open to the public every other Saturday from noon to 4:00PM, and in only its second week, a nine-year-old Virgina girl discovered a caudal vertebrae from a theropod dinosaur estimated to be around 100 million years old. I'm sorry, but that's AWESOME.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Another helping of dinosaur, please!

That's right people, I said dinosaur. Over the last few decades, more and more evidence has been discovered that proves one very basic fact: birds are the direct descendants of theropod dinosaurs that survived the extinction event 65.5 million years ago.

Image courtesy of and credited to Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. (text labels) and (skeletal drawing). Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"The Whirlpool of Life" = Awesome

I seem to be joining the party a little late on this one, but wanted to make a mention of this fantastic news anyway. Dinosaur paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson has started his very own paleoblog dedicated to, get this, the "living world", "science education" and "nature literacy more specifically". That's a blog after my own heart right there (he even has a fossil nautiloid in his banner).

He's calling it "The Whirlpool of Life", and yesterdays kickoff post and the essay he wrote for it were great. I'm sincerely looking forward to future posts, and he has been officially added to my blogroll. For anyone that has so far enjoyed reading posts here at "Superoceras", I highly recommend checking out Dr. Sampson's blog, as well as the others linked to there at the left of the page. And Dr. Sampson, welcome to the Science/Paleo-blogosphere!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life

On this day 150 years ago, Charles Darwin, FRS published his groundbreaking work On the Origin of Species. It still stands as one of the most important texts in the history of science. In its pages, Darwin wrote of the observations he made in the natural world around him, and theorized that all living things on Earth were constantly changing generation after generation through the process of natural selection. Through a combination of fact and inference, Darwin was able to envision the interconnectedness of life’s diverse forms and come up with a comprehensive theory that would shape the way we view the living world.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Banner Day!

I don't have a lot of time for a long post, but I wanted to put something up, so I'll talk briefly about the new banner I've made.

Many of you may know of my relationship with Cooperoceras texanum, but perhaps you do not understand why this enigmatic Paleozoic cephalopod holds a special place in my heart.

C. texanum is a nautiloid known from the Permian reefs of Texas and is easily distinguished from other nautiloids because of its hollow recurved lateral spines along its shell (presumably used as defensive mechanisms), sinuous ribs (at maturity), and evolute shell with an open, perforate, umbilicus (Kummel 1964).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Save geology; get a hoverboard!

(I realize the title may be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me, if you will.)

I'm really trying to keep up with this once a week post thing, but with work, school, and everything else going on, I haven't quite polished up the second post in my science/education/media series. While that waits, I'll hope you'll settle for post 1.5, which addresses a similar and equally (if not more) important issue that I'd like to touch on briefly: the closing of geology and geology related programs at colleges and universities.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Understanding the "Tree of Life"

A friend of mine (who can take credit for these posts in the form of a response, should he like to be recognized) recently asked me a question regarding the newly discovered hominid Ardipithecus ramidus, and the scientist who claims that "apes descended from humans". This immediately set off a number of alarms in my head, not in response to his asking the question, but in response to what I think are two issues facing science and scientists today: the lack of proper scientific literacy and education in the United States, and the role and influence that the media has when presenting scientific information to the public. These are both topics that have been brought up recently on the vertebrate paleontology mailing list, and while I didn't chime in there, I figure this is as good a place as any to speak up. This will be the first post in a series that I hope will shed some light on these issues, and help reach those who have questions similar to those of my friend. So let's get right down to business.

Happy Halloween!

Yes, I know. This should have been up 48 hours ago, and for that, I apologize. But Halloween is a busy time for me, and I didn't have the chance to make this post when I should have. Hopefully, you still enjoy it.

This year for my jack 'o lantern, I thought to myself, "What's really, really, scary?". And the only response I could come up with was, "Being attacked by a theropod dinosaur." Taking a visual cue from the wonderful mount at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, I present "Allosaurus v. Barosaurus", in Halloween style.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My 15 minutes are up.

Anyone who has ever done a Google image search for Cooperoceras texanum (and yes, I realize that's not going to be a large group of people) will be familiar with the fact that there are virtually no images of Cooperoceras on the web. There were however, a few exceptions. And for a while there, the reconstruction I made of this animal was the first image that came up. As silly as it sounds, it was a serious point of pride for me. But GeoCities has officially crumbled, and with it, my old website has dissapeared. Which means the image has been burried in the interweb graveyard. But since Halloween is right around the corner, it seems appropriate to zombify the little cephalopod and bring it back from the dead! Here he is, for the handful of people that actully know Cooperoceras exists.

More on Cooperoceras texanum, Halloween, and other things coming soon!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Greetings everyone!

Congratulations on finding your way to my blog. This is just a quick test entry to make sure everything is up and running, but be on the lookout for more to come.

For now, feel free to explore my old website before it vanishes from the interwebs.