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!

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.