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 25, 2010

This Thanksgiving, watch what you eat...

... because it might just be watching you back!

Try to imagine yourself in the Quaternary Period. You get your first look at this "three foot turkey" as you're riding your tricycle. He moves like a bird, lightly bobbing his head. And you keep still because you think maybe his visual acuity is based on movement - because you heard some guy playing a paleontologist in a movie say that once - he'll lose you if you don't move. But no, not the wild turkey. You stare at him, and he stares right back. And that's when the attack comes. Not from the front, but from the sides, from the other two turkeys you didn't even know were there.

Video from YouTube, by chinny814.

I dare you to try and tell me that modern birds are not the descendants of theropod dinosaurs. As if all the scientific evidence wasn't already enough to back that claim, you know you can see the family resemblance after watching that video. I feel bad for the kid, but I know that those turkeys were only trying to balance the scales a little. I mean, if you're in the United States, you're probably attacking a turkey right now. So in the words of Dr. Holtz, enjoy your roasted maniraptoran! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

151 Years of Evolution

On November 24, 1859, the first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection hit the shelves. It sold out the very same day (coincidentally, if anyone has a copy they are looking to get rid of I'd happily find it a good home). Since then, countless editions with countless introductions, forwards, and reviews have been published. You can get an illustrated version, a version bound with the other great works of Darwin, even a free electronic version for your electronic reading device. I'm sure when Darwin wrote of "endless forms" he had no idea he would be, in a way, referring to editions of his work. In fact, I'm sure that thought was far from his mind, being the modest individual he was. Rather, he was probably referring to something more like this:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Things that are not dinosaurs: Pterosaurs

Pterosaurs, the (non-avian) flying archosaurs of the Mesozoic seem to be getting a lot of press recently. Strangely enough, in the year I've been blogging here at Superoceras, I haven't really said anything about them. For shame! Pterosaurs are a fascinating group of animals, so for those that aren't too familiar with them, I'd like to provide a brief introduction.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Like a virgin, NOT touched for the very first time.

Let's face facts. Life on Earth is pretty awesome. But in order to classify as a living organism, you have to do a number of things, like adapt to your environment, undergo metabolism and maintain homeostasis, have the ability to grow, and most importantly, reproduce. Our human-centric view of reproduction is rather limited. Two partners, one male and one female, engage in the act of combining their genetic material to produce offspring. This method of sexual reproduction is found all across the plant and animal kingdoms, and allows certain advantages. The recombination of genes produces new genetic identities, resulting in diversity and variation in breeding populations. This variation is essential when facing selective pressures in the natural world.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Autumn Harvest (Wonders of Fall Part 2)

As weather turns from warm to cold and the days grow shorter, I've found a lot of people start thinking about food. And with good reason. Autumn is a time of year traditionally associated with the harvest, which means a lot of delicious foods are coming into season and are ready to be collected for human consumption. Plants begin preparing for the coming winter as much as people do, moving energy out of their leafy parts, and into their roots. Trees and bushes drop leaves, grasses turn from green to brown,
and the starchy and sugary roots of plants start to mature. It's a great time to harvest foods like carrots, potatoes, onions and yams.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Pink Dinosaurs - The Final Push!

Alright, ladies and gentlemen. On October 31, peter Bond posted an update on the ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule "Pink Dinosaur" fundraising event, extending it to November 10. This was great for me personally, because it gave me time to finish up and submit all 31 of my pink dinosaurs (one for every day of the month). This was also great for the cause, as it has given everyone more time to submit and raise/donate money.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

"We are star stuff."

And just so you don't forget it, take a moment to celebrate the 76th anniversary of the birth of the man himself on this second annual Carl Sagan Day to help "increase public involvement in the excitement of astronomy and space exploration". When the Sun goes down, take a moment to step outside, look up at the stars, and think about life, the Universe, and everything. Maybe even stop on by Hulu and watch an episode or two of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage - for FREE!

Happy Carl Sagan Day, everyone! (Photo of Dr . Carl Sagan taken by NASA/JPL, from Wikipedia.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Boneyard 2.3

Well, well, well, would you look at that. Seems like Superoceras just made it to 100 blog posts. Huzzah! Thanks again to all my readers. Feel free to stop lurking and comment on your favorite (or least favorite) post you've seen here so far. For that matter, feel free to comment on anything. Your feedback will only make the blog better, I promise.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate than checking out this month's edition of The Boneyard! The "blog carnival specializing in items of paleontological interest" is being hosted by Ian Garofalo of Other Branch. This is the first carnival to take place away from home, and Ian did a great job! So be sure to stop by and read the Boneyard 2.3 and follow the official blog of The Boneyard as well. And don't forget. If you're a blogger specializing in items of paleontological interest (or natural history interest in general) submit to The Boneyard yourself! The more the merrier! Just e-mail a link to your blog post to the new submission address, boneyardblogcarnival(at)gmail(dot)com, with the word "Boneyard" in the subject line. You know you want to.