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!

Monday, January 31, 2011

On the Origin of Paleocene Dinosaurs, or the Preservation of Favoured Sauropods in the Struggle Against Extinction

If there is one thing (most) scientists agree on, it is the fact that around 65.5 million years ago, dinosaurs (at least the non-avian variety) went extinct. Whether it was the result of a massive bolide impact and its aftermath, long periods of intense volcanism, changes in global sea level and climate, or a combination of factors, life on Earth went through a major extinction event that wiped out around 75% of all species. It is believed that this extinction took place in a geologically short period of time, and left its physical mark across the globe in a band of iridium rich rock known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary (formerly referred to as the Cretaceous-Tertiary, or K-T boundary). The K-Pg boundary marks the end of the Cretaceous period, and with it, the end of the age of the dinosaurs. There are abundant dinosaur fossils found below the boundary, but none above, indicating that they all went extinct before the Paleogene period. This fact is further proven through relative and absolute dating techniques that can be used to determine the age of the rock layer in which the fossils are found. If a rock layer is 70 million years old, the fossils in it are probably around that age as well (barring the erosion, transportation, and re-deposition of the fossil to a geologically younger rock layer).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interweb Science of the Week #3

Wow, another week flew right by didn't it. I blame my absence from the interwebs on thundersnow, and the resulting power-related maladies that accompanied it. But even though I've missed a lot of the week's big paleo stories, I wasn't about to miss Interweb Science of the Week.

In response to my lack of content here on Superoceras, I thought I'd provide my readers with an ISW that would keep them busy clicking away for a while, and I think I've found the perfect way to do just that.

"Duck", from Seduce Me Season 1

A video like that needs no explanation. Green Porno and Seduce Me are a series of short films put together by Isabella Rossellini and a brilliant creative team, that provide both an accurate and entertaining portrayal of sexuality and reproductive techniques across the animal kingdom. I think they are amazing, and if you like art, film, or animal sexuality, I bet you will too. There are enough videos on the Sundance Channel website to keep you busy for a while, so dig in, and have a great weekend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Interweb Science of the Week #2

If there's one thing I love more than science, it's interweb science! And after following last weeks Science Online 2011 meeting via Twitter, I've been more inspired than ever to do my part and spread scientific knowledge on the web. That being said, let's get right on to this second edition of "Interweb Science of the Week". And this time around, it's going to be a mammoth event.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Don't mess with Darwin.

I'm not going to sugar coat things - my life is pretty much filled to capacity at the moment. But if there's one thing you can bet I'll stop everything for, it's defending the honor of my good friend, Charles Darwin. I happened across this article from, which includes (at the bottom) a "top ten" list of the most ridiculous and offensive things said in the year 2010 by a rather well know, conservative political pundit. This one in particular caught my eye.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Interweb Science of the Week #1

The interwebs are deep and tangled. And there is often so much going on that it's difficult to keep up with all the news pertaining to science and natural history that I see on a daily basis. Be it a great blog post, a phenomenal piece of art, or a recently published electronic journal article, the interwebs are loaded with great material. But every now and again, I'll see something online that really stands out and grabs my full attention. And chances are it will grab yours too. So I figured I'd go ahead and share my favorite internet find of the week with you all here at Superoceras in a new feature I'm calling "Interweb Science of the Week" (ISW). I'm sure this is going to end up being a highly coveted distinction (haha), so I wanted to start out by setting the bar high.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Science Online 2011

Tomorrow begins the fifth annual meeting on science and the web, ScienceOnline2011. This year, attending wasn't in the cards for me, but many of the science bloggers I follow will be there, and I want to wish them all the best of luck on their presentations/lectures/workshops/panels/etc. Among the individuals that you'll find there this year are David Orr of Love in the Time of Chasmosaurus, Brian Switek of Laelaps, Glendon Mellow of The Flying Trilobite, Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science, and Carl Zimmer of The Loom. I know that David will be tweeting from the event, so definitely follow him on Twitter @anatotitan and look for the hashtag #scio11 to keep up to date with the goings on there this year. I know I will. And thanks to all parties involved for making the event possible in the first place. With the web being such a huge part of modern life, having a group dedicated to using this powerful tool to effectively communicate and teach science is a wonderful thing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cold Fish in the Chesapeake Bay

Dead spot and croaker on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Stevensonville, Maryland. Photo by Charles Poukish, from the Associated Press.

There have been several reports since the beginning of the new year regarding the mass deaths of animals across the globe. Starting with the death of around 5,000 red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) in Arkansas on New year's Eve, media outlets have been quick to pick up on other stories of other mass bird deaths and fish kills. Not only that, but some have been quick to suggest conspiracy theories - from toxic chemicals, to U.F.O.'s, to the coming apocalypse - as the reason for these mass deaths. I'm not going to touch any of that, or perpetuate the notion that these events are in any way, shape, or form related to one another, because they are not. But I do want to talk about one of the instances that hits a little closer to home for me, and its real cause: a recent mass fish kill on the Chesapeake Bay, and its link to global climate change.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Boneyard 2.5

The Boneyard Blog Carnival is back for 2011 with the first edition of the new year. Head over to When Pigs Fly Returns, where Zachary Miller has put together an excellent Boneyard 2.5. There are lots of great links and lots of topics covered. You're not going to want to miss this one.

Be sure to follow the Boneyard, and if you're a science blogger, why not submit to next months carnival! Just e-mail a link to your blog post to boneyardblogcarnival(at)gmail(dot)com, with the word "Boneyard" in the subject line.

Here's to a new year full of The Boneyard Blog Carnival. Things can only get bigger and better from here!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Simosuchus and the trouble with "living fossils".

When people think of Crocodyliformes, they probably think primarily of the living crocodylians; the alligators, caimans, crocodiles and gavials that inhabit the waters of our Holocene world. They think of large, scaly, man eating beasts with powerful jaws that managed to outlive the dinosaurs and are always lurking right beneath the surface of some river or swamp to snatch up anything that comes along and disturbs the water's edge. And for the most part, they think they are all relatively similar. Sure, some may grow larger than others, they have different shaped snouts, and they live in somewhat different habitats, but for all intents and purposes, a crocodylian is a crocodylian. Just another toothy grin in a sea of menacing reptiles.