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 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).

For my reconstruction, I used one of the living nautilids, Nautilus pompilius, as my model. I gave Cooperoceras a similar color pattern in a different color. I went with a blue-green to act as camouflage in the sunlit waters of the reef, although for my next reconstruction I'd like to throw in some countershading as well. I also gave it a really large hood that covers the fourth and fifth spines (from the center of the shell). This is all done with artistic liscense, and there is no way to know if the animal looked anything like the living chambered nautilus. But fossils of C. texanum usually show some wear to these spines, and I hypothesize that it might be due to the hood growing over them, and slowing eroding them away over the course of the animals life.

But what makes me love it? Well, you can thank Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. and Dr. John W. Merck, Jr. of the University of Maryland Department of Geology for that. C. texanum was the mascot of my College Park Scholars program, "Earth, Life, and Time". I loved every minute of my time with ELT, and so, loved Cooperoceras. So much that when I would take classes with Dr. Merck and Dr. Holtz, I would actually use the shell of the animal as my "signature rune" on all labs, tests, quizzes, etc. They didn't seem to mind, and Dr. Merck even added little drawings of his own to my empty shells from time to time (I'll try and locate these papers and obtain permission to post the doodles).

One of the more elaborate of them was labeled "Super-oceras!". When trying to think of a name for this blog, it immediately popped into my mind, and here we are. I couldn't think of a better name for a paleo-theme blog inspired by and dedicated to spreading scientific knowledge. So, to give credit where it is deserved, Dr. Merck, thanks for the inspiration. Dr. Holtz and Dr. Merck, thanks for teaching me about the things I love and helping me realize what I want to do with my life. To all my other science teachers, in high school and grade school, thank you for inspiring me to question the world around me, and seek my own answers. And to my friends and peers, thanks for always challenging me and keeping me going (and for helping me decide on a color scheme!). This one goes out to you.

Kummel, B. 1964. Nauiloidea-Nautilida, in The Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontolgy, Part K, Nautiloidea. Geological Society of America and University of Kansas Press.

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