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, February 28, 2011

And another thing...

If you don't blog, but you draw, sculpt, paint, etc. (or if you blog and create art), don't forget that ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule has a new gallery coming up on March 1st as well. This month will be dedicated to the "terror birds", so if you have something you want to submit, send it on to artevolved(at)gmail(dot)com.

A Call for Posts

Alright bloggers, it's that time again. A new month is fast approaching, which means that a new edition of The Boneyard is right around the corner. The Boneyard 2.7 is going to be hosted right here at Superoceras on the first of March, so if you have a post you'd like to submit about paleontology or other relevant natural history topics, just send a link via e-mail to boneyardblogcarnival(at)gmail(dot)come with the word "Boneyard" in the subject line. Anything and everything, new and old, is welcome, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you all have to offer!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Interweb Science of the Week #7

This week, my selection for ISW was a no brainer. The following website has been making the rounds on the Interwebs, and it's easy to see why. From T. Michael Keesey, the mind behind A Three-Pound Monkey Brain, comes PhyloPic, an open database of life form silhouettes.
My first submission, Triceratops horridus, in silhouette form.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"He says no one's gonna fancy a girl with thighs the size of big tree trunks."

Well that's certainly not true if the interest the media is taking in this lovely lady* is any indication. Meet Brontomerus mcintoshi, a new sauropod from Early Cretaceous of Utah.

*Note: there is no mention that any of the specimens of Brontomerus are in fact female, but I'm going to pretend it's a girl for the sake of title quote.

Speculative life restoration of an adult (female) Brontomerus mcintoshi defending its young from a Utahraptor. Executed by Francisco Gascó under direction from Taylor and Wedel, from Taylor et al. 2011.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interweb Science of the Week #6

Another Friday, another "Interweb Science of the Week". I love it. And this time, not only will it stimulate the mind, but also tug at the heart strings a little. Meet Riley, the "first grade paleontologist". This kid is awesome. He breaks out his dinosaur toy collection, gets in front of the camera and... well wait, why am I talking about it. Just watch!

Riley the Paleontolgist Show 1 "Carnivores". Check out Rileytalk's YouTube channel for more videos.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love in the Galápagos

In many parts of the word, today is a day set aside to celebrate love and affection. Inspired by last week's posts on the Galápagos (which I know I have yet to finish), I thought I'd share some photos of signs of "love and affection" I saw when I was traveling the islands.

The uniquely shaped pad of the cactus Opuntia galapageia profusa on Isla Rábida .

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Charles Darwin!

On this day, 202 years ago, Charles Robert Darwin FRS was born. What else could I possibly say about this most remarkable of men that I haven't already said? Well I can think of one thing, for sure, but I'll have to sing it.

Please, if you have a moment, take the time to wish my good friend Chuck a happy birthday, and happy Darwin Day to you all!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Interweb Science of the Week #5

Generally speaking, the point of "Interweb Science of the Week" is to showcase something I stumbled across on the web over the course of the last seven days and re-share it with you all. I'd be lying if I said I had done that this week. I've known for a long time what I was going to be featuring today. So without further ado, this edition of ISW is brought to you by YouTube.

YouTube? What? I can hear you all now. "That is certainly interwebs, but where is the science?" Well frankly, if you look for it, you can find science all over YouTube, but since it's Darwin Week, I had a special video I wanted to share. Unfortunately, the official BBC YouTube Channel doesn't have this particular film up, but YouTube user bchetdls has saved the day, and presents Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, hosted by none other than Sir David Attenborough, in six glorious installments.

The program was originally aired back in 2009 in commemoration of Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of "On the Origin of Species". In that spirit, it touches on Darwin's (and Attehborough's) personal voyage of discovery, the development of evolutionary theory over the last century and a half, and how important it is today. I think it's a must see, so give it a look, and enjoy!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Darwin's Footsteps: Field Studies in the Galápagos Archipelago (Part 2)

A lava gull at the Lobos Islet of Isla San Cristóbal.

If memory serves me, yesterday I left off discussing speciation events that have occurred in the Galápagos Archipelago. Obviously, there is lots of this going on there. Animals and plants, separated from their traditional breeding population, adapt and evolve to better survive in new environments. The lava gull (Leucophaeus fuliginosus) provides the perfect example. The population of this sea bird is only around 400 pairs, and they only live in the Galápagos. However, on and around Pacific coast of South America, many other closely relates species can be found. The lava gull, being isolated from the rest of the parent population, has evolved into a unique species found nowhere else on Earth. But geographical isolation is not the only driving force behind the evolution of new species in the Galápagos.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

In Darwin's Footsteps: Field Studies in the Galápagos Archipelago (Part 1)

A humble explorer, pointing towards the Pinnacle Rock of Isla Bartolomé.

On 27 December, 1831, The HMS Beagle set sail on what would become one of the most influential voyages of all time. On board was a young gentleman naturalist who, despite suffering from seasickness on a regular basis, kept detailed notes, collected valuable specimens, and made keen observations on the geology, biology, anthropology and ecology of many of the southern continents and islands. This man was Charles Darwin, and it was on this second voyage of the Beagle that he first began his musings on his theory of evolution.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Fossils, the Beagle, and Backyard Osteology

Yesterday, Superoceras kicked off Darwin Week with a fantastic guest post from Dr. Tom Holtz on what everyone should know about paleontology. I think he did a wonderful job of sewing together the threads of Earth, Life, and Time to show why the study of fossils is not only relevant to learning about our collective past, but is important for emphasizing our common future as well. The importance of fossils was not lost on Darwin, and while most people tend to associate him and his theory with places like the Galápagos Islands, and animals like finches, during his voyage on the HMS Beagle, he was also quite the fossil collector. While traveling South America, Darwin collected fossils of many extinct mammals that would later go on to be described by Sir Richard Owen including Toxodon platensis, Macrauchenia patagonica, Mylodon darwini, Equus curdivens, Glossotherium sp., and Scelidotherium leptocephalum (Fernicola et al. 2009). Darwin, a man who was very good at connecting the dots, used his understanding of geology and natural history to identify these organisms as having had existed at some time in the past, and having gone extinct. This was one of the many observations he used when formulating his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Guest Cross-Post: "What Should Everyone Know About Paleontology?", by Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.

As the third annual Darwin Week begins, it's a great day for paleontology, and for Superoceras as well. After a recent question was posed to the Dinosaur Mailing List, a discussion commenced regarding the most important facts and theories for the general public surrounding paleontology. Luckily for all of us, Dr. Thomas Holtz was there to step up to the plate, and present one of the most comprehensive lists on the subject I've ever seen. Paleontology is a very diverse field with an immensely wide scope, and to be perfectly honest, it doesn't always see the respect it deserves when it comes to media portrayal of the subject. Which is why the following information is of the utmost importance to anyone who wants to get to the real heart of the matter. But you don't need me to tell you that - Dr. Holtz has done a fantastic job of that himself. In the spirit of Charles Darwin, I proudly present the first Superoceras guest post. Thanks for letting me be a part of the dialog, Dr. Holtz!

Tyrannosaurus rex at the American Museum of natural History in New York.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Interweb Science of the Week #4

Have you ever been out in nature, and marveled at the wonders of the living world around you? Stopped to look at a flower or critter, and wondered how much you actually have in common? Perhaps you care for a pet at home, and know deep down inside of yourself that there is a connection between you. One of the greatest things about being human is the fact that we can ponder these, and other questions, both from a metaphysical and scientific perspective. I'm not tackle the philosophical questions surrounding the nature of being, but I can tell you that the connections you may feel are grounded in sound scientific reasoning. You and every other living thing on this planet are connected to one another through common ancestry. That is, if you go far back enough through deep time on your family tree, you'll find that you are in fact (very distantly) related not only to other extinct hominids, but to the goldfish in your bowl, the grass you walk on, and the bacteria that make you ill as well. This edition of "Interweb Science of the Week" is brought to you by a website that aims to show you just how related you really are.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Boneyard 2.6 - The Shell Midden

Another month, another Boneyard. But the excitement I experience as I wait for it to be published never seems to fade! This time around, Kevin Zelnio of Deep Sea News collected a great assemblage of posts for the Boneyard 2.6, also known as "The Shell Midden". Don't know what a shell midden is? Well go find out, and check out other editions of The Boneyard Blog Carnival as well. Great job Kevin!

And seriously, if you blog about paleontology, why not submit to The Boneyard? It doesn't have to be about dinosaurs. In fact, it doesn't even have to be about paleontology. All fields of natural history are welcome. Since I'll be hosting the March edition here at Superoceras, you have my personal guarantee that if you submit something in any way, shape, or form regarding science, life on Earth, or natural history, I'll work it into the carnival. Just write your post (or select one from your archives), and submit a link to boneyardblogcarnival(at)gmail(dot)com with the word "Boneyard" in the subject line. Even better, host an edition of the Boneyard at your blog. That's right, consider this a personal challenge. Now step it up!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Happy (Belated) Draw a Dinosaur Day!

Man, after all the promoting I did last year, it was only natural that this year, the 5th annual "Draw A Dinosaur Day" would go under my radar. Celebrated on 30 January of each year, it's probably the greatest holiday of all time. Luckily, I just so happened to have a dinosaur on standby that I had been working on for another project.
A new (and slightly cartoony) look for Triceratops, a dinosaur that isn't going anywhere (so stop talking about it!)

Big thanks to Trish Arnold for posting a reminder over at ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule. And be sure to stop by the "DADD" archive/gallery website to see all of the great submissions!