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!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Problematic passerines.

A breeding pair of Carpodacus mexicanus, also known as house finches.

The house finch, Carpodacus mexicanus, is a little passerine bird that I have a bit of a rocky relationship with.  Don't get me wrong; I love it when any of my "backyard dinosaurs" come to visit the feeders around my house. But I'm still on the fence about these little guys. Now before you label me some kind of finch hater (which I certainly am not), let me explain.  While C. mexicanus is native to North America, it is not exactly native to the east coast, having been introduced to this area from Mexico and the southwestern United States in the 1940s. Populations that were released from illegal captivity quickly became naturalized, and their population has been expanding ever since.  In many places, they have out competed the native species of purple finch, Carpodacus purpureus.  This is a bird that should be at my feeders, but sadly, I have never seen.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Boneyard 2.9 and the ART Evolved Hadrosaur Gallery

Man.  April was intense.  I don't know what happened, but I'm sure at least a few of you noticed my complete lack of blogging for pretty much the entire month.  Things got a little quiet around here, and for that, I apologize.  But now it's May, which means three important things.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Things that are not dinosaurs: Mosasaurs

Discovery of the "grand animal", Mosasaurus hofmani, at Maastricht.  Engraving by G. R. Levillaire, from Wikimedia Commons.
Mosasaurs were a highly successful group of marine squamates that came to rule the seas towards the end of the Late Cretaceous (98-65 million years ago).  Remains of these real life leviathans were some of the first (if not the first) sauropsid fossils ever discovered.  Like their land dwelling cousins, they were air breathers, and secondarily returned to the sea where they became highly adapted to their new marine environment.  They were powerful, streamlined swimmers with long narrow bodies, paddle-like limbs and tails, and gave birth to live young.  Based on an abundance of fossils and a number of different taxa discovered, we have learned a lot about mosasaurs in the more than 200 years since they were first discovered.  This has helped shape a new view of mosasaurs that is radically different from those of the past.