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!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Feathered dinosaurs; no excuses!

From ART Evolved: Life's Time Capsule.
Good news, everyone! The crew over at ART Evolved have extended the deadline for submissions to their February "time capsule" to this coming Saturday, February 4, 2012.  That gives everyone a few more more days to work on their pieces for the Feathered Dinosaur Gallery.  I certainly know I can use the extra time, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you all come up with!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Draw A Dinosaur Day 2012!

Monday speed sketch of "Dave" for "DADD".
You may know him as NGMC 91, the feathered dromaeosaurid from the Yixian Formation of Early Cretaceous Liaoning, China.  But "Dave" works just fine for me.  You just may see him pop up here again in the next few days.

Virtual Birding Roundup (Part 3)

Alright, boys and girls.  I started this little endeavor a month ago.  It's time to bring it all together, once and for all.  So far in our virtual birding roundup, we've spent the last two parts talking about various families within the order Passeriformes. Which makes sense considering that there are over 100 different passerine families, and they contain more than half of all known bird species (Mayr, 1946).  For the most part, the relationships between these families were traditionally defined by morphological characters, and were believed to be fairly well understood.  But recently, more and more molecular analysis has begun to show a different phylogeny; one that we still don't have a full picture of.  And that's where the next bird from our quiz comes in.

Regulus calendula

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Happy "Capitalsaurus" Day

When most people think of the District of Columbia, they think of politicians, monuments, and busy city streets.  But underneath the modern sprawl lies the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.  And sometimes, we are lucky enough to find them. That's exactly what happened with "Capitalsaurus".

The "Capitalsaurus" discovery site, located in Garfield Park at the 100th block of F Street, SE, and named "Capitalsaurus Court" on January 28, 2000. Photo by Nicholas Clark from Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Virtual Birding Roundup (Part 2)

After a pretty positive response to "Part 1", I headed out of town and the roundup got interrupted.  Now Jenn Hall (who did a pretty great job of guessing honestly in my original post) would tell me to put some pants on and stop apologizing.  And I'm not gonna lie, that's pretty sound advice. So technically I'm not going to apologize. And I am going to wear pants. But I am also going to get this roundup going again.  If I'm not mistaken, we left off with the Passeroidea, the monophyletic grouping of "sparrow-like" birds.  Where should we go from here?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Four Critters

A little over a week ago, I posted a ridiculously low quality image of the Spring Run at Florida's Blue Spring State Park, and told you all there were four critters in it.  As ambiguous as it was, I swear, they are actually there.  Take another look. Here is the huge version that hangs off the page.  Click it for a cleaner view.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Migration

Like many of my avian cousins, I've migrated south this winter. As you may already know (if you follow me on Twitter) I'm currently in Florida at Blue Spring State Park, accompanying a group of University of Maryland students on their Alternative Break trip. As soon as we got to the park, I immediately started taking photos, and when I get home and have a more reliable internet connection, I'll be sure to upload a bunch of them.

But for now, I'll leave you with this. There are four critters hiding somewhere in the photo. Can you find them?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Virtual Birding Roundup (Part 1)

Time to talk birds, specifically the ones I posted photos of in my "end of year bird quiz" . To spice things up a bit, instead of just listing as each species and writing about it a little, I'm going to throw them all onto an ever expanding cladogram.  Hopefully this way both the readers and myself will be able to learn a little about the individual animals themselves, and their relationships to one another.  Ornithology is certainly not an area of specialization for me.  But birding is one of the "outdoor" activities I engage in most often.  This is primarily because it can be done anywhere, even the comfort of your own home.  So I think this will be a fun little project and I'm excited to be able to share it with you all. But a word of warning: apparently a lot of the traditional bird groupings are not supported by molecular data, and many of their true relationships have yet to be resolved.  So I'll be doing my best to show true monophyletic groupings and relationships.  But if you know something I don't, please let me know.  That being said, let's dig right in and start with the birds from my quiz!  Read no further if you'd like to give it a shot before I start naming names.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Happy National Bird Day!

I finished 2011 with a post on birding, and figure starting 2012 in a similar fashion is not a bad way to go.  Unfortunately, my yard was not full of wonderful native birds when I got home.  In fact, when I got in today, I was greeted with this sight:

Not cool, man.