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, September 17, 2013

Deep Time

Another semester has started, which means back to the books for me.  But three weeks in, I'm pretty excited about the course I'm taking, the material I'll be learning, and the discussions I'll be a part of with my class and professor.  Last week we talked a little about deep time (in relation to some other topics I'm going to be covering in greater detail soon), and I realized how difficult of a concept it can be to wrap your head around, even for someone like myself who spends a great deal of time thinking about it.  I know the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years old, but what does it mean when we all live in a timescale of years, hours, or even minutes? When most people think about time, this is probably not what comes to mind.
The GSA Geologic Time Scale, not actually to scale, from

All those numbers and colors can be intimidating, so I find it's helpful to try and explain deep time to people in a way they can relate to.  Some use a 12 or 24 hour clock as an analogy.  Others use a calendar year.  I swear one time in ELT we used a role of receipt paper.  But my favorite analogy is one I always have on hand...

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Birds Over the Bay

A nesting pair of osprey,  reunited after separating for the winter and living it up down ol' South America way.
It's no secret that I love the Chesapeake Bay. And while nothing beats getting out on the water, sometimes there are a lot of exciting things happening right above it as well. Back in March while on an Alternative Break trip with the University of Maryland, I was lucky enough to catch a brief encounter that took place over Parrish Creek in Shady Side, Maryland. The resident osprey (Pandion haliaetus) couple had returned from their winter vacation, and made their way to their regular nesting platform. Lucky for me, they weren't the only raptors around that day.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Wildlife Photography

One of the things I love to do most is get out into nature.  And since you can't (and shouldn't, really) always bring nature home with you, I love to take pictures.  Plants, critters, landscapes; they're all waiting to get captured by the lens.  And with the advent of digital photography, huge memory cards, and the ability to auto-focus, I find myself with lots of photos of wild things and wild places.  They usually get dumped in a folder on my computer, and that's about it.  But recently, I grabbed a few Recoup (like Groupon, but supporting a cause) vouchers for hardcover photo books from a company called PhotoBin, and spent a pretty fair amount of time looking for some of the better shots to print in coffee table style books.  They came out pretty well, and I'm looking forward to sharing them with guests as they drop by the house.  But now that I've gotten some of my photos sorted, I figure the Interwebs would be a pretty good place to share them as well.

A male osprey (Pandion haliaetus carolinensis) faces off against a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).  More of this story to come.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Getting rid of the lazies.

You're in your vehicle, being guided along the electric track back towards the Visitor's Center.  Things didn't go as well as they could have today, but you got to pet a Triceratops, so that's pretty cool.  All of a sudden, the vehicle stops.  You remain calm, and figure you'll be moving again in no time.  But the kid next to you can't figure out how to turn a flashlight off, and the next thing you know, you have a 6 ton Tyrannosaurus bearing down on you.  We all know how that scene plays through.

From the vault: MS Paint job, circa 2005.  I miss my Explorer.
Sometimes, you get out of the vehicle before it goes over the wall.  Sometimes, you end up going over with it.  Sometimes you get stranded in a tree, escape its branches before the vehicle falls on you, and somehow end up back in the car again (but at least you're out of the tree). We all have those days; it happens. But it's been over five months since I've posted to the blog, and I need to get the tyrannosaur off my back.

I'd love to say I've been busy with school/work/life; that I've been in a creative slump; anything really to explain my absence.  And truthfully, all of those things do come into play.  But that's not why it's been quiet on the blog-front.  It's really been because of me.  Because even though I've been busy, and not particularly inspired, I've also been a little down, and it's made me very, very lazy.   Don't get me wrong; I'm still passionate about the subject material of the blog.  And find myself doing a lot these days that reflects that.  But I'm not really reflecting anymore. And that bothers me more than a little. As much as I like "doing" in the real world, I miss taking part in the "online" conversation as well.  This blog is a way for me to not only communicate to others, but to really communicate with myself, too.  So how do you get rid of the lazies, and get back into it after so long? I'm not exactly sure, but I'm working it out.  And I hope that in the next few weeks, I can manage to produce some solid results.  Talk to you all soon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

The most adorable thing I've ever seen.
I may not like it when they eat all my birdseed, but I've always had a soft spot for squirrels.  In fact, I'm quite fond of them. And what better way to show that fondness than by observing Squirrel Appreciation Day. Celebrated annually on January 21st, it's simply a day to keep our furry friends in mind, and even give them a hand (or paw).  As squirrels don't hibernate and keep very active all winter long, I typically put out a few extra treats for them to help them get through the cold months ahead; sunflower seeds, peanuts, and dried corn seem to be favorites in my area.

Monday, January 07, 2013

New Year, New Stuff

Today was like most Mondays.  I got up, got ready for work, sat at my desk, and took care of business. But as I responded to e-mails, took calls, and finished a few projects, I realized that in three weeks, I'll be back in classes.  I'll have a lot less time on my hands to spend away from course readings, writing papers, and the day to day affairs of a home owning nine-to-fiver.  Right now, I have time, and I'd better start to take advantage of it.

So on my lunch break, I grabbed a sheet of "second life" paper, a number 2 pencil, and I drew.  Nothing fancy; just a 30 minute sketch of a stegosaur.  And it was amazing.  Not the sketch itself.  It looked like one of the lumbering beasts from the books I read as a child.  But the act, just going for it without researching, referencing, or even really thinking about it, was something I hadn't done in a long time.  Too long.  It was absolutely freeing, and exactly what I needed to get myself out of the creative slump I've been in for... well, a while.