Mammoths: The Misunderstood Giants

As someone who works on Silurian age fossils, I can't help but be jealous every time a new mammoth...

Let's hope we don't have another Archaeoraptor on our hands

I mentioned at the end of last week's post about the new "earliest bird" that there were murmurs...

The Earliest Bird: How A Toe Bone Can Change History

Do you know, my original title for this was "The Early Bird Gets the PR". I hastily changed it...

New fossil arthropod named after Johnny Depp

There a lot of rules governing how you name new species. But that doesn't mean that fun things...

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Oliver KnevittRSS Feed of this column.

In a nutshell: I like fossils. But even more than than that, I like arguments about fossils. Which is why my current occupation as a PhD researcher in paleontology suits me well. My research is... Read More »

Friday Fossil

Friday Fossil

Mar 31 2011 | comment(s)

This week's Friday Fossil is Arthropleura.

"Calm down, dear!!"

I'm about to pop off to the isle of Arran, the poster-child of British Geology. Not many countries can boast a handy island that has displays almost its entire geological history, from precambrian to recent, along one continuous shoreline.

Labeling things with their carbon footprint is an idea that I didn't realise was new; in fact I thought it had been done already at Tesco's. Anyway, my ignorance aside, Vandenbergh et al have recommended them, writing in Nature Climate Change that
"A major barrier to improved energy efficiency in households seems to be a lack of understanding of the impacts of various actions and products,"
"Providing information would lower this barrier, allowing consumers to make more informed choices without substantial effort.
There's a paper out in ProcSoc B about aggressive mimicary, a very devious way to hunt by pretending to be prey or a mate, and then gobbling the hapless critter that comes to investigate.

Here are some of my favourites!

Photuris fireflies

Female fireflies attract males with a precise courtship signal. I don't know whether to be impressed or sickened, but the guys rather deviously waggle their bum to look like females, luring males in, then scoff them. "Look, its Dave! Mind you, I am hungry..." (proceeds to waggle bum like girl).
Friday Fossil

Friday Fossil

Mar 25 2011 | comment(s)

This week's friday fossil is Tribrachidium.

Tribrachidium is from that oddest of time periods, the Ediacaran, and because of that we can partly excuse it for its weirdness. It's basically an Isle of Man flag with frilly bits at the edges:

I think one of the first things that got me interested in evolutionary biology was finding out that whales used to have legs. It's pretty incredible that the sleek, powerful whales of modern day oceans had their origins in blundering land animals like cows and hippos. Nothing spoke more to me about the aeons of time that has passed than imagining generation after generation of whales tentatively playing with the water, feeding there, learning to become good swimmers, and eventually swimming in the open ocean amongst the fishes, their terrestrial history a long forgotten memory.
Friday Fossil

Friday Fossil

Mar 17 2011 | comment(s)

Every friday from now on I'm going to pick out a cool fossil and stick it here. It's not necessarily going to be from the recent literature, and I'm an invertebrate paleontologist, so don't expect many T. rexes or any other overhyped big silly things with teeth! This idea is admittedly a blatant steal from PZ Myers' Monday Metazoan but, hey, I'm sure he'll get over it. Besides, mine's on Fridays, and his is on Mondays.

To start of with, I'm also going to step on the toes of Kevin Schindler of Suite 101, because this week's fossil is the Tully monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium), which happens to be the state fossil of Illinois (he's doing a series on state fossils).