Archive for June 5th, 2009

Paleontology Fail

fail owned pwned pictures has a most entertaining Top 10 list of embarrassing moments in the history of paleontology.  The middle four are my favorites:

4. The Caterpillars that Killed the Dinosaurs

Caterpillars evolved in the late Cretaceous period, shortly before the dinosaurs went extinct. Coincidence, or something more sinister? A while back, scientists were semi-convinced by the theory that hordes of voracious caterpillars stripped ancient forests of their leaves, causing the starvation of herbivorous dinosaurs (and of the carnivorous dinosaurs that fed on them). Death-by-caterpillar still has its adherents, but today, most experts believe the dinosaurs were done in by a massive meteor impact–which somehow sounds more convincing!

5. The Elasmosaurus with a Head on its Tail

In 1868, one of the longest-running feuds in modern science got off to a rousing start when paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope reconstructed an Elasmosaurus skeleton with its head on its tail, rather than its neck (to be fair, no one had ever seen such a long-necked reptile before). According to legend, the error was quickly pointed out (in a not-very-friendly way) by Cope’s rival, Othniel C. Marsh, the first shot in what came to be known as the “Bone Wars” of the late 19th century.

6. Hydrarchos, the Ruler of the Sea

The early 19th century was the “Gold Rush” of dinosaur paleontology, with biologists, anatomists, geologists, and just plain amateurs rushing to unearth the latest spectacular fossils. The culmination of this trend happened in 1845, when Albert Koch displayed a gigantic aquatic reptile he named Hydrarchos, which had actually been pieced together from the skeletal remains of five separate whales. After his hoax was exposed, one wag appended the species name “sillimani” to the fearsome “Hydrarchos” genus.

7. The Oviraptor that Kidnapped its Own Eggs

When the fossil of this small Mongolian theropod was discovered in 1923, its skull was only four inches away from a clutch of Protoceratops eggs, prompting paleontologist Henry Osborn to assign it the name Oviraptor (Greek for “egg thief”). For years afterward, Oviraptor lingered in the popular imagination as a wily, hungry, none-too-nice gobbler of other dinosaurs’ young. The trouble is, it was later shown that those “Protoceratops” eggs were really Oviraptor eggs, and the misunderstood reptile was simply guarding its own brood!

Shorter Paleontology: D’oh!

June 5th, 2009 at 09:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science

Friday Quote & Catblogging

This week’s quote is from the Bruce Willis/Jane March psychological thriller, Color Of Night:

You invent enemies to test your strength against.  You invent gods to protect you from these enemies.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats rescuing their kittens from camera-related distress…

And by “rescuing,” I mean “eating its head.”

June 5th, 2009 at 07:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cuteness,Friday Quote & Cat Blogging


Alas, embedding is disabled, but one of my favorite movies of all time is on YouTube in its entirety. It’s called Koyaanisqatsi, and it has no plot or dialogue, just… imagery.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, albeit a little depressing.  And the Philip Glass score is fantastic.

Check it out so I don’t have to lend you the DVD.

1 comment June 5th, 2009 at 11:28am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Movies

So Much For Immigration Reform…

This does not bode well:

Passing immigration reform is “going to happen this session,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), referring to the 111th Congress. “But I want it this year if at all possible.”

Harry Reid confidently declaring that something good will pass (or that something bad won’t) is like the kiss of death.  It usually means that he’ll lackadaisically make zero attempt to whip votes, and end up failing miserably.

Hopefully he’ll get voted out in 2010 and the Democrats can try it again with a real Majority Leader.  That’s assuming they’re even willing to elect one, of course – they seem pretty content to be led by ineffectual milquetoasts.

June 5th, 2009 at 07:25am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Immigration,Politics

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