Tuesday, October 28, 2008

best add ever

I cannot find it on you tube so I'll link to it on Ackerman.

all in the game....

I am so not hip

... as evidenced by the fact that I use the word "hip"
but also this from the incomparable profgrrrl in the comments.

... Turns out you kids WERE up to something, and it wasn't taphonomy either.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the occasional taphonomic effect

Environment/life position
The first step to being fossilized is to get buried. So things that live buried, like most clams.

Are well represented in the fossil record. At the other end of the scale, large terrestrial vertebrates like dinosaurs.

Not nearly as common

still more to come...

what the?....

Ok I can understand a grocery store selling ping pong balls (I guess), and beer no problem. But in the same aisle?? And it wasn't some random thing, there were two distinct ping pong displays in the beer aisle.

Have you kids figured out something having to do with ping pong balls and beer? (Other than playing ping pong drunk because I've done that and it was.... underwhelming)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Breasts for Obama

say no more*

*except that I have the coolest wife in the world
(now THAT'S some real content)

The occasional concept.

Taphonomy is the paleontologists way of saying "shit happens" generally to the fossils ~I'm~ trying to study. (Yes we take it personally:) In a perfect world a Thompson's Gazelle, for example, dies of a heart attack while drinking at a river, it falls into the river where it is covered with fine grained sediment and is perfectly preserved intact until a paleontologist comes along and digs it up. This never happens. Thompson's Gazelles don't die of heart attacks, they die of Lion bites to the throat, after which they are scattered by the Lions all over the Serengeti. If they do fall into the river they're torn apart by crocodiles once the bones are buried there are all sorts of chemical processes that can degrade the bone so by the time we get to it there's usually not much left.
Taphonomy was once described to me as the loss of information in the fossil record. I'm not quite that pessimistic. For example, if your fossil shows signs of being eaten by crocodiles then you know that there were crocodiles around. But I'm a paleoecologist so I'm into that sort of thing.
Regardless, taphonomy is the transition from the life assemblage, which is all the biology going on in a certain area, to the fossil assemblage, which is what the paleontologist finds in the rock record. If you don't understand taphonomy you don't understand anything in paleo.

more to come....

... once more with feeling

Ok I've just emerged from another blogging crisis. My blogging crises have two parts 1) why would anyone bother to read what I write and 2) if I had "real" content it might be more wortwhile. Problem is, real content tends to be time consuming. Right now with two publications waiting at the door, a lab manual to finish writing, an online class to develp and a book publisher waiting for material blogging with very few people reading seems a bit less important. But I do want to build this blog into something and that requires effort.
So the new model: more content, real content but in shorter posts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

if you blog it they will come...

Ok I came in this morning, I unlocked the class room for my students. I unlocked my office, I went back down to the departmental office for coffee. Given this exceptionally simple sequence of events...
where the HELL are my keys?!?

Update: In the office supply store room. My across the hall colleague figured it out because she saw me with some office supplies, knew I had been in there, knew I wasn't finding them anywhere else, hadn't heard me mention the store room and so figured I had forgotten I was in there and they were in there.
Elementary Watson
I work with very smart people