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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in the Professor's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, March 14th, 2009
1:59 pm
Pi Day!
I just had to pass the mathematically geeky love on.  Happy Pi Day eveyone!  Remember to hug a circle today.  Or a crazy Greek philosopher.

Current Mood: amused
Monday, February 9th, 2009
6:56 pm
A condenter for best T-shirt ever!
This is amusing.

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, January 28th, 2009
7:59 pm
Triceratops locking horns? Perhaps.
My friend and fellow former MSU student Ewan Wolff has published an article on whether pathologies (injuries) on the skull of Triceratops differed from those on the skull of another horned dinosaur (Centrosaurus). The idea of the study is that these two different ceratopsians lived with similar predators and in similar environments, and so the difference between the rates of injury to the skulls would be the result of the behavior of the animals. Their hypothesis was that Triceratops, having long brow horns, would tend to injure the frills of other Triceratops more often than Centrosaurus, which does not have long brow horns. That is, if they actually engaged in some form of intraspecific combat at all. I would have posted pictures, but LJ is not cooperating. The article is free access and can be found in full at PloS, or with commentary on the author's blog.

Current Mood: nerdy
Thursday, December 18th, 2008
12:14 pm
New, Big Raptor
So Novas and crew have reported today on a dromeosaur with a head estimated to be some 80 cm in length and a body estimated to be some 5 m in length.  For those of you keeping score on the large-raptor front, that matches or exceeds Utahraptor.  The new specie's name is Austroraptor cabazai.  In addition to large size, it also has unusally short arms for a dromeosaurs.

It's also in a really odd subgroup within dromeosaurs, which includes Rahonavis (the "bird" with raptor feet that now looks like a true raptor) from Madagascar, the enigmatic Unenlagia, and Buitreraptor (which has an extremely narrow snout).  Whatever these Southern Hemisphere forms were doing, it's interesting.

You can read more about this new species (with pictures) here.

And, because this just goes to show that we need to be on guard against raptor attacks, you should also read this.

Current Mood: nerdy
Monday, December 8th, 2008
8:12 pm
Wednesday, October 1st, 2008
9:44 am
My field is changing far too fast...
Here is a list of new dinosaurs named this year alone.

That's right, since January.  Now, at least one of these names hasn't  been published yet (it was posted as a 'pre-review' article by Nature.  That seems a strange and absurd way of posting a scholarly article.  I mean, if I didn't want to use peer review, I'd write for National Gegraphic.  They have a much larger readership.  But I digress...) My science is very, very alive and well.  This is some rediculously high rate of publication compared to some periods in the history of the field.  Of course, I still know of one more name that might be added to this list.  It is a most exciting time to be alive.

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
8:10 pm
The intricate and roundabout interconnectedness of all things as applied to paleontology
beloved_tree gave me a muse, so I will share on one of the ways that seemingly impractical, and obscure sciences actually can help to alleviate human suffering.

Today Andrew, my fellow grad student, and I were talking with some of the vet students in our gross anatomy class about us being dinosaur workers.  They were surprised that we were in the class.  This is something that I've run into in nearly all of my anatomy classes.  And when I tell people that many anatomy classes are taught by paleontologists, they also seem surprised.

It's true. The anatomy classes at places like the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are taught by paleontologists.  We are one of the few groups of scientists still interested in gross anatomy.  Most of biology has focused heavily on the cellular and molecular side.  Outside of science, the only other group of people who really need to know anatomy are clinical professionals (doctors, surgeons, nurses, veterinary doctors, physical therapists, missuses etc.).  While not all of these are taught by paleontologists, the advantage to having paleontologists teach gross anatomy (besides the fact that some of us really love the subject) is that it frees up surgeons and medical professionals to go on helping live people and animals.  So there you have it, even paleontologists can provide material support to the war on human suffering.*

We also love large, well-illustrated reference works (monographs) so it may soon fall to the paleontologists to continually update the major anatomical atlases and reference books.**

*Keep 'em Flying. Buy more victory bonds.
** You don't want to know how many mistakes there are in the reference books your doctor uses.

Current Mood: cheerful
Thursday, June 5th, 2008
11:08 am
Why haven't I heard this before?
No to Godwin this post immediately, but...Hitler was a meth addict! 

OK, so he was a meth addict in the same sense that thousands, if not millions of middle-class 1950s house wives were meth addicts, but still, meth addict! 

Imagine that anti-drug campaign.

And in unrelated, but happy, news, I hear  birdsong and it is gloriously incessant!  I woke up to the sound of birds singing this morning and the whole day has been one song followed by another.  I never realized how abundant the bird life is around the house I grew up in.  Chipping sparrows, northern flickers, robins, gray catbirds, cardinals, blue jays, house sparrows, a few kinds of chickadees, great blue heron, turkeys walking through the yard almost every day and that doesn't even count all the species I can't identify because they're East Coast birds and I never really learned East Coast birds. 

It's no wonder I ended up working with dinosaurs after having grown up in a house surrounded by them!

Current Mood: curious
Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
3:22 pm
Well that was random...
I got a call from Montana today.  One of the museum field crews was demanding my presence out there sometime this summer.  It's not that I'm a great digger or anything.  It's just that the crew is almost completely made up of my friends in the paleo program.  It really makes a guy feel wanted.

Current Mood: content
Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
10:01 am
Finals frivolity.
Although this joke really only applies to Oliver, David and I, here is a bit of fun in honor of the upcoming finals week (which I'm going to start hard-core studying for in all of ten minutes). For those of you who've already graduated, I hope it brings back some happy memories of Finals Week.

Current Mood: awake
Friday, April 18th, 2008
8:29 am
Spring is here, spring is here...
The warm weather and approaching end of the semester has finally made it start to feel like spring.  And so, here is a song about spring cleaning.

Current Mood: amused
Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
9:45 pm
On men and Corvids...
Here was the quote that came up in Ornithology a week or two ago:

"If men had wings and black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."
                                                    - Rev. H.W. Beecher ~1850

I was amused.

Current Mood: calm
9:33 pm
Tuesday memeage
Pick five bands that you would see in a heartbeat if they were playing anywhere around here (and they need not be still together).

In no particular order:

They Might be Giants
The Kabalas
Trans-Siberian Orchestra
The Metrolites
The Vince Guraldi Trio
Billy Joel (when he was young and could still sing).

Current Mood: calm
Sunday, March 30th, 2008
12:34 am
Random musing
You know that you've been thinking too much about paleontology when you realize that most cladistic terminology could make decent band names. For example: Basal Tetanurae, Tiktaalik, crown clade... yeah.

I think it's bed time now.

Current Mood: tired
Thursday, March 20th, 2008
11:08 am
Borrowed Easter thoughts...
I've been thinking a lot about these lines this week.  You've probably heard them or read them many times before, but I still hope they strike you as they do me.

Alas! And did my Savior bleed? 
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away, –
‘Tis all that I can do.

- At the Cross , Isaac Watts, 1885

Current Mood: contemplative
Wednesday, March 19th, 2008
6:55 pm
New Bird Species
You may be able to talk to Korea over the internet and get package birdwatching tours to the pribilovs, but there are still some corners of the world where crazy birders haven't been yet.  Here is the proof.  Handsome little guy, no?

Current Mood: curious
Monday, March 3rd, 2008
7:44 pm
Headline of the Week
This headline for the win.  Enough said.

Current Mood: amused
12:02 am
Answers to the Movie quote meme

Have I ever mentioned that I really love the movie quotes meme?

Current Mood: tired
Friday, February 29th, 2008
6:19 pm
Movie Quotes revisited
So, here are the quotes no one has gotten yet. For the first two, since these movies weren't exceptionally quotable anyway, I'm going to add some ancillary details. For the second two, I'm going to add more quotes from the movie. And, for kicks, I'm going to add a new movie I had intended to have in the first post to begin with.

Current Mood: TGIF, mate.
Thursday, February 28th, 2008
12:25 am
Hey, look how well meme's work...
10 movie quotes meme from just about everyone. Note: the last two quotes will be extremely easy for one beloved_tree , I will allow her to identify them at her own discretion.

Current Mood: sleepy
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