Apocalypto: Can the extinction of the dinosaurs shed light on the disappearance of the Mayans? Some scientists believe that the 110-mile diameter Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula is a remnant of the asteroid that smacked into Earth 65 million years ago and precipitated the downfall of the dinosaurs. Bob’s Dinosaur Blog reports that “the slow erosion of the crater's rim, as marked by deposits of the radioactive element strontium, may help experts to recreate the Mayan terrain of centuries past—and in turn help to delineate patterns of habitation and agriculture. With any luck, the demise of the dinosaurs will allow us to grasp the near-demise of a much more recent civilization.”
Tracking Dinosaurs: At the top of Cedar Mountain in Utah are the remnants of the shoreline of the inland sea that rose during the mid-part of the Cretaceous. Paleo Dude and his colleague came across some very intriguing tracks at the site that resemble hoof prints—which is odd, since, as far as we know, hoofed animals didn’t exist during this era. Through a series of photos, Paleo Dude walks us through the meticulous process of creating plaster casts of the tracks for further study. “It’s a hard job,” he says, “but somebody has to do it.”
What Happens in Vegas: Upon returning from fieldwork in the Gobi Desert, Michael Ryan was dismayed to find a glossy brochure in his mailbox advertising that the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton “Samson” is going up for auction on October 3rd in Las Vegas. (I have a horrible feeling it will end up in Kid Rock’s basement next to his stripper pole and pinball machine.) Anyway, according to the auction house: “The rare 66-million year old is arguably one of the three most complete specimens to have been discovered….The entire specimen contains approximately 170 bones, more than 50 percent of the total bone count of an entire skeleton. In life, ‘Samson’ was equal in weight to ‘Sue,’ the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton which sold for $8.3 million in 1997.”
Out of Cite, Out of Mind: Over at Tetrapod Zoology, David NashDarren Naish is banging his head against his keyboard: “It's integral to one's success as a researcher (whatever 'success' means) that others cite your work….So, when you see a publication that's very relevant to your own research, and find yourself not getting cited (or, perhaps, horrendously and obviously under-cited), what do you do?” Nash offers four theories to explain the phenomenon of academic snubbing.
Chow Down: Paleochick points us to this online quiz: “How long would it take for a Tyrannosaurus Rex to digest your body?” (In her case, 15 hours.) Still unanswered: How long would it take for a Velociraptor to change a car tire?
Brachiosaur Beach Party: What do paleontologists do on vacation? Well, if you’re Mike Taylor, you make brachiosaur-sand sculptures.
Punk’d: I confess to being a fan of Steampunk—artists and craftsmen who endow modern technology with 19th century aesthetics. (I covet these Victorian-style computers.) So, I was delighted to see that artist Glendon Mellow decided to wade into the genre with these sketches of “Steampunk Flying Trilobites” (which, incidentally, would be an awesome name for a band).