Thursday, May 28, 2015

Born This Day: Louis Agassiz

(Jean) Louis (Rodolphe) Agassiz (May 28, 1807 - Dec. 14, 1873) was a Swiss-born U.S. naturalist, geologist, and teacher who made revolutionary contributions to the study of natural science with landmark work on glacier activity and extinct fishes. Agassiz began his work in Europe, having studied at the University of Munich and then as chair in natural history in Neuchatel in Switzerland. While there he published his landmark multi-volume description and classification of fossil fish.

In 1846 Agassiz came to the U.S. to lecture before Boston's Lowell Institute. Offered a professorship of Zoology and Geology at Harvard in 1848, he decided to stay, becoming a citizen in 1861. His innovative teaching methods altered the character of natural science education in the U.S. Link

More info HERE

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

CMNH Curator Describes New Human Ancestor, Australopithecus deyiremeda

New species from Ethiopia further expands Middle Pliocene hominin diversity. 2015. Nature.


Australopithecus deyiremeda is a new 3.3 to 3.5 million-year-old human ancestor. Its upper and lower jaw fossils were recovered from the Woranso-Mille area of the Afar region of Ethiopia. This hominin lived alongside the famous “Lucy’s” species, Australopithecus afarensis. PR

Died This Day: Sandra Shaw


Although Sandra Shaw (May 27, 1913 – Feb. 16, 2000) had a short film career comprising a few, mostly uncredited film roles in 1933, her most famous appearance is that of the person plucked from her sleep from an unnamed hotel by King Kong, and than casually dropped to her death when he realizes that she is not Ann Darrow (Fay Wray). The year that Kong was released she married Gary Cooper.

Arbogast on Film blog has nice appreciation of Sandra Shaw’s few famous film moments.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Giant Brains Are Better

Brain size affects female but not male survival under predation threat. 2015. Biological Letters.


New research has shown that in the course of evolution larger brains offer a higher survival potential than smaller brains. PR

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pteranodon from Disney's Fantasia

Born This Day: Oliver Perry Hay

Hay (May 22, 1846 – Nov. 2, 1930) was an American paleontologist whose catalogs of fossil vertebrates greatly organized existing knowledge and became standard references. Hay's primary scientific interest was the study of the Pleistocene vertebrata of North America and he is renowned for his work on skull and brain anatomy. His first major work was his Bibliography and Catalogue of the Fossil Vertebrata of North America (1902), supplemented by two more volumes (1929-30). Hay also wrote on the evidence of early humans in North America. link

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The First Dinosaur from Washington State



The fossil is 16.7 inches long and 8.7 inches wide. Because the fossil is incomplete, paleontologists aren't able to identify the exact theropod family or species it belonged to. However, Sidor and Peecook compared the fossil to other museums' specimens and were able to calculate that the complete femur would have been over 3 feet long -- slightly smaller than T. rex. The fossil is from the Late Cretaceous period and is approximately 80 million years old. PR

Born This Day: Mary Anning

Mary Anning (May 21, 1799 - March 9, 1847) was an English fossil collector who made her first significant discovery at the age of 11 or 12 (sources differ on the details), when she found a complete skeleton of an Ichthyosaurus, from the Jurassic period. The ten-meter (30 feet) long skeleton created a sensation and made her famous.

Anning's determination and keen scientific interest in fossils derived from her father's interest in fossil hunting, and a need for the income derived from them to support her family after his death. in 1810. She sold large fossils to noted paleontologists of the day, and smaller ones to the tourist trade. In 1823, Anning made another great discovery, found the first complete Plesiosaurus.

Later in her life, the Geological Society of London granted Anning an honorary membership.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Died This Day: Stephen Jay Gould


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Sept. 10, 1941 - May 20. 2002
Here’s a nice piece on Gould by Henry Lowood from the Stanford Presidential Lectures in the Humanities and Arts.