Monday, March 30, 2015

Geological Eras First Proposed (1759)

In 1759, Italian geologist Giovanni Arduino (1714-1795) dated a letter to Professor A.Vallisneri the younger, in which Arduino proposed a classification of Earth's surface rocks according to four brackets of successively younger orders: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and Quaternary. These are the four geological eras used today. The volcanic rocks without fossils which he saw in the Atesine Alps that formed the cores of large mountains he called Primary. Overlying them, the fossil rich rocks of limestone and clay that were found on the prealpine flanks of the mountains he called Secondary. The less consolidated fossil-bearing rocks of the subalpine foothills, he named Tertiary, and the alluvial rock deposits in the plains were the Quaternary. link

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Premiered This Day (1961): Gorgo

Gorgo premiered on this day in 1961. Directed by Eugène Lourié from a script by John Loring and Daniel Hyat, it featured a man in a rubber suit ala Toho’s Godzilla. More ignored than maligned, it holds up very well & is a well worth watching.

Over at Atomic Surgery the good doctors present a double bill to commemorate the day: a story by Steve Ditko from Gorgo #15 and a Gorgo filmbook from Famous Monsters of Filmland #50.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Birthday to Richard Dawkins

Died This Day: James Hutton

Hutton (June 3, 1726 - March 26, 1797) is considered to be the father of modern geology. He is accredited with proposing that observed geologic processes have been occurring at a uniform rate since the creation of earth, also know as the theory of unconformities. This led to his controversial suggestion that the earth is incredibly old.

Hutton began to notice geologic processes on his land in the 1750’s by following his soil during rainstorms when it would erode into the sea. He also noticed how long the process took and began to apply this idea to other parts of geology. If it took this long for some soil to move a few miles than how long did it take to form the cliffs by the sea? He also took note of other features in the landscape such as angular unconformities. A breakthrough point occurred for Hutton when he found Siccar’s Point. This site shows the build up of sediment over a long period of time as well as other geologic processes. It was this idea of continuous processes that fascinated Hutton for the rest of his life.

Hutton subsequently moved back to Edinburgh, and became very involved with the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1785 he had his friend Joseph Black read his lecture on his theories of earth. This was the first time that his full theory had been made public. He was met with much anger and rejection. Even though we take his ideas for granted today, at the time he was presenting this the oldest proposed age of earth was around six thousand years, as laid forth by the church. While he was able to convince a few by showing them prime field examples such as Glen Tilt and Siccar’s Point, for many it remained too radical an idea to consider.

Text modified from HERE. Image from HERE.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fossil Whale Constrains Uplift in East Africa

A 17-My-old whale constrains onset of uplift and climate change in east Africa. 2015. Jacobs, L. et al. PNAS.

Not a Beaked Whale. Kamandi © DC Comics

Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained.

Now paleontologists have tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world -- and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent -- to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa's mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the beaked Ziphiidae whale family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at an elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya's harsh desert region, said vertebrate paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. PR

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy Birthday to Robert Bakker


image

Read more about him HERE

Metoposaurus algarvensis, Giant Prehistoric Amphibian from Portugal

Model of Metoposaurus algarvensis.
Metoposaurus algarvensis, crocodile-like amphibian, that lived 230 million years ago, was discovered at an ancient lake in southern Portugal. The creature grew up to 2m in length and lived in lakes and rivers during the Late Triassic Period, living much like crocodiles do today and feeding mainly on fish.

The new species was discovered in a large bed of bones where up to several hundred of the creatures may have died when the lake they inhabited dried up, researchers say. Only a fraction of the site - around 4 square meters - has been excavated so far, and the team is continuing work there in the hope of unearthing new fossils.

Most members the group of giant salamander-like amphibians was wiped out during a mass extinction 201 million years ago, long before the death of the dinosaurs. This marked the end of the Triassic Period, when the supercontinent of Pangea - which included all the world's present-day continents - began to break apart. PR

Monday, March 23, 2015

Born This Day: Kenneth Tobey

Tobey (Mar. 23, 1917 - Dec. 22, 2002) made a career of playing “take charge, men of authority”, such as Capt. Hendry in Howard Hawkes, “The Thing From Another World” (1951), and just about every TV series throughout the 60’s and 70’s. More than a few of his appearances were in SF stories, and he played Col. Jack Evans in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953).

Born This Day: William Smith

March 23, 1769 - August 28, 1839)

From Today In Science History:

An English engineer and geologist who is best known for his development of the science of stratigraphy. Smith's great geologic map of England and Wales (1815) set the style for modern geologic maps, and many of the colorful names he applied to the strata are still in use today.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Born This Day: Adam Sedgwick

Adam Sedgwich (March 22, 1785 - January 27, 1873) was an English geologist who first applied the name Cambrian to the geologic period of time, now dated at 570 to 505 million years ago. In 1818 he became Woodwardian Professor of Geology at Cambridge, holding a chair that had been endowed ninety years before by the natural historian John Woodward.

He lacked formal training in geology, but he quickly became an active researcher in geology and paleontology. Many years after Sedgwick's death, the geological museum at Cambridge was renamed the Sedgwick Museum of Geology in his honor. The museum is now part of the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge University. From Today In Science History.