Sunday, June 28, 2015

Quaternary paleontology at Channel Islands NP and Mammoth Cave NP

Here's a couple of quick entries on paleontological research going on in the National Parks. In this case, both examples are Quaternary. It's another case of serendipity: I was looking for the first article, and found the second article in the same volume. Neither Channel Islands National Park or Mammoth Cave National Park are slouches paleontologically, but they do get overshadowed. Places like Big Bend National Park, John Day Fossil Beds National Park, and Petrified Forest National Park get a paper or two every year, so it's nice to shine a light on some of the others.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


To start it off, this being Father's Day as I write, I shamelessly link to my father's Flickr photostream.  He's got photos of landscapes and landmarks of places in Hawaii, Arizona, Utah, Washington D.C., South Dakota, Virginia, Idaho, Alaska, and Minnesota. I recommend the eagles on Grey Cloud Island.

Where were we? Yes, the majestic trilobite, the three-lobed former denizen of the deep, the oval with antennae, bearer of the first compound eye, shameless vandal of pristine Paleozoic sediment. Trilobites are one of the most famous types of extinct organism, perhaps not on par with certain vertebrates, but certainly the most renowned fossil invertebrates. (In second place, with plenty of daylight intervening, are ammonites. In last place, maybe edrioblastoids? Some kind of echinoderm, probably.) You can find online information on practically any aspect of trilobites you may want to know about, often lovingly illustrated with photos. You'll probably end up at sooner rather than later. The American Museum of Natural History also has a good guide, with photos of several of the species mentioned below. Wikipedia and the Kansas Geological Survey have detailed entries, and more photo guides particularly relevant to our slice of time can be found at the Atlas of Ordovician Life, the Dry Dredgers,, and University of Georgia pages on the Cincinnatian and Nashville.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Monoclonius recurvicornis, and other things

Serendipity is an unsung force in the universe. I was reminded of the power of random connections when I first saw the skull of Regaliceratops peterhewsi. There, parked slightly behind the eyes, were a pair of small but distinct horn cores. It couldn't have come at a more propitious moment (and I'm not saying that just to work in the word "propitious"), because for various reasons I'd recently been kicking around the idea of posting on another ceratopsid with small but distinct brow horns: "Monoclonius" recurvicornis, one of life's persistent mysteries.