Taxonomy term

june 2014

Creationism comes to the county fair

Although better known for “best cow” awards, silly games and deep-fried foods on sticks, county fairs have proved good places for creationists to reach captive audiences. How can scientists counter this county fair push with messages of their own?

30 Jun 2014

San Andreas Fault shook Bay Area three times in a century

During the April 18, 1906, magnitude-7.9 earthquake near San Francisco, Calif., 470 kilometers of the San Andreas Fault ruptured between San Juan Bautista, south of San Francisco, and Point Arena, north of the city.

27 Jun 2014

Dinosaur feathers burst into color

Bright coloration likely emerged in dinosaurs right after the evolution of feathers, according to a new study in Nature. And the burst of color may have been more than an aesthetic change, researchers say: It may have readied feathered dinosaurs for flight.

26 Jun 2014

Down to Earth With: Steven Stanley

It’s no wonder Steven Stanley says he can’t imagine having pursued any career other than research and teaching in geology and paleontology. After studying under eminent scientists like Alfred Fischer, Colin Pittendrigh and Harry Hess while a student at Princeton and then Yale in the 1960s, Stanley went on to add many of his own paradigm-shifting contributions to our understanding of fossils, evolution and Earth’s environmental history. He has also authored several popular textbooks and has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Mary Clark Thompson Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 2006 and, most recently in 2013, the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) highest honor, the Penrose Medal.
 

24 Jun 2014

Arctic megafauna thrived on pollen-poor plants

Ancient changes in vegetation have traditionally been studied based on fossil pollen; however, this record tends to be biased toward plants that produce lots of pollen, such as grasses, reeds and sedges. Now, researchers have sequenced plant DNA retrieved from radiocarbon-dated permafrost samples and gained further insight into the Arctic plant communities not readily identifiable by pollen analysis.
 

24 Jun 2014

Rosetta: Off to decipher a comet's secrets

“Hello World.”

With that brief message, scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) and followers around the world sent up a collective cheer. Rosetta — the ESA spacecraft currently on a 10-year mission to orbit and land on a comet — awoke in January after a three-year hibernation, and was ready to work.

23 Jun 2014

Geologic Column: Beyond geology, field camps teach teamwork and inspire leadership

For undergraduate geology students, field camp is a rite of passage. And the importance of the experience, in terms of properly training and preparing geoscience students to become geoscience professionals, should not be underestimated. 

23 Jun 2014

Cryptic creatures made for a spectacular hanging garden

Researchers studying an outcrop of Middle Devonian-aged carbonate rock in the Hamar Laghdad area of Morocco have found the remains of a community of submarine cave-roof-dwelling corals, crinoids, cnidarians and sponges that, while living, would have constituted a “spectacular hanging garden.”

22 Jun 2014

Early Triassic fossil showed live birth in action

An exceptional case of fossil preservation has provided the oldest view yet of the moment of live birth in a vertebrate. The fossil contains parts of four marine reptile individuals — a mother and her three young — from the ichthyopterygian genus, Chaohusaurus, and was unearthed in the Anhui Province of eastern China. While one of the young is still inside the mother and a second is already outside (and mostly obscured from view by other portions of the fossil), the third juvenile can be clearly seen emerging headfirst from the mother’s pelvis. Thought to be about 1 meter long when fully grown, Chaohusaurus lived about 248 million years ago in the Early Triassic and was an ancestor of later ichthyosaurs.

22 Jun 2014

Did tidal zone trilobites lead the way onto land?

With their Cambrian-defining ubiquity, 270-million-year longevity and impressive diversity, trilobites often rank as people’s favorite sort of fossil. Now a set of 500-million-year-old trace fossils found in Tennessee is potentially expanding the trilobites’ territory from the deep ocean all the way inland to the resource-rich Cambrian tidal flats. But whether the tracks mean that trilobites were part of an ecological bridge that helped animals transition from the sea onto land to colonize the empty continents is up for debate.

22 Jun 2014

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