Category Archive: Fossils

Jun 26 2014

So that’s what chemistry is good for…

Microphotographs of a slightly burned coprolite of putative human origin identified in El Salt Stratigraphic Unit X (sample SALT-08-13). The images under plane polarized light show the pale brown color and massive structure of the coprolite, as well as the common presence of inclusions, which are possibly parasitic nematode eggs or spores.

Stinky stuff! This fits perfectly with my biased preconceptions. So here are two examples of chemistry used to analyze things you’d normally run away from. The oldest traces of human poop have been dug out of a cave in Spain — and it’s Neandertal poop. It’s about 50,000 years old, and it’s been reduced to …

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Apr 27 2014

They’re closing the Smithsonian’s dinosaur hall for five years!

Every time I go to Washington DC I try to find time to visit the fossil hall, which is damn good (not quite as good as the AMNH’s, though, which gets my highest marks for an informative dino experience). But now the bad news: it’s being closed for five long years. The good news, though, …

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Apr 01 2014

Update on Olivia McConnell

The eight year old girl who was trying to get the South Carolina legislature to make the woolly mammoth the state fossil has reason to be happy today: the ass of a state senator who was trying to insert Bible quotes into the bill, effectively killing it, has withdrawn his obstructionist amendment. He said he …

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Mar 30 2014

Do you have to shove your awful little holy book in everything?

I had thought that Minnesota had a state fossil: it was the giant beaver, Castoroides ohioensis. But then I discovered that it wasn’t on the official list of Minnesota State Symbols, but was on the list of proposed symbols. So it never made it into law, although we do have a state photo (it’s awful) …

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Oct 18 2013

A shame

Ken Ham is very proud to have spent a half-million dollars to buy a genuine, rare allosaur skeleton, which will now be locked up in a non-research institution and used to gull the rubes. It’s all part of their grand plan to pretend to be a scientific institution, while doing everything in their power to …

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Aug 26 2013

Playing with virtual fossils

This is all kinds of cool: the British Geological Survey is laser scanning their fossil collection and producing an online database of high resolution photographs and digital models of British type fossils. Bring up images and rotate and zoom in on them interactively. Two days until classes start! I can’t play with this now!

Jul 18 2013

The most precious jewelry in the world


It’s not the Koh-I-Noor or the Empress Eugenie Brooch or whatever my wife is wearing right now, it’s this: It’s a small, broken fossil shell, collected from a fossil outcrop and transported 110 kilometers to a hole in the ground in Italy. Close inspection reveals that before it was broken, there was a pattern of …

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Apr 20 2013

Coelacanths are unexceptional products of evolution


The coelacanth genome has been sequenced, which is good news all around…except that I found a few of the comments in the article announcing it disconcerting. They keep calling it a “living fossil” — and you know what I think of that term — and they keep referring to it as evolving slowly The slowly …

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Feb 04 2013

Only a bird


Another feathered dinosaur has been found in China, prompting Ken Ham to dig in his heels and issue denials. Yet another supposed “feathered dinosaur” fossil has come to light, again in China. (Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, AiG–U.S., reported on another Chinese fossil of a supposed feathered dinosaur in April 2012) Now, one headline described the fossil …

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Jan 22 2013

Methinks it is like a sauropsid


Eugene McCarthy, the author of that crackpot stabilization theory, has discovered my review and is now making a noise on twitter. He’s gone from thanking me profusely for mentioning him, to whining that I stole his figures, to complaining that I don’t understand his theory at all, all in the last 24 hours. But here’s …

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