MS and AL primary voters believe Obama is Muslim and evolution is false

It’s not exactly a surprise that on the right, in the two states holding primaries tomorrow, Mississippi and Alabama, the anti-science Teaparty ignoramuses run the show. But data from the PPP poll on voter preferences below also held some interesting data about evolution and Obama that really drive home just how out of touch these voters are. [Read more…]

Scientists reveal actual color of feathered dinosaur

Microraptor gui holotype fossil with white arrows pointing out feather impressions, click image for background info. New colored reconstruction below the fold

Fossils are rare, fossils which preserve feathers and other soft tissue are extraordinarily rare. But scientists re-examining a fossil of a feathered, flying dinosaur unearthed in China’s rich Yixian and Jiufotang formations have found a specimen so well preserved, despite spending more than 130 million years in the ground, that they are able to determine the actual color and tone of the little dino: [Read more…]

Giant insects once thought extinct now in successful captive breeding program

Phasmida dryococelus, among the heaviest living insects known to science, shown here roughly to scale if you're using a standard sized computer monitor. Image courtesy of NPR

It’s been quite a week for giant insects. First we hear of extinct monster fleas with a hankering for Jurassic blood. Now an unexpected find; once thought to be extinct “tree lobsters” have been successfully collected and bred in captivity, giving them a chance to beat nature’s wholesale grim reaper. [Read more…]

Permian forest brought to scientific life

An artist's impression of a 300-million-year-old peat forest in northern China, based on plant fossils preserved in a huge volcanic ash-fall. PNAS

Paleobiologists of all kinds are used to dealing with frustrating scraps. Occasionally they get entire bones and once in a blue moon a nearly complete skeleton or fossil of an extinct plant or animal. But scientists working with remains below a Mongolian coal mine have done one better, they found a 300 million year old forest preserved in volcanic ash and have brought it to virtual life in what is being called the Permian Pompeii:

[Read more…]