transitional fossil

Daily Paleo Art Month #19: Odontochelys

Living around 220 million years ago in the Late Triassic of China, Odontochelys was the oldest known of all chelonians. About 40cm long (~16in), it lacked the beak and full armored carapace of its modern relatives, instead possessing a mouth full of teeth and only the plastron on its underside – this was quite literally a “turtle in a half shell”!

The evolutionary history of turtles is rather murky, with little early fossil evidence to work with. They were traditionally classified as the last surviving group of anapsids based on the lack of temporal openings in their skulls, but more recent morphological and molecular studies have placed them firmly within the diapsids. Their exact relationships are still debated, with some scientists considering them to be related to the lepidosaurs (modern lizards, snakes, and tuataras), and others suggesting them to be very closely related to the archosaurs.

South Australia's new energy plan

The plan:

- build a gas-fired plant ($360m)
- frack farms to get the gas
- more renewables + a big battery to store energy ($150m)

What’s wrong with it?

The renewables stuff is good. The gas stuff is not. People talk like gas is the “nicer fossil fuel” that we can use to transition off fossil fuels. It ain’t.

1. You don’t build a $360m gas plant if you don’t plan on it being around a long time. Climate change means we don’t have a long time.

2. We don’t NEED a ‘transition fossil fuel’. We can go 100% renewable at a good price now. Tonnes of Aussie research on this.

3. Fracking on farms? Awful for farmers + our food security.

4. Will gas create more jobs than renewables? Nup.

CLIFF NOTES: $150m on renewables is good. But $360m on gas + fracking is bad. For farmers, your kids + the climate.

Examples of Dead Fandoms, Part Two

Go here to read part one.

Let me reiterate something I said before: I actually don’t want to be right about any of these fandoms being dead. It always makes me sad when people lose passion for something, and something worthwhile goes unread or unseen.

The Pulp Heroes (the Shadow, Doc Savage, etc.)

The Shadow was the first and most famous of the larger than life magazine heroes, mostly published by Street & Smith, who came out during the Great Depression. They weren’t superheroes, exactly…but they were too uncanny, too bigger than life, their adventures too bizarre and fantastical, to be typical adventurers or detective heroes in the usual sense…they were in the same ballpark as Tarzan or Zorro, a kind of “transitional fossil” between grounded detective and adventure characters, and the later far out superheroes. 

I realized the reach these novels had in their own time when I heard this amazing story about none other than jazz great Thelonious Monk: he was obsessed with Doc Savage magazine. When he performed, the jazz man sometimes had a Doc Savage magazine rolled up in his coat. I have a hard time imagining that!

The reason the pulp heroes went away and stopped having pop cultural cache is simple: the audience for it went away. You have to remember that pulp hero stories were always a composite genre, meant to appeal to two audiences simultaneously: kids, who loved action and fantasy and heroism, and working class men, who also love action, but who also loved lurid mystery and gore. To appeal to working class men, there were always way more hints of blood, gunplay, dread/terror, and sex, but because kids also read these, it was all very subdued. If you realize that pulp heroes were meant to appeal to these two very different audiences with conflicting desires, the question isn’t why the pulp heroes went away, but rather, why they lasted as long as they did. 

What took the kid audience away from the hero pulps could be summarized in two words: superhero comics. Sales on pulps fell every year when they had to compete with comics, and the history of the pulp heroes in the 1940s is defined by their reaction to the challenge of comics, a little like the history of movies when they had to compete with television. 

There were three big reactions to comics in the 1940s from the pulp magazines: 

  1. They dissed comics. This reminds me of the 50s movies that called television “the idiot’s lantern.” The best example of this I can find is the Doc Savage mystery, The Whisker of Hercules. By all accounts, Doc Savage author Lester Dent hated, hated, hated comic superheroes, particularly Superman, who exaggerated the traits of his own heroes beyond what he felt an audience would believe. Whisker of Hercules is a novel where Doc finds criminals who who take a potion that turns them into Superman, gives them superstrength, the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and the ability to move at superspeed, but in the end, they are ultimately bested by Doc Savage, who outsmarts them and reveals the Whisker of Hercules ages them to death. Lester Dent, you see, felt superhero comics were a passing fad without staying power.
  2. They created characters that were both in pulp magazines and in comics as well. An example of this would be Ka-Zar and Sheena, who was in both comics and pulp magazines simultaneously. Today, we’d call them “multimedia properties.”
  3. They created far-out pulp heroes that were aimed at a kid audience to lure kids back to magazines. The best example of this is Edmond Hamilton’s Captain Future, which was a pulp hero who was extremely kid-friendly, with robot sidekicks and a cute mouse pet, and a base on the Moon. 

While the kids who read pulp heroes were lured away by comics, the working class men were pulled away by a new invention: the “men’s adventure” paperback novel, which could have explicit sex and violence. James Bond (Casino Royale was first published in 1954) was more typical of the paperback heroes, as was gun-toting Mack Bolan the Executioner, a special forces guy who came back from Vietnam to find his family killed by the mafia, and who declares war on the mob with his special forces training and arsenal of firearms (he also directly inspired a certain Marvel Comics character you might be familiar with). 

Just like almost all pop music is either Beatles or Stones inspired, nearly all men’s adventure heroes are some variation of either James Bond or Mack Bolan. This leads us to today, where men’s adventure novels are either porn, or gun porn. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you can probably guess which one I like better.

Here’s another thing to consider when wondering why the pulp heroes went away. The Shadow, Doc Savage, the Spider, are really only a few years older than the superheroes. They were not separated by a geologic age, the way many histories lead you to believe: they came out in the same decade as each other. Doc Savage came out in 1933, and Superman came out in 1938, which is not really that much time difference at all. The difference may be that there is a publishing company (DC Comics) that views Superman and Batman as essential to their identity and that keeps them alive for that reason, whereas no company does that for the pulp characters. In fact, there was even some dispute early this century as to whether the Street & Smith characters fell into the public domain. 

Original Battlestar Galactica

I used to post old cosplay pics, and my gosh, were there ever a lot of OBSG images. The actor who played Boomer was a regular at early science fiction conventions (there was a time when it was considered unusual for celebrities to visit conventions), and when a new BSG show was announced in 2003 (believe it or not, there was once a time that a hard reboot of an old scifi property was rare), it led to one of the all-time biggest nerdrages in nerd history.

I hesitate to say this, but part of the reason that Star Trek and the Next Generation are discovered decades later by new fans is because they really are good shows, and OBSG is…well, it’s a challenge for a new person, with fresh eyes, to see just what got everyone so excited in 1978. The reason why BSG was a big deal is clear: most people who are fans of it are fans because they watched the show when they were children, so it’s imprinted in their minds (rather like 90s kids and “Saved by the Bell” or “Power Rangers”). OSBG fandom isn’t growing for the same reason that “Saved by the Bell” fans aren’t growing: it’s a product of hormones and nostalgia, you “had to be there” to get it. 

To me, this explains perfectly why people went ballistic when a BSG reboot was announced back in the stone age, 2002. For one, the concept of a reboot was so new that I remember I heard people wonder if this means their favorite characters from the original were dead now. More importantly, though, this is a fandom with a few core people who remember BSG from when they were kids, and therefore have strong feelings about why it works and doesn’t work. 

Prince Valiant

Here’s a test to determine if a fandom is dead: if a movie adaptation royally screws everything about it up, would people get angry and yelly and passionate? Remember how people got death threats over the M. Knight Shyamalan Last Airbender? Well, in the case of Prince Valiant, I don’t think anybody would actually care. This is surprising, because for years, when people thought of comics, they thought of Prince Valiant: he was emblematic of an entire medium. Years before the prestige of Maus, Persepolis, and the “graphic novel,” it was the one comic that was classy, that adults were alright reading. 

Why is it no longer popular? Well, copy and paste everything I said on Dick Tracy about newspaper comics here. But also, if you ever run into someone who really loved Prince Valiant back in the day, ask them why they liked it. The answer should be incredibly telling. Most likely, they’ll tell you they loved the beautiful art, that they loved the great style of Hal Foster’s godlike pen. They loved the sweep of the story and the epic feel. 

Here’s what they won’t say if you ask them: they probably won’t say they liked the characters. (I can’t think of one adjective to describe Prince Valiant’s personality - he totally fails the RedLetterMedia test). They won’t remember any moment that made them cry or made them feel a rush of triumph.

I swear, it is not my intention to be a hater and drink some haterade. That’s really not in my nature, because I am a positive person. The whole point of this blog is for me to share cool old stuff I love - negativity has no place here. But there’s a dishonesty, a willful obtuseness, in trying to understand why Prince Valiant stopped being a phenomenon, and not realizing that Prince Valiant is beautiful looking, but it doesn’t give us the things about stories that “stick to our ribs” and make it stand the test of time: great characters and memorable, earned moments. Praising a comic for having beautiful art is like praising a movie for the great special effects. You don’t want the one thing people to remember about your hero to be a haircut. 

John Carter of Mars

The fandom for John Carter of Mars is a little like Barsoom itself without the Atmosphere Factory and water pumped from the depths of Omean: dead.

To the modern eye, one of the weirdest parts of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series is the 3 minute digression in the episode on Mars where Sagan starts talking about how he was the hugest John Carter of Mars fanboy ever, and how he dreamed of rescuing beautiful women in gallant swordfights on thoatback, with his fanboy narration intercut with shots of Frazetta and Michael Whelan cover art. This really happened. And this was typical of the kind of passion that John Carter of Mars inspired that you don’t see much of today. It’s so easy to blame the tanking of the movie adaptation, but the movie failing was a symptom, not a cause, of the fact there was no hungry audience to receive it.

Sagan was a huge John Carter fan: his car had a “BARSOOM” vanity license plate, and he wasn’t alone: without hesitation, I would say that Edgar Rice Burroughs was the most important and influential scifi writer of the first few decades of the 20th Century, so important that everyone defined themselves as either Burroughs-like (Leigh Brackett, for instance) or rejected the tropes ERB created (see: Stanley G. Weinbaum). John Carter of Mars didn’t inspire Star Wars. Instead, he inspired the things that inspired Star Wars (e.g. Flash Gordon). Edgar Rice Burroughs, not Faulkner, not Hemmingway, was the best selling novelist of the 1920s. 

Remember the last time I did this, and I was sincerely baffled why the Tripods novels have not had a revival? Well, when I got to John Carter of Mars, the answer came to me: the reason is that this work was so influential, so ubiquitous, that it has been strip-mined of creative power by imitators to the point that very little about it seems original anymore. Tripods, if it came out now, would just look like a Hunger Games rip-off despite the fact that if anything, it’s the other way around. The problem with John Carter of Mars is exactly the same: remember how the response to the trailer to the film adaptation was that this was Avatar Goes to Attack of the Clones? When, actually, Avatar and others got a lot from the Barsoom books. In other words, because John Carter was influential enough to create cliches, paradoxically, it is now seen as cliche.


The Ghostbusters reboot had a big, big problem: it’s a remake of a movie that’s an untouchable classic, like Back to the Future. Any remake would inevitably be compared to the original and suffer in the comparison. Well, here’s one movie you could probably remake with a gender swap hero: Highlander. It’s not Back to the Future, Jaws, or Terminator; this isn’t a movie people can quote every line from. People know of Highlander, sure…people know things like the Queen song, “there can be only one,” electric swordfighting, etc, but people don’t actually care that much. People won’t go ballistic. Highlander is a remaker’s dream: it has enough name recognition to get sold and made, but it doesn’t have a legion of nitpicking nerd fans to second guess everything and treat the original like gospel.

Highlander used to be kind of a big deal: it had not one but two tv shows, and it had three movie sequels. Just like “Wild Wild West” was steampunk a couple decades before that term existed, Highlander was “urban fantasy” before that term existed. Because of the themes of urban fantasy and tragic romance, it always had a strong female fandom, and there’s no understanding Highlander without understanding that it was kind of the Supernatural of its day: theoretically, with its swordfighting and cool powers, it was trying to appeal to boys…but ended up building up a way bigger female audience instead. 

Posterity is really never kind to any fantasy property who’s audience is primarily women. Who, today, talks a lot about Gargoyles or Beauty and the Beast, for example, to pick two properties that used to have a strong fandom? The last one (B&B) is pretty amazing because it was created by two people immensely relevant to the zeitgeist of today: Ron Perlman (the Beast himself), and the show’s head writer and producer, a fellow by the name of George R.R. Martin. It could be just plain chauvinism over a “girl thing.” I don’t deny that plays a role, more likely, it could just be that scifi fans are immensely nerdy in a way fantasy fans aren’t, so they keep alive their favorite scifi artifacts. That, I think, is why we’re still talking about Terminator and not Highlander: Tolkien fans who write in Dwarf runes are a freakish exception. In general, fantasy fans are way less hardcore than scifi fans.

Magnus, Robot Fighter

Ever talk to any old gay nerds? They will usually tell you they realized they were hella gay because of three men: Robert Conrad in “Wild Wild West,” Ultra Boy from Legion of Super-Heroes, and Magnus, Robot Fighter.

Russ Manning’s Magnus, Robot Fighter may be one of the great subterranean sources of pop culture. Matt Groening admits that the aesthetics of this comic inspired a lot of Futurama. Magnus, Robot Fighter was such a nostalgia totem in the minds of the Baby Boom generation, on the level of the Mars Attacks! cards, that George Lucas, who was always very hands-off with supplementary material, personally requested Russ Manning come out of retirement to do the Star Wars daily comics.

Magnus, Robot Fighter is an interesting example of how comics only have cache and longevity long-term if they can successfully convert into other media formats. Comics are important, but comics are ephemeral. Superman is the king of comic characters, sure, but most people know about him because he made the leap from comics to radio, screen, and television. 

Magnus is all the more heartbreaking because he almost made the jump to a medium with durability - video games. Under circumstances too complex to relate here, Acclaim bought out all the Gold Key comic characters, and Magnus was generally considered to be the crown jewel of the lot. Because Magnus was too important an IP to screw up, and the development team was so inexperienced, Acclaim instead decided to make their first Gold Key game adaptation one of the minor guys, so if they blew it, no biggie: Turok, Dinosaur Hunter. The rest is history: Acclaim was so busy making sequels to the surprise hit Turok, Dinosaur Hunter they never got around to giving Magnus, Robot Fighter a game.

Part three is coming, so stay tuned. Believe it or not, I actually have a fandom from the past ten years on here! Can you think of any dead fandoms?

anonymous asked:

it is extremely disappointing to see that you support clinton. i'm sorry, but it is. how can you write whole essays and shit about institutional racism and not see how hypocritical you're being by supporting her. you're too smart to pretend people are somehow being disingenuous or whatever about her and what she's doing. and you're too smart to pretend i'm just some pro-trump loony or that pro-trump people are the only ones who feel this way. deflect if you want but you know it's true.

Ok, ok. 

I said this:

and then you said what you said. And inasmuch as a tweet means anything, now I’m saying this:

Hillary is guilty of being,

  • a white woman who, like all white people, was born blind and raised deaf to her complicity in America’s titanic system of domestic racism; 
  • an ambitious person who, like all ambitious people, is fundamentally indifferent to those who have not chosen to enter the arena of combat with her;
  • a politician who, like all of them, says whatever is momentarily popular and maintains the most perfect silence on what everyone knows to be true;
  • and a Clinton who, like all Clintons, believes in nothing and is therefore capable of saying and doing whatever the moment requires. 

Now, I would argue this makes her barely more than a human person to begin with but, in addition to these qualities, she is also running for president. And a president is, 

  • a three-dimensional hologram projected by bond traders, the military-industrial complex, constitutional necessity, the collective fears of white people older than 45, and, to the smallest possible degree, the idealism of the Declaration of Independence;
  • a golem summoned from the silt of international trade and this trade’s requirement that violence be restricted to economically unimportant branches of the human family;
  • a ghost who patrols the planet Earth, who maintains its status quo with prophecies of material wealth or else by spooky threats of ejection from the global order & exposure to the wolves that wait beyond its firelight.

This is what anybody who wants to become president is going to be. This fact is the ultimate tragedy of power, ambition, and civic virtue in America. No matter how idealistic you are, and Barack Obama was pretty idealistic as far as politicians go, if you become the President of the United States you’re gonna spend years being crushed in the most exacting mill of souls ever devised. 

This is why ambitious people are pathetic and why presidents are pitiable above everyone else. It’s why power is a curse and how those who wield power are punished in direct proportion to their fondness for it.

So it oughta be clear that I don’t have any great respect for Hillary in particular or for the presidency in general but, because I’m a human being who needs the planet Earth in order to live, I have to pay a certain amount of attention to who wants the job. 

And I also want revenge.

I want the evil cocklords in the Republican party to pay. I want every last one of them to feel the political norms they’ve betrayed return as glowing brands that burn both cheeks of their ass. I want Mitch McConnell to spend a long and pointless life screaming himself hoarse at a Supreme Court stacked nine deep with black pussyhaving, pussyloving justices. I want Paul Ryan to realize that Ayn Rand’s ‘philosophy’ was an endless rope of sand, and that his attempt to attain power by climbing it was one big, life-long jerk-off. I want Reince Priebus to feel the hook go through his cheek and then its line drag him down to the eternal abyss of shame, disgrace and oblivion as it follows the sinking corpse of Donald Trump. I want Roger Ailes to see a woman in the presidency.

But in the end, I hate Hillary for what she’s going to do as much as I hate myself for knowing she needs to do it. This is because, in the end, the concentration of carbon dioxide as measured in parts per million is more important than whether Hillary is woke, whether she gratifies my desire to punish, or whether she makes your skin crawl when she speaks. She is precisely the person who can successfully perform the revolting calculus of international power politics. And this is what has to be done if we’re going to hold the global temperature anomaly to one and a half degrees Celsius. 

And make no mistake: she is going to kill people to do this. Whether this means protecting the Saudis as they wage their criminal war against Yemeni civilians so their insane royal family does not obstruct a post-petroleum world-order. Or if not this, then fomenting a bloody coup against Filipino psychopath-in-chief Rodrigo Duterte to keep him from becoming China’s boy in the South China Sea, hence preventing him from smashing the precarious balance of peace American hegemony has maintained on the Pacific rim. Or if not that, then any of the hundred thousand other horrible things the United States will have to do to orchestrate a relatively peaceful transition from fossil fuels to whatever follows them. Because, and you should be under no illusions as to this point, global peace is presently maintained by the imminent threat of death from above as delivered by the U.S. Air Force. And preventing the worst excesses of climate change from killing millions of people as it also wipes away much of human civilization will require a certain level of global peace. Because if you think the Syrian refugee crisis was bad remember that it is the result of a single, smallish country disintegrating because agriculture was no longer possible there. Now imagine that everything south of the Himalayas has become unfarmable. Imagine the instability, war and genocide that a billion refugees would trigger. 

Humanity will be relying for its survival on the most delicate thread by which global politics are suspended: the absence of war. We have a global order capable of producing this and Hillary is the person capable of pouring a great deal of innocent blood on the altar of its maintenance. Our existence on this planet is too tenuous, and the requirements for fixing climate change much too stringent to wait around for a global order that better pleases our sensibilities. 

Regretfully yours,


Ambulocetus quite literally means “walking whale”, and rightfully so as the ancient mammal is the suggested ancestor to the whales. Living around 50 million years ago, Ambulocetus was one of the biggest animals of its time, and one of the biggest successes. Ambulocetus had an immense advantage being able to walk on land and being an excellent swimmer.
The hunting techniques of this primitive whale were not unlike modern crocodiles, submerging itself under the water of river banks and shorelines waiting for an unsuspecting animal to approach for a drink, then pouncing with a bone crushing bite. Once prey was locked in its jaws, Ambulocetus would pull it into the water and drown it. 

Despite its appearance, Ambulocetus was already well on the way to evolving for permanent underwater living. The shape of the skull and teeth are like that of modern whales, but more intriguingly, Ambulocetus did not have ears to pick up vibrations, but instead detected them through its jaw. This form of hearing is typical of marine animals, the direction from which vibrations come from can be pinpointed with great accuracy, a quality that only adds to the success of an ocean-bound predator. 

Fossils of Ambulocetus have most commonly been found in Pakistan, it is estimated to have been able to reach up to 3 metres long. Due to Ambulocetus’s ancestry to the whales, it is described as a transitional fossil. Ambulocetus lived in a period of great significance in the whales evolutionary history, living in the middle Eocene, whale evolution accelerated and by the end of the Eocene, whales had fully immersed themselves into underwater life, they had left the land for good.
As far as evidence goes, Ambulocetus was an important but very short lived animal in life’s evolutionary history. By 49 million years ago, traces of Ambulocetus disappeared and there are few clues as to why.

If you can find it, see Rock & Rule (1983), a weird transitional fossil between Bakshi’s streetwise, grimy, graffiti-covered 70s animated movies, and Don Bluth’s family friendly (but unbelievably weird) movies. It’s a rock opera where the characters are all Uncle Scrooge style rat-dog people. The Canadian studio that created it was Nelvana, who later on became a very big deal in the history of animation. It’s not super-great, but it is interesting and worth seeing.

Morning coffee run earlier this week looked like Night at the Museum

I caught Distribution tech Shawn MacDonnell before the dinosaur on his heat-sensitive mug had finished its fossil transition. 

He says he rotates this disappearing-dino mug with a couple of others, including a heat-sensitive one with sneaky sharks. I’ll keep an eye out for it!   

P.S. Did you see this cool dinosaur discovery in the news yesterday? A baby dino tail encased in amber


Geoff Berner: “In light of Trudeau’s approval of new pipelines, thus "transitioning” off fossil fuels by producing 3 times as much or more of them, well, I got a song about that.“

the boat was taking on water from a hole
so i made a second hole to let the water out 
the boat was taking on water from a hole
so i made a second hole to let the water out
i couldn’t hear the sailor’s daughter 
cause i don’t listen to people when they’re shrill and they shout

my brother was being torn apart by panthers 
so i bought a bunch of panthers as pets
my brother was being torn apart by panthers 
so actually i bought several panthers as pets
my dad was dying of lung cancer
so i bought my kids a carton of cigarettes

you might say that i’m an asshole 
i’m just trying to fit in with my scene
and while the fire is burning
let’s make a bunch more gasoline
and while the fire is burning
let’s make a bunch more gasoline

and if i drove a car here
i’m a hypocrite i shouldn’t have nothing to say
and if i didn’t drive a car here
you probably wish i would shut up anyway

the only people with a right to an opinion
are the friends of the oil companies
let’s have another benefit for the victims of the symptoms
where it’s forbidden to speak of the disease

future people will think that we are assholes
we were just trying to fit in with our scene
and while the fire is burning
let’s make a bunch more gasoline
and while the fire is burning
let’s make a bunch more gasoline
and while the fire is burning
let’s improve our capacity to ship more gasoline

golden-state-mind  asked:

Please tell us some info about the solutions project! I think it's a wonderful proposition and I so wish more people knew about it!! I truly think that team's got something amazing and I just wish more people would support it and fund it to put it into action because I think it could truly change the world. :) is about accelerating the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels to abundant and Clean Renewable energy. We have worked with Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson to create plans to take every state in the USA and every country in the world to 100% clean energy by 2050. Wind, Water And Sun, no nukes and no burning anything for our energy. It is a grand scale plan that will create a net gain of 3.5 million jobs in the USA alone promising more jobs than will be lost by making this transition. More that that it shows us the way to a world where we are not fighting wars over our energy interests, we are not sending 250k people a year in the US to early deaths because of fossil fuel pollution, we are not poisoning our food, water and air by using extreme energy extraction, and we are saving our people trillions of dollars in energy cost by simply harvesting what is falling down all around us in sunlight and moving all around us in wind and water. Best of all we get to put all the money we are wasting on energy wars and health care for pollution and paying for extraction and putting that money into our schools and communities. TBy making this inevitable transition we are creating a more just world for us to live in. I urge you to check it. Its a beautiful elegant plan built mostly by the graduate students at Stanford over the course of the last six years. 

anonymous asked:

Do you support SeaWorld keeping orcas in activity? Or do you just support their rehabilitation and re-release of other animals?

This question took a long time to get to me! Followers, prepare yourselves.

In short, yes. I absolutely support SeaWorld keeping their animals. I’ll try to keep this short, but…. we’ll see. 

I am in a unique position in that I work in the animal care/aquatic animal care industry, have worked at a few facilities, both large and small, and I’m pretty familiar with inner workings of SeaWorld animal care (less so the marine mammal/orca aspect, but I’ve still got a decent bit of information on that aspect). Out of professional defense, I don’t go into detail on my experiences at facilities (I’ve had employers find my blog before, and I’d rather not give them the impression that I’m indiscreet), but I’m happy to discuss things in private with anyone interested, and will probably tell you specifically where I worked if you ask nicely.

In the effort of being concise, I’ll focus on two major points: my experience with SeaWorld animal welfare, and the importance on having “big-draw” animals in zoos. Anyone who’s chatted with me before knows I have lots of opinions on lots of other topics, like the ethics of shows, the anthropomorphism of animals, and the myth of “the free wild”. Feel free to ask me about these, too, if you’re interested. (Be warned, this is a looooong post after the cut.)

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

I'm sorry but as a student studying evolutionary biology I have to say you are wrong. Macro-evolution is nothing but the result of lots and lots of micro-evolution. If a species adapts enough there will be a point at which they are distinguishable. The fossil record confirms this with transitional fossils such as homo habilis and erectus. Please educate yourself, because if it was that easy to debunk evolution, it would not be called a scientific theory.

That is your opinion for sure. I wasn’t intending on debunking it. There’s brilliant scientists on both sides of the issue. I was just letting them know what I believe. God created everything in 6 days. Thanks for the note!


Triadobatrachus (‘triple-frog’)

… is an extinct genus of frog-like amphibian, including only one known species, Triadobatrachus massinoti. It is the oldest member of the frog lineage known to science, and an excellent example of a transitional fossil. It lived during the Early Triassic about 250 million years ago, in what is now Madagascar.

Triadobatrachus was 10 cm(3.9 in) long, and still retained many primitive characteristics, such as possessing fourteen vertebrae, where modern frogs have only four to nine. Six of these vertebrae formed a short tail, which the animal retained as an adult. It probably swam by kicking its hind legs, although it could not jump, as most modern frogs can…

(read more: Wikipedia)

illustrations Nobu Tamura by Pavel Riha



Mounted specimen on display at the American Museum of Natural History, NYC 

When: Late Devonian (~365 million years ago)

Where:  The ancient swamps of Greenland, near the Devonian equator. 

What: Acanthostega is a basal tetrapod - one of the first vertebrates to develop limbs instead of fins, though it was not fully able to maneuver on land. Its pectoral girdle was constructed much more like that of a fish than a later tetrapod and could not bear the weight of the animal on land. However, it is the first taxon known that did have a pelvic girdle capable of supporting weight and propelling it forwards, this was accomplished by the fusion of either sides of the pelvis to one another ventrally, and a firm contact established between either pelvis and at least two vertebrae - precursors of the fused vertebra that would become the sacrum in later tetrapods. What is the use if only one half of the body is able to be supported by limbs? This type of pelvic girdle most likely did not at first develop for support. This structure also marks a shift from a primarily forelimb driven locomotion mode to one propelled by activity in the hind-limbs. Acanthostega could move in extremely shallow waters by ‘walking’ on the sediment with its hind-limbs, with its forelimbs steering instead of providing the primary movement source.

This interpretation is supported by its jaw structure, which lacks features relating to suction feeding. Rather it is hypothesized this primitive tetrapod would feed by directly biting onto insects and other terrestrial invertebrates that it could reach from the water’s edge. Thus, the predatory mode that characterizes the first terrestrial vertebrates was first developed by an aquatic animal. Later tetrapods were able to emerge from the waters, at least for short periods of time, to hunt prey that were beyond the reach of their ancestorsAnother interesting note is that Acanthostega had 8 digits on its forelimb - it took a while in the evolution of tetrapods for five digits on the hands and feet to become established. 

Some scientists have speculated that snakes first evolved in water and that their long, slithery bodies were streamlined for swimming. But a new analysis suggests that the most recent common ancestor of all snakes actually lived on land.

This ancestral protosnake probably was a nocturnal hunter that slithered across the forest floor about 120 million years ago. And it likely had tiny hind limbs, left over from an even earlier ancestor, says Allison Hsiang, a researcher at Yale University.

“They probably weren’t using them in locomotion in any way, but they did probably still have vestigial hind limbs stuck on the back of their bodies,” Hsiang says.

The evolutionary origin of snakes has been a bit of a mystery for scientists, because the fossil record has an unfortunate dearth of snakes. “For a long time there weren’t very good snake fossils,” says Hsiang, who explains that researchers had not found “things that sort of told us what snakes looked like early on, or transitional fossils between snakes and their closest ancestors.”

Earth’s First Snake Likely Evolved On Land, Not In Water

Illustration: Julius Csotonyi/BMC Evolutionary Biology

Just so we’re clear, we have been waiting 25 years for a climate deal. Back then we could have transitioned off fossil fuels at a leisurely pace. Now we have to go as fast as we possibly can to make the 1.5°C target. The window is fast closing. We need to do that full bodied Indiana Jones slide under before it closes. This is the priority of our time. Don’t treat the climate like a side issue when you vote, donate, act, argue with your uncle this Christmas. I don’t know if that Indiana Jones ref makes sense but we don’t have time to google it! We got climate change to fight!


Photo from temporary display at the  National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France

Sadly, I could find no suitable reconstruction of Pezosiren to show, so just imagine a manatee with legs on. 

When: Early Eocene (~50 million years ago)

Where: Jamaica

What: Pezosiren is a legged ancestor of the modern manatees and dugong. It is an amazing example of a transitional fossil. The head and axial skeleton of Pezosiren are already unmistakably sirenian, with its dense pachyostotic ribs and skull with a relatively posterior nasal opening that would not look out of place on a living manatee. These ribs would have decreased its buoyancy and allowed it to easily stay submerged for long periods of time as it munched on water plants. The limbs of Pezosiren show this animal was also well adapted for life out of the water. It shows no evidence of reduction of the forelimb to a flipper as is seen in all living sirenians and its pelvic girdle and was strong, clearly meant to support the weight of the 7 feet (~2 meter) long animal on its hind limbs outside of the water. It also lacked the expanded processes on the vertebrae that we seen in modern sirenans, which are the site of attachment for muscles that move the large flattened tail up and down as these animals swim. 

All of these features together built a great picture of how Pezosiren lived in the early Eocene. This animal spent a great deal of time in the water, but did emerge frequently on land. It probably was very much like the living Hippopotamus in both its amphibious nature. Pezosiren shows had no evidence of the tail powered locomotion we see in the modern manatees and dugongs; instead it appears to have paddled with its hind feet to swim, as it flexed its spin up and down, much like the living otters swim. Why did the Pezosiren lineage become more and more aquatic when the modern hippo has been amphibious for millions of years? One hypothesis is that it is mostly due to diet. Hippos, for all the time they spend in the water, emerge to eat a huge amount of terrestrial vegetation. Manatees are the only secondarily aquatic herbivorous mammals, eating soft water plants, and the skull of Pezosiren  already shows simular adaptations to water feeding as are in these living sirenians. Therefore, as the sirenian linuage became more and more aquatic, more and more of these plants became within reach of feeding, as there was less and less need to emerge onto land. By the close of the Eocene, 15 million years later, the first fully aquatic sirenians had appeared. 

nkiing  asked:

What are your thoughts on the east not wanting the pipe line to go through? It really pisses me off (I'm from AB) ESPECIALLY because they're using oil from other countries who have barely any regulations and don't give a shit about the environment. Meanwhile FELLOW PROVINCES are struggling to find work.

1. Quebec has the right to have concerns about a massive oil pipeline being rammed through their province and right through many major waterways, indigenous communities, towns and cities.

2. You’re misinformed. The vast majority of Canada’s oil imports do not come from countries with ‘barely any regulations’. The vast majority of the oil Canada imports comes from the USA, which has strong regulations:

3. In 2016 after a major climate change conference in Paris, and in which new temperature records are being broken everyday: (February breaks global temperature records by ‘shocking’ amount) we should be focusing on transitioning away from fossil fuels not giving the industry license to ship more and more dirty oil. What will help Alberta the most long term is diversifying its economy, not becoming further dependent on the industry that is responsible for its current economic misfortune. I do feel badly for the oil workers who have lost their jobs due to the falling price of oil. I believe they should be generously compensated and be given access to education to be retrained in other well-paying fields that are emerging (many of them which are also in the energy industry). In Canada renewable energy currently produces more jobs than the oil sands does, FYI.