NH Notes: Underwater Cave Yields Fossilized Teenager From the Ice Age

In a flooded cave in Mexico, divers transport a skull for 3-D scanning. Between 12,000 and 13,000 years old, the skull is part of the most complete skeleton of such antiquity yet discovered in the Americas.
PHOTOGRAPH BY PAUL NICKLEN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

During the last ice age some 12 to 13 thousands years ago a young girl found herself wandering in caves of the Yucatan Peninsula likely looking for water.  Hundreds of feet into a cave something happened and she fell in a deep pit breaking her pelvis. With no escape 100 feet down she died a lonely death.  She […]

Rewinding the Clock: An Asteroid Family History

Artist conception of the breakup of an asteroid into separate family members.

You might think of the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars as a assortment of space junk floating randomly in space. There are millions of asteroids of which more than 100,000 have been measured and mapped by astronomers. But analysis of those asteroids has shown that there are groups of asteroids that are related to one another and are referred to family members

Kirkdale Cave Hyena Den: A Young Earth Puzzle Since 1821.

The image depicts a late Pleistocene landscape in northern Spain with woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius), equids, a woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis), and European cave lions (Panthera leo spelaea) with a reindeer carcass.  Image credit: Mauricio-Ant

Imagine you live in northern England and you are out exploring and come upon a hidden cave entrance.  Upon climbing down into the cave you discover hundreds of bones belonging to large mammals.  At first you think the bones represent local animals since there are some deer, rabbits, weasels and wolves but soon it becomes clear […]

William Buckland: Minister and Geologist Grappling with Fossil Feces, Deep Time and the Age of Reptiles

An interpretive drawing of William Buckland crawling into Kirkdale Cave where he found extinct cave hyenas and the remains of their prey. Drawn by Buckland’s friend William Conybeare.

The Reverend William Buckland (1784-1856) was one of the last in a line of influential natural theologians following in the footsteps of John Ray (late 1600s) and William Paley (late 1700s).   I recently gave a seminar in which I explored a number of significant turning points (figure below) in the history of discovery of deep time and the awareness […]

Man-made Hunting Structure Under Lake Huron: A North American Doggerland?

Lake Huron caribou hunting ground

The lost world of North America?  A Great Lakes Doggerland?  Ancient hunting grounds beneath Lake Huron?   Yes, people once roamed a land now submerged 120 feet under Lake Huron.   The latest discovery (ref 1) that confirms this Atlantian-like history comes in the from of a description of linear arranged rocks covering an area of 50 feet wide […]

The Elusive Bird Leptin, Part II: Finding the Missing Bird Hormone

A peregrine falcon.   Thanks to two rich Saudi princes two falcons have had their genomes sequenced.  It was in one of these falcon genomes that we first identified the leptin gene.

Yesterday I introduced the main character to this drama of the hunt for the elusive bird leptin.  Now its time to introduce the other players and get on with recounting how the discovery of the bird leptin gene was made. Several years ago I began collaborating with Dr. Rich Londraville (UA Biology) on a project involving the […]

The Elusive Bird Leptin: And Now for the Rest of the Story…

The mouse on the left is unable to make leptin.  Given the same diet as the mouse on the left it will become obese.  Credit: Wikipedia

Last week the headlines read “elusive bird hormone found” and “discovery of the elusive leptin in birds.”   It has been great to see so much interest in research I have been involved with for several years, but our paper (Reference 1) and the press blurbs associated with it only tell a small part of the […]

Historical Science and the Case of T. rex’s Puny Arms and Dinosaur Diets

An scan of a page from Ken Ham's "Dinosaurs in Eden" book. Here we can see Tyranosaurus-like dinosaurs with small arms enjoying a diet of flower plants.

Everyone has encountered a T. rex in books, movies or museums.   Besides its size and menacing jaws one of the most striking features of a T. rex is its diminutive arms.   So why were the arms of T. rex so short?   There have been many hypotheses including: 1) they had no use and […]

Ancient DNA Comes to Life: Giant Virus Resurrected from Siberian Permafrost

Pithovirus. Credit: Julia Bartoli & Chantal Abergel

Just how long can DNA survive after the death of a cell or without cellular activity to maintain itself?  I addressed this question a few months ago (Young Earth Creationism and Ancient DNA) and suggested that we would learn much more in the coming year.  Already we have seen multiple complete genomes from fossil bones […]

Historical Science and Perceptions of Age: Craters on Mars

A "young" crater on Mars.  This is a young crater about 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter. How young? The blocks of material ejected from the crater-digging impact sit on top of the sand ripples near the crater. This suggests, from the estimated age of the area's sand ripples, that the crater was formed within the past 100,000 years. The dark sand inside the crater attests to the mobility of fine sand in the recent era in this Meridiani Planum region of Mars.  Image credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

Our perceptions of the age of an object are frequently based on our common experience but I have found that for many people those common experiences are of little help when it comes to examining objects for which a person has no experience at all.   A couple of years ago this really hit me as […]

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