Natural History Notes

These are quick stories or news items with less commentary. These may be short stories or comments about other natural history stories from other sources

NH Notes: Bent Rock on Display – The Sideling Hill Road Cut

On the eastern side of the road cut you can clearly see the bending of the layers of rock layers.  The vertical lines are drill marks for setting explosives.  Image: Joel Duff

The road cut through Sideling Hill in Maryland on I-68 is one of the best displays of roadside geology east of the Mississippi River.  Having spent considerable time in the western US it doesn’t seem that impressive to me but since I’ve been deprived of seeing geological strata for the past year I took a […]

NH Notes: Discovery of a Marine Reptile Fossil Trackway

An artistic rendereing of the "Sea-rex" Nothosaur.

Following up on a new Ichythosaur discovery last week (When Marine Reptiles Ruled the Sea) the fossilized footsteps of a Nothosaur have been unveiled.    This time we go to China where a geological surveyor stumbled onto a few fossil tracks on a small ledge.  Cutting back into the side of the mountain, paleontologists exposed 350 prints as part of […]

NH Notes: Biggest Dinosaur Ever Found But Is It The Largest Animal?

A single femur from the newly found titanosaurus. PR photo:  MEF

What is the largest animal to have lived on the Earth?  Most people will answer “dinosaurs” or “sauropods” but they would be incorrect. The answer is a blue whale, a mammal that is alive today.  At 190 short tons (380,000 pounds!) blue whales are massive animals that make most dinosaurs look puny. Just how small […]

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 […]

NH Notes: An Ode to Coprology

Cross section of a corprolite

“Approach, approach, ingenuous youth,
and learn the fundamental truth:
The Noble science of Geology
Is founded firmly in Coprology.
For ever be the Saurians blest,
Who left us this diluvian test.
I claim a grand coronam lauri,
For these, Thesauri of the Sauri.”

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 […]

NH Notes: Curiosity Update – Amazing Views Inside A Crater

Curiosity rover wheels after rolling into a portion of a sand dune (sol 527).  Image: JPL/NASA/MSSS

When I last updated you on the excursion that the Curiosity rover has been making across the floor of Gale Crater on Mars I noted that the images it has been beaming back had been getting rather routine.  But the rover has slowly been moving downhill toward what seems more and more likely to have […]

NH Notes: A Fish that Prefers to be on Land – The Pacific Leaping Blenny

The Pacific leaping blenny.  Many populations of this species are found along the coasts of Guam.  These fish is only about 4-8cm in length.

This fish prefers to be out of water!  The Pacific leaping blenny is back in the news again with the publication of further research on how they avoid being eaten by birds and lizards.  Whoa, back up a bit you say.  A fish living out of water! Yep, and this isn’t just a fish that […]

NH Notes: Rising Star Expedition Update

rising-star-epedition-logo

The process of discovery in science can be as fascinating to follow as a sporting event:  if we knew how it was going to end we would be much less likely to watch.   The Rising Star Expedition has the drama but not the finality, fortunately!, of a sporting event where there is a final score.  […]

NH Notes: More Planets Than Stars Update

Artist’s representation of the “habitable zone,” the range of orbits where liquid water is permitted on the surface of a planet. The authors find that 22% of Sun-like stars harbor a planet between one and two times the size of Earth in the habitable zone. (Credit: Petigura/UC Berkeley, Howard/UH-Manoa, Marcy/UC Berkeley)

Our solar system comes with planets of all sorts of sizes and compositions.   Not long ago, it was possible to debate if there were any other planets in the Universe other than those of our solar system.   Now, there doesn’t seem to be any question that other planets, called exoplanets, do exist. The […]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 330 other followers