The Earth on Show: Encountering Lost Worlds Through Fossil Displays

A "Young Mammouth" unearthed by Charles Willson Peale on display at the Philadelphia museum in 1821.

Most of us remember our first life-like encounter with dinosaurs sitting in a theater watching Jurassic Park (1993).  Although dinosaurs had been very popular in picture books for many years the vivid recreation of them on the screen rekindled a sense of awe of these amazing creatures of a past age.  Today, movies with depictions […]

Ken Ham’s Ark Adventure to Usher in a Modern Day Reformation?

Noahs_Ark

Ken Ham would have us believe that the modern creationist movement, which apparently began only 53 years ago, is the real deal this time. Unlike all the other attempts to create a history of the Earth with a recent global flood as a centerpiece, this time it apparently is going to usher in a real reformation in both science and an appreciation for biblical authority.

We’re Going on a Fossil Hunt to Find a Herpes Virus

virus-blue-background

There is a very recent form of fossil hunting that I have gotten to partake in to some small extent, and I can do it while sitting in front of a computer screen! With some computer skills and some knowledge of animal genomes it isn’t difficult to join this hunt for fossils inside the genome of living organisms.

The Pit of Bones: A Death Chamber Time Capsule

Fig. 2. Excavation in a portion of The Pit of Bones in Spain.  Image from: http://www.diariouno.com.ar/mundo/Hallaron-el-ADN-mas-antiguo-del-pariente-humano--20131204-0118.html

A small chamber in a deep, dark cave. Tens of thousands of bones. Animal bones and human bones. Buried under dust and dirt and bat dung. Welcome to an ancient chamber of horrors. This is the Pit of Bones (aka Sima de los Huesos). In 1997, scientists discovered this small chamber within a much larger […]

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 […]

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 […]

Geological Context V: Human Fossil Footprints Found Below Ice Age Deposits

cliff_erosion_happisburgh

A story is breaking today of a significant fossil find that was made almost a year ago but kept under wraps until the significance of the find could be evaluated.   What has now been reveled is that over 100 footprints were found in newly uncovered rocks along a shoreline of England.  Careful analysis of […]

Canine Transmissible Tumors: Seeking Immortality By Becoming a Parasite

dog-breeds

Cancers are cells that have forgotten who they are supposed to be.  They become independent brats in the body, hogging resources and dividing uncontrollably.  The problem, from the cancers perspective of course, is that being a spoiled brat may bring short-term rewards, like lots of progeny and freedom from having to behave like the cell […]

Cosmogenic Dating Methods Allow Estimates of Erosion Rates on Mars

Layers of rock seen at yellowknife bay in Gale Crater of Mars by the Curiosity Rover.  Image: JPL/NASA-Caltech

Just how fast are some rocks on Mars eroding?  A few months ago I asked a Martian rock that question (see: My Interview with a Martian: A Story of Origins) and I was not given a very satisfying answer.  Well, that rock can be excused for being a bit confused about time given how boring […]

Young Earth Creationism and Ancient DNA

The premise of Jurassic Park was that DNA was retrieved from blood in insects trapped in amber. Repeated tests of amber dated to be millions of years old has thus far yielded no evidence of intact DNA molecules.

So how long can DNA or even cells last in the environment once an organism dies?   This has been a hot topic in the scientific literature the last 15 years.  I have read the majority of the literature on the subject partly because I teach a class called genomics and we spend quite a bit […]

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