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

Reconstructing the Past from Observations in the Present: A Practical Example from the Outer Banks

We use present day observations to infer past events every day.  I look out and see the patio is wet and a large dark cloud has just passed overhead.  From this I derive a very reasonable hypothesis despite not being an eyewitness to the history: my wet patio was caused by a rain shower.  I […]

Hiking through the Jurassic Period in Wyoming: A Sheep Mountain Fossil Hunt

This summer two of my sons and I took a hike through the Jurassic time period.  Near Greybull, Wyoming is a long ridge called Sheep Mountain.  Geologically speaking, Sheep Mountain is an anticline which is a type of folded bedrock that has an arch-like shape with its oldest rocks at its core.  Because what are typically horizontal rock layers are here found tipped […]

Remnants of a Shallow Sea: A Visit to Monument Rocks in Kansas

In remote western Kansas, groups of rock pillars stand like a natural Stonehenge over the grassy plains.  One such group of these pillars south of Oakley is named Monument Rocks.  Returning from our Wyoming and Colorado adventure, we stopped overnight in Scott City, Kansas just south of this interesting rock formation. The following morning we made our way along many […]

Exploding Termites – Sacrifice of an Individual for the Good of the Whole Organism

When do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one, as Spock suggested in Star Trek II? I have no interest in defending the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, especially as a guide for understanding human moral psychology, but it is interesting to observe that some simple organisms display […]

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

This fish prefers to be out of water!  The Pacific leaping blenny is back in the news again with new 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 can drag itself […]

NH Update: Fuzzy Orange Galls on Oak Leaves, 2013-2015

My now 7-year-old daughter is very attentive to the insect population around our house. She spends many hours collecting all sorts of insects and other animals.   In the fall of 2013 she brought me a leaf that she thought had a caterpillar of some sort on it.   She is well aware that bugs make […]

NH Photography: The Beauty of Thistles

Thistles are the common name typically given to members of several genera of sunflowers. These plants are not often thought of fondly as they seem to have little use for humans and most of them would be referred to as weeds.  Most thistles plants are covered with prickles and even their flowers are protected by […]

NH Photography: Dragonflies of the North Carolina Coast

I recently took a hike at Currituck Banks Reserve on the outer bank of North Carolina.  My daughter was fascinated by  the hundreds of dragonflies buzzing around.  We spent more than an hour watching them interact with their environment and each other in the dry woods and near the bay waters. There are a million […]

Fishing for Fossils in the North Sea: The Lost World of Doggerland

Imagine trawling for fish and when you pull up your nets you find a massive bone or a huge tooth along with your catch.  For over 100 years fishermen in the North Sea between Britain and Denmark have found such items in their nets but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the items that their […]

NH Photography: Frosty Window

In case you hadn’t noticed it’s been a bit cold this winter.   Here in Ohio we have already had more days below zero (Fahrenheit) than the last couple of years combined.   Today I walked into my daughter’s room and noticed that some beautiful ice crystals had formed on her window.  This is a […]

The Peat Bog: Chronicler of Human History

Peat bogs are a repository of the passage of time. They record changes in the earth’s atmosphere and unique events such as ash falls from volcanic eruptions. Through careful analysis of bogs we can reconstruct the past just like we can reconstruct a crime from the crime scene. Peat bogs in Europe give us a unique window into the effects of human industry and landscape shift due to deforestation and agriculture and even longer term shifts in climate patterns.

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

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 Photography: Critters Around Our House This Fall

Nothing particularly profound today. I thought I would just share a smattering of pictures of critters that can be found on most any given early fall day around our home near Akron OH. The last couple of days there have been thousands of ladybugs swarming around the backyard looking for a place to overwinter. I […]

NH Notes: Fuzzy Orange Galls on Oak Leaves

My 5-year-old daughter is very attentive to the insect population around our house. She spends many hours collecting all sorts of insects and other animals.   A month ago she brought me a leaf that she thought had a caterpillar of some sort on it.   She is well aware that bugs make little houses […]

Dragon Tales, UFOs and the Creation Museum

Since its inception, one of the Creation Museum’s most provocative exhibits has been one that places dinosaurs and man side by side.  While this is anachronistic to most people at least everyone agrees that dinosaurs really lived at some time in earth’s history.*  This year the Creation Museum added a new exhibit where you can […]