Friday, January 30, 2009

Time for a quiz

In between grant writing fury, I thought I'd take a moment to post a picture of a very odd fossil, and see if anyone could correctly identify it.

Some hints: this is from my field area, so it is marine, from central California, and approximately 6 million years old, and it belongs to a vertebrate. Also, it is very incomplete, but there are several features that distinguish it. So - now it is your job (if you so wish) to figure out what it is. And yes, '20 questions' is okay-ish.

Only one rule: folks who have already seen this can't give it away.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

California Academy of Sciences

NOTE: I have no idea why the formatting is all messed up. It is literally a pain in the rectum to get it to work correctly, and this is my sixth or seventh time trying to fix it... so screw it. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it probably bugs me more than any readers anyway. The width of the box I'm typing into and the final box is different, but I don't know why it adds a thousand spaces between the pictures.

I know its been a while since my last post, but last semester was so bad I needed that much time to recuperate. Pathetic, really. Anyway, earlier this year, my mom and I visited the new California Academy of Sciences, which opened early last fall. To say the least, it was absolutely spectacular. Unfortunately, the new CAS has almost nil when it comes to paleontology - sure, there's an unlabeled T. rex skeleton randomly thrown in the mix, and a bunch of artistic renderings of hominids with the date in Ma on one wall, and an elephant bird, but that doesn't really cut it, I'm afraid. The old CAS had an entire wing dedicated to fossil organisms, including a really neat mount of Dilophosaurus wetherilli in-situ. That is now probably hidden deep in the basement. Also, Parabalaenoptera baulinensis (which I think is mounted at LACM), which could have made an awesome exhibit, is nowhere to be found.

Anyway, enough moaning. Here are some photos, with minimal explanation (sorry). Since the formatting is all messed up, I've added numbers to the captions, so just count the pictures or something. If you're reading this, you're probably smart enough to figure it out.

1. Here's Claude, the albino alligator.

2.And here are some abalone (Haliotis).

3. Some sea urchins, and a rather cute hermit crab.

4.And some really awesome sea anemones.

5.A very cute star tortoise.

6.A bluntnose guitarfish (left), and a blacktip reef shark.

7.And here is the random, barely labeled T. rex. For all of you reading this still interested in dinosaurs, correct me if I'm wrong, but is this black beauty, from Canada? I know its not AMNH 5027, Wankel Rex, B-rex, Sue, Stan, or the 'type' Carnegie specimen. Other possibilities include the Denver Museum specimen, of course (or is that a mounted cast of AMNH 5027?).

8.And one of my favorite animals, Balaenoptera musculus, the blue whale. This skeleton has been at CAS over 100 years, and is 87' long (unless you include the rostrum, which appears to all be plaster).

9.Here's the living roof, which is pretty badass I must say. They generate electricity using this setup, and the soil adds insulation.

OH, and about this green technology stuff/progressive stuff at CAS. Thats all fine and stuff, but when you don't sell soda at your restaurant because its unhealthy for you, but offer beer and wine, and a full bar including mixed drinks, thats going a bit too far. Besides, I drink coke/pepsi because the caffeine helps stave off headaches, which I get very often. I'll pick my own goddamn poison, thank you very much.

10.And from the roof, is a view of the hideous and god-awful DeYoung art museum. It looks like a goddamend space ship. Or a prison. Or a prison space ship.

11.A skeleton of a subadult grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus). These are very strange whales, for a number of reasons. Okay, almost done.

12.Here are a very cute little bird (my girlfriend figured out what the hell it was called, but I can't remember) and a butterfly sharing some water. Moments later the butterfly attacked the bird (kind of). It really, really didn't want to share, and did a fairly impressive display, right in the bird's face. This was in a gigantic glass sphere which is basically a gigantor terrarium filled with gigantor fish, pretty birds, gigantor butterflies, reptiles, and amphibians.

13.And lastly, is a really purty and gigantor butterfly.