Archives for February, 2010

A Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensis grandis), photographed at the National Zoo.

A restoration of the giant, durophagous shark Ptychodus, courtesy paleo-artist Matt Celeskey. The study of prehistoric sharks is no easy task. Specialists in other branches of vertebrate paleontology at least have the reasonable hope of discovering complete skeletons of their subjects; except in instances of exceptional preservation the scientists who study sharks typically only have…

A Coquerel’s sifaka (Propithecus coquereli), photographed at the Bronx Zoo.

Photo of the Day #858: Gull

A gull stands at the edge of the surf while sanderlings scuttle about in the background. Photographed at Spring Lake, New Jersey.

First look: Splice

I love monster movies. When they’re good, they’re great, and when they’re bad, they’re still fun to riff on. I do not know enough about it to judge it yet, but the forthcoming film Splice looks interesting, at the very least. According to science blogger Tamara Krinsky: The classic monster film gets a deliciously sadistic…

The Phrenology of a Monster

An engraving of Koch’s “Hydrarchos”, from the American Phrenological Journal. (Pardon the smudges) In July of 1845 the amateur fossil hunter Albert Koch brought his sea monster to New York City. A cousin of the serpentine creatures that so many had claimed to see off the coast of New England, the 114-foot-long skeleton looked to…

Photo of the Day #857: Coyote

A stuffed coyote (Canis latrans), photographed at the Utah Museum of Natural History.

A Baby Mastodon Deathtrap (?)

Detail of a Charles R. Knight mural depicting a family a mastodons. Fossils often turn up in unexpected places. As people have dug swimming pools, tilled farms, blasted through mountains, and quarried the land for minerals traces of ancient life sometimes come to the surface, from isolated shark teeth to skeletons of our extinct hominin…

Photo of the Day #856: Old Faithful

Old Faithful, in Yellowstone National Park.

Contingency has been on my mind quite often these days. What would life look like today if the ancestors of the first land-dwelling vertebrates had two legs instead of four? How would non-avian dinosaurs continue to have evolved if they had not been wiped out 65 million years ago? What if, like many other prehistoric…