Pharyngula

Lucky Houston gets Lucy

The state department has approved a visit from an eminent foreigner: a certain 3.2 million year old australopithicene is going to be at the Houston Museum of Natural Science from 31 August 2007 through 20 April 2008…and then she’s going on tour. Future locations haven’t been determined yet, but Minneapolis is nice. Chicago would be OK. I hope I get a chance to pay court on her.

Just a thought, but the creationists have got it all wrong. They think we worship Charles Darwin, but actually, if there are any objects of reverence among evolutionary biologists, it would be the evidence — the bones of Lucy, of Archaeopteryx, of Tiktaalik, the little trilobite in shale that I keep by my hand at my office desk.

Comments

  1. #1 MartinC
    June 28, 2007

    Any chance of it going to a museum in the Ohio Kentucky border region ?

  2. #2 TheBrummell
    June 28, 2007

    Yes, we’re much more about the graven images than we are about the false idols. I don’t have anything nearly so nice as a Trilobite fossil, but someday I hope to have such a thing upon my desk.

    There was a glass display case outside my office where I did my Master’s, full of Burgess shale goodies. Sometimes I’d procrastinate by wandering out there and just staring at Anomalocaris for a few minutes.

  3. #3 Hank Fox
    June 28, 2007

    Jeez, if I was them, I’d be afraid to let this display be exhibited in anti-evolution hotspots. I grew up in Houston, but there are people there I wouldn’t trust with irreplaceable fossils.

    I hope they’re secretly reproductions.

  4. #4 Ezekiel Buchheit
    June 28, 2007

    The Natural Science Museum in Houston is nice, which is ironic since Houston itself is actually located in Hell.

  5. #5 Dutch Vigilante
    June 28, 2007

    I think its silly to hold such things in reverence. Its nice and worth some admiration and satisfaction. Then again, I’m not an Evolutionary Biologist, so I might just not be exited enough about it.

  6. #6 redstripe
    June 28, 2007

    Dutch: it’s called “sarcasm.”

    My wife & I are moving to Houston in a couple of weeks, and we’re very excited to check out the exhibit. I’ve never seen a 3.2 million year old dead chick before. 🙂

  7. #7 Russell
    June 28, 2007

    Ezekiel, like General Sheridan before you, you’re confusing hell with Texas. 😉

  8. #8 trcarroll
    June 28, 2007

    There are some great beds in the Cincinatti area for finding trilobites.I’ve found hundreds of them.

  9. #9 Ezekiel Buchheit
    June 28, 2007

    I live in Austin, and have become so insulated in this little oasis I forget how insane the rest of Texas is. I mean, the worst we have here are the Forces of Woo – homeopathy, spiritualism, accupunture and so forth. Comical idiocy. The rest of Texas has, well, Texas. Which is everything your internal stereotype of Texas believes it is. And so much more.

  10. #10 Russell
    June 28, 2007

    Oh, there is some variation outside of Austin. There’s even variation in Houston. The neighborhood around Rice isn’t the same as the deep red suburbs. And some of the suburbs vary. Kemah is different, exemplifying the rule that the closer to big water, the bluer the voters.

    And Austin is getting to feel a bit like a donut. Or maybe a kolache. Now me? I live in the blueberry filling.

  11. #11 Uber
    June 28, 2007

    Heh, heh enough of the Houston bashing. Wehave our share of rubes but the real scary stuff is in Dallas-Waco and the areas in between. Houston is relatively blue with pockets of red.

  12. #12 Philboid Studge
    June 28, 2007

    “I’ve never seen a 3.2 million year old dead chick before. :)”

    redstripe, you’ve never seen Joan Rivers?

  13. #13 gex
    June 28, 2007

    Is she safe in Texas? I mean, the Christian Reconstructionist movement is pretty strong there…

  14. #14 Dan
    June 28, 2007

    Worshipping Darwin?? If Darwin disappeared from history we would still have evolution. If the writers of the bible disappeared……what would the fundies have??

  15. #15 bernarda
    June 28, 2007

    I don’t understand how Fatherland Security(Heil!, just covering my ass) gave a visa to this dangerous terrorist. She may well be carrying an IED, an intelligent evolutionary description.

  16. #16 ctenotrish, FCD
    June 28, 2007

    PZ, why wait? There are plenty of folks in Houston who would be happy to roam about the Science Museum with you, then go drink liberally! I’ll be moving to Houston for a post-doc, starting in December, and I would happily delay seeing the exhibit until early 2008. Seriously, by about mid-February to mid-March, you and your family might be very happy to spend some time in warm(er) Houston . . . Spring Break with Lucy, how great does that sound?

  17. #17 QrazyQat
    June 28, 2007

    but actually, if there are any objects of reverence among evolutionary biologists, it would be the evidence

    A bit of bragging in support of that statement (I actually don’t have that much to brag about, poor me, so bear with me :)). When the American Museum of Natural History had the display of original fossils some years ago, I got to see the exhibit after hours, just my wife, me, and a guard near the door to make sure we didn’t smash and grab :). It was great, what with no one else there, the opposite of crowds, but it also made the effect of these great items on the mind even more intense.

    The fossil shells and corals I found in shale beds in southern Minnesota as a kid did the same thing at that time. Driving out of the Bighorn mountains in Wyoming as you go past the signposts marking the age of the adjacent rock layers does it too.

  18. #18 BWV
    June 28, 2007

    Uber’s right. Houston is a couple of hundred miles south of the Bible Belt. Unlike Dallas, we have liquor stores and adult bookshops on every corner (but unfortunately only the liquor stores are drive-thru’s)

  19. #19 ShadesOfGrey
    June 28, 2007

    I happen to worship cosmology personally (go Big Bang and multiple universes!), but we’re pretty tickled with the trilobites, crinoids, and brachiopods that we find in the rocks on our property. For those who like that sort of stuff, I would highly recommend a visit to Falls of the Ohio, which is on a much grander scale than our backyard. http://www.fallsoftheohio.org/

  20. #20 Apikoros
    June 28, 2007

    if there are any objects of reverence among evolutionary biologists, it would be the evidence

    Well, I for one welcome our new australopithecine overlord.

    TheBrummell– I envy you your access to Burgess Shale fossils. When I was in Banff for a conference last year, I was very disappointed that there was no guided tour to the site high in the Rockies where those fossils were first found.

  21. #21 Stewart Paterson
    June 28, 2007

    Someone help me here: I read a quote by Sagan? about the wonder of seeing a fossil and a meteorite and what they represent. Since then I’ve been searching ebay to buy a metorite and a trilobite fossile and/or flint tool but I’m worried these things are too easily fakeable for a rube like me. Can anyone help me with the quote I’m thinking of?

  22. #22 Scott Hatfield
    June 28, 2007

    “… if there are any objects of reverence among evolutionary biologists, it would be the evidence — the bones of Lucy, of Archaeopteryx, of Tiktaalik, the little trilobite in shale that I keep by my hand at my office desk.”

    Or the sheet of crinoids in my classroom cabinet!

  23. #23 Sengkelat
    June 28, 2007

    I wish Lucy would visit the California Academy of Sciences, but I am also happy to love her from Afar.

  24. #24 mojojojo
    June 28, 2007

    In spite of the emphasis placed on pure faith, “believers” like evidence, too, or at least they used to. I wonder how much the skull of Saint John the Baptist or finger bone of Sainte Anne de Beaupré would fetch on ebay these days (now strictly prohibited of course, though once a booming business).

  25. #25 Scott Hatfield
    June 28, 2007

    I forgot to mention that my ‘holiest’ of encounters was with a little bird that still had a tag reading (in faint ink) “J. Gould.” There was another tag on the specimen, as well, that of the original collector, but I’m sure you can guess who that was.

  26. #26 Alex
    June 28, 2007

    “…adult bookshops on every corner…”

    So you’re saying there’s no internet in Houston? Bummer.

  27. #27 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    June 28, 2007

    if there are any objects of reverence among evolutionary biologists, it would be the evidence

    Evidence is good in theory, but in fact it is awesome ideas and their predictions that moves me.

    But I’m not sure reverence is the correct interpretation there – nothing is as satisfying than giving an old idea a kick on its behind, or booting it altogether.

  28. #28 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    June 28, 2007

    if there are any objects of reverence among evolutionary biologists, it would be the evidence

    Evidence is good in theory, but in fact it is awesome ideas and their predictions that moves me.

    But I’m not sure reverence is the correct interpretation there – nothing is as satisfying than giving an old idea a kick on its behind, or booting it altogether.

  29. #29 Doc Bill
    June 28, 2007

    Houston is not located in Hell.

    Hell is a suburb, and usually a few degrees cooler.

    Reporting from Houston,
    Doc Bill

  30. #30 Siamang
    June 28, 2007

    “I am also happy to love her from Afar.”

    Wah, wah, wah, waaaaaaaaaaa……..

    Use a pun, go to prison.

  31. #31 bwv
    June 28, 2007

    At least Hell is a dry heat, more than can be said for Houston in June. I think Hell has less mosquitos as well

  32. #32 The Flying Trilobite
    June 28, 2007

    Does the trilobite by your hand whisper softly to you? Tell you everything is going to be all right? Ask you to sacrifice young upstart land mammals?

    Be careful revering trilobites. They always want something in return.

    (Okay, that’s enough coffee today. )

  33. #33 The Flying Trilobite
    June 28, 2007

    Does the trilobite by your hand whisper softly to you? Tell you everything is going to be all right? Ask you to sacrifice young upstart land mammals?

    Be careful revering trilobites. They always want something in return.

    (Okay, that’s enough coffee today. )

  34. #34 Justin Moretti
    June 28, 2007

    the little trilobite in shale that I keep by my hand at my office desk.

    You know, a trilobite (a rather fat one) might make an interesting mouse. Something to hook up to your computer (yes, even a laptop) to piss the Y.E. Creationists off.

  35. #35 The Flying Trilobite
    June 29, 2007

    Oops. Sorry for the double post. How did that happen?

    (reaches for more coffee)

  36. #36 Ex Patriot
    June 29, 2007

    Maybe the fundie nut should have used LUCY and a male counterpart as models for adam and eve in his museum of idiocy instead of those WASPS he did use. After all if the earth is only 6000 years old Lucy was there with the designer twins and she probably should be considered the first of mankind and the others came later with their neatly combed hair and trimmed beard.I only wish I would be able to be in Houston to see her. Just guard her carefully, don’t let the nuts get near her, she is a treasure.

  37. #37 Gav
    June 29, 2007

    Mojojojo #24 … and there’s the old story you can probably reconstruct from the punchline “Ah now the smaller one is the skull of St. Patrick when he was a boy”.

  38. #38 speedwell
    August 29, 2007

    If Houston is Hell, then the fires got put OUT this week.

    The suburb of Katy, however, is positively Camazotz. (Not the demon… the Wrinkle In Time planet. YOU know.)

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