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Brian Switek

Brian Switek is an ecology & evolution student at Rutgers University.

Posts by this author

July 14, 2010
Laelaps is back up and running at my author website, Go there for new posts and updates on where this blog will ultimately settle. - Brian Update (09/14/10): After a few months of blogging on my own, I'm proud to say that Laelaps has made the jump over to the new WIRED…
July 7, 2010
Important Update: The time has come to close things up here. I will no longer be blogging for I am not sure where Laelaps will end up - perhaps back on Wordpress, perhaps elsewhere - but you can be sure that I will keep on writing about saber-toothed cats, whales that walked,…
July 6, 2010
A normal giant gliding ant (left) and an infested ant (right). The red color of the gaster is not caused by a pigment, but thinning of the exoskeleton combined with the color of the nematode eggs. From Yanoviak et al, 2008.In one of my favorite episodes of the animated TV show Futurama, the chief…
July 5, 2010
A collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris) baby, photographed at the Bronx Zoo.
July 4, 2010
"Worker Bee" by Motion City SoundtrackI have been writing here at for about two years and nine months now. Some of you have been reading my posts since I started here (thank you for sticking with me!), but readers come and go over time, and so I am jumping on board with the "Who…
July 4, 2010
Rock formations near the "Natural Bridge" turnout in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah..
July 2, 2010
A toe bone from a Cretaceous ornithischian dinosaur, just laying on the ground. Photographed at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.
July 1, 2010
The trailer for Shaun of the Dead.Not all zombies are created equal. The most popular zombie archetype is a shambling, brain-eating member of the recently deceased, but, in recent films from 28 Days Later to Zombieland, the definition of what a zombie is or isn't has become more complicated. Does…
July 1, 2010
My contribution to the Sb-wide Zombie Day will soon be posted, but if you need something to sink your teeth into before then, check out today's new issue of the Times of London science magazine Eureka (included inside the Times, for UK readers). Inside you will find two stories by me - one on…
June 30, 2010
Out on the grassy plains of Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, a group of six female topi antelope (Damaliscus lunatus) walk across the savanna. It is the time of the annual rut - a one and a half month period in which most males control small patches of land and try to attract adult females…
June 29, 2010
A lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), photographed at the Bronx Zoo.
June 29, 2010
Disclaimer: I write the following post as a private citizen. Even though I am a research associate at the museum, my work is done on a volunteer basis in cooperation with museum staff. I am not employed by the museum, and my views do not necessarily represent those of any New Jersey State Museum…
June 28, 2010
The skeleton of the Hundsheim rhinoceros, Stephanorhinus hundsheimensis. From Kahlke and Kaiser, 2010.In any given environment, it might be expected that a generalized or unspecialized species might be less prone to extinction than one which depends upon a narrow temperature range, a peculiar kind…
June 27, 2010
A bufflehead duck (Bucephala albeola), photographed at the Bronx Zoo.
June 26, 2010
Photographed at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
June 25, 2010
Even though I sometimes feel quite anxious about the publication of Written in Stone, the positive comments the manuscript has received so far have helped to relieve my apprehension. Professional reviews will not show up for another few months, of course, but during the process of composing the…
June 24, 2010
The nearly complete skeleton of a Steller's sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) - it is missing bones from the wrist and hand. From Woodward, 1885.It did not take long for the last remaining population of Steller's sea cow to be driven into extinction. Discovered by the German naturalist Georg Steller…
June 23, 2010
The skeletons of Lucy (left) and Kadanuumuu (right). Both belong to the early human species Australopithecus afarensis. (Images not to scale.)I never fully appreciated how small Lucy was until I saw her bones for myself. Photographs and restorations of her and her kin within the species…
June 22, 2010
A few weeks ago I started prep work on a Tyrannosaurus rex toe bone recovered from Montana's Hell Creek Formation and kept at the New Jersey State Museum. This is how the gypsum-encrusted bone looked when I started...... and this is how it looked at the end of last week. There's still a lot of work…
June 22, 2010
Three-dimensional models of hominoid skulls used in the study - (a) Hylobates lar; (b) Pongo pygmaeus; (c) Pan troglodytes; (d) Gorilla gorilla; (e) Australopithecus africanus; (f ) Paranthropus boisei; (g) Homo sapiens. They have been scaled to the same surface area, and the colors denote areas of…
June 21, 2010
A restoration of the tiny trilobite Ctenopyge ceciliae. From Schoenemann et al, 2010.The first time I can remember seeing a trilobite, it wasn't in a museum case or a book about prehistoric animals. It was on card 39 of the gratuitously gory Dinosaurs Attack! card series, a horrific vignette…
June 19, 2010
Photographed in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.
June 18, 2010
I can't help it - every time I pass a bookstore, I wonder whether they are going to carry my book when it comes out this autumn. November is still a long way away - summer does not even officially begin until next week - but I can't help but wonder where my book will pop up and how it will be…
June 17, 2010
A golden-mantled ground squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis), photographed in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
June 16, 2010
A golden-mantled ground squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis), photographed in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Though abundant at the Samwell Cave Popcorn Dome, California site during the Late Pleistocene, its numbers in the area decline at the beginning of the present Holocene epoch."One of the…
June 15, 2010
The skull of Mosasaurus hoffmani. From Lingham-Soliar 1995.On my first trip to the Inversand marl pit in Sewell, New Jersey, I didn't find the wonderfully preserved Dryptosaurus skeleton I had been dreaming of. I picked up a number of Cretaceous bivalve shells and Paleocene sponges, but other than…
June 15, 2010
Sunrise, photographed at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
June 14, 2010
A drop in the bucket - a massive pile of bison skulls about to be ground into fertilizer, photographed circa 1870. From Wikipedia.From almost the very start, wolves were not welcome in Yellowstone. When the national park was established by the United States government in 1872 the bison population…
June 13, 2010
A Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri), photographed at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
June 13, 2010
A McDonald's ad from the Netherlands envisions what might have happened if Pleistocene humans had the option of visiting the drive-thru instead of going after fresh mammoth steak.