In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and misinformation, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe; natural wonders and supernatural blunders.

"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."

-George Carlin

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.

-Albert Einstein

“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”

-Carl Sagan

The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.

-Christopher Hitchens

 

rhamphotheca:

How Birds Survived the Dinosaur Apocalypse
by Michael Balter
When nearly every dinosaur went extinct 66 million years ago, the only ones that survived were those that had shrunk—that is, the birds. Today, there are 10,000 species of these feathered fliers, making them the most diverse of all the four-limbed animals. A new study reveals why this lineage has been so successful: Birds started downsizing well before the rest of the dinosaurs disappeared.
“This is a very impressive piece of work and by far the most comprehensive analysis of dinosaur body size that has been conducted,” says Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the research. “The study shows that birds didn’t just become small suddenly, but were the end product of a long-term trend of body size decline that took many tens of millions of years.”
Dinosaurs were small in the beginning. About 230 million years ago, most weighed between 10 and 35 kg and were as big as a medium-sized dog. But many species soon soared to tractor-trailer proportions, reaching 10,000 kg within 30 million years. Later on, dinosaurs like the mighty Argentinosaurus, which stretched some 35 meters from nose to tail, weighed in at a staggering 90,000 kg…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
illustration courtesy of Julius Csotonyi

rhamphotheca:

How Birds Survived the Dinosaur Apocalypse

by Michael Balter

When nearly every dinosaur went extinct 66 million years ago, the only ones that survived were those that had shrunk—that is, the birds. Today, there are 10,000 species of these feathered fliers, making them the most diverse of all the four-limbed animals. A new study reveals why this lineage has been so successful: Birds started downsizing well before the rest of the dinosaurs disappeared.

“This is a very impressive piece of work and by far the most comprehensive analysis of dinosaur body size that has been conducted,” says Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the research. “The study shows that birds didn’t just become small suddenly, but were the end product of a long-term trend of body size decline that took many tens of millions of years.”

Dinosaurs were small in the beginning. About 230 million years ago, most weighed between 10 and 35 kg and were as big as a medium-sized dog. But many species soon soared to tractor-trailer proportions, reaching 10,000 kg within 30 million years. Later on, dinosaurs like the mighty Argentinosaurus, which stretched some 35 meters from nose to tail, weighed in at a staggering 90,000 kg…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

illustration courtesy of Julius Csotonyi


Dinosaur bone fossilized in agate
In select situations after an organism dies, mineral water floods the cells of a tissue and leaves crystalline deposits. As the water dehydrates over time, the tissue is preserved in a high-detail cast, creating a fossil. In this micrograph, dinosaur bone was fossilized by water that deposited microscopic quartz crystals, turning the space between cellular structures to agate. Agatized dinosaur bone allows scientists to study ancient organisms at the cellular level because the process prevents tissue distortion while also revealing information about the environment in which the organism lived.
Image by Ted Kinsman.

Dinosaur bone fossilized in agate

In select situations after an organism dies, mineral water floods the cells of a tissue and leaves crystalline deposits. As the water dehydrates over time, the tissue is preserved in a high-detail cast, creating a fossil. In this micrograph, dinosaur bone was fossilized by water that deposited microscopic quartz crystals, turning the space between cellular structures to agate. Agatized dinosaur bone allows scientists to study ancient organisms at the cellular level because the process prevents tissue distortion while also revealing information about the environment in which the organism lived.

Image by Ted Kinsman.

(Source: biocanvas)

wildcat2030:

What may be the earliest creature yet discovered on the evolutionary line to birds has been unearthed in China.
The fossil animal, which retains impressions of feathers, is dated to be about 160 million years old.
Scientists have given it the name Aurornis, which means “dawn bird”. The significance of the find, they tell Nature magazine, is that it helps simplify not only our understanding for how birds emerged from dinosaurs but also for how powered flight originated.
Aurornis xui, to give it its full name, is preserved in a shale slab pulled from the famous fossil beds of Liaoning Province.
About 50cm tail to beak, the animal has very primitive skeletal features that put it right at the base of the avialans - the group that includes birds and their close relatives since the divergence from dinosaurs. (via BBC News - Archaeopteryx restored in fossil reshuffle)

wildcat2030:

What may be the earliest creature yet discovered on the evolutionary line to birds has been unearthed in China.

The fossil animal, which retains impressions of feathers, is dated to be about 160 million years old.

Scientists have given it the name Aurornis, which means “dawn bird”. The significance of the find, they tell Nature magazine, is that it helps simplify not only our understanding for how birds emerged from dinosaurs but also for how powered flight originated.

Aurornis xui, to give it its full name, is preserved in a shale slab pulled from the famous fossil beds of Liaoning Province.

About 50cm tail to beak, the animal has very primitive skeletal features that put it right at the base of the avialans - the group that includes birds and their close relatives since the divergence from dinosaurs. (via BBC News - Archaeopteryx restored in fossil reshuffle)

mrrscience:

A baboon reconstructed according to the modern principles of dinosaur reconstruction (as depicted in Darren Naish’s book All Yesterdays) compared to an actual baboon. In other words, what we think dinosaurs looked like is probably not what dinosaurs actually looked like.  

(Source: mattscienceclass)

This teacher is putting the intellectual equivalent of a “kick me” sign on the back of this child.

This teacher is putting the intellectual equivalent of a “kick me” sign on the back of this child.

nbcnews:

Earliest dinosaur to walk Earth believed discovered
(Photo: Natural History Museum, London / Mark Witton)
A wonky beast about the size of a Labrador retriever with a long neck and lengthy tail may be the world’s earliest known dinosaur, say researchers who analyzed fossilized bones discovered in Tanzania in the 1930s.
Read the complete story.

nbcnews:

Earliest dinosaur to walk Earth believed discovered

(Photo: Natural History Museum, London / Mark Witton)

A wonky beast about the size of a Labrador retriever with a long neck and lengthy tail may be the world’s earliest known dinosaur, say researchers who analyzed fossilized bones discovered in Tanzania in the 1930s.

Here Is What Louisiana Schoolchildren Learn About Evolution

Fifth graders in some state-sponsored schools in Louisiana study both creationism and evolution as competing theories. “Fact or Theory?”

This from Slate.com:

Bobby Jindal is spending millions of dollars of state money to support the teaching of creationism in private schools.

The state of Louisiana has had a problem with evolution for a long, long time. In 1981, it passed a “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act,” which required the teaching of creation science alongside “evolution-science” in public schools. The Supreme Court struck it down in 1987 (in Edwards v. Aguillard), finding that creationism is inherently religious, and that the law’s “preeminent religious purpose” placed it in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Case closed? Not really.

When Jindal stepped into Republican politics in Louisiana, he had a choice to make. He could defend mainstream science, which sees evolution as the powerful, strongly supported, and widely tested theory that it is today. Or he could have joined the doubters and deniers that populate the electorate in his party. Campaigning for the governorship in 2007, Jindal touted his Christian faith, shied away from specific statements about evolution, and emphasized his commitment to local control of education. Louisianans didn’t have to wait long to find out what this meant for science.

(Source: BuzzFeed)

lostbeasts:

Sauroposeidon (“earthquake god lizard”).
Its head could reach up to 56ft in height, and with a weight of around 50-60 tonnes and a length of around 112ft, Sauroposeidon was one of the largest land animals known to have ever lived. It was as tall as a six-story building. The fossils found date from the Upper Cretaceous (110 million years ago)- a time when the larger sauropods were losing both their size and numbers, making Sauroposeidon one of the last known giant dinosaurs on the American continent.

jerkstorecalling:

loreleiofthesevenseas:

hamburgerjack:

moniquill:

punkrockmomjeans:

jenkristofu:

So I didn’t know that freaking dragons existed. Just look at them. Just look. They hide under a disguise of feathers and call themselves bearded vultures. But I see through their lies.

Whaaaaaaat.

Just a reminder:the natural diet of these birds is BONES. Not just bone marrow; actual bone shards. They pick up huge freaking bones from carcasses and drop them onto rocks until they get spiky pieces and then they swallow them. Their stomach acid dissolves bone. Also fact: when sufficiently threatened, they’ve been observed to deliberately puke on the threat.

Puke? Stomach acid? Liquid fire? FIRE?

what a GOOD BIRD

Birds are seriously the best thing ever.

You can clearly see their dinosaur heritage.

religiousragings:

And now, I’d like to have more children just so that I could do something as awesome as THIS!  :D
(Enlarge)

religiousragings:

And now, I’d like to have more children just so that I could do something as awesome as THIS!  :D

(Enlarge)

mothernaturenetwork:

Dinosaurs may have been warm-bloodedResearchers found tree-like growth rings on the bones of mammals, a feature that until now was thought to be limited to cold-blooded creatures.

mothernaturenetwork:

Dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded
Researchers found tree-like growth rings on the bones of mammals, a feature that until now was thought to be limited to cold-blooded creatures.

dailyfossil:

Mesosaurus

When: Early Permian (~300 to 280 million years ago)

Where: Southern Africa and South America 

What: Mesosaurus is one of the first secondarly aquatic tetrapods.  It seems like almost as soon as tetrapods adapted to land, they were already moving back to the waters. Most Mesosaurus fossils have been found in costal depositions and are relatively small at only about ~1 foot (40 cm) long. The largest specimens, however, reach about 3 feet (~1 meter) long. It is possible that Mesosaurus had indeterminate growth, like most reptiles, and that the largest individuals were able to swim farther from the coast line, thus, they are not as well represented in the fossil record. Mesosaurus had what would become the fairly standard suite of adaptations for aquatic life in reptiles: its feet were webbed and becoming more like paddles, they had lost the ability to rotate at their wrists and ankles and thus were always held to the side, the tail was elongated and semi-flattened laterally, and the mouth was elongated and full of dozens of sharp teeth. It is possible that Mesosaurus was somewhat of a filter feeder, with its mouth closed these teeth would function like a sieve to allow it to filter water out and feed on the small fish and other animals trapped inside. As Mesosaurus has been predominately found in fresh water deposits in both South America and Africa, this is another fossil which heavily supported the concept of plate tectonics when the theory was just getting off the ground. 

The phylogenetic position of Mesosaurus is uncertain. It could be the basal most ‘parareptile’, falling in a clade with Scutosaurus, or this group could be non monophyletic and it is outside of most of the rest of reptiles, OR it could be a basal sauropsid (modern reptiles). There has even been the suggestion that it is a synapsid, but this has not received much attention.   

ohscience:

Nest Full of Baby Dinosaurs Found: The fossils 15 juvenile Protoceratops in a nest were recently found in Mongolia, indicating that dinosaurs provided extended parental care, despite the fact that many of their babies would probably not survive (hence giving birth to such a large clutch). (via Discovery News)
(submission from veiledisis)

ohscience:

Nest Full of Baby Dinosaurs Found: The fossils 15 juvenile Protoceratops in a nest were recently found in Mongolia, indicating that dinosaurs provided extended parental care, despite the fact that many of their babies would probably not survive (hence giving birth to such a large clutch). (via Discovery News)

(submission from veiledisis)


Near perfect dinosaur fossil unearthed in Germany

thereisnogod:

iheartchaos:

Most of the time, if you’re lucky enough to find any dinosaur bones at all, it’s a piece here, a piece there, a fragment here, a fragment there and it’s up to a paleontologist to slowly and meticulously assemble the remains into something coherent. And then, if you’re impossibly lucky, you’ll find something like the above young theropod that’s 98% intact, including some hair (proto-feathers) and skin.

Read More

This was put there by God, please stop being stupid.