Author Archive

Know Your Bones: July 2014

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:04 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month’s challenge is a true titan. It held the record for being the largest dinosaur for several decades. So, who was able to name this giant? Isotelus once again named this critter.

 

 Brachiosaurus. I would guess the species name starts with an ‘a’ :P

 

This is indeed Brachiosaurus altithorax.

 

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Brachiosaurus roamed 145 to 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic (and possibly the early Cretaceous) across the Western U.S. Brachiosaurus shared its range with several other sauropods and an earlier Know Your Bones critter. Brachiosaurus was ~25 meters in length, ~13 meters tall, and it had an estimated weight of ~28 tons, making it a true giant by any standard. Unlike most other dinosaurs, Brachiosaurus had longer forelegs than their hind legs. This curious trait is where it gets its genus name from (Brachiosaurus literally means, “arm lizard”).

 

Brachiosaurus was an herbivore, most likely feeding off the tops of fern trees that the other sauropods could not reach. Its large body would have been more than enough protection from predators that lived at the same time. It probably took a Brachiosaurus ten years to reach full size and could eat up to (if not more) ~182 kg of plant matter a day as an adult.

 

Moving on to this month’s challenge:

 

 

(Taken at the Dinosaur Museum and National Science Lab)

 

Good luck to all.

Know Your Bones: June 2014

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Sun Jun 01, 2014 5:49 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month’s challenge will have a huge contrast to this month’s challenge. Before we get to that, we must name the winner. Isotelus came the closest with:

 

Those dainty little toes remind me of

Hyracotherium (vasacciensis…I think)

 

Hyracotherium vasacciensis is now considered a junior synonym for Eohippus angustidens.

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

When I posted this challenge, I actually did not know that the classification of H. vasacciensis had changed; I found that out doing the research for this post. It turns out that H. leporinum has more basal features shared with several perissodactyls (odd-toed ungulates) outside of the horse clade. Eohippus has features that are only present in Equidae, which is the reason behind the change.

 

Eohippus lived during the Eocene (56 to 33.9 million years ago) and ranged across North America. Eohippus was most likely a forest dwelling animal that fed on soft vegetation as a browser. Eohippus was ~20 cm tall and ~60 cm in length. This tiny critter had five toes on its forelegs and three on the hind legs, and would probably make an adorable pet.

 

Moving on to this weeks challenge:

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

In honor of the giant critter found in South America, I thought I would share another giant that once roamed the earth.

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

This second viewpoint is to help one get an idea of how large this critter once was.

 

Good luck.

Know Your Bones: May 2014

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Sun May 04, 2014 6:14 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month’s challenge was extremely easy, so easy in fact that just an hour after being posted Inferno gave a correct answer. However, and this seems to be a theme for this series, WarK posted an even more correct answer a few hours later.

 

 Stegosaurus stenops

I’m guessing with the latter part of the name. From what pictures I could find online that one looked the closest to the picture posted by the Bone Torturer

 

This is indeed Stegosaurus stenops, a very famous dinosaur.

 

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Stegosaurus ranged across most of western North America during the late Jurassic 150 to 145 million years ago, and one specimen was discovered in Portugal. Stegosaurus is found in the Morrison Formation in North America. Stegosaurus stenops could reach a size of ~7 meters in length, although some species of Stegosaurus could reach lengths of ~9 meters. This sounds impressive, but one has to remember that Stegosaurus would have been dwarfed by the sauropods found at the same time and place.

 

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

There are two main branches of dinosaur, ornithischians (“bird” hip) and saurischians (“lizard” hip). Stegosaurus belongs to the ornithischian clade. This means that Stegosaurus possesses a pelvis that superficially resembles a modern bird pelvis. Stegosaurus also belongs to the Thyreophora (armored dinosaur) clade. This clade includes all the dinosaurs that had armored backs and tales. The plates found on the back of Stegosaurus and the spikes on its tale make Stegosaurus one of the easiest dinosaurs to identify. The spikes on its tale were most likely exclusively used as defensive weapons against the predators of its time. However, the plates on the back of Stegosaurus may have been used for thermal regulation as well as defense. The plates show blood vessels ran across their surface. This could have also been used for colorful displays when blood was pumped into them.

 

Moving on to this month’s challenge:

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Good luck.

Know Your Bones: April 2014

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:00 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month was a really challenging, some might even say diabolical, fossil. After a whole month, no one was able to guess the correct answer. I guess that makes me the winner for stumping everyone. Now I know that showing fossil/bone fragments is the way to go if I want to win at this game.

 

What was the critter that owned the jaw from last month’s challenge? The jawbone belonged to Deinosuchus, which stands for terrible crocodile.

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Deinosuchus lived 80-73 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous, in North America. Fossils of this critter have been found in Canada, Mexico, and several states in the U.S. During this time, North America was cut in half by the Western Interior Seaway. Deinosuchus lived on the coastline of this seaway feeding on large fish and marine reptiles in the sea and large animals (dinosaurs) from the land.

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

The image above shows a lower jaw from a modern American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) compared with the partial jaw of Deinosuchus. Deinosuchus could reach a length of 12 meters and a weight of 8.5 metric tons. This makes Deinosuchus one of the largest crocodilians to ever live. Although it’s name means terrible crocodile, Deinosuchus was actually an alligator, making it the largest alligator to have ever lived.

 

Time for next months challenge.

 

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Because last month’s was so difficult, I decided to be nice and choose an easy one. I would wish everyone luck, but it is not needed this time.

Answers for Eight questions for Evolutionists

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:48 pm by he_who_is_nobody

(Ian Juby, seen here playing a scientist)

Last month Ian Juby asked eight questions for us silly evolutionists to answer. Here are my answers in the order they were asked.

 

 1) Let’s start at the beginning: How did the first life arise? If you have no life, then you have no evolution. Following the laws of science and nature, how did that first life arise?

 

We do not know, yet. However, saying that we do not know does not open up the question for Juby to insert a god(s). Modern science’s inability to answer this question completely is not a victory for magic (a.k.a. creationism).  However, I would encourage Juby to look into the field of abiogenesis. Lots of progress has been made in that field in the past decade.

 

 2) How do you explain the origin of Grand Canyon without a world wide flood?

 

Seeing as how a worldwide flood does not and cannot account for the Grand Canyon, I will give a truncated explanation for it. The layers one observes in the Grand Canyon were laid down at different times. Near the bottom of the canyon, one can easily see an angular unconformity, where the land was laid down horizontally, than uplift happened to one side raising that side higher than the rest. Erosion than happened, which flattened down the raised layers to an even plain, after that, more layers of sediment were laid down on top of the angular unconformity. Some of these layers are made up of limestone, which cannot form rapidly in an aquatic environment; others are made up of sandstone that had to have come from a vast desert. Both of those observations alone expose that the earth is not young and there was not a worldwide flood in recent history.

After all the layers were formed, the Colorado River started to make its way across the area were the Grand Canyon is now found. It was once a slow meandering river, which one is able to see when looking down on the Grand Canyon (it meanders around the Colorado Plateau). Slowly the Colorado Plateau uplifted making the Colorado River cut down into it more and more. This is how the Grand Canyon was formed.

Again, this is a truncated response, one could write a whole book about the history of the Grand Canyon.

 

 3) How do you explain the copious numbers of dating methods which point to a young earth, and a young universe?

 

One wonders what Juby means by copious, because as far as modern science is concerned there are no dating methods that point to a young earth or young universe. Perhaps Juby could point some out.

 

 4) What scientifically factual information can you supply to support your contention that the universe is billions of years old? Don’t give me your assumptions and theories, and don’t give me the speed of light problem because it’s also a problem for you, and I already answered it with my response. I want scientifically factual information.

 

Seeing as how Juby will not accept the speed of light (i.e. the only reason we can see stars billions of light years away is that their light had to travel billions of light years to get here) I guess we will have to settle for our observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation, globular clusters, white dwarf stars and radiometric dating. All of those establish the universe to be billions of years old.

 

 5) How do you explain the origin of information, such as the information contained in the DNA, without violating the laws of thermodynamics?

 

Well, it would be nice if Juby defined information for us. Using the correct definition of information when talking about DNA (Shannon information), information can arise in a system without violating the laws of thermodynamics. No doubt Juby will take issue with this, but that is because Juby tries to equivocate the different definitions of information in his arguments.

 

 6) How do you explain the PRESERVATION of the information in our DNA over MILLIONS and MILLIONS of years, seeing as how thermodynamics is observably and quickly removing bits and pieces of that information in every single generation? 

 

Since Juby again does not define information, one can only assume he is talking about Shannon information. It is untrue to say that thermodynamics is removing bits and pieces every generation. Thus, this question is invalided because it is based off a flawed premise.

 

 7) How did sex arise? Seeing as how there are miriads of sexual reproduction systems in organisms, pretty much NONE of which are compatible with one another in reproduction. See CrEvo Rant # 13 Ian’s Sex Video for the quick low down on the problems you face in explaining this dilema. I’m not interested in sexual fantasies of how one system evolved into the other, I’m interested in factual, scientific evidence – observed changes, like any good scientist would expect of a theory.

 

Once again, we do not know the exact answer, yet. However much like the first answer I gave, science not knowing an answer does not make room for Juby’s god(s).

 

 8) Do you think your brain was intelligently designed? And if not, then how can you trust your thoughts if they are the result of unintelligent, undirected forces? Random chemistry?

 

This question is a vague attempt to insult proponents of evolution, and never fails to make me laugh when I see it. Of course our brains are not intelligently designed; they are a product of natural and sexual selection. However, just because they were not intelligently designed does not mean our thoughts are based on unintelligent, undirected forces. The reason we can trust our thoughts is based on knowledge that we obtain through experience or learning. Because we live in a natural world, were the laws of physics do not change on a whim, we can base our prior experiences and knowledge on the facts of reality in order to gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Hat tip to Bill Needle for transcribing the questions used above. 

Know Your Bones: March 2014

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Mar 03, 2014 8:36 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last months challenge was apparently very easy. WarK was able to guess the correct answer within a matter of hours. However, later in the day Aught3 gave an even more correct answer.

 

Some kind of terror bird but not a moa :(

Diatryma?

Edit:
Dammit WarK!
How about Gastornis giganteus then? Just to try and be even more correct.

 

Aught3 is correct that this is Gastornis giganteus, formally known as Diatryma giganteus, however, Aught3 is incorrect in thinking that this is a terror bird (also, moas were not terror birds).

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Gastornis ranged across much of North America, Europe, and Asia during the late Paleocene and early Eocene 56-45 million years ago. It is largely believed that Gastornis was the apex predator of its day, like the “terror birds” that inhabited mostly South America. However, Gastornis and its relatives lack the curved beak and sharp-clawed feet found in their distant cousins, the “terror birds”. The lack of those features leads some paleontologist to believe that Gastornis may have been a vegetarian, using its large beak to crack nuts and branches.

 

Gastornis’s skull and large size (~2 meters) often lead it to be confused with “terror birds”. Gastornis is sometimes called a “terror crane” because it is allied with the wading birds (such as cranes). Often you will see the junior synonym Diatryma used in books or museum displays. The reason this happens, I believe, is because Edward Drinker Cope, a very famous U.S. paleontologist, gave it that name after discovering a large specimen near Cuba New Mexico. This critter is also the first dinosaur to appear in the “Know Your Bones” series.

 

Moving on to the new challenge:

 

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

 

Thought I would give a challenging one this month. Good luck to everyone.

Bigfoot Bounty

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:56 pm by he_who_is_nobody

I just got around to watching the first few episodes of “10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty” from SpikeTV. This is another cryptid based TV show, but instead of being another pseudo-documentary about the cryptid, this show is based on the reality TV template. There are nine teams of two, one team is eliminated every episode after competing to see who brings the best evidence in for Bigfoot. The teams also have a smaller challenge during each episode, wherein they compete for advantages going into the main elimination competition.

 

I am just going to start by saying, this show is terrible, and unless you have a huge interest in reality TV shows or Bigfoot, it is not worth watching. However, there are two highlights of the show. The first highlight is Dr. Todd Disotell. Dr. Todd already has a reputation among crypto-zoologists in that he is the one who tests material to see what type of DNA signature it has. Dr. Todd’s no nonsense approach to genetic testing is a breath of fresh air when it comes to this and other cryptid related shows. In “Bigfoot Bounty” the show’s producers gave him a state of the art mobile genetic testing lab. Dr. Todd is able to test the different samples brought in by the contestants in a matter of hours. I feel this testing lab is the best thing to come out of this show.

 

The second highlight of this show is Natalia Reagan. Natalia is a field biologist and her job is to teach the contestants how to act like actual field biologists. Natalia is always instructing the contestants on how to take proper field notes and collect proper field samples. As an actual field scientist myself, I can greatly appreciate the fact that Natalia is teaching crypto-zoologists the basics when it comes to fieldwork. There are many tedious notes to be taken long before anything can be sampled in a lab. Natalia and Dr. Todd make a good point in informing the contestants that none of the samples will be tested unless they follow the proper procedures when it comes to collecting their samples.

 

Another aspect of the show that I find funny is just how out of shape the contestants are. All but one team are either actual hunters or active Bigfoot researchers. However, one would not be able to tell that they spent anytime out in the field with just how out of breath they are on a simple hike. Beyond that, the way most of the contestants act when they are in the woods (they jump at any noise and think it is a Bigfoot) is highly suspicious to someone that has spent any amount of time hiking and camping. It appears to me that none of them has any basic outdoors experience. If it were not for Natalia teaching them what to do while in the field, they would just be running around scaring the hell out of each other. However, in the end Dr. Todd and Natalia cannot save this show. It is just another run of the mill reality TV show with standard made up drama between the contestants and added dramatic tension before each commercial break. In my opinion, this show is best left unwatched and forgotten. I do like Dr. Todd and Natalia’s attempt to bring some science into this show, but their efforts alone cannot save it. I hope that Dr. Todd and Natalia will end up with their own TV show one day; I would watch it. In addition, the mobile lab that Dr. Todd now has may lead to some awesome real biological discoveries.

Know Your Bones: February 2014

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Sun Feb 02, 2014 7:12 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month, I tried to throw a hard ball your way, because the month before was so easy. However, Isotelus easily identified this critter within a day of the blog being posted.

 

I love me some Aetosaurs! My guess: Originally Desmatosuchus haplocerus, now thought to be D. smalli.

 

Isotelus is correct, this specimen is an Aetosaur called Desmatosuchus. Whether this is D. haplocerus or D. smalli is unknown to me (way to make me look bad Isotelus).

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

Desmatosuchus lived 201 – 252 million years ago, during the late Triassic. As one can see from the skeleton, Desmatosuchus, as well as all Aetosaurs were armored creatures. The armored plates found on the back were most likely used as defense against larger predators that existed during the late Triassic. Something that might be less obvious is that Desmatosuchus, like all Aetosaurs, were most likely vegetarians. Another thing that is also not immediately obvious is that the closest living relative to Aetosaurs are crocodilians.

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

This means that not only is Desmatosuchus a member of the diapsid clade, but also a member of the archosaur clade. This clade includes everything you see in the image above. Aetosaurs make up an early example of armored archosaurs, something archosaurs will do again in the centuries to come.

 

Moving on to this months challenge:

 

(Taken at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

Good luck to everyone. I also want to say that I like the fact that people are posting their answers as hidden.