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Know Your Bones: April 2014

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

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

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 :(


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

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

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.

Know Your Bones: January 2014

Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:26 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month’s challenge was very easy. It was so easy that duclicsic posted a correct answer within minutes of the blog going up. However, later in the month Aught3 posted an even more correct answer:


Dimetrodon limbatus

Reason: Google-fu


This is a specimen of Dimetrodon and Aught3 is even more correct in that it is specifically Dimetrodon limbatus.


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

Dimetrodons inhabited the earth 295 – 272 million years ago, during the Permian. Dimetrodons were most likely the top predator on earth during that time. The most prominent feature of Dimetrodon is the sail on its back. The sail was most likely used as a heat regulator, but some scientists have suggested that it might be an example of sexual selection, similar to the Peacock’s tail. Either way, the sail on its back and four-legged posture makes Dimetrodon one of the easiest prehistoric critters to identify.


There is confusion about Dimetrodon, in that several people believe that it was a dinosaur, I think this is because Dimetrodons are always found in Prehistoric Play Sets and most people believe dinosaurs were just big lizards. Dimetrodon does resemble a large lizard with a sail on its back. However, there are three main reasons Dimetrodon was not a dinosaur; the first most obvious one is that it is much older than any dinosaur. The second is the sprawling, lizard-like stance of its legs. Dinosaurs’ legs, unlike lizards, are directly under their bodies and not protruding from the side of the body like modern lizards. The third is that Dimetrodon is actually more closely related to modern mammals than it is to reptiles such as dinosaurs.


Dimetrodon belongs to the synapsid clade along with all mammals. This means that behind the eye, there is only one hole for muscle attachments. Dinosaurs belong to the diapsid clade, meaning they have two holes behind the eye for muscle attachments.


Moving on to this months challenge:


 (Taken at the Dinosaur Museum and Natural Science Laboratory)

Good luck and happy 2014.

Know Your Bones: December 2013

Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:41 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month’s challenge was a tad bit hard. I chose a creature from the forgotten period of mammal evolution. Isotelus came the closes with:


Entelodont. I can’t identify the species, though.


Isotelus is correct that this critter belongs to the clade Entelodontidae (Entelodont) A.K.A. hell pig. However, this skull specifically belongs to the species Daeodon.


(Taken at the Denver Museum of Natural History and Science)


This handsome critter lived during the Miocene in North America. It belongs to the artiodactyls (even toed ungulates [hoofed]) and Daeodon was the largest species of entelodonts ever discovered in the fossil record. Entelodonts also possess my favorite mammalian skull; it is a wonder to behold.


There is some controversy over what is the closes living relative to the entelodonts. It was long believed that they were closely related to pigs, thus the nick name hell pig, but some studies have placed them closer to hippos and whales. However, much like pigs, they were omnivores and perhaps were active predators when it came to obtaining meat. The entelodonts and Daeodon specifically were amazing creatures that I wish were still alive today.


Moving on to this months challenge:


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


Since last month was a bit hard, I decided to stick with something simple. Good luck.

Know Your Bones: November 2013

Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:30 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last month I decided to start my new blog series with something that I thought would be very easy for everyone. I am glad to see that within one day the answer was given by Inferno.


 I was surprised to see I too knew it at once.
Laughably, unknowledgeable creationists yank our collective chains with their nonsense on this…


Did you get that? I know I missed it the first time I saw it, so let me see if I can help highlight it.




Inferno is correct in that this set of bones is commonly known as Lucy. As the story goes when it was first discovered in 1974, Dr. Donald Johanson and his colleagues celebrated with drinks and music. However, the only song they had was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, thus the name stuck to the skeleton they found.



(Taken at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology)


Lucy is an Australopithecus afarensis from eastern Africa and is designated AL 288-1. The reason Lucy is so famous is not that it was the first Australopith found (that belongs to the Taung Child), nor was it the first A. afarensis discovered (that belongs to Al 129-1 a year earlier). No, Lucy is famous because it was the most complete A. afarensis specimen found for nearly half a century, providing nearly 40% of the skeleton, mostly the post-cranial remains. A. afarensis is also famous for being the oldest hominin species for nearly half a century; however, newer finds have taken that place. A. afarensis lived 3.9 – 2.9 million years ago, which places A. afarensis in the Pliocene.


A. afarensis appears to be a perfect transitional species between modern humans and our last common ancestor with chimpanzees. It was bipedal, yet still had long arms for climbing around in trees. Lucy’s skeleton, because it was so complete, enabled scientist to definitively determine that the Australopiths were bipedal because of traits found on Lucy’s legs and pelvis. Later specimens have shown bipedal traits in the skull and foot of A. afarensis.


Moving on to this months challenge:



(Taken at the Denver Museum of Natural History)


This month and every month after, I will stay out of the comment section. That way you can discuss amongst yourself what critter use to own this skull.