Skip to main content

Beautiful Feathered Tyrant

Ain't science grand? Paleontologists recently discovered a bus-sized T-rex-like dinosaur that is covered in feathers, making it the largest feathered animal, evar:
Fossils discovered in northeastern China of a giant, previously unrecognized dinosaur show that it is the largest known feathered animal, living or extinct, scientists report. 
In an article in the journal Nature, published online Wednesday, Chinese and Canadian paleontologists said the discovery provided the first “direct evidence for the presence of extensively feathered gigantic dinosaurs” and offered “new insights into early feather evolution.”
When I grow up (read: get tenure), I think I'm going to start hanging out with paleontologists. I seriously think that had I read more Carl Zimmer books than Stephen Hawking when I was in college, I would have ended up with a B.S. in evolutionary biology. It is amazing that we can learn about the first few microseconds of the universe, the birth of the first stars, and the existence of planets all from the observation of light. So too is it awesome that we can piece together the story of life on earth using fossils and DNA. I seriously geek out on this stuff!


On my current reading list: Your Inner Fish





Comments

Missy said…
As a geologist, I can tell you I think of everything in terms of evolutionary biology. Kind of a wacky way to live, but it makes sense to me.

This is a really cool find. Of course, someone somewhere will find a way to say the scientists made this stuff up.
JohnJohn said…
Yup, just like how physicists made up "electrons." Point particles with a unit charge? Nonsense!

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:


It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The subtle yet real racism of the Supreme Court

Judge Roberts, a member of the highest court in the land, which is currently hearing the sad story of mediocre college aspirant Abigail Fischer, recently asked, "What unique ­perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class? I’m just wondering what the benefits of diversity are in that situation?" 
Did you catch the white supremacy in this question? If not, don't feel bad because it's subtly hidden beneath the cloaking field of colorblind racism. (As for Scalia's ign'nt-ass statements, I'm not even...)
Try rephrasing the question: "What unique perspective does a white student bring to a physics classroom?" The answer is, of course, absolutely nothing! Why? Because race isn't biological, and is therefore not deterministic of cognitive abilities. Did you perhaps forget that you knew that when considering Roberts' question? If so, again, it's understandable. Our society and culture condition all of us to forget basic facts …