Friday, April 27, 2012

Opened This Day: American Museum of Natural History

From Today In Scince History:

On this day in 1871, the American Museum of Natural History opened to the public in New York City. The Museum’s collection went on view for the first time in the Central Park Arsenal, the Museum’s original home, on the eastern side of Central Park.

The museum began from the efforts of Albert Smith Bickmore, one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was successful in his proposal to create a natural history museum in New York City, with the support of Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan. The Governor of New York signed a bill officially creating the American Museum of Natural History on April 6, 1869.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Philoventator curriei, A New Troodontid from China

The taxonomy of the troodontid IVPP V 10597 reconsidered. 2012. Xu Xing, et al. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 50: 140-150.
Abstract: The partial troodontid hindlimb IVPP V 10597 was originally described as a juvenile Saurornithoides mongoliensis. The present study reconsiders the taxonomic placement of this interesting specimen, given the significant advances in understanding of the Troodontidae that have taken place since it was first described. Morphological comparisons and numerical phylogenetic analyses indicate that V 10597 is more closely related to the sympatric linhevenator tani than to Saurornithoides mongoliensis raising the possibility that V 10597 might be a juvenile L. tani. However, V 10597 differs significantly from other troodontids, including L. tani in numerous hindlimb features and particularly in the proportions of various hindlimb elements. These differences are likely to be taxonomic, and suggest that V 10597 represents a new troodontid. Furthermore. histological analysis indicates that V 10597 is unlikely to be a juvenile of L. tani or any other large troodontid. Based on the available morphological and histological information. We propose the new taxon, Philovenator curriei gen. et sp. nov., based on V 10597.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Born This Day: Willi Henning

From the Willi Hennig Society :

Hennig (April 20, 1913 – Nov. 5, 1976) is best known for developing phylogenetic systematics,  a coherent theory of the investigation and presentation of the  relations that exist among species. Contrary to the position generally  held during his time, Hennig viewed historical inference as a strictly  logical and scientific endeavor. He first summarized his ideas in 1950  in German which became more widely known with the publication of the  English revision, Phylogenetic Systematics (Hennig, 1966).


Major Hennigian principles are:
1. Relationships among species are to be interpreted strictly genealogically, as sister-lineages, as clade relations. Empirically, a phylogenetic hypothesis may be determined.
2. Synapomorphies provide the only evidence for identifying relative recency of common ancestry. Synapomorphies are understood to be the shared-derived (evolved, modified) features of organisms.

3. Maximum conformity to evidence is sought  (his auxiliary principle). Choice among competing cladistic  propositions (cladograms) is decided on the basis of the greatest amount  of evidence, the largest number of synapomorphies explainable as  homologues.

4. Whenever possible, taxonomy must be logically consistent with the inferred pattern of historical relationships. The rule of monophyly is to be followed, thereby each clade can have its unique place in the hierarchy of taxonomic names.
More info about Henning HERE. photo.

Born This Day: Sir William Logan

From Today in Science History:

Logan (April 20, 1798 – June 22, 1875) was a Canadian geologist dubbed the "Father of Canadian Geology." He began is career making geologic maps of coalfields in Wales, noting the relationship between the underlying clay layers and fossil tree roots with local coal beds. This substantiated the theory that coal beds are formed in place.

When he began as director (1842-69) of the new Geological Survey of Canada, its geology was virtually unknown. He produced the monumental Report on the Geology of Canada (1863) which recorded 20 years of research, fieldwork, plotting maps, preparing reports, and examining fossil and mineral specimens.

Image and more info from Natural Resources Canada. For a more colourful summary of the man and his life go HERE.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Died This Day: Eramus Darwin

Erasmus (Dec. 12, 1731 – April 18, 1802) was a prominent English physician, poet, philosopher, botanist, naturalist and the grandfather of naturalist Charles Darwin and the biologist Francis Galton. Erasmus Darwin was one of the leading intellectuals of 18th century England.

As a naturalist, he formulated one of the first formal theories on evolution in Zoonomia, or, The Laws of Organic Life (1794-1796). Although he did not come up with natural selection, he did discuss ideas that his grandson elaborated on sixty years later, such as how life evolved from a single common ancestor, forming "one living filament".

Although some of his ideas on how evolution might occur are quite close to those of Lamarck, Erasmus Darwin also talked about how competition and sexual selection could cause changes in species. link

Download Zoonomia HERE

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Premiered This Day: Women of The Prehistoric Planet

Written and directed by Arthur C. Pierce, and starring the perennial C-list actor John Agar (who had his own Prehistoric Theme Park!), this is just about as bad as it gets.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Premiered This Day: The Land That Time Forgot

Directed by Kevin O’Connor, this 1975 film starred Doug McClure.

Died This Day: Amanz Gressly

Gressly (July 17, 1814 - April 13, 1865) was a Swiss geologist and paleontologist who originated the study of stratigraphic facies when he discovered lateral differences in the character and fossil content of strata in the Jura Mountains, reflecting a variation of the original environment of deposition.

The "Gressly's lizard" dinosaur was named Gresslyosaurus (1857) to honour Amanz Gressly and to replace the preoccupied Dinosaurus Ruetimeyer 1856). It is now synonymized with Plateosaurus. From Today in Science History

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Free, Online journal, eLife, to Compete with Nature and Science

From BBC News:

One of the world's largest research charities, the Wellcome Trust, is to establish a free, online publication called eLife to compete with established academic journals.

They say their new title could be a "game changer" forcing other publishing houses to increase free access.

More than 9,000 scientists are boycotting a leading paid-for publisher for restricting access to their papers.

The Wellcome Trust's move is the latest salvo in a battle about ownership of, and access to, the published work of scientists that has been simmering underneath the sedate surface of scientific research for years.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Born This Day: Kenneth Oakley

From Today in Science History:

Oakley (April 7, 1911 - November 2, 1981) was an English physical anthropologist, geologist, and paleontologist best known for his work in the relative dating of fossils by fluorine content. While working for the British Natural History Museum, Oakley become famous in 1953 for exposing the 'Piltdown Man' forgery.

"A skull had been "unearthed" in 1912, in Piltdown, England, and had for decades been said to represent the "missing link" in human evolution. Oakley developed a method, based on a French minerologist's theory that bones would gradually absorb fluorine from surrounding soil, to measure the fluorine levels in bones. With this and other tests he proved the bones to be a modern human braincase and an orangutan jawbone chemically stained to appear ancient. image

Friday, April 06, 2012

Created This Day: The American Museum of Natural History

In 1869, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City was officially created with the signing of a bill by the Governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman.

The museum began from the efforts of Albert Smith Bickmore, one-time student of Harvard zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was successful in his proposal to create a natural history museum in New York City, with the support of William E. Dodge, Jr., Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., Joseph Choate, and J. Pierpont Morgan. It opened to the public 27 Apr 1871.

With a series of exhibits, the Museum’s collection went on view for the first time in the Central Park Arsenal, the Museum’s original home, on the eastern side of Central Park.

Also, on this day in 1930, Hostess Twinkies were invented by bakery executive James Dewar.

From Today in Science History.

Born This Day: James Watson

From Today In Science History:

Watson was born on this day in 1928. An American geneticist and biophysicist, he shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins) for the discovery of "the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material." Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the substance contained in cells that controls heredity.

Crick and Watson began their collaboration in 1951, and published their paper on the double helix structure on 2 Apr 1953 in Nature. This accomplishment became a cornerstone of genetics and was widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th-century biology.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Premiered This Day: One Million B.C.

Directed by Hal Roach, and starring Victor Mature, Carole Landis, and Lon Chaney, Jr., this film is noted for its lizards dressed up as dinosaurs, and as being the inspiration for the better known 1967 version starring Raquel Welch.

Yutyrannus, A Giant Feathered Tyrannosauroid From China

A gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China. X. Xu, et al. Nature 484: 92–95.

Abstract: Numerous feathered dinosaur specimens have recently been recovered from the Middle–Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous deposits of northeastern China, but most of them represent small animals. Here we report the discovery of a gigantic new basal tyrannosauroid, Yutyrannus huali gen. et sp. nov., based on three nearly complete skeletons representing two distinct ontogenetic stages from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning Province, China.

Y. huali shares some features, particularly of the cranium, with derived tyrannosauroids, but is similar to other basal tyrannosauroids in possessing a three-fingered manus and a typical theropod pes. Morphometric analysis suggests that Y. huali differed from tyrannosaurids in its growth strategy.

Most significantly, Y. huali bears long filamentous feathers, thus providing direct evidence for the presence of extensively feathered gigantic dinosaurs and offering new insights into early feather evolution.

Died This Day: Hermann Muller

The father of radiation genetics, Muller (Dec. 21, 1890 – April 5, 1967) began his career with T.H. Morgan studying mutations in fruit flies. He was the first to increase the mutation rate using heat, later using 50 kilovolt X-rays to induce an even greater incidence of mutations. Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1946.

Muller long warned about needless exposures to radiation and their associated risks of cancer and heritable genetic effects. By the late 1940s, the nuclear weapons testing program had begun and Muller was a vocal critic of the Atomic Energy Commission's views on the hazards of worldwide fallout.

FF © Marvel Comics
Info from here and here.

Born This Day: Alpheus Hyatt

From Today in Science History:

Hyatt (April 5, 1838 - Jan. 15, 1902) was a U.S. zoologist and paleontologist who studied invertebrate fossil records, the evolution of the cephalopods (a class of mollusks including squids and octopuses) and the development of primitive organisms.

Along with E. Cope, Hyatt was the most prominent American neo-Lamarckian. Based on the analogy of ontogeny with phylogeny, Hyatt claimed that lineages, like individuals, had cycles of youth, old age, and death (extinction). This idea became the bulwark of orthogenetic theories in the U.S.

Hyatt was the founder and first editor of the American Naturalist, and first president of Woods Hole laboratory.