Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Born This Day: Richard Carlson

Carlson (April 29, 1912 – Nov. 24, 1977) starred as Dr. David Reid (center)in the classic Creature From The Black Lagoon (1957). You know that he was the “good” scientist cuz he got the girl, even though he let a cover story for Nature skulk back into the Lagoon.

Died This Day: Julie Ege

Nov. 12, 1943 – April 29, 2008
The late Julie Ege had the lead role as Nala in the 1971 Hammer film, “Creatures The World Forgot”.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Premiered This Day: The Creature Walks Among Us

Back on this day in 1956 the second sequel to The Creature From the Black Lagoon debuted. It's long been considered the weakest film in the trilogy, and it's hard to argue this given that they drag The Creature out of the Amazon, burn him in a fire, and convert him into an air-breathing humanoid with no hope of ever returning to the lagoon. But, when viewed today, the film reveals some deeper tones than I'm sure were originally intended.

The plot and language of the film can now be taken to speak directly to the hot-button topics of genetic manipulation of animals and foods, and man's destructive meddling with nature leading to accelerated rates of extinction. The movie moves beyond being a simple “monster on the rampage” story and actually has some pointed comments to make about science and politics. It's well worth watching on one of those upcoming hot, humid summer nights.

Watch the film in 8 minutes thanks to the Castle Films Super 8mm edited home version:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CMNH DinoFest at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History April 25 &26

This Friday and Saturday DinoFest runs at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. There will be lots of kid and family-friendly dino-related events plus talks by:
David Evans
Steve Bissette
Mark Goodwin
Jack Horner
Ray Rogers
Michael Ryan

TyrantTM Stephen R. Bissette

Steve Bissette will also be running a dino-drawing workshop Sat. morning so please register your kids early to ensure a spot.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Born This Day: Willi Hennig

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.

Died This Day: Robert Armstrong

Armstrong (Nov. 20, 1890 – April 20, 1973) took Fay Wray to Skull Island in 1933. He returned later the same year to find The Son of Kong, only to lose him as the island sank, as these things are prone to doing.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Born This Day: Noble Johnson

“Meanwhile, the light-skinned Noble Johnson (April 18, 1881 – Jan. 9, 1978) was heavily made up for his role as the village chief [in 1933's, KING KONG]—he was a leading black actor of the era (known as “America’s premiere Afro-American screen star” in the black press) and therefore worth the extra consideration. Johnson, an ex-cowboy, horse trainer, and boxer, had quite a resume before portraying the Chief of Skull Island.

He was a student of all aspects of movie making from directing to distribution, and instrumental in the 1916 formation of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, created to produce what were called “race movies.” Johnson left the company after it had released three films, rumored to have been “encouraged” by Universal to do so or lose any opportunity for parts at the bigger studio.

Johnson - a childhood friend of Lon Chaney - portrayed a variety of ethnicities in his long career; one of the few black actors of Hollywood’s early era to be allowed any diversity in roles.” From Kong Is King.net

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to Lori Nelson

Nelson played Helen Dodson in the 1955 film, “Revenge of the Creature”. imdb info

Died This Day: Edward Drinker Cope

Art © Mark Schultz
From NiagaraMuseum.com:
"What truly assured Cope's (July 28, 1840 – April 12, 1897; above right) place in the history of paleontology and even eclipsed his science was his bitter feud with Yale University paleontologist O.C. Marsh (above left).

What began as a friendly rivalry in the late 1860s, broke out into all out war in 1872 and then raged on until Cope's death in 1897.

Both Cope and Marsh were recipients of family fortunes and they used their wealth to discover new fossils and to reconstruct ancient life. This scramble literally propelled American science into the forefront of paleontology."
Read about Cope HERE.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Tyrannosaur Feeding Behaviour

The role of the neck in the feeding behaviour of the Tyrannosauridae: inference based on kinematics and muscle function of extant avians. 2014. Snively et al. J. Zool: 290–303

Abstract [edit]: Tyrannosaurid necks were strong and powerful instruments for wielding the jaws during feeding. Hypotheses of tyrannosaurid neck function are here grounded by observations of neck morphology and function in extant archosaurs.

Respectively derived morphologies in birds, crocodilians and tyrannosaurids compromise inferences for some muscles. However, alternate reconstructions indicate that tyrannosaurid neck muscles combined the robustness of crocodilian musculature with the functional regionalization seen in birds.

Electromyography of the M. complexus in chickens strengthens inferences about its function in both dorsiflexion and lateroflexion in extinct dinosaurs, and further suggests that it imparted roll about the longitudinal axis in concert with the actions of contralateral ventroflexors.

Videography of extant raptors reveals the involvement of the neck when striking at prey and tearing flesh, and reconstructed tyrannosaurid musculature indicates capacity for similar neck function during the feeding cycle.

As for birds, muscles originating in the anterior region of the neck likely stabilized the head by isometric or eccentric contraction as tyrannosaurids (and other large theropods) tore flesh by rearing back the body through extension of their hind limbs.

It's always nice when a paper you've forgotten about gets published!

Published This Day: The DNA Double Helix

From Today in Science History:

On this day in 1953, the journal Nature published a paper from Francis Crick and James Watson, titled Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, in which they described a double helix structure for DNA.

Download the paper from Nature HERE.