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Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Like New" Coprolite Fossils From East Central Utah

     You can't make this stuff up!

      I ordered several Jurassic age coprolite (fossilized dinosaur scat) from east central Utah from a rock shop. 

       The order form lists the condition of this "Christmas Poop -- Better than Coal" as "Like New." These are "Authentic Fossils" and they are "Like New."      



      The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry of east central Utah has produced some of the most well-preserved and complete sets of carnivore dinosaur skeletons (and dinosaur poop!) in the Jurassic formations of North America. 

     Over 15,000 dinosaur bones have been discovered so far from this quarry, a natural predator trap (similar to the La Brea Tar Pits). Many of the rearticulated dinosaur skeletons reside in over 65 museums worldwide. 

      The quarried mudstone is part of the distinctive red Morrison Formation (of Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater fame).

      Interstate-70 divides the area into the north and south halves of the San Rafael Swell, where the quarry is located. (I-70 starts/ends west of the quarry).

      The atypical predator/prey ratio (3:1) represented at the quarry may be explained by the pack hunting tendencies of the most prevalent skeletons, the Allosaurus.  

       The high percentage of smaller individual allosaurs suggests that younger dinosaurs worked together to capture and kill prey. The predators may have followed their prey into the mud and subsequently became mired in the predator trap themselves. (Insert "drain the swamp" joke here).

Look! Fossils "like new!"

Sunday, February 12, 2017

March for Science: Earth Day, April 22

     The upcoming March for Science will be held in Washington, D. C., and in satellite cities across the country and around the world on Earth Day, April 22.

     Planning for the March for Science has been gaining momentum. I am playing a small part in organizing Denver's march.

           There are hat knitting  patterns

and t-shirts,

and even NPR Science Friday valentines.

         We are already thinking up signs.

        My favorite sign is worth one more look:

        Maybe it's time for that trip to France, oui?

     Will you be participating in a March for Science ?

      P.S. I tucked that tardigrade valentine in there because, well, how could I RESIST?!

The Polar Bear Experiment (see comment section below).

1. Making clay mountains with topo lines: 

2. Adding water and "icebergs:" 

3. Time passes, the icebergs melt and the polar bears' home is submerged:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dark Skies Communities: Westcliffe/Silver Cliff, Colorado -- A Cliffhanger?

     The International Dark Skies Communities of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, Colorado,

 just east of the Sangre de Cristo Range in the Wet Mountain Valley,

were part of our late January into February camping adventure. I read about the February camping sleep reset after returning home; unplugging definitely worked for me. Maizie, my pup, and I fell asleep to the moon setting and arose to or before the sun rise. {That sleep schedule continued after our return to Denver.}

      Most lights and street lamps in both communities have covers over them so that the light is directed downward only. Thus, evening skies are filled with a plethora of stars and a raucous view of the Milky Way. It also adds a cozy glow to the town while eliminating wasted upward light.

        It took nearly ten years for Jim Bradburn, a retired Denver architect, to convince folks in both communities to put the covers on the lights with the official designation as an International Dark Skies Community coming in 2015.

         The Smoky Jack Observatory in Westcliffe is a real treat in a community of about 1100 people (the combined populations of both towns which share a main street).

       I asked many folks there why these tiny towns connected to one another had separate names but no one had a definitive answer. A rancher laughed heartily when I said the answer would just be a cliffhanger, then. . .Maizie did not care either way and chose instead, a solar soaking.

        Of course, a trip that close to the Great Sand Dunes required a swing by our favorite National Park on Groundhog Day. Yes, Maizie saw her very long shadow:      


       We had the entire park to ourselves after a wave to the park ranger. (I have my Alternative National Park Service decal, of course).

       If only the Pinyon Campground at GSDNP had been open; talk about Dark Skies!

Have you been to any International Dark Skies Communities?

     1. Here's the list of current (pun intended) International Dark Sky Communities.

     2. And here's the "make it up as we went" route of our "Angel Bat Tour."

     {Paper maps work best in this part of Colorado; they're also lots more fun for meeting folks.} 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Working 5 to 9: Chemical Data From Forams Predict Sea Level Rise of Five to NINE Meters

      A friend from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent this article by Scott K. Johnson to several of us on his contact list. He wants to be sure the word gets out. The article, published 1/23/17, discusses past, present, and future sea level rise based on chemical data from rock cores from around the world. 

       Thus, in the spirit of rogue US National Park rangers, I am spreading the word. You can read more about and sign up for updates from the "Alternate National Park Service" here.

        Researchers at Oregon State University led by Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, collected 104 individual sea surface temperature records from 83 different sediment cores. Each record is based on a "chemical proxy" known to relate to water temperature, like the ratio of magnesium to calcium in the shells of foraminifera.

         A lot of the complicated work involved is precisely lining up each core record onto one timeline, synced to ice core records, and carefully calculating the uncertainties (much like lining up wood cores in dendrochronology).

       The article notes that our sea temperature is now about the same as it was 120,000 years ago during the last interglacial heat maximum. Based on the rock record, the oceans were then 6 to 9 meters (19.5 to 29.5 feet) higher than present time.   

     "If the planet stopped warming and stayed where it is today, the past gives us an idea of how much sea level rise we could expect to see in the long-term future. It would take much more than a century to complete that rise, but we are looking at well over five meters rise in elevation in the ocean." {This link lets you look at sea level rise at various levels around the world.}

     DT, are you sure you and your heirs want to keep staying in Manhattan when this happens? Could it be that glacial ice is giving you a hand signal that we all (including you) really need to attend to now?!

Keep rising up, scientists and writers! 

P.S. I just ordered a "RESIST" t-shirt for $11 from, designed by my friend's nephew. It's important to be a resistor now more than ever. . .

Friday, January 20, 2017

Are Your Ducks All in A Row?: Women's Marches in Denver and Around the World

       Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey was one of my favorite childhood books. It is the Official Children's Book of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The beautiful illustrations were executed in charcoal then lithographed on zinc plates.

      Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack were treasured, feathered friends. (I thought Ouack was cool because she or he had two syllables (as I read it) as well as three vowels in a row!) Here they are, in bronze, created by Nancy Schön in the Boston Public Garden with Mrs. Mallard in Boston, USA, sporting pink pussy hats.

     My friends and I are working on getting all our ducks in a row tonight for tomorrow's Denver Women's March. Organizing, making signs, hats, and banners, and preparing for the day has helped us keep focus on important issues like climate change (which has suddenly disappeared from the Presidential sites). Yeah, sure, that's one way to get rid of it. . . (but the temperature data say otherwise, showing 2016 as the hottest year since records have been regularly kept):


       Here's hoping for a peaceful march in Denver tomorrow with lots of nasty, wonderful women and men energy. We may even see the big blue bear in a pink pussy hat at the Denver Convention Center.

       I will be marching with my grandmother, Irene's, strength and spirit. She was a suffragette who walked in the Boston and NYC marches for the right for women to vote. I am marching for many reasons but this sign sums up a major one:

       Hoping things will come full circle and stabilize for those more northerly polar bears and for the mallards and ducklings in many ways in the weeks and months to come. Seeing those bears all in a row on giant ice fields in polar climes would make many Mama Bears content.

Here's to a productive, calm day wherever you are,

       Some images (one for each duckling and one each for Mrs. and Mr. Mallard) from the powerful Denver March of over 200,000 women, men, babes in arms, and canines. Enjoy!


^^^"Trumpeters against Trump"

And, as promised from before the march:

Badlands National Park goes rogue with climate facts from the official Twitter account:

This!  --->