The Systematic Position of the King of the Monsters

A few weeks ago I was really excited to be contacted by Danielle Venton, a freelance writer working on a piece for Popular Mechanics about the biology of Godzilla! With a new big-screen appearance by Godzilla right around the corner, I thought this was a fun exercise in speculative biology. The piece is out now at Popular Mechanics and I highly recommend checking out “The Impossible Anatomy of Godzilla“. Continue reading

SVP, you’re so silly.

Those chairs nearly killed me.

 The annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting wrapped up yesterday. This year we got to visit the very nice city of Raleigh, North Carolina. There were many, many interesting talks and posters which I can’t possibly cover in detail here, but I will look forward to the papers that will hopefully eventually come out of this meeting. SVP is the big-time serious palaeo conference for most of us here in North America…and yet, although at times the talks are SO SERIOUS, what I really like about SVP is how much fun everyone is having. And this brings me to the chairs. The chairs at the Raleigh Convention Centre seem to have built-in whoopie cushions. If you sat down too quickly, the result was unavoidable. (Raleigh Convention Centre: please don’t change this!) And so, during the transition between each talk as people moved in and out of the session, a low murmur of toots resonated throughout the room. This was pretty funny during the talks, but was almost unbearable during the final banquet and awards ceremony on Saturday night. As we recognized the contributions of various members of the SVP, we would rise to give standing ovations. And as about 1000 people sat down simultaneously, the squeaky chairs were that much more noticeable.  Continue reading

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: Fine Feathered Friends

The Royal Alberta Museum is also currently hosting a temporary exhibit on the use of feathers in hat-making (millinery!) and fashion, called Fashioning Feathers. I’m not usually all that into the history of costume and fashion in museums, and so I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting I found this particular exhibit. I think it was the intersection of biology and fashion that was so neat.

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Care of Magical Creatures

The University of Alberta is currently hosting an exhibit called Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine, in the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library. Let’s Talk Science, a Canadian science outreach organization with a U of A chapter, was asked to organize ‘classes’ for a Harry Potter-themed science day, so my good friend Scott Persons and I put together “Care of Magical Creatures”. You may think it would be hard to mix magic and mythology with science, but we were pretty happy with how much natural history education we were able to convey over the course of the day. For those interested in science outreach and education, here’s how to do your own Care of Magical Creatures class. You might be surprised by the results!

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