Author: Bovine excrement & piscine antics

abby-howard: Earth Before Us: Ocean Renegades …


Earth Before Us: Ocean Renegades HIT SHELVES TODAY! And you can also buy it on Amazon if you’re a person who doesn’t leave your house, like me. It’s the next book in the Earth Before Us series after last year’s Dinosaur Empire, and it’s all about the Paleozoic, the very strange time before the dinosaurs evolved.

It starts with the dawn of animal life in the Cambrian and follows Earth’s creatures up onto land, where they become all the bugs and vertebrates we know and love. It’s extremely educational and fully illustrated!

Thanks bye!!

franzanth: 10:30 me: let’s do a quick squid sk…


10:30 me: let’s do a quick squid sketch
11:30 me: …what just happened

Get a print

Squid PSA: these fellas are called bobtail squid. Yeah, squid. Not cuttlefish. Look am up and commence squee because they’re adorable as heck.

franzanth: Like their name suggests, feather s…


Like their name suggests, feather stars are armed with feather-like appendages surrounding the disc-like body at the center. When the arms find tiny edible particles, they flick it toward the mouth at the center.

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the-circles-of-life: Albertonykus borealis ft…


Albertonykus borealis

ft. Albert Chen / @albertonykus

As a whole, dinosaurs receive no shortage of attention. Yet among the iconic group of two-legged, mostly carnivorous dinosaurs called theropods, there are weirder subgroups that defy expectations.

This includes the alvarezsaurids like Albertonykus, which was only slightly larger than a chicken.

“Alvarezsaurids had an unusual combination of features: slender jaws with numerous small teeth, tiny but well-muscled forelimbs, highly reduced fingers except for a robust thumb, and very long hindlimbs relative to body size,” explains paleontologist Albert Chen.

These peculiar theropods must have had a unique lifestyle, yet little research has been done.

“I find such enigmas more fascinating than charismatic megafauna, even though I hold an appreciation for all of biodiversity,” he admits.

His interest lies in theropods that are most closely related to modern birds. While the early representatives of modern birds survived the mass extinction 66 million years ago, the fossil record is scant.

Though modern birds’ biology informs us about the evolution of their ancestors, fossils give us the clearest evidence of their origins.

“Without paleontology, we probably would never have known that birds are the last surviving dinosaurs, a broader group that included the largest terrestrial animals ever, major players in Earth’s ecosystems for millions of years that were only laid low by a cosmic misfortune.”

“In other words, paleontology reveals not only the evolutionary history of modern organisms, but also the historical context in which they arose. It also shows that our planet has been home to countless fascinating species that didn’t leave any modern descendants.”

Paleontology has also helped Albert better visualize the interconnectedness of life, while showing that what we observe in the modern day is but a snapshot in the eons-old history of Earth.

These wonders of evolution are what Albert wants more people to know about through blogging and cartooning, under his solid ‘brand’ name – Albertonykus.

“When it comes down to why I chose Albertonykus as my user handle over any other alvarezsaurid: yes, the name was the primary reason.”

Albert Chen is a PhD student in biology at the University of Bath. Get to know Albert and the feathered dinosaurs called maniraptorans.

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franzanth: I recently learned about a weird gr…


I recently learned about a weird group of sea urchins called Cidaroida. They grow some of the weirdest spines: some look like thick pencils or fans, and the fossil echinoderm Tylocidaris had clubs sprouting out of its body.

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I’m cleaning my screenshots and found tr…

I’m cleaning my screenshots and found traces from that one time my brother played Mario Kart on my Switch and basically just went sightseeing and taking ‘cute tourist pics’ as Isabelle.

the-circles-of-life: Ascidia ceratodes ft. Ir…


Ascidia ceratodes

ft. Irvin Huang

How do pollutants affect wildlife and humans? This is the question that exotoxicologist Irvin Huang strives to answer in his projects.

“I’ve always been interested in how humans influence the nature around us. Pollution was a huge concern for me even as a kid. What I love about toxicology is that I get to do a lot of different things and wear a lot of different hats in my job, which keeps things exciting.”

This is not an exaggeration. To answer that important question, his field of work requires not only knowledge in chemistry, but also cell and molecular biology, neurobiology, ecology, oceanography, soil science, and hydrology.

“I get to learn from a wide range of scientists, so I’m constantly expanding my viewpoint and getting different perspectives,” Irvin adds.

His first research investigates the growth and survivability of a group of marine animals called tunicates. These animals are often exposed to creosote, a tar-like substance, rich in toxic compounds, commonly used to treat wood used to build docks and marinas.

Easily mistaken for a sponge or anemone, tunicates are actually our closest relative that lacks a true backbone. “They start out looking like a tadpole, with a head, muscles, a tail, and even a simple nervous system! But then they go through this dramatic metamorphosis where they attach to a hard surface, reabsorb their muscles, rearrange their organs, and become this blobby, sponge-like animal. It’s such a wild transformation.”

“They also make this tough, weirdly textured outer layer for protection called a tunic — it’s like a really ugly sweater, but the kind that you really love wearing even if it is ugly. They honestly might be one of the strangest creatures to ever live.”

Through his research, he learned that the tunicates adapted to tolerate living with the toxic chemicals. But Irvin too, faced a lot of hurdles and learned to adapt and persevere in the face of troubles.

“I’m still extremely proud of the work I put into those tunicates. No matter how much I study, learn, and think about them, they’re still the weird blobby animal that introduced me to scientific research and helped me find those skills inside myself.”

Irvin Huang is a PhD candidate at Stony Brook University studying aquatic toxicology. 
Get to know Irvin and environmental pollution.

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franzanth:So I heard kids these days like this…


So I heard kids these days like this prehistoric creature called Pikaia… did I get this right?

T-shirts here.