My Kids Need a Velociraptor

UPDATE 2014-09-29 11:45AM – Project is fully funded and closed with £11,057 (£7600 needed) from 268 backers

UPDATE 2014-09-08 11:17AM – Project is now fully funded with £7981 pledged from 193 backers

UPDATE 2014-09-02 11:26AM – Project is now 88% funded with £6680 pledged from 155 backers

UPDATE 2014-08-28 11:34AM – Project is now 61% funded with £4643 pledged from 102 backers

Rebecca Groom, creator of Paleoplushies is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of scientifically accurate, poseable velociraptor stuffed animals (aka, plushies in the UK). You have until 28 September to pledge. As of this writing, 79 backers have pledged £3103 of the needed £7600. Misrepresentation of these creatures in toys and movies interferes with the communication of interesting discoveries in paleontology. It has also incorrectly convinced my children that Daddy could not beat a ‘raptor in a fight. Groom’s velociraptor, complete with feathers, opens up discussions.

Rebecca Groom’s velociraptor plushie prototype

If, like me, your kids* desperately need such a toy, the “perks” that include a toy start at £30 plus £4 shipping to the US (about $56).

*Or your kids are a socially acceptable excuse for you desperately needing one.

HT: John Conway

La Brea Tar Pits

Help!A few years ago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) found a mammoth in their parking garage. It was dead, of course. The mammoth was one of hundreds of fossil specimens recovered in the expansion of the museum’s underground parking garage.

They were expecting this.

LACMA is built directly next to the La Brea Tar Pits, an area where oil has been bubbling up to the surface of the earth for thousands of years. In that time, many animals got stuck in the tar, causing a very local high density of fossils. Continue reading “La Brea Tar Pits”

Speculative Electro-Paleontology

Soft tissues generally do not show up well in fossils. That missing information means that paleontology is particularly fertile ground for speculation. One of my favorite bits of paleontological speculation comes from Putting the Life Back in Science Fiction where a post wonders whether plesiosaurs had long necks to allow for electric organs like electric eels, useful for defense, electrolocation, and fishing. The post is careful to note that it is indulging in wild speculation.

The speculative theory probably isn’t true, but it is more fun to imagine that it is.

Linkonomicon 17

1. All your bird call are belong to Cornell (via Debby Schade via Greg Laden).
2. Know your dino – stylish, but are those brachiosaurus nostrils in the right place? (UPDATE: According to Brian Switek, the nostrils ARE in the right place)
3. Duke teaching science through cooking (via Ashley Yeager).
4. Timeline of world religions (via Maria Popova).
5. Surprisingly, pseudoscientific gender stereotypes won’t solve gender inequality in science.

The Art of Science: Shapeshifter

Brian Jungen is a Canadian artist of mixed European and Native background.  He often uses everyday objects such as sporting goods, shoes and luggage to create new versions of iconic cultural objects, such as Native American masks, totem poles and fossil skeletons. This piece, Shapeshifter (2000), is one of a series of monumental whale skeleton sculptures made of cheap acrylic lawn chairs. Continue reading “The Art of Science: Shapeshifter”